Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has died. Sharon had been in a coma for the past 8 years. Nicknamed the “bulldozer”, Sharon was regarded as the “father” of the Israeli settler movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He was the darling of Israeli right win settlers who would often chant “Arik – King of Israel”.
Yet when be became Prime Minister he authorised the controversial evacuation of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.
Sharon’s famous quotes:
“As one who fought in all of Israel’s wars, and learned from personal experience that without proper force, we do not have a chance of surviving in this region, which does not show mercy towards the weak, I have also learned from experience that the sword alone cannot decide this bitter dispute in this land.”
“Israel will fight anyone who tries, through suicide terrorism, to sow fear. Israel will fight, Israel will triumph and when victory prevails, Israel will make peace.”
Ahmed Jabari was the commander of Hamas’ military wing – the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades. He was born in Gaza city in 1960, and was a former member of Fatah. He left Fatah and joined Hamas, later becoming its military leader. He is a father of 14, and was responsible for the kidnap of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the negotiations regarding Shalit, and his eventual release.
A video chronicling a 9 month investigation by Al-Jazeera in to the 2004 death of Yasser Arafat – expanding on recent revelations that his personal effects were contaminated with high levels of the radioactive material polonium.
Q and A with Arafat’s widow Suha:
What is polonium?
Polonium has previously been used to assassinate, most famously in the case of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy turned dissident. Litvinenko was killed by Polonium in London in 2006.
Interview with Mohammed Rashid on the last time he saw Arafat:
Yasser Arafat’s widow wants his body to be exhumed after recent tests revealed an unusually high amount of radioactive material (polonium) on his personal belongings (raising the possibility that he was poisoned/murdered).
Eight years after he died, no one knows what killed former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Tests have revealed that Arafat’s personal belongings(his clothes, toothbrush, and trademark kaffiyeh) contained abnormal levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element.
Polonium is the same element that killed Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian spy-turned-dissident who died in London in 2006 (and was found to have been poisoned after polonium slipped into his tea at a sushi restaurant).
New revelations about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Newspapers have unearthed thousands of documents cataloging the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians between 1999 and 2010. Apparently the Palestinians offered far reaching concessions such as agreeing to Israel’s annexation of all but one settlements in East Jerusalem. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Israelis “we are offering you the biggest Yerushalayim [the Hebrew word for Jerusalem] in history”.
Palestinians willing to let settlers live under Palestinian rule/in future Palestinian state:
Palestinian Authority helped Israel kill Hamas members
Concessions offered by Palestinians:
Ehud Olmert’s Offer to Abu Mazen:
*Israel would annex approx 6.5% of the West Bank including the settlements of Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim.
*5000 Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to Israel.
*East Jerusalem to be divided along the “Clinton parameters”.
TThe Israelis and Palestinians are talking again. President Barack Obama of the USA brought Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas together in Washington to restart peace talks to end the decades long conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Obama is taking a big risk here. American Presidents usually steer clear of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until their second and last term of office (i.e. when they have nothing to lose). Messing up this conflict can have disastrous consequences (as with George Bush Sr who was brought down after getting into a clash with Israelis, and the failed 2000 Camp David summit brokered by Bill Clinton, which failed then resulted in a second Palestinian intifada which claimed thousands of lives).
So many leaders and Presidents have tried and failed to solve this conflict: Bill Clinton, Shimon Peres, Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter, Tony Blair, Ariel Sharon….Yitzhak Rabin and Anwar Sadat paid for their peacemaking efforts with their lives. This latest effort is unlikely to produce a different result. Netanyahu and Abbas are miles apart ideologically. The talks will probably (yet again) fail to produce an end to this conflict and will likely go the same way as other failed peace initiatives like the Oslo Accords, Camp David 2000, Taba, the Road Map, Annapolis .
This is a strange conflict because unlike other seemingly intractable conflicts around the world (Northern Ireland, South Africa) that had no obvious solution, the Israelis and the Palestinians know the basic contours of a final settlement: there will be two states called Israel and Palestine living side by side. The Palestinian state will be in Gaza and the West Bank, will be demilitarized with no offensive military capability and will have only weapons required for internal security. The major settlement blocs (such as Gush Etzion, Ma’ale Adumim and Ariel) in the West Bank will be annexed to Israel and the small and far-flung settlements will be evacuated. Residents of the evacuated settlements will be rehoused in the annexed settlement blocs near Israel’s “Green Line” border with the West Bank. The Palestinian refugees will not be permitted to return to Israel (except for a token gesture of a few thousand) and will instead be resettled in the Palestinian state or be given compensation. West Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel and Arab neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem will be the capital of Palestine.
There are major sticking points, but most sane thinking people on both sides understand that this is what will happen.
This is probably the greatest or most famous hostage rescue in history. This is the story of the June 1976 Mossad rescue of Israeli hostages whose Air France plane was hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and taken to Idi Amin’s Uganda in 1976. The hostages were rescued from Entebbe after a spectacular Mossad operation during which Lt-Colonel Yonatan “Yoni” Netanyahu (older brother of Israel’s current Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu) was killed.
This is gripping viewing. Watch on…..