Israel launches ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’ in Gaza
The first step was this afternoon’s assassination of Ahmed al-Jaabari, the military commander of Hamas in Gaza. Israel is justifying this missile attack and a series of subsequent air strikes because of a recent resumption of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.
Gaza happens to be the spark for the latest crisis, but that spark could have come from several places.
Last week, for example, Israel published its tender for the construction of over 2,000 housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Arab East Jerusalem, the putative capital of a Palestinian state, has witnessed twice the number of Israeli housing tenders this year than in the previous three years put together.
Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has also urged that the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, should be toppled from his seat of power in the West Bank if he presses ahead with UN recognition of the state of Palestine in New York at the end of this month. Mr Lieberman seems to think any Palestinian state should occupy only 40 per cent of the West Bank.
In other words, whether it looks to the Abbas-controlled West Bank or Hamas-controlled Gaza, whether Palestinian activity is political or violent, Israel is opposed to what is happening along its borders.
No wonder, then, that Britain has become increasingly vociferous over recent months, particularly in regard to Israeli settlement expansion, which seemed to increase while President Obama was focused on winning his re-election in the US.
“The two-state solution could disappear completely as an option very soon,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said in Cairo only yesterday.
“We are in danger of sleepwalking into a serious crisis.”
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