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Egypt Warns Israel Not to Take Peace Treaty for Granted (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Jordan Islamists Urge Cut of Israel Ties (UPI)
- June 29, 2006
Issue of the Week:
World Class Entertainers Arrive in Israel
Palestinian Female Prisoners Have "Blood on Their Hands" - Orly Halpern (Globe and Mail-Canada)
Hamas Men Blast Way into Egypt - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
The Roots of Islamism - Michael Gove (Times-UK)
Syrian Regime Cracks Down on Opposition - Bernard Gwertzman (Council on Foreign Relations)
The Improvement in Israeli-South Korean Relations - Yaacov Cohen (Jewish Political Studies Review)
"Free Telephony Is the Tip of the Iceberg" - Harvey Morris (Financial Times-UK, 28Jun06)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israel arrested a third of the Palestinian cabinet and 23 Hamas legislators in the West Bank on Thursday, a move that Israeli officials said indicated a significant change in Israel's policy toward the Hamas government. The arrests are partly intended to warn Hamas leaders that they could lose their power and liberty unless they act to release a captured Israeli soldier, a senior Israeli military official said. But Israel has also concluded that Hamas, which had largely kept to a cease-fire before, is now openly engaged in violent acts against Israel and must be treated differently. Israeli officials said Thursday that they had agreed to let Palestinian parliamentary elections go ahead five months ago, despite the participation of Hamas, under American pressure.
"So long as they were smart enough not to openly exercise terror, no one touched them," said the senior Israeli military officer. "But now they've gone back to it, so we have the right to deal differently with this terrorist government and try to remove them." The Israelis cited Hamas' firing of Kassam rockets beginning this month, its public declaration that the cease-fire with Israel was over, and its open involvement in the raid into Israeli territory Sunday that resulted in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers and the capture of a wounded corporal, Gilad Shalit, 19. The arrests of the Hamas political leaders, under criminal law, for alleged membership in a terrorist organization and involvement in terrorist acts, were approved this week by the attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, "because he agreed that the public interest has changed, and there are moments a state can say, 'We have a public interest in activating the criminal law,'" said Jacob Galanti, the Justice Ministry spokesman. (New York Times)
With most ministers either in hiding or in the hands of Israeli forces on Thursday, the Hamas-led Palestinian government functioned in little more than name. The Israeli offensive aimed at bringing home a captured soldier threatens to finish off the Islamist militant group's attempt at elected government. "Our goal here is defensive. It's to stop the terrorism. It is not to nation-build on the Palestinian side," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev. The collapse of the Hamas government would bring few tears in Israel or the U.S.-led countries that have imposed an aid embargo to force Hamas to recognize Israel, renounce violence, and accept past peace accords. PA Chairman Abbas and his Fatah movement, caught in a power struggle with the Islamists, would also be happy to see Hamas brought down.
