The End of Mahmoud Abbas: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 29, 2016— Like it or not, the day is fast approaching when the Palestinian Authority we have known for the past 22 years will cease to exist.
Hamas: Vote for Us or Burn in Hell: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 12, 2016— It is election season in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Differences Between Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in the Middle East: Prof. Louis René Beres, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 31, 2016— To be sure, and in predictably short order, the easily captivating phrase, "cycle of violence," will be applied yet one more time to the Hamas-Israel conflict.
Israeli West Bank Policy, Whereto?: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Aug. 19, 2016— With Barack Obama's term as U.S. president coming to an end, and Mahmoud Abbas' tenure as Palestinian Authority leader winding down too, the Israeli government will soon have an opportunity to recalibrate its diplomatic policies. Israeli policy on the Palestinian issue has been awkwardly frozen for two decades.
Deja Vu and the Coming Palestinian Elections: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Aug. 29, 2016
Terrorist Serving Multiple Life Sentences for Murder May be Next Palestinian President: Miriam Elman, Legal Insurrection, Aug. 24, 2016
Human Rights Watch: Palestinians Abuse Media, Activists: New York Times, Aug. 29, 2016
Globe Reporter Claims Hamas is a “Resistance” Movement & Implies Israel Wants War with Hamas: Mike Fegelman, Honest Reporting, Aug. 25, 2016
Caroline B. Glick
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 29, 2016
Like it or not, the day is fast approaching when the Palestinian Authority we have known for the past 22 years will cease to exist. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s US-trained Palestinian security forces have lost control over the Palestinians cities in Judea and Samaria. His EU- and US-funded bureaucracies are about to lose control over the local governments to Hamas. And his Fatah militias have turned against him.
Palestinian affairs experts Pinchas Inbari of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Khaled Abu Toameh of the Gatestone Institute have in recent weeks reported in detail about the insurrection of Fatah militias and tribal leaders against Abbas’s PA. In Nablus, Fatah terrorist cells are in open rebellion against PA security forces. Since August 18, Fatah cells have repeatedly engaged PA forces in lethal exchanges, and according to Inbari, the town is now in a state of “total anarchy.” In Hebron, tribal leaders, more or less dormant for the past 20 years, are regenerating a tribal alliance as a means of bypassing the PA, which no longer represents them. Their first major action to date was to send a delegation of tribal leaders to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan. Even in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas’s power, the PA is losing ground to EU-funded NGOs that seek to limit the PA’s economic control over the groups and their operations.
All of this fighting and maneuvering is taking place against the backdrop of the encroaching PA municipal elections, scheduled for October 8. Hamas is widely expected to win control over most of the local governments in Judea and Samaria. Hamas’s coming takeover of the municipalities is likely playing a role in decisions by Fatah terrorist cells to reject the authority of the PA. Many of those cells can be expected to transfer their allegiance to Hamas once the terrorist group wins the elections.
Given his Fatah party’s looming electoral defeat, more and more PA functionaries are wondering why Abbas doesn’t use the growing anarchy in Palestinian cities as a reason to cancel them. Abbas seems to have calculated that Israel will step in and, as it has repeatedly done over the past 20 years, cancel the elections for him. Media organs Abbas controls are full of conspiracy theories whose bottom line is that Israel is not canceling the elections Abbas declared because it is in cahoots with Hamas and other “collaborators” to undermine the PA.
Although Israel, of course, is in cahoots with no one, it is the case that the government has apparently finally lost its patience with Abbas and is looking past him. Repeated angry denunciations by government leaders of Abbas for his lead role in inciting violence against Israelis, leading the international movement to delegitimize Israel, refusing to negotiate anything with its leaders, and radicalizing Palestinian society, are finally being translated into policy. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s recent announcement that Israel is adopting a carrot-and stick approach not toward the PA but toward the Palestinians themselves, and will advance development projects in areas where terrorism levels are low and take a hard line against areas where terrorist cells are most active, has sent shock waves through Abbas’s palaces.
