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January 15, 2009

Main UN compound in Gaza shelled with ‘white phosphorus’

Thursday, January 15, 2009

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A spokesman says that the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been hit by shells containing white phosphorus.

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, expressed “strong protest and outrage” to the Israeli Government over the attack. “The number of casualties has reached an unbearable point,” said Ban.

Ehud Olmert responded by saying that there were Palestinian fighters in the compound, launching mortars at Israeli troops.

“We do not want such incidents to take place and I am sorry for it but I don’t know if you know, but Hamas fired from the UNRWA site. This is a sad incident and I apologise for it,” Olmert said.

A previous accusation was made against the UN after another UN building housing refugees was hit by Israeli tank shells a week ago. According to UNRWA official Christopher Gunness, the accusation was later retracted by the Israeli government.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, said it was “a grave mistake”.

Along with UNRWA headquarters, a Palestinian hospital was set ablaze, and a media headquarters housing the Reuters news agency and other Palestinian reporters was also hit wounding two cameramen. Around 500 people were sheltering in the Al-Quds hospital when it was bombed by Israel and hospital officials say they were hit with white phosphorus, a substance which sparks fires which cannot be put out by water and which causes serious burns and respiratory problems to anyone who comes in contact with it.

Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for UNRWA, said fires were still raging hours after the attack and “tens of millions of dollars worth of aid” had been destroyed.

Christopher Gunness issued a statement on the attacks saying, “There have been three hits on the UNRWA headquarters, the UNRWA compound in Gaza, including, I’m told by [UNRWA head] John Ging, white phosphorus. Three of our staff members have been injured. The workshop in our compound is in flames, and nearby are loaded fuel tankers. So the situation is extremely dangerous and extremely serious. We have been on the phone to the Israeli authorities, asking them to call off their fire from around the compound of a neutral international organization. We have not had the answer we want.” UNRWA reports that the fire at the compound will destroy tons of medical and food aid.

United Nations Children’s Fund joined the Red Cross in speaking out against the violence today, saying the deaths of children in Gaza were unacceptable.


Sources

  • Sheera Frenkel Philippe Naughton “UN headquarters in Gaza hit by Israeli ‘white phosphorus’ shells”. The Times, January 15, 2008
  • “UN chief leads protests as Israel hits Gaza hospitals”. Agence France-Presse, January 15, 2009
  • “UN: White Phosphorus Used in Attack; Fire Will Destroy Stockpile of Gaza Aid”. Democracy Now!, January 15, 2009
  • Robyn Curnow “UNICEF: Children bearing brunt of Gaza war”. CNN, January 15, 2009
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Main UN compound in Gaza shelled with ‘white phosphorus’

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Other stories from Palestine
  • 20 February 2009: Israel seizes West Bank land
  • 14 February 2009: Israel elects 18th Knesset
  • 7 February 2009: UN halts aid to Gaza after tons of food aid is seized
  • 7 February 2009: UN demands return of aid seized by Hamas
  • 7 February 2009: Southern Gaza hit by new Israeli air strikes
…More articles here
Location of Palestine

A map showing the location of Palestine

To write, edit, start or view other articles on Palestine, see the Palestine Portal

A spokesman says that the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been hit by shells containing white phosphorus.

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, expressed “strong protest and outrage” to the Israeli Government over the attack. “The number of casualties has reached an unbearable point,” said Ban.

Ehud Olmert responded by saying that there were Palestinian fighters in the compound, launching mortars at Israeli troops.

“We do not want such incidents to take place and I am sorry for it but I don’t know if you know, but Hamas fired from the UNRWA site. This is a sad incident and I apologise for it,” Olmert said.

A previous accusation was made against the UN after another UN building housing refugees was hit by Israeli tank shells a week ago. According to UNRWA official Christopher Gunness, the accusation was later retracted by the Israeli government.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, said it was “a grave mistake”.