Some Hamas officials actually argue that the latest violence could be used as a valid excuse to step down from a government that had already been brought to the edge of collapse by the Western aid cuts. "Since day one, we have known that this government will not finish its term," said one senior Hamas official. This could also suit some within its military wing who would be happy to resume an all-out campaign of suicide bombings, shootings, and rocket attacks that was put on hold by a truce early in 2005. (Reuters)
Egypt, worried that Gaza refugees might flood across its border if the Israelis intensify their offensive, has been talking directly with Khaled Mashaal, the exiled supreme leader of Hamas, pushing him to facilitate the Israeli soldier's release. Egyptian officials have also asked Syrian President Bashar Assad to persuade Mashaal to release the soldier, an aid to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Egyptian Official to Mediate Israel-Hamas Deal
Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman was expected to go to Gaza on Friday to discuss an Egyptian compromise that would allow the release of kidnapped soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit. He was also scheduled to meet with Hamas leader in Damascus Khaled Mashaal, Army Radio reported. Earlier, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reportedly demanded that Mashaal be expelled from Syria unless he agreed to the compromise that Egypt drafted. (Jerusalem Post)
Less than a year after withdrawing from Gaza, Israel has discovered it cannot wash its hands of the teeming coastal strip, raising questions about Prime Minister Olmert's plan to stage a similar pullout from large parts of the West Bank. "The Gaza disengagement was a lost opportunity for the Palestinians. It could have evolved into a promising beginning for Palestinian statehood, but instead collapsed into a Hamas-stan that hosted international terror groups," said Dore Gold, a former adviser to Sharon. "The key lesson from the failure of disengagement is that in the future, Israel must retain vital territories for defensible borders so it will not create vulnerabilities that the Palestinians can exploit," he added. (AP/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel plans to arrest additional senior Hamas officials. The head of IDF's Central Command, Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, said Thursday that "we are in the middle of a strategic campaign against the Hamas. There is a new situation in which the elected government of the Palestinian Authority encourages and initiates terrorism, and therefore we proceeded with the arrest of Hamas members. The steps against Hamas terrorism will continue, tonight and also in the nights to come." (Ha'aretz)
See also Hamas Leaders with Terror Links Arrested
"The Hamas government stands at the head of the Palestinian Authority with a very clear objective to destroy the State of Israel," Southern Command head Maj.-Gen. Yoav Gallant said Wednesday. Among the Hamas leaders arrested are: Minister of Labor Mohammed Barghouti, linked to operations by the military wing of Hamas in Ramallah. Abad al-Gaber Fukah, a member of the legislative council, with an extensive past in the Hamas military wing. Naif Rajub, a minister in the Hamas government and a known extremist who has incited Palestinians against Israel and encouraged terror attacks. Haled Abu Arfa, a minister for Jerusalem in the Palestinian government, who has been arrested several times due to his activities. Adnan Atzpor of Nablus, a prominent Hamas activist responsible for recruiting others. Vagia Nezal, who serves as the mayor of Kalkilya who was released from his latest arrest in April. Nazel was part of the Hamas infrastructure in Kalkilya, which was responsible for deadly terror attacks in Israel including the suicide bombing at the dolphinarium disco in Tel Aviv five years ago. (Israel Defense Forces)
Palestinians in Gaza fired six Kassam rockets Thursday at Israel. Two rockets landed near the industrial zone south of Ashkelon, narrowly missing a strategic site. Two rockets were fired at Sderot, one landing near a school. Two rockets landed near Kibbutz Mavkiim. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Hamas Government
Unless he is extraordinarily lucky, Israeli Army Corporal Gilad Shalit won't live to see his twentieth birthday. Shalit's mind must be focused on the soldiers' dilemma his comrades face. They will do anything to rescue him, but nothing to trade for him. Shalit's kidnapping can be turned into a strategic defeat for the Palestinians. It should be used to destabilize the relationship between the Palestinians and the nations that use them as cannon fodder in a perpetual war against Israel. Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and others fund and provide sanctuary for Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups to keep alive the Palestinians' hope of erasing Israel from the map.
Israel can never settle the Palestinian problem by dealing only with the Palestinians. Because Israel's neighbors are the sources of their problems, so they must be the focus of the solutions. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal - operating from his headquarters in Damascus - ordered the raid in which Gilad Shalit was kidnapped. Mashaal, and pretty much every other terrorist leader other than bin Laden, operate from Syria with impunity. Bashar Assad has no fear that through American or Israeli action his support for terrorism will be interrupted. From Syria money, weapons, and terrorists flowed into Iraq for months before and ever since the American invasion of 2003. The writer was a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration. (RealClearPolitics)
Muslim fundamentalists and rotting Arab dictators have a lot in common, most particularly their use of the tired and abused Palestinian Arab cause as the eternal vehicle to their taking and retaining power. Islamic fundamentalists with their many names - Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Islamic Republic of Iran - are again all focused on uniting the ummah of Islam around the liberation of Palestine. It is no coincidence that the commander of Hamas' military wing, Khaled Mashaal, lives under the protection and sponsorship of the Assad regime in Damascus. Nor is it a coincidence that Hamas was born, established, and intellectually weaponized by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement.
