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Who’s Responsible for the One Country for Two Nations Campaign in the PA?

Billboards of Palestinian and Israeli flags were raised recently in the Palestinian authority with the slogan: “One country for 5 million Arabs and 6 million Jews”. The Palestinians are speculating it to be a Fatah spin targeted to put pressure on Israel. Or are the Israelis themselves are responsible?

During the political deadlock between Israel and the Palestinian authority, a campaign calling to forsake the idea of two countries and suggests the groundbreaking notion of one federation, has recently appeared in the Palestinian authority. Behind it stands a mysterious group that refers to itself as “el-tachmul” – integration. The group’s campaign is echoed all over the Palestinian authority through billboards displaying the slogan: “One democratic country for 5 million Arabs and 6 million Jews”.

The vague campaign has generated rumors in the Palestinian Authority as to the people responsible; From the Fatah trying to do a political spin that will pressure Israel, to Israel itself that is rumored to plan to append most of the west bank and to civilianize the Palestinians that live there.

“It is unclear who is responsible for the campaign and there is no specific group that declared it as its own, it is believed that the people standing behind it are Palestinians academics and intellectuals” said Sammar Machluf, CEO of the “One Voice” organization, which supports the two separate countries solution.

Machluf also said that the Palestinian public is most curious regarding the existence of Israeli cooperation with the group behind the campaign. The mentioned billboards, however, have quickly been removed by Palestinian activists that oppose the Israeli flag being posted on the billboards and mere idea that stands behind it.

If said cooperation exists between the mysterious “el-tachmul” group and a similar organization in Israel, the same billboards are soon to be displayed within the state of Israel. One must wonder whether the Israeli publics accept the slogan “One democratic country for 5 million Arabs and 6 million Jews”.

Palestinian elections move forward, but will this change anything?

A voter registration office was opened in the Gaza Strip by the political rivals Hamas and Fatah last week, bringing the region one step forward toward presidential and parliamentary elections. These are set to happen later this spring, and we could see once more the two rivals pit against each other in a democratic process. But as this step is taken, and Palestine moves toward yet another election, will this really change much of anything in the region? Will peace prevail? It’s hard to see that as a likely outcome with everything that goes on behind the scenes.

We all recall how the last elections went. In 2006, Hamas won the elections, and it took a year until they managed to get control over Gaza, which they had to wrestle by force. Meanwhile, nearly the whole world considers them as a terrorist group, because of a multitude of attacks on civilians, which they say were provoked by Israel military forces.

Meanwhile, Israel isn’t sitting by, and is arresting any member of Hamas it can find, accusing them of being terrorists, some of which were actually planning to be delegates in the coming election. Tensions aren’t any lower than they’ve been in decades, and while a few people actively work toward peace, there’s a lot of anger in the air. Regardless who wins this election, once again it won’t be done without violence, that much is certain. History is very plain, and tends to repeat itself, especially when it comes to this region of the world.

On the one hand, if Hamas wins, then the situation will be the same as in 2006, with few countries recognizing them as a legitimate organization, and few people willing to let them take power without violence. On the other hand, if Fatah wins, it will be hailed by the world as a victory for peace, which will anger Hamas and they are unlikely to sit still, prompting once again more violence. The situation has been going on for decades, and there seems to be no solution in sight.

Imposing peace has never worked without a strong military presence behind, and everyone is careful not to appear biased or to provoke the anger of the world powers. As a result, the same things keep happening, with Israel trying to bring some order to what they consider their lands, prompting retaliation strikes on civilian populations, which in turn brings more violence. It’s a circle that won’t be broken by yet another round of elections.

Overall, it’s still nice to see a peace process go forward, and this action of a new voting booth should be applauded. But in reality, it’s unlikely to change much at all.

The War on Terror Chapter Two

Of Hamas

Last Tuesday, Fatah and Hamas signed a preliminary unity deal with Hamas and 11 other factions in Egypt. This happened one day after Hamas mourned the eradication of Osama Bin Laden. A formal ceremony is held this Wednesday.

