Meditation Focus #43
Peace in the Middle East
Web posted on July 21, 2001 for the 2 consecutive weeks
beginning Sunday, July 22, 2001)
What follows is the 43rd Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, July 22, 2001.
PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Renewed risks of a wider Middle East War in the wake of the failure of the U.S.-brokered ceasefire
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
4. Peace Watch for Macedonia
Once again the Middle East is caught in a renewed circle of hate and revenge as the U.S.- brokered cease fire has now almost entirely collapsed under the continuous assault of violations from both sides. Plans prepared by Israeli generals have surfaced last week concerning a proposed war that Israel would wage with its whole military might to get rid of the Palestinian Authorities and reconquer the territories conceded to the Palestinians under the Oslo Peace Accord. The cabinet of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is said to be waiting for a suicide attack deadly enough to justify the onset of this new Middle East war. Meanwhile troops, tanks and armored vehicles have been massed alongside the Palestinians territories in preparation for this large scale military operation and time is running out for peacemakers and Western politicians still trying their best to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiation table. A long-standing proposal to bring in international monitors that could be instrumental in establishing a more secure environment for civilian Palestinians has been put forward at the G8 Summit in Genoa and feebly acknowledged as a possibility by a single official of the Sharon government. Yet there is no guarantee that these non-armed monitors would succeed in bringing an end to the violence until both parties to this conflict and the various armed factions that fuel the violence and cycle of reprisals all agree to stop further throwing oil on the fire of hate that is consuming the hearts and minds of millions of people in the Middle East.
Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks to help transform bitterness and hate to reconciliation and love in the hearts and minds of everyone actively involved in the Middle East violence. Envision millions of shining doves descending from the realm of Spirit to bathe the whole area with powerful healing vibrations of Peace, Love and Harmony. Enable, through the channeling of divine Light, the mounting of an international response and the needed openness in the political leaders of Israel and Palestine that will contribute in turning around this whole situation and create the conditions whereby peace shall prevail in the Middle East, for the Highest Good of All.
Review the following complementary compilation of information: Miscellaneous Subjects 97: Israeli Generals plan to smash Palestinians & "Sharon Plan" for Mideast War Exposed, and more, posted at http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000/MiscelSubjects97.htm
This material was posted this week to the Earth Rainbow Network emailing list. Visit http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000 to find out how you may also regularly receive information on a broad range of subjects or simply ask to email@example.com to be added to the ERN list. Subscription is free. This network, founded in February 1997, has an extensive list of more than 1800 people in approximately 50 countries sharing visions and feedbacks as a way to expand and deepen global awareness and the sense of forming a global spiritual community gradually empowering itself to contribute in shaping the future of this world.
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation to the healing of the Earth as a whole. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage * 8:00 AM -- Los Angeles * 9:00 AM -- Mexico City, San Salvador & Denver * 10:00 AM -- Houston * & Chicago * 11:00 AM -- Santo Domingo, La Paz, Caracas, New York *, Toronto *. Montreal *, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 AM -- Halifax *, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 1:00 PM -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 4 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, London *, Dublin * & Lisbon * 5:00 PM -- Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Geneva *, Rome *, Berlin *, Paris * & Madrid * 6:00 PM -- Ankara *, Athens *, Helsinki * & Istanbul * & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Baghdad *, Moscow * 8:00 PM -- Tehran * 8:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 PM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington +4:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* means the place is observing daylight saving time (DST) at the moment.
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/full.html to find your current corresponding local time if a closeby city is not listed above.
3. MORE INFORMATION ON THIS MEDITATION FOCUS
This section is for those who wish to understand in more details the situation outlined in this Meditation Focus. For those who wish to read on, we would encourage you to view the following information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision you wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of healing. We provide the details below because we recognize that the knowledge of what needs healing can assist us to structure our awareness to maximise our healing effect.
Back to the Middle East Brink
(Friday, July 20, 2001)
THE PALESTINIAN-Israeli cease-fire brokered by CIA Director George Tenet last month never really took hold; now it has almost entirely collapsed. By this week the two sides were matching acts of escalation in much the same way they were during the spring, with the same risk: that a major ground conflict will erupt that would destroy the gains of a decade of peace negotiations. For the Palestinians, the possible consequences of such a conflict were manifest in the buildup of Israeli troops and armor around the West Bank and Gaza, a step toward implementing a widely reported plan to reoccupy Palestinian territory, disarm or shatter Palestinian security forces, and drive the Palestinian leadership back into exile. For Israel, the stakes could be seen in the consultations among Arab states about rupturing relations and renewing a global campaign to isolate the Jewish state.
