Thursday, August 17, 2006

'We Have No Problem With A Sovereign Palestinian State Over All Our Lands Within The 1967 Borders, Living In Calm'

"WHATEVER the endgame between Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas, one thing is certain: Israel’s hopes of ensuring its security by walling itself off from resentful neighbors are dead. One lesson from Israel’s assault on Lebanon and its military operation in Gaza is that the missiles blow back.

We can hope that multinational cooperation will help to secure Israel’s border with Lebanon. But what about the Palestinian issue, which has been seemingly pushed to the back burner by the war in Lebanon?

A bold gesture now by Israel would surprise its adversaries, convey strength, and even catch domestic political opposition off guard. And as strange as it may seem, were the United States able to help Israel help Hamas, it might turn the rising tide of global Muslim resentment.

Recent discussions I’ve had with Hamas leaders and their supporters around the globe indicate that Israel might just find a reasonable and influential bargaining partner.

Hamas’s top elected official, Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, now accepts that to stop his people’s suffering, his government must forsake its all-or-nothing call for Israel’s destruction. “We have no problem with a sovereign Palestinian state over all our lands within the 1967 borders, living in calm,” Mr. Haniya told me in his Gaza City office in late June, shortly before an Israeli missile destroyed it. “But we need the West as a partner to help us through.”

Mr. Haniya’s government had just agreed to a historic compromise with Fatah and its leader, President Mahmoud Abbas, forming a national coalition that implicitly accepts the coexistence alongside Israel." ...

Scott Atran "Is Hamas Ready to Deal?" Op-Ed New York Times August 17, 2006

Over the past four years, the Israeli military has demolished over 2,500 Palestinian houses in the Gaza Strip [of the Future State of Palestine]. Nearly two-thirds of these homes were in Rafah, a densely populated refugee camp and city at the southern end of the Gaza Strip on the border with Egypt. Sixteen thousand people — more than ten percent of Rafah’s population — have lost their homes, most of them refugees, many of whom were dispossessed for a second or third time.

As satellite images in this report show, most of the destruction in Rafah occurred along the Israeli-controlled border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. During regular nighttime raids and with little or no warning, Israeli forces used armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers to raze blocks of homes at the edge of the camp, incrementally expanding a “buffer zone” that is currently up to three hundred meters wide. The pattern of destruction strongly suggests that Israeli forces demolished homes wholesale, regardless of whether they posed a specific threat, in violation of international law. In most of the cases Human Rights Watch found the destruction was carried out in the absence of military necessity.

Text and satellite photo credit: Human Rights Watch. With thanks.


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