israeli DepuTy prime minister and Foreign minister, Tzipi livni
By PaT lanCasTer
There have been Israeli deaths and horrible injuries suffered in the Qassem rocket attacks on towns across the border that cannot be condoned; any loss of civilian life – Israeli or Palestinian – is a tragedy. But, it should be noted that we are not talking hundreds of Israeli deaths or casualties, as a result of the rocket attacks, it was 12 at the last count. Conversely, in the Occupied Territories, deaths and injuries are racking up at an alarming rate, not only as a result of attacks sanctioned by Tel Aviv but also at Israeli Army checkpoints, where the old, sick, pregnant and dying are detained – often for hours – until, in an increasing number of cases, it is too late for any earthly intervention. Speaking at the 8th Doha Forum of Democracy in mid-April, Foreign Minister Livni, in a clear reference to Hamas, told her audience, with no sense of irony: “No true democracy on earth allows armed militia, or groups with racist or violent agendas, to participate in elections. I call on the international community to adopt a series of standards for participating in democratic elections. The choice should be made before elections take place – terror or politics – but not political terrorism.” If the international community had acted on similar lines pre-1948, the state of Israel would never have existed. And, in 2008, Palestinian women in the final stages of labour who are waiting for hours to cross Israeli checkpoints, might have equally strong opinions about just where political terrorism begins – and ends. n
ithin the space of the last 12 months, I have sat in audiences at conferences in the Middle East and listened with rapt attention as three major Israeli political players have spoken about the need of the Jewish state to protect itself from “terrorist attack”. In Sharm El Sheikh, respected elder statesman Shimon Peres spoke of Israel’s “vulnerability; in Petra, Jordan, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took a similar line and, most recently, in Doha, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni strongly indicated that it was terrorism and terrorism alone that stood between the much longed for peace between Israel and the Arab world. None of these three eminent Israeli politicians was prepared to countenance the idea that Israel’s “steamroller to crack a nut” offensives in the Occupied Territories had been “disproportionate”, as the Americans accused, or viciously and inhumanly 100% over the top, as most of the rest of the world believes. And so it goes on, to the point where one must consider whether the Israeli government actually wants peace at all. The evidence shows that the people of Israel are desperate for an end to the conflict that had its roots in the earliest moves towards establishing the independent state of Israel, 60 years ago this month. But still the government drags its feet. Although every government minister appears adept at ‘talking the talk’ we have seen precious little ‘walking the walk’.
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The Middle easT May 2008
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