Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Israel and Palestine; lasting new peace accord needed

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Mavi Marmara arriving in Ashdod (Photo: Avi Rokach)

Again more violence, more deaths. This time Palestinians and their supporters on board the Turkish ship, the Mavi Mamara carrying supplies to Gaza are shot. Killing those people was wrong. It seems the operation was botched and soldiers endangered by poor intelligence and dreadful political decision making. It was probably unlawful ( if the blockade is unlawful so was the Israeli attack, but if the blockade is lawful so is enforcing it) and understandably the world condemns Israel. But this situation is not black and white; it never has been.

With passions, aroused to an intense frenzy by some people involved in the bitter, hate filled dispute between Palestinians and Israelis, it is difficult for a reasoned voice to be heard. Inevitably, yet more riots were triggered today in parts of Israel.

Residents clashed morning Umm al - Charcoal with security force
What I say, I say in good faith as a Friend of Israel and call it as I see it (I may well be wrong).

Whilst saluting the spirit of solidarity that those involved with the flotilla of ships, it would appear that the ships had not been loaded safely (jepardising the lives on board ironically) nor did some of them apparently have the correct maritime documentation. There appears to have been a stockpile of weapons although counting kitchen knives that could have come simply from the ship's galley seemed a bit dubious. Nevertheless, the attacks on the Commandos from the video footage seemed real with vicious attacks on the soldiers triggering an over reaction that was fatal. Difficult to know the truth prior to any kind of investigation but well armed soldiers should be able to hold back an aggressive, angry mob at gun point without firing or only firing warning shots.
Soldiers attacked on the Mamara
It is true to say that five ships were boarded peacefully and without incident. The sixth turned into a running battle and should have been avoided.

So let those people not die in vain and all sides should come together to negotiate in good faith. Nothing will be achieved by more revenge attacks. I can understand Israel's intense frustration that the regular rocket attacks (77 between 1st January and 1st June this year), suicide bombers and general violence against its own citizens and the IDF creates a popular demand among Israelis 'to do something'. Acting tough has been the typical hawkish response by politicians across the Israeli spectrum.
A rocket fired from a civilian area in Gaza towards civilian areas in Southern Israel.jpg
Rocket attack, December 2008
One casualty of the Mavi Mamara attack, was Prime Minister Netanyahu cancelling his scheduled meeting with President Obama at the White House.

Prime Minister Netanyahu

This was another missed opportunity to reset the peace talks. Later Netanyahu commented that the ship was a "premeditated act of violence", which seems frankly to be utter tosh. If the ship had docked in Israel, it is highly unlikely that there would have been any violence. The Israelis will argue, understandably, that they had good reason to believe that there could be weapons on board which may have been used against Israelis in due course, but to date no substantial weapons such as rockets have been found.

Likewise, the inflamed, denunciation of the attack by Prime Minister Erdogan in Turkey in which he stated, "if you want the enemy of Turkey, it will be violent and cruel", was less than helpful.

Prime Minister Erdogan

Israel should let the Rachel Corrie ship from Ireland to pass safely through on Wednesday and then quietly check the cargo when in port and everyone has disembarked. Otherwise, the violence could be worse.

The blockade of Gaza must end. Amnesty have condemned the "extreme poverty" of the 1.4 million Palestinians crammed into Gaza. The Hamas-approved rocket attacks must end.

Since Israel, withdrew from Gaza in 2005 (and Hamas coming to power in 2007) 1,754 Palestinians (including 309 children) and 117 Israelis (including 12 children) have been killed another 7,000 Israelis and Palestinians have been injured.

Both Israelis and Palestinians need to be reassured that they can live in peace and the US is vital to building trust and confidence. The Israelis and Palestinians should engage and agree a new Road Map to a clearly defined vision of peace. There will be many who want such peace accords to fail. Peace must not fail.

Otherwise, the senseless (and yes it is utterly mad for both sides to try and exterminate each other) violence and needless deaths will continue.

Time for cool heads and tough talking. In 2010, peace can be found.


