Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 27, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Welcomes "Anti-Zionist" Palestinian Reconciliation (AFP-Global Post)
    "The Islamic Republic of Iran salutes the reconciliation of the Palestinian groups against the Zionist regime," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said Saturday.

Canada: Israel's Suspension of Peace Talks Is "Understandable" - Kathryn Blaze Carlson (Globe and Mail-Canada)
    Israel's rationale for suspending peace talks with the Palestinian leadership is "understandable," Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said, flagging that a recent Palestinian unity pact means the militant Islamist movement Hamas would now be at the table.
    "Israel feels it is tremendously problematic to have peace negotiations with a group that now may include people who believe in the destruction of the State of Israel and have supported terrorist attacks against the civilian populations," Baird said.
    "Hamas is a listed terrorist organization in Canada," he added.

Palestinians Reward Terrorists from British Aid - Jake Wallis Simons (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
    According to a senior Israeli government source, British aid to the Palestinian government - worth 343 million pounds between 2011 and 2015 - is funding generous salaries and bonuses to about 5,000 convicted terrorists.
    The Palestinian Authority has made it clear that the salaries are paid because of the high esteem in which these terrorists are held.
    Sir Gerald Howarth, a Conservative MP, has called for Britain to suspend all aid to the PA until payments to terrorists cease. "It is not the job of the hardworking British taxpayer to fund payments to terrorists."

Abbas Is Responsible for the Failed Talks - Dan Margalit (Israel Hayom)
    Abbas' deal with Hamas in Gaza took place some 48 hours after he had received a new Israeli offer in the negotiations. But he just ignored that offer.
    This is the classic Abbas. When he bolts from talks, he does it just when the peace process enters crunch time, when the parties need to make crucial decisions.
    A rule of thumb is that Abbas' departure will always come after he receives an Israeli offer with fresh ideas.

Video: Abu Mazen Says NO to Peace (YouTube)
    Instead of choosing peace, Mahmoud Abbas [Abu Mazen] formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel.
    See also Infographic: Abbas Is Forging a Pact with a Global Terror Organization (Prime Minister of Israel-Facebook)
    Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the EU, Canada, the UK, Australia, Japan, and Egypt.

Smoke and Mirrors: The Palestinian Coffee House Verdict on the Unity Deal with Hamas - Ben Lynfield (Independent-UK)
    At a popular coffee house in Al Bireh in the central West Bank, many doubted the reconciliation agreement Abbas struck with Hamas would last, or thought it would end up on the shelf like previous reconciliation deals.
    Amjad Mohammed, an official in the PA Interior Ministry, noted: "Hamas doesn't want reconciliation. It wants all the power in its hands. That's the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas wants to rule over everything."

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Special Edition: After the Hamas-Fatah Agreement