Khaled Mashaal, the number one leader of Hamas who has been living in Syria since his exile from Jordan last year, arrived in Egypt on Sunday as Fatah and Hamas for meeting concerning the new unity government.

Islamic Jihad as well as other terrorist organizations were present for the signing; President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, sent a representative for the preliminaries. He is scheduled to arrive for the formal signing ceremony Wednesday.

Mashaal’s deputy, Musa Abu Marzouk, told reporters:

“We won’t recognize the Zionist entity. Our rights are still usurped and it’s illogical for us to recognize the Zionist entity because that would be at the expense of our stolen lands and our people in the refugee camps…Most of the Arab countries don’t recognize Israel, and yet they continue to deal with the international community…”

Osama bin LadenMeanwhile, Hamas are not the only local yokels denouncing America’s execution of Osama bin laden. Israeli MK, Ibrahim Sarsoor, of the Arab party, Ra’am Ta’al, called the assassination a murder.

In a statement to the press he said:

“The mixing of Arab and Muslim blood into election campaigns in the U.S. and Israel is no longer uncommon…Anyone who follows the cycle of blood and elections in American-Israeli culture in the last ten years will see it clearly and without a doubt….I cannot rule out that the murder of Bin Laden was the start of Obama’s election campaign for a second term, especially in view of the fact that the Republican majority in Congress is waiting to pounce on him over his political steps on both foreign and internal affairs…The murder of Sheikh Bin Laden must cause us to pause and consider not only the event itself, but also what stands behind the action, so that we raise the hard questions whose time has come.”

The New York Times reported Hamas’ mourning of Bin Laden; but an Israeli Arab MK? well…

“The Arab nation has taken its first steps toward its second independence through the revolutions against the oppressive regimes…The West in general and the US in particular should learn the lessons as soon as possible. Even if it murders jihad leaders and spills the blood of pure innocents in Arab and Muslim countries, topples regimes and replaces them with ones more loyal to it, the US will not succeed in changing the feelings of hatred of our nation toward it, especially on the Palestinian question.”

Sound like extreme Muslimism? Vitriol, almost? Repeated attempts to block Sarsoor’s, Ra’am Ta’al, party from running in the Knesset have been blocked by the Israeli Supreme Court.

Osama bin Laden’s regime, al Qaeda has networks around Israels’ borders in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. Al Qaeda cells based in the Gaza Strip carried out many armed attacks launched on the Gaza-Israeli border and Jewish civilian locations. For instance, the murder of Italian pro-Palestinian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, on April 14 was an “operation” commanded by an al Qaeda operative from Jordan named, Abdul Rahman al-Briziti.

Counter-terror sources at DebkaFile revealed that Al Qaeda’s units:

“Are ensconced in the southern, central and northeastern sectors of the Gaza Strip: The southern cluster is based in the northern and southern districts of Khan Younis, a town of 220,000 inhabitants 4 kilometers east of the Mediterranean coast and 1.5 kilometers from the Israeli border…A second group more or less controls the town of Deir al Balakh, a town of 150,000 in the central region. A third is embedded in the Zaitun and Nuseyrat districts of Gaza City.”

Debkafile’s counter-terror sources reported that:

“These Al Qaeda operatives have built themselves at least six fortified villas in those three locations. Like the Abbottabad villa-fortress where Osama bin Laden was killed Sunday night by a team of US Seals, the Gaza villas have top security and dominate the surrounding skylines…The success of the American, Israeli and Egyptian agencies in foiling a major terrorist attack in Sinai was played down by Washington and Jerusalem, conduct that deserves an explanation in the new anti-al Qaeda climate.”

Hamas’ de facto head honcho, Ismayil Haniyeh, was the only Muslim leader in the world to “bluntly condemn” the United States for killing Osama bin Laden.

Ismail al-Ashqar, a Hamas lawmaker, described the long-awaited capture and execution as “state terrorism that America carries out against Muslims.”

