Some Gaza factions demand that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas be included in the Israel-Hamas arrangement.
People release pigeons during an event to show support for a unity deal between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, in Gaza City, Oct. 13, 2017.
Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, delivered a sermon in Gaza City on Aug. 21 to mark Eid al-Adha, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, promising residents of the Strip they would soon be free of Israel’s 11-year siege. “This is the result of your determined stand and your struggle,” he told them, adding that Hamas would not pay any “political” price for the resulting humanitarian aid. His remarks are similar to the attitude of Israeli decision-makers about the emerging deal with Hamas, with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman claiming Israel was not paying a heavy diplomatic price for what it euphemistically terms the “arrangement” with Hamas. Neither side is comfortable admitting to any agreement with the enemy, which by its very nature involves some form of concession.
As part of these concessions, Hamas is committed to obtaining the agreement of all the Palestinian factions in Gaza to a cessation of violence against Israel. While the deal does not entail formal Hamas recognition of the Jewish state, the organization’s leaders will have to explain why they made a deal with the Zionists after years of boasting of their refusal to accept its existence, and why they agreed to abandon the path of jihad.
In his Gaza sermon, Haniyeh provided a diplomatic, somewhat ingenious explanation for the demand that all Gaza factions accept the terms of the agreement with Israel. “To ensure appropriate guarantees of the aid promised to the Strip, all the Palestinian resistance organizations will maintain their status as the shield and defenders of the Palestinian people and the aid will be provided under national Palestinian consensus and the supervision of an Arab safety net,” he said. Unwittingly and even before they accepted their role as “shields,” the factions found themselves united in Haniyeh’s vision under one umbrella as defenders of the Palestinian people.
But this rosy picture portrayed by Haniyeh does not reflect reality. Egypt, which has been mediating the Hamas-Israel deal, summoned the Palestinian factions from Gaza to Cairo Aug. 14 for the final stretch of negotiations, but was unable to reach an agreement with its guests. All of the sides returned to Gaza for the Eid al-Adha celebrations, promising to reconvene in Cairo next week. The Hamas leadership hopes to convince the Palestinian factions by then that the deal benefits them, too.
This does not mean that if the smaller Palestinian groups refuse to join the agreement, they would pose a significant threat to Hamas. However, the Hamas leadership cannot afford even an iota of opposition or criticism by any organization, small as it may be. It cannot afford having any factions claiming that Haniyeh and company, the self-professed leaders of the Islamist resistance, surrendered to Israel in order to remain in power. The honor, the arrogance, the desire to prove that they never give in or give up are deeply entrenched in the DNA of the Hamas leadership.
So which factions is Haniyeh trying to rope in as “defenders of the Palestinian people”?
Hamas has no problem with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second largest organization in Gaza. Iran foots the bill for the Islamic Jihad’s operations, and it also partially funds Hamas. Having a common benefactor ensured the Islamic Jihad independence even if it dared challenge Hamas and boast that it is the real leader of the jihad against the Zionists. Ever since the 2014 Israel-Gaza war known as Operation Protective Edge, the two organizations have grown closer and cooperated on military operations as evidenced by the rounds of fighting with Israel in recent months.
Hamas has virtually no contact with the fundamentalist Salafi groups in Gaza. Hamas does not see them as real threats and has thus far left their activists alone (not detained and not arrested) so as not to appear to be defending the Zionists against fundamentalist provocations. However, if leaders of the Hamas armed wing see these groups as a threat that could jeopardize the deal with Israel, they would have no qualms about taking them out in a matter of hours.
Opposition to the deal with Israel comes largely from the nonreligious factions — the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and even the Popular Resistance Committees, whose power has waned recently but whose opinion, it seems, still counts.
At the Cairo talks, representatives of PFLP, acting on orders of political bureau member Rabah Mohanna, demanded that the Palestinian Ramallah leadership be included in any deal. There is no telling how long the PFLP will object to the deal if Hamas and Fatah do not reconcile. Still, representatives of the Fatah movement were invited to Cairo for this last round of talks in an additional, last-ditch effort to convince Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to sign onto the move.
The PFLP’s position is not surprising. Following Operation Protective Edge in September 2014, the organization’s leading activists met in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun and demanded that control of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt be handed over to Abbas in order to ease the Egyptian siege of the Strip. A senior official in the organization, Jamil Mazhar, said at the time from the podium erected on the rubble of the fighting that left thousands homeless that Fatah must be returned to Gaza for the sake of its people.
Activists of the PFLP are not concerned only by the plight of the population. One of the group’s supporters told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that since Hamas took control of Gaza and ousted Fatah in 2007, it has imposed a totalitarian regime that limits the freedom of other factions. In particular, he said, Hamas has reined in the so-called “secular” organizations.
Nonetheless, Hamas is pressing for a national consensus in Gaza. Its leaders would like to declare that the Israeli and Egyptian sieges were lifted with no strings attached (no diplomatic compromise on Hamas’ part) and that Hamas had managed to unite all the factions to stand behind the deal. Hamas has no need to put into words what will befall anyone who refuses to go along.
Jeremy Corbyn leads a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London in 2014, one year before becoming Labour Party leader. Photo: File.
