Syria's President Discusses Regional Stability, Israel, and Gaza

Posted on Thu, Jun 17, 2010 @ 04:59 PM
Bashar al-Assad  

 Bashar al-Assad

Having been away from this blog for a while, apart from moderating some fine comments on the perplexing Gaza prisoner situation of Gilad Shalit and his Hamas captors, I'm sure it is time to ramp up efforts again in light of increasing concerns.

I was impressed by the very recent
video interview of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, by the BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen. It is wide ranging, both interviewer and interviewee handling the complexities well, but unraveling little.

According to Bowen:

"President Bashar al-Assad has the air of a man who thinks matters are going his way--even though he shares the common Middle Eastern view that the region is getting more dangerous.

Israel, the US and Britain are convinced that not only is Mr. Assad arming Hezbollah, but that he is also sending bigger, better and more accurate weapons than before.

And he seems in no mood to respond to US attempts to woo him away from Syria's long-term strategic alliance with Iran."


Tags: gaza, Syria, Flotilla, israel, Palestine

Prisoner Swap Update

Posted on Sun, Feb 22, 2009 @ 12:14 PM
Israel refuses to open Gaza border crossings further until Shalit released

The Israeli security cabinet voted against further opening of Gaza border crossings today, tying the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to further progress. Hamas has said that Israel would have to agree to release as many as 1400 Palestinian prisoners in return. They include Fateh and Hamas members. Hamas has refused to link Shalit's release to any future truce, however.

Tags: gaza, Hamas, fateh, israel, shalit

Palestinian-Israeli Prisoner Swap

Posted on Tue, Feb 17, 2009 @ 09:13 AM
Hamas and Israel move toward Gaza truce
Helena Cobban has written a lot over the years on the ME. In this link she has a very detailed run down on the latest Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over prisoner releases that could free key Hamas and Fateh militants from Israeli hands, and one Israeli soldier held in Gaza since 2006. All of this could be the precursor to declaration of another truce between Hamas and Israel on Wednesday. Reconciliation between Hamas and Fateh also seems to be on the cards. Meetings in Cairo indicate progress toward shared responsibilities and new elections.

Tags: gaza, Hamas, fateh, israel, Palestine

Palestinian President Suspends Mid-East Conflict Negotiations

Posted on Mon, Mar 03, 2008 @ 03:16 PM

Abbas pulls out of Middle East peace talks with Israel's government over Gaza action
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Details: Palestinian President Suspends Mid-East  Conflict Negotiations
Israel's military action in Gaza

The current round of talks aimed at a peace treaty by year's end are now on hold following Israel's military actions in Gaza

Mahmoud Abbas has taken the largely symbolic step to protest Israel's military incursion into Gaza to prevent further rocket attacks on Sderot and Ashkelon.

According to a story on the BBC World News site, the Palestinian president is seen as increasingly ineffective in the face of Israel's overwhelming ability to use force.

Tags: gaza, peace process, israel, Middle East Conflict, Palestine, Peace talks, abbas, mid-east

Latest Palestinian Census Figures

Posted on Sun, Feb 10, 2008 @ 04:37 PM

AP reports that Palestinian population has grown, but questions East Jerusalem numbers
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Details: Latest  Palestinian Census Figures
Palestinian Population Growth
The Associated Press reported on the latest Palestinian population figures in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The International Herald Tribune carried the account February 9.

Tags: mid east conflict, gaza, east jerusalem, palestinian population, palestinians, west bank, census

B'Tselem Releases 2007 Report

Posted on Tue, Jan 01, 2008 @ 04:31 PM

B'Tselem, the human rights agency that reports on violations in the West Bank and Gaza, has released its 2007 year end report. While the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed has dropped, there is deterioration in other humanitarian sectors.

Tags: gaza, human rights violations, west bank

Review of Palestinian Christian Situation

Posted on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 @ 04:51 PM

Is Middle East peace a distant dream?

Identity, Ideology and the Future of Jerusalem, by David HulmeIn a report from the Israel Project attention is directed to the plight of Palestinian Christians whose numbers have dwindled in recent years. The site of Jesus' birth has been hard hit. As the report notes, "Bethlehem in particular has seen a dramatic decline in its Christian population. Of Bethlehem’s 30,000 residents, less than 20 percent are Christian. In 1948 though, more than 85 percent of the town’s inhabitants were Christian." In the West Bank and Gaza the drop in numbers is even more dramatic. Once at 15% of the Palestinian population (1948), Christians now represent only 1½%. Muslim persecution is certainly one of the reasons for the decline as the report shows.

Though religious tolerance is usually relegated in discussions about the peace process, without mutual respect between Christians, Muslims and Jews, progress in the Middle East will remain a distant dream. The issue of Jerusalem's declining Christian population is a subject I treat in Identity, Ideology and the Future of Jerusalem.

Vision's web site has a helpful background article about the Jewish perspective, and another about the Palestinian view on Jerusalem.

Tags: jerusalem, gaza, middle east, Christians, Muslims, israel, west bank, Palestine, Jews

Israel’s Two New Leaders

Posted on Tue, Jun 19, 2007 @ 03:05 PM
The Middle East Conflict Takes another Turn

Today, Shimon Peres was elected Israel’s president in a second round of voting. His two challengers had withdrawn after winning many fewer votes in the first round.

Yesterday Peres’ former party, Labor, elected Ehud Barak as its new leader. These two former prime ministers find themselves in new roles at a crucial time in the ongoing Middle East crisis. What it may mean for the Palestinian situation is hard to predict with the current fierce battles between Hamas and Fatah fighters in Gaza and the West BankThough Peres’ role will be largely ceremonial, he will have a unique opportunity to meet world leaders and influence policy. In an interview with Vision a few years ago he made clear his overall feelings about the need for reconciliation with the Palestinian people.



Tags: gaza, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Fatah, Hamas, Middle East Crisis, israel, west bank, Palestine