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Middle East Mess

September 12th, 2003

The Israeli Cabinet has decided to exile Yassir Arafat, who, they say, “is an absolute obstacle to the whole process of peace and compromise”. It’s hard to disagree with this. But if that’s the criterion, why isn’t Sharon going into exile as well?

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  1. Homer Paxton
    September 12th, 2003 at 14:16 | #1

    Hard to disagree with.
    Both are unapologetic murderers however both have been voted in by large segments of their populations so we are stuck with them.
    Do either side really want peace?
    I doubt it.

  2. Jim
    September 12th, 2003 at 14:43 | #2

    John,
    Perhaps because it was Arafat’s refusal to restrain Hamas and Hezbollah which in turn, ended the ceasefire?

  3. September 12th, 2003 at 14:55 | #3

    Jim, I think you’re mistaken. This chronology demonstrates that it was Israel who broke the ceasefire.

  4. neil
    September 12th, 2003 at 16:05 | #4

    Interesting link Robert. Let’s have a vote. Which of those dates do people think the ceasefire was truely broken. For me, killing 20 civilians on a bus, including 5 children, and injuring at least a 100, is pretty much the stand out, so I’d say the 19th August looks like the date. For the Islamic Jihad guy it was the 21st August. Curious to know what other people think.

  5. Jim
    September 12th, 2003 at 16:14 | #5

    Robert,
    I presume you are referring to the 3 July Incident? The Guardian also reports that the shooting occurred following attacks from Palestinian militants.
    The breach of the ceasefire was clearly the resumption of suicide attacks by the Palestinian fanatics in mid-August.

  6. September 12th, 2003 at 17:58 | #6

    Actually, I was referring to the 8 August raid. The BBC describes it thusly:

    After more than a month of relative calm, two Hamas militants and an Israeli soldier are killed in an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in Nablus. Two Palestinians die in protests that follow.

    But in case you think that’s just BBC bias, here’s a more detailed description of what happened:

    While the two sides talked, Israeli troops demolished the homes of four Palestinian terror suspects and raided the Gaza Strip town Beit Lahia .

    Soldiers firing a tank-mounted machine gun tank killed a 17-year-old and wounded four other Palestinian children and teenagers as they threw stones at the vehicles.

    The army said the soldiers opened fire because they feared for their lives when the stone-throwers came close to the tanks.

    Reporters at the scene said army bulldozers uprooted hundreds of trees and destroyed crops in the outlying areas.

    And CNN’s take?

    Eyewitnesses reported at least 15 tanks moved into Beit Lahiya before the Israeli forces withdrew to the nearby Israeli settlement of Alei Sinai. Israel Radio reported two bulldozers were among the tanks.

    [...]

    Near the sweep’s end, the [IDF] spokesman said that several hundred stone throwers surrounded an Israeli tank and it opened fire to disperse the crowd. He said the Israeli forces had no intention of killing anyone.

    A tank opens fire on a crowd, but doesn’t intend to kill anyone? Uh-huh.

  7. carl
    September 12th, 2003 at 18:09 | #7

    Well Greg Sheridan reckons there never really was a ceasefire. He’s probably right.

    There was never agreement on what the terms of the ceasefire would be. Hamas & IJ agreed to a ceasefire but not a surrender. Israel demanded that the PA act to dismantle them, and reserved the right to act against them if that didn’t happen.

    Without even an agreement on what the ceasefire meant, it’s a bit futile speculating on who broke it.

  8. September 12th, 2003 at 20:39 | #8

    I’ll go along with that, Carl. My main point was that it is certainly far from clear that the Palestinians broke it (if, as you point out, it ever existed).

  9. John
    September 12th, 2003 at 23:08 | #9

    By the time the ceasefire ended and Abbas resigned, Sharon had months to show that he was willing to deal seriously with a Palestinian leader other than Arafat. He did nothing beyond a few token gestures like closing a few settlement outposts that were illegal even under Israeli law, then doing nothing when they were reopened/replaced.

  10. dave
    September 13th, 2003 at 05:49 | #10

    “By the time the ceasefire ended and Abbas resigned, Sharon had months to show that he was willing to deal seriously with a Palestinian leader other than Arafat. He did nothing beyond a few token gestures like closing a few settlement outposts that were illegal even under Israeli law, then doing nothing when they were reopened/replaced”.

    Ummm. We won’t mention the “token gesture”
    of releasing prioners who unfortunately expressed
    a desire to return to their old habits after being
    released.

    Also, it’s a bit hard to “deal seriously” with
    a leader other than Arafat,when that leader
    is basically a puppet,while the grandad of
    terror continues to pull the strings.

  11. neil
    September 13th, 2003 at 07:06 | #11

    No, Robert, it certainly IS clear the Palestinians broke the ‘ceasefire’. The people on the bus were not immediately threatening to harm a Palestinian, they were catching public transport. They were non-combatants – women and children. Deliberately targeted. You cannot say that about any of the other items on the chronology previous to the 19th August.

  12. September 13th, 2003 at 13:20 | #12

    Neil, the Palestinians wouldn’t have been “immediately threatening to harm” an Israeli if the Israelis hadn’t raided the area with fifteen tanks and several bulldozers. If I can’t take a few pot-shots at a row of tanks that intend to destroy my house, I don’t know what I can do! Where’s your support for the rights of property owners against home invaders?

  13. Homer Paxton
    September 13th, 2003 at 20:58 | #13

    Excuse me but how in the hell is Arafat going to ‘control’ Hamas etal when the Israeli government destryed his complete infrastucture?

    Who do you think does the social welfare work there?

    They are all terrorists over there except some kill people wearing a uniform!

  14. Andrew
    September 13th, 2003 at 21:57 | #14

    Can’t we just wall ‘em in together and check in on them again sometime in 2005?

  15. September 14th, 2003 at 17:07 | #15

    The problem with Andrew’s suggestion is that a whole load of people would agree and deliberately construe “all” as meaning “all Palestinians”, i.e. leaving the Israelis with what they are after.

    I know, because I had an email discussion along those lines, which went dead the moment the other fellow realised I did not consider the Israelis were justified (using the term technically), that I was after closing off our problems not picking sides.

    (I hope Andrew didn’t mean that kind of selective “all” himself.)

  16. craig
    September 15th, 2003 at 00:13 | #16

    Maybe Israel could abide by international law.

    That might be a good start.

  17. September 15th, 2003 at 14:31 | #17

    I would agree with pr Q that Sharon and Arafat represent the failure of respectively, semitic and arabic fascism in the area of Judea.
    And it is no accident that both have turned to their fundamentalist wings to shore up political support.
    But the analogy is not perfect.
    Sharon can be dis-elected from office, as he has and will be.
    Arafat is an elective dictator for life, who rules by control of corrupt finances and security agencies.
    Moreover, it was Arafat who had Oslo adherence in his power and threw away the best opportunity for peace when he authorised Intifada II.
    I just do not think that Euro-Judaic Israelis can peacefully coexist in the same region as Arab-Islamic Palestinians in the ME. The cultural differences are, for the moment, too great.

  18. September 16th, 2003 at 06:39 | #18

    John, to answer your original question. Because Dr. Pangloss was wrong, and we don’t live in the best of all possible worlds. If only…

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