European Observatory: Israel Targets Palestinian Think Tank

Gaza, (Alresalah.ps)–European human rights organization expressed its deep concern about the Israeli occupation’s targeting of academics and Palestinian scientific elites.

A report by the Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights indicated to Israel’s impulsive detention campaigns against academics and lecturers at universities on a regular basis and without charge; most of them are subject to administrative detention.

It explained that “according to a field survey by an observatory group, it found that the occupation detained 41 Palestinian lecturers and academics; most of which received administrative detention including the lecturers at An-Najah University Youssef Abdel Haq, Omar Abdel Razek, professors of economics, Mohammed Ghazal, a professor of civil engineering, and Amin Abu Wardeh, professor of Political Science, and lecturers at Al-Quds Open University Adnan Abu Tbana and Nayef Abu Saud, among others.

Moreover, the Observatory documented cases of extortion practiced against a number of academics such as blackmailing them into intelligence cooperation for their release, or by threatening them of deportation, besides confiscating scientific researches they achieved throughout their administrative detention; for example, Professor Issam Ashkar had his seven theoretical researches in physics damaged by the Israeli prison authorities.

The testimonies given also show how the Israeli occupation deliberately degradingly treated the academics detained; to illustrate, they are exposed to humiliating naked and semi-naked inspection and restriction of the hands and legs, kicking feet, in addition to exposing them to inspection at the hands of young investigators and intelligence officers designed to hit their morale and dishonor them.

Executive Director of the Observatory Amani Sinwar added that the organization is in the process to spread the cause of targeting the Palestinian professionals world-wide and across UN Agencies, particularly the administrative detention based on secret accusations that are forbidden from mentioning to the prisoner or his legal advisor which indicates how the occupation with its detention of Palestinian elites is far from behaving on legal grounds, but aims to drain away the Palestinian community from think tank, and to disrupt Palestinian educational process.

(www.alresalah.ps / 09.02.2012)

Support grows for Palestinian hunger striker

Khader Adnan’s “life is in danger” after more than 50 days without food in protest against his detention without charge.
Activists around the world call for the release of Adnan who has been on a hunger strike since his detention 

Supporters of Khader Adnan, a Palestinian activist, have called for a worldwide solidarity hunger strike, after human rights groups reported that his life was in danger.

Adnan, widely believed to be a leader of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, has not had food since mid-December when the Israeli army raided his West Bank home.

People from around the world tweeted on Thursday that they had joined the solidarity hunger strike, using the hashtag #9febHungerStrike.

Amnesty International said that Adnan’s life was in danger as he continued his protest against his detention without trial or charge.

“He remains shackled to his hospital bed and constant under armed guard,” the rights group said in a statement.

Adnan was arrested from his house in the occupied West Bank on December 17, and given a four-month administrative detention order by an Israeli military court on January 10.

The order will end on May 8, but Amnesty International said that it could be renewed indefinitely.

Bad treatment

Adnan’s wife, Randa, complained that medical staff were treating him very badly after she visited him in hospital on February 7, the first time since his detention.

His health is deteriorating, she said, adding that a doctor had “mocked him when he asked for water and said that he should also stop drinking water”.

“A lot of the hair on his face and head has fallen off. He has not been allowed to shower or wash during all his time in detention, nor is he allowed to wear warm clothes in this cold weather.”

Musa Adnan, the prisoner’s father, said on Monday that he had also begun a hunger strike to “support his son and understand his pain”.

Speaking to Al Jazeera’s Rania Zabaneh on Thursday, Musa said he was going to Ofer Military Base where a solidarity protest was taking place. Meanwhile military judges considered a final appeal at Safad hospital where Khader was held.

Protesters at Ofer held up signs that read: “Wake up! Our dignity will fall if Khader Adnan falls, Wake up before I die,” and “Our dignity more important than food.”

Protesters also held a mock casket with the names of 203 Palestinians who alleged to have died in Israeli jails, with a sign that read, “Wake up before I become number 204”.

