The most momentous development of the week — at least according to the English-language press — in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the announcement by Olmert that he plans to step down after the Kadima party selects a new leader. In reality, the more important events may have taken place in Palestine — whether in the explosion last Friday (7/25) in Gaza that killed Hamas personnel and a 6-year old child and set off the worst intra-Palestinian fighting in a year (pushing factional talks of national unity back to square one), or in the escalation of violence by the IDF attempting to force nonviolent Palestinian protesters in Bilin and Nilin to a tipping point that will trigger the collapse of nonviolent protest.
The nonviolent protests of Palestinians, at any rate, generally receive no coverage unless the Israelis shoot and kill children at them. So it is that Nilin made the news this week when the IDF shot live ammunition at an 10-year old boy, killing him with a head wound. The Israeli response to this atrocity was to also fire live ammunition at his funeral and then to barricade the village itself. Also today, in an unexceptional parallel, Haaretz is reporting that Israeli settlers hurled a brick injuring a 7-year old Palestinian girl.
The selection of press coverage below reflects more comment on the Olmert resignation and its implications for the “peace process” than anything else, since the only significant commentary in English on the situation this week had that focus. There are also pieces giving an overview of the pretenders to Olmert’s throne — Shaul Mofaz and Tzipi Livni — neither of whom is the least bit desirable as the articles below make clear. Still, it remains a telling characterization of the PA leadership that they appear to be the only ones willing to mourn Olmert’s passing from the Israeli political scene (according to one piece below, the PA negotiators see Olmert’s departure as a “heavy blow”).
Finally, in a week when Obama — fresh from his rock-star reception abroad — has engaged in further back-pedaling on his positions of “principle” (some offshore drilling is acceptable; the military option against Iran must remain on the table, etc.), the selection closes with a fitting analysis from Al-Ahram Weekly that the Candidate of Change represents nothing but the status quo. Read the rest of this entry »