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Middle East

Diplomatic efforts continue in an effort to stop the violence

Article published on the 2009-01-05 Latest update 2009-01-05 13:51 TU

An Israeli soldier sits in a tank near the northern Gaza Strip(Credit: Reuters)

An Israeli soldier sits in a tank near the northern Gaza Strip
(Credit: Reuters)

As Israel tightened its grip on Gaza overnight as it hit more than 30 targets, raising the death toll to at least 510, French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in the region Monday in an effort to procure a ceasefire though diplomatic channels. The international community has so far displayed its impotence in stopping the killings on both sides. Sarkozy is scheduled to meet both Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas today.

Correspondent Elias Zananeri said that Sarkozy had spoken to three Lebanese newspapers earlier, where he blamed both Israel and Hamas for the carnage.

"He has very good relations with Olmert as well as with many Arab leaders, and that's why he thinks he has a chance to succeed when others failed," said Zananeri from Jerusalem Monday morning.

The European Union was on a similar mission to try and broker an end to Israeli's Gaza onslaught, as a mission held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Although calling for an end to the fighting, the mission put forth no concrete proposals.

"We are fighting with terror and we are not reaching an agreement with terror," Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, rejecting an EU call for a truce.

British geopolitical analyst Paul Rogers believes that the EU is impotent in comparison to the United States.

"The key to this is this is the attitude of the [US President George W] Bush administration which is fully supportive," Rogers told RFI.

Analysis: Paul Rodgers, geopolitical analyst

05/01/2009 by David Page


"I think there will be a great deal of diplomatic to-ing-and-fro-ing, and no doubt Nicolas Sarkozy will be very prominent in this. The Israelis do not feel any need to get a ceasefire. For the moment at least, Hamas does not want it either. So while there will be a great deal of work, I don't expect there will be results," he added.

Others are more hopeful. Swift diplomatic efforts will be necessary, said London-based Israeli political scientist Yoshi Mekelberg.

Analysis: Israeli political scientist Yoshi Mekelberg

05/01/2009 by David Page


"The last ten days we have seen mainly military operations, we see the Israeli operation inside Gaza, the missiles landing on Israel, but you know this is the time that the diplomats start to talk," Mekelberg told RFI.

Eventually it will need "to be brought to the United Nations for some resolution, which will be agreeable for all sides," he added.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting Saturday night, but failed to come to any conclusion due to the US blocking calls for a ceasefire.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "regretted" that the council could not reach a decision at this "crucial juncture."

"I appeal to all members of the international community to display the unity and commitment required to bring this escalating crisis to an end," said Ban in a statement released Sunday.