West Will Continue to Fund Fatah-Hamas Government - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
The U.S. State Department announced Monday that it planned to continue disbursing aid to Palestinians, after President Abbas swore in a new unity government which incorporated Hamas, a designated terrorist organization.
Separately, the EU's top envoy to the U.S. said Europe was prepared to work with a government backed by Hamas.
Why the Palestinian Unity Government Won't Cut It for Israel - Christa Case Bryant (Christian Science Monitor)
Israel has long rejected any government that included Hamas, whose founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel.
"Enough with the tricks," Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Monday. "How can we or the world recognize and cooperate with the [Palestinian] government that has in its possession, through Hamas, 12,000... missiles."
Hamas Arms Program Speeding Ahead - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas' weapons production program in Gaza is moving ahead at full speed, with local rocket production centers churning out thousands of projectiles, according to Israeli security evaluations.
At the same time, foreign trainers, from places like the battlefields of Syria, have arrived in Gaza to share their military expertise with Hamas.
Hamas' fighting divisions are made up of some 16,000 gunmen, while Islamic Jihad has built up a fighting force of 5,000 armed men, with the aid of Iranian funds and training.
There are also 4,000 members of the smaller Gazan terror groups, each armed with their own mini-arsenals of rockets.
The Lebanonization of the Palestinians - Jonathan Schanzer (Weekly Standard)
The creation of a new Palestinian government that includes Hamas means that the Palestinians are poised to adopt the Lebanon model of allowing a terrorist entity to exist and operate outside of a weak government's reach.
Hamas leaders refuse to disband the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, its Gaza-based militia.
This means that a robust terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, with tens of thousands of rockets and thousands of fighters, will remain intact.
Thousands March in NYC Israel Day Parade - Israel Joffe (FOX NY)
New York's 50th annual Israel Day Parade on Sunday featured 16 planes in a flyover salute.
The 35,000 marchers included New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
We wish our readers a Happy Shavuot holiday!
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- Abbas Swears In a New Palestinian Unity Government that Includes Hamas - Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority swore in a new unity government on Monday that includes the militant Hamas movement. Hamas is deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S., Europe and much of the West and has refused to recognize Israel or renounce violence.
Secretary of State John Kerry told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a telephone call on Monday that Washington would work with the new Palestinian government while continuing to watch it closely. Dore Gold, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, said afterward that "Israel is deeply disappointed by the U.S. position."
(New York Times)
See also Israel "Deeply Disappointed" U.S. Will Work with New Palestinian Government - Barak Ravid
Senior Israeli officials said Monday: "This Palestinian government is a government backed by Hamas, which is a terror organization committed to Israel's destruction....If the U.S. administration wants to advance peace, it should be calling on Abbas to end his pact with Hamas and return to peace talks with Israel. Instead, it is enabling Abbas to believe that it is acceptable to form a government with a terrorist organization."
Israeli ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer said: "Hamas hasn't changed. It remains as committed to Israel's destruction today as it was yesterday. This Palestinian unity government is a government of technocrats backed by terrorists, and should be treated as such. With suits in the front office and terrorists in the back office, it should not be business as usual." (Ha'aretz)
- Congress to Obama: Cut Aid to Palestinians - Julian Pecquet
"The Palestinian leaders know that a unity government would trigger U.S. law to cut off funding, so now they are trying to find loopholes in order to say that they are still abiding by the conditions our law's mandate," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the author of 2006 legislation that bars taxpayer support for a "Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority." "The PA deciding to partner with a designated foreign terrorist organization once again reaffirms that Abu Mazen is not a true partner for peace and the U.S. must respond by withholding assistance to any Hamas backed unity government."
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the decision "places in jeopardy the millions of dollars in foreign assistance," while Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) called it a "deeply disturbing step away from the pursuit of peace." Rep. Kay Granger, (R-Texas), chairwoman of the House Appropriations panel that controls the purse strings for State Department and Foreign Operations funding, said, "Funding for the Palestinians is off the table until it is clear that the unity government is committed to peace and security." (Al-Monitor)
See also Senators Kirk, Rubio Call on Administration to Halt U.S. Aid to Palestinian Authority (eNews Park Forest)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel: Unity Agreement Makes Abbas Directly Responsible for Terror from Gaza - Itamar Sharon
Israel's security cabinet on Monday vowed to hold the new Palestinian Authority unity government responsible for any rockets fired at Israel from Gaza as well as any other hostile action emanating from Gaza or the West Bank. The security cabinet also voted to reject any negotiations with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas.
The cabinet also voted to prevent any terror organizations from participating in future Palestinian elections. (Times of Israel)
See also Israel's Security Cabinet Meets on Hamas Entry into Palestinian Government (Prime Minister's Office)
- U.S. Jewish Groups Cast PA Unity Government as Rejection of Peace - Rebecca Shimoni Stoil
News of a Hamas-Fatah unity government was greeted with dismay by many American Jewish and pro-Israel organizations Monday. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said: "United States law prohibits funding to a Palestinian government in which Hamas participates. We, therefore, support the calls by members of Congress from both parties to review U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority and to assure that the law is appropriately implemented."
