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1.     Israeli Obstinacy

Roznama Rashtriya Sahara (National Sahara Daily), New Delhi

Editorial, 16 September 2010, Thursday 

Although the peace talks between Israel and Palestine have started due to the US pressure, the chances of its success are remote if one goes by the Israeli stand on the construction of Jewish settlements in occupied areas.

As a matter of fact, Israel had never been serious and true towards peace talks and whenever it has to come to the negotiation table due to international pressure it has taken steps which sabotaged the efforts for peace. As far as the ongoing negotiations are concerned, Israel had earlier announced a freeze on settlement construction till 26 September under the US and international pressure. But the problem is that if the construction restarts after 26 September, it will pose the risk of derailing the negotiations and the Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat could pull out of the talks. On the other hand, the hardliner group in the Israeli coalition government says that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement on Sunday that he will not allow any such construction in future is not acceptable; but the time for any such decision and the situation in Middle East till then cannot be anticipated.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is very much in knowledge of Israeli insistence on settlement construction and has reached Sharm-al-Sheikh to solve the problem arising out of it. But the situation on the ground indicates that it would be difficult to do away with the differences between Israel and Palestine on this issue. The Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat has clearly said that if Israel continues the settlement construction in any form then it would mean that the negotiations have failed. The spokesperson of US State Department Philip Crowley has accepted in a press briefing that United States is completely aware of the roadblocks pertaining to the Israel-Palestine negotiations, but they are hopeful that these hurdles can be removed in coming weeks. However, it is not clear as to what is the basis of Crowley’s hope and seeing the Israeli obstinacy it would be difficult to believe that there would be smooth sailing on the negotiation table as far as resolving the differences between the two parties is concerned.

The other hurdle for the negotiations that has been regularly pointed out by non-partisan political analysts is keeping Hamas out of the negotiations by US and Israel and not respecting the faith of people it enjoys in the Gaza Strip. Despite the economic blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and all Israeli efforts to weaken Hamas, its popularity among Palestinian people cannot be undermined. The dream of resolution of the Middle East problem cannot be realised by keeping away an important party from the negotiations table. The fact is that Israel is not ready to show flexibility in its preconditions and interests and United States, which plays the role of a mediator in these negotiations, is not ready to put any pressure on Israel. In spite of talks with Mahmud Abbas, there is still no assurance of a freeze on settlement construction in the occupied areas by the Zionist State and its stubborn attitude is very much reflective of the future of the ongoing negotiations.

But Israel and the US should understand that the world opinion regarding Palestine is changing steadily, particularly, in Muslim countries. The support announced by Turkey, Iran, Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah to the Palestinian cause is an indication for Israel to budge and give the rights of Palestinians to them, otherwise the dream for peace in Middle East would never come true and Israel will have to pay for it.

Source: Roznama Rashtriya Sahara  

2.     Entry of Israeli Police in Al-Aqsa Mosque

Roznama Siasat (The Politics Daily), Hyderabad

Editorial, 24 September 2010, Friday

Israeli police and military continue to show disrespect to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Recently the Israeli police again entered the mosque citing a small incident. Such action by Israeli police is nothing but a show of disrespect for the holy mosque, hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims. One Palestinian youth was killed as the Israeli guards opened fire. The local populace started protests against the incident and the Israeli police entered the mosque citing the protests and even assaulted the people inside the mosque. This action happened at a time when efforts are being made to restart the process of negotiations. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a meeting with the Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington recently, expressing hope that efforts would be made for success in the talks. The US had offered all possible help in this regard while Abbas and Netanyahu had agreed to meet again and continue the negotiations to find a lasting solution for the problem. The disrespect shown to Al-Aqsa mosque by Israel in spite of its commitment for talks can be termed as a serious offence. Israel, by the way, does not want Palestinian living side by side with Israel. Moreover, hard line elements in Israel have expressed their wish to cleanse the world of Palestinians. This is, in fact, Israeli policy behind the scene and it wants to kill all the Palestinians and occupy their entire land to expand its borders. This Israeli policy is backed by the US.

Israel has continuously tried to suppress the Palestinians who suffer from innumerable problems. It is not even ready to let the humanitarian aid reach the beleaguered people of Palestine and have targeted the aid convoys. The attack on the Freedom Flotilla is its best example. The whole world criticised Israel but it did not move an inch and has not shown a clear stand on UN resolutions. It has taken an aggressive and stubborn stand and the US directly or indirectly supports Israel. Be it action against Hamas or firing on innocent people in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the US terms all this as Israeli right for self defence. However, the truth is that heavily armed Israeli soldiers attack unarmed Palestinians. They kill not just youth but even children, women and old people are also not let off. Even then the United States minces no words in defending Israeli actions. The US supports Israel even in the name of talks. The US, that tells the world of its commitments to the UN resolutions and humanity, is completely silent when it comes to Israel and all Israeli actions become ‘Just’ and ‘Correct’. The US changes its stance on justice and truth when it comes to Israel and it takes a blind eye to the suppression of Palestinians.

