Hear these words Benjamin Netanayahu spoke on Monday, 12 November.  Bibi is a perfidious man.  He’s preparing his people for an Israeli attack on Gaza.  By convincing them that they, the Israelis, are the injured party in the conflict.  Peers, we can’t allow Bibi to get away with this.  Contact the White House.  Internationals can write, too.  Spread the word.   Peace, Father Roy   

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Father Roy writes: Does the proposal in the report sound reasonable to you?  I’ve done some highlighting.

I have a secret suspicion that Hamas and Fatah have already reconciled.  They’re waiting for the appropriate time to make the announcement.  Of course I could be mistaken.  I’ve been mistaken in the past. One wonders how long Fatah and Hamas will find it necessary to keep us waiting.  Please read on for a possible clue. 


A Surprising Proposal from Israel

C. Hart 

As Jerusalem leaders watch developments in the Middle East and on Palestinian streets, one high ranking Israeli Knesset member has signaled to Egypt that Cairo leaders could renew their mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas. This comes as a surprise because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would rather downplay any contacts that Israel might have with Hamas.

During a briefing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, MK Ronni Bar-On, Chairman of the Israeli Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and a member of the Kadima opposition party, spoke to journalists and diplomats. He reflected on Egypt’s previous mediation role in freeing Israeli POW Gilad Shalit. For five years, a Hamas-affiliated clan was holding Shalit in an unknown location in the Gaza Strip until he was freed on October 18, 2011, as part of a prisoner exchange. Many in Israel were concerned that terrorists with blood on their hands, who were released from Israeli jails during the exchange, would eventually conduct suicide bombings against the Jewish State; but, to-date, that has not happened.

What has happened is that terrorists operating from the Gaza Strip have continued to launch rocket attacks on Israeli southern communities. Israel’s defense forces (the IDF) have retaliated in order to maintain deterrence, claiming they will not tolerate such attacks. They put the responsibility on the Hamas government regardless of which terrorist organizations are operating. Yet, at the same time, some Israeli leaders are showing a renewed interest in Egypt becoming a future diplomatic moderator between Israel and Hamas.

Egypt’s current President Mohammed Morsi has ties to the Moslem Brotherhood, and the Brotherhood is the mother organization of Hamas. Israel wants to preserve the peace treaty with Egypt, and hopes to maintain a quiet border with Egypt and Gaza. The recent terror attacks emanating from the Sinai, conducted by Bedouin terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda and other unidentified radical groups, have disrupted the calm along Israel’s border with Egypt. This has resulted in an IDF troop build-up in the south and the near completion of a fence along the Philadelphi Corridor. For now, Morsi has shown his ability to crackdown on the Sinai terrorists, while keeping peace with Israel.

Bar-On sees the latest outbreak of Sinai violence as an attempt to escalate hostilities between Egypt and Israel. He believes Morsi should not only continue to exert authority over the Sinai Peninsula, but also return Egypt to its role as a leading political powerbroker in the Middle East.

“We have the precedent of the influence that Egypt had on the Hamas organization during the tenure of President Mubarak, even on the Gilad Shalit process exactly a year ago.”

Bar-On explained that when that process was taking place, leading Hamas figures were operating out of Syria. They have now fled Syria’s civil war and are strengthening their position in Egypt.

“This may, by all means, influence the attitude of Hamas to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Reflecting on the recent attacks on the U.S. embassies in Cairo and Benghazi, Bar-On was quick to tell his diplomatic colleagues at the Jerusalem briefing that Egypt is not an enemy of the U.S. or Israel. He admitted that it has been a cold peace between Israel and Egypt over the past 35 years, and the Egyptian elite are still not ready to recognize the good relations between both states. But, he acknowledged that Israel would like to continue observing a peaceful frontier with Egypt, indicating that Morsi could see the benefit of Israel being a friendly neighbor.

“We hope the new leadership will realize the importance of a moderate Egypt in the region.”

To clarify his position, Bar-On was quick to state the three pre-conditions set by the Quartet in order for Israel to accept any direct relationship with Hamas:

(1) Recognizing the state of Israel; (2) renouncing all violence; (3) and, accepting all previous agreements signed by all parties involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Bar-On also emphasized that Israel will strive to maintain the peace agreement with Egypt while making sure the Jewish State is ready for any negative developments.

“It is clear that Egypt must fight terror within its border. Mind you, this war on terror must not compromise the security of the people of Israel and therefore must be coordinated.”

