Monday, December 22, 2008

Likud or Kadima to "Topple Hamas"

Israeli leaders 'to topple Hamas.' Was there ever a doubt based on the sixty year occupation experience of the Palestinian people under the yoke of the ever expanding Israeli state?

Left: Iraeli Foreign Minister and top of Kadima's list, Tzipi Livni with outgoing Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, who is ridden with corruption scandals. Tzipi Livni (left) and Ehud Olmert at the cabinet meeting. (21 December 2008), Minister Livni said Israel must react when it is fired upon, but does not mention the underlying Israeli sources of the attacks -- the refusal of Israel to relinquish Palestinian lands and allow a Palestinian state. (Photo: AP)

The two leading candidates to become Israel's next prime minister after the February 10, 2009, elections, Binyamin Netanyahu, Likud, and Tzipora Malka Livin, Kadima, have vowed if elected to topple the Palestinian Hamas government, in Gaza. The threats by Foreign Minister Livni and Likud party leader Netanyahu came after outgoing PM Ehud Olmert warned against making bold statements.

This hawkish invocation by the politicians may be contextualized in election dynamics nevertheless, the stance represents fundamental national policy of both Israeli parties. Therefore, this view is attached to core beliefs and are not merely, maneuvers for political capital. Livni has recently opined that if elected she would call on Israeli Palestinians to reassess their national aspirations and urge that these would be better served elsewhere--once she has established a Palestinian state. While Netanyahu, who was once Prime Minister and is now leader of Likud since Ariel Sharon left the party to form Kadima, has long held radical nationalist views that call for retaining all the lands of the Palestinians.
A six-month Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Hamas, which runs Gaza, came to an end on Friday. On Sunday rockets fired by revolutionaries in Gaza hit a house in the town of Sderot. No-one was injured in the attack, though a worker at a nearby farming community was hurt when another device landed in a field. The Israeli military has said militants fired some 30 rockets and mortar bombs into Israel on Saturday. A Palestinian resistance fighter was killed in an Israeli air strike. It is not clear, which event preceded the other.

At the Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday, the head of the country's domestic security agency, Shin Bet, said that Hamas had increased the range of its rockets during the ceasefire and could now hit several southern Israeli cities.

Yuval Diskin said the rockets could now reach Kiryat Gat, Ashdod and even Beersheba, about 40km (25 miles) from Gaza. He also told ministers that while Hamas had renewed its attacks, it was "interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms."
Although, these crude projectiles, whose technology date back to the second world war era, are dangerous, but they are very ineffective militarily and rarely cause harm to Israeli civilians. While Israel's precision laser guided missiles have killed hundreds of Palestinians over the years. The onus of the cycle of disproportionate violence ultimately, rests with Israel. She can stop the low-level warfare by simply disavowing its dreams of a greater Israel, returning the seized land to its rightful owners and facilitating an independent state of Palestinians to flourish without being assailed.

Left: Although, Islamic Jihad, has sporadically, fired rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip in what it says are retaliatory strikes for IDF incursions upon its members. Hamas for the most part, had maintained the integrity of the truce with Israel.
"It wants us to lift the siege of Gaza, stop attacks, and extend the truce to include the West Bank," Mr Diskin added.

Hamas blamed Israel for the end of the ceasefire on Friday, saying it had not respected its terms, including the lifting of the blockade.

Israeli officials insist that there was no commitment to ease the siege, under which they have allowed in little more than basic humanitarian aid and at other times nothing.

Prime Minister Olmert said during the cabinet meeting that the government had agreed to the ceasefire with Hamas last June with little doubt or hesitation.

"Israel has always hoped for and wanted quiet for the residents of the South and that they should enjoy genuine calm and be free of the threat of unceasing Qassam and mortar attacks that have disrupted life in the South for a very long period," he said.
It is interesting to note that Minister Olmert on the eve of his expulsion from office has seen fit to call for giving up East Jerusalem and almost all of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians as well as returning the Golan Heights to Syria. Apparently, there is a certain liberation that comes from having a political career in tatters over allegations of having pocketed envelopes of cash and other corrupt actions.
Mr Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak also warned the cabinet and opposition parties against making "bold statements" about plans for a major military operation in Gaza.

