Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Can Italy be relied upon?

As I noted yesterday, Israel has asked Italy to head the 'revamped UNIFIL' that is mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1701. In the past, when Berlusconi headed its government, Italy was one of our most reliable friends in Europe. Since the Prodi government came to power, however, relations have been strained. Can Italy be relied upon?

PeoplesMedia points out that in the aftermath of the Achille Lauro terror attack, Israel and Italy entered into the ‘Israel-Italy Agreement on the Struggle Against Terrorism’, which provided that the two countries would share information about terrorists, drug traders and organized criminals. But in June 2002, Massimo d'Alema, who is now Italy's foreign minister, made a speech in California in which he discussed the definition of terrorism and whether it is ever justified, implied that Israel conducts 'state terrorism, and raised the possibility of 'imposing peace' on the Middle East:
Is there in fact a dividing line between legitimate freedom fighters who might also avail themselves of violent actions against civilian targets and modern terrorists?

The only possible response is a firm condemnation of the means, regardless of the ends pursued.

The violent action is a terrorist act not because of its relation to a cause but because of the target it strikes.

To attack a military unit that is occupying a sovereign territory is for all purposes an action of war.

To strike a restaurant or a markets, killing defenseless civilians, is—regardless of the cause—a terrorist act.

Does this mean equating the suicide killers of the World Trade Center with the Palestinian teenagers who are blowing themselves up in crowds of Israeli citizens?

Personally I don’t think so, even though a terrorist act should still always be condemned.

Yet there are differences between the two episodes that we must consider if we are to develop an effective strategy against terrorism.

We must have the courage to honestly grasp the processes that trigger that violence, also so that we can curb its growth.

This means being equally firm on our condemnation of the forms of “state terrorism”—which unfortunately exist—and therefore of decisions to target and bomb defenseless civilians in a logic of violence and indiscriminate retaliation.

It also means clarifying the strategy of the fight against terrorism.

One can be fooled into thinking that the problem is limited to a few groups of fanatics. And that the solution is to annihilate their cells.

But this, in my opinion, would be an illusion.

The real question is how much consensus and support is generated around these forms of fanaticism.

If terrorism appears to be the only instrument available to peoples who are deprived of any other contractual force to affirm their rights, then it is clear that it will always find new fuel.

This is the greatest danger that we face.


There are many reasons that show we are entering a testing ground.

A testing ground represented by the crisis in the Middle East and by the way out of it that the international community will soon be called upon to identify.

Why the Middle East?

What makes this issue so decisive?

In my opinion, there is one basic reason.

The possibility to prove that the international community does not practice a double standard in its judgments and assessments.

This is the basic problem

Not just the importance of the Arab-Israeli conflict per se. But the need not to be handing extremism and Islamic fundamentalism another reason for propaganda and recruitment.

This means applying those principles that alone can guarantee a negotiated solution to a crisis, no matter how dramatic.

There are some elementary questions to which we must respond.

The first is whether or not United Nations’ resolutions apply always and to everyone.

Acts and consequences of vital importance to the future of politics worldwide pivot on our answer to this question.

Our answer—the answer of the European Left—is yes. The international community—if it wants to be able to intervene politically and, when necessary, militarily—must uphold international law.

Always and everywhere.

This is not just a formal question, a question of consistency.

It is, obviously, a political question of substance.

What does it mean, in the eyes of the Arab world and others, when the sanctions against Saddam Hussein are applied with the proper strictness but not the UN resolutions on Israel?

How can we not see the grave implications and dramatic consequences of this double standard?

It is at this level that the international community’s action is needed, also to defeat the political designs of extremist forces that are destroying the prospects for a Palestinian State to be born.

We need to have the courage to impose peace.

Also as an act of consistency: basically, now that we have rightly come to privilege the defense of human rights over the principle of national sovereignty, we are now required to identify the political means to push the Middle East crisis toward a fair solution.

But this is not just Europe’s responsibility.

The truth is that if we want peace, we must make demands of both one side and the other.

Of Israel and the Palestinians.

Only in this way can dialogue become a concrete possibility again. With the backing of a clear political will.

I personally continue to believe that the starting point for any peace prospect is the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Palestinian cities. A withdrawal that has been urged by the international community as a whole and also by President Bush.

For his part, Chairman Arafat must demonstrate a stronger commitment to the fight against terrorism than he has in the past.

On this basis two concrete objectives could be pursued.

On the one hand, the constitution of a single Palestinian military force in the territories, accompanied by the disbanding of militias that do belong to the Palestinian Authority.

On the other, a security collaboration agreement between the Israeli and Palestinian forces with the presence of international observers and, if necessary, a neutral military contingent.

But all this would not be enough.

What is also needed is mutual recognition by the parties to the conflict and the two States that will have to live side-by-side, a renunciation once and for all of the rhetoric of denying each other’s existence.

Only in this way can the negotiation on unsolved questions—first and foremost, the future of the settlements—continue unimpeded.

Finally, we need a Peace Conference involving the direct protagonists of the conflict, the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

A conference that, on the basis of UN resolutions, will establish the principles for a stable and peaceful settlement in the region.

This is the road that should be followed if we want to prevent the tragic Arab-Israeli conflict from being reinforced by dangerous anti-Western and anti-American sentiments and the consequences that they can bear.
This does not sound like someone reliable....

Update 10:55 AM

Italy is already threatening not to send troops and blaming Israel.

Italy, which is expected to lead a UN Peacekeeping force in Lebanon, will be unable to send troops if Israel "keeps shooting", Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said on Tuesday.

"From Israel, we expect a renewed effort, this time truly binding, to respect the ceasefire," D'Alema said. "It's fair to expect that Hizbollah put down their weapons, but we cannot send our troops to Lebanon if the (Israeli) army keeps shooting." (Reuters)
And until the Italians get off their butts and get to Lebanon, just whom does D'Alema think is going to make Hezbullah put down their weapons? The Shiite dominated 'Lebanese army'?


At 10:55 AM, Blogger Freedom Fighter said...

Shalom Carl...

Olmert is going to rely on the ITALIAN army?????



Post a Comment

<< Home