For 22 years, Israel has bowed to Palestinian and Western demands and agreed to speak only to PA functionaries and Palestinian civilians authorized by the PA to speak to Israelis. Liberman’s decision to base Israel’s actions on the ground on the behavior of the Palestinians themselves rather than act in accordance with PA directives, along with his decision to speak directly to Palestinian businessmen and others, marks the end of Israel’s acceptance of this practice.
Without a doubt, Israel’s willingness to let Abbas fall is in part a function of the wider Arab world’s increased indifference to, if not disgust with the Palestinians. As MEMRI has documented, the Arab media is registering growing impatience with PA spokespeople. Arab commentators have harshly criticized PA functionaries who continue to insist their conflict with Israel is the most pressing issue on the pan-Arab agenda. The disintegration of Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya and the rise of Iran as a mortal threat, along with Israel’s growing importance as an ally to Sunni Arab regimes have made the Palestinian cause look downright offensive to large swaths of the Arab world.
Part of Israel’s willingness to let Abbas fall also owes to its inevitability. Once Hamas wins the elections and takes control over the local governments, Abbas’s already weakened position will become unsustainable. As is already happening in towns and villages throughout the areas, Fatah cells will transfer their allegiance to Hamas. The areas will become Balkanized and radicalized still further. Confrontation between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Palestinians in Judea and Samaria is inevitable. Moreover, this process will likely be rapid. Just as Hamas’s complete takeover of Gaza from Fatah forces happened seemingly overnight in June 2007, so its seizure of control over Judea and Samaria will happen in the blink of an eye. Many Westerners, Israeli leftists and PA functionaries hope that some deus ex machina will fall from the sky at the last minute and cancel the elections. But even if that happens, the underlying reality in which Abbas is rapidly losing all semblance of control over events in Judea and Samaria will not be reversed. Abbas has incited the Palestinians to the point where they reject not only Israel, but Abbas and the PA…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute, Aug. 12, 2016
It is election season in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians are preparing to cast their votes in the local and municipal elections, scheduled to take place on October 8. The upcoming elections will be different from the last one, held in 2012 only in the West Bank, when Hamas boycotted the vote, allowing the rival Fatah faction to claim victory. This time Hamas has decided to join the political fray — a move that caught Fatah and its leaders, including Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, by surprise.
Hamas's decision to participate in the local and municipal elections has further aggravated tensions with Abbas's Fatah faction, which continues to suffer from deep internal divisions and rivalries. In the past few weeks, Hamas and Fatah have been accusing each other of cracking down on each other's supporters in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in a bid to affect the results of the election. According to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority security forces have in recent weeks arrested scores of the Islamist movement's supporters in the West Bank. Hamas claims that the crackdown intensified after its decision to participate in the election. Hamas also claims that some of its detained supporters have been tortured, prompting some of them to go on hunger strikes in Palestinian prisons.
Samira Halaykeh, a Hamas representative in the West Bank, said that the crackdown was an "extension" of the campaign of arrests that the PA has been waging against the Islamist movement for several years now. She predicted that the latest crackdown would actually serve as a boomerang, strengthening Hamas. "The Palestinian Authority and its security forces must guarantee security and safety for all Palestinians so that they can practice their legitimate right to run and vote in the election," she added. "The Palestinian Authority needs to avoid any form of intimidation and political and intellectual repression against the voters."
Another senior Hamas representative in the West Bank, Bassem Al-Za'areer, condemned the arrests of Hamas supporters by the Palestinian Authority as "politically-motivated." He too alleged that the crackdown was aimed at undermining Hamas's chances of winning the election. The crackdown, he added, reflects the "state of desperation and panic" of the PA following Hamas's decision to participate in the vote. The Palestinian Authority fears a "fair and decent competition," he explained.