Along with UNRWA headquarters, a Palestinian hospital was set ablaze, and a media headquarters housing the Reuters news agency and other Palestinian reporters was also hit wounding two cameramen. Around 500 people were sheltering in the Al-Quds hospital when it was bombed by Israel and hospital officials say they were hit with white phosphorus, a substance which sparks fires which cannot be put out by water and which causes serious burns and respiratory problems to anyone who comes in contact with it.

Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for UNRWA, said fires were still raging hours after the attack and “tens of millions of dollars worth of aid” had been destroyed.

Christopher Gunness issued a statement on the attacks saying, “There have been three hits on the UNRWA headquarters, the UNRWA compound in Gaza, including, I’m told by [UNRWA head] John Ging, white phosphorus. Three of our staff members have been injured. The workshop in our compound is in flames, and nearby are loaded fuel tankers. So the situation is extremely dangerous and extremely serious. We have been on the phone to the Israeli authorities, asking them to call off their fire from around the compound of a neutral international organization. We have not had the answer we want.” UNRWA reports that the fire at the compound will destroy tons of medical and food aid.

United Nations Children’s Fund joined the Red Cross in speaking out against the violence today, saying the deaths of children in Gaza were unacceptable.


Related news

Sources

  • Sheera Frenkel Philippe Naughton “UN headquarters in Gaza hit by Israeli ‘white phosphorus’ shells”. The Times, January 15, 2008
  • “UN chief leads protests as Israel hits Gaza hospitals”. Agence France-Presse, January 15, 2009
  • “UN: White Phosphorus Used in Attack; Fire Will Destroy Stockpile of Gaza Aid”. Democracy Now!, January 15, 2009
  • Robyn Curnow “UNICEF: Children bearing brunt of Gaza war”. CNN, January 15, 2009


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Main UN compound in Gaza shelled with ‘white phosphorus’

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Other stories from Palestine
  • 15 January 2009: Main UN compound in Gaza shelled with ‘white phosphorus’
  • 15 January 2009: Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Day 20
  • 13 January 2009: Human Rights Watch: Israel used white phosphorus on densely populated areas in Gaza
  • 13 January 2009: Heavy fighting continues in the Gaza Strip
  • 11 January 2009: UN Security Council passes Gaza ceasefire resolution
…More articles here
Location of Palestine

A map showing the location of Palestine

To write, edit, start or view other articles on Palestine, see the Palestine Portal
Portal:Palestine

A spokesman says that the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been hit by shells containing white phosphorus.

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, expressed “strong protest and outrage” to the Israeli Government over the attack. “The number of casualties has reached an unbearable point,” said Ban.

Ehud Olmert responded by saying that there were Palestinian fighters in the compound, launching mortars at Israeli troops.

“We do not want such incidents to take place and I am sorry for it but I don’t know if you know, but Hamas fired from the UNRWA site. This is a sad incident and I apologise for it,” Olmert said.

A previous accusation was made against the UN after another UN building housing refugees was hit by Israeli tank shells a week ago. According to UNRWA official Christopher Gunness, the accusation was later retracted by the Israeli government.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, said it was “a grave mistake”.

Along with UNRWA headquarters, a Palestinian hospital was set ablaze, and a media headquarters housing the Reuters news agency and other Palestinian reporters was also hit wounding two cameramen. Around 500 people were sheltering in the Al-Quds hospital when it was bombed by Israel and hospital officials say they were hit with white phosphorus, a substance which sparks fires which cannot be put out by water and which causes serious burns and respiratory problems to anyone who comes in contact with it.

Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for UNRWA, said fires were still raging hours after the attack and “tens of millions of dollars worth of aid” had been destroyed.

Christopher Gunness issued a statement on the attacks saying, “There have been three hits on the UNRWA headquarters, the UNRWA compound in Gaza, including, I’m told by [UNRWA head] John Ging, white phosphorus. Three of our staff members have been injured. The workshop in our compound is in flames, and nearby are loaded fuel tankers. So the situation is extremely dangerous and extremely serious. We have been on the phone to the Israeli authorities, asking them to call off their fire from around the compound of a neutral international organization. We have not had the answer we want.” UNRWA reports that the fire at the compound will destroy tons of medical and food aid.

