Saturday, June 30, 2007

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
By Bendib

This is how the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr El-Bared Looks after 40 days of shelling by the heroic Lebanese "Army"......
Just imagine how the camp would look if it were not for the tender loving care of the "Army" towards their Palestinian "brothers"

State Dept. wants to move Dayton's team to West Bank

"US State Department officials, looking to shift US Security Coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton's work with Palestinian forces to the West Bank, have begun holding discussions with Congressional staff on how to restructure an $86 million funding program previously allocated to bolster Dayton's Gaza activities......

...Now the US, caught off-guard by Hamas's speedy defeat of Fatah forces in Gaza, is scrambling for new ways to strengthen Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and isolate Hamas in Gaza.....

"There are still a number of plans that the Abbas government is formulating and [the US] will be working with them as their plans develop to determine how best we can utilize this money," he said. "But we're still conducting consultations with them and internally amongst ourselves as to how to proceed."......

Critics of US efforts under Dayton were quick to point to the events in Gaza to question whether his mission should continue. "I see no evidence that [Dayton's mission] succeeded," said Shoshana Bryen of the Washington-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs of efforts to reform the Palestinian security forces and secure the Gaza crossings. "They simply didn't fight, they abandoned their posts," she said of the Fatah forces outgunned but not outnumbered by Hamas. She said, though, that the failure was larger than the battle in Gaza and stemmed from flawed American expectations that any US security coordinator could lead Fatah security services in a direction amenable to US and Israeli interests.....

Many Israeli security officials said they have been turned off from the whole Dayton enterprise since Fatah forces fell to Hamas, saying that it's now hard to take his efforts at security reform seriously and interpreting the situation as an example of American inability to grasp the realities of the Middle East......"

Lebanese army fires on nonviolent demonstration, kills two

By Rania Masri, Electronic Lebanon, 29 June 2007

"Today, during the second day of a three-day peaceful protest in the Palestinian refugee camp of Baddawi in solidarity with Palestinian refugees from Nahr al-Bared, the Lebanese army opened fire on the protesters in Baddawi refugee camp, killing two people and injuring 25, seven critically.

A peaceful protest began within the Baddawi Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon. The protesters had signs reading "Nahr al-Bared is in our soul" and "Nahr al-Bared, we won't forget you." The protesters were calling for an end to the violence.....

As they proceeded towards the Lebanese army's checkpoint, the army issued verbal warnings, telling the protesters to stay away. At this point, women and children raced to the front to try to prevent the army from firing upon the crowd. The Lebanese army shot two warning shots into the air and then immediately responded with machine gun fire at the crowd of approximately 300 peaceful protesters. The army continued firing on people as they were attempting to retrieve the wounded.

Caoimhe Butterly, an activist and organizer, reported on what she had personally witnessed. "The army first opened fire with two to three minutes of sustained fire. When there was a lull in the shooting, we rushed in with our hands above our heads. At this stage, the army started firing on the road again. Thus, people retrieving the wounded were wounded."

In response to the Lebanese army's claim that a "significant number" of the protesters had clubs, Butterly said, "the protesters did not have clubs. Nobody had clubs. We saw the whole demonstration. They weren't carrying anything. We went from the beginning to the end of the demonstration. We saw it all, and no one was carrying clubs."

Furthermore, she continued, "the protest was never out of hand. They weren't throwing stones. At the time the army opened fire, women were sitting on the ground at the front, and a number of people even had their backs to the soldiers. At the time the army opened fire, people were getting quieter and had stopped shouting, as if shouting is enough to legitimize open fire."....."

A Cartoon Repost

The Palestinian resistance still reminds me of this cartoon and that is why I am reposting it.

It shows a Palestinian resistance fighter declaring, "My name is so and so; I belong to such and such organization; I live in such and such town, on such and such street, down such and such lane; I am warning the Israeli colonizers that I will be firing on such and such colony and therefore they have been forewarned!"

The woman turns to him and says, "You (Palestinians) have learned nothing from Hizbullah!"

Hamas accuses the security services of torture

Abu Ali Turk

"Nablus – Ma'an – The Hamas movement on Saturday accused the Palestinian security services in the West Bank of torturing Hamas-affiliated detainees.

The movement claimed that a detainee was taken to Al Arabi Hospital in Nablus, in the northern West Bank, on Saturday after he sustained torture-related injuries.

The Palestinian Authority has denied the allegations.

Hamas issued a statement claiming that "the Palestinian security services were obliged to take Amin Abu 'Ubayya to Al Arabi Hospital in Nablus after he was severely tortured at the hands of the security services."

The statement also said that three other detainees were taken to hospitals in Ramallah, in the central West Bank, in recent days for similar reasons. The victims of torture were named as; Nihad 'Ulayyan, Abed ir Rahim Faysal, both from Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem, and Wajdi Ad Deik from Kafr ad Dik in Salfit.

Director of the presidential guards in the northern West Bank, Abu Ali Turk, denied the reports."

A Senior Taliban Leader who was Injured by NATO Bombing Raids Which Killed 65 Afghan Civilians

Israel is Bad for Jewish Ethics

Meet the New Goliath


".....John Ross recounts his experience when he went to Palestine to observe the olive harvest and seven, young men in yarmulkes "charged down the bare brown hillside swinging thick clubs and hurling large lethal stones, war-whooping in Hebrew their harsh curses upon the people of this lacerated land. I was standing with a Palestinian farmer and his family under a freshly-picked olive tree when they came for us and thus, I suppose, guilty of being a race traitor in their perverted vision."

As Ross began to run, "the savages [members of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane's fascist cult] broke out of the trees and before I had time to turn towards them, they were upon me The first blow glanced off the small of my back and I tumbled to the red-brown earth, trying to cover my head with my forearm. The second smashed into my wrist and the blood began to spurt One Nazi youth picked up a large, jagged rock and advanced upon me with malice glowing in his evil, rabid eyes, hurling it from five feet away. I felt the painful crack against my knee and then they were pulling me to my feet, tearing my clothes and booting me down the hill like a punctured soccer ball.".....

Compare the thugs who put Ross in the hospital to the words of Mordechai Eliyahu, former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel and key spiritual guide for Israeli settlers in Palestinian territory. In early June, he wrote to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He offered his decree: having compassion with the civilian population of Gaza is incompatible with protecting Israeli soldiers' lives. Those holding supposedly humane feelings imperil Israeli lives. The rabbi's son, Shmuel, interpreted this decree: "if killing 100 Arabs is not sufficient to stop the launching of Qassam rockets at Israel, then 1,000 must be killed. And if that is not sufficient, then 10,000, and 100,000 and even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop."......

In front of Washington DC's synagogues, signs declare: "We support Israel in its struggle for peace and justice." Israel has shown little interest in either peace or justice. Its government knows no nation or group of nations would dare attack it lest it feel the wrath of a government well in tune with Rabbi Eliyahu's sentiments. Israel has become Goliath. Hopefully, an Israeli David will also emerge and guide his people toward peace and justice."

