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June 20, 2005

Demolishing Houses to Build Peace

SecState Rice brokered an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians over the weekend. They agreed that the Israeli army should destroy homes built by Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip and Palestinians should be paid to clear the rubble after the Israeli army and settlers leave. Apparently, the middle class homes barricaded on the most fertile land in the area were deemed a waste of space by Palestinian Authority officials. They want to build multi-family homes, schools, and other buildings on the land. The Gaza Strip is one of the most over-populated areas in the world - 1.3 million Palestinians live there without adequate housing, so the fertile land being given back by Israelis should help.

The Israelis, by the way, didn't want to see "militants" taking over their former homes and Israeli politicians thought the site of Palestinians raising Palestinian flags in the abandoned homes on national television would spur the ultra-right wing.

I'm not convinced all the settlers will leave. I watched "Israel's Next War?" - an extremely disturbing Frontline program on the racist right-wing radicals who are determined to use their guns to stay in Gaza. To be clear: my fervent hope is for Israel and Palestine to exist as fully recognized countries, living as peaceful neighbors. I harbor no ill-will towards Israelis, Jews, Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, or any particular ethnic or national group. I detest violence, I detest violent people, and I detest people who sully the beliefs of good people by saying "G'd wants me to be a racist killer."

In related news, Israel agreed to not sell updates to unmanned aircraft it sold to China. From WaPo:

The United States has expressed concern over Israeli weapons sales to China for the past 15 years. But the issue came to a head five years ago when U.S. pressure scuttled Israeli plans to sell Phalcon reconnaissance aircraft to China, a deal valued at between $250 million and $1 billion.

The most recent dispute arose last year over Israel's plans to provide spare parts for a fleet of Harpy armed drone aircraft it originally sold to China in the late 1990s with U.S. approval. U.S. defense officials complained that the spare parts constituted a significant upgrade of the aircraft, possibly including the addition of sensors able to detect radar sites even when turned off. In protest, the Pentagon froze cooperation with Israel on several joint weapons projects.

Good to know the weapons the USG subsidizes for Israel are being put to good use in China.

More info:
"Settlers' Homes on Gaza Strip Will Come Down, Rice Says," by Glenn Kessler and Scott Wilson in WaPo

"Israelis and Palestinians Agree On Demolishing Houses in Gaza," by Steven Weisman and Greg Myre in NYT

"Israel, Palestinians Agree That Settlers' Homes Will Be Razed: Secretary of State Rice announces the decision in Jerusalem, erasing one issue in the Gaza withdrawal. It is unclear who will foot the bill." by Ken Ellingwood and Tyler Marshall in LAT

Posted by cj at June 20, 2005 4:10 PM

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