Tuesday, June 3, 2008

MIDEAST: 'Military Escalation Brewing'

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Jun 3 (IPS) - After another round of Egypt-brokered talks between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions, a cessation of hostilities remains elusive as ever. According to statements by both sides, failure to achieve a degree of calm in the short term could lead instead to open confrontation.

"Both sides appear to be heading not to a ceasefire but towards military escalation," Abdelaziz Shadi, political science professor and coordinator of the Israeli studies programme at Cairo University, told IPS.

Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman made a quick trip last month to Tel Aviv where he tried to persuade Israeli leaders to back an Egyptian proposal for a calming of hostilities, or "tahdia", between the Hebrew state and Palestinian resistance factions.

In April, Suleiman convinced resistance group Hamas, along with a dozen smaller resistance factions, to sign on to the plan.

The initiative calls for a halt to Israeli military assaults on targets in the Gaza Strip in return for an end to the firing of Palestinian rockets on Israeli towns. In addition to a cessation of hostilities, the Egyptian proposal also calls for the reopening of border crossings -- including Egypt's Rafah terminal......."

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