There are currently some 310 Palestinians in administrative detention, a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely without charge or trial.

‘Life at risk’

In a statement, the Israeli Prison Service acknowledged Adnan’s life was at risk and said he had agreed to take potassium pills, the BBC reported. The prison service also said that Adnan had said he did not want to die.

The 33-year-old is protesting against what he says was a violent arrest as well as humiliating interrogation sessions.

He told lawyers and human rights organisations that masked soldiers violently broke into his house, where his mother and children were present.

Adnan said that his hands were shackled behind him and that he was thrown onto the floor of the military jeep and kicked and slapped by soldiers while they took him to the settlement of Mevo Dotan.

He told lawyers that he went on a hunger strike on the second day of his arrest to protest his ill-treatment by interrogators from the Israel Security Agency (ISA).

According to the ISA briefing that his lawyers received, Adnan was interrogated almost every day from January 18 until January 29; on some days he was interrogated twice.

The only lawyer allowed to visit Adnan said that he has been moved to five different hospitals and medical centres in the last week, which was not necessary given that he was only accepting medical treatment from Physicians for Human Rights.

Adnan’s lawyers believe that this was intended to add further pressure on him, including by making it harder for his lawyers and family to visit him

Adnan has been detained at least seven times previously – in 2005, he went into a 12-day hunger strike protesting his isolation. His demands were met and he was moved back with other prisoners at Kfar Yona prison.

Online campaign

Support for the solidarity hunger strike seemed to come in from as far as Argentina and Honduras. Here is a collection of some of those that tweeted in solidarity with the online campaign.

(www.aljazeera.com / 09.02.2012)

Settlers who went too far – even for Netanyahu

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Itai Harel gazed across at the rocky wilderness of the Judaean Mountains and urged us to “look at all this wonderful, empty land all the way from Jerusalem, waiting for its sons to come to build and live in it”. It was one of the few moments that Mr Harel, a 38-year-old social worker, turned lyrical in helping to explain why he, his wife and six children are living with 50 other families in a fenced outpost on a remote hilltop east of the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Standing by the stables Mr Harel uses for the successful therapeutic riding centre he runs, you would hardly guess that Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered that every structure here should be evacuated and demolished in little more than eight weeks. Or that the outpost has become the crucible for a political and judicial trial of strength; one which may decide whether Israel’s government is prepared to put any limits at all on illegal Jewish West Bank settlement.

This peaceful winter morning, children are clambering over the slides in the playground of one the community’s two kindergartens. The water tower and electricity pylons, like the road that winds up the hillside to the summit, testify to the generous $4m-worth of help the community has had from governmental agencies since its establishment a decade ago. So too do the Israel Defence Force soldiers on protective duty here.

Yet this is part of the Migron paradox – there is absolutely nothing legal about it. Forget about international law, which most democratic governments believe is violated by all Jewish settlement in occupied territory. Like another 100 such unauthorised outposts, which started to spring up in the 1990s to get round Israel’s promise to build no new actual settlements, it has no basis in Israeli law. Moreover, government departments have regularly confirmed, and the Supreme Court accepted, that Migron was built on land privately owned by individual Palestinians and their families in the nearby villages of Burqa and Deir Dibwan, which makes it doubly illegal.

In her judgment, issued after repeated unfulfilled promises to evacuate the Migron residents, the Chief Justice, Dorit Beinisch, declared unequivocally that “we can only hope residents [of Migron] accept their duty not to behave as hooligans and resettle in any other place the state allows them.”

Mr Harel is hardly an obvious “hooligan”, insisting he wants a peaceful solution. But his ideological belief in his right to live where he chooses in the West Bank is not in doubt. “Look, my father survived the Holocaust, his little brother was killed. He tried to come to Israel after the war when he was six with his parents and another brother and the British sent them to Cyprus. He fought in the troops that liberated Jerusalem [in the 1967 Six Day war].”

Mr Harel, who believes it is for the voters and not the courts to decide the fate of the land, adds: This is my history. Is this the land of my forefathers or is it occupied territory? I think most Israelis know the answer.”

