Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gatestone Update :: Khaled Abu Toameh: Radical and Moderate Palestinians, and more

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Radical and Moderate Palestinians
Who Is More Popular?

by Khaled Abu Toameh
December 13, 2012 at 5:00 am
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The Palestinian Authority leadership does not see that the real threat to the two-state solution is Hamas and the unwillingness of many Palestinians to accept Israel's right to exist.
When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas returned from New York to Ramallah and told the Palestinians that he obtained UN recognition of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines -- namely, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem -- fewer than 5,000 Palestinians, many of them civil servants who receive their salaries from the Palestinian Authority government, turned out to greet him in Ramallah.
When Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal came last week to the Gaza Strip and told Palestinians that armed struggle and jihad were the only way to liberate all Palestine, "from the river to the sea," and that there was no room for the Zionists in Palestine because the country belonged only to Muslim and Arabs, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians showed up to welcome Mashaal and voice support for his plan to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic state.
Even many Palestinians in the West Bank expressed support for Mashaal, especially when he said that the Palestinians would never "give up one inch of Palestine."
The Palestinian Authority's official TV station in the West Bank broadcast Mashaal's speech live, as well as Hamas celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Islamist movement.
If anything, the widespread support for Hamas's position is a sign of how much the Palestinians have been radicalized over the past few decades.
A Palestinian leader who talks about a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem is less popular than one who talks about "liberating Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheba and Safed."
When Abbas says that a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines would lead to a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, he is ignoring the fact that a large number of Palestinians think otherwise.
The pro-Hamas rallies in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians chanted slogans in favor of liberating Palestine "from the river to the sea" and called for more rocket attacks against Israel reflect the authentic voice of the Palestinian "street."
This is not a voice that supports Hamas so much as one that denies Israel a right to exist. The rallies were not about backing Hamas so much as they were intended to express the true and sincere feelings of many Arabs and Muslims who believe that Israel is an alien body that needs to be uprooted or exterminated.
Were Mashaal given the chance to deliver a speech in the West Bank advocating jihad and armed struggle against Israel he would have attracted tens of thousands of people.
The Palestinian Authority is well aware of the growing anti-Israel sentiments among its constituents; that is why its leaders and spokesmen did not dare utter a word against the Hamas leader when he talked about eliminating Israel.
On the contrary, instead of voicing reservations about Mashaal's messages of hate and violence, Palestinian officials in the West Bank hailed his speech as "positive."
Why did they find the speech positive? Simply because Mashaal talked about the need for unity between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah faction.
How can the Palestinian Authority, which claims it remains committed to the two-state solution, join forces with another group that is openly calling on Muslims and Arabs to wage jihad in order to destroy Israel?
As the case has always been with the Palestinian Authority, it is easier to blame Israel and the US for destroying the two-state solution rather than Hamas and other terror organizations.
This view was expressed this week by Saeb Erekat, the chief PLO negotiator, who once again held Israel and the US solely responsible for the current stalemate in the Middle East peace process.
"As regional and global shifts take place, the window of opportunity is not only closing on the two-state solution, but on the U.S.'s central involvement in the peace process," Erekat wrote. "Punishing the Palestinians or anyone expressing support for the Palestinians, for taking peaceful diplomatic steps, is counterproductive and dangerous. The two-state solution is the best result for all concerned. The current Israeli government does not see that. It is hoped that their long-term ally, the U.S., will."
Erekat and the rest of the Palestinian Authority leadership do not see Hamas's ambition of destroying Israel is an obstacle to peace -- nor do they see that the real threat to the two-state solution is Hamas and the unwillingness of many Palestinians to accept Israel's right to exist.
Abbas, Erekat and other relatively moderate Palestinian leaders represent a dwindling minority of Palestinians that still believes in the two-state solution and peace with Israel. As demonstrated by last week's Hamas celebrations, an increased number of Palestinians have still not come to terms with Israel's right to exist.
Related Topics:  Khaled Abu Toameh

