Berlin parley marred by Gaza rockets

Fayad: Cease-fire must be sustained, damage should be undone as quickly as possible.

Berlin parley 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Berlin parley 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza, hitting Sderot and the surrounding western Negev area, marred the international conference in the German Foreign Ministry. When asked about the Palestinian violation of the cease-fire at the "Berlin Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and The Rule of Law", Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salaam Fayad said it is "essential for the cease-fire to be sustained" and the "damage should be undone" as rapidly as possible. But Fayyad suggested that Palestinian rocket fire was an appropriate reaction to the Monday night IDF raid in Nablus involving the killing of two Palestinian militants, including Tarek abu Ghally, a top-level member of Islamic Jihad. There "has to be a change in Israeli security behavior" and there is "no justification for the raids" in the West Bank. According to the IDF, Ghally was set to launch a terror attack in Israel. The German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the conference "exceeded our expectations". Prior to commencing the conference, the organizers aimed to raise $183.6 million for the establishment of a modernized Palestinian police force and functioning judicial system. Steinmeier announced that $242,000 million had been secured for an "operational justice and police system" in the PA. Prime Minister Salaam Fayad repeatedly stressed the acute financial crisis of the PA. Yet when asked about the $7.4 Billion pledged to fund the PA at the Paris conference in 2007, Fayad said the PA received $840.000 million for the first half of 2008, but that there was a pressing need for assistance to cover the remainder of 2008. The conference was overshadowed by Amr Mussa, the general secretary of the Arab League, who called on the international community to abandon its veto against Hamas and urged the Palestinians to build a united front. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took the unusual diplomatic move, following her remarks, to issue a harsh rejoinder to Mussa. Rice interjected that the international community would only support a Palestinian government which honors previous agreements with Israel, renounces violence and recognizes Israel's right to exist. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip with an iron fist, has not fulfilled any of criteria listed by Rice. The EU and the US have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. The Middle East Quartet, consisting of the US, Russia, EU and the UN, convened a meeting at the Berlin conference. When questioned by the Jerusalem Post if the non-cooperative posture of Iran with respect to its refusal to suspend its nuclear enrichment program is affecting the Quartet's work, Javier Solana, the foreign policy president of the EU, said that the Quartet was "waiting for a response" from Iran to the most recent EU and US proposal. Solana traveled to Iran last week and presented a package deal containing economic and political incentives to Iran in exchange for suspending its highly enriched uranium program which can be used for developing nuclear weapons. Solana told the Post that there is a two track approach to the Islamic Republic and its nuclear program is not influencing the work of the Quartet. The two track UN Security Council approach consists of economic and political sanctions and positive measures to rehabilitate Iran both diplomatically and financially. Germany is the crossroads for mediation efforts to bring back kidnapped IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Reports that an Israeli forensics teams and rabbi were leaving for Berlin regarding the soldiers, who were kidnapped by the Hizbullah in 2006, could not be confirmed. The Israeli Embassy in Berlin declined to comment on the matter. The German intelligence officer Gerhard Konrad is serving as the principal mediator between the Israeli government and the Hizbullah.