This marked a massive rise from the previous such survey, in which only 39% of Jews believed Corbyn was antisemitic.
British Jews also expressed an extremely low opinion of the Labour Party in general. The poll showed that 85.6% believed Labour suffered from “very high” levels of antisemitism.
Corbyn and his party have been beset with a series of high-profile antisemitism scandals for several years, which has resulted in the resignation and suspension of several prominent officials. Corbyn himself was recently caught on video saying that “Zionists” did not understand “English irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time.”
Makuya in Jerusalem 201 (YouTube)
Like an apple tree among trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the youths. I delight to sit in his shade, And his fruit is sweet to my mouth. (Song of Songs 2:3)
For ten days in late August, Israeli Rabbi Benny Lau and his wife, Rabbanit Noah Lau, traveled from Jerusalem to Japan to lead Bible study for groups of Makuya Japanese Christians. The Laus traveled to five Japanese towns and spent three days together at a weekend conference with 3,400 members of the Makuya group.
Makuya is Japanese for the Hebrew word Mishkan, the tent of meeting, where human beings come into contact with God. The Mishkan was the portable sanctuary that the Israelites used in the desert, before entering Israel and building the First Holy Temple.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psalm 11:5)
Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. (Credit: Agencia O Globo)
Jair Bolsonaro, the front-runner in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil, was stabbed during a campaign rally Thursday and was undergoing surgery.
The far-right politician, whose heated rhetoric has electrified some voters and angered others – -who accuse him of racism and homophobia – in a deeply polarized electorate, was attacked amid a crowd in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. Bolsonaro has performed strongly in recent opinion polls.
Those same polls suggested that he will likely receive the most votes in next month’s presidential elections, especially if the country’s former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (‘Lula’) remains blocked from standing. He is currently in prison, but is appealing against his candidacy ban – imposed after his conviction for corruption.
Republican lawmakers have made it clear they have no intention of repealing Obamacare in the current Congress.
Republicans in the nation’s top lawmaking body have never really wanted to get rid of Obamacare. They would prefer to present the program, which David Horowitz correctly describes as “the greatest assault on individual freedom and individual choice in our lifetimes,” as a villain and whip up sentiment against it and run against it every election. They view Obamacare as good for the business of politics. They may chip away at it from time to time or tinker with it at the margins, but make no mistake: these creatures of Washington want to keep it in place. This is the Republicans’ dirty secret.
The Trump administration has decided to reopen a case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, previously closed by the Obama administration in 2014, alleging that the university had allowed Jewish students to be subjected to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. The issue, ignored by the Obama administration, was whether the students were discriminated against based on their actual or perceived Jewish ancestry or ethnicity. Kenneth L. Marcus, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, decided that the case deserved another look.
Nestled in the Han River in the middle of South Korea’s bustling capital of Seoul, Yeoui Island is hardly where one would expect to find the largest mega-church in the world. Home to the city’s business and financial district, its skyline dotted with skyscrapers, the island boasts some of the country’s most powerful institutions, such as the Korean stock exchange and the headquarters of LG, the international conglomerate.
The AfD’s opponents, who often brand the party as “far right” or “extremist,” claim that the party’s alleged ties to neo-Nazi groups pose an existential threat to Germany’s constitutional order. The AfD’s supporters counter that Germany’s politically correct establishment, afraid of losing its power and influence, is attempting to outlaw a legitimate party that has pledged to put the interests of German citizens first.
Israel’s Palestinian foes regard “martyrdom” as the supremely highest expression of Islamic sacredness. Nonetheless, there are certain conspicuously prominent disjunctions between the relevant obligations of faith and expectations of international law. Unambiguously, only the latter set of obligations can offer a suitably authoritative source for assessing Palestinian resorts to armed force.
This is the case even when the stated objective of such resorts would be “self-determination” and/or “national liberation.”
“Setting fire to the ground,” a “major catastrophe,” bringing “new instability” are the headlines that have greeted Donald Trump’s unorthodox decisions over the past year. Withdrawing from UNESCO, moving the US Embassy, leaving the Iran deal and cutting funding to UNRWA and funding for Pakistan were seen as extreme decisions in the Middle East and around the world. Insofar as there is a “Trump Doctrine,” it has been to call this bluff.
In the mind-set of Trump and his team, the time has come for the United States to move quickly to reverse decades of foreign policy norms, ending the status quo, and ripping up what the previous administrations did.
The jihadi assault on and massacre of Christians continued unabated throughout the Muslim word. According to one report titled, “Armed gangs WIPE OUT 15 villages in mass Christian slaughter in Nigeria,” several Islamic terrorists “stormed through 15 villages to massacre Christians and destroy their churches in a violent crackdown against the religion…. Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.
Wars are raging in various parts of the Middle East, although there is a tendency not to call the conflicts by that name because of the fear conjured up by the word.
One conflagration is the war Iran is waging against those – headed by Israel – who stand in the way of its plans to take over the entire Middle East.
Another is the Assad regime’s war to take back control of the entire country, and a third is the PLO’s battle for survival.
Much has been written about the first of these wars, and reports have claimed that from early 2017 on, Israel has launched over 200 attacks in Syria, mainly at targets connected to Iran.