Posted by Emily Chrapot on Friday 3 September 2010 at 1:21pm:
On Wednesday we woke up to the news that four Israelis had been murdered after the car they had been travelling in through the West Bank was fired at in a drive-by shooting execution by Hamas terrorists (see more). This senseless act of thuggery was carried out on the eve of peace talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Washington after a 19-month hiatus.
On Thursday our two local broadsheets covered the attack with one headline declaring ‘Four Israelis shot dead in West Bank by Hamas in bid to derail Washington peace talks’ while the other stated ‘West Bank simmers after ambush’. I will leave it to you to guess which headline appeared in which newspaper.
The first opened saying, ‘Violence in the West Bank escalated yesterday after Palestinian militant group Hamas shot dead four Israelis in an apparent attempt to sabotage peace talks in Washington’.
The second shifted the focus by beginning, ‘Israeli settlers in the West Bank say they will break a government freeze on construction in their communities to protest against a Palestinian shooting attack that killed four Israelis on the eve of new peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians in Washington’.
Without giving away the game of “guess the newspaper”, the second article reeks of a style not dissimilar to that of former Age Middle East correspondent Ed O’Loughlin, who in the height of the Second Intifada would routinely report on suicide bombings by opening with Israel’s response to the terror so that the attack and the victims took a backseat, almost as if they were an afterthought. The barbarian acts of the terrorists were almost irrelevant.
On the same day came the news that another shooting attack had injured two more Israelis, though fortunately this time there were no fatalities (see more).
Following the first attack, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad declared, “what happened tonight in Hebron was timed to coincide with the PLO’s decision to engage in negotiations to end the occupation and achieve freedom and independence for our people”. He continued, “we condemn this operation, which runs counter to Palestinian interests and against efforts of Palestinian leadership to mobilize international support for the rights of our people as well as with previously signed agreements” (see more).
On the other hand, Hamas armed wing spokesman Abu Ubaida declared after the second shooting, “The attack was a message to those who pledged to the Zionist enemy that there would be no more attacks” (see more). There is no clearer way to explain it than directly from the Hamas mouth-piece. It does not matter what rival Fatah wants, Hamas does not want peace.
With this in mind, The Age editorial today comes across to me as rather ridiculous. Entitled ‘Provocations prove the point of peace talks’, the piece begins by mentioning how extremists on both sides – Palestinian terrorists shooting at Israelis and Israeli settlers wishing to expand the settlements – stand in the way of peace. Such a conclusion had been adopted and accepted by many impartial observers and is a position taken by many on the Israeli side and a number on the Palestinian side. The problem I have is the Age editorial’s solution to why peace has eluded the two sides for decades.
Apparently, the expectation of security is what is holding the situation to “an impossible standard”. The Age declares that ‘those who reject talks with “the enemy” and rule out compromise commit to the status quo of endless conflict, fear and hate, fuelled by the depravations of terrorism and occupation. No true leader should settle for that’.
Really? I thought that no true leader should have to compromise the security of his or her citizens either and further, that if the end of occupation will not bring about an end to the danger to the security of Israeli citizens then the conflict is not about occupation in the first place. Rather, it must be about Israel’s very existence as a Jewish State.
The Age and others are forgetting (or ignoring) the issue raised in the Australian today by Abraham Rabinovich, “that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas represents less than half of the Palestinians and has no standing in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas” (see more).
The debate about whether peace can be achieved will be played out by people a lot more qualified to talk about it than me, but what I will say is that no matter what happens between PM Netanyahu, PA Chairman Abbas and President Obama, something will have to be done concerning Hamas.
I cannot imagine the day that Hamas would be willing to send Khaled Mashaal or Ismail Haniyeh to Washington to shake hands with an Israeli Prime Minister, to accept his or her nation’s right to exist and to forsake the Hamas covenant which advocates the destruction of Israel and the genocide of the Jewish people no matter how hard people like our former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, the BDS movement, the travellers on so called “peace flotillas” or the Editors of the Age claim that they might wish it to happen.
That being said, I write with the true hope that President Obama, PM Netanyahu and PA Chairman Abbas will do what others have been unable (or unwilling) to do – to bring about a lasting peace between the two peoples. To do this, they will need to reach an agreement on many thorny issues that have always been put in the “too-hard-basket”; the status of Jerusalem, the borders of the future Palestinian state and the issue of the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
To read more from our local broadsheets on the opening of the talks please see ‘Leaders reach for a lasting peace’ and ‘Barak hints at likely Israeli concessions’ from the Australian and ‘Peace is possible, say Middle East leaders’ and ‘Attacks aimed at ‘derailing’ Washington talks’ from the Age.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Shana Tova U’Metuka – a sweet and happy New Year. May the coming year bring each and every one of you much personal joy, good health and happiness. On a broader level, this Rosh Hashanah marks Gilad Shalit’s fifth Rosh Hashanah in brutal Hamas captivity. Please visit: www.meetgilad.com and leave a Rosh Hashanah greeting for Gilad Shalit. The aim is to get 1,000,000 messages delivered to Gilad by the UN. You can help by leaving a message, and forwarding the website to all of your email contacts, work colleagues and friends. Let this Rosh Hashanah be the LAST one that Gilad Shalit spends away from his loving family.
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