The Israel Defense Forces announced on Wednesday that an internal investigation has determined that no civilians were purposefully harmed by IDF troops during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
Following the release of the investigation results, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the army’s willingness to probe itself “once again proves that the IDF is one of the most moral armies in the world.
“The IDF is not afraid to investigate itself and in that, proves that its operations are ethical,” said Barak. The defense minister added that he has “complete faith in the IDF, from the chief of staff to the last of the combat soldiers.” [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — Oh my! And to think that cynics like me could have judged the IDF so harshly. What better time could there be to watch again this rousing anthem and wonderful tribute to the most moral army in the world: Don’t mess with the IDF.
The Obama Administration will put forth new peace initiatives only if Israel wants it to, said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in his first comprehensive interview on foreign policy since taking office.
“Believe me, America accepts all our decisions,” Lieberman told the Russian daily Moskovskiy Komosolets.
Lieberman granted his first major interview to Alexander Rosensaft, the Israel correspondent of one of the oldest Russian dailies, not to an Israeli newspaper. The role of Israel is to “bring the U.S. and Russia closer,” he declared. [continued…]
A senior Hamas official said yesterday that firing rockets at Israel ultimately does a disservice to Palestinian interests.
Ismail al-Ashkar is a member of the security committee in the Palestinian Legislative Council and a leading candidate for the interior minister position. “The firing of rockets at Israel is against the Palestinian interest. It benefits certain individuals and groups, but not the Palestinians themselves,” he said yesterday.
Since January 18, the Hamas armed wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has not taken credit for a single Qassam rocket. Sources in the Gaza Strip said just two weeks ago that Hamas detained Islamic Jihad operatives for trying to launch rockets.
Yesterday Hamas representatives met delegates from Islamic Jihad and smaller militant groups in order to ensure the cease-fire with Israel remains in force for now. [continued…]
Israel accused former Labour Cabinet minister Clare Short of undermining the Middle East peace process today after she invited the political leader of Hamas to address a meeting in Parliament.
Khaled Mashaal is due to address MPs and peers tonight by video link from Damascus at the event organised by Ms Short, now a independent MP, and Liberal Democrat peer Lord Alderdice.
They say that dialogue with Hamas – which is regarded as a terrorist organisation by the UK, the US and the EU – is crucial if a solution is to be found to the Palestinian crisis. [continued…]
A majority of both Palestinians and Israelis are willing to accept a two-state solution, according to a poll from the international grassroots movement One Voice.
Based on public opinion research methods used in Northern Ireland, 500 interviews were completed in Israel and 600 in the West Bank and Gaza immediately following the Gaza war and the Israeli elections.
Each side was asked which problems they thought were “very significant” and what the solutions might be.
The results indicate that 74% of Palestinians and 78% of Israelis are willing to accept a two-state solution on an option range from “tolerable” to “essential”, while 59% of Palestinians and 66% of Israelis find a single bi-national state “unacceptable”. [continued…]
The new Israeli government will not move ahead on the core issues of peace talks with the Palestinians until it sees progress in U.S. efforts to stop Iran’s suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon and limit Tehran’s rising influence in the region, according to top government officials familiar with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s developing policy on the issue.
“It’s a crucial condition if we want to move forward,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, a member of the Israeli parliament and former ambassador to the United States. “If we want to have a real political process with the Palestinians, then you can’t have the Iranians undermining and sabotaging.”
The emerging Israeli position, a significant change from that of previous governments, presents a challenge for President Obama, who has made quick progress on Palestinian statehood a key foreign policy goal. Obama is also trying to begin engagement with Iran as part of a broad effort to slow its nuclear program and curtail its growing strength in the Middle East. [continued…]
Barack Obama is to invite Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian leaders to the White House within the next two months in a fresh push for Middle East peace.
Obama, speaking at the White House yesterday, said there was a need to try to rise above the cynicism about prospects for peace. The decision appeared to mark the end of a debate within the Obama administration between those who argued in favour of devoting time and energy to trying to resolve the conflict and those who argued it was a blind alley.
Meeting King Abdullah of Jordan at the White House yesterday, Obama said he hoped “gestures of good faith” would be made “on all sides” in the coming months. He did not say what these gestures, intended as confidence-building measures, would amount to. [continued…]
Lord have mercy: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has relinquished for the moment his demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as “a Jewish state” as a condition for negotiations. He has deigned to postpone the demand until future stages. Listen up, world: Perhaps, just perhaps, Netanyahu will also see fit to utter the forbidden phrase “two states for two peoples.”
The slogan of yesterday’s illegitimate radical left will be heard publicly in Washington from the mouth of Israel’s most right-wing prime minister ever, and everyone will sing the praises of the historic turnaround. The diplomatic process will again take wing and the expectations will soar. Peace is just around the corner.
Once again the diplomatic arena has become a playground of words. This will be said and that will be declared and the other will be proclaimed. This is a guarantee of another foregone failure.
Whether or not Netanyahu says two states, nothing will change. The Americans will rejoice, the Europeans will be thrilled, the Israeli right will wax wrathful, commentators will again write with pathos about how the dream of the greater land of Israel has been shelved – and the occupation will flourish. [continued…]