United Nations Children’s Fund joined the Red Cross in speaking out against the violence today, saying the deaths of children in Gaza were unacceptable.


Sources

  • Sheera Frenkel Philippe Naughton “UN headquarters in Gaza hit by Israeli ‘white phosphorus’ shells”. The Times, January 15, 2008
  • “UN chief leads protests as Israel hits Gaza hospitals”. Agence France-Presse, January 15, 2009
  • “UN: White Phosphorus Used in Attack; Fire Will Destroy Stockpile of Gaza Aid”. Democracy Now!, January 15, 2009
  • Robyn Curnow “UNICEF: Children bearing brunt of Gaza war”. CNN, January 15, 2009
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

April 16, 2008

Former US president Carter meets with former deputy-PM for Hamas

Former US president Carter meets with former deputy-PM for Hamas

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Jimmy Carter

Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter met with Nasser al-Shaer on Tuesday. Shaer is a former education minister and a former Deputy Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority. He is considered a high-ranking member of Hamas.

During a visit to the West Bank, Carter laid a wreath upon the grave site of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. Carter then met with Shaer, whom he greeted with a hug and kisses to both cheeks, according to a member of Carter’s delegation.

Shaer told Reuters that he and Carter had a face-to-face meeting and that they discussed brokering an unofficial truce between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June of 2007. Carter’s office has declined to comment on the closed meeting.

“Carter asked what he can do to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israel … and I told him the possibility for peace is high,” Shaer said.

Carter told reporters that he wanted to go to the Gaza Strip, but was not allowed. Reuters reports that Israel, citing a member of Carter’s delegation, denied the visit.

“I haven’t been able to get permission to go into Gaza. I would like to. I asked for permission. But I was turned down. But maybe we can find a way to circumvent that,” Carter said.

U.S. and Israeli officials have both expressed disapproval of Carter’s visit. Both countries have sought to marginalize Hamas, while they try to negotiate a peace with Mahmoud Abbas, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority who hails from the Fatah party. They see Carter’s mission as counterproductive to their efforts.

Carter “in effect is undermining a current policy which is not just American but held by many others,” said U.S. Representative Howard Berman to the Associated Press. Berman is the chairperson for the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Cquote1.svg Since Syria and Hamas will have to be involved in a final peace agreement, they have to be involved in discussions that lead to final peace. Cquote2.svg

—Jimmy Carter

Friday, Carter is scheduled to meet in Damascus, Syria with Khaled Mashal, who is considered the political leader of Hamas and is the head of its Syrian branch.

Cquote1.svg Jimmy Carter’s view of the forces at work in the Middle East and how he likes to attribute blame and responsibility is so warped to my way of thinking that I’m skeptical of any initiative he undertakes. Cquote2.svg

—U.S. Rep. Howard Berman, Chairperson, Committee on Foreign Affairs

Yigal Palmor, an official with the Israeli Foreign Ministry said, “The official Hamas position until this day is that it won’t negotiate with Israel or recognize it under any circumstance … Jimmy Carter has dignified this position with his presence, and one cannot but wonder how this attitude is supposed to promote peace and understanding.”

“Since Syria and Hamas will have to be involved in a final peace agreement, they have to be involved in discussions that lead to final peace,” Jimmy Carter told reporters in Ramallah.

“Jimmy Carter’s view of the forces at work in the Middle East and how he likes to attribute blame and responsibility is so warped to my way of thinking that I’m skeptical of any initiative he undertakes,” said Howard Berman.

While in Israel, Carter met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who criticized the planned meeting with Mashal. Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister of Israel did not receive Carter.



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March 23, 2008

Cheney meets with Israeli and Palestinian leaders

Cheney meets with Israeli and Palestinian leaders

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

United States Vice President Dick Cheney watches Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert make a statement on March 22.

United States Vice President Dick Cheney met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Sunday. Cheney met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Primer Minister Ehud Olmert and their Palestinian counterparts, the moderate President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as part of a tour of the Middle East.

