Tag Archives: Gaza Strip

Peace deal is worthy, however …

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s talk briefly about a peace agreement between Israel and two neighboring Arab nations: the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Donald Trump is hailing the agreements his administration brokered as a sea change event. Israel will open embassies in the UAE and Bahrain for the first time in the history of Israel’s existence.

Hey, it is a big deal.

However, let’s put this in a bit of context. Israel has not been at war with either country. It has gone to war with others in the region, to be sure. Jordan, Egypt and Syria come to mind immediately.

To be clear, Israel also has peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt. They were brokered years ago by preceding presidential administrations. Indeed, the Israel-Egypt peace agreement ended up costing Egyptian President Anwar Sadat his life when he was murdered by Islamic extremists while watching a military parade.

I had the privilege of spending more than a month in Israel in May-June 2009. I had a chance during that time to speak with many learned Israelis. We spoke of tensions in the region between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, Israel and the Palestinians, Israel and the Gaza Strip. No one I talked to 11 years ago ever mentioned the UAE or Bahrain as nations that Israel simply needed to forge a peace agreement.

I do not intend to denigrate the peace agreements forged between Israel and its two Arab neighboring states.

I do intend, though, to add a bit of context to the settlements. They’re important, but I don’t believe in the grand scheme they matter to nearly the extent that the Trump administration suggests.

Now, if the Trump team hammers out a peace treaty with, say, Syria and Iran … well, then we’ll have reason to celebrate.

Time of My Life, Part 33: Hoping it would hit the fan

My career as a print journalist allowed me to do many remarkable things, and to see many remarkable places.

Two of those career elements came together a decade ago. I now will explain.

About two or three weeks after I reported for work at the Amarillo Globe-News, my boss — publisher Garet von Netzer — informed me that someone from the Rotary Club of Amarillo would call me and invite me to join that Rotary club. “We need to have someone in that club,” von Netzer said. Thus, I was slated to join the Rotary Club of Amarillo. When Garet von Netzer said I would join, well, I had no choice.

I got the invitation from the late Basil Walker. I joined and then settled into my membership. I made a lot of new friends. More than that, though, I developed many valuable sources for potential issues I might cover as editorial page editor of the Globe-News.

Some years later, in 2008, I applied for — and received — an appointment to lead a team of young professionals to Israel as part of Rotary International’s Group Study Exchange.

That journey illustrated how my career allowed me to travel abroad. I was able to travel twice to Southeast Asia; I traveled three times to southeastern Europe; as president of the Rotary club, I was allowed to travel to Denmark and Sweden to attend Rotary International’s annual convention in 2006.

Then came this Israel adventure.

I was torn while training with my team members for this event. In late 2008 and early 2009, violence erupted in Gaza. Hamas terrorists lobbed rockets on Israeli communities. The Israelis responded with brute force, inflicting considerable damage at quite a cost in human life.

If the Israeli counteroffensive were to continue, our trip might be canceled. My Rotary mentor — with whom I was working to prepare for the trip –told me that RI was working closely with the State Department monitoring the situation in early 2009.

Israel’s potent armed forces took control. They put down the Hamas uprising. Order — if not peace — eventually was restored.

Our trip commenced in May 2009. We would spend four weeks in Israel. We stood on the doorstep of the Gaza Strip. We looked down onto the valley below the Golan Heights. We stood below a fortified fence along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where another terror outfit, Hezbollah, was capable of doing damage.

For the entire four weeks, I harbored a wish; it wasn’t exactly a secret, although I don’t recall sharing it with our Israeli hosts. I wanted all hell to break loose while we were there.

No, I did not want to put our team in danger. I would have hoped we could get them on the next plane out and headed for home.

However, the reporter in me wanted to be able to cover events unfolding in real time.

It didn’t happen. Our journey was spectacular, even in the absence of violence and mayhem.

Don’t misunderstand me on this. I have never, ever harbored an instant of regret over the peace and tranquility we enjoyed while traveling through one of the world’s most thrilling nations.

If it had gone the other way, though . . . I was ready.

Kerry to get Nobel Peace Prize?

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have commenced peace talks in secret.

If the talks prove successful and the ancient enemies — the Israelis and the Palestinians — actually forge a working peace agreement, I have a candidate for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize: Secretary of State John Kerry.

http://news.yahoo.com/israelis-palestinians-kick-off-peace-talks-182226376.html

Kerry managed to persuade the two sides to restart talks that would seek a so-called “two-state solution” to the longstanding conflict. The Palestinians want an independent state next to Israel. The Israelis are now talking about that outcome being acceptable — under certain conditions. One of them would be that the Palestinians would stop shelling Israeli homes. The two sides have until October to seal the deal.

Meanwhile, Kerry and the Israelis will need to hammer out some solution to the continuing construction of settlements in territory that Israel captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. The Palestinians say the settlements are a barrier to a peace agreement; the Israelis say they are necessary to keep the Palestinians at bay.

I’m not an expert on Israeli-Palestinian relations, but I have seen up close just how precarious the situation is within Israel. I’ve visited cities — such as Sderot and Ashkelon — that have been shelled by Palestinians living in Gaza I understand the Israelis’ fear of continuing attacks on civilians. I’ve been able to peer into Gaza from just outside the region’s border with Israel.

Gaza is governed by Hamas, the infamous terrorist organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Whatever comes out of these peace talks, there must be some accounting for how to handle Hamas and to reel in the terrorists who continue to rein violence down on Israel.

Secretary Kerry has many decades of international experience under his belt. He knows the players on both sides personally. The civilized world, therefore, should be pulling for a successful resolution to these talks. Peace must come to the Holy Land.

If it does, John Kerry should start working on his Peace Prize acceptance speech.