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.
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