That the situation should once again have reached this brink is -- again -- largely the responsibility of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who still will not commit himself to giving up the violent uprising his forces launched against Israel last year. Under enormous and unified international pressure following a particularly horrifying suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, Mr. Arafat substantially reined in Palestinian attacks, thereby proving that he could do it if he chose. But he stopped conspicuously short of going all the way. He told Palestinian militants not to carry out attacks inside Israel, but did not rule out actions against soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza. He did not stop the incitement of violence by the Palestinian media, which for better or worse are mostly under his control. And he did not arrest the activists known to be involved in the planning and execution of bombings and other terrorist attacks. As usual, Mr. Arafat was playing a double game: He hoped to win the renewal of peace negotiations and concurrent concessions from Israel while maintaining a level of pressure through violence, albeit at a lower level.
To be sure, Israel has not made it easy for Mr. Arafat to do the right thing. The government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon insisted on seven days of "absolute quiet" by the Palestinians -- a condition that even a fully committed Mr. Arafat might have had trouble meeting -- then disrupted the quiet itself with spectacular assassinations of Palestinian militants. It abruptly bulldozed a number of Palestinian homes, a measure that was at best ill timed and at worst deliberately provocative. Now, as the cease-fire crumbles, Israel has returned to its practice of targeting its supposedly retaliatory actions against the Palestinian security forces that are charged with restraining attacks, rather than the groups that carry them out.
Faced with this difficult and deteriorating situation, the Bush administration appears at a loss about what, if anything, to do. Its ambivalence was manifest in the recent trip to the region by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who shied away from forceful measures to jump-start the cease-fire, and dropped even those suggestions that were challenged by Mr. Sharon. Administration officials argue, as they have since taking office, that the United States can't impose an Arab-Israeli cease-fire if the parties don't want one. That may be true; but the dilemma the administration faces is that if it leaves the Palestinians and Israelis to their own devices, the situation will only grow worse. Yesterday, pressed by European allies, the administration gingerly embraced the idea of dispatching a "third-party" monitoring force to the region. That's an idea that has long been resisted by Israel. But under the circumstances, it's worth a try.
Official Hints Israel May Allow U.S. Monitors of Mideast Truce
(July 20, 2001)
JERUSALEM, July 20 -- On a day when the Middle East buried more of its dead, Israel's defense minister seemed to open the door, if just a crack, to the idea of foreigners monitoring the worsening Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But he said the outsiders would have to be Americans.
"The whole matter of observers is unacceptable to us," the minister, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, said on Israel Radio. "But if this will be forced upon us, I will live with the presence of the monitors of the Americans."
Other officials close to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sought to minimize the importance of Mr. Ben-Eliezer's remarks, which came a day after the foreign ministers of the major industrialized countries urged Israelis and Palestinians to accept "third party" monitors as a way to keep the worsening violence here from spinning out of control.
Palestinian leaders, who have long insisted that they need international protection in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, immediately embraced the idea. But the Israelis, tending to view international forces and forums as often hostile, were just as quick to say no.
And because both sides would have to say yes, the Israeli response effectively knocked out this proposal, for now anyway.
Officials in the prime minister's office said nothing had changed for them, despite what Mr. Ben-Eliezer said today. When the defense minister talked of American watchdogs, they said, he meant perhaps bolstering a team of monitors from the Central Intelligence Agency, already here to keep tabs on a cease-fire that was brokered in mid-June by its director, George J. Tenet.
In Washington, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said that while nothing had been decided, "it might be very useful to have monitors" in connection with a cooling-off period proposed in April by a commission led by former Senator George J. Mitchell.
"The United States would at that point consider how best we could participate in that, if at all," the secretary said.
Thus far, the cease-fire has existed in name only. Each day has brought some form of violence, with a crescendo this week of a Palestinian suicide bomb, targeted killings by the Israeli Army and a drive-by shooting, apparently by Israeli vigilantes.
On both sides, victims have been ample, including a 3-month-old Palestinian boy, who may be the youngest victim in a 10-month siege of despair in which other infants have been killed.
Against that backdrop the Group of 8 foreign ministers, including Secretary Powell, decided that a more active approach was needed, if both fighting parties agreed.
After Mr. Ben-Eliezer's remarks, the government issued a statement saying that "the Israeli position has not changed." One official, referring to the C.I.A. monitors already in place, said that even if their numbers were to expand, the defense minister was simply saying that "he agrees with what is already on the ground."
Still, Mr. Ben-Eliezer touched on an important point when he said Israel could accept American monitors if forced to. Israel, he seemed to imply, may end up not having a choice.
That was the case in 1994 after a Brooklyn-born settler in the West Bank, Baruch Goldstein, killed 29 Palestinians in Hebron, spraying them with automatic rifle fire as they knelt in prayer.
Then as now, Israel resisted calls for foreign observers in ever troubled Hebron. Ultimately, the Israelis yielded. Seven years later, that watchdog force is still there, though even with its presence, Hebron remains a caldron.
