As Gazans continue to be crucified for the sins of Hamas, the international community seems helpless or unwilling to either lift a finger in their defense or reign in the rogue state that Israel has now become. Even what is supposedly the world's most powerful nation is willing to endure the humiliation of its diplomatic representative by Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, who last week said concerning the US vote to abstain from a UN resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire:
"In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favor. I said 'get me President Bush on the phone'. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn't care. 'I need to talk to him now. He got off the podium and spoke to me."I told him the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favor....[Condoleeza Rice] was left shamed. A resolution that she prepared and arranged, and in the end she did not vote in favor."
While the US is disputing this particular version of events ("just 100% totally completely not true," the State Department declared Tuesday), the low-key response to an allegation by the leader of a foreign (albeit friendly) country that he makes US policy is a clear indication of the power and influence the Israelis actually wield in Washington.
Another sad aspect of the international response is the dithering by Arab countries on whether or not to hold an emergency Arab Summit to condemn the Israeli attack. The two largest Arab countries, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have been at the forefront of moves to block the convening of such a summit with the former reduced to acting as a mediator between Hamas and the Jewish state. The tepid Arab response has been thrown into sharp relief by the actions of Bolivia and Venezuela, which have both cut their diplomatic ties to Israel over the war, leading one Kuwaiti MP, Waleed al-Tabtabai, to suggest that the headquarters of the Arab League be moved from Cairo to Caracas. He said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez "has proved that he was more Arab than some Arabs." Gamal Abdel Nasser must be turning in his grave.
The people of Gaza have also been abandoned by their own government in the West Bank. Today we were treated to the spectacle of President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, proclaimed leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, snubbing an emergency Arab summit called specifically to discuss the ongoing attacks against his people. These are the same attacks his government has labelled “Israeli aggression” and demanded an immediate end to. Abbas preferred to hold talks in Ramallah with the hapless UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, at the end of which they both issued largely meaningless demands for a ceasefire.
On the other hand, Turkey, perhaps Israel's best friend in the Muslim World, has not held back in its evisceration of Israeli action. Turkey has been brokering indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel. But the war has stopped this process. Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sees the Israeli attack on Gaza as an act of betrayal and has refused any further contact with the Israelis, even reportedly denying Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's request to visit. According to Suat Kiniklioglu, spokesman of the country's Foreign Affairs Committee:Apparently giving voice to tens of thousands demonstrating on the streets of Ankara calling for a severing of ties with Israel, Erdogan, who last week warned that a "curse" would befall Israel over "the children who died in those bombs", recently told Parliament that his criticism "is not as harsh as phosphorus bombs or fire from tanks ... I am reacting as a human and a Muslim."
"We felt that our efforts and good offices in advancing the talks between Israelis and Syrians were damaged. It was extremely disrespectful because Prime Minister Olmert was here so recently, and this operation took place right after that!"