Cheney told Palestinians that continuing violence against ill damage efforts for a Palestinian state. Cheney noted “Terror and rockets do not merely kill innocent civilians, they also kill the legitimate hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

The Vice President remarked he is committed towards a Palestinian state, quoting President George W. Bush, “The establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue. The Palestinian people deserve it.” Cheney also noted that “Achieving that vision will require tremendous effort at the negotiating table and painful concessions on both sides.”

Cquote1.svg Terror and rockets do not merely kill innocent civilians, they also kill the legitimate hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people. Cquote2.svg

—U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney

Abbas condemned rocket attacks against Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, but also told Israel to ease their restrictions on Palestinians. He also noted that Israel needs to stop building settlements within the West Bank. Abbas noted that, “Peace and stability will not be achieved through a settlement expansion, or the setting up of checkpoints around towns and villages, and the military escalation against Gaza, nor the incursions, continuous incursions into West Bank villages and towns.”

Cheney met earlier in the day with Shimon Peres, the Israeli president. Both men spoke of Iran, with Peres noting upfront that Iran and their leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to “build their two satellites — the Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Hamas in Gaza … Nobody can console us and say that the declarations of Ahmadinejad are less serious than they are; we have to take it seriously, out of experience.”

Cheney noted that the Bush administration is pledged to the peace process and also referenced Iran but not directly, “We’re obviously dedicated to doing all we can as an administration to try to move the peace process forward, and also obviously actively involved in dealing with the threats that we see emerging in the region — not only threats to Israel, but threats to the United States, as well.”

Cheney met with Prime Minister Olmert on Saturday and told Olmert that, “The United States will never pressure Israel to take steps that threaten its security.” He also told Olmert that the United States backs Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks but that America was also working for a peace deal between Israel and the moderate Fatah-controlled Palestinian government in the West Bank.

Abbas lost control of the Gaza Strip to the rival Hamas party last year. Abbas, who is the leader of the more moderate Fatah party currently runs the Palestinian government located in the West Bank, the other Palestinian territory.



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March 2, 2008

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cuts ties with Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cuts ties with Israel

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

The President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas has cut all diplomatic ties and relations with Israel including any and all communications.

Abbas made his decision after recent Israeli crackdown on Palestinian militants has left over 100 people dead and dozens injured. On Saturday March 1, 70 Palestinians were killed in clashes. At least two soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force were also killed.

Abbas says that he will continue his silence towards Israel until “all aggression” against Palestine is stopped.

“The negotiations are suspended, as are all contacts on all levels, because in light of the Israeli aggression such communication has no meaning. The Israeli government has decided to prosecute an unjust war and the open slaughter of our people. It bears sole responsibility for the hindering the peace process and all the effects and consequences of this decision,” said Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Abbas in a statement to the media.

According to reports by Africasia quoting Agence France-Presse (AFP), Israel calls the move by Abbas a mistake.

“Suspending peace talks is a mistake and it gives the keys to the negotiations to Hamas,” said an Israeli official to AFP who was not named.

The United States among other nations have called for Israel to stop its strikes, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that “nothing will prevent us from continuing operations to protect our citizens.”



Related news

  • “United Nations condemns Israel for Gaza violence” — Wikinews, March 2, 2008

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January 9, 2008

George Bush arrives in Middle East

George Bush arrives in Middle East – Wikinews, the free news source

George Bush arrives in Middle East

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Middle East
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US President George W. Bush has arrived in Israel – the first stop on a Middle East journey designed to bolster the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and foster unity on Iran.

Israel’s leaders were waiting at Ben Gurion Airport, as Air Force One taxied to a stop.

They formed a long welcoming line as George W. Bush set foot on Israeli soil for the first time in his presidency.

Cquote1.svg If there needs to be a little pressure then you know I will provide it. Cquote2.svg

—George W. Bush

Following a discussion with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, George Bush said he would provide pressure if necessary. He made this clear by saying “If there needs to be a little pressure then you know I will provide it,” after the talks.

He spoke of the strong ties between the United States and Israel. He says the source of that strength is a shared belief in the power of human freedom.