The Supreme Court order has raised the spectre of an evacuation even more violent than in 2006, when nine houses were evacuated in another illegal outpost, Amona, on which thousands of right-wing settlers converged. As it is, the demolition of three houses here resulted in a series of “price tag” attacks by settlers, which included vandalised and burned mosques in several Palestinian villages. (Migron settlers are adamant none of them took part.)

The Netanyahu government has now proposed a remarkable “compromise”, under which the outpost is removed to another approved site 2km away. It is still in occupied territory of course, but on officially designated “state land”.

Hagit Ofran, from the advocacy group Peace Now, believes the move may only be a delaying tactic. But in any case, she argues: “It would mean that the Israeli government would establish a new settlement and would send out the message that if you steal Palestinian land without authority, and threaten the use of violence, we will build you a new settlement on the taxpayer’s account. It’s outrageous.”

Outrageous or not, the offer has not yet been accepted by the settlers, who have been bolstered by right-wingers in the Netanyahu coalition who are arguing in favour of primary legislation retrospectively to legalise the outpost – a move which Peace Now argues would “signal the settlers to continue to build outposts without permission and to create facts on the ground.”

A few kilometres away in Burqa, Abdel Khader Mohammed Samarin, 72, a leader of the local Palestinian landowners group who petitioned the Supreme Court, looked out across the lovely valley which separates the Palestinian village from Migron. Mr Samarin, who says he lost 16 acres of land out of the 500 seized to make way for the outpost, said: “I want to appeal to Tony Blair as head of the Quartet to pressure Israel to let us have our land back. I want to appeal to the world.”

But he added: “My hope is weak. I don’t think they are going to do this.” And that analysis, at least, is shared by Mr Harel. “Come back in the summer when it is warmer and I’ll take you horse riding,” he said. “In Migron.”

How the land lies: Settling disputes

Settlements remain a constant source of friction between Israel and the Palestinians, with the issue touching on political, religious and territorial claims.

More than half a million Jewish settlers – encouraged by successive Israeli governments – live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which were seized by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Along with Gaza, these territories are considered the basis of a future Palestinian state, and the international community views all settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace.

Rapid expansion of settlements has driven many to despair of a two-state solution. Israel wants the largest settlements to remain in Israel in any deal, a solution that critics say would effectively result in Palestinian “bantustans”, or isolated self-governing enclaves, in the West Bank.

Settlers determined to assert Israel’s claim to the West Bank are motivated by financial, security and religious reasons. Many consider the West Bank part of their historic birthright.

The situation is even more intractable in East Jerusalem, coveted by the Palestinians as their future capital. Israel asserts sovereignty over Jerusalem, and 250,000 settlers live in the Arab-dominated east of the city.

Outposts – makeshift communities built without Israel’s authorisation – have proved a particular thorn in Israel’s side. Migron, built on private Palestinian land, is the largest of these.

Under the Bush-era “road map” in 2003, Israel committed to dismantling outposts built after 2001. Migron was one, but efforts to move it have been blocked by right-wing opponents, and settlers have threatened to make it a key battleground if the state attempts to dismantle it.

(www.independent.co.uk / 09.02.2012)

Interview: Nakba survivor relives his last moments in ethnically-cleansed Saffuriyya

Guest contribution by Danya M.

Overhead they heard sounds of air planes dropping explosives onto the village, soldiers shooting up in the air and at those who dared to defend themselves, screams of women and children not knowing what to do, and the noise of panicking civilians running from their homes.

This was the scene on July 16, 1948, exactly two months after the establishment of the state of Israel. Before that night, Saffuriyya was a thriving agricultural village with thousands of years of history behind it. Saffuriyya was once was a blossoming village overlaying a hilltop, but now only remnants of destroyed buildings show from underneath the unhistorical trees planted by the Jewish National Fund in order to cover up what was once a rich and beautiful history.

A local resident whose family came from Saffuriyya holds a picture of the village in 1945. (Courtesy of Danya M.)