The Palestinian Authority's crackdown on Hamas on the eve of the election has even riled some senior Fatah officials, such as Husam Khader of the Balata refugee camp near Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank. "Political arrests solidify the dictatorship of the ruling [Fatah] party," Khader charged. "The Palestinian Authority is searching for any excuse to call off the election because it fears democracy more than it fears Israel." According to Khader, Abbas decided to hold the local and municipal elections because his advisors convinced him that Hamas would boycott the vote. The top Fatah official predicted that internecine fighting in Fatah would play into the hands of Hamas in the upcoming election. This is precisely what happened in the 2006 parliamentary elections, when divisions within Fatah facilitated Hamas's victory.
Similarly, Fatah maintains that Hamas has been waging a campaign of intimidation and detention against Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip — also in order to disrupt the upcoming election and undermine Fatah's performance at the ballot boxes. In the past two weeks, several Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip were rounded up by Hamas security forces, which have also banned Fatah from carrying out public election campaigns or holding rallies. Last week, as part of this crackdown, a Hamas court sentenced a former Palestinian Authority "general" to seven years in prison for "collaboration" with the PA security forces in the West Bank. Another three Fatah activists were sentenced to five years for the same crime.
In an effort to quell tensions between Hamas and Fatah, the Palestinian Central Election Commission decided to ask the two parties to sign a "Code of Conduct" document that requires all candidates and parties to avoid smear campaigns, slander, and fomenting sectarian or racist strife. The document also requires all those participating in the election to refrain from "exploiting religious or sectarian or tribal sentiments" in their campaign and also to avoid any form of intimidation, such as declaring one another traitors, apostates and infidels. Although Fatah and Hamas have pledged to honor the terms of the "Code of Conduct," known in Arabic as mithak sharaf, the two sides, which are not famous for honoring agreements, seem resolved to resort to all available methods to persuade voters to vote for each one of them. For now, the two sides have taken to social media to present their electoral platforms and wage a smear campaign against each other.
Local elections are supposed to be about who can provide the people with the best municipal services and improve their living conditions. As such, one would expect candidates to run on a platform that promises new schools, roads, parks, sports centers and other municipal services. But in the case of the Palestinians, local and municipal elections seem to have assumed a new meaning and role. In fact, the upcoming election seems to be anything but a vote for a mayor or a member of a municipal or village council. Hamas, whose leaders seem to be enthusiastic and optimistic about the upcoming vote, has seized the opportunity to wage a massive election campaign on Facebook and Twitter to promote its extremist ideology through intimidation and by accusing its rivals of infidelity, blasphemy and profanity. Hamas's message to the Palestinian voters: Vote for us or else you will be considered infidels and you will end up in hell.
The first sign of Hamas's frightening platform emerged when one of its top muftis, Yunis Al-Astal, issued a fatwa (Islamic religious decree) banning Palestinians from voting for any other party other than Hamas. "Any person, male or female, who votes for a party other than Hamas will be considered an infidel and apostate and his or her repentance will not be accepted even if they fasted or prayed or performed the hajj [pilgrimage] to Mecca," the mufti ruled. The Hamas fatwa sparked a wave of anger from many Palestinians, who were quick to accuse the Islamist movement and its leaders of waging a campaign of intimidation and terror against voters. "This is the policy of the Muslim Brotherhood [of which Hamas is an offshoot]," commented Hisham Sawalhi, a Palestinian from the West Bank. "Those who support Muslim Brotherhood are believers, while those who oppose them are infidels."…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
David M. Weinberg
Israel Hayom, Aug. 19, 2016
With Barack Obama's term as U.S. president coming to an end, and Mahmoud Abbas' tenure as Palestinian Authority leader winding down too, the Israeli government will soon have an opportunity to recalibrate its diplomatic policies. Israeli policy on the Palestinian issue has been awkwardly frozen for two decades. But in which direction should Israel go? Fortify or vitiate the Fatah-led dictatorship in Ramallah? Redeploy from parts of the West Bank, or reassert Israel's sovereign presence in major parts of Judea and Samaria through renewed building?
