Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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

Israeli Elections and Gaza Violence Complicate New U.S. Envoy’s Peace Mission

Posted by gaetanoditommaso su 30 gennaio, 2009

JERUSALEM — President Obama’s special Middle East envoy told Palestinian leaders in the West Bank on Thursday that he had a mandate to actively pursue the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to a Palestinian official, despite a pall of uncertainty over the future of negotiations pending the outcome of Israeli elections on Feb. 10.

The envoy, George J. Mitchell, on his first trip to the region in his new role, traveled to Ramallah, the West Bank headquarters of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, and met with President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and other Palestinian leaders. Only the Palestinian Authority officially speaks for Palestinians in the talks with Israel.

“Lasting peace is our objective,” Mr. Mitchell told reporters after the meeting. “The United States will sustain an active commitment to two states living side by side in peace, stability and security.”

Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide who attended the meeting, said by telephone that Mr. Mitchell mainly “listened for 90 minutes” to the Palestinian president. Mr. Erekat said that Mr. Abbas touched on the situation in Gaza, where Fatah’s rival, the Islamic militant group Hamas, holds sway; on attempts for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, whose 18-month-old split has further complicated prospects for a Palestinian state; and on the issue of reconstruction after Israel’s punishing offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

Mr. Abbas briefed the American envoy on the details of his negotiations with Israel over the past year and reiterated his commitment to the two-state vision, while underscoring the “devastating effect” of Israel’s continued settlement activity in the West Bank, Mr. Erekat said.

The negotiations, aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, began at an American-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, Md., in late 2007. No agreement was reached by the target date of the end of 2008.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel on Wednesday, Mr. Mitchell heard what Israel had offered the Palestinians in the talks. According to the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, the offer included the evacuation of 60,000 Israelis from outlying Jewish settlements in the West Bank and land exchanges to compensate the Palestinians for the settlement blocs that Israel intends to keep. Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem were to be given over to the Palestinian control, and the holy sites were to come under international supervision.

But opinion polls indicate that Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Likud, the right-wing opposition party, is likely to prevail in the Israeli elections and form the next governing coalition, creating doubts about the continuation of the process in its current format.

Mr. Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, noted that Mr. Netanyahu had never expressed support for the two-state solution and possibly “never will.”

Mr. Mitchell’s brief remarks also focused on the importance of shoring up the fragile Gaza truce. “To be successful in preventing the illicit traffic of arms into Gaza,” he said, “there must be a mechanism to allow the flow of legal goods” through the Gaza border crossings with the participation of the Palestinian Authority.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr. Mitchell met with the Israeli army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, to discuss security issues.

Israel and Hamas began separate cease-fires on Jan. 18, and Egypt is trying to broker a more sustainable truce. But Israeli officials have said they are in no hurry to reach agreements with Hamas. They are adamant that Hamas should not benefit in any way in the aftermath of the military offensive, which Israel says was intended to stop Hamas from firing rockets into Israel.

The tenuous calm was broken again early Thursday when a rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel, the second in 12 hours. It landed in an open area and caused no injuries.

Hours later, Israel carried out an airstrike in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis against a member of a squad the military said was responsible for a bombing on Tuesday that killed an Israeli soldier patrolling the Israeli side of the border.

Israel said the target was a former Hamas operative who split from the group to join an organization called Global Jihad.

News reports from Gaza described the militant, who was wounded, as a Hamas policeman on a motorcycle and said several civilians, including schoolchildren, were wounded in the strike.

Mr. Netanyahu, the Israeli opposition leader, said that he would encourage rapid economic development for the Palestinians in the West Bank but that he would take a harsh line on Hamas. He suggested Thursday that the Gaza campaign had not achieved its goals. “It is clear Hamas is rearming,” he told Israel Radio. “Of course it is attacking us.”

“The next government will have no choice but to finish the work,” he said.

U.N. Chief Urges Gaza Aid

In Davos, Switzerland, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, on Thursday made an appeal for $613 million in emergency aid for Palestinians in Gaza, saying, “Help is needed urgently.”

Mr. Ban visited Gaza after both sides declared unilateral cease-fires almost two weeks ago. He is the highest-ranking international figure to have visited Gaza since the war. He was speaking to reporters covering the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The new United States ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, also spoke about Gaza on Thursday as she made her first official appearance at the Security Council. In a closed session about the protection of civilians, she noted “the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life in recent weeks and the tragic suffering of Palestinian civilians, who require urgent humanitarian and reconstruction assistance.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/30/world/middleeast/30mideast.html?_r=1&ref=middleeast

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