I’ve had the pleasure to know a family from Saffuriyya my whole life, and I’ve had the chance to visit this village twice over the past two years. The first time I went, I was astonished by the fact that there once was a buzzing village covering that hill, which is now an Israeli tree park dedicated to Guatemala’s independence. The only building you can see is the Roman Era fortress that used to be a boys school that is placed on top of the hill. I looked from below up unto the hill, just imaging the life of the man and woman I called my Jido and Tayta for so many years, though they really aren’t my grandparents. I imagined how life was for them; growing up in such a beautiful village in a land they cultivated and loved for centuries.

The second time I went there, last summer, I had the chance to go up on top of the hill, only to find out that the Roman fortress that lies on the peak of the hill is now an Israeli Museum featuring a time line starting from the Roman Era to present day Israel. As I looked at that timeline, I saw nothing about the history of the indigenous Palestinian inhabitants of the village. The history of the family I’ve known my whole life wasn’t told in that museum and I found that heartbreaking. I wanted to know more, I wanted to know the history of the Palestinian people from Saffuriyya, and specifically I wanted to know about the history of the man whose house I have been to every Friday for dinner since I was 7 years old.

In speaking about Palestine, you must understand what happened during the Nakba (The Catastrophe) to better understand the context of the situation now. This narrative isn’t taught in schools, but it’s told by the elders who pass down the stories of their struggles from generation to generation, and it’s up to us to relay these stories with our voices to the world, letting everybody know that we haven’t forgotten and we will never will. The old will eventually die out, but the young will continue their spirit and never forget about the tragedies brought upon the Palestinian people, contrary to Ben Gurion’s belief.

I’m pleased to have the privilege of interviewing Said Qassim, a Nakba survivor who was born on January of 1927. He is the father of eleven children and a grandfather of dozens upon dozens of grandchildren. He now resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife of sixty-seven years. He came to America in the late 1980s after the civil war in Lebanon. He is now currently working on a memoir about his life, and hopes he will be finished within the coming year.

Danya M.: Can you tell me about Saffuriyya, and the life in Saffuriyya?

Said Qassim: The population of Saffuriyya before 1948, was 4,500 people. It was the biggest village in the Galilee. The economy had 100% dependence on agriculture, and it was a very agricultural town and for most of its residents, it was a very simple life. Most of the population was Muslim but there was a Christian Monastery that was a girl’s school that is one of the only things that still remains today. The education level was very low and up until 1948 only seven people had high school diplomas out of the whole village, and there were about seventeen people who had finished middle school. There are a few others who finished writing & Quran School.

On the other side of the monastery is a school for girls with special needs. (Courtesy of Danya M.)

DM: Can you tell me about your life before the Nakba?

A view from the peak of the hill in Saffuriyya. (Courtesy of Danya M.)

SQ: I’m writing a memoir right now, that has most of my life story in details, but for this I will give you highlights of my life. I’m the only survivor of the males in my family. Other males were born, but I was the only one who survived. I have three sisters. I started my education in the Quran School which was located in the Roman fortress, where I learned how to read and write; I also memorized some of the Quran. I moved to the elementary school in Saffuriyya. After elementary school I went to school in Nazareth where I finished to the tenth grade in 1943; I was about fifteen years old.  Right after school, I helped my father in the farms for about a year.  In 1944, I got married at the age of sixteen, even before I knew what marriage was. On the wedding day, my family put me on a horse for the celebration, and I didn’t know if I was going to a slaughter house or to a wedding, I was so confused. The girl I married was my neighbor, and I didn’t know her very well, and I can’t even remember hearing her voice, but I sure was happy. In 1945, when I was seventeen years old, I had signed up to join the British police during the British Mandate. I asked the officer if I could join and he said yes but he’s going to have to test me because I was so young that I didn’t even have facial hair yet. I joined the same exact day that World War II ended, and I was in the Calvary unit. For the first six months, I stayed in a police station in Bethlehem. After Bethlehem, I was moved to the West Bank town of Tulkarem where I stayed for a year and a half. I moved between Haifa and Jaffa at a police station called Telmund for eight months and then I moved to Beit Lid, near the Jewish settlement Netanya, where I stayed the rest of the time during my police years. I stayed with the Palestinian police force until May of 1948, when Britain officially left Palestine. I was the literally the last Arab police officer to leave Beit Lid junction.