DebkaFile reported that:

“In private conversations, Hamas leaders confess that they really do regard the United States as the worst and most blood-stained oppressor of Middle East Arabs, aside from Israel. Despite their ideological differences, they genuinely regard Al Qaeda and its fighters as heroic mujahedin and prized allies.”

On Wednesday, May 4, Khaled Meshaal will fly into Cairo from the Hamas headquarters in Damascus to meet Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and concertize a unity pact.

Of Egypt

Meanwhile, Egyptian Finance Minister, Samir Radwan, has been quoted saying the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, which in post Mubarak Egypt does not “obligate his country to sell natural gas to the Jewish State.”

In an interview with a local newspaper during a visit to Kuwait last Sunday, Radwan stressed that gasoline prices must be updated and adjusted to the price levels of the global market, regardless of whether the exports go to Jordan, Israel, Syria or Spain.

Of Osama Bin Laden

A Kuwaiti man called Abu Ahmad is reportedly the inadvertent source that led the United States to the al Qaeda mastermind’s hideout Last July.

The DailyBeast reported:

“CIA operatives tracked the man while he was driving a white Suzuki in Pakistan.Eventually, the courier led them right to the sprawling mansion where bin Laden had been hiding. The most recent cache of WikiLeaks files related to Guantanamo Bay turns up Ahmad’s name several times. The Kuwaiti is linked closely to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a key planner of the 9/11 attacks. It’s not clear whether he was at the compound during the raid.”

In 2003, the American government released pictures of Saddam Hussein’s dead sons Uday and Qusay Hussein, however, only after their bodies had been worked on by a mortician. The United States is debating whether to release the photos of a dead Osama bin Laden in order to squash rampant conspiracy theories. The haste with which the corpse was thrown into the sea seems strange to many inquisitive citizens.

PA Unity Government Means No Cash from Israel

The World Bank says it will be providing $10 million in aid to Palestinian citizens.

According to the international body the funds will go to 5,500 families in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. A similar program in 2009 and 2010 also provided direct aid to some 25,000 families. The difference this year is the expected formation of a unity government between Hamas and Fatah.

When the World Bank donation happens it will be undermining a message much of the Western world stands for. That is ignoring a unity government whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish State.

UnityIn a letter to Mahmoud Abbas, Republican Representative Kay Granger and Democratic Representative Nita Lowey expressed their “serious concerns” about any efforts to seek UN recognition of an independent Palestinian state, with or without a unity government.

The message said:

“Our ability to support current and future aid would be severely threatened if you abandon direct negotiations with Israel and continue with your current efforts…”

Meanwhile, as an answer to news of the Fatah/Hamas unity government, Israel will be withholding tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority. The amount is $89 million dollars, being frozen by the Finance Ministry.

Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salaam Fayyad, however said Israel’s decision to withhold money from the PA will not stop the unity agreement.

Fayyad said the PA is:

“In contact with all international influential forces and parties to stop Israel from taking these measures…Threats … will not deter us from concluding our reconciliation process. It is our policy and we must work harder to end our divisions as soon as possible…”

Teaching the Holocaust in Palestine

Hamas and Fatah refuse to allow any form of Holocaust education in UNRWA-run schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Hamas says doing so would be a “challenge to the feelings of the Palestinians.”

They accused UNRWA of conducting a political agenda that is not conducive to the interests of Palestinians and “violates their culture and unchangeable values.”

They also said it would pave the road for normalization with Israel.

“This is an attempt to impose on us the culture of normalization with the occupation…They want us to accept the tales and lies to win sympathy.”

Hamas insists the Holocaust is a lie, concocted to win sympathy with the “usurping entity” at the expense of the rights of the Palestinians.

On the matter, the Hamas ministry warned UNRWA:

“This is a flagrant intervention in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and a violation of regulations that have existed since the establishment of UNRWA.”

Representatives said schools should dedicate classes to talking about the “occupation’s terror and racism” instead.

