Gulf News
February 16, 2009 - 1:00am

The talks on turning the ceasefire in Gaza into a more lasting truce have broken down, but it is important for both Israelis and Palestinians that a proper truce is established. Egypt has the thankless task of mediating between the two sides, trying to find the conditions that would lead to a lasting truce.

Hamas is firm that the deal has to include having the border posts fully opened to allow goods into Gaza. Without open borders, the Israeli siege can continue in whatever form the Israelis choose to impose and normal life in Gaza will not be able to resume, and the economy will remain strangled into basic subsistence.

Out-going Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has listed Israel's three major conditions. The first is the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier in captivity since June 2007. The second is the halting of smuggling from Egypt to the Gaza Strip, and the third is a total ceasefire. However, violations of the ceasefire from both sides have become almost routine. A Palestinian rocket was fired into southern Israel from north Gaza on Sunday and yesterday Israeli shelling killed a Palestinian man in Gaza. A genuine truce will need both sides to enforce the conditions they accept.

But what is happening in Gaza is not the whole picture. It is vital to remember what is happening in the West Bank, where in defiance of its international obligations, the Israeli government has just taken control of a new 172-hectare plot of land, paving the way for another 2,500 colony homes, which will add yet more Zionist colonists, in addition to the 290,000 already living in the West Bank. Such actions make it obvious that Israel does not want peace, and is focusing on grabbing land.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017