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Home arrow Blog arrow March 2008 arrow March 5, 2008

March 5, 2008
WAWA Blog March 5, 2008: Condi, Hamas, Obama, Abbas and Al Jazeera





By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the Palestinians and Israelis intend to resume peace negotiations.

 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas broke off talks at the beginning of the week to protest an exceptionally deadly Israeli military assault in the Gaza Strip in response to militants barraging southern Israel with rockets.

Earlier Wednesday, Abbas said he would not resume negotiations until Israel reaches a truce in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.


JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday he would not resume peace talks with Israel until the Jewish state reached a truce in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, complicating the latest peace mission by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Abbas' statement essentially ordered Israel to work out an arrangement with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that violently seized control of Gaza from Abbas' forces last June. Israel and the U.S. consider Hamas a terrorist group, and Israel has killed more than 120 Palestinians in fighting with Hamas militants over the past week.

Although Abbas is locked in a bitter rivalry with Hamas, he suspended the U.S.-backed peace talks this week to protest the Israeli crackdown in Gaza. Speaking to reporters at his West Bank headquarters in Ramallah, he said negotiations could not resume until the fighting ended.

"The negotiations must be started, but after the truce," Abbas said. "Once the truce is achieved the road will be open for negotiations."

Abbas said Rice had informed him she was sending an envoy to Egypt, which often mediates between Israel and Hamas. "There are real efforts being exerted by Egypt for a truce," he said.

He did not mention Hamas by name, but his aides said the Islamic group must clearly be part of a deal. The aides, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said Abbas has proposed a deal in which Hamas would halt its incessant rocket attacks on southern Israel, if Israeli ended its military operation against Palestinian militants and eased an economic blockade of Gaza.

Israeli officials have refused to open a dialogue with Hamas, which is pledged to Israel's destruction, saying the group would use any lull to rearm. During the latest fighting, Hamas fired rockets deeper into Israel than ever before.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev declined to discuss the parameters of any possible deal but suggested Israel could be open to a cease-fire. "If they were not shooting at our civilian population, we would not have to respond," he said.

The spike in violence is the latest obstacle to the U.S.-backed peace process, which aims to forge a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians by the end of the year.

Even before the fighting, the Palestinians had accused Israel of moving too slowly and undermining talks with continued settlement activity on lands they claim for a future state. Israel, meanwhile, says a peace agreement can't be carried out until Abbas regains control of Gaza. Hamas violently wrested control of the territory in June.

Rice was meeting Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on Wednesday, hoping to persuade them to resume the talks. But it appeared unlikely she would succeed.

Ahmed Qureia, the chief Palestinian negotiator, told The Associated Press he had informed Rice that talks would resume "when the atmosphere on the ground is right for productive and meaningful negotiations, but the atmosphere on the ground ... makes it difficult for the negotiations to be productive."

A day earlier, Abbas pointedly resisted Rice's pressure to return to the negotiating table, saying at a joint news conference that Israel first had to "halt its aggression."

Rice said that negotiations between moderate Palestinians and the Israelis are the only solution. At the same time, she defended Israel's right to seek out militants who use Gaza to launch rockets at southern Israel.

"I understand the difficulties of the current moment," she said. "We all must keep an eye on what is important."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday convened his Security Cabinet to discuss the Gaza situation. In a statement, Olmert's office said the officials had pledged to stop the rocket fire and weaken Hamas, and promised to advance the peace talks "while allowing the freedom of operation in combatting terror."

Rice met with Olmert late Tuesday and had meetings scheduled with Israel's foreign and defense ministers Wednesday before departing for Europe.

In Washington, President Bush said he remains optimistic.

With only 10 months left in his presidency, Bush said Tuesday he still believes there is "plenty of time" to get a Mideast peace deal before his term ends.

"This is a process that always takes two steps forward and one step back," Bush said after meeting at the White House with Jordan's King Abdullah II. "We just need to make sure that it's just one step back."


Associated Press correspondent Mohammed Daraghmeh contributed to this article from Ramallah.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080305/ap_on_re_mi_ea/us_mideast



 'US Plot Against Hamas' Revealed

By Al Jazeera

04/03/08 "Al Jazeera" -- -- The US plotted to overthrow the democratically elected Hamas government in the Palestinian territories, according to leaked documents obtained by Al Jazeera.

One of the documents appears to show that Washington tried to persuade Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of Fatah, to remove Hamas from power.