But it’s not just Hamas. Senior Fatah official and head of the PLO “refugee department,” Zakariya al-Agha, said he too is opposed to teaching the Nazi Holocaust in Palestinian schools.

Another Fatah representative, Salah al-Wadiyeh, said the Holocuast was a “big lie.”

He said, the Palestinians, “know more than any other people the history of their enemies and their false claims and lies.”

Despite their agreement on the big Holocaust myth, however, Fatah and Hamas will not be joining up to form a unity government. Fatah representatives have spoken out about their disapproval of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s plans to keep Hamas in control of Gaza.

Meanwhile, a new joint effort between the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum and the Shas party’s Ma’ayan Hinuch Torani is working on enhancing the Holocaust education of the educational network’s haredi Sephardi students.

Palestinian Unity Government

A unity government is being formed between Hamas and Fatah representatives. It is to be headed by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, and will include members from both factions, as well as independents.

Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, along with a number of Hamas leaders, have acquiesced the new plans. Under the conditions for the unity government, Hamas may continue ruling in the Gaza Strip, so long as it abstains from the use of violence.

Previously, Hamas approached the offer with suspicion. One of the group’s leaders, Salah al-Bardawil said “Fayyad does not represent the Palestinian leadership” and that due to his lack of legitimacy, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority is “not authorized to speak about public affairs.

However, in recent days, the ice has begun to melt. Mahmoud a-Zahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza says he is open to the deal; and according to Israel Radio, Fayad says he is willing to go to Gaza to discuss further, the unity deal with Hamas. Also, Nabil Shaath, a top official in the Fatah Party, told The Associated Press that he would go to Gaza soon to negotiate with Hamas leaders to work out the terms for a unity deal.

Meanwhile, two Grad-model Katyusha rockets hit the southern Israeli town Beersheba for the first time since Operation Cast Lead. The rockets fell in a residential Beersheba neighborhood; one rocket landing in the yard of a home, causing large damage. No physical injuries were reported but five people were treated for shock.

Last Wednesday afternoon, an explosive device detonated while IDF soldiers passed near the Gaza security fence during a routine operation and a mortar shell was fired at the force. No one was injured and no damage was reported.

Along with the border skirmish, five mortar shells fired from Gaza landed in the Sedot Negev Regional Council area on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a strange flipflop for American President Obama, was instructing the U.S. representative to the United Nations to veto the Security Council resolution, last Friday, that would have condemned Israel’s West Bank settlements as illegal.

Palestinian Areopagitica II

Journalists

The international press freedom organization, Reporters Without Borders, has claimed that Palestinian journalists are victims of:

Palestinian journalists

“Collateral damage in the years-long conflict,between the Fatah and Gaza factions. In both Hamas’ Gaza Strip and Fatah’s West Bank, journalists are participators in a depressing and desperate game of ping-pong.”

The Reporters Without Borders piece paid special attention to Palestinian journalists held in unlawful detention, urging politicians for their release.

In august, Ahmed Fayadh of the aljazeera.net news website, part of the Palestinian media opposition to Hamas was beaten by Gaza police.

In late October, 26-year-old atheist and blogger Walid al-Husseini was jailed in Qalqilya in the West Bank for “blasphemy against the Prophet and the Koran.” al-Husseini also, prior to his arrest had created a Facebook page called, “Allah.” On it he wrote poetic stanzas imitating Quaranic verses.

