Showing posts for "Middle East"
To those unfamiliar with the term, “Yasser Arafat International Airport” must seem like the punch line to some joke about international terrorism.
Yet it existed in Gaza, briefly, and President Clinton and Hillary Clinton visited there in 1998 to stand next to Arafat and cut the ribbon opening the facility. These were the years when Clinton viewed Arafat as the key to peace, and invited him to the White House 13 times – more than any other foreign visitor. The airport was destroyed by Israel in 2001 as part of the reaction to the intifada that Arafat launched after he refused Israel’s offer and rebuffed Clinton’s efforts at Camp David. Read more »
The Gaza war took a new turn today, when Hamas violated a cease-fire in order to kill and capture IDF soldiers. The reasonable conclusion to draw is that Hamas’s agreement to the cease-fire was a ruse, meant to give them this opportunity.
That action has several effects beyond destroying the cease-fire itself and prolonging the war. It certainly solidifies Israeli public backing for the war, which was extremely high anyway. The nature of the enemy is made even clearer. The contemptible nature of so much of the criticism of Israel around the world is also made clearer, coming from voices that appear indifferent to the nature and conduct of Hamas, to Israeli deaths, and to the deaths of Arabs anywhere else—in Syria, for example—as long as Jews are not responsible for those deaths and if there’s no opportunity to criticize Israel. Read more »
In the course of the Gaza war, several key European leaders have made tough, sensible statements supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and demanding a cease fire that does not give in to Hamas demands. Chancellor Merkel said Germany “stand[s] by the side of Israel” and noted that the weapons used by Hamas were of “a completely new quality.” French President Hollande said Israel had the right to use “all the necessary measures” to protect itself from rockets and missiles. Britain’s new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said “Everybody in the UK and the west is appalled by the scenes coming out of Gaza but every country has the right to defend itself against attack.” Read more »
With Ban ki-Moon and John Kerry arriving in Cairo today, there will be lots of talk about a cease-fire deal. It is important that the United States keep Egypt in the forefront, and keep using the term “cease-fire.”
As to Egypt, it is not only that the Egyptian government shares our own view of Hamas as a terrorist group whose influence and military capabilities must be fought. That alone is a reason for the United States to want Egypt, not Qatar or Turkey, to be central. It is also that Egypt has genuine national security interests at stake here because it is a neighbor to Gaza. Terrorist activities in Gaza and Sinai matter to Egypt in a way that they do not to Qatar or Turkey. Any agreement that improves Hamas’s chances of importing more weaponry harms Egypt’s security, and the Egyptians have a right to a say in this. Read more »
In rejecting the Egyptian proposal for a cease fire, Hamas appears to be rejecting the only way to avoid an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza. It is still possible that a cease fire will be put back together today, but time is running out to avoid that ground attack. Israel cannot keep 40,000 reservists sitting around for weeks while Hamas rockets fly. Read more »
Israel is under attack by the terrorist group Hamas. Hundreds of rockets have fallen on its cities and towns. Millions of Israelis run, and must pull their children, into shelters each day.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has discussed this with French president Hollande and with German chancellor Merkel. Read more »
The current battles between Israel and Hamas were provoked by Hamas. Why?
When increased levels of rocket fire began about a week ago, Israeli prime minister Netanyahu responded with restraint. He sent clear messages to Hamas in public statements, and via Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt, that he wanted no war, and no incursion into Gaza; if the rocket attacks ended, this confrontation would be over. Read more »
Efforts continue in Europe and the United States to boycott Israel or at least Israeli goods “tainted” by their production in settlements in the West Bank, and to disinvest in Israeli companies or in U.S. firms doing business there. Most recently, the Presbyterian Church USA joined in, voting that it would divest its shares in Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions because of their sales in Israel. Read more »
As the United States enters the July Fourth weekend, the Hamas leadership in Gaza faces a difficult and potentially important decision.
The last couple of years have hurt Hamas. The level of support it receives from Iran has declined, so it is short of cash. The Egyptian Army has closed the smuggling tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, further hurting the Gaza economy and Hamas’s tax revenues. The kidnappings in the West Bank last month turned into a disaster for Hamas: instead of having captives to trade for Israeli prisoners, Hamas was condemned universally for the crimes and suffered severe blows to its organization in both the West Bank and Gaza. Read more »
Pressure Points tracks developments in the Middle East and democratization and human rights issues globally.