Elsewhere, the U.N., British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and special Mideast envoy Tony Blair all called for an immediate restoration of calm.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi urged Israelis and Palestinians to "look for a different way out, even though it seems impossible."
The United States urged Israel to avoid civilian casualties, and said Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel.
Russia also called on Hamas to halt the rocket attacks, and urged Israel to halt its military operation in Gaza.
1. Old Soldier wrote:
One wonders if all those calling for Israel to show retraint would feel the same if their countries were attacked as has been Israel.
December 27, 5:47 pm | [comment link]
2. libraryjim wrote:
One only has to look back a few months ago when Georgia (not USA) was attacked by Russia. Then candidate Obama urged Georgians to ‘exercise restraint’ in the face of that assault.
There is no realistic outlook on the situation by the world leaders. Israel is the bad-guy, and always will be, in their view. I’m in a discussion group on YahooGroups where most people are taking that view, and calling me an idiot for suggesting that Israel is in the right!
December 27, 7:08 pm | [comment link]
3. Old Soldier wrote:
December 27, 8:34 pm | [comment link]
Good to remember that God is still in charge. And you are not wrong in suggesting that Israel has a right to defend herself.
4. libraryjim wrote:
Russia also called on Hamas to halt the rocket attacks, and urged Israel to halt its military operation in Gaza.
By the way, re: Russia’s comments—good to keep in mind next time they invade a country, say, like Georgia?
December 27, 9:10 pm | [comment link]
5. libraryjim wrote:
sheesh, duplicated a comment, was actually going on a different forum, opened the wrong tab.
Elves, please delete both posts #4 and 5 from me!!!
December 27, 9:11 pm | [comment link]
6. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:
“Peace” is not the absence of conflict. It is the absence of THREAT.
Were every single one of Israel’s neighbours to disarm completely, Israel would not be a threat. Were Israel to disarm it would be eliminated within weeks and most of its people slaughtered.
There will be no peace in the Middle East until those who persistently threaten Israel are crushed. Nazi Germany is no longer a threat to anyone, yet there’s no lack of Germans. How is it they learnt to live in peace with their neighbours?
Any other approach is merely wishful thinking.
December 27, 10:34 pm | [comment link]
7. John Wilkins wrote:
Bart Hall, The Arab countries were crushed several times. In 2002 they offered Israel a peace deal. The basic reason is that extremists are getting more power in Arab societies. It’s a pretty good deal: peace in exchange for 1967 boundaries. All the Arab countries have agreed to it. Granted, there were plenty of Arab who disagreed, but most peace doesn’t happen all at once at the same time.
The alternative that Palestinians are beginning to consider is the one-state solution. Israel has decided to continue allowing settlers to build in the West Bank. Perhaps Palestinians should just live in Israel and work for a secular Israeli society, fighting non-violently against an apartheid society.
The Israelis have nukes. Nobody is asking the Israelites to disarm.
How many peace initiatives have the Israelis proposed in the last 30 years?
December 28, 1:52 am | [comment link]
8. azusa wrote:
“It’s a pretty good deal: peace in exchange for 1967 boundaries.”
December 28, 3:39 am | [comment link]
Gaza ALREADY HAS the 1967 borders! So why are they attacking Israel? I don’t think you really grasp the revanchist/irredentist mindset of Hamas or the religious psychology of fundamentalist Islam or the role of Iran - which is nowhere near Israel. And yet, coming from India, you should grasp the impact of Islam on any politics.
All the Arab Muslim states are ramshackle affairs of oligarchic oppression and backwardness, and Islam is the chief reason for this. Israel is used as the whipping boy of these failed states.
9. Terry Tee wrote:
It certainly is easier for the ramshackle Arab states to create unity by referring to a enemy, in this case Israel. It seems that Israel is (a) creating Arab unity both within and between Arab states where such unity might not exist otherwise; (b) stoking up resentment among Palestinians and (c) losing world respect. Against this it might be argued, as above, that Israel has to defend itself against rocket attacks: it was said on the BBC this morning that up to 500,000 people are now within missile range of Gaza. However, the deeply troubling question that arises at this point is that of proportionality. One Israeli died yesterday because of a Qassam rocket. In the last two days the death toll in Gaza is 285.
The Israeli strategy has not worked in the past. Why should it work now? Nobody seems to have any answers except to repeat the mistakes of the past, on both sides.
December 28, 9:43 am | [comment link]
10. dwstroudmd+ wrote:
Ah, yes. The Arab states which held this land and had many opportunities - all ignored and willingly forgotten by the critics of Israel- to do themselves what they ask now of Israel. Personally, this is entirely justifiable reaction and exhibits remarkable restraint as it is.
Now should Israel lob an equal number of rockets and explosive devices on a regular basis into random Arab countries, I am sure the outrage of the Arabs and Leftists everywhere would spike golbal warming by carbon dioxide emissions of unheard of proportions. And the incoming President-elect had better get his groove on in regard to this sort of business as it may be coming to our country to welcome him to office. I don’t think explosives will play well in Peoria, do you? No more so than Ashdod, frankly. If enough restraint is then exercised, perhaps we can expect a similar scenario for America. Then he can pontificate about the situation and the need for restraint and see how it flies.
December 28, 10:32 am | [comment link]
11. Jeffersonian wrote:
Of course the Arab nations can promise peace in exchange for 1967 borders. Egypt has been at peace with Israel for 30 years, Syria isn’t about to mess overtly with them, nor is Jordan and Saudi Arabia has better things to do, as does the legitimate government of Lebanon. OTOH, Hamas isn’t a nation, nor is Hezbollah, and their puppetmasters in Teheran aren’t Arab.
