Tag Archives: Hamas

Palestinians Argue Over Unity Which Prevents Unity!

President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority has issued an ultimatum to the rival Hamas organization of either agreeing to a unity settlement that was negotiated with the aid of Egypt or he would call a new election for president and the legislature as early as January, 2010. Hamas termed his warning as illegal and argued they were not to blame for the lack of unity, but it was all the fault of Egypt or the Fatah organization led by Abbas. Hamas had won a surprise majority in the last election held for the legislature and presently controls Gaza. Abbas is determined to forge a united Palestinian government in order to achieve peace with Israel. The lack of unity only encourages the Israel government to dither and dally and refuse to move toward a peace settlement.

Israel commits many blunders such as the ill devised Gaza invasion last year, but Palestinians continue arguing with one another and the result is Israel does not feel any pressure to move toward a peace agreement. It is time for Palestinian leaders to put aside differences and find a common unity stance that will finally lead to peace in the Middle East.

UN Report–Plague On Both Heads

Judge Richard Goldstone who was asked by the UN to investigate Israel’s invasion of Gaza is expected to hand down a report which, in essence, says a plague on both your houses. Israel refused to cooperate with his 15 member commission on grounds one nation was being singled out while countries such as Sri Lanka which have violated human rights for years have gotten a pass. The commission is expected to condemn Israel for human rights violations during its invasion of Gaza, but it also will criticize Hamas for bombarding Israel for years with over 12,000 rockets.

Israel has conceded that at least 1166 Palestinians died during the fighting while only nine Israelis were killed of whom three were civilians. Any impartial study of this conflict must conclude that while Israel had justification for taking action in light of constant rocket attacks, the death of 1166 Palestinians of whom the majority were civilian, is a response that went too far. There simply were too many examples of killing civilians due to excessive force by the IDF.

Egypt And Iran Clash Over Power

A fundamental problem with American foreign policy is to ignore the dynamics of conflict within the Middle East that has nothing to do with Western nations. Iran reacted strongly to comments by Egyptian President Mubarak who sharply condemned Iranian attempts to interfere in regional issues. Iran’s Shiite government has been supporting Sunni groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood because they are able to downplay religious issues by focusing on Israel and the Iraq war. Mubarak told an interviewer “if you complain of interventions from external forces in Iran… don’t do it with other countries.”

Relations between the countries have worsened after discovery of an Iranian backed Hezbollah cell in Egypt. If the Israel -Palestinian conflict could be resolved it might be possible to deflect the impact of Iranian influence by emphasizing religious and ideological issues which ordinarily separate Shiites and Sunnis.

Hamas Crushes Challenge In Gaza

Hamas crushed the strongest challenge to its rule of Gaza since it assumed control two years ago. It targeted Jund Ansar Allah–the Soldiers of the Companions of God, one of several small radical groups that make Hamas come across as mild mannered. In the fighting at least 24 were killed including a prominent Hamas leader as well as the head of the radical militants. Radicals have endeavored to increase violence not only toward Israel but the western world.

On Friday, Hamas security forces surrounded a mosque in which 100 members of Jund Ansar Allah were gathered. Their leader, Abdel-Latif Moussa had declared Hamas an Islamic emirate state which would be ruled by Sharia law. Reports indicate Moussa killed a mediator sent to persuade him to surrender and then committed suicide. Fighting continues around the mosque as Hamas seeks to completely destroy the group.

The good news of the crackdown is an indication that Hamas wants to avoid radicalism and ensure no more rockets are fired into Israel. Perhaps, if Israel reached out to congratulate Hamas on crushing radical Muslim groups it would be a first step in the initiation of dialogue.

Human Rights Watch Blasts Hamas

Prior to Israel’s invasion of Gaza, Hamas conducted an ongoing attack on the people of Israel by firing thousands of rockets into that nation. According to Human Rights Watch, these attacks by Hamas violated the rules of war by firing rockets deliberately and indiscriminately into cities including schools and houses of worship. “Hamas rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians are unlawful and unjustifiable and amount to war crimes” claimed the report issued by the group.

Human Rights Watch dismissed Palestinian claims that Hamas had a right to respond to Israel actions by firing rockets at civilian targets. “International law… does not support these asserted justifications.” There were no Israel military forces in most areas which received rocket attacks which clearly demonstrates the goal was to kill innocent civilians.

Human Rights Watch had previously accused Israel of war crimes during its invasion of Gaza. As the group notes, Hamas fired rockets from areas in which there were innocent Palestinian civilians and thus placed those people at risk when Israel responded to the rocket attacks.

This blog has condemned Israel’s invasion of Gaza for being disproportionate in the response to criminal attacks by Hamas. However, Hamas can not escape blame for its violation of international law.