One document, dated March 2007, states "the plan will enable the Palestinian leadership to be more credible in the eyes of Israel and the others".

But, when that plan failed, the US set up an operation to fund Fatah fighters and drive Hamas out.

In Cairo, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, justified the arming of Fatah, saying the situation had called for it.

She said she had not read a report in Vanity Fair magazine which quoted a former US intelligence official said to be knowledgable of the US plans to overthrow Hamas after it failed to convince Abbas to dissolve the cabinet.

US support

"It is very clear that Hamas is being armed. And it is very clear that they are being armed in part by the Iranians," Rice said on Tuesday.

"So if the answer is that if Hamas gets armed by the Iranians and nobody helps to improve the security capabilities of the legitimate Palestinian Authority security forces, that's not a very good situation."

Rice said that international forces, including the US, would therefore continue to work with the PA to bolster its forces to keep security in its mandated region.

Responding to Rice's comments about Iranian support for Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, the exiled Hamas political leader, told Al Jazeera Rice was "lying".

"Their main concern is to provoke Iran," Meshaal said. "I'm saying it again if they have proof of this let them produce it".

"Everyone knows the origins of the Israeli weapons, it's American made while our men are using very simple homemade arms," he said.

The US has openly supported Fatah and after Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, the US announced an $80m funding deal for Fatah's security services in the West Bank.

Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Ramallah, said that many Palestinians would be upset that Fatah appeared to have played into the hands of an American foreign policy that wanted to make an example out of Hamas, whom the US labels a "terrorist" organisation.

Emerging evidence

Hamas won democratic elections in January 2006, prompting Western governments, which have refused to engage with Hamas, to threaten to withdraw financial aid to the Palestinians.

Left with little international support, by June that year Hamas and Fatah had agreed to form a unity government but were unable to broker a conclusive end to factional fighting on the streets of Gaza.

Allegations the US sought to remove Hamas in a coup dates back to 2006, after the group had come to power through Palestinian elections.

The leaked documents include a memo sent to Fatah officials, apparently by a senior US diplomat in Jerusalem in November 2006, encouraging Fatah to declare a state of emergency and take control.

The memo stated: "If Hamas does not agree [to accept a new government] within the prescribed time, you should make clear your intention to declare a state of emergency and form an emergency government explicitly committed to that platform."

The plan was ignored by Abbas who instead formed a unity government with Hamas in 2007, intended to bring an end to fighting between the two factions.

The unity government, agreed in February 2007 with the mediation of Saudi Arabia, appears to have prompted the second document and a plan to oust Hamas by force, with the US bolstering Mohammed Dahlan, the head of Fatah's security forces.

But the unity government failed to end factional fighting and in June Hamas seized Gaza, dividing the Palestinian territories into Gaza and the Fatah-controlled West Bank.

There has been no official response from Abbas regarding the documents.

No official US stamps or seals appear on the document.

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/935DF029-9ECA-4133-BCD3-7DC26FB80E4A.htm




Why Barrack Obama is Good for Israel
Patrick Seale     Al-Hayat     - 29/02/08//

Barack Obama has pledged that, if elected President of the United States, he will travel to a 'major Islamic forum' in the first 100 days of his Administration to deliver the clear message that 'we are not at war with Islam.'

This is a strong signal that Obama believes George W Bush's lethal confrontation with the world of Islam needs most urgently to be defused.

Obama has not specified where he plans to deliver his friendly message to Islam , but one can only speculate that it might be at a summit meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference - an association of 65 Islamic states -- or in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest shrines, or at Egypt's Islamic university of Al-Azhar,  or even perhaps in war-torn Iraq.
His bold pledge was made in a comprehensive policy speech in Washington last August, in which he denounced the catastrophic war in Iraq - a war 'that should never have been authorized and should never have been waged'.

Instead, he affirmed -- what he has since frequently repeated -- that he would withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq, engage in talks with Iran and Syria, and take the fight to America's real enemies, the Al-Qaeda terrorists hiding in their tribal sanctuaries of northwest Pakistan.

He also said that 'When I am President, America will reject torture without exception… close Guantanamo…adhere to the Geneva Conventions… and roll back the tide of hopelessness that gives rise to hate.'  America , he added , 'must also do the hard and sustained diplomatic work in the [Middle East] region on behalf of peace and stability.'

