NOTE: This article was first published at CNSNews.com on Jan. 9.
(by Julie Stahl, Jan. 10, 2008, CNSNews.com) Jerusalem – There will not be any Israeli-Palestinian peace pact if terror attacks are not stopped, and that includes rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Wednesday.
Olmert was speaking at a joint press conference with President Bush, who is here for three days in part to energize the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process that was re-launched at the U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace conference at Annapolis, Md., in November.
“We’re dealing with serious security problems,” Olmert said after the two-and-a-half hour meeting.
Palestinian terrorists launched 20 Kassam rockets and mortar shells from the Gaza Strip at southern Israeli communities on Wednesday.
Five of them caused damage or light injuries, including one that fell in a child’s room in a home in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, the army said. (More than 160 rockets and mortars have been launched at Israel in the last nine days.)
The rocket attacks served to underscore Israel’s key demand in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that Palestinians commit to taking action to end terrorism.
“Israel does not tolerate and will not tolerate the continuation of these vicious attacks on civilians living in our cities,” Olmert said.
Olmert said that Israel would not hesitate to take all necessary measures to stop those responsible for the attacks and that there would be no peace if the rocket attacks were not stopped. But he also said that the Gaza Strip would have to be part of any comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace pact.
“There will be no peace unless terror is stopped, and terror will have to be stopped everywhere,” Olmert said.
“We made it clear to the Palestinians, they know it, and they understand that Gaza must be part of the package,” he said. “As long as there will be terror from Gaza, it will be very, very hard to reach any peaceful understanding between us and the Palestinians.”
It is not clear how Olmert sees such a deal taking place. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has not been in control of the Gaza Strip since last June, when Hamas seized control of the seaside strip, where more than 1.3 million Palestinians live. Some members of his own Fatah faction in the Gaza Strip have taken credit for firing rockets at Israel.
Since then, Israel, backed by the U.S. and much of the international community has sought to isolate Hamas in the Gaza Strip and bolster Abbas as a peace partner.
In regards to the rockets, Bush said that the first question he would ask Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas when he meets him on Thursday is what he intends to do about the rocket fire and how the U.S. can help him deal with it.
“There has to be a firm commitment of a Palestinian government to deal with extremists and terrorists who might be willing to use Palestinian territory as a launching pad into Israel,” Bush said.
Bush said Abbas recognizes that the Palestinian areas cannot be a “safe haven” for terrorists and that he can’t expect Israel to accept a state on its border that would be a launching pad for terror activity.
Bush seemed to give Israel some wiggle room on the issue of stopping settlement construction, and he appeared to disagree with the stand of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the issue.
Israeli media reports prior to his arrival had suggested that Bush would pressure Israel to commit itself again to halting settlement construction in the West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem.
(The first phase of the road map peace plan, which both Israelis and Palestinians agreed to fulfill at the November peace conference, is Israel demonstrating its commitment to halting settlement construction and removing some 100 unauthorized outposts in the West Bank and the Palestinians dismantling the terrorist infrastructure.)
But Olmert said that Bush didn’t ask him “to make any commitments other than the ones Israel made already with regard to the peace process.”
Bush said the unauthorized outposts “ought to go,” but he deferred to Olmert on the issue of settlements.
Olmert reiterated Israel’s position on settlement construction, which he said was clear to the Palestinians and to the U.S., even if they weren’t happy about it.
“We are not going to build any new settlements or expropriate land in the territories,” Olmert said. “We will fulfill all our commitments as part of the road map.”
(Palestinians want to see all Israeli communities removed from the West Bank where they hope to establish a future state, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.)
Nevertheless, Olmert said, Jerusalem and large settlement population centers fell into a different category and Israel might do things in those places that not everyone would like.
Israel sparked international criticism following the Annapolis conference when it issued an invitation for contractors to bid on building new apartments in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, which is technically in the West Bank.
Rice was quoted on Wednesday in the Jerusalem Post saying that the U.S. had opposed Har Homa from the beginning and made no distinction between settlement activity in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Bush said that Olmert and he had also discussed Iran’s nuclear program and the incident on Sunday when five Iranian boats harassed three American Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz – an action that Washington called a “provocative act.”
U.S. officials said that Iran had threatened to blow up the vessels but the boats turned back at the last minute and the Iranian Foreign Ministry called it a “normal” incident.
“It was a very dangerous gesture on their part,” Bush said. “They know our position and that is there will be serious consequences if they attack our ships – pure and simple. My advice to them is don’t do it.”
Bush also said that Iran is still a “threat to world peace.”
Olmert said he was “encouraged and strengthened” by the American stand on Iran. Israel strongly disagreed with the recently released U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that indicated that Iran was no longer trying to develop nuclear weapons.
All original CNSNews.com material, copyright 1998-2007 Cybercast News Service. Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.
1. During President Bush’s visit to Israel to meet with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders regarding the peace negotiations, what did Palestinian terrorists do?
2. a) How many rockets and mortars have Palestinian terrorists launched at Israel in the last nine days?
b) Who are Palestinians targeting with their rockets?
3. a) What key demand has Israel made in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations?
b) How will the Palestinians’ failure to meet this demand affect the peace negotiations?
4. Who controls the Gaza Strip?
5. What is the first question President Bush will ask when he meets with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas today?
6. How effective do you think Mr. Abbas can be in ending the rocket attacks?
7. What is the first phase of the road map peace plan, which both Israelis and Palestinians agreed to fulfill at the November peace conference?
8. a) What did Israel do that appears to contradict their agreement to halt settlement construction?
b) How did Israeli Prime Minister Olmert attempt to justify Israel’s action?
9. Think about the plan that both Israelis and Palestinians agreed to fulfill to establish peace (see para. 18). Do you think the Israelis and Palestinians will establish peace? Explain your answer.
10. Do you think that the Israelis and Palestinians are equally to blame for trouble they have establishing peace? Explain your answer.
11. Israelis have the military capability to destroy the Palestinian areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip if they wanted to do so. If Palestinians possessed the military might to destroy Israel, do you think they would do so? Explain your answer.
THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY’S RULING POLITICAL PARTIES:
The Palestinian Authority is currently ruled by two parties, Fatah and Hamas. Hamas holds the majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament and the office of Prime Minister. Fatah holds a minority of seats in the Parliament, and the office of President.
Fatah ruled the Palestinian Authority from its establishment in 1994 until 2006. [Yasser Arafat was the head of Fatah until his death in 2004.] Fatah is a major secular Palestinian political party…. In Palestinian politics it is on the center-left of the spectrum. ….. [Since its loss in 2006 as the ruling party] it has … been described oftentimes in the media as the more “moderate” party, although many dispute this due to its past actions and current policies. (from Wikipedia.org)
Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist terrorist organization that currently (since January 2006) forms the majority party of the Palestinian Authority.… Hamas is known outside the Palestinian territories for its suicide bombings and other attacks directed against Israeli civilians, as well as military and security forces targets. Hamas’ charter…calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. …………..In January 2006, Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections…. Many [Palestinians] perceived the preceding Fatah government as corrupt and ineffective… Since Hamas has taken control, the Palestinian territories have experienced a period of sharp internal conflicts, known as Fauda (anarchy), in which many Palestinians have been killed in internecine fighting. (from Wikipedia.org)
NOTE: Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia. Anyone can submit information on any topic. Some of the material on Wikipedia has been known to be inaccurate or biased. It is our judgement that the excerpts from wikipedia.org posted above on Fatah and Hamas are accurate.
Daily “Answers” emails are provided for Daily News Articles, Tuesday’s World Events and Friday’s News Quiz.