peace

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What is Ehud Olmert up to?

For a man who contributed NOTHING to the Israel/Palestine ‘peace process’ during his term in office, it seems a bit rich of him to come out now criticizing Netanyahu for not taking peace seriously!

Having said that, what Olmert says is entirely correct. Now is an opportune moment for Israel, with no real enemies threatening her, to help establish a viable Palestinian state that will ensure Israel’s own long-term survival in the region.

Perhaps, like so many ex-presidents and ex-prime ministers, Olmert is finding his true voice after leaving office. Or perhaps this is part of a hair-brained scheme to regain power? Either way, I hope the Israeli public take what he says seriously.

Father Dave

Olmert with Rice and Abbas in 2007

Olmert with Rice and Abbas in 2007

source: www.vnews.com…

Olmert Believes Peace Is Possible; Former Israeli Prime Minister Speaks at Dartmouth College

Hanover — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insisted Tuesday that peace between Israel and Palestine, based on two autonomous states, holds the key to long-term peace in the Middle East.

I n a speech before an overflow crowd at Dartmouth College’s Cook Auditorium, Olmert also endorsed current efforts of the Obama administration and its Western allies to seek some accommodations with Iran over its nuclear capabilities, despite serious objections by current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“An agreement between Israel and Palestine is the one thing that can help provide the backwind for a wider peace process in the Middle East,” Olmert said. “Israeli leaders need to get rid of this cloud and help deprived people of Palestine attain fundamental human rights. This is in the best long-term interest of Israel. Can it be done? I have no doubt.”

That statement triggered applause from the audience, although at the end of the speech about a dozen young people chanted protests before leaving the hall. Outside, they handed out leaflets stating that their protest was a “die-in” against Israel military operations in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip when Olmert was prime minister between 2006 and 2009.

Olmert, 68, looking trim in a dark suit and red tie, displayed an experienced politician’s métier with flashes of humor and forceful right jabs at the air. He argued that, strategically, Israel is perhaps now in the best position to explore a serious peace initiative with the Palestinians.

Asked in an earlier luncheon with students why Israel seems reluctant to explore peace with the Palestinians, Olmert blamed what he termed a “failure of leadership” by Netanyahu.

“He believes in something very different from me,” he said. “He wants to keep the status quo forever and that is not tactical. Plus he is unable to compromise because 18 out of 20 members of the Likud (Israel’s major center-right party) would not support him.”

Olmert explained his differences with Netanyahu over the Iran negotiations.

“President Obama is trying to find out whether they (the new regime in Iran) are serious or not,” he said. “If not, we will find out. Until then, we owe it to the stability of entire world to find out if Iran is serious.”

Read the rest of this article here.

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This latest criminal act has me stupified! What could be the reason behind it?

It makes sense that Netanyahu would upscale the development of settlements in order to ensure the failure of the so-called ‘peace talks’ but why alienate the Christian community at this stage?

Is Netanyahu really thumbing his nose at John Kerry or is there some more subtle rationale at work? Either way, this can only serve to further isolate Israel!

Father Dave

source: www.indcatholicnews.com…

Patriarch Fouad Twal

Patriarch Fouad Twal

Holy Land: Israel demolishes house belonging to Latin Patriarch

In the same week that US Secretary of State John Kerry has been visiting the Holy Land in an effort to broker peace talks beween Israel and Palestine,  bulldozers of the Jerusalem Municipality, accompanied by Israeli Security forces, demolished a house belonging to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Mgr Fouad Twal. The residential property on the Jerusalem-Hebron road, near the northern checkpoint number 300 was home to a family of 14 people.

The Patriarch inspected the demolished home yesterday,  in the company of Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem, and Bishop Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Fr Humam Khzouz, General Director of the Patriarchate, Fr George Ayoub, Chancellor; a number of other priests, the director of the Patriarchate Endowment, lawyers, engineers; consuls of foreign countries, including Italy and Belgium; representatives of churches and institutions; and a crowd of journalists from local and foreign news agencies.

In a press conference held at the site of the demolished home, the Patriarch said: “looking upon a painful and upsetting scene raises discontent and anger. There is no justification for the demolition, but when the municipality and the Israeli government enact demolitions and displace people from their homes, these practices increase hatred and endanger the future of peace. This land has belonged to the Latin Patriarchate long before 1967. The Patriarchate possesses the official deed, and all legal paperwork proving ownership. Even worse, the legal tenants of the property, Mr Salameh Abu Tarbush and his family, were taken by surprise by the demolition.”

The Patriarch added “We are the rightful/lawful owners, and you will hear our voice before all governments worldwide, and we will take legal action in appropriate courts to rectify this injustice, to bring back justice and rebuild this home. We have willpower and a spirit of belonging to this land of our ancestors, this sacred land which is home of our past, present and future.”

