Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Panelists to Offer Palestinian Side of the Conflict with Israel

As the Israeli parties perform their post-election negotiations on forming a new government, Palestinians await the results so they can learn what approach to the long-standing conflict the new government will take. The Commonwealth Club has assembled a group of speakers with ties to Palestinian independence movement and strong opinions on the issue. Here's a example of some of their recent writings:
Hastings College of Law Professor George Bisharat has accused the Israeli government of war crimes for its handling of Gaza in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal. Bisharat cites the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Principles as referring to aggression as a crime against peace. Bisharat also believes the Israelis are needlessly hitting civilian targets in Gaza. He writes:
Israel has also failed to adequately discriminate between military and nonmilitary targets. Israel's American-made F-16s and Apache helicopters have destroyed mosques, the education and justice ministries, a university, prisons, courts and police stations. These institutions were part of Gaza's civilian infrastructure. And when nonmilitary institutions are targeted, civilians die.

Jamal Dajani of Link TV, and a regular blogger for the Huffington Post, writes in a recent post about the downside of low oil prices for Arab workers and the disdain many Palestinians have for the likely returning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Dajani sees history repeating itself with resurgence of the right in Israel and the after-effects of Ariel Sharon's rise to power amidst security concerns within the Israeli electorate. "According to most Israeli political experts, with the looming threat of Iran's nuclear ambitions, continuing tensions over Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, and stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Israelis will be approaching the polls with security as their top concern. Sounds familiar?"
On the peace front, Omar Dajani -- another panelist tomorrow night -- wrote an opinion piece in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer lauding President Obama's choice of former Senator George Mitchell as a special envoy to the Middle East. He writes, "The U.S. reputation in the region -- and across the globe -- will be greatly enhanced if, instead of assembling a multilateral coalition for war, it is credited with building one for peace."
San Francisco Chronicle reporter Jonathan Curiel, Clinical Professor and Global Health Sciences at the University of California San Francisco Jess Ghannam ,along with Omar Dajani, George Bisharat and Jamal Dajani will discuss the the many complex issues surrounding Palestine's quest for statehood and the ongoing crisis with Israel tomorrow night at The Commonwealth Club of California beginning at noon.


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