Mideast conflict demands resolution

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The Israeli military action against Palestinians ended Jan. 18.

By the latest count, in 22 days, the Israeli army killed more than 1,315 Gazans. About 400 of them were children and 108 were women.

Of the adult men who were killed, only about one-third have been identified as being active in Hamas. This death toll represents approximately one-1,000th of the total population of Gaza.

In terms of the population of the United States, that would mean 300,000 deaths.

On the Israeli side, 13 were killed.

In addition, more than 5,000 Palestinians were seriously injured. The majority of these are children who will be maimed for life. The damage to the infrastructure, homes and businesses is estimated at $1.5 billion.

Thanks to international pressure, Israel halted its offensive and withdrew its ground troops. While this may be the end of this violent episode, the cease-fire is fragile, and the possibility of renewed fighting is ever-present.

This may be a good time to review the origins of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and to consider the reasons why it has continued for so long and hopefully come up with a way to resolve it.

AS A RESULT of the 1967 war, Israel has occupied Jerusalem, which it has annexed, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which ended the war, stipulated withdrawal from occupied territories. The Camp David agreement, negotiated with the participation of President Carter in 1978, resulted in peace between Egypt and Israel and the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. With that exception, Israel has refused to comply and has maintained control over the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.

Later diplomatic efforts were made to resolve the conflict. The Madrid Conference was convened in 1991 under the auspices of President George H.W. Bush. President Clinton succeeded in bringing Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat to Washington for a renewed round of negotiations in 1993.

Simultaneously, Palestinians and Israelis made direct contacts under the auspices of the Norwegian government. This resulted in the Oslo Agreements, which established the Palestine National Authority as a precursor to an independent Palestinian state.

The next round of negotiations took place in 2000. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barack's proposal included a withdrawal from parts of the West Bank, but Israel would maintain control of access points away from the West Bank and within it, and Israel would take over outright areas with key water resources and existing settlements.

IN ADDITION, the Israeli proposal did not include a transfer of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, and did not recognize Palestinian refugees' right of return. The latest attempt was the "road map" initiated by President George W. Bush.

All of these processes have failed. Instead of Israel signaling its willingness to withdraw from the occupied territories and allow the establishment of a Palestinian state, it continued its policy of settlement expansion in the Occupied Territories. That is despite the fact the U.S. government, in accordance with international law, has called these settlements "illegal and an obstacle to peace." To build the settlements and connect them to Israel, Israel confiscates Palestinians' lands; builds roads that Palestinians can neither use nor cross; and sets up checkpoints that restrict movement between villages and, more importantly, to the major towns for essential services.

This failure has strengthened among Palestinians the view that military resistance in the form of attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians and launching of rockets is the only possible means to pressure Israel into reconsidering its policies. It was in this environment that the social movement Hamas developed a military wing.

Hamas won a majority in the 2006 parliamentary elections. After the elections, Israel, the United States and the European Union all imposed sanctions on the democratically elected government.

WHILE ISRAEL withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it retained control over Gaza's borders by land, sea and air. Israel enforced severe blockades, crippling Gaza's economy, causing widespread malnourishment and environmental problems and disabling medical care.

This situation led many international observers to agree that Gaza is the world's largest open-air prison. Beyond that, since 2005, Israel has added 8,000 new settlers in the West Bank, thus sending the message to Palestinians that Israel intends to retain its control over the West Bank and its land and water resources.

Despite all this, Hamas and Israel had agreed to a six-month truce, which international observers and Israel's own defense ministry confirm Hamas maintained.

One of the terms of the truce was Israel's lifting its siege of Gaza. Since Israel never did that, Hamas did not renew the truce when it expired in December 2008. Had Israel's aim been the prevention of missile attacks, it could have done so by agreeing to lift its blockade of Gaza. Instead, its wanton destruction indicates that its true aim is destroying Palestinian resistance to occupation.

For Israel and its supporters of its recent massacres in Gaza to pretend that the issue is Hamas and not Israel's 40-year-old military occupation and its denial of the national aspirations and human rights of Palestinians is disingenuous.

THE ARAB LEAGUE'S comprehensive peace settlement proposal in 2002 offered Israel recognition and normal relations with all Arab states in return for Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories. Israel, completely ignoring this proposal, proved that it is not fighting for survival but instead for domination.

There is great hope that President Obama will be directly involved in the resolution of this conflict. It can be resolved only through negotiations between Israel and a duly constituted Palestinian National Authority. The aim would be to achieve both Israeli and Palestinian security, and the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state. The negotiations should be in good faith. They should be based on compromises from both sides. They should begin now without the imposition of preconditions on the Palestinians. Illegal Israeli land seizures over the past 40 years and the annexation of East Jerusalem should not be considered non-negotiable facts.

When this is the clear intention of the negotiations and such aims are supported by U.S. policy, I believe militants on both sides will agree to a final status solution that will bring peace to the Holy Land, and will be in the best interests of the United States.

The writer, an Augusta resident, has been a practicing maternal fetal medicine specialist in Augusta for the past 33 years. He is a member-at-large of the Executive Committee of the Islamic Society of Augusta.

