Palestinian supporters of exiled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan. Photo: Twitter
A possible ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, may be about more than ending the ongoing, escalating violence that threatens to spark yet another Gaza war. It could also be an attempt to pave the way for the return of former Palestinian security chief Muhammad Dahlan as successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
United Arab Emirates-backed Egyptian and UN efforts to mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas, with nemesis Qatar in the background, constitute yet another round in an Israeli-supported effort to politically, economically, and militarily weaken Hamas, and pave the way for the possible return of the Abu Dhabi-based Dahlan.
Ironically, Israeli discussions with representatives of Qatar, which has long supported Hamas, constitute recognition of the utility of Qatar’s longstanding relations with Islamists and militants — relations that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain cited as the reason for their 15-month-old diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar.
Israel and Egypt have agreed that Qatar will pay the salaries of tens of thousands of Hamas government employees in Gaza. Abbas has refused to pay those salaries as part of an Israeli-UAE-Saudi-backed effort to undermine Hamas’ control of Gaza, and give the PA a key role in its administration. Moreover, in response to Abbas’ demand, Israel reduced electricity supplies, leaving Gazans with only three to four hours of power a day.
SEPTEMBER 3, 2018 2:19 PM
JNS.org – Perhaps more than any other issue in the Middle East today, the situation in Gaza under the rule of Hamas — a…
Abbas’ economic warfare is the latest tightening of the noose in a more than decade-long Israeli-Egyptian effort to strangle Gaza economically. Included in the moves to negotiate a long-term Israeli-Hamas ceasefire are proposals for significant steps to ease the blockade of Gaza. Qatar has also been negotiating the return of two captive Israeli nationals, as well as the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war.
In a statement on Facebook, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel’s goal is to “remove the Hamas terror group from power, or force it to change its approach, i.e., recognize Israel’s right to exist and accept the principle of rebuilding in exchange for demilitarization.”
Lieberman said he wants to achieve this by “creating conditions in which the average resident of Gaza will take steps to replace the Hamas regime with a more pragmatic government” rather than through military force.
In another irony, involving Qatar in efforts to prevent Gaza from escalating out of control gives it a foot in the door as the UAE seeks to put a Palestinian leader in place who is more attuned to the Emirati and Saudi willingness to accommodate the Trump administration’s controversial efforts to negotiate an overall Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Speaking in a series of interviews, Qatari Ambassador to the Palestinian territories Muhammad Emadi insisted that “it is very difficult to fund the reconstruction of Gaza in an event of yet another destructive war.” He said that he has “discussed a maximum of a five- to 10-year ceasefire with Hamas.”
Abbas, like Hamas, rejected US mediation following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this year.
The US president startled Israelis and Palestinians by saying that Israel would pay a “higher price” for his recognition of Jerusalem and that Palestinians would “get something very good” in return “because it’s their turn next.” Trump gave no indication of what he meant by this.
The effort to negotiate a lasting ceasefire is the latest round in a so far failed UAE-Egyptian effort to return Dahlan as part of a reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah movement. Dahlan frequently does UAE Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed’s bidding. President George W. Bush reportedly described Dahlan during an internecine Palestinian power struggle in 2007 as “our boy.” Dahlan is also believed to have close ties to Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman.
Since late March, Hamas has backed weekly mass protests by Gazans demanding the “right of return” to homes in Israel proper that they or their familial predecessors claim to have lost in the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 and the 1967 Middle East war. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said recently that “thanks to these marches and resistance” an end to Israel’s decade-long blockade of Gaza is “around the corner.”
Some 170 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and thousands others wounded in Israel’s response to the protests. The IDF has acted to prevent Gazans from breaching the fence with Israel, a goal explicitly encouraged by Hamas.
Abbas may prove to be the loser as Israel and Hamas inch towards a ceasefire arrangement that could ultimately give Dahlan a role in administering the Gaza Strip.
“Gaza has become a de facto state as it comprises a set area with a central body that governs the population, has an army, and conducts foreign policy,” said Giora Eiland, former head of Israel’s National Security Council. “So, in a way, countries have to be pragmatic and negotiate with Hamas. Israel’s main interest is security — a period of complete calm in Gaza — and it is willing to do what is necessary to achieve this.”
