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2009年1月13日 (火)



--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 10(IHT/Asahi: January 12,2009)

EDITORIAL: Cease-fire in Gaza


The U.N. Security Council has at long last adopted a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Israel's offensive against the Gaza Strip.


Israeli airstrikes have killed about 800 people, including civilians. Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza, should immediately accept the resolution and put an end to the bloodshed.


Yet, even after the adoption of the Security Council resolution, Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocket attacks have continued. It seems both sides are trying to provoke the other while keeping an eye on moves by the international community to get them to stop.


The hopes and expectations that surged when the resolution was adopted must not be allowed to dissipate. We urge the United States and European nations to exert every effort to persuade Israel and the Arab world to do the same with Hamas. As a nonpermanent member of the Security Council, Japan should also seek ways to work with the parties first-hand so that they will accept the resolution.


The United States, which had resisted previous Security Council attempts to call for an immediate cease-fire, abstained rather than vetoed the vote for the resolution. In a way, it can be said that Washington joined the international community's call for a cease-fire.


The resolution calls for an "immediate and durable" cessation of hostilities and continued efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace. To that end, the United States, as the central architect of the Middle East peace process, must take an active role in this process. U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, who is set to take office on Jan. 20, should immediately start working to achieve calm in the region and try to rejuvenate peace negotiations.


The Security Council resolution also encourages "intra-Palestinian reconciliation" between the militant Hamas and moderate Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. We look forward to a renewal of dialogue between the two Palestinian parties, as Fatah's involvement in controlling post-cease-fire Gaza is imperative.


The situation has reached such a dire point, and claimed so many victims, specifically because it revolves around two antagonists in direct conflict: on one hand, Hamas, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist, and on the other, Israel, which condemns Hamas as a "terrorist organization."


To expedite peace with Israel, the Palestinians must build a united front. There will only be more confusion if they continue in their fractured way, with Fatah in the West Bank actively pursuing peace, and Hamas in Gaza refusing to.


To achieve reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt with a history of mediating between the two parties--Saudi Arabia once urged the two to form a coalition government, and Egypt mediated reconciliation meetings between them last year--must exert pressure on them to start talking with each other once again.


Some 3,200 people have been injured in Gaza so far. After 18 months of economic blockade by Israel, hospitals there are running out of anesthetics and medical supplies. The Security Council resolution "calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance." Japan should show a willingness to participate in sending emergency medical teams and other humanitarian assistance, as well as demanding that both Israel and Hamas observe the cease-fire.



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