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.
At the same time, the Trump administration is readying further possible sanctions on Venezuela, the official said.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in Maracaibo. (photo credit: MIRAFLORES PALACE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, Feb 8 – The United States is holding direct communications with members of Venezuela’s military urging them to abandon leader Nicolas Maduro and is also preparing new sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on him, a senior White House official said.
The Shalva Band following their final performance on “Rising Star.” Photo: Screenshot.
The Shalva Band has removed itself from the race to represent Israel in this year’s Eurovision competition because some of its members observed Shabbat and would not be able to partake in mandatory rehearsals, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.
The group, made up of eight musicians who have special needs, was one of four finalists in the “Rising Star” singing contest — the winner of which will represent Israel in Eurovision, set to be held in Tel Aviv in May.
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As Birthright Israel reaches its 700,000th participant, certain voices in America have done their best to slander the organization and force it to make drastic changes. Having staffed multiple Birthright trips as a madrich (youth leader), I have had the amazing opportunity to pass on some of the love for Israel that helped change my life.
Local police in Manchester’s Whitefield neighborhood declared the vandalism a criminal act rather than antisemitic.
Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies for those who oppose anti-Semitism, in Parliament Square in London, Britain, March 26, 2018.. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
The Philips Park Jewish cemetery in Manchester, England, was vandalized on Saturday, during which the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, who died last year, was desecrated.
Protestors call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during a march in Cape Town. (photo credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS)
A proposed multi-million dollar deal between Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) and South Africa’s biggest dairy producer Clover could be in serious trouble due to heavy pressure from the anti-Israel lobby.
Newly-formed consortium Milco, in which Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) holds a majority, is offering to buy 59.5% of the South African dairy producer.
We need to give the Likud Party some credit for not destroying itself in Tuesday’s internal elections. Given that primaries are the very embodiment of deal-making, political machines and big worker unions voting in lockstep, the results could have been far worse.
When it came to casting a secret ballot, the Likud Party’s registered voters did display some maturity. They weren’t the obedient foot soldiers of Benjamin Netanyahu, who has failed again and again in his machinations.
With elections barely two months away, the greatest challenge facing Israel’s Right emanates neither from the Center nor the Left, but, rather, from within.
Indeed, if recent polls are accurate, several small parties on the Right, most of which may not individually pass the minimum threshold to make it into the next Knesset, could nonetheless win a combined total of 10 to 12 seats, all of which would end up in the dustbin if they fail to run together.
August 2017, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville shouting, “Jews will not replace us”. October 2018, one white supremacist posted on social media that “Jews are taking over the white house”, and that Trump is a puppet of the Jews. Shabbat, the same month, a man enters a synagogue during a Bris celebration and butchers Jewish people who are praying. December 2018, Women’s March leader and Louis Farrakhan (“I’m not an antisemite, I’m an anti-termite”) fan, Tamika Mallory says: “White Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy…”
Henry Ford devoted his life to two passions: making cars and demonizing Jews. When Hitler said, “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration,” he wasn’t referring to his car manufacturing. He was referring to Ford’s anti-Semitic ideology that eventuated in the genocide of six million Jews.
Henry Ford does not deserve to be honored. The question the good people of Dearborn should ask themselves is: What would you do if the performing arts center were named after Jefferson Davis? If the answer is that you would remove Davis’s name, then you should remove Ford’s.
It was reported recently that the USA and the Taliban have reached a peace agreement on Afghanistan that will allow US forces to leave that country 17 years after they invaded it on October, 2001, less than a month after 9/11.
Al Qaeda had used that dysfunctional state as a safe haven and, while there, was able to plan and execute the attacks that took the lives of over 3000 people in. After the West invaded, the Taliban