DM: Can you tell me what happened during July 16, 1948?

SQ: This is opening up very painful memories for me… But I was in Saffuriyya during the war and I carried the weapons with the Palestinian resistance which was very much unorganized, and mainly volunteers. The Zionists captured and occupied Shaffa Amr, which is three miles west of Saffuriyya. In Saffuriyya there was a military regiment that was supposed to protect the village; it was led by a man named Nimer Abu-Najj who was a local of Saffuriyya. The weapons consisted of old rifles salvaged from World War I and World War II. The regiment leader put land mines around the village as precaution, as a last line of defense. At that time, the Arab countries established an army called the “rescuer army”. The army was led by non-Palestinian officers, who were mainly Lebanese and Iraqi. One of the officers of the rescuer army came to town, and I believe he was an Iraqi officer. People welcomed him, assuming he was a professional soldier guy. We showed him what our plans of defense were, which consisted of land mines, especially where the entrance of the town was. The Iraqi officer said that we were crazy and told us to collect the land mines and not use them. He told us that we’re going to have an offensive instead of defensive.

That night at 8:00 pm the Zionist militia came and brought a bulldozer. They went over the checkpoint in front of the town that we set up and ran over the people manning it. When the Zionists came to the village, they came with full force and started bombing Saffuriyya. Myself along with my parents, sister, wife, and my two kids, left the village and the only thing we brought with us were two blankets. We left everything else behind, and we thought we were going to come back when the bombings were finished. Everybody in the village left all their belongings behind when they left. We started walking north, and every time we stopped, the “rescuer army” would tell us to keep going because the Zionist militias are coming behind us. We kept walking until we reached Safed, which is the most northern town in Palestine. During that summer, we had the best crops for farming and we had to leave all of that behind us. I would say that the tragedy really started when we became refugees in Lebanon.

We walked all the way to Bint Jbeil in Lebanon. The Lebanese government didn’t treat us like humans; they treated us like fourth-class citizens. We stayed in Bint Jbeil for three days, and then they told us that those who came from Saffuriyya need to get on a bus to go to Beit Yahoun. We found a bunch of tents there, some were pyramid shaped tents and the others were bell shaped tents. The living conditions were horrible.  There were no bathrooms, running water, electricity, or anything to sleep on, but there were only tents. They delivered the water in big tankers and if people get a couple of gallons of water per family, they would be considered lucky. That water had to last for cooking, drinking, washing, and cleaning. Because there was no water or any means for personal hygiene, the whole camp got infested with lice.

After the whole camp got infested with lice, after two months, the Lebanese government moved us to another town called Karoun. In Karoun they had these big barracks that many families had to share. The families divided the barracks up by putting a sliding cloth in the middle to determine each family’s living space. We stayed in Karoun all throughout winter. It was a cold town, and we had no warm clothes because when we left Saffuriyya it was summer time. Many of those in the camp started going to the trees and started cutting them down for wood to make fires for warmth. The local farmers of Karoun complained to the Lebanese government, so the government made us move from Karoun. The majority of the refugee’s were moved to Naher al Barad refugee camp, and about one hundred and fifty were moved to Anjar refugee camp. My family and I were considered one of the lucky ones because we were one of the one hundred and fifty that went to Anjar.

Anjar was a former refugee camp for many of the Armenians, but they all left to go live in Armenia. They had one room houses, with an outside bathroom. There were no doors, but it was good enough, and better than Karoun. A year into staying in Anjar, the red cross opened some schools in Anjar and I taught there for a year. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) was established and took over the Palestinian refugee camps. There was a need for teachers in Ain El Hilwa refugee camp in Saida, Lebanon. They moved me to Ain el Hilwa where I taught English for a school.

