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US blocks cease-fire, gives Israel carte blanche to continue killing in Gaza
As the Israeli devastation of Gaza enters its second week and signs point to an imminent ground invasion of the densely populated and impoverished Palestinian territory, the US government is working to block diplomatic initiatives for a cease-fire in order to give Israel a free hand to intensify its assault on the defenseless population.
While Israeli planes, warships and missiles continued to level civilian buildings, mosques and homes, and thousands of Israeli troops with tanks, artillery and armored vehicles awaited the order to enter the Palestinian enclave, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared outside the White House Friday morning following a briefing on the Gaza crisis with President George W. Bush. In a terse statement, Rice once again placed the blame for the Israeli aggression on Hamas and underscored Washington's support for Israel's rejection of cease-fire proposals from France, the European Union and a number of Arab governments.
"We are working toward a cease-fire that would not allow a reestablishment of the status quo ante where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out of Gaza.... [W]e need a cease-fire that is durable and sustainable," Rice said. By placing such conditions on any cessation of Israeli attacks, Rice effectively ruled out an early truce in a one-sided war that has already claimed the lives of at least 430 Palestinians and injured another 2,200.
The mantra of a "durable and sustainable" cease-fire echoes almost verbatim the line adopted by Rice and the Bush administration to oppose a cease-fire during the 33-day Israeli assault on Lebanon in the summer of 2006. In the midst of that conflict, while Israeli planes and troops were devastating large parts of southern Lebanon and Beirut in an unsuccessful attempt to wipe out the nationalist-Islamist Hezbollah movement, Rice publicly urged Israel to reject demands for a cease-fire and called the Israeli assault "the birth pangs of a new Middle East."
Her appearance Friday once again highlighted US complicity in an Israeli war crime against the Arab masses. In rejecting the "status quo ante," Rice made no mention of the 18-month Israeli blockade of Gaza, which has brought the region's economy to a halt and produced a humanitarian disaster.
Neither Rice nor the Israelis have spelled out precisely what they mean by an end to the status quo ante, but the logic of their position is either "regime change"—the toppling of the popularly elected Hamas government in Gaza—or the massacre of a large portion of the civilian population.