This time, Israel should not leave Gaza until every Palestinian Arab clearly understands that the clocks will never be turned back. (New York Sun)
It took less than a year for Olmert to send the Israeli military back into Gaza after withdrawing from the territory last August. They're not planning to stay, of course - the army is there in response to the kidnapping of a 19-year-old corporal, and also to put a stop to rocket fire from northern Gaza into Israeli territory. Even if they do retreat again from Gaza in a matter of days or weeks, the current dynamic in the Palestinian territories suggests they'll inevitably be back. Absent any agreement with a Palestinian government that is willing and able to enforce order, militants will continue to attack Israel. (TIME)
Palestinian terrorism will stop when the international community decides to hold the Palestinian leadership fully accountable for its aggression and to vocally support Israel's right to self-defense. A UN resolution unequivocally condemning Palestinian terrorism and affirming Israel's rights under Article 51 of the UN Charter, followed if necessary by the threat of sanctions, would induce the Palestinians to advance their interests by other means.
In addition, the U.S. and Israel should not just speak of the need for two states, Israel and Palestine, but of the true obstacle to implementing that vision: the continuing Arab refusal to accept a Jewish state in this land. If the Arab states truly accepted the two-state solution, why did they recently fight tooth and nail against welcoming Israel and Palestine into the International Committee of the Red Cross? Why do they foment boycotts and rabid anti-Semitism? And why does the international community accept such behavior without comment? (National Review)
The terrorist organization Hamas, which is also the elected Palestinian government, suggested a prisoner swap. The usual formula is several hundred bomb-making terrorists for one soldier. The Israelis declined. The Israelis, who live in an extremely bad neighborhood, don't mess around. When people plot to kill their people, the Israelis kill them. When Israel is attacked, they fight back. That's why they are still able to live there. If Hamas wants to convince the world that it is a government and not a terrorist organization, it has to behave like a government. The Palestinian people, likewise, need to understand that an election is something that gives the people a voice, and choices, with consequences. (Boston Herald)
The moment Israel gives in to demands the first time an Israeli civilian is kidnapped - there is no question we will find ourselves faced with a chain of kidnappings. (Ynet News)
Editorial Comment on the Hamas Government
As Israelis agonize over endangering innocent Palestinians while killing terrorists, the murder of Eliahu Asheri reminds us that, to Palestinian terrorists, there is no such thing as an innocent Israeli. An 18-year-old Israeli boy, hitchhiking by the side of the road, can be summarily kidnapped and executed, and this is dubbed a legitimate act of "resistance."
After Hamas was elected, many observers explained that the support the group received should not be interpreted as popular support for continuing the terror war against Israel, but a desire to be rid of Fatah's corruption. If this is true, then the fall of Hamas would not be a negation of Palestinian democracy, unless Palestinians favor continuing terrorism against Israel over establishing their own state. And if the majority of Palestinians favor terrorism, then Israel is within its rights to demonstrate the consequences of that choice as well.
Natan Sharansky has consistently warned against the dangers of blindly promoting elections in societies that do not meet the "town square test" - whether one can freely say what they want in the town square without fear for their lives or freedom. (Jerusalem Post)
The plan was to leave Gaza to the Palestinians, with hopes that they, with international help, would turn it into a thriving state. But those who have sworn to wipe Israel off the map viewed the withdrawal as a military victory. And they wanted more. So they kept lobbing their rockets into Israel, day after day.