Demands to probe Baddawi's killings


"Palestinian figures and factions urged Saturday the Lebanese authorities to open an investigation in the incident of the killing of 3 Palestinians during a protest in northern Lebanon.
On Friday, Lebanese soldiers fired on Palestinian protesters, killing three people and injuring about 40. The Palestinians were trying to break through a checkpoint to get back to their homes in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. The camp has been the scene of weeks of clashes between the army and militants.
Witnesses said soldiers fired in the air above the heads of at least 100 demonstrators. When the crowd did not disperse, the troops fired automatic rifles at the protesters.
The army issued a statement saying its troops had to respond after the protesters blocked the main road with burning tires and attacked soldiers with sticks and sharp objects. Weeks of clashes between the army and Fatah al-Islam militants at the camp have also caused tensions between Palestinians and Lebanese.
Human Rights Watch issued a statement, deploring the fact that the army did not have the necessary non-lethal means to disperse the crowd. It also called for an independent investigation into the incident. Some 20,000 Palestinian refugees had fled the Nahr al-Bared camp since the fighting began.
Most of them have been sheltered since then in the overcrowded Baddawi camp, about 5km (three miles) away from Nahr al-Bared.
Although the stand-off between the army and the militants is continuing, the refugees have been demanding to be allowed to return home.
Lebanon has 12 refugee camps housing more than 350,000 Palestinians."

A Dark Summit

Occupation? What Occupation?


"......And the word that did not appear throughout this long monologue?

OCCUPATION? What occupation? Where occupation? Anybody seen any occupation?

The occupation was not on the agenda of this dark summit. Even in their wildest dreams, the Arab participants could not imagine anything more wonderful than "easing the restrictions". Making life a little bit less difficult for the suffering population. Giving back the Palestinian tax revenues. (That is to say, Israel may give back some of the money it has pocketed.) Moving some of the roadblocks that prevent people from going from one village to the next. (That has already been promised many times and will not happen this time either, because the army and the Shin Bet object. Olmert has already announced that it is impossible for "security reasons".)

With the air of a Sultan throwing coins to the paupers in the street, Olmert announced his intention of releasing some Fatah prisoners. 250 coins, 250 prisoners. That was the "generous gift" that was to make the Palestinians jump for joy, "strengthen" Abbas and awaken to new life the dry bones of his organization.

If Olmert had not been sitting so far away from Abbas, he could just as well have spat in his face......"

Fayyad has no right to silence the mosques

Comment by Khalid Amayreh

"Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Western-backed emergency government in Ramallah, has been acting lately as if he were the head of a free government of a sovereign state. Indeed, his recent behavior shows that he is very much detached from reality, the reality of the omnipresent Israeli occupation which in all honesty renders the very talk about a Palestinian “government” silly and ridiculous.

How else can any honest person relate to a government that is completely devoid of sovereignty, authority, power, freedom and jurisdiction, a government whose very existence depends almost completely on the will of the foreign occupier.

Needless to say, a government as such should at least humble itself before the Palestinian people, thoroughly tormented by 40 years of a Gestapo-like repression exacted on them by the children, grand children and great grand-children of the holocaust. After all, the last thing Palestinians need is an additional layer of oppression and persecution by a government that is very much at the Israeli occupier’s beck and call.

Last week, Fayyad summoned and warned some 800 Muslim religious leaders that his government wouldn’t tolerate incitement in mosques and that preachers should stay out of politics. Well, how can anybody living under this hateful Israeli military occupation stay out of politics? Doesn’t politics directly and indirectly affect every conceivable aspect of our life? Aren’t the water we drink and the bread we eat affected by the Israeli occupation’s polices and practices? Where is Mr. Fayyad living? In the Bahamas? Or in Alice’s Wonderland?

Moreover, Fayyad has no right to interfere in matters of religion since a preacher, like a journalist, is only answerable to his conscience. As ordinary Muslims, we know that a preacher’s ultimate moral reference is the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammed, not western whims and dictates imposed on weak and fragile governments whose very “legitimacy” comes from western acceptance, often at the expense of alienating and even persecuting their own masses.

Besides, since when do we Muslims receive orders and instructions from the West as to what should and shouldn’t be said during our Friday sermons? Would American preachers or Jewish rabbis tolerate the slightest Muslim interference in their respective homilies and sermons? Didn’t the West stand solidly behind Denmark against Muslims protesting the vilification of the Prophet of Islam in a Danish newspaper?

More to the point, as a Muslim, Fayyad should remember that the ultimate maxim governing preaching in Islam is what is known as “Al-amr bil-Maruf wa-nahy anil Munkar” or the propagation of virtue and prohibition of vice. This means that a preacher is religiously and morally obliged to call the spade a spade whenever the need arises. Yes, he should do so politely, tactfully and above all wisely, but never the less, he shouldn’t flinch from saying the right thing, even at the expense of displeasing the government, or, indeed, the Israeli occupiers and oppressors. In any case, Fayyad is advised to refrain from interfering in the affairs of mosques. Palestine, after all, is not Turkey in 1924 and he is not Kemal Attaturk.

Fayyad’s other folly is his decision to ban all weapons and militias in the West Bank , apparently in order to ensure the rule of law. Again, the western-backed premier is at loss as to what he can possibly do and what he obviously can not, given the fact that the entire West Bank, including his own office and home, is under the tight control of the Israeli military occupation. On Thursday, 28 June, Israeli army troops, backed by armored vehicles, rampaged through the streets and neighborhoods of Nablus, terrorizing local Palestinians and vandalizing their property. And Fayyad’s government “forces”, which America and Israel would want to see hound and decapitate Hamas, were seen nowhere to repulse the murderous invaders.

Hence, one is prompted to ask if a government that is totally powerless to provide minimal protection for its citizens against the Nazi-like occupiers has any right to strip freedom fighters of whatever means they have to defend themselves. Yes, firearms and other weapons in the hands of thugs and gangsters, many of whom claim to be affiliated with Fatah’s Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, should be confiscated immediately. But the pure and legitimate arms of freedom fighters must not be touched as long as a single Israeli soldier or settler continues to walk within the confines of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Resistance to a foreign invasion is after all more than an intrinsic right, it is a noble national duty of the highest order.

Finally, Fayyad, if he wants to succeed in his job, should descend from his ivory castle in Ramallah and listen to ordinary Palestinians. He should listen to their grievances and views concerning the national burden, including his own government. This is a thousand times better and more redeeming than receiving yellow-smile compliments from hypocritical western officials who babble about democracy and human rights and civil liberties while playing deaf and dumb in the face of Israeli crimes against our people."

One of the Immediate Challenges to Hamas

A Comment by Tony Sayegh

Hamas has displayed both political and military decisiveness in finally putting an end to the Palestinian Contras' plans of spreading "creative destruction" in Gaza in a manner similar to Iraq and to ultimately destroy Hamas politically and militarily. As I said before Hamas had to act and it did.

The swiftness of the Hamas response and its ability to rout the Dahlan Contras in just 3 days illustrated the quality and the discipline of its fighters, as much as it illustrated the hopelessness of Usraeli reliance on Palestinian mercenaries who, when the going got tough simply went home.

A totally new phase is now facing Hamas and it will require the ability to quickly adapt to new conditions and to take advantage of them. The needed strategies will be different in the West Bank and Gaza.

Paradoxically, the conditions in the West Bank are more favorable to Hamas than would appear on the surface. When viewed through the prism of a Fourth Generation War (4GW), the conditions in the West Bank are finally those favoring non-state forces, in this case Hamas. The conditions comprise a direct military occupation by a brutal foreign occupier, a local quisling, doing the bidding of the occupier, who is totally dependent on the occupier for political, military, diplomatic and economic support. The quisling makes no apologies about his open alliance with the occupier and actually joins the occupier in attempting to defeat the popular resistance. The picture is becoming a carbon copy of the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The task of Hamas, at a certain level, is easier under such conditions. It is true that the restrictions against Hamas are increasing enormously in the West Bank. It is very hard to organize, politicize, raise funds, disseminate information, run charities, etc under such conditions. But the fact that Hamas will be forced to go underground for all of its activities (not just military) is an element of strength. The resistance in Iraq can testify to that.

