The Israeli-Palestinian war has been called the worldâ€™s most intractable conflict. It is by now a commonplace that the only way to end the violence is to divide the territory in two, and all efforts at a resolution have come down to haggling over who gets what: Will Israel hand over 90 percent of the West Bank or only 60 percent? Will a Palestinian state include any part of Jerusalem?
A mistake too often made by those examining Israel’s behaviour in the occupied territories â€” or when analysing its treatment of Arabs in general, or interpreting its view of Iran â€” is to assume that Israel is acting in good faith. Even its most trenchant critics can fall into this trap.
Such a reluctance to attribute bad faith was demonstrated this week by Israel’s foremost human rights group, B’Tselem, when it published a report into the bombing by the Israeli air force of Gaza’s power plant in late June. The horrifying consequences of this act of collective punishment â€” a war crime, as B’Tselem rightly notes â€” are clearly laid out in the report.
The group warns that electricity is available to most of Gaza’s 1.4 million inhabitants for a few hours a day, and running water for a similar period. The sewerage system has all but collapsed, with the resulting risk of the spread of dangerous infectious disease.
In their daily lives, Gazans can no longer rely on the basic features of modern existence. Their fridges are as good as useless, threatening outbreaks of food poisoning. The elderly and infirm living in apartments can no longer leave their homes because elevators don’t work, or are unpredictable. Hospitals and doctors’ clinics struggle to offer essential medical services. Small businesses, most of which rely on the power and water supplies, from food shops and laundry services to factories and workshops, are being forced to close.
Rapidly approaching, says B’Tselem, is the moment when Gaza’s economy â€” already under an internationally backed siege to penalise the Palestinians for democratically electing a Hamas government â€” will simply expire under the strain.
Since the days when Roman Emperors threw Christians to the lions, the relations between the emperors and the heads of the church have undergone many changes. Constantine the Great, who became Emperor in the year 306 – exactly 1700 years ago – encouraged the practice of Christianity in the empire, which included Palestine. Centuries later, the church split into an Eastern (Orthodox) and a Western (Catholic) part. In the West, the Bishop of Rome, who acquired the title of Pope, demanded that the Emperor accept his superiority.
The struggle between the Emperors and the Popes played a central role in European history and divided the peoples. It knew ups and downs. Some Emperors dismissed or expelled a Pope, some Popes dismissed or excommunicated an Emperor. One of the Emperors, Henry IV, â€œwalked to Canossaâ€, standing for three days barefoot in the snow in front of the Popeâ€™s castle, until the Pope deigned to annul his excommunication.
But there were times when Emperors and Popes lived in peace with each other. We are witnessing such a period today. Between the present Pope, Benedict XVI, and the present Emperor, George Bush II, there exists a wonderful harmony. Last weekâ€™s speech by the Pope, which aroused a world-wide storm, went well with Bushâ€™s crusade against â€œIslamofascismâ€, in the context of the “Clash of Civilizations”.
In his lecture at a German university, the 265th Pope described what he sees as a huge difference between Christianity and Islam: while Christianity is based on reason, Islam denies it. While Christians see the logic of Godâ€™s actions, Muslims deny that there is any such logic in the actions of Allah.
Sep 23, 2006, 09:57
Sana’a – Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh has affirmed that the Hamas Movement was not a “terrorist organization” but rather represented a legitimate anti-occupation resistance that should be backed.
He said in press statements that the Hamas-led PA government was the target of an “oppressive siege” spearheaded by the US administration, which claims championing democracy.
“We support our brothers in Hamas and in the PLO in resisting Israeli occupation,” Saleh emphasized, asserting, “resisting occupation is legitimate and Hamas is not a terrorist organization”.
He said that all should respect the right of occupied peoples to resist occupation and not describe such practice as “terrorism”, adding, “Cards should not be mixed up”.
The spirit of international cooperation that last month ended the deadly conflict in Lebanon should now be applied to resolve the question of Palestine, “the root of all the conflicts and wars” in the Middle East for many decades, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations General Assembly.
Addressing the Assembly’s annual debate, Mr. Abbas called for the unconditional resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and an end to the suffering of his people, warning of the devastating impact on the region if these issues are not resolved.