Hand the PA greater powers in Area C and allow the EU to build new Palestinian townlets all over the place; or intensify development of the Maaleh Adumim and Ariel settlement blocs, and grow Gush Etzion to half a million residents over the next decade — as Construction Minister Yoav Gallant suggested this week? Do withdrawals toward the coastal plain offer a saner and safer future for Israel; or is building a united and "greater" Jerusalem from Jericho to Jaffa the DNA that holds the key to the future of Israel and Zionism — as Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen has argued?
Muddle through, or attempt a radical paradigm shift? These questions have been debated in recent months in the seminar rooms and on the website of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies by a sterling set of minds, including General Hacohen, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (a senior fellow at the center, and a former national security advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman (a former deputy national security advisor), and professors Hillel Frisch (an Arabist), Efraim Inbar (a strategist) and Max Singer (a defense expert). The upshot of their debate: Apply Obama's first rule of governance. "Don't do stupid stuff." It is wiser for Israel to defer action than to take steps that threaten to make a bad situation worse.
Frisch mapped out five possible Israeli approaches: caretaker conflict management, creative friction, constructive chaos, unilateral withdrawal and unilateral annexation. The caretaker option is probably the most feasible, he feels; unilateral withdrawal is the least; and no option is ideal. In every case, Israel will have to maintain a significant military presence in Judea and Samaria. Frisch completely dismisses a sixth option: rapid establishment of a full-fledged Palestinian state. Neither he nor his colleagues view this as feasible or advisable in the foreseeable future.
Inbar says that "Israelis have gradually come to realize that at present the Palestinians are neither a partner for comprehensive peace nor capable of establishing a viable state, unfortunately. The Palestinian Authority has no intention of accepting a Jewish state within any borders, and the two sides remain far apart on most of the concrete issues to be resolved." "Israel's recent governments are left, willy-nilly, with a de facto conflict-management approach, without foreclosing any options. While there are costs to this wait-and-see approach, let's remember this was the approach favored by David Ben-Gurion. He believed in buying time to build a stronger state and in hanging on until opponents yield their radical goals or circumstances change for the better."
Amidror, too, dislikes the drive for unilateral Israeli initiatives. "A partial withdrawal would likely increase, rather than decrease, Palestinian terrorism, as Palestinians would be motivated to push harder for total Israeli withdrawal. On the other hand, Israeli annexation would inflame Palestinian passions and engender severe opposition to Israel abroad. "This is not the time to embark on useless experiments or risky unilateral initiatives, either in the hope of preparing the ground for an eventual Palestinian state or in the hope of thwarting it. When standing on the edge of a cliff, it is wiser to keep still than to step forward," Amidror concludes.
Lerman agrees, noting that many factors bind both Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog to their current position of support for the two-state rubric. This includes the sensitivities of neighbors who matter (Jordan, Egypt, etc.), the views of Diaspora Jewry and of Western diplomatic allies and defense establishment preferences for the status quo. But Lerman also warns that the false Palestinian narrative of one-sided victimhood is a major hindrance to all peace efforts. "Global actors that want to help achieve peace need to assist the Palestinians inmoving beyond wallowing in self-pity and rituals of bashing Israel," he says. "The concept of painful but practical compromises seems alien to the Palestinians, and the international community is not doing its part to help the Palestinians mature toward this realization."
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Prof. Louis René Beres
Arutz Sheva, Aug. 31, 2016
To be sure, and in predictably short order, the easily captivating phrase, "cycle of violence," will be applied yet one more time to the Hamas-Israel conflict. Irrespective of the pertinent phrase-maker's actual intent, the practical result of any such application will be more-or-less the same. The result, therefore, will be to further validate a corrosively simplistic equation between terrorism and counter-terrorism in the Middle East, promoting a contrived sense of equivalence in the region between criminality and law-enforcement.