Therefore the challenge to Hamas is to adapt quickly to these new conditions and not indulge in wishful thinking of restoring "national unity" and going back to the "good old days." The Vichy government of Abbas has declared its decisive rupture and that is good news; he will no longer be able to re-market himself as a Palestinian leader.

Hamas has to learn quickly how to structure all of its activities, on all levels, in a clandestine and far more effective fashion.

The Gaza Strip is different. By definition (or as some suspect by design) Hamas finds itself responsible for the daily life requirements of 1.5 million Palestinians living in the world's largest open-air prison. On the one hand this puts a huge burden on Hamas and will consume a considerable portion of its energy and resources. It is almost an impossible task, with the border crossings controlled by Israel with Egyptian compliance. There are attempts by the quisling Abbas, after consultation with his boss Olmert, to have some "International" force re-occupy Gaza and to restore it to the Vichy government. Hamas has to be ready for the various contingencies.

On the humanitarian level, Hamas should not aspire to meet the daily needs of the 1.5 millions. This is not copping out or abdication of responsibilities. Hamas should not be caught in the trappings of a non-existent state. The secret for the success of national liberation movements is their ability to fight state forces using 4GW tactics of non-state forces. Again a look at Iraq is illustrative: The resistance can't supply the daily needs of the population and carry out the resistance at the same time. Even though the living conditions in Iraq are horrible, that has not reduced support for the resistance; to the contrary the anger of the population is translated into more support for the resistance. The experience of the Viet Cong in Vietnam was similar, so was the experience of the Algerian national liberation movement.

More of the burden should be shifted to UNRWA to take care of the needs of the refugees and pressure should mount on Israel to be burdened with the cost of the real occupation still in effect.

On the military and security levels Hamas should not fall in the trap of acting as a state force. I realize the need for some security forces to ensure law and order, but that is a double-edged sword. Deploying Executive Force elements on the streets with their uniforms and weapons makes them easy targets for Israeli aircraft. As I write these lines, I read that an Israeli missile has just killed 3 more of the forces allied with Hamas. One of the secrets of success of non-state forces is their invisibility and their ability to use the element of surprise rather than being surprised.

It is still possible to ensure safety on the streets without uniforms and arms in full display. Law enforcement can be ensured by police. The real power backing the police should be there but beneath the surface.

Hamas should not be fooled that just because Dahlan and the Contras have been expelled, it is all clear now. The Strip is still full of spies and Israeli eyes in the sky are never far. Therefore, Hamas would be well advised to operate discreetly, even in Gaza.

At one level, Hamas should prepare contingency plans in case Gaza is re-occupied either directly by Israel or indirectly by some "International" force. The planning done by the Iraqi resistance, before and in anticipation of the 2003 invasion, is what made the resistance and its ability to endure possible.

Who knows, in six months or a year's time the Palestinian resistance might very well be operating underground in both the West Bank and Gaza. That would be the best that can be hoped for after the PA and Oslo are buried.

Syrian paper: Blair's 'hands smeared with innocents' blood'

"A state-run Syrian newspaper on Saturday lambasted Tony's Blair's appointment as a special Middle East envoy, saying a man with "hands smeared with innocents' blood" cannot be a peace envoy.....

"How could a liar, who is directly connected with Washington and who is a staunch proponent of the extremist rightist ideology, be a peace envoy?" the Tishrin newspaper said in a front-page editorial. "Who would trust his promises? Would he work truthfully for peace so long as he personally doesn't know, as we think, the meaning of the word 'truth'?"

In some Arab countries, including Syria, Blair has been criticized on the suspicion that he is a lackey of U.S. President George W. Bush and for supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq. "Can we forget that the new peace envoy repeats literally what is being dictated upon him by the lowest-ranking official at the White House?" Tishrin said.

It added that Blair's "U.S.-Israeli policy" is to be blamed for most of the "catastrophes and ordeals" that have befallen on the Arabs, and criticized his attempts to isolate Syria and impose sanctions on it.

"We would not pin great hopes on his mission simply because a war man could never be a peace advocate or peace envoy," the paper said. "This is the first time throughout history in which we see a peace envoy with his hands smeared with innocents' blood."...."

Should Spain Withdraw from Lebanon?

Zapatero desires an impossible miracle: that Spanish troops in Lebanon serve "the cause of peace and solidarity", as he stated in the Spanish Congress, while at the same time selling weapons to Israel, joining Israel in military maneuvers, and playing along with the American policy in the region.

A Very Good Article
By Agustin Velloso in Madrid
Special to

".....When this happens on a large scale, when Israel decides to avenge last summer's defeat, when Syria or Iran are threatened or attacked, when the Palestinian occupied territories burn again, well, when there is a recrudescence in another tragedy in the Middle East, one will witness how this saga of the Spanish Left's "enlightened" imperialism, inexplicably in partnership with the criminal western imperialism, will end.

The government can repeat forever that the military mission is one of peace and that the Spanish international position requires its presence in Lebanon and in Afghanistan, but it will not meet with Arab or Muslim approval no matter how many cans of condensed milk or blankets are distributed in the Middle East -- they know that Spain is allied with Israel, the aggressor against Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and the main instigator of the war against Iraq and the possible one against Iran....

This government of "lefts" uses the mantle of UN mandates, sweet words about peace, and photographs of smiling Lebanese children next to young Spanish soldiers to hide the reality from the Spanish public: That UNIFIL, the UN armed forces in Lebanon, has been in place for nearly thirty years and it hasn’t prevented the numerous Israeli aggressions against Lebanon, which have resulted in thousands of deaths, the destruction of the Lebanese infrastructure and the planting of millions of land mines. Not only has Israel not been punished for its aggression, but it actually benefits from the economic, political and military support of the "peace makers".....

UN Security Council resolution 1701 extended UNIFIL's mandate to "coordinate", "assist", and other hollow words, while in reality it is meant to server the US and Israeli interests....."

Cheney, Master of Stealth, Readies Himself For The Final Act of ‘Imperial’ Vice-Presidency

The Independent

"Operating in the shadows, where he can best achieve his deeply conservative aims, Dick Cheney enjoys the total confidence of President George Bush and is sometimes described as the “Imperial” Vice-President.

Towards the end of every re-elected US President’s second term, the opposition in Congress always smells the opportunity to assert itself. This time the target is Dick Cheney and subpoenas are raining down on his head from the Senate for the release of documents that could implicate him in illegal acts. His record for outflanking his enemies is such that there is little cause for optimism among his opponents who would have him impeached.

Whether giving a green light for the US to torture suspects to the point of “organ failure… or even death”, to rolling back environmental measures, or clearing the way for the invasion of Iraq, Cheney’s fingerprints are all over the most controversial aspects of the Bush years.

After more than six years of his rule, the US is waking up to the reality that it has been a Cheney-Bush affair in all but name and despite being written off on numerous occasions, the Vice-President’s ability to influence events remains unrivalled. Although he is approaching the final months of his career and will never run for office again, more surprises may be in store as he seeks to complete his agenda.