That the Israeli government may be preparing for some kind of outside force was suggested today in the newspaper Maariv. It reported that some officials close to the prime minister said there was "a logic" to a monitoring group, as long as it was dominated by Americans and came after a true cease-fire.
For now, Israelis are braced less for observers than for reprisals after a drive-by shooting near Hebron on Thursday night that killed three Palestinians. Among the victims was the 3-month-old boy, Diya Tmeizi.
A group of Jewish settlers, the Committee for Security on the Roads, said it had carried out the attack, which mirrored Palestinian shootings that have killed more than two dozen settlers since September.
Powell Does Not Rule Out U.S. As Mideast Observer
(Friday July 20)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Friday Washington would consider helping observe a Middle East cooling-off period envisaged in a U.S.-brokered peace plan, if Israelis and Palestinians agreed.
``Remember, there's a six-week cooling period at the very beginning of (the plan sketched out by former U.S. Senator George) Mitchell and it might be very useful to have monitors. The United States would at that point consider how best we could participate in that, if at all,'' Powell told a news conference.
But he added: ``No mechanism has yet been established and no people have been called for from different countries or organizations yet.''
Israel's Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer earlier broke with standing policy to say he believed Israel could tolerate the placement of U.S. monitors to oversee a future truce.
He was speaking after foreign ministers of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations, including Powell, met in Rome and issued a statement on Thursday urging both sides to accept ''third-party monitoring'' after 10 months of violence in which more than 600 people have been killed. CLIP
Observers would monitor the current crumbling ceasefire
(Thursday, 19 July, 2001)
The foreign ministers of the major Western industrialised nations and Russia have said they support the deployment of outside observers to help end Israeli-Palestinian violence.
The statement from the G8 countries - which include the United States - brings back into the agenda a proposal that Palestinians have been trying to get off the ground for months.
Palestinians have been calling on the United Nations Security Council to send a 2,000-strong force of UN military peacekeepers to protect Palestinian civilians.
Israel has consistently opposed the deployment of such a force, viewing it as outside interference and arguing that it would complicate matters.
Both the UN and Washington have previously indicated that a peacekeeping force would not be formed without Israeli backing.
Israel is traditionally very suspicious of the UN. In Israeli eyes, it is tainted by the 1975 General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. That resolution was revoked in 1991.
From an Israeli perspective, this is reason enough to reject proposals for a UN peacekeeping force. The proposal for an unarmed military observer force, rather than a UN peacekeeping force, has been raised separately by Russia, France and the United Kingdom since the start of the current violence.
Any observer force would be expected to monitor violence, the observance of the ceasefire and liase between Israeli security forces and the Palestinian police.
But the presence of international observers would not necessarily bring an end to the violence.
For six years 150 unarmed European observers have been deployed in Hebron in the West Bank, where a small enclave is still occupied by Israel.
The observers were put in place after radical Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein stormed a mosque and killed 29 praying Palestinians in 1994.
They have done little to prevent recent regular clashes between Palestinians and settlers.
Full Coverage on Israel
Full Coverage on the Middle East Peace Process http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/World/Middle_East_Peace_Process/
BBC Full Coverage on the Middle East
4. Peace Watch for Macedonia
Here are the latest developments in Macedonia. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well.
Macedonia Peace Talks at Impasse
(Friday July 20)
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) - Negotiations between Macedonian and ethnic Albanian leaders ground to a standstill after the Macedonians repudiated a Western-backed peace proposal. But experts, if not political leaders, are expected to keep talking.
Reacting to Wednesday's Macedonian rebuff, leaders of the two ethnic Albanian parties boycotted Friday's meeting with President Boris Trajkovski and the two Western envoys, James Pardew of the United States and Francois Leotard of the European Union.
In hectic and, according to participants, often chaotic bargaining, the envoys managed to win at least tentative agreement for expert-level talks to proceed Friday, but it was not clear if the political negotiating process could be relaunched any time soon.
''We will continue with the negotiating process,'' said President Boris Trajkovski, but his words sounded hollow in the face of the deadlock caused by the Macedonian rejection of the final compromise reluctantly agreed to by the Albanian negotiators.
Unless removed soon, the current deadlock could seriously jeopardize the existing cease-fire that has seen no major recent fighting, apart from relatively minor incidents.
After Thursday's meeting which he did not attend, Arben Xhaferi, the main ethnic Albanian official, claimed that Macedonian leaders ``are continuously provoking a continuation of fighting. Macedonia would be the only case in history where a war will start because of linguistic disputes.''
In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said, ``We're encouraging all parties to participate actively in the ongoing talks, and that is ... part of a negotiation. And it's this sort of process that we called for all along, a political dialogue, a negotiation.''
