A summary of news stories published this week in the Arab English language press- December 25, 2008
Hamas is playing with fire
Hamas — the Islamic Resistance Movement — is playing a dangerous game that could provoke a massive Israeli reaction and plunge the Middle East into a new round of crisis. Hamas fired 60 rockets in one day into Israel on Christmas Eve, dramatically escalating its rate of bombardment, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, the most experienced of all the region’s Arab leaders has spoken out, warning Hamas against the perils of escalation… These are greater now than they have been in years. For the Israeli general election is due to be held on Feb. 10 and opinion polls show that the almost certain victors will be the right-wing nationalist Likud party and its leader, former Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu. The only hope for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s ruling Kadima Party, which will be led in the election by new party chairwoman Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni may be if it can demonstrate to the Israeli public that it is as tough as Netanyahu and Likud and if it can retaliate hard against Hamas in Gaza… So why is Hamas running such a risk? Iran, the only nation that has any real influence with Hamas, may be egging them on. It might suit Iran for Israel to be distracted by a new conflict with Hamas in Gaza so that it would not be able to launch any preemptive air strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, at least until Obama and Clinton take power and put strong pressure on Israel to refrain from any such action… Provoking Israel to invade Gaza now, Hamas’ leaders may believe, will boost their prestige among Palestinians on the West Bank and further undermine the already embattled Abbas… However, history teaches that it is always unwise to recklessly escalate in crises or to provoke neighboring nations to consider full-scale military responses to such provocations. Hamas is doing the Palestinian people no favors by running those risks again now. Hamas is playing with fire, but it’s the innocent Palestinians who will end up being burned. –The Middle East Times, December 24, 2008.
Chavez denies Iran-Syria weapons connection
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday dismissed as fiction a report alleging that Iran is dodging UN sanctions by using Venezuelan aircraft to ship missile parts to Syria. “The newspapers of the empire have begun to invent stories that I am sending weapons to Syria from Iran through our airline Conviasa,” Chavez said in a speech at the Miraflores presidential palace. The charges are part of a “permanent aggression” campaign by the “empire,” as Chavez often refers to the United States, against Venezuela, he said. The Italian newspaper La Stampa, citing US and other Western intelligence agencies, reported Sunday that Iran is using Conviasa airplanes to fly computers and engine components to Syria for use in missiles. Since March 2007, the state-owned Conviasa airline has operated weekly flights from Caracas to Damascus and Tehran. The material comes from Iranian industrial group Shahid Bagheri, which was sanctioned by UN Security Council Resolution 1737 for involvement in Iran’s ballistic missile program, according to La Stampa. The resolution, adopted in December 2006, instructed all nations to “prevent the supply, sale or transfer” of all material or technology that could serve for Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and the development of weapons to carry nuclear warheads. Syria is a close ally of Iran in the Middle East, and both nations signed a military cooperation pact in June 2006. Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who share deep hostility towards the United States and the outgoing administration of US President George W. Bush, have signed several agreements on economic cooperation. In return, Iran has provided Caracas with members of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the elite Al-Quds unit to train and reinforce the Venezuelan police and secret services, La Stampa reported. – Times of Oman, December 24, 2008
Israel to Hamas: Enough is enough
Egypt has urged Israel and Hamas rulers of Gaza to hold their fire to enable Cairo to try to broker a new truce between them. Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, made the plea during talks with Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, in Cairo on Thursday. Mubarak called for Israel to show restraint in responding to renewed rocket and mortar barrages from the Gaza Strip, and also urged Hamas to halt its fire immediately. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister, said at a joint news conference with Livni: “Egypt will not stop efforts (to broker a truce) as long as the parties want this, but I cannot imagine that we can convince the two sides to go back to the calm as long as there is this escalation. “What we are asking them both is to restrain themselves, and then we see how to come back to that period of quiet,” he said. Prospects of restoring the Egyptian-brokered truce dimmed this week after Israeli soldiers killed three Hamas fighters who they said were trying to plant explosives along the Gaza-Israeli border. – Al Jazeera, Qatar, December 25, 2008.
Palestine’s own ‘leaders’ aren’t doing its people any good
Israel’s government has been rightly castigated for its appalling treatment of Palestinians trapped in the besieged Gaza Strip – and for its stubborn refusal to end the illegal and immoral policies that have stymied the peace process and squeezed the economic life out of the Occupied West Bank. Sadly, however, it also has to be noted that the Palestinian people would not be nearly so vulnerable to such shameless violations of international law and multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions if their so-called “leaders” were more up the task of recognizing, defending and advancing the national interest. Recent history makes it clear that both of the main parties, Fatah and Hamas, are instead more concerned about prevailing in their internal power struggle than they are about the welfare of the people they claim to represent. Anyone can operate a militia, chant empty slogans, and compete with other militias to see who can do more damage. Entertaining ambitions of ending six decades of occupation and finally achieving statehood, however, demands incalculably more, including an unshakeable acceptance of the need to put national considerations above partisan ones. Lately, both Hamas and Fatah have evinced a near-total unwillingness to heed the messages of their own rhetoric, choosing instead to divide their movement and to subsume its constituent parts into a struggle between far stronger players in the Middle East. -The Daily Star, Lebanon, December 24, 2008.
UAE urges Obama to support Arab initiative to secure stability in Mideast
The UAE and the Palestinian National Authority on Wednesday reiterated their adherence to the Arab peace initiative as a means to achieve stability and security in the region. “We believe the Arab peace initiative is the key to security, stability and development in our region,” Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, said. He was speaking at a press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, during Christmas celebrations. Shaikh Abdullah called on US President-elect Barack Obama to embrace the initiative, which was also adopted by Islamic countries in a conference in Tehran. There are 57 Islamic countries that are willing to normalise their ties with Israel if it is seriously looking for peace and accepts the Arab initiative. Speaking to Abbas, Shaikh Abdullah said: “With the Palestinian people’s determination and with the support of your Arab brethren, I believe that we are closer than any time before in convincing the international community and the Israeli people about the importance of the peace initiative.” – Gulfnews, UAE, December 25, 2008.
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Why is it all right for Hamas to attack Israel but when Israel returns the attack it’s wrong?
Israel surrendered the Gaza Strip and made it’s people move out using military to enforce the order, now all of the Arab states are in an uproar about Israel defending it’s self.
I hope and pray to the ONLY God in Heaven that the United States never turns on Israel and continues to stand by her against these radical Muslim fanatics, and my the true God continues to protect Israel His chosen people, in this 2000 year old fight between two half brothers.
-Jim H. (Canada)