Bar-On was referring to reports that Egypt did not obtain permission from Israel, as required by the peace treaty, to recently move tanks and heavy equipment into the Sinai in order to conduct a military campaign against Islamic terrorists. He also sees the Sinai problem as far from being solved. At the same time, Bar-On signaled to Egyptian diplomats that should Morsi’s new regime continue to uphold the peace accord, it will open a window of opportunity.

“It could shift the way Hamas is used to negotiate. Such thoughts remain as hopes and not something we see when we look at the intelligence reports.”

Critics of Morsi fear that he will use his power base to turn Egypt into a country that expresses Islamic fundamentalism through an emphasis on Sharia Law. While Bar-On does not yet see signs of a pan-Islamic bond among countries in the region, Middle East analysts point to a new surge in Sunni power with the Moslem Brotherhood leading the way.

Bar-On acknowledges that a vacuum in politics will always be filled. Since there is no democracy in the Middle East (except for Israel), extremists are taking advantage of instability in the region. Nationalistic and religious parties are reaping the fruits of the current revolutions. The region could still collapse into anarchy, and Bar-On sees opportunities for Israeli-Palestinian peace fading away. During the briefing in Jerusalem, he called on Palestinian leaders to let go of all agendas and really try to make a difference.

“If negotiations do not get back on track we will be closing what could be possibly the last possibility for peace.”

During the Israeli New Year, government leaders are in the process of making crucial decisions, looking to solve long-term threats, not only for the benefit of the Jewish State, but for the stability of the Middle East. Foreign Ministry diplomats along with Israeli politicians continue to remind the international community that Israel is their strong ally and the only government truly open to the Western world. They want to make sure that the current Arab Spring does not turn in to a fundamentalist and jihadist winter threatening global peace.

Knowing that the current Hamas leadership will benefit from an upsurge in regional Islamic extremism, some of Israel’s leaders seem to be banking on false hope that the Jewish State could do future business with Hamas. The thought that Hamas could be reigned-in by Egypt is a far cry from current realities. Furthermore, the deadlocked peace process with the Palestinians, and continued violence on the streets, is not exactly a hopeful path towards a sweet and happy New Year; but, some Israelis remain eternal optimists.

C. Hart is a news analyst reporting on political, diplomatic, and military issues as they relate to Israel, the Middle East, and the international community.

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The following report appeared in the L.A. Times on August 27. The journalist is being generous to the Israeli government in saying that Israeli blockade is intended to ‘isolate and disarm Hamas’.  It certainly hasn’t achieved either. What the sealing off of Gaza does achieve is the de-stabilising of the region and an increase in human misery, and things can only get worse unless there is fundamental change. Father Dave

U.N.: Gaza to be unlivable by 2020 unless serious action taken


The Gaza Strip will be drained of safe water to drink and perilously short on schools, homes and hospitals if serious action isn’t taken to help its booming young population, the United Nations said in a new report released Monday. The rising pressures could soon make Gaza unlivable, it warned.

The coastal Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas is expected to swell by half a million people by 2020, putting grave new pressures on an already strained area, the U.N. country team found.

Under an Israeli blockade meant to isolate and disarm Hamas, the Gaza economy "is fundamentally unviable," the U.N. says in its report. Though Israel eased the blockade somewhat two years ago and Gaza’s economy has recently grown, the territory remains heavily dependent on outside aid and illegal smuggling to survive. Nearly a third of its people are unemployed.

Israeli leaders say the blockade is needed to stop weapons from reaching Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has refused to recognize Israel. The blockade remains deeply controversial among aid agencies and human rights activists, who argue that it hurts ordinary Gazans.

Gaza is already suffering a shortfall of 71,000 housing units and as many as 250 schools. Over the next eight years, a projected population increase to 2.1 million from from 1.6 million would require roughly 800 hospital beds and 190 more schools on top of the existing shortfall, the U.N. found.

The boom would also necessitate more than twice as much electricity for Gaza, where people already face regular power cuts, and could irreparably damage the coastal aquifer that supplies almost all of the territory’s water. Palestinians in Gaza already consume far more water than flows back into the aquifer, depleting the water supply and causing salt water to leak in at troubling levels.

With more thirsty mouths to quench, the water source could be unusable in just four years and irreversibly damaged by 2020, the report says.

"The challenges will only become more acute, particularly if the current political status quo continues," the report says, adding, "As a heavily urbanized environment with little room for further growth, Gaza needs to be open and accessible to the world."