Gaza war – Early test for Obama?

January 14, 2009

The slow pace of talks between Hamas and Egyptian mediators on Cairo’s proposal for a Gaza ceasefire is raising speculation in Israel over whether the Islamist group is playing for time, hoping to get a better deal once Barack Obama is sworn in as U.S. president on Tuesday.

Israel also has been in no rush to call off the offensive it began on Dec. 27 with the declared aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks on its southern towns.

It now has only less than a week left to put into motion a threatened third phase of the campaign, an all-out push into densely populated Gaza cities, while its strong ally, President George W. Bush, is still in office.

The bloodshed has opened faultlines in the map of Middle East diplomacy, with the Bush administration in its final week standing behind Israel, Europe pressing Israel to call off its attacks and Arab leaders speaking out against the Jewish state.

For Israel, too, waiting for Obama — who has promised to make Israeli-Palestinian peace an early priority for his administration — could have its advantages.

The way Obama, who last July visited the southern Israeli town of Sderot, a frequent target of Hamas rockets, deals with the Gaza war could set the tone early for his Middle East policy and provide an initial answer to the question being asked in Israel and the Arab world: To what extent, if any, will he soften Bush’s pro-Israeli stance?


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With Obama in the White House the ceasefire talks may hasten in order to pump something out right away, but what good will it do in the long run? Hamas is a terrorist entity that is sworn to the destruction of Israel, and violated the last ceasefire brokered by Egypt, so in its bid to win over more international sympathy all it has to do is fire more rockets into Israel and invite an aggressive response. Israel, on the other hand, will want to protect its citizens from the relentless rocket attacks and will use force, even during a ceasefire, if necessary.

In conclusion, a hastily brokered ceasefire with no concrete reforms (such as an overhaul of the education and textbook systems) will be doomed to fail and will result in de ja vu scenario within a few months…

Posted by Nikki G | Report as abusive

This latest Israeli assault on the Palestinians in the Gaza is a tragedy. The intermittent war between the two seems almost eternal. When will sanity prevail and peace come to the Middle East? The USA should abandon its extremely pro-Israel policy of the Bush era and assume the role of a genuine, unbiased negotiator to bring lasting peace. Also, Israel should stop encroaching Palestinian lands and dismantle its illegal settlements in the West Bank. Israel knows that at the UN the US will use its veto to shield Israel from the world’s collective judgement on its atrocities, so in the Gaza War with impunity it has fired missiles at the UN schools, shelters and even warehouses, and dropped phosphorus bombs on civilians, a large number of whom were mere infants and toddlers. Because its atrocities were seen by people on live TV and video clips -especially its use of white phosphorus bombs on frightened civilians- Israel has lost support this time to a large extent from people around the world. The UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon has said that Israel’s war crimes – its use of white phosphorus on civilians – must be investigated. I hope he will proceed with the investigation.

And I also hope that President Obama was sincere when he said that he was genuinely concerned about the large civilian death and devastation in this war. I hope he will do the right and necessary thing to bring peace to the long suffering region soon.

Posted by Yesh Prabhu | Report as abusive