Its obstinacy and the blind US support have made Israel very aggressive and it even refuses to abide by international laws and UN resolutions. Israel should be restrained from its aggressive policies and from showing disrespect to the holy mosque. The United States should re-examine its policy towards Israel and stand up to its moral promises and take action against Israel. The way UN resolutions are used against the Muslim world, action should also be taken against Israel on the basis of UN resolutions so as to end the US double standard.

Source: Roznama Siasat  

3.     Arms Deal with Israel

Roznama Siasat (The Politics Daily), Hyderabad

Editorial, 26 September 2010, Sunday

Along with the Arab world, secular and humanitarian Indians have expressed their worry on India’s growing relations with Israel. In spite of UN condemnation of Israel and it being accused of international crime, its nuclear programme and defence relations with countries particularly secular India have made the foreign policy of these countries doubtful, as India is trying to improve relations with Arab countries and Jewish state simultaneously. India has had long term relations with Arab world. India’s stand on the issue of Palestine has not been doubted till now but in recent years, particularly since Narasimha Rao’s Congress government in the Centre, diplomatic relations with Israel grew and defence relations were promoted. Due to these growing relations some leading personalities from Palestine have impressed upon India to curtail its relations with Israel. Israeli brutal plan of killing Palestinians through its barbaric actions in the Middle East cannot be a part of any peace loving country’s policy. India being a secular and peace loving country should not be holding the bloody hands of Israel. The Palestinians are pained due to the fact that India is purchasing the weapons that were used to kill Palestinians. Israel has also sold big military equipments to India which it could not use in the aggression against Lebanon. These useless weapons being transferred to India is like deceiving India in full day light. It is also imperative for India to cut its defence relations with Israel because Israel is selling weapons which failed during its offensive on Lebanon. The bunkers made useless due to Hezbollah’s attack are being sold to India which would affect India’s defence capabilities. If this is true then the government of India shall seriously take the Palestinian advice as it is in its own benefit. This is also sad that India has established relations with Israel against the wishes of the people of the Middle East. India has been considered as an important supporter of the Palestinian cause. India had a very good image among Arab countries due to its pro-Palestine stand. It is worrisome if India is promoting its relations with the enemy of the Arab and Islamic world. Israel was the target of condemnation from the entire world recently due to its attack on aid flotilla heading for the Gaza strip. The Arab countries brought a resolution against Israeli nuclear programme in UN but it was defeated. India’s neutral stand was an example for other countries but nowadays its growing relations with Israel has enraged many quarters. Opposition parties within the country, mainly the Left, have also raised their voice against India’s defence relations with Israel. Palestinians respect India’s foreign policy. Recently, on the occasion of a book launch, former cabinet Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar criticised India’s Israel policy but the government did not take note of it. India is also blamed for taking advice from the Israeli military to tackle the Kashmir problem. India has let others to blame it for its policy towards Palestine. On the one hand, India is supposed to be one of the biggest supporters of Palestinian cause and, on the other hand, it is purchasing Israeli weapons. India’s ruling party has forgotten the policies of its old leaders, Pandit Nehru and Gandhiji, and entered into friendly relation with Israel rendering its support to Palestine meaningless.

Source: Roznama Siasat

4.     Possibilities of US-Iran Nuclear Talks

The Etemaad Urdu Daily (The Confidence Urdu Daily), Hyderabad

Editorial, 27 September 2010, Monday

There are indications of change in US policy regarding the Iranian nuclear programme. This was despite the remark by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad during his address at UN General Assembly, that the 9/11 attack on World Trade Centre and Pentagon was a US government planned incident, was not liked by the leaders of the western countries. Particularly, the US President Barack Obama termed this remark as hurting and hateful, but this storm seems to be temporary as the reconciliatory attitude of both the leaders indicates that things are changing. However, any forward movement on the nuclear issue may not help in bringing Iran-US relations to normalcy, as there are several other regional and international issues between the two.

The main reason for this change in the US policy towards the Iranian nuclear issue is the nuclear fuel agreement signed by Iran with Brazil and Turkey. This agreement itself proves that Iranian nuclear programme has nothing to do with nuclear weapon. Iran bravely faced the US policy during Obama’s predecessor, George Bush. The influence of Bush’s policy can still be seen on the Obama administration. But the Iranian agreement with Brazil and Turkey has changed the equation. The Tehran Declaration is a big step forward for confidence building. Any discriminatory policy against Iran can now be seen as against Obama’s promise of establishing friendly relations with the Muslim world. Iran is one of the most active countries in the Islamic world and has been a centre of attraction for the entire world. Barack Obama also knows that Iran cannot be sidelined if the US wants to build a favourable relation with the Islamic world. This is the reason that the Obama administration wants to start a meaningful dialogue with Iran. Ahmadinejad also has announced, in his own way, that Iran is also ready for talks on the condition of justice and respect.