Fatah And Hamas Still Can’t Get Together

The history of conflict between Israel and Arab nations has been characterized by an ongoing incompetence on the part of Arab leaders as they vie with one another for power. The sixth round of national dialogue between Fatah and Hamas has ended in failure. Hamas demands full partnership in the Palestinian Authority before it cedes any power in Gaza. Fatah demands an end to Hamas rule in Gaza without offering their opponents any real power in a Palestinian government. President Abbas and Fatah leaders are encouraged by support they have received from President Obama and the increase in loans which have sparked an economic upsurge in West Bank areas. Latest polls suggest Fatah would win any election so it might be in the self interest of Abbas to maintain a low profile and allow future events to decide who is in power.

Perhaps, a problem is reducing the complexity of Palestinian life to these two groups. It might be beneficial to include diverse factions and interest groups which would provide a balance that might serve as a bridge between Hamas and Fatah.

An effective Palestinian government must recognize certain realities:

1. There must be agreement to respect UN ideas which includes accepting the presence of an independent Israel government.
2. There has to be a willingness to modify the concept of return of Palestinian refugees. The return of all will never be accepted by any Israel government. What then is the compromise that Palestinian leaders can present?
3. There must be an end to any form of violence and acceptance of the ideas of Gandhi and Martin Luther King of non-violence resistance.

Fatah And Hamas Once Again Into Discussions

Hamas and Fatah have agreed to enter the seventh round of discussions in hope of resolving issues between the two groups. The continued division between the two Palestinian groups makes it virtually impossible for the Palestinian people to achieve a peace agreement with Israel. The Egyptian government has put together a reconciliation package which has gained a tentative agreement from Israel. Under the Egyptian proposal a new body would govern the Gaza Strip including representatives from Fatah and Hamas. President Abbas would have power over allocation of money since the West has made clear it would not funnel funds through Hamas. An election for president would take place in January, 2010 and both sides have agreed to accept the verdict of the Palestinian people.

Under the Egyptian plan, Arab and Egyptian experts would supervise security forces that will run the Gaza Strip and all sides agree to prevent attacks on Israel from Gaza. The plan also calls for prisoner exchange which would send home the Israeli soldier who presently is a prisoner, and crossings would be open to allow Gaza to proceed with reconstruction. European Union observers will assist in monitoring the Gaza border.

Israel would be foolish to oppose the Egyptian initiative and it must accept the possibility that a Hamas leader might be elected president. However, the peace process outlined in the Egyptian initiative offers a genuine opportunity for peace.

Hamas Ready To Talk With Obama

The failed policies of George Bush in the Middle East are reflected in the importance of President Obama reaching out to engage dissident groups in dialogue. Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal in a televised speech said his group was encouraged by the change in tone of Obama from that of George Bush. He termed it “the first step in the right direction toward a dialogue without conditions and we welcome this.” It is time in the Middle East to engage in discussions without compelling the other side to agree with your desires. The purpose of “negotiation” is for each side to present its ideas and it is during the process of negotiation that hopefully compromise emerges.

Prime Minister Netanyahu wants Palestinians to agree with his demands prior to meeting with them for discussion. Will he agree to all Palestinian demands prior to any discussions?

Jimmy Carter Works For Middle East Peace

Former president Jimmy Carter is reviled by conservative talk show hosts, supporters of Israel and any night on Fox News as someone who hates Israel. Of course, Jimmy Carter is the ONLY AMERICAN PRESIDENT WHO ACTUALLY HELPED NEGOTIATE A PEACE AGREEMENT BETWEEN ISRAEL AND AN ARAB NATION. I do not always agree with the ideas of Jimmy Carter, but his motives derive from a genuine desire to foster peace in the Middle East. He currently is talking with Hamas leaders who told him they were willing to accept the 1967 borders which, in effect, is recognizing the existence of the state of Israel. Ismail Haniyeh also told Carter he was willing to exchange captured Israel soldier Gilad Schalit for Palestinian prisoners.

Ironically, there are reports that al-Qaeda attempted to assassinate Carter by placing road side bombs on the route he was traveling. Ironically, the Shin Bet passed on information to Palestinian sources about the potential attack. The reality most Israelis do not wish to accept is they can have peace– based on 1967 borders if that is their desire. But, insisting that Israel can retain the West Bank is a killer in any attempt to secure peace. Accept the 1967 borders, be recognized by Arab nations and create a Middle Eastern version of the European Union– that is the road to peace.

Ball Of Peace In Arab Court!

The aftermath of President Obama’s speech has resulted in renewed discussions among various Arab groups about the necessity of coming together in a coalition for peace. Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal is now in Cairo discussing the situation with General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman in order to find a solution to end the breach between Fatah and Hamas. An anonymous source told the Arab weekly, Al-Ahram, “the Americans– to judge not just by the Obama speech and talks in Cairo and Riyadh, but also by successive delegations to the region –seem serious about getting engaged in talks for peace. Now the Palestinians and Arabs in general have to work to make these talks possible.” Amen.

The devastating results of Ahmadinejad’s stealing of the Iranian presidency means groups like Hamas have to cease relying on Iranian assistance. For the first time in years, the United States is adopting a balanced stance between conflicting groups which requires all radical elements to unite with moderates and present Israel a united front determined to seek peace. If they allow Iran to enter the process, it will merely provide an excuse for Israel negotiators to play the Iran card and frighten the United States.