Edward Said on Israel, Palestine and the Most Recent Middle East Peace Plan

Hamas agrees to ceasefire but President Bush derides it and Israel attacks Gaza Strip, killing two Palestinian civilians. Today we hear a major address recorded last week from Edward Said, the internationally renowned author and scholar.

It appears that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah have reached an agreement to suspend attacks on Israel.

In the highest level comments yet, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said today he expects an official announcement within hours.

Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz is reporting the breakthrough was reached over the weekend, when a delegation of Fatah officials went to Damascus for meetings with a senior Hamas political leader. The Fatah men were envoys of jailed leader Marwan Barghouti, who played a leading role in mediating the cease-fire deal.

Palestinian Member of Parliament Kadura Faras told Ha’aretz said the groups assented to the 3-month cease-fire without exceptions, but that the future of the peace process will depend on whether the Israeli government halts assassinations, house demolitions, and eases the conditions on the Palestinian people.

One of the most hardline Hamas leaders denied the leaked deal, but according to Ha’aretz, all other Hamas spokesmen are confirming it.

In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz yesterday decided to ignore any cease-fire. A government source told Ha?aretz Sharon’s government is not interested in anything other than the complete dismantling of the Palestinian armed resistance.

Just hours after word of the ceasefire was leaked, the Israeli military went on the attack. Helicopters fired missiles at a car near the Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis. The army said it was targeting a Hamas member. Palestinian officials say two innocent people were killed instead, including a 20-year-old woman.

President Bush yesterday echoed Israel’s stance and refused to support the deal. He said at a news conference: “knowing the history of the terrorists,” “I’ll believe it when I see it.” He demanded that Hamas be completely dismantled.

We turn right now to an internationally renowned author and scholar, one of the foremost intellectuals on the Middle East and colonialism, Columbia University professor Edward Said. He spoke a few days ago at the 20th convention on the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

He talked about the death of peace activist Rachel Corrie and the U.S. media’s biased reporting on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

  • Edward Said, University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of over a dozen books, including Peace and its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process, Culture and Imperialism, and Orientalism. Said was born in Jerusalem in 1935, before Partition, and was a member of the Palestine Liberation Council between 1977 and 1991.

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