The home’s residents spoke about the displacement, which was carried out in the early hours of the morning, rendering them suddenly homeless. Their living situation is now tragic, in the open without shelter. The Red Cross is providing them with tents and assistance.

The lawyer of the Latin Patriarchate, Mr. Mazen Copti, confirmed the illegality of the demolition of this home and land declaring: “We will take all legal measures against the municipality of Jerusalem and the Israeli Ministry of the Interior to rebuild the house as it was.”

 

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I find this story almost mind-blowing!

We all knew that it had to be Israel that launched this latest missile strike against Syria. After all, it is one in a series, and who else could or would launch such an attack from the sea?

As to what exactly was the rationale behind the attack, it is open to speculation:

  1. Dissatisfaction with the lack of US action in Syria.
  2. An attempt to sabotage upcoming peace talks in Geneva.
  3. As stated, an attack on a weapons convoy, bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Personally, I think Israel is simply trying to provoke a response. They know it won’t come from Assad as he has all his resources tied up in fighting the rebel armies. The response they are looking for is from Iran – one that will sabotage any peace negotiations between the Americans and the Persians.

Putting all this to one side though, I still find the Israeli response to being exposed as the culprits astonishing! We didn’t expect them to apologise, of course, but we might have expected that Israeli officials would at least try to explain why they attacked another sovereign nation without provocation. Instead their response seems to have been one of indignance! Apparently they feel ‘compromised’, and they are horrified that their ally, the USA, has identified them as being responsible for the crime!

I suppose this is just the norm nowadays. High profile criminals never expect to be held accountable for their crimes, while those who expose them are invariably hunted down and made to pay – Mordechai Vanunu, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Ed Snowden, … Have we really reached the point though now where the Israeli government doesn’t even feel a need to try to justify its acts of war?!

Father Dave

source: www.timesofisrael.com…

Israel ‘furious’ with White House for leak on Syria strike

Israel is fuming with the White House for confirming that it was the Israeli Air Force that struck a military base near the Syrian port city of Latakia on Wednesday, hitting weaponry that was set to be transferred to Hezbollah.

Israel has not acknowledged carrying out the strike, one of half a dozen such attacks widely ascribed to Israel in recent months, but an Obama administration official told CNN on Thursday that Israeli warplanes had indeed attacked the Syrian base, and that the target was “missiles and related equipment” set for delivery to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

A second TV report, on Israel’s Channel 2, said the leak “came directly from the White House,” and noted that “this is not the first time” that the administration has compromised Israel by leaking information on such Israeli Air Force raids on Syrian targets.

It said some previous leaks were believed to have come from the Pentagon, and that consideration had been given at one point to establishing a panel to investigate the sources.

Channel 2′s military analyst, Roni Daniel, said the Obama administration’s behavior in leaking the information was unfathomable.

Daniel noted that by keeping silent on whether it carried out such attacks, Israel was maintaining plausible deniability, so that Syria’s President Bashar Assad did not feel pressured to respond to the attacks.

But the US leaks “are pushing Assad closer to the point where he can’t swallow these attacks, and will respond.” This in turn would inevitably draw further Israeli action, Daniel posited, and added bitterly: “Then perhaps the US will clap its hands because it will have started a very major flare-up.”

Channel 2 speculated that the US might have leaked word of Israel’s attack as a warning to Israel to desist from such actions. Alternately, it might be seeking to signal that it was part of the tough policy designed to prevent a flow of sophisticated weaponry to Assad. But these and other possible explanations simply didn’t justify the leak, which the TV report described as “illogical” and “foolish.”

Jerusalem’s reported anger with the White House over the leak coincided with efforts by the Administration to assure Israel that it is holding to a tough line on Syria and in the effort to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, and is maintaining its robust military partnership with Israel.

On Thursday, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, reiterated America’s commitment to thwarting Iranian nuclear weapons ambitions. “Let me be absolutely clear: President Obama is determined to ensure that the Islamic Republic does not acquire a nuclear weapon,” Power said at the Anti-Defamation League’s centennial conference held Thursday in a Manhattan hotel. Addressing the subject of nuclear negotiations with Iran, she said the Obama administration considers a bad deal worse than no deal and that the administration will not accept a bad deal.

Later Thursday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told the same gathering that the US is testing Iran’s diplomatic intentions but remains “clear-eyed” on Iran’s role as a state-sponsor of terror and exporter of extremism.

Hagel also announced that the US will fast-track delivery of six advanced Osprey helicopter-airplanes to Israel. “Israel will get six V-22s out of the next order to go on the assembly line, and they will be compatible with other [Israeli defense] capabilities,” Hagel said, anticipating delivery in two years time. NBC News said Israel requested that the delivery of the Ospreys be expedited because of threats from Iran and Syria.