''So all the parties need to come together to try to take the emotion out of it and work diligently to make compromises ...,'' he said.
Late Thursday, several hundred Macedonians demonstrated in downtown Skopje, condemning the West for what organizers said was ''performing experiments with Macedonia.'' Patriotic songs were played over loudspeakers.
Wednesday, Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski lashed out at the peace proposal, accusing the United States and the European Union of interference.
''What we have on the table is a document tailored to break up Macedonia,'' Georgievski said. He called the draft ``a blatant violation of Macedonia's internal affairs.''
The draft peace proposal retains Macedonian as the primary official language and maintains central state control of the police, but proposes Albanian as a second official language in some areas, a U.S.-European Union statement said.
A joint statement issued Thursday by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, called Georgievski's reaction ''an undignified response to international efforts to assist in the search for a peaceful solution.''
After the Macedonians rejected the proposed deal, Lord Robertson and Solana postponed a trip to Skopje, the Macedonian capital, planned for Thursday.
EU Monitors Killed in Macedonia As Peace Hopes Fade
(Friday July 20)
SKOPJE (Reuters) - A three-man European Union team was found dead in Macedonia on Friday after their vehicle was blown into a ravine by a mine while monitoring a fragile cease-fire in the divided former Yugoslav republic.
The Norwegian and Slovakian monitors and their translator, from Macedonia's ethnic Albanian minority, disappeared on Thursday in hills near Tetovo, a flashpoint town in five months of fighting between government forces and Albanian guerrillas.
Their deaths are the first among a growing number of international officials in Macedonia hoping to secure peace. In the capital Skopje, 30 miles away, Western envoys struggled to salvage a political deal to end the rebellion that has dragged the tiny Balkan state toward civil war.
Prospects for peace have worsened since the Macedonian government condemned the latest Western proposals as tantamount to dividing the country at the behest of separatist rebels.
Macedonian leaders want to return to earlier versions of the peace plan and accused Albanian parties of blocking progress by failing to show up for talks on Thursday.
Gloomy diplomats worry nationalist Macedonian rhetoric could block compromise on a package of reforms granting Albanians more civil rights in the hope of avoiding major bloodshed.
''I hope the Macedonians don't try to shred the process apart, but I don't know what their ultimate goal is. I hope it is to get a political deal,'' one Western diplomat said.
''But there are some irrational people involved here and that's very dangerous.''
U.S. envoy James Pardew and the EU's Francois Leotard have persuaded Albanian parties to send constitutional experts back to the table in a bid to keep the talks alive.
But serious negotiations have all but collapsed. There are no plans for party leaders to meet unless new proposals on the sensitive issues of language rights and police reforms emerge.
CEASEFIRE UNDER STRAIN
Each day of deadlock increases fears that a NATO-brokered truce, which has contained fighting for 15 days, will unravel.
''The longer this goes on the more fragile the cease-fire becomes,'' warned NATO's resident ambassador Hansjoerg Eiff.
Macedonian newspapers poured scorn on the insistence of Albanian leaders that they could not compromise on demands that their language gain official status, accusing them of being in the pockets of the National Liberation Army (NLA) rebels.
Diplomats admit it will be tough to overcome the perception among many Macedonians that their country is being carved up at gunpoint, despite the fact that the rejected plan would merely devolve some power and make Albanian a semi-official language.
''Tensions are rising,'' a Western diplomat said. ``We're down to the last issues but the gulf will be very hard to bridge.''
Albanian parties, whose room for maneuver is limited by the need to sell a deal to the NLA if it is to be induced to disarm, say their Macedonian rivals want to restart talks from scratch.
Despite the stalemate, no politician is yet advocating a return to the battlefield to attack the NLA guerrillas who have seized swathes of Macedonia's northern hills.
''We are in a very difficult phase,'' conceded President Boris Trajkovski. ''But the only solution is to find a lasting deal.''
The strain on the cease-fire is starting to show, however, as sporadic shooting grows more frequent around the main Albanian town of Tetovo, where a football stadium separates front lines.
The Macedonian Defense Ministry said a new NLA mortar position had appeared in Lavce, a village just above Tetovo, and said security forces would open fire unless it was dismantled.
On the streets of Skopje, people still hope a deal can be rescued, but the ethnic faultlines are slowly hardening.
''Albanian parties agreed to the plan and their job is done. It's up to the Macedonians,'' said Avni Sulejmani, a 37-year-old Albanian. ''If things escalate now, it will be their fault.'' Liljana Petrova, a 49-year-old Macedonian, was more worried. ''I hope common sense will prevail and that we will not have a war. But I think that is very difficult to avoid,'' she said.
See also BALKAN SET-UP: America provokes conflict then intervenes to solve 'crisis' (July 16, 2001) at http://www.antiwar.com/justin/j071601.html
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