Cheney will have his heart pacemaker installed next month and even with mortality knocking on the door, there is every possibility he will engineer yet another foreign policy surprise, possibly against Iran......"

'Abu Henry' and the mysterious silence

By Robert Fisk

""Abu Henry" says we may have to remain in Afghanistan for decades to protect Afghans from the Taliban. Our ambassador in Kabul - Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, KCMG, LVO, to be precise - apparently sees no contradiction in this extraordinary prediction.

The Taliban are themselves mostly Afghans, and the idea that the British Army is in Afghanistan to protect the locals from each other is a truly colonial proposition. It's what we said about the Northern Irish in 1969. Anyway, I thought we destroyed the Taliban in 2001. Wasn't that the idea at the time? Isn't that what Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara, our new man in the Middle East - who will grace us with his first visit next month - said back then?

Abu Henry - and I am indebted to one of the Saudi government's house magazines for telling me that this is how he "is affectionately called by his Saudi friends" - left Riyadh in some haste, a "surprise" as he put it, since he expected to spend another year there......But before he left, Abu Henry had some warm praise for the notoriously third-rate intelligence services in the kingdom.....

No word, of course, of the Saudis' habit of chopping off the heads of "criminals" after grotesquely unfair trials. In an unprecedented year for executions, the kingdom's swordsmen - the job is sometimes passed on father to son as was once the case in Britain - managed to hack off 100 heads by the middle of this month......

And no word from Abu Henry, of course, about that other little matter of the alleged bribery of Saudi officials by the British BAE Systems arms group......Robert Wardle, director of the Serious Fraud Office, had "much to ponder" after three London meetings with Cowper-Coles, "Britain's urbane ambassador to Saudi Arabia". Mr Wardle, it seems, was "coming around to the view" that he might have to scrap his enquiry since it could damage "national security"......

So no wonder the Saudis affectionately called him "Abu Henry".....

Indeed, I remember way back in the late 1970s - when I was Middle East correspondent for The Times - how a British diplomat in Cairo tried to persuade me to fire my local "stringer"...."She isn't much good," he said, and suggested I hire a young Englishwoman whom he knew and who - so I later heard - had close contacts in the Foreign Office.....And the name of that young British diplomat in Cairo back in the late 1970s? Why, Sherard Cowper-Coles, of course."

Hamas rejects the deployment of international forces to the Gaza Strip

"Gaza – Ma'an - In a statement issued late on Friday, the Al-Qassam Brigades of the Hamas movement have declared that they will not allow the deployment of international forces in the Gaza Strip, claiming that any international military force would not be impartial within the Strip. "We will deal with any such forces as an occupation force, and they will be received with projectiles and rockets," read the statement.

The statement called on all Arab and international parties, "to reject this offer which aims to damage the national unity of the Palestinians, a clear interference in internal affairs and would be adding another occupation to the Israeli occupation."

The prominent Hamas member, Sami Abu Zuhri, stated that "[President] Abbas' insistence on refusing dialogue with Hamas is due to Israeli and American pressure, despite the Arab and Palestinian calls for dialogue."

In a statement issued by Abu Zuhri, he declared "Any proposals to return the [Gaza] Strip [to the control of the PA], while reinforced on the back of Israeli tanks is something we reject. We hope that the recent experience will be a lesson to everyone. [President] Abbas is requested to return to dialogue if he wishes, so if it is a matter of challenge, we can advise Abbas to learn from what happened in the strip. Hamas is not only a faction or a movement; it is the whole of the people of Palestine."

Abu Zuhri also denied reports of the Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, requesting [former Prime Minister] Haniyeh to return all documents seized by the Hamas movement when they took over the Strip, saying, "No one has asked us to do so. All the contacts we have had were about returning to dialogue. We can assure that contacts between Hamas and many of Arab parties continue, including with Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Anyway, we are interested in keeping our Arab relations."

He revealed that relations with Egyptian authorities have not cooled, despite the recent crisis, "their main goal was to know the position of the movement, the rejection of the creation of an independent entity in the strip and to confirm the refusal of the [Hamas] movement to separate the [Gaza] Strip from the West Bank"."

The Israeli Way to Annul the Results of Democratic Elections

Hamas ministers in Israeli jails (MaanImages)

Israeli court demands Palestinian officials forgo their posts in order to secure their freedom

"Nablus – Ma'an – Palestinian sources said on Saturday that investigators from the Israeli interior intelligence service, Shin Bet, stated that the detained Palestinian ministers, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members and mayors must resign from their posts before they can be released.

The Israeli military court said that the Palestinian officials must sign a written obligation to resign, as a precondition for their release.

The Nafha society for prisoners' rights said in a statement, "This is an obnoxious measure intended to strip the Palestinian Legislative Council members of their posts."

PLC members described the act as a desperate attempt to eradicate the Palestinian legitimacy, steal the Palestinian right to choose political representatives and impose Israeli will on the Palestinian people.

The PLC members were also quoted as saying that they will never accept such a trade-off, even if they are forced to spend a lifetime in Israeli jails. The officials added that such a bargain would mean surrendering the confidence placed in them by the Palestinian people. "

Friday, June 29, 2007

Palestinians carry the body of Haitham Saleh, a member of the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, during his funeral in Balata refugee camp, West Bank city of Nablus June 29, 2007; he was killed by Israeli troops on the second day of a large-scale military raid. (REUTERS)

Israeli soldiers take part in a military operation in the West Bank city of Nablus June 28, 2007. Israeli forces in about 50 armoured vehicles entered Nablus and imposed a curfew on the centre of the city, then carried out house-to-house searches for wanted militants, local residents said. (REUTERS)

Israeli soldiers take position during a military operation in the West Bank city of Nablus June 28, 2007. (Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

While the Abbas Stooge Was Schmoozing with Talabani and Sarkozy: A Palestinian man inspects his damaged house, following an Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Nablus June 29, 2007. (Stringer/Reuters)

Palestinian Karzai Sticking to Usraeli Script

Abbas: Int'l force needed in Gaza Strip before new elections

"Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas appealed Friday for an international force for Gaza so the divided Palestinians can hold new elections, and insisted he was determined to isolate the militant Hamas.

Abbas, in Paris for his first talks with Nicolas Sarkozy since he was elected French president last month, won France's full support for the Palestinian Authority - $20 million in aid......

"I proposed an international force in Gaza to Sarkozy to ensure the elections can be held peacefully," Abbas said. "Elections necessitate a certain stability in security." Israel, the UN and E.U. have said they would consider the idea of an international force, though Hamas has rejected it.....

"We want your victory. You are the guarantor of peace," Sarkozy told Abbas.....

Sarkozy is to continue talks on the Middle East with Jordanian King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni next week......"

Reconcilation stymied

Israel continues to nurture the quisling Palestinian government with a carrot in one hand and a big stick in the other

By Khaled Amayreh in East Jerusalem
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....This week, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who last week angrily fired the national unity government headed by erstwhile Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, issued a plethora of decrees and "executive orders" aimed primarily at hounding and punishing Hamas in the West Bank. The decrees, most of which are unlawful and inconsistent with human rights and civil liberties, include the suspension of key clauses of Palestinian legislation as well as marginalising the Palestinian Legislative Council.

One of the most controversial decrees issued by Abbas was an order requiring all non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the West Bank (and also supposedly in the Gaza Strip) to obtain new licences from the new government in Ramallah. This unreasonable demand appears to target Hamas-affiliated or Islamic religious institutions which the United States and Israel believe contribute to the popularity of Hamas.

