AJC: Hamas-Fatah accord setback for peace

AJC Executive Director David Harris

The American Jewish Committee  says the Hamas-Fatah agreement signed  in Cairo a major setback for peace prospects in the region.

Theaccord, signed by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian Authority PresidentMahmoud Abbas, calls for new Palestinian elections, setting the stage for a possible Hamas-Fatah government.

“Let’s be clear,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris, “Hamas has not changed one iota since its founding as a terrorist entity bent on Israel’s destruction and the imposition of Sharia law on Palestinian society. The Hamas Charter spells it all out in chilling detail. And so does the reaction to the death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. While the Palestinian Authority welcomed the news, Hamas leaders called bin Laden ‘an Arab holy warrior’ and condemned the U.S. action.”

Five years ago, after Palestinian legislative elections, Hamas had a chance to reinvent itself and join with Fatah in the peace process. The price of admission, set by the Quartet, and endorsed by President Abbas, was to recognize Israel, accept existing Palestinian-Israeli agreements, and forswear violence.

Harris says that Hamas, true to its beliefs, not only rejected those three stipulations, but, in 2007, seized control of Gazain a violent coup, driving the Palestinian Authority out of the area.

“Tellingly, President Abbas did not condition this apparent reunion with Hamas on a commitment to peace and non-violence,” said Harris, noting that Hamas has once again reaffirmed publicly its refusal to recognize Israel.

“At this stage, it’s hard to tell if any Hamas-Fatah accord can hold,” added Harris, “but it does raise profound questions about the future direction of Palestinian politics and attitudes toward any peace process with Israel. The agreement also poses major challenges for the United States and European Union, which have rightly rejected any dealings whatsoever with Hamas, a policy that must continue in light of the terrorist group’s stance.”

 

More trouble in the Hamas-Fatah marriage

Palestinians split over Syria

By JONATHAN WOLFMAN

First, news comes that the Hamas/Palestinian Authority nupts may be fraying three days into its honeymoon over the United States’ killing of Osama bin Laden. Whereas Hamas called the action the unjustified murder of a decent and holy man, the PA understands it as a necessary forerunner to a more general peace.

Now comes word that the longstanding relationship between Hamas and Syria is increasingly strained.

Hamas has had its offices in Damascus for over 10 years and yet, reports Ethan Bronner in the New York Times, Syria appears to have demanded that Hamas publicly support the regime in its ongoing brutality against domestic dissent.

Hamas wants to remain neutral, an increasingly untenable position from a group that sees itself as a people’s movement.

The PA, for its part, is under no pressure from the Assad regime to condemn the murder of unarmed Syrian civilians and is not at all interested in being seen as supporting that reckless government.. So while Hamas is looking, even if tentatively now, for another possible home, Damascus knows that it needs Hamas to remain, in the eyes of millions in and outside of Syria, a player in any future negotiations with Israel and the West.

However this plays out, those who saw, Americans primarily, the reported reconciliation between the PA and Hamas as necessarily fixed and in place, should, perhaps, see this as a process and not one with necessarily negative outcomes for Israel. The unity in Israel over this along with the increasing disunity between the newlyweds may be all to the good.

Fatah, Hamas not so united over bin Laden’s death

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (l) and Palestinian Authority Pres. Mahmoud Abbas

By JONATHAN WOLFMAN

If anyone still imagines that the Palestinian Authority/Hamas mind-meld will last, one only has to look at their disparate responses to the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces.

The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reports that Hamas believes that President Obama had ordered the murder of a “holy warrior.” The PA, however, said that bin Laden’s death “could advance the cause of peace.”

This may not be the marriage made in Paradise as reactionary ideologues in the Near East had hoped.

Bibi: There are still those who would kill us

Netanyahu/MasaIsrael.org photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his weekly cabinet meeting by suggesting that the attitudes that led to the Holocaust are still, sadly, alive in many nations today.

At the start of the meeting, which coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu asked out loud whether the world has learned the lessons of the Holocaust. And then he answered his own question:

“… to our great regret, the answer is no,” the prime minister said.

“A renewed antisemitism is spreading. Various forces are joining together and flooding the world with antisemitism. The hatred of Jews and the denial of their existence have turned into hatred of the Jewish state and denial of its existence.”

Netanyahu said last week’s pact between Fatah and Hamas is indicative of this malaise.

“The agreement that was initialed recently between Hamas, which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, and the Fatah movement, must concern not only every Israeli, but all those in the world who aspire to see peace between us and our Palestinian neighbors,” he said.

“Peace is possible only with those who want to live in peace alongside us and not with those who want to destroy us.”

