Monday, March 2, 2009

Gaza Rebuilding is Center Stage at Sharm e-Sheikh

U.S. Secretary of State joined other representatives in the opening day of discussions at Sharm e-Sheikh designed to bring aid and comfort to Gazans. According to the AP, Clinton declared ‘the Obama administration committed to pushing intensively to find a way for Israelis and Palestinians to exist peacefully in separate states.

The conference came about to halt, in the words of others, the “cycle of violence” between Israel and Hamas beginning with Hamas launching rockets and mortars into Israel.

"We cannot afford more setbacks or delays — or regrets about what might have been, had different decisions been made," she said in apparent reference to the failure of previous peace initiatives, including those pushed vigorously by her husband's administration.”

With almost $900 million US dollars on the table for Palestinians, the AP reports that Clinton said, "We have worked with the Palestinian Authority to install safeguards that will ensure our funding is only used where and for whom it is intended and does not end up in the wrong hands," Clinton told the conference. She did not explicitly mention Hamas but alluded to extremist elements.”

Before Clinton spoke, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the conference he was encouraged by the Obama administration's approach to the Mideast. He singled out Obama's decision to appoint Mitchell a special Mideast peace envoy.” Unfortunately, Mr. Ban’s remarks as reported by the United Nations are less than satisfactory.

A UN press release dated March 2, 2009 reporting on Mr. Ban’s attendance at the conference states,

"When building a house, we begin with the foundation," he noted. "So too with our work today. When it comes to rebuilding Gaza, this foundation must be a durable ceasefire.

"And that, in turn, requires us to face a number of political realities -- and to deal with them squarely," he stated.

“The Secretary-General stressed that the first priority must be to ensure open crossings, which are vital for aid delivery and to implement social and economic programme -- the starting point of reconstruction.”

Unfortunately, nowhere in his remarks does Mr. Ban make mention of the reason for Israel’s launching of Operation Cast Lead, rockets and mortars fired by Hamas into Israel, nor does he mention Hamas’s captivity of Israeli soldier Galid Schalit.Israel, once again, is given the blame for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Shame on you Mr. Ban for not recognizing that humanitarian gestures run both ways.

What do you think?

Read the full reports: Clinton Calls for Action; United Nations Press Release

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