Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Let's end the siege, and talk

There is no way out of this nightmare until negotiations begin between all sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

By Lynne Segal
(a member of various groups working for peace in the Middle East, including Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (FFIPP-UK) and Jews for Justice for Palestinians)
The Guardian

"Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) celebrates its first year with its eyes on Gaza, demanding an end to the Israeli blockade and, on the uneven playing field of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an end to human rights abuses on both sides......

This calamity escalates because Israel, supported by US and EU boycotts, refuses to enter into any discussions with Gaza's elected representatives in Hamas, including their offers to negotiate an end to rocket attacks, instead kidnapping and imprisoning many of their elected members. Commenting on the strategic blindness of this stance, Middle Eastern scholars suggest that the rise of the more militant Hamas group in Gaza itself resulted in part from Israel's earlier intransigence towards Fatah, when it was the governing party in the Palestinian territories. With the world still refusing to act against the denial of the most basic human rights to Gazan civilians, now threatened with famine, facing constant power cuts, sewage collapse and the increasing pollution of available drinking water, some explosion was inevitable.

Overnight, Hamas militants blew up parts of the Israeli-installed concrete walls along the border with Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of people escaped years of imprisonment in Gaza, returning with food, fuel, medicines, and more: "It was like a dream," a young man told a US reporter, "suddenly we could travel again." Yet, even as goods pour into Gaza and excitement fills its streets, restoring battered pride and confidence, the worst effects of the siege continue. The infrastructure of the city has yet to be restored. Those in most urgent need are still dying unnecessarily, with the continuing absence of operational medical equipment, and other essential resources, combined with Israel's denial of legal permission to travel elsewhere......"

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