Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip may just feel a little less isolated today. Israel is bowing to international pressure and rejigging its embargo on the enclave in the wake of the bloodshed 3 weeks ago when it enforced a longstanding maritime blockade.
But earlier this month, taking my leave at the end of a 3-year assignment, I reflected while walking the half-mile (700-metre) cage (picture, right) that separates Gaza from Israel on how the barriers that surround and divide this region have, if anything, grown higher, deepening the isolation of the rival parties. That may make any kind of reconciliation more difficult as time goes on. I wrote about this earlier today.
Since Israel pulled out troops from Gaza in 2005 and Hamas took control in 2007, the 1.5 million people in the 40-km (25-mile) sliver of Mediterranean coast, have been cut off. But they’re not the only ones. Israel is itself a virtual island in the Arab world. Though it has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, contact with them seems if anything to be retreating. Relations look little more vigorous at times than they are across the frontlines with Lebanon and Syria. Israeli dreams, backed by some serious cash lately, of re-establishing a regional rail transport hub, seem far-fetched.
The frontier lines weave their way around and among Israeli and Palestinian populations that live lives in parallel but now rarely meet after a decade in which peace hopes faded amid bloodshed. New divisions among Palestinians, between Hamas and Fatah, have left Gaza virtually at war with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Israelis, too, have seen sharper confrontations within their nation, notably between secular and religious Jews. Inside the West Bank and across Jerusalem, I’ve also watched new physical barriers going up and the battle for territory has heated up. Today’s revival of Israeli building plans in the annexed Arab east of the city is the latest development to stir angry passions.
Its been two months since Israel ended its 22-day offensive in Gaza – two months during which Israel has been weighing up the costs and the benefits of what was achieved in the fierce fighting.
By Tova Cohen
Though it’s considered one of the top three cabinet posts in Israel’s government, in these troubled times there seems to be no takers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party for the job of finance minister, according to the Yedioth Ahronoth daily.
Netanyahu, who is in the process of putting together a government after last month’s general election, is seeking to give the finance post to someone in his own party, but senior members are reluctant to step into this “honey trap”, the country’s top selling daily reported.
Israeli newspapers are abuzz this morning as they mull over the possibility that ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman could be appointed foreign minister in the government that Benjamin Netanyahu is working to stitch together.
The strong showing by Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel our Home) party in last month’s election – where it won the third most Knesset seats ahead of the Labour Party - has put the Moldovan-born former nightclub bouncer turned bureaucrat in a strong position in the lobbying for top ministerial posts in the new government.
Despite living in a region steeped in so much history – history central to the beliefs of billions of people around the world – we at AxisMundi would like to think we have an eye on the future as well.
With that in mind – we opened a Twitter account today http://twitter.com/reuteraxismundi.
To be in the right place at the right moment – this is every photojournalist’s dream. To be on the scene to record the “decisive moment” with your camera.
Most photojournalists around the world consider Israel and the Palestinian Territories as ”heaven” for great stories providing great pictures. Well they are wrong.
Amid fears that voters would stay away from Israel’s polling stations because of bad weather, apathy born of a coalition-based political system that forces elections every two years or so and a lacklustre campaign overshadowed by the Gaza war – you knew at least these guys would show up at the ballot box.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Olmert and Avigdor Lieberman all voted early - hoping that their supporters would follow them to the polling stations.
from Global News Journal:
Who remembers the Google Wars website that was doing the viral rounds a few years back – a mildly amusing, non-scientific snapshot of the search-driven, internet world we live in?
It lives on at www.googlebattle.com where you can enter two search terms, say ‘Lennon vs. McCartney’ or ‘Left vs. Right’, and let the internet pick a winner by the number of search hits each word gets.