Similarly, AIPAC said: "U.S. law is clear - no funds can be provided to a Palestinian government in which Hamas participates or has undue influence. We now urge Congress to conduct a thorough review of continued U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority to ensure that the law is completely followed and implemented." (Times of Israel)
- Palestinian Gunman Opens Fire on Israeli Soldiers in West Bank, Wounds One - Yoav Zitun
A Palestinian terrorist opened fire at soldiers stationed at Tapuach Junction in the West Bank on Monday night, wounding one soldier before he was killed by return fire. (Ynet News)
- Impact of the New Palestinian Unity Government - Ron Ben-Yishai
The main drawback of the Palestinian reconciliation government for Israel is in the security arena. The PA security apparatus is no longer acting in full force against Hamas actions as they did in the past. As a result of this, Israeli security forces need to do most of the prevention work themselves.
Moreover, the unity agreement will provide Hamas with the financial oxygen it needs to continue breathing.
The agreement will make it possible for Hamas to continue to govern in Gaza while expanding its support in the West Bank.
In the long term, Hamas will slowly conquer the West Bank through the democratic process, as well as take over the Palestinian organization that the UN recognizes - the PLO.
- PA Government Is Unified, But Palestinians Aren't - Avi Issacharoff
Hamas' military wing, with tens of thousands of armed members, will continue to manage Gaza on the security front, though its prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, resigned and his place will be filled by Rami Hamdallah, Abbas' choice. All the central ministries were handed to Abbas cronies.
Hamas agreed to the deal because it is on the verge of bankruptcy. Every government office will have both Hamas and Fatah officials. The test for the new government isn't the fact that it got established, but its (questionable) ability to govern. (Times of Israel)
- Palestinian Reconciliation Hobbled by Continued Disunity - Nidal Al-Mughrabi
The new Palestinian unity government will provide a veneer of harmony but little change on the ground, analysts say. The government, packed with little-known technocrats and academics, will manage day-to-day problems like a glorified municipality, but decisions regarding diplomacy and security will be taken elsewhere.
"Such a government won't be able to end the divisions. It is rather a political body aimed at managing the division," said Hani Al-Masri, a West Bank political analyst. "Forming a government is a symbolic step. It is a good step, but we should not exaggerate the expectations," said George Giacaman, the dean of graduate studies at the West Bank's Birzeit University.
"For the Israelis, it is not a very good idea to let Hamas maneuver tactically for the purpose of trying to increase its power ultimately both in the West Bank and the PLO, while maintaining exclusive control in Gaza," said Ehud Yaari, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"Abbas has accepted the principle of a demilitarized Palestinian state, but Gaza is not demilitarized. Nothing is going to change." (Reuters)
Iran Launches "Hizbullah Syria" to Open a New Front Against Israel
on the Golan Heights - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall and Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- In the wake of the announcement of the establishment of "Hizbullah Syria," the Iranian Jomhouri Eslami newspaper stated: "The establishment of Syria's Hizbullah...will also be a strong arm of the resistance that will cause nightmares for the Zionists. The Zionist regime that was concerned about threats from the Lebanese borders, now should prepare itself for a new situation (on the Golan Heights front)."
- Iran views Syria (with or without Assad) as its principal arena of conflict with the West and with "heretic Sunni Islam" (under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and al-Qaeda).
- Assistance to Syria and an active presence in its territory are seen as additional manifestations of Iran's defense posture. In part this is designed to distance the Iranian homeland from any threat, to conduct the campaign against Israel and the West in areas distant from Iran, and to use Syrian and Lebanese territory to deter Israel or retaliate if its nuclear installations are attacked.
- Iran is already en route to implementing Plan B, preparing for the eventuality that even if Assad does not prevail, Iran will still maintain its presence in Syria and its ability to act against Israel from Syrian territory with the assistance of various committed proxies modeled after "Hizbullah Lebanon."
- In May 2014, Mohammad Eskandari, a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guards, stated that the Guards had trained 42 battalions and 138 brigades to fight in Syria. He underlined that "the current war in Syria is our war against the USA raging on Syrian soil." Another senior member of the Revolutionary Guards, Hussein Hamadani, said that "some 130,000 Basij (paramilitary) volunteers have been trained and are waiting to enter Syria."
- Iran prefers that Assad remain in power, but even if he were to ultimately topple, Iran is striving to maintain its own grip on Syria, alongside Lebanon (and to a great extent the Gaza Strip) as its frontline against Israel and the West. In the buds of "Hizbullah Syria" lay the infrastructure for enhanced Iranian subversion in the Golan Heights, which is perceived by Iran as a new and extended confrontation line with Israel in light of the changing regional landscape.
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