“We will do more than defend ourselves. We will seek lasting peace. We see a new opportunity for peace here in the Holy Land and for freedom across the region,” said Mr. Bush.

Like President Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert kept his comments at the arrival ceremony broad in nature, avoiding any direct reference to issues related to the peace process.

“From the very beginning, your policies have reflected a basic understanding of the challenges facing Israel in this troubled region and a solid commitment to our national security,” he said.

George W. Bush, Ehud Olmert and Shimon Peres during the arrival ceremony which took place after George Bush’s arrival earlier today.

It fell to Israeli President Shimon Peres, who is considered by some to be largely ceremonial, to offer some tougher talk. He said President Bush is right to urge the world to pay attention to the threat posed by Iran.

“We take your advice not to underestimate the Iranian threat. Iran should not underestimate our resolve for self-defense,” said President Bush.

President Bush, Prime Minister Olmert and President Peres wasted no time getting down to business – launching talks shortly after the arrival ceremony.

Thursday, President Bush will travel from Jerusalem on to Ramallah, the West Bank headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, to meet separately with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

At a meeting in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas agreed to begin negotiations on the thorniest issues blocking a peace agreement. Among them: the borders of a future Palestinian state, competing claims to Jerusalem, and the status of Palestinian refugees.

Concerns about rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza and Israeli settlement activity have created tensions since the American-led Annapolis Mideast conference in November. President Bush is expected to use his trip to encourage both sides to look at the big picture and keep focused on the need for peace.

During the flight to Israel, White House National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley told reporters traveling with the president that Mr. Bush is not coming to the Middle East to interject himself into the negotiations. He said, instead, the president wants both sides to stay focused, and look beyond what he called “a lot of distractions.”

Hadley also talked about the recent incident involving Iranian vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. He said Iran must be careful and realize there will be consequences to bear if they again menace American boats in international waters.



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January 8, 2008

Abbas and Olmert meet before Bush visit

Abbas and Olmert meet before Bush visit – Wikinews, the free news source

Abbas and Olmert meet before Bush visit

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held a final meeting Tuesday before their separate talks with United States President Bush this week during his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Just hours before President Bush is due to touch down in Israel, Mr. Olmert and Mr. Abbas met in Jerusalem.

Neither man issued any public statements following the meeting, but they instructed their negotiators to form working groups to discuss core issues such as the status of Jerusalem, Israel’s borders with a future Palestinian state and the issue of Palestinian refugees. The talks are supposed to lead to the formation of a Palestinian state by the end of this year. However, neither side said when the talks would start.

Talks between the two sides have been bogged down since last November’s Annapolis, Maryland Mideast peace conference, with Palestinians angry over continued Israeli settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Israelis angry over continued Palestinian militant attacks.

Mahdi Abdel Hadi who heads the Palestinian research group PASSIA says both Mr. Olmert and Mr. Abbas are politically weakened, and it is unlikely either man can probably give the other what he wants.

“I think both leaders, Olmert and Abbas are weak, vis-à-vis their constituencies,” he explained. “It is what they can deliver to their own societies. Olmert is facing challenges by other leaders to take over the prime ministership. Abbas is challenged by the partition between Gaza and the West Bank and there have been no improvements to the quality of life under occupation.”

Since their last meeting with Mr. Bush at the Annapolis Mideast peace conference, Mr. Abbas and Mr. Olmert have each accused the other of reneging on pledges to advance the peace process. Now it will be up to Mr. Bush to see if he can get Mr. Abbas and Mr. Olmert to bridge their differences and get the peace process that was revived at Annapolis back on track.



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December 13, 2007

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meet formally

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meet formally

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mahmoud Abbas (left) and Ehud Olmert (right) with George W. Bush on November 27, 2007.

The first formal meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators since last month’s Annapolis, Maryland peace conference, ended in acrimony Wednesday with both sides accusing each other of acting in bad faith on a host of issues.

The 90-minute meeting was supposed to open with a ceremony celebrating the beginning of formal peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. But the talks had to be rescheduled and moved to a secret location after it became apparent that the two sides had little to discuss.