In reality, however, these charitable institutions, clinics and several hospitals are answerable to the Palestinian government and their operations are meticulously monitored by certified public accountants and relevant government ministries. This suggests that Abbas and his regime are acting out of desperation and not as a result of carefully-considered decisions.

This is the reason why many non-Hamas and non-Islamic organisations have strongly criticised PA decisions as undermining the foundations of civil society......

Haniyeh also warned Abbas and other Arab leaders that "Israel and America won't give you anything, and that our usurped rights won't return via summit conferences but only through steadfastness, perseverance and resistance." Furthermore, Hamas accused Abbas of seeking to strengthen himself and his government vis-à-vis Hamas by way of mobilising American and Israeli backing, saying that this reflected "bankruptcy and a cheapness of character" on the part of the Palestinian leader......

This week, Israel warned Abbas and his government not to renew contacts with Hamas as this would force it to re-adopt the same draconian measures now imposed on the Hamas-led government. The brazenness of the Israeli warning shows Israel's vested interest in ensuring Abbas's dependence on the Jewish state both financially and politically. Needless to say, this is the most efficient way of undermining the Palestinian leader in the eyes of his people, in which case Hamas will be the ultimate winner......"

Manufacturing Consent to Attack Hizbullah, Syria and Iran

Ban: UN Resolution 1701 has been breached

"The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, issued a report to the UN Security Council on Friday saying that Syria and Iran are sending Hezbollah anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons across the Syria-Lebanon border.

In the report, Ban expressed 'deep concern' that Lebanon's continuing internal political instability will hinder its implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls for the disarmament of all militant groups in the region near its border with Israel.

The UN chief issued the report after receiving information from both Israel and Lebanon regarding blatant violations of the resolution.

Israeli sources had informed him that Syria and Iran have transferred sophisticated weaponry across the border weekly, including long-range rockets and anti-tank and anti-aircraft defence systems. Beirut informed him that the Lebanese army had sighted four trucks laden with rockets heading for an outpost of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command in Lebanon.

"Weapons shipments on this scale would allow Hezbollah to reach a level of armament equal to that of last year," the report says, referring to the Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah in July 2006.

The report said Syria has denied any involvement in the arms transfers into Lebanon.

"The Lebanon government has stated to me that it has a vital interest in controlling its borders to prevent the smuggling of arms, munitions and personnel into its territory," Ban said in the report.

"The Syrian Arab Republic, other regional states and the Islamic Republic of Iran have a particular responsibility to ensure that the provisions related to the arms embargo of resolution 1701 ... are fully respected," Ban said....."

QB wants Abbas be prosecuted over shoot-to-kill orders

Contributed by Lucia

"GAZA(PIC)-- The armed wing of Hamas Movement, the Qassam Brigades (QB), has urged the prosecution of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas for “betraying” the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance by issuing shoot-to-kill orders against Palestinian fighters. “This is an obvious crime of treason and a stab in the side of the Palestinian legitimate resistance committed by the highest authority in the PA”, the QB affirmed in statement it issued and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC.

The group also urged Abbas to apologize and to and ask forgiveness from the Palestinian people and families of Palestinian fighters killed because of his orders.

The group, furthermore, called on families of Palestinian fighters assassinated by IOF troops to file lawsuits against Abbas being the person responsible in the first place for the killing of their sons due to those instructions.

Security documents seized by Hamas’s fighters from PA security apparatuses in Gaza Strip proved that PA security apparatuses used to guide IOF troops on the whereabouts of the Palestinian resistance fighters firing rockets on Israel, making it easy for IOF troops to target and kill them.

The QB unveiled a tape found in one of the PA security apparatuses showing Abbas issuing orders to the PA intelligence department to kill Palestinian fighters firing missiles on Israeli settlements in retaliation to the IOF aggressions on the Palestinian people. Click Here to See Video Clip.Abbas’s orders were unprecedented as no one of the collaborators with the occupation of their countries over the history had dared to issue such orders”, the statement pointed out.

Hence the QB urged Abbas to retract his orders and to acknowledge the “fatal” mistake he committed against his own people and against the legitimate resistance fighters who sacrificed their lives for the sake of their country’s freedom and independence.

IOF military officers had lately acknowledged that after the routing of the PA security apparatuses in Gaza Strip at the hands of Hamas’s fighters, the IOF troops were facing difficulties in targeting Palestinian fighters firing rockets on Israeli settlements......

PFLP-GC urges Abbas to resign:
In a related matter, the PFLP-GC under Ahamd Jibril urged Abbas to quit his PA post and chairmanship of the PLO, describing the PLO in its current structure as “illegitimate”....."

One of Carlos Latuff's Latest

Hamas is prepared to begin unconditional talks with Fatah, advisor says

"Gaza - Ma'an - Hamas is prepared to enter into dialogue with Fatah, Ismail Haniyeh's political advisor, Ahmad Yousef, declared on Friday, although only if there are no conditions attached.

"We, Hamas, are ready to open the door of negotiations with Fatah, without any conditions," Yousef said. "And in turn, they must also not do so.".....

"The situation of division must not remain between the two parties."

Yousef also questioned how and why Fatah members have conducted unconditional negotiations with Israel while insisting on laying down conditions regarding negotiations with Hamas. Such criticism may have been directed at the Palestinian presidency and President Mahmoud Abbas.

Yousef accused such parties within Fatah of following an external agenda. "The continuation of some members of Fatah to not debate with Hamas assures their determination to help external agendas and not help their own country and people," Yousef said......

What Hamas has done was not against the Fatah movement," Yousef continued. "It was against an internal trend inside Fatah that was working for the benefit of external agendas. The documents that were found in Gaza, at the security services' locations by Hamas, declare the extent to which Fatah was involved in some Israeli and American trends."

On the basis of these charges, Yousef declared that Hamas has "saved" the Palestinians from a worse fate.

"Therefore, Hamas saved the situation and saved hundreds of citizens' lives, that could have been lost if Hamas didn't interfere. Those documents uncover the intent to take over more than 10,000 lives," Yousef said.

Yousef added that some members of the Fatah movement not only knew about Hamas' plans but supported them. "Many Fatah leaders had agreed to Hamas' actions in secret and in public," Yousef said. "Hani Al-Hassan, the Palestinian president's advisor, assured this fact."......"

Tony Blair: A true friend of Israel

Arjan El Fassed, The Electronic Intifada, 29 June 2007

""A true friend of the State of Israel," said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of his outgoing British counterpart Tony Blair. He was appointed this week as special envoy for the Middle East Quartet with a portfolio focused on Palestinian economic and political reform. "Tony Blair is a very well-appreciated figure in Israel," said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. According to an Israeli government statement, Israel "will provide [him] with all necessary assistance in order for him to carry out his duties."

It should not come as a surprise that Israeli government officials welcome Blair to his new job. Although he has long claimed to be interested in supporting justice for the Palestinians, Blair has an unremitting record of bias towards Israel. After George W. Bush, Blair is probably the most disliked and distrusted individual, among Palestinians as well as in the Arab world in general. This stems not only from his role in the Iraq war, but because he has swallowed the neoconservative agenda whole, becoming one of the leading proponents of a "clash of civilizations" between a supposedly enlightened West and a backward Islamic world......