Such a potentially injurious outcome should not go unchallenged. Rather, now that Hamas and Israel are once again engaged in terrorism and counter-terrorism respectively, it should finally be understood that there has never been any authentic "cycle of violence" between the two warring parties. What has been ongoing, although usually in undulating waves of violence and anti-violence, is the cyclically gratuitous targeting of Israeli noncombatant populations by utterly willful murderers, followed more-or-less promptly by indispensable but also measured Israeli efforts at self-defense. Alas, in some fashion, at least, it has been this way since May, 1948.
Ritually, Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), etc. – it actually makes little or no difference – describe their calculated explosions of violence against assorted Jewish innocents as a "resistance to occupation." But this disingenuous characterization has no discernible grounding in fact. After all, one must inquire, where exactly are the Israeli "occupiers" in Gaza? They are, of course, long gone. Moreover, since their plainly well-intentioned departure years ago – under then Prime Minister Arik Sharon's "disengagement" – Gaza has been entirely Judenrein, or "free of Jews."
What about the "West Bank," or what Israelis more correctly prefer to call Judea/Samaria? Here, as Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated as recently as August 22, 2016, the Palestinian Authority demands complete evacuation of Jewish communities as a sine qua non of any final status agreement. "What kind of demand is this?" asked Netanyahu understandably. "It is ethnic cleansing." One should also recall that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO, forerunner of PA) was originally formed in 1964, three years before there were any "Israel Occupied Territories." What, exaxtly, were the Palestinian fighters attempting to "liberate" at that time? It's not a hard question to answer.
Even now, in very late August 2016, by deliberately launching their rocket attacks upon Israeli soft targets from densely populated Gaza areas, Hamas still resorts to the illegal practice of human shields. Viscerally, and in ordinary speech, observers would call any such policy of hiding behind one's own women and children for safety "barbaric." In law, moreover, there is also a formal term for employing such exceptional tactics of barbarism. This term, not mutually exclusive with any pertinent behaviors of exceptional cowardice, is "perfidy." What is the relevant background to all this? PA/ Fatah is allegedly more moderate than Hamas. Nonetheless, supported by tens of millions in U.S. tax dollars, and trained in recent years in nearby Jordan by an American General, the UN "nonmember observer state" terror group states in its Internal Order Document (Article 17): “The armed popular revolution is the only inevitable way to the liberation of Palestine.” Article 19 also deserves a generally wider reading: “The struggle will not end," it says unambiguously, "until the elimination of the Zionist entity, and the liberation of Palestine.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Deja Vu and the Coming Palestinian Elections: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Aug. 29, 2016—Municipal elections are scheduled for October 8th in the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas has reversed its previous position and is now participating, and may win–not as Hamas, per se, but by putting forth “fellow traveler” candidates known to be close to Hamas. The elections will likely be close.
Terrorist Serving Multiple Life Sentences for Murder May be Next Palestinian President: Miriam Elman, Legal Insurrection, Aug. 24, 2016—Last Thursday, Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) reported that Arab-Israeli MK Yosef Jabarin traveled to Hadarim Prison to visit with top Palestinian terror mastermind Marwan Barghouti.
Human Rights Watch: Palestinians Abuse Media, Activists: New York Times, Aug. 29, 2016—Palestinian authorities are silencing dissent by cracking down on free speech and abusing local journalists and activists critical of their policies, a leading international human rights group said Tuesday.
Globe Reporter Claims Hamas is a “Resistance” Movement & Implies Israel Wants War with Hamas: Mike Fegelman, Honest Reporting, Aug. 25, 2016—Writing in the Globe and Mail on August 24, former Mideast bureau chief Patrick Martin penned a news article entitled “Israel’s new Gaza tactic is playing with fire” which was replete with anti-Israel bias and which saw this journalist’s opinion disguised as news.
Who Will Lead the United Nations?: John Bolton, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 7, 2016—Although few Americans are paying attention, the race to succeed Ban Ki-moon as United Nations secretary-general is well under way.