Tuesday, July 14, 2009

G8 Calls for the Immediate Release of Gilad Shalit

The G8 held their annual summit in 2009. This year they also invited the G5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) as guests, since the environment was a keyissue. In the course of their meetings they did adopt statements regarding Israel.

G8 Statement Middle East Coverage Starts on Page 6 of 10

Here are the highlights:

The achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East remains crucial for the international community.

We also call on the Parties to fulfil their obligations under the Roadmap – including the unequivocal rejection of violence, terrorism and incitement, and a freeze in settlement activity, including “natural growth” – and on Arab states to take meaningful steps toward normalization with Israel and to provide political and economic support to the Palestinian Authority.

We call for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. We also call for the immediate opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza, in a manner that respects Israel’s security. .

We look forward to a comprehensive peace between Israel and all its neighbours, also building upon the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which will be a key element of this regional process.

...we urge a resumption of peace negotiations also on the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks.

We underscore the importance of regional partnerships in areas of education, economic development, science and technology, and health, as outlined in President Obama’s speech in Cairo.

It is great that they called for the release of Gilad Shalit. The statement could be better categorized as a whimper. The statement did not appear to make news anywhere outside of Israel. There is a massive move by the United States to establish that Jewish homes as the biggest threat to any sort of real peace. Since the Obama speach the Palestinian Authority has once again clarified they will accept nothing less than what they have been asking for the entire time. Practical compromises are unacceptable and they will not negotiate until an offer they could accept is on the table. Syria has made a number of statements that if they don't get back the Golan Heights they are prepared to take it by force. The Egyptian government who has had a 30 years of 'normalized relations' with Israel, is appealing a court ruling to strip citzenship from Egyptians who have married Arab Israelis. Hizzbolah has kindly infomred the newly elected Lebanese government that the new Government was not to interfere with their defence of the Southern border. In the last few months UNIFIL has found a number of weapons in violation of UN Resolution 1701 that brought an end to the 2nd Lebanon War.

Hamas has effectivly tied Israel's hands with the capture of Gilad Shalit. The purpose of his capture continues to be to cause pain and suffering for Israeli society. In violation of the Geneva convention he has been denied access to the Red Cross and denied communication with his parents. Both acts make his captivity a war crime. To add to the cruelty they refuse to confirm if he is alive or dead, eventhough they are bargaining as if he is alive. The price for his release is and has always been 1000 prisoners including 450 serving life sentences.

The pain of Shalit's captivity is felt across Israel. It is a topic of conversation. There are signs and posters all over the place. It is felt when a mother watches her 18 year old go off to do his army service. It is felt by the soldiers both new and doing mandatory reserved duty who feel he is abandoned. It is felt by families of terrorist victims who may one day watch the orchestrators of their nightmares go free without any rehabilitation or remorse.

The release of Gilad Shalit on favourable terms unleashes a multitude of options for the Israeli government. It would allow for the possibility of support of lifting the siege on Gaza or reasonable land concessions. It allows Israel to once and for all put the ball in the court of Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon. The decision to live in peace would fall exclusivly into their hands.

If the world leaders really care about making peace they need to take greater efforts to freeing Shalit. As long as the nation feels the pain of his captivity the government cannot consider any more sacrifices to an ever increasingly mythical goal.

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