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Rules Out Recognition of Israel - Ben Lynfield
    Contradicting what PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has been saying, a senior Hamas leader in the West Bank, Hassan Youssef, ruled out any recognition of Israel by the new Palestinian unity government. Asked during an interview with The Independent whether the new Palestinian government will accept the Quartet's conditions [recognizing Israel, stopping terrorism and accepting previous agreements], Youssef said: ''Are the Quartet conditions the Quran? Are they the New Testament? These conditions must change because they are unjust and what is needed are conditions that respect the circumstances and choices of the Palestinian people. These conditions are unacceptable to us.''
        Youssef said that the PLO made a mistake by recognizing Israel, and he declined to limit resistance to non-violent popular protests. (Independent-UK)
  • Obama Blames Israel and Palestinians for Failure of Talks
    President Barack Obama on Friday accused Israelis and Palestinians of lacking the political will to make tough decisions to advance Middle East peace negotiations. Obama described a reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas as "unhelpful" and said it was "just one of a series of choices that both the Israelis and Palestinians have made that are not conducive to trying to resolve this crisis."
        "What we haven't seen is frankly the kind of political will to actually make tough decisions. And that's been true on both sides." While he said the U.S. would continue to offer the parties "constructive approaches," he also conceded that "there may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives."  (Telegraph-UK)
  • Mideast Peace Effort on Hold as Kerry Shifts His Attention - Terry Atlas
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has put his nine-month quest for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord on indefinite hold. "We're at a point where the parties need to figure out what's next," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday. "We'll still remain in touch with them, but it is on them....There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps in order to be able to move forward."  (Bloomberg)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Calls on Abbas to Disavow Alliance with Hamas
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "In addition to its effort to arm itself with nuclear weapons, Iran arms, finances and trains Hamas and other terrorist organizations on our borders. Hamas denies the Holocaust even as it attempts to create an additional Holocaust by destroying the State of Israel. It is with this Hamas that Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] chose to form an alliance last week.
        Instead of issuing statements designed to placate global public opinion, Abu Mazen needs to choose between the alliance with Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel and denies the Holocaust, and a true peace with Israel. We hope that he will disavow this alliance with Hamas and return to the path of true peace."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel: Abbas "Confirmed the Kill" of the Diplomatic Process - Herb Keinon
    If PA President Mahmoud Abbas destroyed the diplomatic process last week by reconciling with Hamas, he "confirmed the kill" on Saturday with his speech affirming the pact and stipulating conditions for continued talks with Israel, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said.
        Israel has made clear to the Palestinians, the U.S. and the international community that it will not resume the talks with Abbas if the Fatah-Hamas pact is implemented, unless Hamas accepts the international community's three conditions for engagement: recognizing Israel, stopping terrorism and accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Myth of the Moderate Hamas - Dore Gold
    Egypt announced in January 2011 that Jaish al-Islam, a Gaza al-Qaeda affiliate, was responsible for the bombing of a Coptic Church in Alexandria that killed 24 Coptic Christians. In the past, Hamas had undertaken joint military operations with Jaish al-Islam, like the 2006 kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. Their involvement demonstrated how the Hamas regime was giving sanctuary to organizations that were directly threatening Egypt.
        This past year the Egyptian military has become increasingly convinced that Hamas itself has become linked to the global jihadist network flourishing in the Sinai Peninsula. This includes training in the use of explosives and other military preparations that are permitted at Hamas military bases. In early 2014, Egypt's Interior Minister, Muhammad Ibrahim, accused Hamas of providing logistical support for a terrorist operation on December 24, 2013, in Mansoura, in the Nile Delta, that left 16 dead and 130 wounded at the local Egyptian Security Directorate. Since that time, a Cairo court outlawed the activities of Hamas throughout Egypt.
        With respect to Israel, another aspect of Hamas behavior that has not received adequate attention is the increase in genocidal rhetoric against the Jewish people within the Hamas leadership. Sheikh Younis al-Astal is a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and heads the Clerics Association of Palestine, the most influential religious institution in the Hamas movement. On March 13, 2008, al-Astal called for a mahraqa (literally, burning, but also holocaust, of the Jews). Appearing on Hamas-owned Al-Aqsa TV, he explained that Allah punished the Jews by means of the Germans and now "it is the turn of the Islamic nation to punish them once again."
        PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas just embraced a movement - Hamas - that has placed genocidal threats against the Jewish people high on its ideological banner. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palestinian Leaders Stand in Way of Peace - Steve Huntley
    A genuine, vigorous push by the U.S. and Israel to achieve a breakthrough toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict crashes and burns because the Palestinian leadership simply doesn't want any solution short of the end of the Jewish state.
        The coup de grace came when Abbas announced a reconciliation deal with Hamas, the terrorist overlords of Gaza committed to the destruction of Israel. The Hamas leadership made it explicitly clear that it has no intention of abandoning "resistance" - also known as blowing Israeli teenage girls to bits, and bombing pizza parlors, markets and buses packed with civilians.
        Israel rightfully suspended negotiations, and outraged members of Congress are calling for suspending the hundreds of millions of dollars America pours each year into the ineffective and corrupt Palestinian Authority government.
        There's speculation that this latest attempt is nothing more than a ploy by Abbas to wring yet more concessions from Israel and the U.S. Even if that's true, the point is that Abbas is looking for more concessions, not to do anything that might actually advance the cause of peace. (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks - Jodi Rudoren
    When Israel suspended the stalemated negotiations on Thursday, it did so with Washington's tacit blessing. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has recently played a variety of cards in hopes of improving his position. He took steps to join 15 international conventions, threatened to dissolve his government, and made a deal with Hamas, the militant Islamic group that is widely reviled in the West. The gambles drew repeated rebukes from Washington.
        Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser, said Abbas, "by his own behavior, has pushed himself to be perceived as a very extreme person who will never be able to reach an agreement with us."  (New York Times)
  • What Is Abbas Trying to Achieve? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas has once again surprised Israel and the U.S. by signing a "reconciliation" agreement with Hamas. Yet there are no indications whatsoever that, as a result of the rapprochement with Fatah, Hamas is about to change its ideology or abandon terrorism. Hamas leaders and spokesmen have made it clear that the "reconciliation" agreement does not mean that Hamas will abandon the path of terrorism to achieve its goals. "Palestinian resistance remains the right option," said Ra'fat Murra, a Hamas official in Lebanon.
        Abbas is convinced that it is only a matter of time before Secretary of State Kerry or top U.S. diplomats rush to Ramallah to try to persuade him not to make peace with Hamas. Abbas seems to be enjoying that each time he does something dramatic, the U.S. Administration launches another big diplomatic offensive to convince him to backtrack. Abbas wants his people and the Arabs to see him as a hero who can stand up to the Americans. He is now waiting to see what the U.S. will offer him in return for rescinding his plan to join forces with Hamas. (Gatestone Institute)
  • The Hamas-Fatah Reconciliation Agreement: Too Early to Judge - Ehud Yaari and Neri Zilber
    The April 23 Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal severely complicates efforts to extend Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations past their April 29 deadline. The greatest stumbling blocks remain Hamas' continued embrace of armed resistance against Israel and its rejection of a negotiated two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Certain Hamas leaders have stated publicly that they remain steadfast in their opposition to any comprehensive peace agreement and refusal to recognize Israel.
        A government that includes Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, could risk a cutoff in international donor aid and Israeli transfers of customs revenues. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

The Hamas-Fatah Accord: A Legal Perspective - Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Any unity accord between Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, and any unity government established on the basis of such an accord, in order to be acceptable to Israel and to the international community, must fulfill the PLO's Oslo commitments to combat and prohibit all forms of terror as well as the Quartet principles for recognition of Hamas.
  • It would constitute a serious erosion of the original peace process if Hamas was not expected to do at least what the PLO had to do in 1993.
  • These requirements include a clear commitment by Hamas/Islamic Jihad to end all terror, recognize Israel, and accept the agreements between the PLO and Israel, including the very clear commitments by the PLO to end, and to act against, terror.
  • In other words, it is not enough for any new Palestinian unity government to adhere to these terms, but also the parties that create this government must meet this requirement as well.
  • Any new Palestinian unity government that does not fulfill, formally and openly, such requirements would be incompatible with and in violation of the very basis of the peace process, and would undermine the series of agreements that serve as the basis for any further negotiation.
  • Such a situation of frustration of the Oslo accords would oblige Israel to view the accords as no longer valid, and to take whatever unilateral measures it considers necessary to ensure its security and other interests, and to prevent Palestinian weaponry and monies, including international funding, from being placed in the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

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