Lead story

Uneasy calm over Gaza

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

he guns have fallen silent on the Gaza front this week while Palestinian and Israeli representatives hold indirect peace talks in Cairo. Israel withdrew its troops from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning as a 72-hour Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Hamas went into effect as a first step towards a longer-term deal.

And an uneasy calm hangs over the West Bank where 10 Palestinians were killed and some 600 more were wounded last week in anti-Israeli riots in Arab East Jerusalem, Ramallah and other parts of the occupied territories.

In Cairo Egyptian mediators met a high-level Israeli delegation late on Tuesday, a day after conferring with a Palestinian delegation which included envoys from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad resistance movements. The Zionists want the complete demilitarisation of the Gaza Strip, which has been run by the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, since 2007. Hamas wants Israel to free all its Palestinian prisoners and end its crippling blockade of the Strip.

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A million set to strike on 14th October

THREE major unions, GMB Unison and Unite — who together represent more than a million local government workers — have agreed to escalate their dispute over pay with a campaign running into the autumn.

The three unions have agreed that their members will run a co-ordinated strike of their local government and school members in England, Wales and the north of Ireland on Tuesday 14th October.

The strike will be just a few days before the TUC organised national demonstration on 18th October calling for decent pay.

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No more wars!

MONDAY’S London Evening Standard carried a front page picture of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge standing solemnly at the Whitehall ceremony to commemorate the start of the First World War next to a splash headline: “We salute those who died for us”. How appropriate — millions of young men and some women going off to war in Europe in a fight to preserve the wealth and privilege of the British royal family and ruling class from the ambitions of the rival German royal family and ruling class.

The recognised start of the war was the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo but we all know that was just the trigger to let off tensions that had been rising between rival capitalist empires seeking to stake out control of vast swathes of the world for sources of raw materials and cheap labour and markets to sell their manufactured commodities to.

Britain and France already had vast empires in Africa and Asia. Germany had some parts of Africa but not enough to satisfy its new burgeoning industrial sector. So it was impatient to go to war with its neighbours and carve out a bit more of the world for itself. It was held back for a while by a shortage of nitrates — the basis of most explosives at the time. The biggest world source of nitrates was rich deposits of guano (bird droppings) in Chile and importing the stuff from Chile was difficult while Britain’s Royal Navy “ruled the waves”.

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