Monday, September 25, 2006

Ha'aretz blogging

By Heraclitus

Whatever other criticisms one wants to make of Israel, their press remains one of the freest and most diverse in the world. Here are selections from two important columns.

First, Danny Rubinstein asks, Why should Hamas recognize Israel?

Most of the Palestinian public is not demanding that Hamas recognize Israel. This, at least, is what a reliable survey conducted in the territories indicates. The explanation for this is expressed by Hamas spokesmen in every corner, from Rafah to Jenin, and is very accepted in the territories: Look, Yasser Arafat and the PLO recognized the State of Israel in the Oslo agreement and what did they gain from that? Only suffering and misfortune.

The economic siege on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the targeted killings, the raids and checkpoints can be explained as an Israeli defense against terror attacks. But how can one explain the doubling of the number of settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem since the Madrid conference and Oslo agreement? Since the 1996 elections in Israel, and almost through the end of Ehud Barak's government, there was quite a long period of quiet on the security front. There were almost no terror attacks. During that period, as before, the great momentum of settlement continued. The population of settlers grew from 100,000 to over 200,000 during the 1990s.

When the Israelis build large new neighborhoods in East Jerusalem (Har Homa and Reches Shlomo), expand the neighborhoods and settlements in the Muslim part of the Old City, in Silwan, Ras al-Amud and Sheikh Jarrah, expel Arabs from the city and surround them with tens of thousands of Jewish settlers in a tight belt from Upper Beitar in the south, via Ma'ale Adumim in the east and Givat Ze'ev in the north - this conveys a clear message: There is no chance that the capital of the Palestinian state will be established anywhere in Jerusalem. If you add to this the growth of settlements in Samaria, Ariel, the suburbs of Ramallah, in an expanded Gush Etzion and Mount Hebron, the Israeli message becomes unequivocal: You Palestinians have no chance. You recognized Israel and what you received in return was the liquidation of your national hopes. So why should Hamas repeat the same recognition whose results we have already seen?

And Akiva Eldar argues for a UN force in the Occupied Territories:

This is the vicious cycle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; so long as negotiations over the establishment of a Palestinian state are frozen, the Palestinians will not cease the violent resistance to the occupation. So long as the violent resistance continues, Israel will refuse to resume negotiations over the establishment of a Palestinian state. So long as there is no peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, the international community will not dispatch a peace-keeping force to the area. Bitter experience teaches that without the help of a third party, the sides cannot end the violence or reach an accord.

Breaking this cycle is the key to ending the conflict. The international community has to decide that negotiations to establish a Palestinian state, the effort to suspend the violence and the deployment of a multinational force must take place at one and the same time. The recipe resides in UN Security Council Resolution 1701. You have to replace the word "Lebanon" with "the occupied Palestinian territories," "Hezbollah" with "Hamas" and the "Blue Line" with "Green Line."

Here is the result: "The Security Council calls for the immediate cessation by Hamas of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations, and the deployment of Palestinian forces and UN forces in Gaza and the West Bank ... The Council calls on the sides to support a permanent cease-fire and comprehensive solution to the conflict, based on full respect of the Green Line; security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons and the disarmament of all armed groups in the territories ... The Council authorizes the deployment of an international force of 15,000 troops in the territories, to monitor the cessation of hostilities, coordinate its activities with both governments and assist the Palestinian security services. The Council reiterates the importance of full respect for the Green Line and requests the Secretary-General to develop, in liaison with relevant international actors and the concerned parties, proposals to delineate the international border."

For criticism of Ha'aretz, and especially its online, English version, see Ran HaCohen's comments here.

Sorry for the minimal contribution from myself, but after blogging my little heart out all weekend, I'm tired, and must prepare for class.

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