NEWS FROM ISRAEL AND THE MIDDLE EAST
Hamas, Fatah Reach Reconciliation Deal
Voice of America News reports: “The rival Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions have reached a reconciliation deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded by asking Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to choose between peace with Israel, or peace with Hamas.
It was a surprise announcement that came after secret talks in Cairo. The rival Fatah group that runs the West Bank and the militant Islamist Hamas faction that controls Gaza said they have reached an understanding to set up an interim government and hold elections.
Israel responded immediately, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making a statement on Israeli television.
Netanyahu said the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas has to choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas, which he said seeks to destroy Israel. The Israeli leader said the very idea of reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority that could lead to a Hamas takeover of the West Bank.
Recent demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza have been calling for an end to the division between the two factions. Many Palestinians believe a divided leadership is preventing them from facing up to Israel, ending its occupation of the West Bank, and setting up a Palestinian state.
Hussam Khader, a Fatah leader in the West Bank city of Nablus, said, I believe it will help the Palestinian people and maybe it will be a great step toward our national goals.
However, there is skepticism on whether the deal could bring reconciliation.
Fatah is moderate and has engaged in negotiations with Israel. Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state ” (Danger is ahead as these two terrorist organizations merge. World War III begins when Jerusalem is divided between these two groups and Israel Joel 3:2.)
Report: Quartet may formally recognize Palestinian state
Haaretz reports: “American and European diplomats warned that if peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are not renewed, the Quartet of Mideast peace makers may formally recognize a Palestinian state, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Quartet, which is comprised of the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia, was supposed to meet to discuss an initiative by Britain, France and Germany to restart stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks by proposing the outlines of a final settlement to their long conflict.
The United States blocked the initiative, with a U.S. official of Barack Obama’s administration saying the administration didn’t think a Quartet meeting would produce anything useful in terms of getting the talks restarted.
It wasn’t the right time, the official said.
The Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to Obama’s target date of September 2011 for an agreement, but negotiations collapsed weeks after they restarted last September because Israel ended its moratorium on settlement construction. The Palestinians insist they will not resume peace talks until Israel halts settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, which the Palestinians want for their future state ” (The above move is dangerous and may soon begin the greatest war in history. See also the next two reports.)
Egypt calls on US to recognize Palestinian state
YnetNews.com reports: “Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi called on the United States to recognize a Palestinian state, as rival Palestinian factions prepare to sign a reconciliation accord in Cairo.
Arabi urged visiting US Congressman Steve Chabot to press Congress and the American administration to recognize a Palestinian state.
Recognition would correspond with previous statements by the American administration supporting peace based on two states, the official MENA news agency quoted him as saying.
Arabi, who held talks on the Arab-Israeli conflict with Chabot, also called on the United States to exert efforts to hold an international Middle East peace conference, MENA said.
Palestinian factions are preparing to sign a deal in Cairo after President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and its bitter foe Hamas agreed to form a government that would prepare for elections in a year ”
Lieberman: World should not recognize new Palestinian government
Haaretz reports: “Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on world countries not to recognize the Palestinian government to be set up after the Islamist Hamas and the mainstream Fatah movements announced a reconciliation deal.
The international community must not legitimize the government whose face is the face of (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,) and whose arms are the arms of Hamas, who launches missiles at citizens and stains innocents with blood, he told Cypriot President Emetris Christofias during a meeting in Nicosia, according to a statement issued by his office after the meeting.
Representatives from Hamas and Fatah announced in Cairo their intention to reconcile, after a four-year-long bitter and at times violent rift, which saw Hamas administering the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the control of the Fatah dominated Palestinian Authority.
The agreement, if implemented, will see the Hamas government in Gaza, and the West Bank government headed by Salam Fayyad, replaced by an interim unity government consisting of professional figures, which will prepare for Palestinian elections.
Israel has said it will not negotiate with the new government unless Hamas accepts the demands of the so-called Quartet of the U.S., the EU, Russia and the UN, to renounce violence, honor past Israeli-Palestinian agreements, and accept the Jewish state’s right to exist ”
Israel concerned over Egypt’s policy on Gaza, Hamas
YnetNews.com reports: “Egypt’s shifting foreign policy, including the decision to open the Egypt-Gaza border, embrace Hamas and upgrade relations with Iran, has Israel concerned that these recent moves may translate into new security threats, which may eventually undermining the peace between Jerusalem and Cairo.
We are troubled by recent developments in Egypt, a senior Israeli official told the Wall Street Journal. These developments can affect Israel’s national security at a strategic level.
The reaction emphasizes what has already been called a widening rift between Israel and Egypt, on the backdrop of the recent wave of popular unrest sweeping across the Arab world.
One of the first major changes to ensue was the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who worked with Israel to contain Hamas, through a blockade of the coastal strip.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi said Thursday in an interview with al-Jazeera Television that Cairo plans to open up the Rafah border crossing within 10 days. Israel, however, expressed concerns that such move will ease the flow of weapons into the Gaza Strip, while allowing fluid access to militants bent on attacking Israel ” (The Egyptian Brotherhood Muslim terrorist organization is laying the foundation for the takeover of Egypt now that Mubarak has been deposed. He was a friend to the Jews the Brotherhood wont be Matthew 24:9; John 16:2.)