IOW, the Arabs promise the status quo of suicide bombers, cross-border incursions and rocket attack in exchange for Israel giving up strategic depth. That sounds like a really good deal, John.
December 28, 11:19 am | [comment link]
12. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:
Some comments reveal a sloppy understanding of both history and geo-political reality. After Egypt was ‘crushed’ it has maintained an uneasy-but-reasonable peace with Israel, including restoration of the pre-1967 border the location of which posed no existential threat to Israel. There was no need to “offer more peace.”
Just today Egypt officially held Hamas[/] responsible for Israels counter-strikes into Gaza.
Jordan has been at peace with Israel for many years, and has made it clear they do not wish to have the West Bank Palestinians back. Since the West Bank nearly eliminates Israel’s strategic depth across its midsection, location of the functional border is of considerable existential importance.
Syria has been reasonably well behaved for a very long time. The people persistently threatening Israel are now primarily Palestinians and Persians, not Arabs.
The Kuwaitis felt the need to expel almost 300 thousand Palestinians back in the early ‘90s. Apparently the Israelis aren’t the only ones have trouble with those people.
December 28, 12:54 pm | [comment link]
13. John Wilkins wrote:
Bart and Jefferson, you have demonstrated that Arabs can be peaceful. Nobody is asking Israel to disarm.
the these Arab countries are having a difficult time because extremism is rising in their countries.
Nobody is letting Hamas off the hook. They should never have been lobbing bombs.
But there were better ways than punishing the innocent. I believe the siege strengthened Hamas and that this will continue to radicalize Palestinians.
11# Jefferson, those tho think they are the victim will want proportional revenge. As a Christian, I think its morally wrong to desire revenge. That said, if one thinks that numbers are important, I’m sure some Imam will say that there should be an equal amount of Israeli lives sacrificed. Strategically, I don’t think it creates safety for Israel.
Israel generally argues that it is in a state of constant war. The Arabs have offered a deal where peace - among all Arab nations, is formal. Israel seems to want perpetual warfare: it’s reasonable it knows it has the upper hand and has a stronger military. By arguing the Arabs don’t want peace, it can continue building settlements.
Jeffersonian, the Arab governments don’t like Hamas. Hamas is getting its help more from Iran these days. Hamas tends to get its help from fundamentalists who don’t like the secular states of Syria or Egypt. Hamas is crazy, and too crazy for most Arabs: and it’s not a government.
A formal peace with the Arab countries and stability that allowed Palestinians to live normal lives would dry up support for Hamas. Hamas thrives in the midst of misery. That’s what they offer. That’s what they buy and sell. All Israel did was create more.
There is a different way than war. I wish Hamas understood that.
December 28, 1:34 pm | [comment link]
14. physician without health wrote:
The situation in the Middle East is a real mess without an easy solution. Part of me wonders whether Olmert is taking an especially tough stance on this occasion to give his political party some “national security” credentials in the upcoming election, which the hawks under Netanyahu are widely predicted to win.
December 28, 2:21 pm | [comment link]
15. Christopher Johnson wrote:
Insofar as Israel’s 1967 borders didn’t stop three wars against it and cost its people access to Judaism’s holiest site for almost twenty years, it’s funny how certain Westerners think that going back to those borders will enhance Israeli security. And it’s still impressive how much history people can make themselves forget.
December 28, 4:31 pm | [comment link]
16. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:
Nobody is asking Israel to disarm.
No, John, they’re asking Israel to cease to exist. The Palestinians have most vehemently refused to remove a clause calling for the destruction of Israel from their manifesto. Case closed.
When such people propose “peace,” it is not. It is “hudna”—هدنة—the purpose of which is to gain time for consolidation and re-armament in order to mount a more effective attack at a later date. “If Muslims are weak, a truce (‘hudna’) may be made for ten years if necessary, for the Prophet made a truce with the Quraysh for that long, as is related by Abu Dawud” (Umdat as-Salik, 9.16).
Because most Israelis speak Arabic they understand the deal. Europeans and Americans ... apparently some people from India as well ... do not. Israelis are unwilling to have as their best option the status of dhimmi—ذمي—tax-paying servants allowed to exist on sufferance of their conquerors. I don’t blame them.
December 28, 7:37 pm | [comment link]
17. Jeffersonian wrote:
John, I don’t know what post you’re responding to, but it would appear that you are setting up straw men and knocking them down. I never mentioned “revenge,” nor do I consider what Israel is doing to be that. It’s about removing or deteriorating Hamas’ capability to fire ordnance into Israel. And Israel is most certainly doing that.
Will it radicalize some Palestinians? Sure. Will it dissuade others? Yes. But it’s hard to argue that allowing one’s nation to be rocketed and mortared on a daily basis, with no response, will do anything but embolden those who want to see your people driven into the sea.
December 28, 11:30 pm | [comment link]
18. John Wilkins wrote:
Christopher does note well that we can be imprisoned by history. That’s true, if we don’t think things can change. However, the Arab nations have agreed to a peace treaty that recognizes Israel. And it is to their benefit: they are tired of their own radicals using it as a way of challenging state power.
Bart, Hamas does want Israel to cease to exist. That’s true. And they do a good job of tapping into Palestinian dissatisfaction.
Most Palestinians, however, would probably prefer not to live in misery. I have NO PROBLEM with punishing Hamas. But I don’t believe that Palestinians support Hamas because of hatred. Hamas provides schools and social services. It is the only institution that is effective in a time of war. Perhaps if other institutions were allowed to build, there might be other consequences.
What I object to is the racist notion that Palestinians deserve to live in the misery that they do.
December 30, 1:41 am | [comment link]