‘Israel should be serious about peace’
Paul Handley; 30/7/09; (6 Items)
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday rebuffed US calls for diplomatic overtures toward Israel and said the Jewish state’s settlement expansion is jeopardizing efforts to revive peace talks. “It is Israel that has to move seriously toward the peace process,” Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman Osama Nugali said. “As we all know, Israel is continuing to take unilateral measures by changing the geographic and demographic facts on the ground, by building settlements and expanding the existing ones,” he told AFP. Nugali said Israeli settlement expansion on occupied Arab land continues to impede any progress toward a lasting two-state solution between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Reconstruct homes, protesters demand
Hisham Abu Taha; 30/7/09
Hundreds of Palestinians on Wednesday morning participated in a demonstration to demand the reconstruction of their houses that were destroyed during the 22-day war on Gaza earlier this year. During the demonstration, organized by the National Assembly for Law and Democracy (NALD) in cooperation with other human rights organizations, the protesters raised Palestinian flags and slogans calling on the international community to take an immediate action to reconstruct their houses. They also chanted slogans calling on Fatah and Hamas to reunite in order to be able to rebuild their houses. “We have the right to enjoy living in a safe house to protect us from the hot summer and the cold winter,” read one banner at the demonstration.
Washington is reportedly trying to push Arab states to make some kind of gestures towards Israel as a quid pro quo for the country freezing its settlement construction in occupied territory. This would be a serious mistake. That is not to say that there is no merit in confidence-building measures, nor that Arab states should simply sit on the sidelines and wait until such a time, if ever, that Israel is prepared to make peace of its own accord. However there are several problems with the American position as it now stands. For starters, it does not come in the context of the Arab Peace Initiative that very clearly explains what Israel might expect should it abide by international law, end its occupation and finally accept to live in peace as part of the region and alongside an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. Arab states have already offered full normalisation and that is as it should be.
http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=18804; Contradictory messages; Michael Jansen; 30/7/09; http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=18805
A bitter sweet victory
Daoud Kuttab; 30/7/09
The announcement has been long awaited. The Israeli Airport Authority announced that starting August 4, the King Hussein Bridge (sometimes referred to as Allenby Bridge) will be open daily till midnight on a 60-day experimental basis. Ever since the outbreak of Al Aqsa Intifada, the Palestinian police that were stationed at the bridge as part of the Oslo Accords, were sent packing to Jericho and bridge hours were reduced to 8:00am till 4:00pm for most passengers, while diplomats were allowed to use the crossing till 8:00pm. As the only crossing point allowed for the 2.5 million Palestinians of the West Bank and their visiting relatives, the bridge has become a focal point of anguish as families with young children and older grandparents have to sweat it out for hours in the hot Jordan Valley sun during daytime hours. The problem is greater during the summer because Palestinians working in the Gulf and other regions come to spend the break with their family and relatives. With the Gazan shore closed off to vacationing Palestinians the bridge is the only route to any summer holiday destination either in Sharm El Sheikh or just a visit to relatives in Jordan and beyond. Add to the normal passenger traffic, the fact that Palestinians from the West Bank and those who are Israeli citizens also make the Umra pilgrimage to Mecca. One day in July over 12,000 passengers made the crossing and had to wait for hours in buses. Repeated demands to expand the opening hours of the bridge have been made for years with little response.
‘Israel must withdraw from Arab land’: Saudi official
Saudi Arabia will not recognise Israel until it withdraws from occupied Arab land and makes committed steps toward a lasting two-state solution, a senior official said on Wednesday. Foreign ministry spokesman Osama Nugali also called Israeli policy “schizophrenic” and said it was jeopardising attempts to revive Middle East peace talks aimed at creating an independent Palestinian state. “Our position is well known. It is Israel that has to move seriously towards the peace process,” Nugali said. “As we all know, Israel is continuing to take unilateral measures by changing the geographic and demographic facts on the ground, by building settlements and expanding the existing ones,” he said. “The Arab peace initiative is very clear,” he said, referring to a 2002 Saudi-inspired Middle East peace blueprint.
Blockade of Gaza must come to an end
Six long months after the war in Gaza finished and Israeli troops withdrew from the shattered city, the Israeli and Egyptian blockade is still in place, as tough as ever with little sign that it will ever change. Suffering Gazans are unable to rebuild their city without basic supplies such as concrete, steel, nails and tools.The Israelis are doing this to continue to put pressure on Hamas, which controls Gaza. Israel persists in treating the Islamic party as a terrorist group, and refuses to have normal political relations with Hamas. Its blockade of Gaza is designed to humiliate the Hamas leadership, and the Israelis hope that the organisation will lose the support of the 1.4 million Gazans, who are not allowed to enter Israel except for rare humanitarian cases.