Thursday, 14 August 2014


The ceasefires in and around Gaza have stumbled and then been reinstated.  Sporadic bombardments have occurred, and then been stopped.  Talks, with Hamas and Israeli teams not meeting directly, have been continuing in Egypt.

The chief demand of the Palestinians is for an end to the blockade and siege, to which the Strip has been subject for nigh-on eight years.  The Israelis are demanding the 'demilitarization' of Gaza.  The Palestinian demand has greater moral and legal weight behind it, since international law recognises Israel still as an occupying power, with total sovereignty over the Strip, its borders (apart from that with Egypt), its airspace, and its territorial waters, and with the ability tightly to regulate what comes in and out of the Strip.  Israel's policies - whether of siege, semi-starvation or bombardment - amount to collective punishment of a civilian population, and constitute a massive crime.  Israel's wish for Hamas to disarm is illegal, in that international law recognises the right of an occupied people to resistance, including violent resistance; Hamas was legitimately elected to governance in 2006 and hence has some kind of democratic legitimacy; and a disarmed population is merely an extension of Israel's wish to enhance (rather than reduce) its control and sovereignty over the Territory.

Having Sisi's Egypt hold the ring at these talks does not give cause for much optimism that anything fair or stable will emerge from them.  The fickle media-led attention of the West has switched, while Palestinians are no longer dying in large numbers, to the brutal struggle in western Iraq (rarely noting that, even if Bibi has told us that 'Hamas is ISIS' as a mode of condemnation, Israel is in a closet alliance with Saudi Arabia, one of the prime supporters of ISIS).

A couple of free essays on the London Review of Books site are very well worth reading.  First, Nathan Thrall on Hamas and its political situation and context:

Hamas’s Chances


Second, an essay by Nicholas Blincoe on the Palestinian diaspora:


Phantom Bids


And here is Patrick Cockburn on the emergence and rise of ISIS:


Isis consolidates



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