Blair's anti-Palestinian bias began early in his political career. During his time as prime minister, Blair regularly consulted a pro-Israel lobby group, Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). He has been close to this group ever since he became a member of parliament fourteen years ago. In his speech to the LFI Annual Reception in September 2006, Blair said: "I have never actually found it hard to be friend of Israel, I am proud to be a friend of Israel."......

At the G8 summit in St. Petersburg as Israel's war on Lebanon raged, Bush and Blair were caught on an open microphone talking about whether US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should head to the region, or whether Blair should go himself. [7] Blair said to Bush, "If she goes out, she's got to succeed, as it were, whereas I can just go out and talk."......That is exactly what Blair's new function will be. He can just go out and talk..... "

Mahmoud Abbas greets Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at the Council of the Socialist International (??) in Geneva June 29, 2007. (REUTERS)


Lebanese Army Kills Two Palestinians Trying to Return to Nahr El-Bared

Palestinian men, gather trying to help a seriously injured Palestinian man laying on the ground, who was wounded when Lebanese troops opened fire on angry Palestinian refugees during a protest at the Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp, in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Friday June 29, 2007. Lebanese troops on Friday opened fire on angry Palestinian refugees trying to march back home to their besieged camp in northern Lebanon, and wounded several, security officials said. (AP Photo)

"BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanese troops fired on Palestinian refugees trying to march home to their besieged camp in northern Lebanon on Friday, and at least two people were killed and 20 wounded, Palestinian officials said.

Thousands of refugees fled the Nahr el-Bared camp after the army began battling Islamic militants there May 20, and most took shelter in the Beddawi camp three miles away. But with Fatah Islam militants still holding out in Nahr el-Bared, the displaced refugees are now demanding to be allowed home.

On Friday, about 2,000 refugees staged a protest at the Beddawi camp, and some then tried to march to Nahr el-Bared.

When they reached an army checkpoint outside Nahr el-Bared, the military told them to disperse and return to Beddawi. As the refugees marched, the soldiers opened fire, first in the air and then into the crowd, in an attempt to disperse the marchers, the Palestinian officials said......

Protests over the fighting at Nahr el-Bared also were held Friday in Palestinian refugee camps in south Lebanon and in Beirut, but no violence was reported at those rallies......."


That cowardly "Lebanese Army" only knows how to kill helpless Palestinian refugees; but make no mistake about it no army in the world, and I repeat, in the world, is better at serving tea to the IOF than that "Army."

Worst 3 months for U.S. in Iraq since war began

"BAGHDAD - Insurgents launched a deadly coordinated attack on an American combat patrol, the U.S. military said Friday, killing five troops and making this the deadliest quarter for U.S. soldiers in Iraq since the war began.

Assailants detonated a roadside bomb, then fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades at the soldiers. Seven troops were wounded in the attack on Thursday in southern Baghdad and were evacuated to a military hospital; one has since returned to duty, the military said.

The deaths brought to 99 the number of U.S. troops to die in Iraq this month, according to an Associated Press count. The toll for the past three months — 329 — made it the deadliest such period for GIs since the war began in March 2003. At least 3,576 members of the U.S. military have died since then, according to AP figures......

Blast under an oil pipeline

In other developments, Iraqi police said a bomb exploded under an oil pipeline south of Baghdad on Friday, spilling crude oil and sparking a huge fire......"

Bush Turns Iraq into Israel/Palestine; Gaffe endangers US Troops

By Juan Cole

"Bush said in a speech on Thursday that he hopes Iraq will be like Israel, a democracy that faces terrorist violence but manages to retain its democratic character......These words may be the stupidest ones ever uttered by a US president. Given their likely impact on the US war effort in the Middle East, they are downright criminal.

The US political elite just doesn't get it. Israel is not popular in the Middle East, and it isn't because Middle Easterners are bigots. It is because Israel is coded as the last European colonial presence in the region, an heir to French Algeria, British Egypt, and Dutch Indonesia-- and because the Israelis pugnaciously continue to try to colonize neighboring bits of territory......

Let's just take the analogy seriously for a moment. Israel proper is a democracy of sorts, though its 1 million Arab citizens are in a second class position. But it rules over several million stateless Palestinians who lack even the pretence of self-rule. It is hard to characterize a country as a democracy when it has millions of disenfranchised subjects. Bush manages to only think about Jewish Israelis in the above analogy, wiping out millions of other residents of geographical Palestine who don't get to participate in 'democracy' or exercise popular sovereignty......

So who would play the Palestinians in Bush's analogy? Obviously, it would be the Sunni Arabs, who apparently are meant to be cordoned off from the rest of Iraqis and put behind massive walls and barbed wire, and deprived of political power. That is not a desirable outcome and is not politically or militarily tenable in the long run.....

....They say that the US military occupation of Iraq, in alliance with Shiites, has turned the Sunni Arabs into Palestinians! Bush could not have handed the guerrillas a better rhetorical gift. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that DVD's of Bush's comments will be spread around as a recruiting tool for jihadis, and that US troops will certainly be killed as a result of this speech....."

Fatah leader: Hamas’s military act in Gaza aborted Dahalan’s malicious plan

"GAZA, (PIC)-- Former PA justice minister and Fatah political leader Justice Nahedh Al-Rayyes has opined that the ongoing frenzied arrest campaigns against Hamas’s cadres at the hands of PA security forces loyal to Abbas will widen the broad popularity of Hamas in the West Bank.

The Fatah leader also described Hamas’s military acts in Gaza Strip as a “preemptive” step to abort the “malicious” plan of Mohammed Dahalan and his treason trend to attack Hamas and finish it off in Gaza Strip.

“Hamas didn’t wish the battle, and tried to avoid it on many occasions, but it was forced into it as the PA chief’s headquarters in Gaza city was transformed by Dahalan and his group into a small operation room to prepare for the final attack on Hamas which we all anticipated will occur”, affirmed Al-Rayyes.

He also expressed disappointment over Abbas’s “unconstitutional” decrees that, he added, suspended articles of the PA basic law, describing such decrees as “unprecedented” steps with the aim to end the entire Palestinian democracy.

Hamas’s option in the West Bank:
Dr. Ismael Redwan, the spokesman of Hamas Movement in Gaza Strip, affirmed that the ongoing violence at the hands of Abbas’s security forces in the West Bank was meant to divide the Palestinian arena and to push it in the quagmire of civil war exactly as they (Abbas’s forces) attempted to do in Gaza Strip before their defeat.

In a statement he made to the PIC, Redwan explained that Hamas Movement had warned of such practices long time ago, and opted to suppress it wounds for the sake of Palestinian unity, but, he added, the hooligans trespassed all red lines.

“Hamas isn’t weak in the West Bank as others would like to think , but Hamas doesn’t want to fight Fatah faction or the PA security apparatuses as Hamas knows very well that its battle is only against the Zionist enemy”, the Hamas’s official furthermore explained.

In this regard, Redwan urged “prudent” political leaders in Fatah faction to bridle elements of the mutiny trend within their faction, and to stop their violent acts against the Palestinian people and Hamas’s cadres.

Hundreds of Hamas’s cadres and tens of Hamas-affiliated social institutions were destroyed and torched at the hands of Abbas’s forces in different parts of the West Bank over the past two weeks.

A number of duly elected municipal councils dominated by Hamas were also coercively dissolved by Fatah vandals and Abbas’s security forces and replaced by “illegitimate” Fatah figures.

Moreover, Redwan reiterated his Movement’s call for national dialogue with Fatah based on the national constants of the Palestinian people that, he said, couldn’t be abandoned at all cost.