This much is clear: The economic pressure is working. Hamas desperately wants to persuade the U.S. and its allies to stop the economic embargo. Hamas is learning a painful lesson: A government that can't deliver paychecks won't stay in power long. Keep the pressure on. (Chicago Tribune)
When the terrorist group Hamas won the election to lead the Palestinians' government, the group was offered a choice: Make peace with Israel - or get war. Hamas seems to have ditched the peace option. Now, war is what it may get. There should be no confusion about where blame for this latest crisis lies - and where Hamas stands. It was a terrorist group before becoming an officially elected regime; now that it holds power, its acts against Israel are acts of war. The ultimate annihilation of the Jewish state remains Hamas policy. So if war is what Hamas wants, war is what it seems about to get. (New York Post)
The Hamas-led Palestinian government can spare its people from more needless suffering simply by returning the Israeli soldier. No nation can allow its citizens to be attacked day and night without taking action. Nor can it stand by while its soldiers are taken hostage. As always, it will be the Palestinians who suffer the most because their leaders are more interested in bloodying Israel than in sparing their own people from harm. (Detroit News)
Israel's incursion into Gaza is not an outright invasion, as has been hysterically claimed by some critics. Israel did not relinquish control over Gaza ten months ago only so it could have the fun of reoccupying it now. This military operation is an effort, simply, by Israel to defend itself, and to rescue an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Palestinian extremists. Far from evoking the sympathy of the international community, the events of the last few days will only serve to affirm the decisions taken by those countries who decided not to do business, or send economic aid, to an entity dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Palestinians have reaped what they have sown. (National Post-Canada)
Hamas cannot be both a terrorist gang and a governing party. Its election gave it a tiny thread of legitimacy, but that will snap if it does not renounce violence. The Hamas leadership should have denounced the raid on an Israeli army outpost and cut itself off from the militants. This crisis will not convince the international community to deal with the Hamas government. As long as that government refuses to recognize Israel and to cut itself off from its military wing, it is in a posture of war. (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
The Toronto conference of the United Church this week joined the Ontario division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees in calling for economic sanctions against Israel and a boycott of the Jewish state to protest its policies in the Palestinian territories. Basically, both are calling on Canadians to choose sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Fair enough. We choose Israel, which cannot be expected to negotiate with a Palestinian government led by Hamas, a terrorist group whose founding charter calls not only for the destruction of Israel, but for the annihilation of the Jewish people.
Further, we urge Prime Minister Stephen Harper to continue Canada's sensible policy of refusing to recognize Hamas and denying it foreign aid until it unequivocally recognizes Israel's right to exist and renounces terrorism. It is Hamas, not Israel, that should be boycotted by the civilized world. (Toronto Sun)
New York Times Jerusalem correspondent Steven Erlanger has revealed both his profound personal bias and basic acceptance of Hamas' political claims in a review of Hamas. Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad by Matthew Levitt, currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. He says that Hamas is popular because of the existence of Jewish settlements, the separation barrier, and restrictions on Palestinian movement. Yet Hamas itself and its main supporters do not hold their views because of anger at Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza - now greatly diminished, though Erlanger appears unaware of this - but due to a desire to wipe Israel off the map.
Erlanger complains that the author employs material from the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center of the Center for Special Studies - "considered friendly to Israel." Thus, he concludes, "There will be readers of this book who will see it as fronting for the Israeli intelligence establishment and its views." Of course, Erlanger is signaling people that they should reach this conclusion - which is inappropriate because the research center in question is almost exclusively merely translating Palestinian documents and texts. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Book Review: Hamas as a Terror "Apparatus" - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
Al-Qaeda now views the Internet not only as an essential recruitment tool and means of communication with volunteers, but as a virtual training camp. No more need for Afghanistan: would-be terrorists can download manuals and videotapes that show them how to make explosive vests, car bombs, chemical weapons and poisons, and a library of tips on how to use them all effectively. Gabriel Weimann, a professor of communications at the University of Haifa in Israel, began tracking terrorist websites almost a decade ago. In Terror on the Internet, he gives a taste of al-Qaeda's Internet rhetoric and strategies, along with those of less well-known militant groups from Colombia to the Basque country to Chechnya. (New York Times)
Palestinians Targeting Pre-1967 Israel - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Shlomo Gazit (bitterlemons.org)
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