The Bush administration has announced it is not going to put forth a plan for a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians until after the crisis with Iraq is resolved.
The New York Times reported yesterday that President Bush does not want to do anything to anger Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in part because the White House does not want Sharon to intervene in the war even if Israel is attacked by Iraqi missiles.
The freeze on the peace process has infuriated allies including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who say progress on a peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian crises is needed to quell mounting anti-western sentiment.
And on Friday foreign minister Dominique de Villepin, said the absence of peace efforts in the Palestinian-Israeli crises is a far greater threat to stability than the possibility of weapons in Iraq.
This comes at a time when the Palestinian Authority has taken steps to answer international critics. Yesterday the Palestinian parliament voted overwhelmingly to create a new prime minister post. Mahmoud Abbas has been nominated to be the Authority’s first prime minister. He will be second in command to Yasser Arafat.
Meanwhile as the world’s attention focuses on Iraq, Israel has cracked down on Gaza. Since Feb. 15, dozens of Palestinians have been killed.
Yesterday Israeli forces demolished an apartment building in the West Bank town of Hebron, killing a Palestinian man. And in Gaza two Palestinians were killed near a Jewish settlement. Earlier in the day an Israeli soldier was killed during an incursion in Hebron.
Over the weekend Israeli forces assassinated a senior leader of Hamas, Ibrahim Makadmeh, and three of his guards Saturday morning. Four Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car carrying the men who were driving in a densely populated party of Gaza City. One occupant of the car was critically injured and two bystanders were also injured.
- Michel Warschawski, Israeli policy analyst who is the former director of the Alternative Information Center.
- Justin Huggler, reporter for the Independent newspaper of London based in Gaza City.