Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for December 28th, 2008

Is Israel Seeking Armageddon?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 28th December, 2008

megiddo        The whole Arab world is in mourning, but an angry mourning, after yesterday’s Israeli assault on Gaza. Any hope of progress on the euphemistically-named ‘Middle East peace process’ before the end of the Year (as George W Bush had confidently predicted) is now dashed. It is not just the Palestinians who are outraged. And from the Maghreb to the Arabian Gulf (where I am now), people are echoing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s call for the international community to intervene.

The international community’s record so far has been deplorable, as it has stood idly by while Israel has operated its blockade of the Gaza Strip, driving Gaza’s population to destitution and despair. Even worse, in many ways, is the fact that nearly half a million Israeli settlers have been allowed to move into occupied West Bank territory over the past 40 years, in blatant defiance of international law. Palestinian communities have often found themselves cut off from their land, as the Security Wall has usurped territory and organised things for the convenience of the settlers. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian olive trees have been uprooted and numerous houses have been demolished, often as a form of collective punishment. Rabid Jewish religious fanatics who have set up a bridgehead in Hebron from which some of them attack Arab families, yet they receive the protection of the Israeli army, rather than being evicted and put on trial for their criminal activities.

The Kadima-led government in Israel is obviously wishing to show itself as tough in advance of forthcoming elections. But they will not stop rockets or suicide bombers by killing, impoverishing and humiliating Palestinians. Instead, they are engendering more hatred day by day, seemingly blind to the possibility that they are inviting Armaggedon — despite the fact that there are even road signs to Har-Magedo (Armageddon) to remind people of scriptural predictions.

The solution is obvious: the Israeli government and Hamas must talk, as there can never be a military solution to the Middle East without face-to-face negotiations. This is an unsavoury prospect for most Israelis, but then so was talking to the IRA for most Britons. The alternative is more bloodshed and the increasing likelihood of a new, wider Middle East war. The international community, including the European Union, should put intense pressure on all parties concerned to cease all hostilites, and be prepared to impose sanctions if they are rebuffed.

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