Netanyahu is preparing to fly to Europe to meet with leaders there. He is pledging to bring his concerns about the increased antisemitism to them.

Israel cuts funding to PA

The first repercussion of the announced unification of Fatah and Hamas has been announced by the Israeli government.

Israel says it will temporarily halt the transfer of 10s of millions of dollars in funds to the Palestinian Authority, UPI reports.

The Oslo Accords require the payment of money to the PA. But Israel says it’s stopping the flow of cash, at least for the moment, because it fears some of it will now be diverted to paying for arms for Hamas.

Israel had previously said it would not negotiate with a Palestinian entity that includes Hamas, which it views as a terrorist organization.
 

Palestinian reconciliation: Better now than later

A peace treaty with Abbas wouldn't be worth the paper it's written on. Photo: World Economic Forum

By AVI PERRY

It was inevitable.

Hamas and Fatah have signed a reconciliation agreement leading to a unity deal with elections planned for no later than September. Israeli President Shimon Peres called it, “a fatal mistake that will ruin the chances for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority as a country.”

I call it a blessing in disguise. We should not interrupt our enemy while they get it wrong.

This agreement sings like Pavarotti. It exposes the false facade, the teeth of this Palestinian Authority (PA) jaw trap, for the whole world to see and realize. Can you imagine signing peace with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, only to see it annulled a short time later by the next Palestinian, Hamas-inspired ruler? Wouldn’t it be easier, less risky to renounce it now, before letting it grow and solidify, before consenting to the rule of terrorists over Judea and Samaria?

It’s no secret. Hamas enjoys wide support among the Palestinian population in Gaza and in the West Bank. Hamas represents a critical share of the Palestinian population in these areas. Had real democracy been put into action in these territories Hamas could have gained a significant share or even a majority of the votes, the same as they had in 2006. The latest Hamas-Fatah agreement can only elucidate and bring to the fore what was not apparent to those peace-seeking naïve leaders of the West.

Let’s not bury our heads in the sand. Hamas is as Palestinian as orange is to an orange juice. And one can’t form a representative Palestinian government without sharing power with these blood-thirsty terrorists who keep calling for jihad against all Jews.

Signing a peace agreement with Abbas, a person pretending to be in charge, with a government that does not represent, or does not even rule over half of its people is not worth the paper the agreement is signed on. This type of an agreement is exceedingly unstable. It’s a ruse.

Fatah activist Kifah Radaydeh, who was interviewed on PA TV, could not have said it clearer:
“…we perceive peace as one of the strategies,” he said. “…It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; the goal is Palestine (i.e., the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea).”

When it comes to their intentions vis-à-vis Israel, Kifah Radaydeh has been candid; Hamas has been forthright; the PA and its president have been deceptive. They fooled the Israeli left, they fooled the world; they gained sympathy and support for their fake cause.

Not anymore. Should the Hamas-Fatah reunion take place the rest of the world will confront a new PA. The world will face up to an uncompromising Islamic regime that does not take cover behind a fake façade.

Had unambiguous logic dominated the thinking of existing world powers, The Hamas-Fatah reunion would have helped the U.S. and the EU put down that crack pipe and get a grip on reality. They would realize that blaming the Jewish state for lack of progress in the peace process with the Palestinians is like accusing Poland for instigating World War II, or holding the US responsible for setting off a war with al Qaeda on 9/11. They would realize that a majority of Palestinians are the ones who give Palestinians their bad name. They would recognize that peace in the Middle East will come when we all speak Esperanto, that agreements with unstable Islamic regimes are as dead as Latin.

The Hamas-Fatah reunion should serve as a revelation. It should help the Israeli government and the rest of the world realize that even if this reunion does not materialize at this instant it is a semi-dormant volcano ready to erupt at any moment in the very near future.

You can’t be safe living next to an active volcano unless you dismiss the Pompeii experience. You can’t make peace with a PA that changes its colors every other season unless you don’t mind paving the road to an all out deadly war.

Read Avi Perry at http://www.aviperry.org/

What, and who, is behind the Palestinian unity push?

Photo: Mustafa Hassona

By SOL LACHMAN

According to news reports, “Israel’s foreign minister warned on Thursday that Israel will not negotiate with a new Palestinian unity government that includes the Hamas militant group. Avigdor Lieberman spoke a day after rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reached a unity deal in Cairo to end their five year long dispute.”

The terrorists (or freedom fighters depending on your politics) have gotten together to strike a deal. It’s wonderful, or horrible (depending on your politics) and Israel, understandably (and intransigently or thankfully, depending on your politics) has rejected any deal that includes Horrible Hamas. Simple isn’t it?

