More than 700 people, the vast majority Palestinians, have died in 16 days of fighting in Gaza. The UN has accused Israel of not doing enough to protect civilians, citing air strikes and the shelling of homes and hospitals. It has also condemned Hamas and other militant groups for "indiscriminate attacks" on Israel. Both sides are coming under increasing pressure to end the fighting. Joining Keelin to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire in Gaza is Ian Black, the Guardian’s Middle East editor.
Earlier this week three Al Jazeera journalists were jailed on terrorism charges for seven years in Egypt in a case that has shocked human rights and press groups. The three men Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed were imprisoned on “outrageous and trumped up charges”, according to the London Independent’s Robert Fisk who joined Keelin this morning.
Three years have now past since the Arab Spring deposed a number of dictators across the Middle East, an uprising of people which inspired hope of a democratic future in countries associated for decades with corruption, rough justice or no justice at all. But that hope has since faded and as we enter a new year, the Middle East remains trapped in a mire of volatility and uncertainty. Here to take a look at the developments that may be expected in the coming months was Dr Vincent Durac who lectures in Middle Eastern politics at UCD.
The crisis in Syria appears to be moving back from the brink after US President Barrack Obama welcomed a Russian proposal for Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control. Opinion polls suggest Americans remain wary of a strike against Syria, though Mr Obama said he would continue to press the US Congress to back a resolution authorising him to take military action against Syria. The BBC’s World Affairs Editor John Simpson is a veteran of Middle East politics and he came into studio to talk to Sean.