FROM Mouin Rabbani
New Rules for Violence in a Changing Middle East The death toll from six days of Israeli strikes in Gaza is approaching 100 with 700 wounded. Yesterday, a bomb missed its intended target, killing 11 people, including nine in three generations of a single family. During years of sporadic rocket attacks from Gaza, Tel Aviv has seemed, somehow, beyond the conflict. Friday that came to a shattering change as air raid sirens wailed and Israelis sought cover under the tables of sidewalk cafes. Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip continue to fall in Israel, as Israel's retaliatory airstrikes kill more civilians in Gaza. We update the resumption of violence, the Arab spring and Israeli politics.
New Rules for Violence in a Changing Middle East The death toll from Israeli attacks in Gaza is now close to 100, many children included, with almost 800 wounded. Yesterday, a bomb missed its intended target, killing 11 people, including nine in three generations of a single family. Three Israelis have been killed by rocket fire that’s come close to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Hamas, the elected leadership in Gaza, appears emboldened by the Arab Spring, and says the barrage won’t end until Israel agrees to concessions. Prime Minister Netanyahu, facing a re-election campaign, refuses to halt Israeli airstrikes until rockets from Gaza stop falling. We update the prospects for a ceasefire, the Arab spring and Israeli politics.
Has the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Entered a New Phase? The nightmare scenario that Israel has feared since its establishment came true." "The barrier of fear has been broken." Those are Israeli commentators on what Defense Minister Ehud Barak describes as "the Palestinians' transition from suicide-bomber terrorism" to "mass demonstrations, deliberately unarmed." They're all quoted in a Washington Post article by Joel Greenberg in Jerusalem. With Middle Eastern regimes under challenge as never before, are the Palestinians adopting a new strategy in their struggle with Israel? How will President Obama respond to claims that the US is losing influence in the region?
Political Change and Continuing Conflict in the Middle East On Sunday, Israel's 63rd anniversary, massed Palestinians approached the country's borders from Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Some were fired on by soldiers, but Israeli leaders concede that a shift from suicide bombs to unarmed masses creates challenges of a new and different kind. Another challenge will come in September, when the UN General Assembly might well declare a Palestinian state. This week, it's President Obama's turn, with a much-anticipated speech on the so-called "Arab Spring" and meetings with regional leaders, including today's meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan.
And the Walls Coming Tumbling Down in Gaza Early this morning, there were 17 explosions along the nine-mile border fence between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. As large portions of the fence went down, tens of thousands of Palestinians rushed to the Egyptian town of Rafah for food, fuel and other supplies. People in cars, donkey carts and on foot rushed to buy food, fuel and other supplies denied for weeks by an Israeli blockade designed to stop rocket attacks. We hear how the fence went down and what it's been like at the border. Is it a propaganda coup for Hamas? A defeat for Fatah? What does it reveal about Israeli security and Egypt's obligation to maintain the border?
Another Effort at Middle East Peace After testifying to Congress on Thursday about Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will leave for the Middle East on Friday. Her first stops are Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories as she tries to revive the peace process at a time when Palestinian factions are on the verge of civil war and Israelis have lost confidence in their government. We ask both sides if internal conflicts make this the right time for compromise on their most basic issues. Will Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia make helpful concessions because they’re worried about Iran? Does the road to regional stability run through Jerusalem instead of Baghdad after all? We speak with journalists, Palestinians and Israelis, including a former advisor to Ariel Sharon.
After Southern Lebanon, What about the Palestinians? UN Security Council Resolution 1701 stopped the fighting in southern Lebanon with the promise that France would help enforce it by leading a 15,000 member peacekeeping source. Today, the French newspaper Le Monde reported that France is scaling back to a "symbolic" contingent of 10 officers and 200 engineers. Meantime, as Hamas and the Palestinian Authority talk about forming a "unity government, there's a threat to dissolve all civil institutions and demand that Israel keep order in the West Bank and Gaza. Has the success of Hezbollah emboldened militants or will it lead to diplomacy in the region's oldest conflict? What about Israel's plan to pull out of the West Bank? We get an update from the UN and the Palestinian territories, where events have been out of the limelight because of the fighting in Lebanon.
The airline electronics ban and what it means President Trump's Department of Homeland Security has banned all electronic devices larger than cell phones on some foreign airlines flying direct to the US. It's causing confusion as well as inconvenience. Is the motive really just increased security?
East Asia: President Trump's first foreign policy test Starting with North Korea's latest test of nuclear missiles, a chain of events is causing instability in Asia. Could it turn into the first real foreign policy crisis of the Trump Administration?
Is America turning its back on the world? President Trump has made no secret of his contempt for the United Nations — and he's not alone. But, will proposed cuts in US contributions be counterproductive to America's role in the world and to national security?