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The Latest on Israel-Gaza-Palestine (30 January)

10 p.m. Hamas has started paying out compensation in cheques, rather than cash, to families whose houses were destroyed in Israeli attacks. About 2700 families have received 4000 euros ($5000).

Because of the shortage of banknotes in the area, it is unclear if the cheques can be cased.

5:05 p.m. Hamas Makes Its Move. The game for the moment is not "reconcilation", at least not with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. Several thousand Gazans turned out Friday in support of Hamas' call for the abolition of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and its replacement by a new umbrella group.

5 p.m. The French Foreign Ministry says that Israel has blocked its attempt to get a water purification station into Gaza. The equipment is being brought back to France.

3:45 p.m. A senior Hamas leader, Khalil Al-Hayya, has appeared for the first time in public since the Israeli attacks on 27 December. He told a rally, "We promised to come out to you either as martyrs or as victors," Hayya told supporters. "Today I come out to you and you are victors."

Al-Hayya urged Hamas fighters to maintain their resistance and promised that the organisation would lead the reconstruction of Gaza.

2:20 p.m. A Gaza Twist from the Past. A Spanish court has named seven Israelis, including Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, in a war crimes lawsuit brought by relatives of 15 Gazans killed in a 2002 bombing.

2:15 p.m. I don't think there is a very good sign. George Mitchell has said, after talks in Jerusalem, ""The tragic violence in Gaza and in southern Israel offers a sobering reminder of the very serious and difficlt challenges and unfortunately the setbacks that will come."

Mitchell could be just damping down expectations, but it may be that talks with Israelis and the Palestinian Authority have confirmed the gaps between the positions of those two actors, let alone the position of Hamas. At the very least, Mitchell's statement indicates Washington will not be putting forth any dramatic proposals during and immediately after his trip.

1:45 p.m. (Israel/Gaza time): US envoy George Mitchell's tour continues today with meetings with Israeli Housing Minister Isaac Herzog and the leader of the opposition Likud party and Prime Ministerial candidate Benjamin Netanyahu. Mitchell then goes to Jordan.

There is no shift in Mitchell's general line, which we have noted in the last 48 hours, of an end to arms shipments to Gaza and a re-opening of border crossings in line with a 2005 agreement brokered by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Reader Comments (2)

Subject: The War with Israel Is Over.....and they won.
By Youssef M. Ibrahim

To my Arab brothers: The War with Israel Is Over ……. and they won. Now let's finally move forward.

With Israel entering its fourth week of an incursion into the same Gaza Strip it voluntarily evacuated a short time ago, a sense of reality among Arabs is spreading through commentary by Arab pundits, letters to the editor, and political talk shows on Arabic-language TV networks. The new views are stunning both in their maturity and in their realism. The best way I can think of to convey them is in the form of a letter to the Palestinian Arabs from their Arab friends:

Dear Palestinian Arab brethren:

The war with Israel is over.

You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children. We, your Arab brothers, may say until we are blue in the face that we stand by you, but the wise among you and most of us know that we are moving on, away from the tired old idea of the Palestinian Arab cause and the "eternal struggle" with Israel .

Dear friends, you and your leaders have wasted three generations trying to fight for Palestine , but the truth is the Palestine you could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle for now or in another 10 years. Struggle means less land and more misery and utter loneliness. At the moment, brothers, you would be lucky to secure a semblance of a state in that Gaza Strip into which you have all crowded, and a small part of the West Bank of the Jordan. It isn't going to get better. Time is running out even for this much land, so here are some facts, figures, and sound advice, friends.

You hold keys, which you drag out for television interviews, to houses that do not exist or are inhabited by Israelis who have no intention of leaving Jaffa Haifa, Tel Aviv, or West Jerusalem. You shoot old guns at modern Israeli tanks and American-made fighter jets, doing virtually no harm to Israel while bringing the wrath of its mighty army down upon you. You fire ridiculously inept Kassam rockets that cause little destruction and delude yourselves into thinking this is a war of liberation. Your government, your social institutions, your schools, and your economy are all in ruins.

Your young people are growing up illiterate, ill, and bent on rites of death and suicide, while you, in effect, are living on the kindness of foreigners, including America and th United Nations. Every day your officials must beg for your daily bread, dependent on relief trucks that carry food and medicine into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank , while your criminal Muslim fundamentalist Hamas government continues to fan the flames of a war it can neither fight nor hope to win.
In other words, brothers, you are down, out, and alone in a burnt-out landscape that is shrinking by the day.

What kind of struggle is this? Is it worth waging at all? More important, what kind of miserable future does it portend for your children, the fourth or fifth generation of the Arab world's have-nots?
We, your Arab brothers, have moved on. Those of us who have oil money are busy accumulating wealth and building housing, luxury developments, state-of-the-art universities and schools, and new highways and byways. Those of us who share borders with Israel , such a Egypt and Jordan , have signed a peace treaty with it and are not going to war for you any time soon. Those of us who are far away, in places like North Africa and Iraq , frankly could not care less about what happens to you.

Only Syria continues to feed your fantasies that someday it will join you in liberating Palestine , even though a huge chunk of its territory, the entire Golan Heights, was taken by Israel in 1967 and annexed. The Syrians, my friends, will gladly fight down to the last Palestinian Arab. Before you got stuck with this Hamas crowd, another cheating, conniving, leader of yours, Yasser Arafat, sold you a rotten bill of goods - more pain, greater corruption, and millions stolen by his relatives - while your children played in the sewers of Gaza .

The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?

Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former New York Time Middle East Correspondent and Wall Street Journal Energy Editor for 25 years, is a freelance writer based in New York City and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermauricio enrique

Any land given to Palestinian people Israel will still control its borders entry / exist, that is not peace that is a big open air prison. Look at oslo PLO agreement nothing happened after 10 years.

January 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterayman

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