He also welcomed the Arab League decision of forming a fact finding committee to probe Gaza events, affirming Hamas’s readiness to cooperate with the committee with the aim to unveil the truth. "

Saudi king avoids meeting Abbas

"Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has snubbed the Palestinian president, skipping a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas on a visit to Jordan.

An Abbas official said "the meeting was postponed due to lack of time as both leaders had busy schedules", but Al Jazeera's David Chater, reporting from Jordan, said it was a deliberate and undiplomatic snub.

Abbas was kept waiting at a palace room for a telephone call that never came.

Instead, the Saudi monarch, who brokered a power-sharing deal between Abbas's Fatah faction and rivals Hamas in February, urged both sides to talk to each other, saying the infighting was benefiting only the Israelis.

It would be a bitter pill for Abbas to swallow, just days after he dissolved the unity government set up under the Saudi deal and accused Hamas of attempting to assassinate him.

He had said then that he would not enter into talks with the group after it seized Gaza and humiliated Abbas by occupying his presidential compound there.

The official from Abbas's office said Abbas would meet Abdullah in Saudi Arabia "in the few coming weeks" but gave no details......"

The Peace Envoy

By Gilad Atzmon

"What a great day for peace enthusiasts! A new envoy to the Middle East has been appointed for the Quartet, and it’s no other than the former British PM, Tony Blair. Blair, the man who gave the Israelis the green light to flatten Beirut. Blair, the man who started an illegal war in Iraq. Blair, a man who, according to the Geneva Conventions, is to be held personally responsible for more than 700,000 dead in Iraq for failing to ‘protect civilian populations against certain consequences of war’ [1]. A man who is supposed to be charged for genocide at The Hague. That’s right, a man who should end his life behind bars is now becoming a peace envoy.

Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea. Seemingly, his partner from Washington may have sussed it all out. It is rather possible that when peace is at stake, it is actually the warmongers, the bloodthirsty criminals, the men who know no mercy and compassion who may provide the goods. At the end of the day, a rapist may know more about sex abuse than an innocent detached judge. We should never forget that for the Bushman, even Sharon, the mass killer from Sabra and Shatila was nothing less than a ‘Man of Peace’. Who knows the truth of such complicated matters? It is rather possible that Bush is correct. It is feasible that pouring blood in such a vast quantity may have qualified Blair to be a peacemaker. Yet, there is a slight problem here......."

The 'Family Jewels'

The CIA: still evil after all these years…

By Justin Raimondo

"The uncovering of the CIA's "family jewels" – a catalog of the Agency's crimes committed at home and abroad in the 1970s – underscores my principal objection to the trite post-9/11 conventional wisdom, "Everything's changed." Because, of course, nothing has changed, not really, at least not where the unmitigated evil of the U.S. government is concerned. What these nearly 700 pages of previously classified materials reveal is that all the supposedly innovative techniques of torture, domestic surveillance, and utter disregard for the rights of U.S. citizens supposedly spawned by the "war on terrorism" predated the 9/11 terrorist attacks......"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lieberman wants NATO troops in Gaza

"Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman discussed deploying NATO forces in the Gaza Strip in a meeting with NATO Deputy Secretary General Alessandro Minuto Rizzo in Brussels. The two discussed deploying a force to preserve order and prevent weapon smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

Lieberman also brought up the matters of aerial defense, technological research and development and intelligence cooperation between Israel and NATO.

Lieberman visited Europe this week to hold a round of talks with European leaders. The Yisrael Beitenu chairman stopped in Brussels and Madrid to discuss several matters releated to the situation in the Middle East, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian nuclear threat.

On his stop in Madrid, Lieberman met with Former Spanish President José María Aznar, who reportedly told the Israeli minister that "there are leaders in Europe who prefer to leave dealing with Iran to Israel. It's a kind of game.

"I believe that Israel is important to Europe. If Israel falls, I am sure that Spain will be next, and after it, the whole western world. I am afraid that Israel will be left alone to face Iran."....."

Our second biggest mistake in the Middle East

A Good, long Piece
By Alastair Crooke, London Review of Books, June 28, 2007

".....The US and some European countries, including Britain, also chose to finance, train and arm the security apparatus led by Muhammad Dahlan, whom many Palestinians suspected – rightly – was being groomed as the ‘strong man’ who would eventually assume the presidency and restore Fatah to power. The ultimate aim was to build a Fatah militia around Dahlan that could confront Hamas militarily – and win. American officials hoped in the meantime to place Fatah in a position to depose Hamas from power – in other words, to promote a soft coup d’état against the government. A strategy document prepared by one of the US-led coalition of ‘moderate’ Arab states which was circulating among Palestinians in March 2007 said that the US objective was to have Abbas dismiss the Hamas government in August. The International Quartet endorsed these plans in principle. The support the US and Europe give to Fatah is considerable and arrives by a variety of routes: through NGOs and development agencies; through Fatah reform initiatives; through youth development programmes; through information and media projects; and – most significantly – through a large programme aimed at recruiting, training, equipping and financing Fatah security cadres, Dahlan’s chief among them. In addition, every NGO contract has a clause inserted into it by USAID requiring the organisation to pledge that it ‘will not engage in activity with groups deemed as terrorists’......

It is too early to judge, but it is possible that the Hamas putsch will come to be seen by Muslims beyond Palestine as an event as significant as the outcome of the Israeli-Hizbullah war last July. The next few weeks may see the beginnings of efforts at mediation on the part of other Arab states, in an attempt to form a fresh unity government in Palestine. If this happens, the issue of security has already been decided: Hamas has settled the facts on the ground. The Americans and Europeans, however, can be expected to continue to resist any transformation of the political dispensation. What they want, and remain wedded to, is a reversion to the status quo ante of Oslo, however discredited its processes now are. But in attempting to ensure Fatah’s continued hold on power, they risk schism, renewed violence, and a fracturing of the Palestinian body politic for years to come......

....And did so at a moment when Hamas, in common with moderate Islamist movements throughout the region, is trying to deal with the radicalising of its constituency and a widespread questioning of the value of electoral participation.

The West could not have chosen a worse time to try to make Fatah a proxy dependent on Western financial subsidy and Israeli ‘concessions’ to make up for the popular support it patently lacks.......

....The election outcome, however, was not primarily a judgment on Fatah’s corruption, even if this was a significant factor. I recall a leader in a refugee camp in Lebanon saying: ‘You will see . . . what this victory for Hamas represents is the final rupture of the Palestinians’ faith in the international community. We no longer believe that the Americans or the Europeans ultimately can be counted on to do the right thing by us. We know that we must rely only on ourselves now.’ Hamas had recognised for some time that the Palestinian constituency that voted Fatah a monopoly of power and of armed force in 1993, following the Oslo Accords, no longer existed.....Any optimism from Oslo had long faded by 2006, when the Palestinians voted in Hamas. There is no longer a significant ‘peace camp’ that believes in gradual progress towards a Palestinian state.....

....The leadership continued to assume that if they pleased the US they would eventually be rewarded by pressure on Israel to concede a viable Palestinian state. It has long been obvious to most Palestinians, including many in Fatah, that the vision Bush shared was not Fatah’s, but that of Tel Aviv, and it sees Israel remaining in the West Bank for ever.....

Whatever the cause, Europeans embarked on one of their greatest policy mistakes in the region – second only to their support for the invasion of Iraq – with their dogged determination to isolate Hamas and attempt to return Fatah to power.....