Comments (11) Add comment
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 01/29/09 - 04:48 am
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Too much hard information for

Too much hard information for the Augusta Chronicle editorial board and the spoon fed readers of The Chronicle to readily digest and assimilate. The highly accurate points made by the guest columnist conflict with the biased world view that has been instilled in poorly informed (and sometimes misinformed) Americans for more than half a century. Religious zealots see the Mideast conflict as inevitable. Right wing militarists believe that maintaining Israel as the region's hegemonic superpower is desirable. I thank Dr. Fadel for attempting to inform Americans, for using reason as a tool, and for supporting a negotiated settlement to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict which is the sine qua non for peace in the Mideast.

mgroothand
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mgroothand 01/29/09 - 05:32 am
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The 1200 character limit

The 1200 character limit severely limits any substantive reply. So, I'll just ask a question. When Israel routed all their Jewish citizens and forced them out of Gaza leaving their businesses, schools, synagogues, infrastructure and pristine farms intact, what did the Palestinians do with that? Wanton destruction of the same and 8,000 unprovoked rocket attacks. When the IDF retaliated after numerous warnings not heeded, they were the bad guys and were named as perpetrators of a massacre against "innocent" Palestinians.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 01/29/09 - 05:57 am
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Israel backed by the

Israel backed by the Bush/Cheney administration sought to strangle Hamas from the day it was democratically elected as the representatives of the Palestinian people in Jan 2006. Hamas offered to negotiate an official truce at that time but was rebuffed by Israel which responded by seizing tax remittances needed to fund the Palestinian government. Crippling sanctions were imposed on the Palestinian people as collective punishment. Here is a quote from an AP story filed at 3:33 am EST Thu 29 Jan 2009: GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Senior officials in the Islamic group Hamas are indicating a willingness to negotiate a deal for a long-term truce with Israel as long as the borders of Gaza are opened to the rest of the world. "We want to be part of the international community," Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad told The Associated Press at the Gaza-Egypt border, where he was coordinating Arab aid shipments. "I think Hamas has no interest now to increase the number of crises in Gaza or to challenge the world."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090129/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_gaza_hamas_in_flux

JesusIsComing
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JesusIsComing 01/29/09 - 06:04 am
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When you strategically place

When you strategically place women and children on rooftops of buildings which house Hamas leaders and other terrorists and you do this when Israel is conducting a military offensive - guess who will be killed, maimed, and harmed? Fadel's information about the Gaza offensive comes from Hamas reporters and apologists - definitely prejudiced and mostly false. Fadel and the rest of the terrorist-coddling world would tell Israel to sit back and do nothing while Hamas and others shoot thousands of rockets into civilian areas of Israel. I wonder what THAT does to the children of Israel - but to Fadel and his ilk that does not matter.

JesusIsComing
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JesusIsComing 01/29/09 - 06:07 am
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This crisis reveals the

This crisis reveals the left's weakness: talking about peace trumps the very real actions of shooting rockets at civilians. What a naive way to look at the world!

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 01/29/09 - 06:17 am
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There is no objective

There is no objective evidence that Hamas intentionally used civilians as shields. This is just more spoon fed predigested pap that poorly informed (and often misinformed) Americans suck down as Gospel truth (pun intended in the case of "Jesus is coming" and Christian Zionist endtimers). There is plenty of evidence that Israel used white phosphorous shells in heavily populated civilian areas which is a war crime. Israeli massacres of Palestinian refugees occurred as early as 1953 just 5 years after the founding of the Jewish state in former Palestinian lands. Listen to what even-handed New York Times journalist Ethan Bronner told Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air" on Tuesday, January 27, 2009 about the situation in Gaza. Bronner lives in and reports from both Israel and Gaza.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99901768

LaTwon
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LaTwon 01/29/09 - 08:46 am
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there are 10 000 people per

there are 10 000 people per square mile in gaza. where could u hide? here are some graphic pictures......................................
http://palestinian.ning.com/forum/topics/the-other-side-of-the-story

soldout
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soldout 01/29/09 - 08:50 am
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The conflict will end when

The conflict will end when Christ returns. The Bible tells how old this conflict is and how it will end. There will be periods of peace but they won't last.

JesusIsComing
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JesusIsComing 01/29/09 - 08:58 am
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Fadel, You left out many

Fadel, You left out many important parts of Israel's history with the Arabs. Why did Israel annex "the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula" after the 1967 War and who started this war? Why did Yasser Arafat walk away from a deal that gave him everything he wanted (except the destruction of Israel)? What a way to view history - with reports from only one side of the conflict!

dashiel
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dashiel 01/29/09 - 10:04 am
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Don't forget, all you angelic

Don't forget, all you angelic little altruists, we're all for spreading democracy in the region--except, of course, when people vote for something we oppose. Thank you, Dr. Fadel for such a well-reasoned and well-written review of recent conflicts. Let propaganda, powerful lobbyists and bellicose bigots do their worst; they shall not prevail against truth and justice.

JesusIsComing
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JesusIsComing 01/29/09 - 03:50 pm
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He who blesses Israel, I

He who blesses Israel, I (God) will bless. He who curses Israel, I will curse. Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.

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