"A government doesn't rush to battle, but doesn't avoid it either," Mr Olmert said. "Israel will know how to give the proper response at the right time in the right way, responsibly."

Shortly afterwards, however, Ms Livni told a meeting of her Kadima party that she would topple Hamas if she became prime minister after the general election on 10 February.

Left: IDF soldier fires missile
"The state of Israel, and a government under me, will make it a strategic objective to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza," she said. "The means for doing this should be military, economic and diplomatic."

"Israel must react when it is fired upon, must re-establish its force of dissuasion and stop the rockets," she added. "This is what has to be done and this is what I will do."

Mr Netanyahu, whose right-wing Likud party is currently ahead in the polls, meanwhile called for a more "active policy of attack," accusing the current government of being too "passive."

"In the long-term, the toppling of the Hamas regime is inevitable," he said while visiting Sderot, Israel, on Sunday.
In actuality, there appears no aperture in policy towards Hamas. These calls for a new forceful front against Hamas would merely mirror the policies of Israeli governments in the past decades. Although, Israeli secret services did court, fund and enable Hamas in its formative stages in a bid to counteract Yasser Arafat's Palestinian National Authority (FATAH).

Left: Binyamin Netanyahu, tops the list of the Israeli Likud Party. Bibi says: "Right now we have to go from passive response to active assault." Netanyahu in Sderot (21 December 2008). (AP photo)
He said residents of southern Israeli towns close to the Gaza Strip were "paying a hefty price for the mistakes made by Livni and her ministers" since the Israeli withdrawal from the territory in 2005.
Yet, it was in the wake of the policies of a Netanyahu government, which Hamas saw its rise to power. Moreover, Netanyahu was a high ranking member of the LIkud party with both, Sharon and Livni among others in current Kadima-led government. Member of Knesset Binyamin Netanyahu can hardly claim to hold no responsibility for the current state of chaos that grips the region. Where were his bold visions of peace and security when his administration was at the helm?

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, having escaped assassination attempts by Israel, who is also former Palestinian Prime Minister, dismissed the Israeli threats. Hamas was created on December 15, 1987. The Israeli support for Hamas coincided with the height of the joint Israeli-US-Pakistani Mujahideen effort against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Apparently, Israel sought to implement the policy of nurturing religious parties to dilute secular sectors in the occupied territories. However, blowback and fate would betray those aims of engineering Palestinian politics as Hamas has developed to become the most ardent and organized Palestinian opponent to the occupation.

Right: Ismail Haniyeh called for a truce with Israel at the Islamic University in Gaza City. Prime Minister from March 29, 2006 to June 14, 2007, when Israel complemented with pressure from the "international community" boycotted and eventually, dissolved the Palestinian government, arresting a majority of sitting members who remain in jail subsequently, installing Abu Mazen as head of the Palestinian Authority. (Photo: hatem Moussa/AP)
"Nothing can finish off our people," he said. "It is not our people who are escalating the situation; it is the Israeli occupation, which should have stuck to the conditions of the truce."
As the countdown to February's election unfolds the candidates are eager to court an electorate fearful of the future. Ostensibly, most Israelis want peace however, their governments continue to implement military policy, which keeps the population captive mired in a perpetual mindset of fear-mongering.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that a "major escalation of violence would have grave consequences for the protection of civilians in Israel and Gaza, the welfare of the Gazan civilian population, and the sustainability of political efforts."
Israel launched a diplomatic public relations (PR), campaign Sunday, aimed largely at member states of the United Nations Security Council and influential European countries, in order to pave the way for an IDF operation in Gaza.

Left: IDF soldiers attack Hamas' Headquarters.

