Bush Largely To Blame For Truce Collapse: Expert
Some believe the heavy-handed Israeli operation was the result of indecisive U.S. positions
By Ahmad Maher, Abdul Raheem Ali, IOL Staff
CAIRO, August 21 (IslamOnline.net) – The Bush administration is largely to be blamed for the collapse of the three three-month truce declared by the main Palestinian factions on June29 , after turning a blind eye to continued Israeli breaches over the past 50 days, an Egyptian foreign affairs expert charged Thursday, August21 .
"The administration of President George W. Bush has overlooked the incessant Israeli violations since the declaration of the truce and only paid lip service to the implementation of the internationally-backed roadmap for Middle East peace," Abdul Hadi Ahmad told IslamOnline.net.
"The Palestinian factions have conditioned their freeze of anti-Israeli attacks on an immediate stop to Israeli assassinations and arrests of resistance activists, release of all Palestinian prisoners and halt of the apartheid separating wall building," said the expert, an editor in the Egyptian daily Al-Akhbar.
"But with taking a hard look on the status quo, one can easily find out that Israel has never ceased its policy of assassinations, but arrested more Palestinians, pursued its construction of the separation wall and demolished more houses."
The 600 km-long barrier is expected to cut annexed east Jerusalem off from the rest of the West Bank.
It will eventually snake some 900 kilometers ( 540miles) along the West Bank and leave even larger swathes of its territory on the Israeli side.
"The United States further clinched a loan guarantee agreement with Israel, enabling the latter to raise $ 9billion in government bonds on American financial markets over the coming three years, which will be used for sure in building the remaining parts of the wall," added the Egyptian expert.
"The Palestinian people had pinned high hopes on the truce and the U.S.-backed roadmap; but as days went by, they came to realize that they cherished nothing but illusions."
A report released by a Palestinian human rights organization revealed on August 12 that Israel has in the last month alone killed seven Palestinians and carried out 854 violations of the truce. (click to see a breakdown for Israeli violations).
The Palestinian resistance group Hamas disavowed the truce with Israel after the assassination of one of its political leaders.
Ismail Abu Shanab and two of his associates died when an Israel F- 16swooped down on the city and fired a volley of rockets at Abu Shanab's station wagon.
The White House had even stopped short of condemning the killing, sufficing to say: "Israel has a right to defend herself but Israel needs to take into account the effect that actions they take have on the peace process."
Following the Israeli operation, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell stepped up anew the hostile rhetoric against Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups, demanding the world community and Arab nations "insist that the terror perpetrated by organizations such as Hamas must come to an end."
Speaking at a joint press conference with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Powell called on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to work with Premier Mahmmoud Abbas "and to make available those security elements under his control so that they can allow progress to be made on the roadmap and terror and end this violence."
The White House had previously appeared to put the onus on the Palestinians to crack down on Palestinian factions, while saying little to discourage Israel from military retaliation.
For example, after the occupied night Jerusalem bombing Bush rushed to phoned Sharon to "strongly condemned the vicious attack on innocent civilians" asserting it "only reinforced the need to crack down on terrorists."
Asked whether Bush sought restraint from Israel in any response to the attack, which came in retaliation for the assassination of Mohammad Al-Sedr, a local leader of the Islamic Jihad on August15 , White House spokesman Scott McClellan replied: "We've always said that Israel has a right to defend itself. This was a vicious attack on innocent civilians."
For his part, Khaled al-Azaar, a Palestinian political expert, told IOL that the latest escalation in the Palestinian territories was "a mutual deterrence" from Palestinian resistance to continued Israeli aggressions against armless Palestinians.
"The occupation is the one and only reason for the whole thing and the resistance is only a natural and legitimate response to it," he stressed.
On the future of the Palestinian resistance following the assassination of Abu Shanab, Azaar said, "once you decide to take up arms against the occupation, you have to pay a price…And that is what happens now with Hamas and its leaders…They have no other alternative but to resist."