[[Jerusalem Times: Opinion]]


November 9, 2006


This week in Palestine….. Behind the news with Hanna Siniora


Disaster Strikes Again


Palestinians from Beit Hanoun, Gaza hardly breathed relief from six cruel days of an Israeli military operation that caused 51 deaths and more than 250 wounded when a barrage of tank shells hit a civilian compound that caused 20 civilian deaths among them ten children and seven women, and an additional 40 wounded. This latest massacre of innocent civilians demonstrated again that the excessive use of power usually leads to killing the innocents and inflames the public. Only 24 hours earlier the newly installed operations are unable to stop Gazans from launching rockets.


Brute force has never been the mechanism to subdue people, it has failed in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, even in Nicaragua people in defiance of Bush policies reelected Ortega for a new term as president.


Israel and the USA should desist from pursuing absolute force to subdue people. In Palestine, dialogue with Hamas, would have prevented the calamities of the post nine months, would have succeeded in moderating Hamas, would have allowed the possibility of opening a new chapter of relations, at least it would have led to diminishing violence and counter violence.


As a result of the Beit Hanoun massacre of innocent civilians, a violent chapter of suicide attacks instead of being history, to-day, is being reopened with vengeance; more innocent civilians from both nations are going to pay a heavy blood bath.


Even in the mighty USA, voters have clearly indicated their rejection of the Bush administration neo-conservative policies of the use of force o bring change. The Bush administration has lost control of the House, and the Senate. 

In Palestine, the moderate leadership of Mahmoud Abbas is being undermined, and as a result; the massacre will prevent Abbas from carrying any of his plans to oust Hamas.


Arab moderate regimes are too at stake and they are under siege by their publics for their inability to influence the Bush administration. Palestine, Afghanistan and possibly other regional regimes are being de-established by this rash policy. 


Is There Hope for Change


Can the James Baker-Lee Hamilton group influence a lame duke Bush administration from further deterioration of the Middle East. The Fuad Siniora Lebanese government will also feel the repercussions; events in Palestine will affect the stability of Lebanon too. The UN has become the laughing stock of beleaguered oppressed people, political analysts wonder if a shift, even if it takes place at the highest level of the Bush administration might prevent disaster in the ME.


An immediate reshaping of policies have to occur immediately, the USA must relinquish ousted Rumsfeld’s policies as the only way to bring change. The USA must open channels with those they call to-day the axis of evil in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. The USA has to prepare for a quick exit scenario from Iraq; the USA must engage Iran in talks to eliminate the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the USA must allow Israel to engage its enemies in dialogue and desist from the use of force. Can sanity finally gain the upper ground among policy makers at the White House and the Pentagon.


Israel, after two Qana massacres, in Lebanon and an equally brutal military campaign in the Occupied Territories, must turn to negotiations with the Palestinian enemy. Peace can only be made if former enemies can be convinced that new avenues are being opened to achieve peace, so far, these avenues based on dialogue and negotiations have been totally ignored.


Teachers Suspend the Strike


Students hardly were able to rejoice that the 3 months teachers’ strike was finally over, and teachers and students are back in the classrooms trying to salvage the school year, when disaster struck in Gaza. Mahmoud Abbas, in response to the public outrage, declared a three day mourning period in Palestine in solidarity with the innocent victims of the latest outrage.


The PA has promised the teachers to put them on top of their priority to receive back salaries, but the Palestinian treasury is empty. The EU Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) played an important factor in suspending the strike as the EU will support the educational system in a similar manner to the Health sector. It is imperative for teachers to receive at least partial payment, to cover household essential, and to have the means to travel to their classrooms.


 National Unity Government on-hold.


Immediately as the extent of the disaster became apparent in Beit Hanoun, PM Ismail Haniyeh announced suspension of the talks toward a National Unity government. In a previous meeting with President Abbas, PM Haniyeh presented the name of the present Health Minister Dr. Bassem Naim as Hamas candidate for the job of PM Abbas asked for the names of three candidates to choose from and was supposed to receive the names this Wednesday before returning to Ramallah.


Engineer Jamal Khoudari, the present minister of Telecommunications and Technology was also rumored to be another potential candidate. Although Abbas insists that the dialogue to form a National Unity Government must continue, the sad event has undermined his efforts to finally be able to cross this hurdle. Now he can only wait until after three day mourning period is over to see if the talks can be resumed.


Mr. Hanna Siniora is the Co-CEO of IPCRI – the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information  www.ipcri.org