» Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Middle East

Asked to comment on an open letter from 14 NGOs expressing concern that the UK had not used its full influence to bring about a ceasefire, the PMOS asked whether that was for an immediate ceasefire on both sides. The Prime Minister had said last Tuesday in the House of Commons that he hoped there would be a stop to the violence on all sides. The real question was how you brought that about and as the Prime Minister had said yesterday you needed a plan. The Prime Minister had been engaged on an almost hourly basis since the St Petersburg Summit in working behind the scenes to bring a ceasefire from all sides about. He wanted that ceasefire to last, not just a day, a week, a month or even a year – he wanted a sustainable solution. If that meant taking heat from people whilst that was brought about so be it. The important thing was to bring about a durable end to violence, which would mean everybody affected by this – civilians in Lebanon and Israel – did not have to go through this again. This would only be possible if people were able to negotiate a durable plan and the Prime Minister was focused on achieving that.

Asked if there were still hopes of achieving progress in Rome tomorrow, the PMOS said that we hoped to see broad agreement in principle on the idea developed by the G8 for a stabilisation force, which the Prime Minister had negotiated in St Petersburg with President Putin. We hoped to get an international consensus behind that in order to allow the detail of that to be worked out. This would in turn help bring about a cessation of hostilities. The emphasis had to be on all sides supporting a cessation including calls for Hezbollah to stop firing rockets into Israel. The reality was that you could not get peace unless those rockets stopped going into Israel.

Asked whether we would contribute to the stabilisation force, the PMOS said that traditionally we had not acted as a force in the region because of historical reasons. We also had commitments elsewhere. The make up of the force was a matter of active discussion and what had helped enormously in those discussions had been that ever since his meeting with the Prime Minister in St Petersburg the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan had backed the idea and had called on nations to contribute.

Asked whether the Prime Minister’s willingness to take the heat meant that he was not worried about opinion polls that said he was too close to the US, the PMOS suggested that there seemed to be a contradiction in people expressing that view. On the one hand they wanted the United States to be more engaged and call for and push Israel into a ceasefire and on the other they wanted to UK to distance itself form the United States. The question then had to be how do you talk to the US if you distanced yourself from it. Of course the Prime Minister shared the horror at the deaths of innocent civilians on both sides of the Israel/Lebanon border, but you had to take a step back and ask what in reality would bring about a durable cessation. The only way that would happen would be if you put together a robust and durable plan. This was why it was worth all the hard work trying to make the stabilisation force a reality. That would provide the assurances necessary on all sides.

Asked whether the Prime Minister was saying that there should not be an emotional reaction but a considered reaction to the bombings, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister shared the same emotions as everybody else when he saw innocent civilians and innocent children die. However, the question had to be how could you actually get the participants to take a step back and then reassure them that more people would not die in the future. The reality for Israel was that it had withdrawn from Gaza and Lebanon and yet that had not ended the attacks coming from those two areas contrary to UN resolutions. We had to create a situation where those attacks stopped and where Israel could be reassured sufficiently enough to stop its operations as well. This meant bringing about a cessation on both sides.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Search for related news


  1. It was nice of Bush, wrinkled retainer Tony ‘Yo’ Blair by his side, to say it was a priority of his to ensure that the Lebanese infrastructure would be rebuilt. He was going, he said, to make sure that those left homeless would have houses to live in again. Surreal enough as it stands but do you think Lebanese television got any Hurricane Katrina coverage? You know, just to cheer them up a bit in the pile of rubble they find themselves in.

    Comment by Brian — 29 Jul 2006 on 4:45 pm | Link
  2. …Houses to live in rebuilt by Western companies in no-bid contracts awarded by the very people who knocked them down, no doubt, probably American companies, even more probably Halliburton. No doubt ultimately paid for by Western taxpayers, not that I can really begrudge the Lebanese that, and no doubt to be paid for yet again, sorry, "paid back", eventually by Lebanon.

    The irony is delicious enough as it is; Israel is the current international equivelant of the dodgy glazier getting people to break windows to drum up business for himself. What makes it totally unreal is when you research the background of the companies that benefit, the Halliburtons and Blackwaters, and you see that it’s the very people who are making current policy who stand to gain personally from the stock of those self-same companies. The conflicts of interest are so staggering it beggars belief – literally. And most people simply don’t believe it, or won’t, or turn that part of their cognitive processes off so they don’t have to face it. But it can’t be denied, and it can’t be hidden away.

    Can one say "conspiracy" at any point without derision?

    It simply can’t be denied that powerful people are actively conspiring to wage war on the helpless with the open collusion of the world democratic police, in order to generate profit, and grab what they need while they’re about it. And at the same time, blatantly attempt to involve other countries we all know have long been in the sights to provide yet more pretexts for yet more conflicts, perpetuating yet again the cycle of destruction in order to generate profit and yet more war. It’s not about Israel being in danger – if it was, Israel wouldn’t spend all of its energy stirring up a hornets nest the way it does. Only the most blind or willfully ignorant can ignore what Israel is currently doing, an unprovoked invasion of southern Lebanon – the weight of press reports away from the mainstream certainly seem to point towards the 2 "kidnapped" Israeli troops being on the Lebanese side of the border anyway, and the fact that only the day before "Hezbollah" grabbed 2 Israeli troops Israel had "arrested" (kidnapped) 2 Gazans, of whom nothing has been heard or seen since. If there was any truth in Israels claims that this aggression was for and because of their kidnapped troops, the fact that they now supposedly have 3 Hezbollah in custody surely gives them all they ever needed to call a ceasefire and exchange prisoners. But, they steadfastly refuse and insist more fighting, more destruction is "necessary" – and all the while the pointless, useless, lying, spineless, toadying excuses for men who "lead" us try to forcefeed us yet more lies about how it really is not Israel to blame but an "arc of extremism". As with Iraq, those "extremists" (freedom fighters?) would not exist were it not for the actions of the very people who ask us for money and blood to combat the problem they have created for that very purpose.

    You just couldn’t make it up… Oh wait, someone did!

    Comment by SmokeNMirrors — 2 Aug 2006 on 12:46 pm | Link

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