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Israel reject Qatari offer to reopen trade office in Doha 18, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Qatar.
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Haaretz reports that the Israeli government has rejected two proposals from Qatar to reopen their trade office in Doha.

The Qataris suggested that in return for the reopening of Israel’s office Qatar would undertake several reconstruction projects in the Gaza strip, necessitating the importing of construction materials. The two states began talks some six months ago via the US, France and with direct talks. Also in the proposed agreement was a statement to be given by Israel “expressing appreciation for the emirate’s role and acknowledging its standing in the Middle East.” Something that were it to have transpired, would, I am sure, have caused not insignificant friction between Qatar’s Arab allies, not to mention Iran.

A second similar offer was made some two months ago. President Netanyahu was, it is reported, near to acquiescing to the agreement but balked at the amount of concrete that Qatar wanted to import to Gaza, fearing that some would be diverted to Hamas’ use to build bunkers and reinforced missile launch positions.

Bombing does not work: from the Blitz, to Tokyo to Gaza 7, January 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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Marc Lynch, the Professor of Political Science at GWU and the author of the long running Abu Aardvark blog comments on a talk given by the Israeli Ambassador to America . In the q and a towards the end, the Ambassador is persistently asked about Israel’s strategy in Gaza. I.e. how exactly their military force will weaken Hamas politically: what will literally happen to achieve this end.  Aside from referring to the numbers of Hamas fighters killed and their infrastructure degradation, he had no answer. Indeed, according to Lynch, he seemed to advocate the absence of a strategy as a positive step. Thus, the great unknown of how Israel actually hopes and plans to achieve their stated war goals remains something of a mystery.

This situation is somewhat reminiscent to the British and the Germans in World War Two. Both sides thought that by carpet bombing each other’s cities (Coventry and Dresden to name the most infamous examples) they would destroy the spirit and the support of the other’s population. Therefore – so the logic went – this now terrified population would thus seek to check their leaders and beseech them to seek peace or surrender. This was the prevailing theory at the time. It was, of course, proved not only to be incorrect but caused the exact opposite: it galvanised public opinion against their enemy and behind their political authorities. This kind of mistaken logic was also employed in the American fire bombings of Tokyo which killed more people than the Atomic bombs yet still did not begin to cause the Japanese population to revolt or seek the end of the war.

These examples, it seems to me, are a reasonable approximation of what it happening in Gaza and Israel. Both sides think that they can frighten their opposition into surrender. It is something of a seductive logic which initially might make sense. It ignores, however, countless other factors such as decades of built-up hate and anger and indeed, Israel’s own experiences. When suicide attacks and rocket attacks affect Israeli cities, this does not cause swathes of Israelis affected to demand that their government give up, surrender or even retreat in their policies. Exactly the same can be said about the previous Israeli attacks in Gaza and the West Bank. Indeed, support for Hamas is higher than ever. According to one Fatah local leader, ‘everyone’ in his area now supported Hamas. Vicious attacks on one’s community do not cause people to shrink away from the attackers, but they bring the population ever closer, united against a common enemy under the auspices of whatever group promises retribution.