Ain El Hilwa was worse than anything I could imagine. Ain El Hilwa is only one mile long and half a mile wide with over 80,000 people living in that condensed area. Because of the overwhelming population, people started making makeshift shacks to build on top of their roofs, because the Lebanese government made it illegal for Palestinian refugees to construct anything with concrete. When we first got to Ain Al Hilwa all there were was tents. After a little while, the Lebanese government let us build 5 foot walls of concrete, and for the roof we had to use metal sheets. There was a police station near Ain Al Hilwa, and they limited us everywhere we go, and in order to go to Beirut or any other city we had to get a permit from the Lebanese military station.

An old newspaper clipping of Saffuriyya, found on a wall in the monastery school. (Courtesy of Danya M.)

DM: Did you ever feel that you weren’t ever going to be able to go back to Palestine?

SQ: For me personally, in 1948 is when I knew that we wouldn’t return to Palestine because they moved us more away from Palestine and more north in Lebanon.  Many people in the camp held on to the belief and hope that we would be able to return to Palestine. Even still today, when you go to somebody’s house for coffee or tea, you always say “in Palestine, God willing”.

DM: What is your favorite memory of Saffuriyya and if you had the chance, would you go back?

SQ: My most memorable and favorite memory of Saffuriyya was when I realized and knew I was married. It was the happiest moment in my life. As for the question if I would go back to Saffuriyya, Of course I’d go back in a heartbeat if I had the chance, I loved my life there.

Danya M.

Danya M. is a Palestinian American second year undergraduate student at the University of New Mexico majoring in Human Development & Family Relations and pursuing a minor in Peace Studies.  She is currently the co-president for the UNM chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.   

(smpalestine.com / 09.02.2012)

Israeli Likud Party Calls to Storm al-Aqsa Mosque‏

JERUSALEM, February 9, 2012 (WAFA) – Members of the Israeli right-wing Likud party Thursday called to  storm al-Aqsa mosque next Sunday to build the alleged temple on the ruins of the mosque, according to Israeli right wing websites.

Several websites of the Israeli right wing published an announcement on behalf of the Likud party, calling on thousands of the Likud members to storm al-Aqsa mosque along with a delegation headed by Moshe Feiglin, who ran against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for leadership of the party and received 25% of the votes of party members.

The announcement said:” We call upon everyone to go up the Temple Mound, the Haram Ash-Sharif, one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, to declare a proper leadership which insures our full control of the mount in order to build the temple on the ruins of al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Al -Aqsa Institute for Waqf and Heritage, in a statement, said that these calls to break into al-Aqsa Mosque reflect the Israeli occupation’s hidden intentions against the mosque.

It called upon the entire Islamic nation and Arab world to uphold their responsibilities against the Israeli intransigence.

The Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place Jews turn towards during prayer. Among Sunni Muslims the Mount is widely considered to be the third holiest site in Islam, Revered as the Noble Sanctuary.

(english.wafa.ps / 09.02.2012)

News from Syria 09.02.2012

This is the final desperate act by the regime against the opposition. The army is a starving, morale is low there’s a lack of soldiers

Some children in Syria have pretend funerals now for their friends. They wrap their friends up and carry them like a real body. Sad

Baba Amr is now under a complete siege, no medical supplies, no food, no sleep for the 5th day in a row as shelling continues non stop

knackered – 24 hours under fire or detection from Syrian military

huge military offensive expected families saying goodbye to loved ones

Oh noes! Syrian governments email and passwords dumped by#LulzFin and cr3w http://pastebin.com/uaYDfCz0 #AntiSec #OWS#Anonymous #Syria #InfoSec

i’m tweeting live from #Homs city i confirm: intensive shelling is still taking place till now23:50by #Assad‘s army on #BabaAmro &#Inshaat

Aleppo: Protests in Mohafza, a rich neighborhood in central Aleppo

RT @AliAbunimah: If Israel were bombing Syria and killing the same people who are dying now, US would be justifying it. That’s sad reality