"The Sheikh's Dog Thinks He is the Sheikh"

by Amin Farouk
December 13, 2012 at 4:30 am
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America has a difficult decision to make: If Iran is struck a blow by the United States and its allies, extremist Sunni Islamists will exploit the situation to accelerate a military build-up and continue to conspire to establish a global, militant Islamic Caliphate. On the other hand, if the threat for a nuclear Iran is not removed, the Persian Gulf interests of the United States and its oil-producing allies will be seriously endangered. The Western world did not internalize that the Muslim Brotherhood was closing ranks in the Middle East.
It is now clear that the West was overly hasty in unilaterally recognizing "Palestine" as a non-member observer state in the UN, against Israel's wishes and in legal contravention of the Oslo Accords. The decision was made without providing Israel with a minimum commitment for the end of the conflict, without recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and without sufficient, agreed-upon security arrangements.
The recognition of "Palestine" will lead, actually, to the establishment of the United Islamic Terrorist State of Hamastan in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
The Western world did not internalize that, within the Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood was closing ranks in the Middle East. It did not understand the short role assigned to Mahmoud Abbas in gaining international recognition for the terrorist state of Hamastan in an Islamist process that now probably cannot be reversed. The Palestinians now wait, and pray for the safe arrival of the ships from Iran, bringing weapons to refill the Gaza Strip arsenals of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, while the masses fill the squares and roar for the destruction of Israel.
In the meantime, there are signs that more serious sanctions might be taken against Iran, and a Sunni coalition in the Middle East under American aegis might be crystallizing. The media report a rapprochement in the positions of Israel and Turkey. Such contacts, forced by the Iranian threat, may lead to a renewal of relations between the two through a plan that will include reparations, a kind of apology and the partial opening of the Gaza Strip crossings.
Turkey's completion of its early warning systems and the fortifying of its borders with anti-missile defenses, and the Iranian grumblings about provocative American naval deployments in the Persian Gulf, might be interpreted as Sunni Gulf states organizing with American help. Thus it is possible that the United States' involvement in the agreements between Israel and Egypt in the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip was also aimed at constructing a pan-Arab Sunni Islamic front as part of the general trend. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which have just profited from the recognition of Hamastan and from the achievements of Egyptian brokering, are behaving themselves, despite the fact that the fragile, problematic ceasefire recently achieved with American-Egyptian supervision is as sturdy as a cobweb and as full of holes as a fishnet.
Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, both hungry for power, are busy instituting a theocratic Pharaonic dictatorship a thousand times worse than the Mubarak regime. The temporary readiness of the Islamic elements to accept the Gaza ceasefire is exclusively the result of their need for economic and military support from the "Crusaders" in America and Europe. It is Islamic policy to postpone gratification until its leaders have built up their might and are ready to betray their benefactors.
Israel took into consideration the possibility that the Egyptian authorities would not take serious steps to prevent weapons from being smuggled to their Muslim Brothers in the Gaza Strip, weapons whose only purpose is to kill Israelis. Nevertheless, Israel agreed to end Operation Pillar of Defense and not invade the Gaza Strip and stop rockets from being fired at its civilians. There are those who say that during the operation the Americans, planning to challenge Iran by targeting Assad's Syria first, asked Israel not to undertake a ground operation and to make do with air strikes in order to support the creation of a Sunni Islamic front. The assumption was that an Israeli ground invasion might rip apart the strategic Sunni constellation forming against Shi'ite Iran.
The situation recalled the American demand that Israel not attack Iraq during the First Gulf War in 1991, lest it endanger the Islamic Arab coalition. In such circumstances the Israelis, and especially the Americans, who are helping build up Egypt economically and politically while Morsi misleads them by the nose, would do well to remember the prophet Jesse, who likened the Pharaoh of Egypt to "a broken reed" and warned that "whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it."
America has a difficult decision to make: If nuclear Iran is struck a blow by the United States and its allies, extremist Sunni Islamists will exploit the situation for a military buildup and continue to conspire to establish a global, militant Islamic Caliphate. On the other hand, if the threat of a nuclear Iran is not removed, the Persian Gulf interests of the United States and its oil-producing allies will be seriously endangered, and Iran might conceivably bomb Israel to show the rest of the world what it is capable of.
When asked what his foreign policy was, Theodore Roosevelt famously said, "Speak softly but carry a big stick." A number of months ago President Obama was photographed talking to Turkey's Erdogan holding a baseball bat. Now Obama should remove the bat from behind his back and demand from Morsi, the broken reed, achievements on the ground – something no one seriously expects will happen.
Israel, however, has a "Magic Wand," which can intercept medium-range missiles. Since November 29, 2012, when the European Union and the UN created Hamastan, Israel has been gripping its Magic Wand more tightly and prepared additional cudgels should they prove necessary.
In the meantime, in view of the mass slaughter of Syrians, France and Britain threaten Israel, which is planning to build in Jerusalem, while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demands Israel show more sensitivity to the Palestinians, and Rahm Emanuel, listening to his master's voice, castigates the Israeli prime minister? As the Arab proverb says, "The sheik's dog thinks he is the sheikh."
Amin Farouk is a journalist based in the middle east.
Related Topics:  Amin Farouk

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