Here is a piece from the young man’s blog, “Nour Al Akl” or The Enlightened Mind:

“My dear visitors, I am seeking the truth. In my writings, I am not trying to twist facts to the favor of my arguments. I am just posing questions that many of us do not dare to ask and I urge you to be honest with yourselves while attempting to find the answers. We are not two parties at war against one another. We will not be dragged into a futile attempt to prove who is the fittest by discrediting each other. If someone can refute my arguments and prove the fallacy of my logic, I will listen and respond rationally. I will not mock his opinions or manipulate words to prove my points. I am not an enemy of Islam or Muslims; after all, we are all seeking the same thing – the truth. To be more precise, I know I am not the Muslim’s best friend. I am not against Islam in particular, I am just a human being who is tired of watching the world collapse around us because of religions and religious strifes. It is ironic how Islamic scholars contribute such wars and destruction to the lack of faith. My dear believer, I urge you to use the brains you were given to seek your own truth instead of lazily relying on the misleading pacifying translations and interpretations of others. I have faith in you! I know you will not settle for fake half truths that were clearly manipulated to serve the best interest of those who promote them. I hope you are a truth seeker not just someone who is looking for a validation for what he believes to be the truth.”

Politicians

Hamas-FatahOn Monday, Fatah accused Hamas of preventing their leaders in Gaza from traveling to the West Bank to attend a party meeting.

Mediators have been talking with Hamas about permitting the members of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council to travel to Ramallah “and there has been no positive result, ” said Faissal Abu Shahla, a Gaza-based council member.

For the third time this year, Hamas rejected travel requests to the nine members who are currently in Gaza, Abu Shahla told Xinhua.

Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, elected in 2009, will meet Tuesday to discuss the peace talk stalemate with Israel and other issues. President Abbas will chair the meeting.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

While the PA attempts to convince the world that they are ready for skyscrapers, country clubs and an Imax theatre, Egypt will host a set of negotiations between Fatah and Hamas leaders to determine a solution to the ugly, ever-widening schism between them.

Previously, the meeting was to be held in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on October 20th. However, the scheduled timing was delayed due to Hamas’ rejection of a Fatah request to hold the negotiations in a different Arab country.

Meanwhile in Gaza, citizens suffer from a lack of electricity, casting much of the strip into a daily eight-hour blackout.

“The lack of electricity is largely due to a protracted disagreement between Gaza’s Hamas government and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank over who will pay the territory’s electricity bill, estimated at more than 80 million shekels ($21 million) each month.”

Reported Liam Stack of the Christian Science Monitor,

“Both Hamas and Fatah accuse each other of corruption and of mishandling tax revenue and international aid, all to the detriment of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents.”

Meanwhile, senior Hamas official, Ismail Haniyeh has compromised Sharia Law which he holds his people to under pains of imprisonment and worse. He has crept into the Hamas whiskey supply and taken to the mega-phone, assuring that there is no de facto war against Israel brewing:

“I don’t think that there is a war knocking at our doors because the Israeli enemy was taught a great lesson…”

He is referring to Operation Cast Lead of 2009, in which the IDF killed at least 1,400 Palestinians as a response to a constant rain of rocket attacks on Israel and the still-missing soldier, abducted in 2006, Gilad Shalit.

In a recent interview with Ynet, IDF commander Eyal Eisenberg warned that the next war on Gaza would be “more painful, complex, and powerful.”

AREOPAGITICA

palestiniansThe separation of the Gaza Strip’s Hamas government and the West Bank’s Fatah led Palestinian Authority has caused more than a few fundamental symptoms of a serious schism. One such symptom is the Freedom of Press.

42-year-old Hamato Samir was the editor of the newspaper al-Hayat al-Jadida, based in Gaza. He had reportedly encountered problems working with a colleague believed to have links with Fatah – and was consequentially let go. Hamato is the father of seven children and also supports his parents. Al-Hayat al-Jadida which is sponsored by the PA is now banned in Hamas’ Gaza Strip.

Head of the Press Information Ministry in Gaza, Marouf Salama says that it is only ethical to allow a free-flow of Fatah press filter into Hamas-run civilization, such as Palestinian TV, as long as the PA allows the free flow of Hamas-sponsored press into Fatah territory, such as al-Aqsa TV or the West Bank newspaper, al-Risala. Ghassan al-Khatib, director of the PA Press Office in Ramallah says that Hamas has yet to fulfill their end of the bargain.

