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No-fly zone over Gaza
Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:10:01 GMT
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Arab League Amr Moussa
Arab governments are planning to ask the United Nation's Security Council (UNSC) to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza in the near future.

At the end of a meeting in Cairo, Arab League (AL) chief Amr Moussa said, "The Arab bloc in the United Nations has been directed to ask for the convention of the Security Council to stop the Israeli aggression on Gaza, and impose a no-fly zone."

Twenty Palestinians have been killed in recent Israeli attacks on Gaza. The Islamic Hamas Movement fired a number of rockets at southern Israel that only injured a student, according to official Israeli sources. The “disproportionate military response” by Israel against Palestinians has been a source of international protests against Tel Aviv.

It is the first time that the AL is requesting the UN in support of the residents of Gaza to take a practical action to stop Israeli attacks. Two years ago, when Israel attacked Gaza and killed 1,400 civilians, the AL demanded an immediate end to the siege on the territory, but never took any action to realize this and the Egyptian government even aided the blockade by constructing an iron wall on the the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza strip.

Israel's recent response to the Palestinians’ hand-made rockets was beyond expectations and drew criticism from the United Nations secretary general who refused to throw out justice Goldstone’s report on Israel's war crimes in Gaza.

Both the Israeli and Palestinian sides have called for a ceasefire but Israel's foreign minister says that Hamas should not be given a new chance to boost its power and has called for Palestinian government in Gaza to be eliminated. Avigdor Lieberman's views regarding Gaza show that he thinks the recent developments in the Arab world have not affected the issue of Gaza and Palestine.

Previously, sources close to acting Palestinian Authority (PA) Chief Mahmoud Abbas had said that the heavy bombardment of Gaza by Israel was aimed at preventing him from travelling to the region and preventing a Palestinian reconciliation deal, which is strongly opposed by the US and Israel.

The implementation of a no-fly zone will meet resistance from the pro-Israel camp at the United Nations. It is not clear what other options the AL will pursue in case of veto by the West. However, there are still signs indicating that Israel and its allies will face more difficulties in the international community.

Due to its geographic situation, Israeli aircraft are forced to leave Israel’s airspace in order to strike Gaza. Prior to the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Israel’s use of Egypt's airspace to carry out raids was met with silence from Cairo, but Defense Minister General Tantawi, who heads the ruling Egyptian military council, has warned in his personal Facebook page that the Egyptian army will severely respond to any violation of the country’s airspace.

Israel usually uses unmanned aerial vehicles to bomb Gaza while the firing command comes from a ground base in Israel.

Even if the UN bans Israeli aircraft from flying over Gaza, what will be the outcome? Israel has never accepted or acted upon any one of the UN Security Council’s resolutions regarding Palestine. For Israeli leaders, refuting the hypothetical resolution is no difficult. Furthermore, a no-fly zone would not prevent Israel’s ground incursions and artillery fire against Gaza, which have been the main sources of Palestinian mortalities and damage to homes.

It so appears that the Arab uprisings and the popular revolts will deter Israel from attacking the Palestinians. But Israel has maintained its old mechanical views; as if nothing ever happened.

Last week, the Israeli military sent two American Apache helicopters to the Port of Sudan to bomb a taxi. It is believed that the target inside the taxi was supposed to be a Hamas official but the Sudanese government identified the victims as Sudanese nationals. This security scandal was met with silence from the Israeli side, apart from the fact that the violation of Sudan's sovereignty is in contrast to international laws.

Kidnapping a Palestinian engineer in Ukraine and transferring him to Israel is not a source of pride for Israeli spy services. Instead, it serves to further anger people who are already tired of similar events.

The Israeli government acts as if it views itself as invincible from the recent developments in the region. But Israeli papers warn that Israel does not afford to ignore the recent tsunami in the Middle East.

Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot says US President Obama will not stand by Israel at the UN General Assembly in September to prevent Palestine from gaining international recognition as a state, and that the silence crisis continues between Washington and Tel Aviv. The Ha’aretz daily has called on officials to think of the next step after Palestine is recognized as a state, as if it believes the statehood of Palestine is imminent despite Israel's fierce opposition.

Israel's reaction is again mechanical regarding this issue, too: “unilateral measures in Palestine gains recognition as a state.” One of these measures may be announcing the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank as part of Israel. Implementing this threat wouldn't make any difference on the ground. The 1967 territories are internationally recognized as occupied territories and account for 20 percent of historical Palestine.

The AL's demand for a no-fly zone over Gaza is not a comprehensive plan but the league's unification with the Arab people indicates that the revolutions in the Arab world, upon gaining victory, will sooner or later take the issue of Palestine as their first priority.

MYA/MSD/MGH
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