Saturday, July 19, 2008

Israel must abide by ceasefire agreement and end illegal siege of Gaza

The Arab news is reporting that Hamas and Israeli diplomats met in Egypt this weekend to discuss the cease fire that came into effect approximately one month ago. It seems important to mention here that almost no one believed that the cease fire would last this long. Its success so far is due to the good graces of both the Palestinian resistance factions and Israel. Both sides have had to ignore some obvious violations of the cease fire agreement that was limited to Gaza and that does not include the West Bank.

In respect to Palestinian expectations and terms of the agreement, Israel’s refusal to end the year’s long economic siege of Gaza as agreed, poses the greatest threat to continued cooperation and calm. The Palestinian resistance factions made it clear during cease fire negotiations that their willingness to negotiate a cease fire did not result from anxiety over casualties caused by Israeli missiles or Israel’s routine and illegal military incursions. The Palestinian leadership in Gaza says it is compelled only by the desire to feed its people and to restore their human rights to have adequate food, water and health care. These are rights that are guaranteed under the Geneva Conventions and that are being illegally violated by Israel, aided by those countries who have with impunity denied the Palestinians these rights by cooperating with Israel to make the siege successful.

The siege is part of Israel’s grand strategy to ethnically cleanse Palestine. That alone should be sufficient cause for the countries of the world to stand against Israel, first in its application of the siege, and now in its violation of the cease fire agreement which states that the Rafah crossing, along with the other crossings into Gaza would be opened, thus ending the siege.

To those who would suggest that Israel’s other option is to carry out an all out military attack on the 1.5 million civilians who reside in Gaza, they should be advised that 1.5 billion Muslims will not allow it, and neither will millions of Arabs. If, as many pundits and analysts have detected, that the patience of Arabs and Muslims and other conscientious people, including many Jews, has worn thin in respect to continued Israeli violence against the Palestinians, there are no guarantees that Israeli military action will lessen demands to end the illegal Israeli siege. In fact it is likely that a return to violence will result in an even greater international outcry against Israel, the continued illegal occupation and the siege.

For their part, the resistance factions should perhaps continue to keep their end of the agreement and not return too quickly to missile attacks or other military acts of resistance in an effort to force Israel’s hand, or to punish Israel. As strange and counter intuitive as it may sound, the best approach for the Palestinians at this juncture might be to increase their appeal to the international community to call Israel to end its siege on Gaza, and to end the illegal occupation of Palestine. This will require increased diplomatic efforts in Africa, the Arab and Muslim world and Europe, and South America. These countries and peoples have leverage over the US that might outweigh the influence of American Jews and the Zionist Christians that have poisoned US foreign policy towards Palestine. Whereas it might be hard for any US policy maker to understand what benefit there might be in taking up the rights of Palestinians, they may be more sensitive to the moral appeal for justice, and human rights made by countries and peoples with whom the US desires trade and good relations.

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