A man named Sahar al-Aqra is another example of Palestinian journalists being harassed by the Hamas regime. Two weeks ago, he was denied the right to enter into Egypt via the infamous Rafah crossing. Wanting to go to Egypt to study at a post-graduate level, his passport and identity card were seized at the checkpoint and torn. He was accused of being affiliated with Keith Dayton, the United States military general, sent to the West Bank to train military units and security forces loyal to Abbas.

Stay tuned for more schismatic and fascist showdowns in the unoccupied territory.

Some Questions about the Fatah Convention

Fatah, the PLO faction group founded in 1954 by Yasser Arafat, is having its 6th general convention today. I have some questions about it. First, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas opened the festivities by condemning Hamas and saying that investigations are ongoing as to the cause of Arafat’s death.

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANS FATAH CONFERENCEQuestion: Why? The fact that he was old, decrepit, and suffering from latent Parkinson’s and just died, hasn’t really clinched it for them yet?

He then went on to say that Israel hasn’t kept its commitments to the United States, including giving up sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem and even parts of the Dead Sea.

Question: When was this? I can’t seem to recall when Israel made those promises to anyone. I can remember, though, when Israel actually offered them to the PLO and they refused.

Then things got more interesting. He continued: “Although peace is our choice, we reserve the right to resistance, legitimate under international law.”

Question: What resistance he’s talking about? Really, I’m curious. Peacefully picketing and civil disobedience? Or is it murdering innocent civilians? I’m just asking, because it’s unclear.

Jibril Rajoub, who used to be in charge of the PA police, then clarified and said that “armed resistance” is always an option, and that Israel must acknowledge that. So there goes nonviolent civil disobedience.

Question: What do you mean, Jibril by “acknowledge?” Does fighting back qualify? Or is acknowledgment only sitting around watching buses explode and retreating?

I’ll tell you what, Jibril. I will gladly acknowledge your resistance if you acknowledge Israel’s response to it. Then we can sit down over a cold beer, a la Obama, Gates, and Crowley at the White House and discuss mutual acknowledgment.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Barak said it was important that the platform produced by the delegates will be representative of a wide range of views.

Question: What range of views?

President Shimon Peres, mentioning the convention, said that the Palestinians must remember that like Israel, “they must stay committed to the Road Map and the path of negotiations.”

Question: What happens if they don’t, as in the past 9 years?

The only Israelis expected to attend the conference were MKs Ahmed Tibi and Taleb A-Sanaa (UAL-Ta’al) and Muhammad Barakei (Hadash).

Question: Why are Israeli Knesset members allowed to attend a summit about armed resistance against Israel?

Is anybody listening?

Jimmy Carter and the Two State Solution

Former US. President Jimmy Carter went on a three hour tour of Gaza on Tuesday, in which Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told him that “Hamas will accept the two state solution if Israel is ready to return to the former, pre-1967 boundaries”. Haniyeh also spoke to Carter about the case of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and said he welcomed Carter’s offer to mediate in this affair, which Haniyeh referred to as a “human and political episode we would all like to come to an end”.

Carter in GazaCarter was given a tour of areas where major damage had been inflicted during the January Operation Cast Lead military action, in which the former President said ” the severity of damage inflicted here has brought tears to my eyes”. Carter also said that the war had brought “death, destruction, pain and suffering to the people here”. He wasn’t taken on a tour of either Sderot or other places in Israel where the same terms could also be applied, however.

In regards to Gaza’s present situation, where most of the damage has been left in tact as a “showplace” for VIP visitors such as the former President, Carter said: “tragically, the international community ignores the cries for help, while the citizens of Gaza are being treated more like animals than like human beings”.