Readers ought to consider that the IDF have been operating in Gaza, unto Gaza and around Gaza, but what do facts about a continued assault on the people of the Gaza strip matter? The PR campaign has more to do with framing any escalation by Israel as novel and unprecedented actions that are compelled by new conditions by involving "terrorist" attacks emanating from Gaza.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni instructed Israel's embassies and consulates abroad to begin diplomatic and public relations work in their respective countries. The diplomats are to inform the host countries that Hamas is the one that violated the "lull" and is responsible for the situation in Gaza.
The so-called 'lull' was a six-month truce negotiated with Hamas, which Egypt brokered however, it has been degraded to a "lull" precisely, because the Israelis had little intention of honoring the agreement. In fact, while the world was fixed on the election results in the United States that saw the historic win of Barack Obama, Israel took opportunity of the news 'lull' to unleash its special forces to enter and attack Gaza thereby, breaking the truce. Israel would continue the onslaught for several days thereafter being fully aware that the world's attention would be focused on reaction to the Obama election. Wherefore, Israel calculated she would meet little scrutiny in the world press for its strategic belligerence agaisnt Gaza.

Left: Palestinian Hamas security men stand to attention however, they are bare handed in military hardware compared to Israel's modern armed forces.(AFP)

Israel has marshaled its disinformation machine throughout the world to paint the Palestinians it has under a crippling multi-dimensional siege as terrorists who are not amenable to legal conventions or treaties. Israel has instituted a comprehensive prevention of goods from entering Gaza including medical supplies, fuel, food and banking activity.

While Gaza shares a border with Egypt, which could alleviate the dire situation however, the Rafah crossing has also been closed. Egypt has conditioned a partial opening of the border-crossing, limited to citizens and personal belongings, on the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas. Hamas has offered to release the prisoner if Israel releases Hamas' Members of Parliament it abducted in military sweeps and other such prisoners of a political nature that are in Israeli prisons, most of whom without charge. Negotiations are on-going between Hamas and the Israelis on a prisoner exchange. There are currently some eleven thousand Palestinians prisoners of varying ages detained by Israel. Egypt has also pointed out that by liberally opening the border, Israel would be exculpated from its legal responsibilities.
Livni instructed Israel's United Nations team to file a formal complaint with the Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, and the Security Council regarding the rocket fire against it from Gaza. In the complaint, Israel warns that it "will not remain passive" if the rocket fire continues and that it "will do everything" to protect its citizens.

Livni also intends to make phone calls to top diplomats worldwide, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary-General Ban and the foreign ministers of Russia, France, Germany and Britain.
The United Nations (UN), suddenly becomes a rehabilitated and reliable institution and has reformed itself into an impartial world body when it serves the purposes of Israel. The UN is good when some 77% of the land of Palestine is given to Israel. The UN is also good when its troops protect the border of Israel with Egypt. But, the UN is bad when it passes resolutions that demand Israel adhere to international law and refrain from annexing land, destroying the homes of Palestinians or building Walls and settlements. Otherwise, the UN remains an enclave of "racism and bias" toward Jews in general and Israel in particular according to the Israelis. Moreover, Israel routinely, demeans and disregards resolution after resolution passed by the United Nations. Why is it that the United Nations is now being tapped by Israel in order to further its aims of painting a false picture of the true nature of carnage it has caused in the Gaza Strip?
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that he has instructed the IDF to prepare for an operation in Gaza. "The place, time and method of operation will be left to the professionals," he said. "The Chief of Staff and Defense Minister know what to do, as least as well as some of the hotheads," he said.
Left: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak sucking on icecream.

Be as it may, when Ehud Barak came to head the Israeli government overseeing the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon in 2000. Palestinians though, found neither solace, nor redress in his administration. In fact, a second Intifada took place under his stewardship of the government. The expectations of Palestine that there would be a fair and just peace, given their bitter experiences with Mr. Biyamin Netanyahu, in prime minister Barak, were utterly, betrayed.

Any new expectations rested in Ehud Barak are unwarranted in light of his past government policies, Ehud Barak's current statements of a measured and tempered response should be taken in context with his previous behavior and weighed by the paucity of ameliorative agreements availed to the Palestinian people. Any such beneficent hopes in the intent of Mr. Barak would simply be caricatures of wishful thinking and exhibitions of imaginary assurances.

Mr. Barak's comments while seemingly equidistant should be judged as expedient political speech at the apex of an election cycle. To be certain, Palestinians and other objective observers should tread very carefully in dealing with and considering Mr. Barak and his high-sounding professions. Lest we forget the brutal Israeli military action and repression of unarmed Palestinian protesters during the Second Intifada under Barak's administration. This is a dangerous man, these are determined people who will stop at nothing to get their Eretz Israel.

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