Gaza victims pawns in unending fight

The concept of compromise will remain trivial as long as Israel and Hamas are locked in the equivalent of an arms race.

Israel and Palestine both want to establish a sovereign state. They both want their respective faith as a majority and exclusive control of Jerusalem within their borders.

In 2006, Palestinians elected Hamas in renewed hope of establishing a sovereign Islamic state by redefining their borders with Israel. Hamas took control of Gaza while the defeated pro-Fatah Palestinian Authority governs the West Bank.

Hamas began military initiatives to drive Israeli militants out of Palestinian Gaza and then organized much needed aid for the region. Furthermore, they launched attacks on Israel. The PA saw Hamas rocket fire as counterproductive – the relatively small-scale attacks were answered by Israel’s far stronger military.

This conflict is a substantial setback in the Israeli-Palestinian relations.

The international community persistently set up peace talks and formulated solutions for Israel and Palestine, of which the most significant is the ‘two-state nation.’ None have been fully implemented due to resistance from either or both groups.

Egypt negotiated a six-month ceasefire in June 2008, and characteristic of Israeli-Palestinian history of negotiations, the terms were not honored. Hamas did not renew the ceasefire, and on Dec. 27, 2008, Israel carried out a forceful military attack on Gaza which lasted for 22 days. Hamas continued to fight back. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert then withdrew Israeli troops from Gaza and declared a ceasefire. He said Hamas was ‘badly beaten’ and Israel’s goals ‘have been more than fully achieved’.

Throttled human rights in Gaza and a freshly elected government in Israel pave the way to a renewed compromise.

Egypt played a significant role in encouraging Hamas to a long-term truce.

‘Most of the obstacles that prevented us from reaching an agreement were resolved,’ said Taher al-Nono, a member of Hamas’s negotiating team in Cairo.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, a deputy leader of Hamas stated their proposal.

‘We have agreed to the truce with the Israeli side for one year and a half [in return] for the opening of all six passages between the Gaza Strip and Israel, and the halting of all military activity and aggression.’

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Mr. Olmert’s office responded in a statement ‘Israel won’t reach any arrangement on a truce before the release of Gilad Shalit.’

Shalit is an Israeli soldier captured in 2006. The prime minister reaffirmed his decision with an implied warning.

‘Hamas must think twice if they think we will open borders before Gilad Schalit is returned home and healthy.’

This prompted Egypt’s effort to negotiate releasing hostages. They faced yet another challenge when Hamas declined to incorporate the Israeli soldier’s release. Egypt remains hopeful in persuading Israel and Palestine to find some middle ground.

Prime Minister Olmert also stated that Israel would not create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and would allow necessary supplies, as it has since 2007.

The three-week attack on Gaza and the subsequent humanitarian aid blockade proved otherwise. The plight of the Palestinians has deteriorated substantially. Three-fourths of the Gaza’s population survives on U.N. aid.

Israel loosened control on the blockade to allow U.N. workers to enter Gaza and provide vital necessities. However, Israeli militants targeted a U.N. building where Palestinians took shelter during the attacks.

Escalating violence has propelled area leaders into the blame game yet again. Their attention has been diverted from the real victims while the crisis continues to thrive.

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