But it was the remarks made by Haniyeh that his organization would be willing to accept a Palestinian state providing Israel open up the borders with Gaza and “accept a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders” that suddenly brought something very rational to light. When Dr. Haniyeh spoke about the “pre-1967 borders” he forgot that When Israel pulled out of the Strip in 2005, that part of Palestine was reverted back to the 1967 borders. So here is where a possible “two state solution” would work out beautifully! Why not create two Palestinian states, one in the West Bank, called East Palestine and controlled by Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization, and the other, West Palestine, controlled by Hamas. Haniyeh and his friends will get their wish in that their “little state” (as Israeli P.M. Binyamin Netanyahu referred to Palestine in his address on Sunday) will be 100% “within the pre-1967 borders”.

As for “East Palestine”, a territorial agreement will be worked out with Abbas and Co. taking the large Israeli settlement blocks into account. Israel will not have to pull out of the entire section of the West Bank and Jerusalem would remain united, with special consideration being given to the people of East Palestine for visiting, living in, and even having some governmental offices in the city’s eastern sectors. The Status of the Old City would remain as it is today, with Jews remaining in the Jewish Quarter and having full access to the Western Wall Plaza. The Wakf Islamic Trust would maintain control of Karim al Sharif , otherwise known as the Temple Mount.

This new “two state solution” should be acceptable to everyone, especially West Bank Palestinians (who really don’t like the Hamas people anyway – and vice versa). And as for Gaza, maybe they can get to rebuilding all the damage incurred to “their little state” which will not only provide jobs for a lot of Palestinian workers but result in their not having to keep all those piles of rubble lying around to “impress” gullible people like Jimmy Carter.

Putting a positive spin on Hamas’s win

Saeb Erakat.
Saeb Erakat at the Muqata, February 25 2006. Photo by Lisa Goldman.

Saeb Erakat, the chief negotiator for the PLO, has written a fascinating op-ed piece for the New York Times. In it he explains why he, a supporter of Mahmoud Abbas, does not view Hamas’s victory in the recent Palestinian elections as a setback for peace and democracy in the Middle East.

Of course Erakat manages to slip in a “blame Israel” (such a surprise!) for the routing of Fatah, but he does admit that Fatah needs to do some internal housecleaning in order to regain the voters’ trust. He also seems to think that Hamas’s Islamist platform does not represent the views of the majority of the people, and that Hamas will therefore find it rough going trying to implement sharia (Islamic law) in the West Bank.

Read the whole thing, below, to find out why.

What the P.L.O. Has to Offer
By SAEB EREKAT

Jericho, West Bank

MANY have argued that Hamas’s winning of a decisive majority in the Palestinian Parliament provides yet another setback for peace and democracy in the Middle East. Some have even suggested that it vindicates Israeli unilateralism. I, however, think the opposite is true: A negotiated and lasting peace may now be closer than many of us could have imagined just weeks ago.

The parliamentary elections could be seen as a referendum on the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, who came to office a year ago after winning nearly two-thirds of the popular vote. Mr. Abbas ran on a platform of job creation, internal security and a negotiated resolution of the conflict with Israel based on two states living side by side in peace.
Continue reading

Abbas Depressed or Exhausted

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas denied reports of being depressed and justified his condition as just being exhausted because of his elections
campaign work. He also hinted at the same time that he might resign if the government formed after the nearing parliament elections will oppose his policies, including peace talks with Israel.

Abbas also reacted to Olmert’s statement calling for the resumption of the peace negotiations with the Palestinians, after the elections and once they dismantle the militant groups. Abbas is willing to meet Olmert as soon as possible, adding that negotiations is the only way for peace and not unilateral actions and assassinations.

Abbas intentionally avoided the condition mentioned by Olmert of dismantling the militant groups, which he refuses to do. Abbas’s “depression” is probably justified judging by the political mess he is in, his Fatah movement is plagued by corruption, Palestinian areas are increasingly chaotic recently, questioning his government’s ability to control the situation, or for that matter follow through on his commitments in any peace talks.

On the other hand the militant Hamas seems to gain popularity and is posing a strong challenge to the ruling Fatah party, inevitably earning seats in the new government after the vote, which in turn will put future peace negotiations with Israel on ice for a long time to come. No wonder Abbas feels depressed under the circumstances, I would too.

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