Middle East Conflict - Back to Bombing?
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been overshadowed of late by the growing tensions between Iran and Israel. Yet recent days have seen a huge resurgence in violence in the region, as the Israeli air force pounded Gaza and militant Palestinian groups launched cross-border rocket attacks.
Last Friday Israel killed a leading member of the militant Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in an air strike. The Israeli military say the PRC leader was planning to launch a terrorist attack on Israel from Egyptian territory. Four days of fierce tit-for-tat violence followed. Some 25 Palestinians, including a number of civilians, were killed in Israeli air raids. Gaza militants fired off some 200 rocket attacks on Israel. Palestinian authority president Mahmoud Abbas has blamed Israel for the latest escalation of violence.
The renewed violence in the Middle East is causing widespread concern. The Middle East Quartet had been hoping to kickstart the stalled peace process and reach an agreement by the end of 2012. But now it seems unlikely that US, UN, EU and Russian diplomats will even be able to get the two parties round a table. Netanyahu is not prepared to completely freeze settlement building in the West Bank—a requirement of his Palestinian counterpart. Can the peace process be revived? Is Israel’s dispute with Iran just a convenient diversion?
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