Aryeh Mekel, the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry says both sides had grievances to air.

“The Palestinians chose to use this occasion to raise grievances. Basically our delegation led by Foreign Minister Livni expressed the need for Palestinians to take urgent action vis-à-vis the security situation and she mentioned the attacks from Gaza,” said Mekel. “As you know today there were more than 20 Qassam rockets fired at Sderot and its vicinity. Also she mentioned the lack of security in the West Bank where only two weeks ago, two Palestinian policemen shot and killed an Israeli resident.”

Just two weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged to re-start peace talks aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement by the end of next year. But since then continued Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza, and Israel’s decision to build 300 homes in an Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood known as Har Homa, have soured the atmosphere.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says Israel has to choose between settlements and peace with the Palestinians.

Erekat says the Palestinians main point of discussion in their talks with Israel was the planned construction of 300 homes in the Har Homa, East Jerusalem neighborhood. He also says they raised the issue of Israeli military activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Tuesday, Israeli troops launched a ground incursion into Gaza — the largest such operation since June, when Hamas militants seized control of the territory from Fatah forces loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The issue of Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel is raising concerns of a wider Israeli military offensive in Gaza. But Israel’s army chief says his forces will focus on carrying out limited operations in the territory and avoid a broader invasion.

Meanwhile, the mayor of the Israeli town of Sderot, which has borne the brunt of the rocket fire, resigned saying he could not carry out his duties as long as the attacks continue.


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November 28, 2007

Statement of \”joint understanding\” released after Annapolis Conference

Statement of “joint understanding” released after Annapolis Conference

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

George W. Bush reads the joint statement, flanked by Ehud Olmert (left) and Mahmoud Abbas (right).

At the conclusion of the Annapolis Conference, United States President George W. Bush read a statement of joint understanding by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and President Mahmoud Abbas.

Commenting on the statement, President Bush said that: “Today, Palestinians and Israelis each understand that helping the other to realize their aspirations is key to realizing their own aspirations—and both require an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state. Such a state will provide Palestinians with the chance to lead lives of freedom and purpose and dignity. Such a state will help provide the Israelis with something they have been seeking for generations: to live in peace with their neighbors.”

Regarding the immediate future, the joint statement said: “President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert will continue to meet on a bi-weekly basis to follow up the negotiations in order to offer all necessary assistance for their advancement.” It also set a target for an agreement: “We agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations, and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008.”

Analysts, however, are skeptical that the two leaders, who are both politically weakened at home, will be able to reach an agreement by the deadline. There are also doubts about how hard Bush will push them.

“I am not persuaded yet that they have grasped the seriousness and the amount of work that is required to do what they say they want to do—to reach an agreement on the core issues by the end of the Bush administration,” said Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Cquote1.svg It’s going to be hard, but you had support in that room that you had not had from Arab states in the past. Cquote2.svg

—Condoleezza Rice

“Neither has the support at home or the control of his government to do something extremely serious,” said Jon Alterman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“There is, I think, considerable doubt remaining about whether the administration is prepared to take on the heavy lifting … to make this work,” said Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution.

“This was an investment of presidential prestige that we hadn’t seen before,” said Daniel Levy of the New America Foundation. Levy saw reason for “very, very guarded optimism” and praised the commitments made by Abbas and Olmert.

Iran was notably absent from the list of conference participants. “The Arabs have come here not because they love the Jews or even the Palestinians,” an advisor to the Palestinian team told The New York Times on condition of anonymity. “They came because they need a strategic alliance with the United States against Iran.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice felt the conference was a success. “It’s going to be hard, but you had support in that room [in Annapolis] that you had not had from Arab states in the past,” she said on television.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, hundreds protested the Annapolis Conference in conjunction with a funeral in Hebron. They clashed with security forces who fired shots into the air to disperse the crowd. At least 24 people have been reported injured.

Also, today, Israeli aircraft targeted a Hamas base in the Gaza Strip, killing two Hamas members and wounding more than 10 others, according to Palestinian officials.



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