The New Middle East
In the new Middle East, the radicals seem to be winning.
In this new Middle East, Egypt also seems to be moving closer to Iran, raising serious fears in most Gulf countries. For now, it looks as if the new Middle East, which is taking shape in front of everyone's eyes, belongs to Iran and its pawns.
Hamas has finally won recognition as a legitimate authority and player in the Palestinian arena.
Hamas has every reason to celebrate: the unity deal with Fatah is an admission of the failure of US-led efforts to isolate and undermine the Islamist movement.
Thanks to Egypt's new rulers, Hamas is finally being rewarded for its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.
The Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas will allow the Islamist movement to become part of a new interim unity government that would prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Hamas, according to the accord, would also be permitted to maintain its security and civilian control over 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.
Moreover, the agreement does not set conditions for Hamas's participation in the Palestinian government. Hamas is not even required to accept the Oslo Accords, recognize Israel's right to exist or renounce violence, as previously demanded by the Americans and Europeans.
The same mistake that was made in the 2006 parliamentary election is now being repeated once again.
Then, Hamas was allowed to take part in the election unconditionally. The result was that Hamas won the vote, much to the surprise and dismay of the Americans and Europeans.
Ten years earlier, in 1996, Hamas boycotted the same parliamentary vote because, its leaders argued, it was being held under the umbrella of the Oslo Accords, which the Islamist movement does not recognize.
The international community did finally set conditions for dealing with Hamas, but only the day after it had won the election and when it was already too late.
Now Hamas leaders have every right to smile all the way to a unity government with Fatah.
Hamas is not being asked to make any concessions in return for joining a new Palestinian government. As Hamas's Mahmoud Zahar declared, the new government would not conduct peace talks with Israel or recognize the Jewish state.
The release of hundreds of Hamas detainees from Fatah-controlled jails in the West Bank will only boost the Islamist movement's standing in that area. Hamas's chances of scoring another victory in the new elections, which are supposed to take place in a year, now appear to be much higher.
In the eyes of many Palestinians, the unity deal means that Fatah has moved closer to Hamas and not vice versa. Under pressure from Egypt's new rulers, who have displayed more sympathy toward Hamas than the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak, Fatah is being forced to accept Hamas as an equal partner in governing the Palestinians.
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by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Pierre Rehov
For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing.
In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians.
There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Since 1948, the Arab countries and government have been paying mostly lip service to the Palestinians.
"They have money and oil, but don't care about the Palestinians, even though we are Arabs and Muslims like them. What a Saudi or Qatari sheikh spends in one night in London, Paris or Las Vegas could solve the problem of tens of thousands of Palestinians." — Palestinian human rights activist.
"Some Arabs were hoping that Israel would rid them of Hamas." — Ashraf Salameh, Gaza City.
"Some of the Arab regimes are interested in getting rid of the resistance in order to remove the burden of the Palestinian cause, which threatens the stability of their regimes." — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, Palestinian political analyst.
"Most Arabs are busy these days with bloody battles waged by their leaders, who are struggling to survive. These battles are raging in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority." — Mohammed al-Musafer, columnist.
"The Arab leaders don't know what they want from the Gaza Strip. They don't even know what they want from Israel." — Yusef Rizka, Hamas official.
by Soeren Kern
European elites, who take pride in viewing the EU as a "postmodern" superpower, have long argued that military hard-power is illegitimate in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Europe, Russia (along with China and Iran) has not embraced the EU's fantastical soft-power worldview, in which "climate change" is now said to pose the greatest threat to European security.
For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement on the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine, which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."
The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas.
by Shoshana Bryen
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
"The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage -- often civilian casualties -- which will be "justified" and "necessary." — Dr. Françoise Hampton, University of Essex, UK.