As President-elect Barack Obama focuses on the meltdown of the
You may not have heard much lately about the disaster in the Gaza Strip. That silence is intentional: The Israeli government has barred international journalists from entering the occupied territory.
Last week, executives from the Associated Press, New York Times, Reuters, CNN, BBC and other news organizations sent a letter of protest to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert criticizing his government’s decision to bar journalists from entering
A cease-fire between
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has criticized
The sharply divided landscape of
Tutu said the embargo must be lifted. “The suffering is unacceptable. It doesn’t promote the security of
Tutu points to the outgoing Israeli prime minister. In September, Olmert made a stunning declaration to Yedioth Ahronoth, the largest Israeli newspaper. He said that Israel should withdraw from nearly all territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war in return for peace with the Palestinians and Syria: “I am saying what no previous Israeli leader has ever said: We should withdraw from almost all of the territories, including in East Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights.”
Olmert said that traditional Israeli defense strategists had learned nothing from past experiences and that they seemed stuck in the considerations of the 1948 War of Independence. He said: “With them, it is all about tanks and land and controlling territories and controlled territories and this hilltop and that hilltop. All these things are worthless.”
Olmert appears to have come closer to his daughter’s point of view. In 2006, Dana Olmert was among 200 people who gathered outside the home of the Israeli army chief of staff and chanted “murderer” as they protested Israeli killings of Palestinians (Archbishop Tutu was blocked from entering Gaza in his U.N.-backed attempts to investigate those killings). Ehud Olmert recently resigned over corruption allegations, but remains prime minister until a new government is approved by parliament.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki criticized Olmert for waiting until now to call for an end to the settlements: “We wish we heard this personal opinion when Olmert was prime minister, not after he resigned. I think it is a very important commitment, but it came too late. We hope this commitment will be fulfilled by the new Israeli government.”
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in