Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Negotiations for ceasefire continue as GCC discusses crisis

Posted by Alessandro Accorsi su 16 gennaio, 2009

Vita Bekker, Foreign Correspondent

The National – UAE

TEL AVIV // Negotiations on a ceasefire intensified yesterday as Israeli forces pushed deeper into the densely populated Gaza City in what appeared to be the Jewish state’s final assault on Hamas before a truce is sealed.

An Israeli attack on a UN compound prompted a furious response from Ban Ki-moon, the UN chief who is in Israel as part of an effort to advance an immediate ceasefire in the fighting that has so far killed 1,028 Palestinians and left more than 5,000 wounded.

At a press conference in Tel Aviv with Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, Mr Ban expressed “strong protest and outrage” at the shelling of the compound and said Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, had told him it was a mistake. He added that the number of dead had reached “an unbearable point” and that arrangements were in place to enable a truce “to come reasonably soon”.

The strike on the compound – which set several buildings ablaze, destroyed thousands of pounds of food and humanitarian supplies and injured three people – took place as Israeli ground forces intensified their attacks on both outlying districts and central areas of Gaza City.

Ayman Taha, an official of Hamas, was quoted as saying Israel’s attacks yesterday were a bid to force the Islamic group to agree to its terms in the truce.

As Israel ended the 20th day of its massive onslaught in the impoverished territory, its representatives and those of Hamas – which controls Gaza – met separately with Egyptian mediators to negotiate a possible end to the fighting. Israel has said it would not agree to a truce that would allow Hamas to rearm itself and has sought assurances that the group will not be able to smuggle in weapons through tunnels from Egypt into Gaza.

Hamas has repeatedly demanded that any pact would call on Israel to pull out its troops and lift a long-standing and crippling blockade on Gaza.

News agencies quoted diplomats as saying the Egyptian proposal included a phased-in truce that would halt to violence to let in humanitarian aid and proceed to a withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Gaza and the reopening of border crossings.

Mr Barak indicated Israel was open to accepting proposals for ending its attacks. “The fighting is continuing in order to reach our targets, but our eye is also open to the possibility of reaching an end to this campaign and completing the extraordinary results and achievements of the army through diplomatic means,” he said during a meeting with naval troops in the southern city of Ashdod.

Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, was due to meet Mr Barak and Ms Livni last night to discuss the ceasefire plans and get a briefing by Amos Gilad, a senior defence ministry official who visited Cairo for talks on the truce earlier in the day.

While news reports in Cairo said Israel had reacted favourably to the Egyptian proposal, a spokesman for Mr Olmert said no decision had yet been made.

In parallel to talks on the Egyptian plan, Israel is also close to signing an agreement with the US that will attempt to counter the smuggling of arms by Hamas into Gaza. The pact, which may be signed as early as today, would aim to set up a supervision mechanism to halt Hamas’s arm-smuggling routes from Iran to the Gaza Strip through the Arabian Gulf, Sudan and other countries, the paper said. It added that Ms Livni may travel to the US this weekend to seal the agreement.

The diplomatic push on a ceasefire appeared to advance as leaders of the six GCC countries convened for an emergency summit in Saudi Arabia last night to discuss the “Israeli aggression on Gaza”. In what suggested growing divisions among Arab and Islamic countries on how to respond to the Israeli offensive, Qatar hastily arranged a separate meeting for the 22-strong Arab League at its capital, Doha, for today. But Saudi Arabia, Egypt and half a dozen other Arab countries announced they would refuse to attend the Doha summit.

In a statement, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, stressed the importance of collective Arab action: “The United Arab Emirates, in its political approach, is committed to the necessity of joint Arab work so as to fortify the security and stability in the region and to guarantee the confrontation of the challenges faced by our Arab world, through a congruent joint vision that will safeguard the unity of our ranks and ensure the clarity and efficacy of our stance.

“Also across the meeting and consultations at the Arab Economic, Social and Development Summit in Kuwait, UAE looks forward to seeing the Israeli aggression on Gaza stopped through a collective and effective Arab work that will put an end to this tragedy.”

The ceasefire developments followed deepening rifts among Israel’s leaders on when to end the operation. While both Mr Barak and Ms Livni have this week sought a quick end to the campaign, a poll released by Tel Aviv University yesterday showed that 90 per cent of Israeli Jews supported continuing the assault until Israel achieves its objectives.

Talk on the ceasefire prompted mixed reactions from Israeli political parties yesterday. Yuval Steinitz of the right-wing Likud party said Israel should continue the operation until it takes control of southern Gaza, “in order to prevent arm-smuggling” by Hamas.

But Haim Oron, the chairman of the dovish Meretz party, insisted “the only solution” to the fighting was to sign an agreement with the Egyptians that would curb smuggling and reach a pact with Hamas on establishing “a long term calm”.

vbekker@thenational.ae

http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090116/FOREIGN/196769889/1011

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