These views have caused considerable alarm among Israeli hawks, and among their even more hawkish American supporters. Would a President Obama, they ask with some anxiety, use American muscle to impose a resolution on Israel of the long-running Arab-Israeli conflict and bring to birth a viable Palestinian state - something Israel and its friends have always sought to avoid?

The fear of the Israeli hawks - and it is probably justified - is that whereas Barack Obama is of course committed to the security of Israel, he is not the unconditional and uncritical supporter which President George W Bush has been over the past seven years.

In their eyes, Obama is guilty of the unforgivable heresy of saying at different times that 'the Israeli government must make difficult concessions for the peace process to restart;' that 'nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people;' and that 'the creation of a wall dividing the two nations [of Israel and Palestine] is yet another example of the neglect of this Administration in brokering peace.'

Earlier still - even before the 2003 invasion of Iraq which he opposed -- Barack Obama denounced the pro-Israeli neo-conservatives, who were pressing the United States to make war on Saddam Hussein.

At an anti-war rally in Chicago on 26 October 2002, he declared: 'What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration, to shove their own ideological agenda down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.'

Perle was then chairman of the Pentagon's advisory Defence Policy Board and Wolfowitz was deputy Secretary of Defence. As everyone knows, their 'ideological agenda' was to enhance Israel's strategic environment by overthrowing and 'reforming' Arab regimes.

They were, indeed, among the leading advocates of the view that the Arab world needed to be reshaped and remodeled by the power of the United States in order to suit Israeli strategic needs.

Their analysis of the terrorism that had struck America was self-serving. The terrorist attacks of 9/11, they argued, had nothing to do with American policies towards the Arab and Islamic world. Rather, they were the product of violent Arab societies and a fanatical religion, Islam.

 For the U.S. and Israel to be safe, Arab societies had to be reformed, if necessary by force - beginning with Iraq. Once Saddam Hussein's Iraq had been smashed and reconstituted, Syria, Iran, even Egypt and Saudi Arabia, could then be given the same treatment.

In Barack Obama's view, such dangerous ideas have led to 'a misguided invasion of a Muslim country that sparks new insurgencies, ties down our military, busts our budgets, increases the pool of terrorist recruits, alienates America, gives democracy a bad name, and prompts the American people to question our engagement in the world.' He wants to turn the page.

Israel's hardline supporters do not like this line of argument one bit. They have even insinuated that Obama attended a 'madrasa', when he was a child in Indonesia; that he may be a secret Muslim; that he attends a church headed by a former Black Muslim, who is viscerally anti-Israel; that one of his foreign policy advisers is none other than Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser who, like his former boss, has been openly critical of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians.

These pro-Israeli hawks do not want the United States to make peace with Islam, but rather to intensify the fight against what they like to call 'Islamo-fascism.' They do not want the U.S. to reach out to Iran, but rather to intimidate it and, if possible, destroy its economy.

The neo-con patriarch, Norman Podhoretz, wants the U.S. to bomb Iran, not to engage it in dialogue. Podhoretz happens to be the father-in-law of Eliot Abrams, the hard-line official in charge of the Middle East at the U.S. National Security Council.

The key question is this: whose policy is best for Israel? Barack Obama's or the neo-con hawks'? At a meeting this week with Jewish community leaders at a synagogue in Ohio, Obama chided those who believed that being pro-Israel meant adopting the hard-line policies of the Likud. 'That can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel,' he told them.

Israel and its friends should perhaps consider whether resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict is not better for Israel than the present violent confrontation; and whether defusing America's hostile relations with Iran, Syria and Hizballah might not be better for Israel than having these angry and threatening neighbours on its borders.

Instead of fearing and smearing Obama, Israel and its friends might consider that he just might be the U.S. President who can bring peace to the Middle East at last, and effect a much needed reconciliation between the West and Islam.

Is not overseeing Israel's peaceful integration into the Arab world far better for its long-term security and prosperity than Bush's bankrupt policies of making war on Iraq, threatening Iran and Syria, encouraging Israel's wars on Hizballah and Hamas - policies which have done nothing but create a thirst for revenge and hate for the U.S. and Israel throughout the Arab and Islamic world, and beyond?

The 46-year old Democratic Senator from Illinois, son of a black Kenyan father and a white Texan mother, is not yet in the White House.  But he stands a good chance of getting there.

WAWA Note: Hillary won Texas and Ohio. I predict we will see a Hillary-Obama Pres/VP ticket.

   
 
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The Paradoxical Commandments
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