Eiland continued, “Until recently, Cairo insisted that Abbas reassume control over Gaza, which Hamas would not accept, specifically the call for it to disarm. Now, Egypt understands that this is not realistic and is only demanding that Hamas prevent [the Islamic State’s affiliate] in the Sinai from smuggling in weaponry. The only party that is unhappy with this arrangement is Abbas, who has been left behind. But this is his problem.”
A Hamas-Israel ceasefire and the possible return of Dahlan are likely to be but the first steps in a UAE-Egyptian-Israeli-backed strategy to engineer the emergence of a Palestinian leadership more amenable to negotiating an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Whether Trump’s remark that Israel would have to pay a price for his recognition of Jerusalem was a shot from the hip or part of a broader strategy is hard to discern. The White House has since sought to roll back his remarks.
With the jury still out, Israelis, Palestinians, and their regional allies have been put on alert as they maneuver to ensure their place in whatever emerges from efforts to reengineer the political landscape.
Dr. James M. Dorsey, a non-resident Senior Associate at the BESA Center, is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture. BESA Center Perspectives Papers, such as this one, are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family.
We all know that the midterm elections are different this time around. They are usually like “all politics,” namely local. But this time around they’re different. They are all presidential, all about Trump, as most everything is. And for the anti-Trump crowd — I’m talking about the political commentators and “analysts” — any and all things bad are held to be Trump’s fault. This is presumably because they believe that their condemnations of Trump will result in a Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives.
A new book explores how graffiti artists in Beirut skirt limitations on expression to share political criticism in the streets.
A photograph of the book “Drawing Lines” by Tamara Zantout, taken at the launch of the book at Beit Beirut cultural center, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2018.
BEIRUT — Beirut’s alleyways and streets are peppered in bright, detailed and provocative graffiti. Street artists use the medium, which exists in a legal grey area, to express their identity and give voice to political frustrations.
On Tuesday, San Francisco will become the largest city in the nation to allow noncitizens to vote, and the city has spent $310,000 on a “new registration system” specifically aimed at illegals. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the plan is the first in the state and follows Proposition N, a 2016 ballot measure allowing votes by noncitizens over the age of 18, reside in the city, and have children under age 19.
By the count of the Chronicle, only 49 noncitizens have signed up to vote on Tuesday, which works out to $6,326 for every illegal voter, but there’s more to the story. City officials are worried that voting could expose illegals to ICE, who might come looking and possibly deport somebody. So supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a backer of Proposition N, urged the city to spend $500,000 to warn the illegals.
At first Sabbath service after massacre, shooting survivors are blessed; rabbi says to those who condemned Trump’s visit: ‘No one tells me how to welcome a guest in my own home’
On November 3, 2018, a joint communal Shabbat prayer service at Pittsburgh’s Beth Shalom Conservative synagogue following the massacre a week prior which saw 11 Jewish community members killed. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — A week after an anti-Semitic shooter massacred 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the community embraced each other in prayer on Saturday.
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.” He sees this trend creating a surge in “xenophobic populism.” Writing in Politico, Katy O’Donnell agrees: “Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the 20th century.” Jewish leaders like Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, sense “a very real threat from populist movements across Europe.”
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.”
We’ve been told for a long time that the ceasefire is on the way. It had many names in the past, such as tahdiah, hudna, and most recently—”an arrangement.” On Friday, once again, reports started emerging that an agreement has been reached. Several hours later, southern Israel was hit with a barrage of rockets. What happened?
And He said, “You will not be able to see My face, for No Human Being shall see Me and live.” — Shemot 33:20
Faith is deeper than knowledge. While scientific data is absorbed only in the brain, faith permeates all parts of the human personality. Nothing is untouched, all spiritual limbs quiver, and everything is transformed. It is thus more difficult to acquire faith than knowledge, and faith has a more radical effect on the human being.
A Catholic archbishop recently touched on an unspoken but highly subversive phenomenon: How anti-Christian forces exploit Christian teachings to empower those who seek to dismantle Christian civilization, Muslims being chief among them.
In an interview published last summer by the Italian outlet IlGionarle.it, Catholic Archbishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan said:
The King of Jordan, not some lowly clerk, announced that Jordan will not extend the currently existing leases renting two parcels of land to Israel. One is the so-called Island of Peace in the northern Naharayim area and the other located in the southern Arava, near Tzofar, an agricultural cooperative village (moshav). Jordan was entirely within its rights to decide not to renew the leases