The first lesson of Middle East politics is that whatever seemed to be the case was not and the situation was way more complicated than you thought.

To understand what’s really happening here we must try to unravel each of the details. First, let’s expose a few questions to the light of day.

The deal was brokered in Cairo by Egypt. But who in Egypt? We know it wasn’t Mubarak. Was it the army?

The Egyptian army controls the entry and exit into Gaza of most of the weapons that get to Hamas and they are primary players in the upholding of the peace treaty with Israel. Recent surveys of Egyptian citizens first showed a majority in favor of maintaining, now a majority opposing maintaining the peace treaty with Israel and the deal that gives Egyptian control of Sinai gas and oil wells along with a contract to sell that oil to Israel. That’s the same pipeline that has been successfully attacked on at least a couple of occasions and the Egyptian army was unable to prevent it; or did they wink?

Isn’t that the same pipeline that may be rendered obsolete in a very few years when the new discoveries of gas and oil by Israel come on line? Are those the same discoveries that are disputed by Lebanon, and preceded the entire eruption of democracy movements across to oil rich Arab nations by only a few months?

We are shocked, truly shocked, to see Arab monarchies and dictatorships propped up by the flow of capital for oil that tied them to the West disrupted by cries for democracy that show them for what they are: brutal, corrupt, monsters who will eat their own people for a Swiss bank account stuffed with cash. Is there a connection between the discoveries of huge, untapped oil and gas reserves in Israeli territory (and in the Northeastern USA) and the toppling of those dictatorships?

Europe, long beholden to Libya for sweet crude, and even as recently as last year willing to release the Locherbie killer on a ridiculous pretext, suddenly has discovered that Gaddafi is a really, really bad guy. Gives one pause, does it not?

Much more to be examined in the context of Cairo, its meaning and who the real power brokers are and their motivations. It will not be discussed in the Fox News report or in the New York Times. It will be important, but you will nonetheless continue to be treated in the condescending way that the news media treats its users, as retarded children who need to be protected from the truth and from yourselves.

We have seen that in the Muslim world, “democracy” may not always be benign. Hamas, we remember was elected.

Now let us move to the players themselves.

Fatah is  run by Abbas out of Ramallah in Samaria and Hamas in Gaza. If Abbas and Hamas are getting together, one of them is about to be eaten by the other. My first inclination is that it is Abbas who will be served for lunch. The only “authority” holding up the Palestinian Authority is the Israel Defense Force and the massive bribes paid by Abbas (masquerading as payroll) to his “police force.”

On the other hand, we have also seen Hamas recently embroiled is bitter infighting with other Gaza-based terror groups. That was the story behind the story of the slaying of the kidnapped Italian who was masquerading as a peace activist and journalist. In the Arab world, apparent peace agreements are made only to stave off total destruction. Leadership is established by being more anti-Israel than the next guy and is demonstrated by sponsorship of terror attacks, missile attacks, murders of civilians and sometimes actual war. It doesn’t matter if you lose, you gain leadership by willing to send underlings to be cannon fodder.

Now to he Israeli response to the Cairo friendship fest. First, you must understand that a parliamentary system such as Israel’s is different than our government. Instead of the checks and balances arising from the branches of government who are comfortably elected for a solid term in office, the checks and balances arise from the political parties themselves. There is only one legislative body, the 120-member Knesset and the prime minister and other important ministers are also members of Knesset, so there is a constant jockeying for leverage and power, and although there is a specified term, elections can and most often are called by the prime minister before the term is over.

Why the lesson in elementary civics Israeli-style? Because Avigdor Miller, Israel’s foreign minister (roughly analogous to the secretary of state in our system, and traditionally the third most powerful in the hierarchy after the prime minister and defense minister), who is perhaps the most right-leaning important player in the Netanyahu government may or may not be speaking about government policy. He may also be speaking for domestic consumption, getting ready for the next election and firing a public shot across Netanyahu’s bow to warn him not to make more concessions in the face of pressure from the United States, something Bibi has been rumored to be contemplating.

The most substantial and I believe truthful statement in this story was when Lieberman said that the agreement was the result of “panic on both sides.” If anything is made more clear for you, dear reader, I hope that these principles of understanding the convolutions of the news out of the Middle East remain with you:

  1. Where something happens, the sponsors or brokers may matter more than the substance of what happens. Motivation is mostly hidden.
  2. Deals are just as often made out of weakness as strength, and incredible amounts of cash may change hands to bring parties to the table.
  3. Public statements are made for a variety of reasons that are not directly related to the content of the announcement.
  4. The Arabs always over-play their hand.
  5. Leadership in the Arab and Muslim world is attained and maintained by being more anti-Israel than the next guy.
  6. All Muslim countries are ruled by a draconian minority, we have yet to see true majority rule. Government is maintained by terror when strong and payoffs when weak.