Ask Palestinians who spent time in Syrian jails under inhumane conditions what they think of Assad. Assuming they’ll be able to speak

#BabaAmr neighborhood which’s under randomly shelling since Sunday is one of most populated area here in central #Syria-n city of#homs

I don’t understand some people who think being Palestinian means supporting Bashar al Assad. Eww, makes me wanna vomit

Urgent: So far all efforts to conjoin Riyad al-Asaad, the Head of SFA, with the High Military Council to Liberate #Syria have failed: Source

Napoleon: “An army marches on its stomach.” Starving Assad soldiers means that the end is near for his shitty regime

#Assad thugs occupied the house in #Homs next to mine then they knocked the door and asked me for food to eat! #Syria

General Sheikh said that Assad’s army will collapse on February, and @Samsomhoms says they are asking residents for bread and potatoes

Israel hopes world rejects Palestinian unity gov’t

Foreign Ministry says int’l community must clarify to PA it will not deal with Palestinian gov’t that includes unreformed Hamas; J’lem threatens to revoke economic incentives to Palestinians.

Abbas, Qatar's al-Thani, and Mashaal

Amid continuing uncertainty regarding what the Doha agreement between Fatah and Hamas actually means, Israel is stepping up its demand of the international community that it not accept an unreformed Hamas as part of the Palestinian Authority government.

“The international community can play a role in promoting peace,” The Foreign Ministry wrote in a paper on the Hamas-Fatah deal circulated Thursday. “It must stand by the Quartet’s three principles. By clarifying to the Palestinian Authority that impenitent terrorist organizations cannot be partners with those seeking peace, the world will be telling the Palestinians that terrorism will not be tolerated or rewarded.”

The agreement, signed Monday in Doha, calls for the establishment of an interim unity agreement, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas replacing Salam Fayyad as the PA’s prime minister. Many, however, are skeptical the agreement will be implemented.

According to diplomatic officials, Israel has made clear to the international community that a package of largely economic incentives to the Palestinians to entice them back to talks that started last month in Jordan will be taken off the table if the Hamas-Fatah deal is consummated.

“Israel is not going to come with any confidence building measures if this agreement is implemented,” one diplomatic official said. A sign of its implementation, he added, would be Fayyad’s replacement.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, meeting in New York Thursday with the UN ambassadors from 15 countries, said Israel would  not accept a Palestinian government with Hamas as a member if it did not accept the international community’s three criteria.  He said the Doha agreement contributed neither to the promotion of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations or Palestinian interests, and only served the personal interests of the two men who signed it: Abbas and Hamas head Khaled Mashaal.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that the PA has to choose: peace with Israel or peace with Hamas.

Jerusalem’s  position on the Hamas-Fatah agreement, as presented in the foreign ministry paper, is that Hamas is an unrepentant terrorist organization, supported by Iran and dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

The paper said that Mashaal made his position clear after signing the agreement, saying the agreement  would create greater unity  “in order to be free for confronting the enemy.”

The paper asserted that the reconciliation of the main Palestinian factions could have meant that Hamas adopted Fatah’s line and would be willing to engage in negotiations with Israel. Instead,  “it now seems that Fatah, the maincomponent of the Palestinian Authority, is the one rallying behind Hamas’ extremist views.”

In addition to waiting to see whether this deal will be implemented, diplomatic officials were also waiting for a Palestinian decision whether or not to continue with the preliminary talks that started last month in Jordan.  The Palestinians have come under considerable pressure from the US and EU to continue the talks, and Quartet envoy Tony Blair is continuing to consult intensively with Israeli and Palestinian officials, as well as other leaders in the region, to put together a package that would lead to a continuation ofthe Jordan talks.

An Arab league meeting to discuss whether Abbas should return to these talks is scheduled for the coming week. That meeting has already been postponed twice since the last Israeli-Palestinian meeting in Jordan on January 25.

(www.jpost.com / 09.02.2012)