Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Ostrich's bum is showing in Mitchell's trip to the Middle East

Israel thinks that Egypt can control Hamas. It saves the Jewish state from dealing directly with the legitimate authority in the Gaza strip. On the other hand, Jerusalem can and does act with impunity towards the Palestinians and Hamas in Gaza. It is true, Cairo has helped broker a "truce" between Hamas and Israel; Egypt's a middleman. It has no claim to Palestine. In fact, to it, Hamas is odious, the more especially since Hamas has elective affinities with Cairo's bete noire, the Muslim Brotherhood. The US, too, sees Egypt as a player in the denouement of the Palestine/Israel game. Cairo is linked with the much discredited and weakened Fateh. Today Obama's envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is on a fact finding mission, in order to unravel the mess that George W. Bush has famously made. Fateh, Cairo, Jerusalem are on his agenda, but not Hamas. Rumour has it, Mitchell may in the future meet with it, but no one can say for sure. Obama went on Al Arabia, a Saudi based news service, to soothe ruffed Arab feathers. The new American president has a charm and a facility with words to calm excited opinion on the Arab street. It would have made better sense for him to embrace the airwaves of Al Jazeera which has a wider following in the Arab and Muslim worlds. But let's not quibble.
There is no doubt that Mitchell is walking in beaten paths. Some suggest that he widen his horizon to include Damas and Beyrouth, but not Hamas. It stands to reason that no matter how much Israel like Rumpelstilkin, stamps its feet, no matter what terror it can rain down on the Gaza strip from the skies, no matter how much illegal land it grabs on the Palestine's west bank, it has perforce to come to the table and deal with Hamas, either as a national unity government with Fateh or by Hamas itself.
It seems that the only one with an ounce of commonsense is former president Jimmy Carter. He has talked to all parties, including Hamas. He has stripped Israel's violation of the truce that it agreed to with Hamas, one by breaking it on 4 November 2008, but more importantly by its unbending, deliberate policy of keeping the Gaza strip on the edge of starvation. Why has Hamas launched rockets, everyone queries. To bring attention to the dire straits its own people find themselves in in Gaza. Israel has steadfastly kept borders closed; it has reneged on its pledge to allow 750 lorries a day with supplies, food, fuel, medical equipment, so on and on into the Gaza strip. If it permits 100 daily, that's alot. Ergo, the calculated policy of starving and strangling slowly to death the Palestinians in Gaza. Small wonder the tunnels which carry not so much arms but the needed supplies Israel denies Gazans. But who believes Jimmy Carter? Washington keeps him at arms distance; Israel has branded him an 'anti-Semite', the brand of Cain, for all to see and for all to keep away from. Had Israel lived up to its word and allowed supplies to enter Gaza and forsaken its ghettoising Gaza, as a collective punishment for electing democratically Hamas, we would be more on a road to solving long outstanding Palestine/Israel issues. Well, helas, we're not. Mitchell will come and go, but will he be able to do anything? He could if Washington told Israel sotto voce that unless they come to heel, the US will cut off significantly economic and military aid, and will call for repayment of forgiven debts which add up to us$ trillions. For the moment the Mitchell mission is like an ostrich with its bum in the air, head in the sand denying reality.

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