Corker Visits Israel, West Bank Settlements And Gaza

Monday, July 20, 2009
Senator Corker greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
Senator Corker greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Senator Bob Corker returned on Monday from a weekend trip to Israel where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to discuss the resumption of Middle East peace negotiations and see firsthand the disputed settlements on the West Bank.

As a result of a meeting when Prime Minister Netanyahu was in the United States, and with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell expected to return to the region this month, Senator Corker wanted to focus on the issues central to reaching a future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Senator Corker also made a brief trip into Gaza, and while there, saw the tunnels at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt where supplies and goods are being trafficked.

Senator Corker said, “In my meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I expressed my strong support for the long term relationship and many mutual interests shared between the United States and Israel and my hope that peace discussions between him, George Mitchell and Palestinian leaders are productive. We know that the issues are complex, particularly the domestic political currents Prime Minister Netanyahu must navigate in reaching a conclusion that Israelis and the international community can accept and simultaneously appropriately dealing with Israel’s security needs.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken often about the need for security and economic growth for the West Bank and Prime Minister Fayyad has demonstrated his commitment to enhancing security and shown an ability to create the conditions for economic growth. In addition, Mr. Fayyad has directly taken on Hamas through his crackdown in the city of Nablus and other areas in the West Bank.

“Based on the areas of commonality I found with these two leaders, I told Mr. Netanyahu that I found it hard to believe that they had never met or even talked on the phone. Prime Minister Fayyad appears not to be an ideologue and more pragmatic than previous Palestinian Leaders. During our meeting I told Prime Minister Netanyahu that when the time is right a meeting with he and Prime Minister Fayyad could be constructive.”

Since Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization, seized control from the Palestinian Authority in Gaza two years ago, Israel has limited cross border traffic into Gaza to humanitarian assistance and some other essential goods. Hamas has subsequently permitted the construction of hundreds of new smuggling tunnels for the trafficking of materials from Egypt into Gaza.

After being in Gaza on a visit coordinated by the United Nations, where several of the meetings focused on the smuggling activity, Senator Corker drove unannounced to the city of Rafah to see the tunnels firsthand.

“The unrestricted flow of goods across the Egyptian border, which common sense says must include weapons and other illicit activity, is stunning,” Senator Corker said. “One of the many problems this leads to is that Hamas takes a tariff from all the goods that are smuggled across the border through hundreds of these tunnels, which enriches this terrorist organization financially in the short term. There has to be a better way of managing the need for humanitarian assistance and, at the same time, assessing sanctions.”

Senator Corker meets with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Jerusalem.
Senator Corker meets with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Jerusalem.

Remaining Remarkable Stokes Photo Books Go On Sale; Zarzours Open Saturday For MAINX24

The final copies of the Remarkable Stokes Collection are on sale at Zarzours restaurant on the Southside.   The Chattanooga photo album was a big hit two years ago when almost 3,000 copies were sold.   There are only 224 copies remaining and there are no plans for a new edition.   Also at Zarzours are the Chattanooga Railroad book as well as the new ... (click for more)

3 New Commissioners Sworn In At Soddy Daisy Commission Meeting

The Soddy Daisy Commission meeting Thursday night began with a swearing in ceremony of three newly elected commissioners. Max Lowe began his first term as commissioner and long-time members of the board, Jim Adams and Gene Shipley will be returning for the next four-year term. Following the installation, the vote was unanimous for appointing Robert Cothran as mayor and Jim Adams ... (click for more)

Tennessee River Gorge Trust Trail Warriors Make You Want To Take A Hike

Trail warriors of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust make you want to take a hike.  The Tennessee River Gorge Trust staff and volunteers make a huge difference in the Chattanooga community and have been making the outdoor areas around the River Gorge clean and protected for more than 30 years.  They deserve to be recognized and praised for all of the hard work they have ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Bible In Gatlinburg

The day after fire rained and reigned in Gatlinburg, Isaac McCord, 24 and from Tullahoma, was picking up debris at the popular Dollywood attraction. The theme park had minimal damage compared to the hundreds of structure either lost or severely damaged in Sevier County. He picked up a piece of paper that was in a puddle of water, beneath a bench. “It was one of the most surreal ... (click for more)

Both CCS Teams Win By 24 Points Over Boyd-Buchanan

Chattanooga Christian basketball coach Eddie Salter holds some really tough practices with his Chargers and he expects them to transfer that high-energy to game day. It seemed to work on Thursday night as Salter’s Chargers raced to a 21-5 lead after the first quarter and never looked back as they improved to 6-1 with the impressive 64-40 non-district win over visiting Boyd-Buchanan. ... (click for more)

Eric Voges, Chris Woodruff Selected for Tenn. Tennis Hall of Fame

A pair of former U. of Tennessee tennis players and former state high school champions Eric Voges (McCallie School/UT) and Chris Woodruff (Knox Bearden HS/ UT) will be inducted into the Tennessee Tennis Hall of Fame January 28 in Nashville. Voges was a UT captain in 1984 and 1985, was a TSSAA state doubles champion in 1979 and 1980 and a Chattanooga Rotary singles champion ... (click for more)