Tuesday, December 25, 2007


The very first obligation placed upon the Palestine Authority in the Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (aka "the Road Map") is to end terror and violence. The steps in the first phase of the Road Map were clearly set out as follows:-

"Phase I: Ending Terror And Violence, Normalizing Palestinian Life, and Building Palestinian Institutions - Present to May 2003
In Phase I, the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence according to the steps outlined below; such action should be accompanied by supportive measures undertaken by Israel. Palestinians and Israelis resume security cooperation based on the Tenet work plan to end violence, terrorism, and incitement through restructured and effective Palestinian security services. Palestinians undertake comprehensive political reform in preparation for statehood, including drafting a Palestinian constitution, and free, fair and open elections upon the basis of those measures. Israel takes all necessary steps to help normalize Palestinian life. Israel withdraws from Palestinian areas occupied from September 28, 2000 and the two sides restore the status quo that existed at that time, as security performance and cooperation progress. Israel also freezes all settlement activity, consistent with the Mitchell report."

Fast forward four and a half years later and that very first obligation remains unfulfilled. There are rockets fired across the border at Israel from Hamas controlled Gaza (which Israel ceased to occupy two years ago when it closed down 21 settlements and removed its army and its civilians from the territory) on a daily basis. Strangely enough, the Melbourne Age today carries a Reuters article - Mideast talks to resume amid disputes - that highlights areas in dispute between the Israeli and Palestinian teams as they continue peace talks focussing almost entirely on Palestinian demands and making no mention of their failure to stem the violence. But I thought that was what peace talks were all about?

Still, better a completely ill-informed and slightly biased piece from Reuters on Christmas Day than another trashy fairy tale of suffering from the birthplace of Christ from one who is better suited to the role of Hamas Information Minister than the title of "journalist".

Thankfully, we don't have to endure another such rant today and even more thankfully, there is another view about what is happening in that part of the world: about how and why Bethlehem's Christian population has dwindled from more than 85 per cent in 1948 to 12 per cent of its 60,000 inhabitants in 2006 and about the religious persecution, in the form of murders, beatings and land grabs of Christians by the town's Muslim rulers. Here is the true story of what is happening and how Muslims are driving Christians out of Bethlehem. While some media outlets choose to blame Israel (the only country in the region where the Christian population is growing) for this, the truth is found only in the blank pages.

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