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Entries in Fatah (18)


US-Israel Feature: A Response to Ambassador Michael Oren on "Shared Values"

On Tuesday, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren put forth an article, “The Ultimate Ally”, in Foreign Policy.

Oren starts with the premise of a a strong ally that not only “shares America’s values, reflects its founding spirit, and resonates with its people’s beliefs”, but also politically, militarily and economically enhances Washington’s position in the Middle East. According to Oren, in this “dynamic” relationship, far from one-dimensional, “America needs Israel now more than ever”.

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Palestine Analysis: What Could Shift Hamas?

The United Nations Relief Works Agency has announced that unemployment in the Gaza strip has reached 45%. Monthly earnings in Gaza decreased by almost 10%, in real terms, between the first half of 2009 and the first half of 2010. UNRWA spokesperson Chris Guinness warned that without international intervention to halt the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the crisis could deepen substantially. 

As Facebook groups are calling for a 'revolution' in the Gaza Strip, Hamas's Interior Ministry Spokesman Ihab al-Ghussein told AFP late on Wednesday: "It makes no sense, this is little more than media hype. Gaza has already had a revolution --- what happened in 2007 was a real revolution against corruption."

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WikiLeaks 2007 Special: Palestinian Authority Calls on Israel to Attack Hamas

In a June 2007 report, the head of Israel's internal intelligence service Shin Bet, Yuvak Diskin, had a meeting with US Ambassador Richard H. Jones. Diskin talked about the destructive yet balancing nature of the conflict between the Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas, outlined Fatah's disadvantages  in that contest, and complained about Cairo.

Then Diskin claimed that a "desperate" Fatah Party had turned to Israel:

They are approaching a zero-sum situation, and yet they ask us to attack Hamas. This is a new development. We have never seen this before. They are desperate.

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Middle East Inside Line: Fatah-Hamas Talks; Israel's "Gesture" in the West Ban

Fatah and Hamas Reunification Talks: On Sunday, Hamas announced that it reached an agreement with its rival Fatah party to hold a meeting next week. The two groups were supposed to mee last week in Damascus, but tension between Syria's President Bashar Assad and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas led to a cancellation, followed by a series of arrests by the rival parties in the Gaza and West Bank.

Though next week's venue is yet be declared, Salah Bardaweel, a Hamas legislator and spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said he did not rule out the possibility that the meeting would still be held in the Syrian capital:

Fatah leaders should not waste their time searching for similarities in the political platforms of Hamas and Fatah. The only thing we could have in common is not recognizing Israel’s existence.

In response, Osama Qawasmeh, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, said that Hamas was ready to recognize Israel’s existence if a Palestinian state were to be established in the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip, and eastern Jerusalem.

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Israel-Palestine Summary: Reactions to Netanyahu's Extension of Settlements

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approving plans to build 238 new homes in East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank, French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s initiative for direct Israel-Palestine talks has fallen through. The planned peace summit, due to be held Friday, is indefinitely postponed. "We are looking for a new date that works for everybody, although there is nothing firm scheduled yet," an Israeli government official told Reuters.

Washington and Paris said that they were “disappointed” by the decision. In response, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said: “We have already said in the past that there is no longer a settlement freeze in Jerusalem. Regarding the relationship with the United States, they received notification of the plan [for the new homes] before we announced it.”

Moroccan King Mohammed VI wrote Israeli President Shimon Peres, was supposed to represent Israel in World Economic Forum, that their meeting was impossible at the moment. So Peres has canceled his trip.

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Israel-Palestine Analysis: Obama Has Failed --- It's Back to Indirect Talks

On Friday, Arab League ministers endorsed the call of Palestinian Authority leader Mamoud Abbas' call to end direct talks unless Israel agrees to another freeze on West Bank settlements. 

The Arab ministers said they would meet again in a month to study alternatives and decide on next steps, giving the Obama Administration more time to broker a compromise on renewal of the talks. The Arab delegates want to see a clear path forward after the November Congressional elections in the US.

The Palestinian Authority has still not made a commitment, despite Mahmoud Abbas' declaration that he is ready to leave the negotiating table; given the Arab League outcome, the PA may not do so until November. However, the position seems clear. Unless Israel agrees to a two-month extension on the settlement freeze, we are back to indirect talks.

For the moment, the Arab representatives have saved Barack Obama's face. But Washington, rather than just sending out another set of envoys, needs to spend some time in serious consideration of major steps. Abbas told Arab leaders that he may seek US recognition for a Palestinian state if Israel does not offer a response on settlements. Alternatively, according to sources close to the PA leadership, Abbas told U.S. envoy George Mitchell that he will resign if there is no movement.

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Israel-Syria Analysis: The Importance of Damascus for the Israeli-Palestinian Talks 

Considering efforts to bring Syrians and Israelis to the negotiation table, we said on 17 September:

To strengthen Ramallah’s hand at the negotiation table and to give a regional dimension for the Israel-Palestine talks, the Obama Administration is bringing in another strategy: Israeli-Syrian talks. These would serve both as a back-up measure to prevent radicalism and as an implicit pressure on both the Palestinians and Israelis. 

We then asked whether this wass a "waste of time", given both Damascus' ties with Tehran and the US intention to use Syrian-Israeli talks as a tool for success of the Israeli-Palestinian discussions. We left the door open for a regional settlement as long as Damascus can get deal beyond return of the Golan Heights to Syra.

Following US special envoy George Mitchell's visit to Damascus on 16 September, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will see Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem in New York on Monday. "A comprehensive peace has to include the Syria-Israel track. It’s absolutely essential that Syria be part of this process," Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeff Feltman told reporters.

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Palestine: Life in Hamas's Gaza (Prothero)

If the humiliation of chronic unemployment, or being paid to not work, isn’t enough, with a widespread travel ban on Palestinians except in rare medical cases requiring Israeli help, no one ever gets to leave this tiny patch of sand along the sea. And with meager wages supplemented by humanitarian rations, people aren’t starving. Instead they seem to be losing any sense of hope and increasingly, according to social workers, smugglers and even the police, turning in massive numbers to cheap narcotic tablets smuggled through tunnels from Egypt. A sense of lethargy and hopelessness now pervades almost every aspect of life here.

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