By Liam Bailey
Middle East Conflict
The Israeli Cabinet has voted to free 200 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill to Palestinian “president” Mahmoud Abbas, likely a final goodwill gesture before Olmert is replaced in September. Israel is thought to be holding between 8,500 and 11,000 Palestinian prisoners, at least 700 hundred of which are children. So how about a gesture of common decency: releasing all the Palestinian children, instead of this superficial gesture which is more to enhance Israel’s international image than goodwill to the Palestinians.
Meanwhile the Gaza truce is holding in the main, but Israel still fails to seriously slacken the noose that strangles the life from the Palestinian population day by day. Sporadic rocket attacks, which Hamas say are Israeli fabrications to justify their failure to ease restrictions on movement from and to Gaza. Many people will disbelieve the Hamas claims, but they should bear in mind that all rocket attacks are usually admitted to by the responsible party.
So, Olmert will be gone soon, and has a 70 – 30 chance of being replaced by an even more hardliner. The only person who is likely to continue at least creating the impression that they want to give land in return for peace is the current foreign minister Tzipi Livni. The other two candidates for the job are the far right Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, and Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, neither of whom are advocates of any land-for-peace agreement.
Its all much of a muchness anyway, no matter who gets the job, they won’t make the concessions needed to bring peace, and we are still left to wait for the demography time-bomb to kick Israel’s leaders up the back-side, or for a shocking change of US policy towards Israel, whichever comes first.