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.

Tennessee State Trooper Arrests Clarksville Man On Drug Charges In Marion County

A Tennessee state trooper initiated a traffic stop on Tuesday that resulted in the drug arrest of a Clarksville man in Marion County. Trooper George Stephens stopped a 2009 Nissan Sentra after observing the vehicle was following too closely on Interstate 24 westbound near the 153 mile marker at approximately 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Upon initial contact, the trooper noticed ... (click for more)

Crime Stoppers: Robbery At Subway On Rossville Boulevard

Crime Stoppers and the Chattanooga Police Department are seeking information on a robbery from a business that occurred on Jan. 14, at 3416 Rossville Blvd. at the Subway. A store employee stated that a black male entered the business and ordered food. Upon receiving his food, the suspect went to the bathroom and out of sight. Another customer ordered food and once they left, ... (click for more)

Shelley Andrews Will Be Missed

Shelley Andrews was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and most effective laborers in our community.  Her work with the Friends of Moccasin Bend was exemplary.  She listened, she learned and she led with dignity and class. Her brave battle with ovarian cancer was a testament to her positive spirit and commitment to her work on behalf of the people of this region. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: He’s Exempt From Drunk

I love the old story about a popular Senator who, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, was asked late one evening, “Sir, what if we get bombed?” to which came the quick reply, “I’d be absolutely delighted … I can get one of my aides to drive us home afterwards.” You think of stuff like that when word comes from Kentucky that state legislator Brandon Smith was caught driving erratically ... (click for more)

Libby Peigen Named Soddy-Daisy Volleyball Coach

Libby Peigen, daughter of Ooltewah coach Elaine Peigen, has been named head volleyball coach at Soddy-Daisy, replacing Lorri Johnson. Peigen had been head middle school and assistant varsity coach at East Hamilton before taking over the Lady Trojans' program. She played volleyball at Ooltewah and Lee University. The announcement of Peigen's hiring was originally posted ... (click for more)

UTC Softball Team Prepares for 2015 Season

It’s nine days to the season opener – Plainsman Invite (Auburn, Ala.) – and the UTC Indoor Softball Facility at Warner Park was alive with the sounds of batting and infield practice Wednesday afternoon as the 20 Lady Moc players plus coaches were on hand for 2015 Media Day. Located in their familiar spot as pre-season Southern Conference favorites, UTC returns a strong ... (click for more)