Hagel added that “the Israeli and American defense relationship is stronger than ever, and it will continue to strengthen.”

read the rest of this article here.

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Pope Francis visiting Ramallah – now that would be a step in the right direction, and a far more promising development for Palestine than any number of farcical peace talks.

The reality is that the Israeli government is entirely comfortable with the status quo. Netanyahu has no reason to seriously consider any state for the Palestinian people. Keeping up appearances as a peace maker is important of course, but nothing substantial is going to happen until real pressure is placed on the Israeli government from outside of Israel’s borders, and the Pope is in precisely the right position to exert the necessary leverage!

Of course the Vatican has a very poor history when it comes to siding with the oppressed and the vulnerable. Even so, all he early indicators suggest that this new Pope may be the change that the church has been waiting for!

Who knows? If Pope Francis can get as far as Ramallah, perhaps he’ll venture into Gaza?!

Father Dave

Pope Francis

source: www.catholicnews.com…

Palestinian president hopes to use pen from pope to sign peace treaty

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis gave Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a fancy pen as a gift, and Abbas told the pope, “I hope to sign the peace agreement with Israel with this pen.”

Pope Francis responded with his hope that the agreement would be reached “soon, soon.”

The exchange took place Oct. 17 in the papal library after the pope and Palestinian president had spent almost half an hour meeting privately.

Abbas had given the pope a Bible and a framed scene of Bethlehem, West Bank. The pope gave Abbas a framed scene of the Vatican along with the pen, “because you obviously have many things to sign,” which is when Abbas spoke about his hopes to sign a peace treaty.

A Vatican statement about Abbas’ meeting with the pope and a later meeting with the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, said, “The reinstatement of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians” was a topic in both conversations.

“The parties expressed their hope that this process may bear fruit and enable a just and lasting solution to be found to the conflict,” it said. “Hope was expressed that the parties to the conflict will make courageous and determined decisions in order to promote peace” and that the international community would support their efforts. The U.S.-mediated talks began in July.

The Vatican statement did not mention Pope Francis’ possible trip to the Holy Land, although when Abbas greeted Archbishop Mamberti he told him that he had invited the pope to visit. Abbas’ delegation also included the mayor of Bethlehem, which likely would be on the itinerary of a papal trip.

In April, Israeli President Shimon Peres also invited the pope, and Israeli media have been reporting that a papal visit is expected in the spring. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced Oct. 16 that the prime minister would meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome Oct. 23 and meet the pope during the same trip.

The Vatican statement on Abbas’ meetings said the pope and Palestinian leader also discussed the ongoing war in Syria and expressed their hopes that “dialogue and reconciliation may supplant the logic of violence as soon as possible.”

The two also discussed the work underway on a Vatican-Palestinian agreement regulating “several essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine,” as well as the situation of Christian communities in the Palestinian territories and the contributions Christians make to society throughout the Middle East.

if you can’t view this video, click here.

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As the ‘peace process’ crashes and burns (see here), so Israel simultaneously isolates itself even further from the international community through further acts of aggression towards a seemingly insignificant group of shepherds!

What follows is a press release from Gush Shalom – the Israeli ‘Peace Bloc’.

Gush Shalom

source: zope.gush-shalom.org…

The passion for destroying small villages ended up causing a diplomatic incident

September 21st, 2013

Israeli soldiers resorted to violence against diplomats from France and other European countries on their way to give humanitarian aid to inhabitants of a village destroyed by the IDF. Quite embarassing, just a few days after the government made a desperate plea to the European Union to relax its new guidelines , excluding Israeli organizations active in the Occupied Territories from getting European grants.

Already for many years, the occupation authorities implement the most brutal policy precisely against the smallest and weakest of the Palestinian communities. Poor shepherds who live in miserable huts or in caves, at the Jordan Valley and South Hebron Hills. They want nothing but to be left alone to live their life of poverty, but the State of Israel is sending soldiers and police and bulldozers to demolish their homes and leave them without a roof over their heads. .

Those who implement this cruel policy have the illusion that no one notices and no one cares what happens in remote, out of the way spots. When the tiny village called Khirbet Makhoul was destroyed and its residents left destitute and homeless , the world did hear about it. Immediately there arrived a Red Cross delegation and after them, representatives of the European Union – from France , the UK , Spain , Ireland and also from Australia – to support the residents and bring them tents and emergency supplies. This was a clear humanitarian duty , understandable to all . Understandable to all except those who run the occupation policy, people who seem to have long since lost any vestige of moral sensitivity .

Contact: Adam Keller adam@gush-shalom.org…