  1. Paul.....how is this peace going to be found !?
    with men ! it is impossible. There is violence every where in the world not just in the mid east. A power greater than ourselves has to come a rescue mankind from its self, and that will be the coming kingdom of God with his son Jesus Christ as king reining from Jerusalem (city of peace) all this is foretold to us in the bible .please go to this link for more....... Tony

  2. Paul....who is going to bring about this peace !!
    The whole world is full of violence and not just in the middle east, and its getting worse....so who will save us from ourselves?
    It will need to be someone who does not possess a fallen human nature, someone who has perfect judgement , who rules with righteousness
    and compassion, who knows all things, and that will be gods son , the lord Jesus Christ. There is a kingdom coming with its center at Jerusalem (which means "city of peace")and God has made promises about this and he does not break them like men do....i too hope for the peace of Jerusalem but it will take divine intervention to bring it about...and then ALL the world will have an EVER lasting peace...may it come quickly...i have included a link for you to follow......thankyou ...Tony Sayers...

  3. paul, please go to this web site and have a read (or listen) .......tony

  4. "...it is utterly mad for both sides to try and exterminate each other" where in Israel's actions or statements do you find that it tries to exterminate the Palestinians?

    Every week hundreds of trucks loaded with basic supplies are transferred through the border from Israel to Gaza. Including the supplies which arrived on board the flotilla last week. Some of it donated by Israeli citizens and organisations which make the separation between the Palestinian population and its leadership.

    Weapons have been found on previous ships bound to Gaza (or haven't you heard about the Karin A (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karine_A_Affair) in your filtered news sources?) so Israel has all the rights to look for them in any ship on its way there.

    In the years of Israeli occupation the Palestinian population more than quadrupled (from ~600,000 to over 3 million). Doesn't sit for me with a policy of "extermination".

    On the other side - the Hamas has Israel's extermination and killing of all Jews wherever they are as the main goal on its charter.

    Israel also negotiated with the Palestinians and actually let them setup their own rule in the Gaza strip and most of the West Bank in an attempt to build confidence by the Oslo agreements, and all it got was more terror bases closer to home.

    I'm not saying that Israel should keep occupying the territories or not give the Palestinians independence, but you blissfully ignore how much suffering there is on the Israeli side and to what length Israel goes in order to try to minimise damage to the Palestinian population while handling a murderous regime which boasts about using its own citizens as shields and canon fodder.

  5. Thanks Amos for your comments. You are absolutely correct that there is no policy of the Israeli Government to 'exterminate' Palestinians but I did not say there was. However, I think you are right, upon reflection I should have been more precise in my words. You are right various Arab officials have stated their desire to see the end of the state of Israel and that is totally unacceptable and inflames a deeply difficult political situation. On the other hand as far as I am aware, no Israeli officials have stated their desire to see the destruction of Arab states or peoples. Yet I think few observers would disagree with the view that there have been repeated Israeli abuses of human rights. Yes I appreciate the arguments that they have to take tough stances when they are surrounded at times by hostile states and that as a democracy they face a greater scrutiny.
    You seem not to have carefully read my article as I said that I thought it was 'understandable' that Israel wanted to search ships heading for its ports; "The Israelis will argue, understandably, that they had good reason to believe that there could be weapons on board which may have been used against Israelis in due course, but to date no substantial weapons such as rockets have been found."
    I think also to state that I am blissfully unaware of the situation on the Israeli side does not sit with my quotation and research of the 77 rocket attacks on Israelis up to the date of my article (very few Western media articles make much mention of what is a truly terrifying ordeal that occurs every week to Israeli soldiers and civilians).
    Like I mentioned in the article, I call it as I see it and I continue to learn about both sides grievances. My simply stated desire is to see peace. I agree that there is a general sympathetic support for Palestinians in the media and notably less for Israelis, however at times the Israeli Government seems very slow in reacting to news events (as was seen with the late release of the shocking video of attacks against Israeli soldiers on board the Mavi Mamara).
    You mention that I have used 'filtered' news sources. My sources were :-
    The Jerusalem Post
    BBC News
    The Israeli Defence Force website
    Ynet News (Israeli website)
    Al Arab Online
    Amnesty International
    I trust you will appreciate I aimed to use a balanced selection of sources.
    I have visited Israel and received a very warm welcome from Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. I have an enormous amount of respect for all Israelis who have been subjected to repeated attacks on their homeland. That is why I stand with them as a friend but a friend who is prepared to speak his mind.
    Best wishes.


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