That Iran is serious in its stand is proved from the fact that it did not raise the issue of inspection of Israeli nuclear programme in the UN. This was raised by the Arab countries while taking up the issue of making the Middle East a nuclear free zone, in the 151 member UN Nuclear Agency, through a resolution condemning the hidden nuclear weapons programme. The resolution was rejected by 51 votes against and 46 votes in favour while 23 abstained and the remaining did not take part in voting. It is necessary to declare the Middle East as a nuclear weapon free zone but the Arab countries presented this resolution at a time when Israel-Palestine talks are going on. Any step against Israel at this juncture would allow Israel to walk out of the talks. This may not be the final talks but it can breakdown due to Israel’s shabby conditions. Israel termed this resolution as a means to drive the focus away from the Iranian and Syrian nuclear programme. Such a stand of Israel is completely unacceptable at a time when the five permanent members of UNSC together with Germany have issued a joint statement to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue through negotiations. This shows that chances of resolution of this issue are bright and Israel can no more hide its nuclear programme behind Iranian nuclear programme.

The main aim of talks between Iranian Foreign Minister and the Foreign Ministers of members of UNSC is to re-establish the faith of international community in the peaceful nature of Iranian nuclear programme. The fuel transfer agreement with Turkey and Brazil had some positive impact on the western countries and the US policy. The western countries want to focus the talks on fuel transfer issue and put a break on uranium enrichment to the announced 20 percent level. Iran has stuck to this level since last February. Now it would be difficult to say anything on what stand does Iran takes for the negotiations on the anvil.

Source: The Etemaad Urdu Daily  

5.     Jewish Aid Ship

Roznama Rashtriya Sahara (National Sahara Daily), New Delhi

Editorial, 29 September 2010, Wednesday

As the Israeli Prime Minister tries to justify the commando attack on ‘Freedom Flotilla’ and refuses to apologies to the international community for loss of life in the incident, many Jews from different countries, including Israel, not only termed the Israeli action as wrong but have come forward to bring aid to the beleaguered people of Gaza Strip on humanitarian grounds and are ready to oppose the Israeli action on ‘Freedom Flotilla,’ at least symbolically. So, a Jewish aid ship has set sail towards Gaza Strip with Jews from the US, Israel, Germany and Britain on board, among them seven aid volunteers and three crew members.

Few weeks back, Israel had attacked an aid flotilla heading towards Gaza Strip and killed nine volunteers on board. Eight of them were from Turkey. Israel was condemned for this act from all around and demands were made for its apology and compensation for the victims but, as usual, Israel defied the world opinion with the US support. Israel did not even cooperate with the UN inspection committee to investigate the incident and did not take any serious notice of the committee’s findings. Due to these acts even many Jews are not pleased. The announcement by some Jews from the above mentioned countries to take aid to Gaza Strip on humanitarian grounds proves that justice and peace loving Jews are also against the Israeli brutality.

According to the news agencies, this aid ship headed for Gaza Strip is carrying medicines and books and toys for children. The Jews onboard the ship have said that if they will be prevented by the Israeli Navy they will not resist, but another British Jew who is part of the members clarified that the aid ship is a symbolic protest and the people on board want to show their unity with the people of Gaza Strip.

This show of unity to the people of Gaza Strip by these Jews is a slap on the face of Israel and its allies who have put food restrictions on Gaza. It again is a slap on the face of those who are silent on the prosecution of the people of Gaza Strip because they support Hamas which is termed as a terrorist organisation. Richard Cooper, who is also part of this aid ship, clearly says that not all Jews agree with Israeli government policies. Another important point is that, an eighty-two year old Jew, Reuven Moskovitz, who is a holocaust survivor, is also part of this ship. This veteran Jew says that it is a moral duty to be a part of this ship and to raise voice against the suppression of eight hundred thousand children of Gaza Strip.

This voice from Reuven may not reach the dumb and deaf Netanyahu government of Israel; the US which backs all good and bad deeds of Israel may not listen to this voice but these people have taken a great step in highlighting the pathetic conditions of the people in Gaza. This proves the brutality and barbarism by which Israel is targeting the people of Gaza Strip. This aid ship is also a mirror to those who are staging the play of peace negotiation in Middle East but are ignoring the basic issues in the conflict.

Source: Roznama Rashtriya Sahara

Md Muddassir Quamar is a research student at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi  

As part of its editorial policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spelling and date formats to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND.  Editor, MEI@ND: P R Kumaraswamy