Peres: Hamas impediment to peace

An agreement with Hamas – a terrorist organization – jeopardizes the prospects for an independent Palestinian state, Israeli President Shimon Peres said.

“Israel would like to see the Palestinian people become united for peace,” Peres said of the recently formed coalition between Hamas and Fatah.

“This is not an agreement this is a split. Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization. According to this agreement Hamas doesn’t have to change their charter that calls for the destruction of Israel, they can continue to shoot at us as they did when firing on a yellow school bus. Hamas is a branch of Iran – Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah want a union for war, Mr. Abbas wants a union for peace.”

Peres, in a personal plea to Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah leadership said: “I call upon my friends in the leadership of Fatah: unite for peace, don’t make compromises, don’t permit a division that legitimizes destruction and hatred. We were for peace, we are for peace and we are committed to a two-state solution.”

Peres also said the plan to have the United Nations recognize a Palestinian state is journalized by the union.

“The United Nations cannot accept or recognize a terrorist organization as a state in September,” he said.

Syria shells residential areas [Video]

By GARY BAUMGARTEN

The Syrian government has escalated its attacks on its own populous, doing exactly what the NATO invasion of Libya was designed to stop there – shelling residential neighborhoods, CBS News is reporting.

This presents a problem for the United States, the United Nations and NATO. Should the international community be consistent in its approach to governments turning their military force against its unarmed populous? Or should it pick and choose which lives are valuable enough to actually save?

And here’s another, related question.

Do actions such as the NATO invasion of Libya deter other regimes from massacring their citizens? One would hope so, but apparently not.

Not if one looks at Syria. And at Bahrain.  Or, for that matter, at Iran.

The Associated Press quotes German diplomats as saying that a number of European countries are now threatening to sanction Syria. One can only imagine how little impact that has on Damascus. Look at Iran. How successful have economic sanctions been at stopping repression there?

This is nothing new, of course. Governments turning on their own. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s father viciously stopped an uprising when he was running things. The Syrian Human Rights Committee says 40,000 people were killed during the 1982 Hama massacre.

And in Jordan, in 1970, in what became known as Black September, then King Hussein turned his military against Palestinians. The PLO chief then, Yasser Arafat, claimed as many as 25,000 were killed, though that may have been an inflated figure.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is weighing in – asking Damascus to halt its oppression of its citizens and to let the UN in to investigate the situation. That would be nice, but not very likely. The New York Times quotes a Syrian business tycoon, a cousin of President Bashar al-Asad. as saying the nation is prepared to fight the protesters “to the end.”

Meanwhile, at the border to Lebanon, Syrians fleeing the carnage are being turned away, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Turkey sends delegation to Syria

Turkey has sent a delegation to Syria in an attempt to help the government there implement reforms that, it is hoped, will cool down tensions in a nation where, it is estimated, 500 people have been killed at the hands of security forces, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. Video shows a convoy of tanks, reportedly heading to Dara, to put down demonstrations there.

There are indications that President Bashar Assad is losing support, as, human rights activists tell the Associated Press, hundreds of people have quit the ruling Baath Party in protest of the bloody crackdown that began in earnest on Good Friday.

As the violence and arrests continue, failure at the UN Security Council to come up with a statement of condemnation, frustrating the United States.

In the UK, the Syrian ambassador’s invitation to Friday’s Royal Wedding, the Telegraph reports, has been withdrawn in protest over the continuing violence.