Whatever you read in the news is spoon-fed for your consumption and is about as connected to reality as (you should pardon the analogy) Santa Claus is to how the presents arrived under the tree. There is a connection, and the presents are really there, but,  well, you get the picture.

As Mr. Rogers (not former Sec. of State William Rogers!) used to say, “it’s a lovely day in the neighborhood.” And I sincerely wish you a lovely day in your neighborhood, one tending toward the light of truth. Won’t you be my neighbor?

Hamas-Fatah alliance threatens peace process

Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar

By RYAN JONES
Israel Today

A year ago, the Palestinian Authority defeated American efforts to kick-start the peace process by refusing to sit at the negotiating table with Israel.

Since the start of this year, the Palestinians have been laying the groundwork for a unilateral declaration of independence backed by the UN General Assembly.

Now, the regime of so-called Palestinian “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas is determined to put the final nail in the coffin of the peace process by reconciling with blood-soaked terrorist organization Hamas.

On Wednesday, Hamas and Abbas’ own Fatah faction signed a preliminary reconciliation agreement brokered by the interim government in Egypt. The document is meant to be a first step toward a Hamas-Fatah unity government.

If the two groups come together, the U.S. Congress is threatening to cut off American financial aid to the Palestinians. US law forbids granting financial aid to recognized terrorist organizations.

Israeli Prime Minister says the move will effectively kill any chances of a bilateral peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hamas agrees.

“Our plan does not involve negotiations with Israel or recognizing it,” Hamas delegation leader Mahmoud Zahar told The Jerusalem Post. “It will be impossible for an interim government to take part in the peace process with Israel.”

World powers had previously expressed willingness to accept Hamas as part of the peace process, but only if it recognized Israel’s right to exist.

It should be remembered that Hamas actually holds a majority in the Palestinian parliament after being overwhelmingly voted into power by the Palestinian public in 2006.


Article courtesy Israel Today Magazine

Uniting of Palestinian factions changes peace process

Fatah, Hamas agreement

By JONATHAN WOLFMAN

Competing Palestinian factions have before, at least three times, initialed peace accords only to see them wither then break out in fractious fighting.

What makes the announced treaty between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas different is, as Debka reports, no one in Jerusalem or in Washington seems to have had an inkling that an accord was even in the wind.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, reacted sharply to the PA. “You can’t have peace both with Israel and Hamas,” he said, noting that Hamas has never given up its longstanding intent to destroy Israel.

Debka reports:

This time, the interests of both Palestinian factions are served: It fulfills PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ ambition to appear before the UN General Assembly in September demanding recognition of Palestinian statehood within the 1967 borders on behalf of a united people. Hamas’ political chief Khaled Meshaal is looking for a new address for his Damascus headquarters away from President Bashar Assad’s bloody crackdown on dissent.

But the deal struck in Cairo Wednesday was galvanized most of all by Netanyahu’s secret track with Washington and Ankara for patching up the Israeli-Turkish quarrel.

The intent is to have elections within a year that will cover both Gaza and the West Bank. Debka suggests that the idea of combined elections is an indicator of just how weak the PA’s position has been in the minds of Palestinians and that it has grown convinced that neither Washington or Turkey, through which it has worked with Israel, is able to broker an overall deal. Again, Debka:

Abbas was pressed into major concessions to Hamas. If the initialed pact is finalized and he eventually delivers on those concessions, his dominant position and that of his Fatah on the West Bank will be seriously compromised, not to mention Israeli security interests. Abbas agreed to a full exchange of prisoners, meaning all the Hamas operatives jailed on the West Bank would go free, especially those captured in the last two years as a result of two years of US-Israel-Palestinian counter-terror operations on the West Bank. Their release will make it harder than ever for Netanyahu to argue that he can’t release all the dangerous terrorists Hamas is demanding in return for [captures Israeli soldier] Gilead Shalit.

Suspects in Italian activist’s death killed

Two suspects in the killing of Italian human rights activist Vittorio Arrigoni in the Gaza have been killed in a clash with security forces, Hamas says in a written statement.

A third suspect was wounded as were three civilians.

Arrigoni was killed just hours after he was kidnapped in Gaza. Initially, Hamas tried to pin his killing on Israel. But now Hamas is acknowledging that an al Qaeda-backed group was responsible for his murder.