Monday, April 11, 2011

Arab League Doubles Down

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice are said to have led the charge within the American government to intervene for humanitarian grounds in Libya, the act that seems to have spurred the global community to action was the Arab League's call for a no-fly zone. Within a few days of the Arab League's announcement, which amounted to their symbolically turning their backs on one of their more famous members, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, aircraft from the United States, Great Britain and France were patrolling the skies over Libya.

Now the Arab League is calling for another no-fly zone, this time over the Gaza Strip. That call is spurred by an increase in fighting between the Gazans and Israel over the past week, which has seen rocket attacks launched from Gaza met by Israeli airstrikes. So far the casualty totals are one wounded in Israel and 19 dead in Gaza. That statistic has the Arab League calling Israel's actions “brutal” and asking that the UN Security Council “consider the Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip on an urgent basis to stop its siege and impose a no-fly rule on the Israeli military to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip,” according to the League's formal statement. Not surprisingly, the Israelis responded by telling the Arab League that instead of UN resolutions, they should focus on getting the folks in Gaza to stop launching missiles into Israel.

The Arab League's call for a no-fly zone over Gaza won't fly (forgive the pun) if for no other reason than a resolution authorizing it will be vetoed by the United States within the Security Council as are any resolutions that are perceived to interfere with Israel's security stance. But the fact that the Arab League is publicly calling for a no-fly zone in the first place is yet one more bit of tension in an already tense region. Meanwhile, both the Gazans and the Israelis say they are willing to abide by a cease-fire, so long as the other side stops shooting first. As to why there has been a flare up in attacks between Israel and Gaza after a period of relative calm (relative to the region at least), a couple of factors are likely at play: a recent attempt at rapprochement between the Hamas-led government in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank, as well as Palestine's potential unilateral declaration of statehood that could happen later this year, both factor that would drastically change the current Israel-Palestine equation.
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