The problem for Hamas is that its constituency – the rank and file – and the wider Islamist movement have now embarked on a period of introspection. What is apparent – and this can be ascertained on any number of Islamist websites – is that the mainstream Islamist strategy of pursuing an electoral path to reform is now being questioned. This will have an impact well beyond Palestine – most obviously in Egypt and Jordan.....

At issue in these discussions is whether moderate Islamist groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah will manage to retain their influence over this process of radicalisation; and whether they will survive as a cohesive, disciplined political bloc....

.....More plausibly, moderate movements such as Hamas and Hizbullah will encourage popular resistance while also striving to maintain their political presence. Hamas’s armed resistance in Gaza to what they perceive as a Western campaign to depose them is an example of the way an Islamist movement can satisfy a radicalised constituency increasingly angry at American interference in their societies in the interest of what Hassan Nasrallah has termed the ‘Western project’.....

....In all, the Americans and Europeans are engaged in six internal conflicts in Muslim societies – in Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine – in each case providing finance and weapons for one faction to use against another. As I write, Hizbullah is preparing for the possibility of renewed conflict with Israel, and Syria and Iran have also reached the conclusion that conflict is a real and imminent prospect, and are actively preparing for it.....

....Sara Roy warns that, "prior to Oslo there was a belief among Israelis that peace and occupation were incompatible but this has changed. In recent years more and more Israelis are benefiting from the occupation. Their lives, for example, have been facilitated by the vast settlement road network built in the West Bank and by an improved economy . . . hence, Israelis no longer feel uncomfortable with the occupation at a time when the occupation has grown more repressive and perverse. This contradiction is dangerous and unsustainable."

Roy’s warning is timely. Over the middle term it is possible to predict that a greater number of Palestinian citizens of Israel will become radicalised, as well as members of the Palestinian population as a whole. Israel’s ‘moderate’ friends among Arab leaders may disappear. It may also encounter Islamists not only in the Palestinian government, but at the Jordanian and Egyptian frontiers; and conflict with Iran, were it to occur, might finish up by sweeping away many of the region’s landmarks...."

Salam Pierre Laval Fayyad warns mosque preachers: Incitement won't be tolerated

"Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad delivered a stern warning Thursday to hundreds of Islamic preachers, including Hamas supporters, saying his government will not tolerate incitement in mosques. Fayad's warning also included his government's intentions to collect all weapons from Palestinian militants.

Fayad's meeting with some 800 Muslim clergy marked the latest attempt to stem the influence of Hamas in the West Bank, following the goup's violent takeover of Gaza earlier this month.

Hamas is influential in many mosques in the West Bank and Gaza, and has been using Friday sermons as a vehicle for spreading its message. Preachers have also been actively involved in politics.

Security forces have arrested dozens of Hamas activists in the West Bank, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is trying to dry up Hamas' funding with a review of all private organizations......

In his meeting with clergymen Thursday, Fayad was accompanied by Abbas' top security official, Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yehiyeh. "We will collect weapons and replace them with pens and books," the minister told the crowd. "The phenomenon of militants is very dangerous, and we want to stop it in all forms."

Fayad told the preachers to take politics out of their sermons. "We won't allow them (mosques) to be turned into places of incitement and intimidation," he said. "It's the responsibility of men of religion to ... present religion as a way of tolerance, not as a cover for bloodshed."

In Nablus, seven of eight Hamas members of parliament are preachers, said Suhair al-Dubai, a moderate clergyman from the city.

"The government has realized how important the mosques are in forming and leading public opinion," said al-Dubai, who attended the meeting with Fayad. "But Hamas is very well organized in mosques ... The government can restrict them, but not eliminate them because they are part of a structure and can always find a way to play a political role."

Mohammed Abu al-Hasan, a Hamas preacher from the West Bank town of Jenin, said clerics would continue to speak their minds, regardless of any government directive.

"We will not accept these restrictions and we are going to respond with our own message in this Friday's sermons," he said. "Fayad is a politician, he can handle political issues and we...can handle religious issues.""

CIA Terror Bombings, Bob Gates, and The Rise of Hezbollah

By Michael Schwartz

"......This a story about Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia group that successfully fended off what American and Israeli military planners expected to be an overwhelming onslaught of air power, an onslaught that killed thousands, flattened whole cities, and compromised the Lebanon's infrastructure.

Many of us remember that in 1983, during a previous crisis there, an American military barracks was bombed, killing 241 marines who were part of an international peacekeeping force sent there in 1982. That bombing was, as Morris tells the story "itself a bloody reprisal for earlier American acts of intervention and diplomatic betrayal in Lebanon's civil war" which had been raging since 1975.

No one in the American intelligence community knew for sure (and no one knows to this day) who was actually responsible for the bombing, but CIA director William Casey decided nevertheless to undertake reprisals. He chose as his target a Shia cleric, Muhammad Husain Fadlallah, "because of his reputation for fiery sermons in favor of social justice and national independence -- and because allied spy agencies -- Israel's Mossad, Saudi Arabia's GID, and Phalangist informers -- claimed he led a militant Shiite group that bore responsibility for the attack on the Marines."

That was enough evidence for Casey to commission an attack on Fadlallah. It was also enough for his top deputy, Robert Gates, Head of the Directorate of Intelligence, and in charge of processing all the best information the Agency could gather. As the rumors of the coming attack on Fadlallah spread through the agency, Gates' agents tried to warn him about the lack of evidence against the cleric (does this sound familiar?)......

The CIA did not just try to assassinate Muhammad Husain Fadlallah. Instead the Agency carbombed his entire neighborhood with an explosion that was felt "miles away in the Chouf Mountains and well out in the Mediterranean." Whether or not the cleric was the perpetrator, the message would be clear to all concerned: attacks on American marines would result in retribution against the whole offending community. It was, in short, an act of state terrorism. Eighty-one people were killed and over 200 wounded in the crowded impoverished Bir El-Abed neighborhood where Fadlallah lived. (Fadlallah himself was unhurt.....

This incident took place 20 years ago, long enough for us to track the connection to current mayhem in Lebanon. The public display of the CIA's "family jewels" should remind us that the myriad CIA actions chronicled there are not isolated incidents. They are a coordinated system that has delivered violence like that perpetrated in Bir El-Abed to every corner of the world in the past 40 years, in myriad forms and under many disguises. These actions have ended the lives hundreds of thousands (in Iraq alone!), ruined the lives of millions, and earned the hatred of tens of millions. By now, the impact of our government's action is so pervasive, that even the most distant and seemingly disconnected acts of violence are in some way consequences of, or reactions to, the activities of the U.S. government. "

Another Bush Brain Fart: Bush cites Israel as model for Iraq

"NEWPORT, R.I. - President Bush held up Israel as a model for defining success in Iraq Thursday, saying the U.S. goal there is not to eliminate attacks but to enable a democracy that can function despite violence.

With his Iraq policies under increasing fire from the American public and lawmakers from both parties, Bush went to the U.S. Naval War College here to declare progress. As the president pleaded for patience, his top national security aide went to Capitol Hill to meet with Republican critics.

Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, delivered a lengthy floor speech earlier this week contending that Bush's war strategy won't have time to work and that U.S. troops should start leaving now......"

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you see peace with Israel as the solution to Middle East crises?

With over 13,000 responding, 84% said no.

The Puppets in Iraq Have a Badr Brigade, So the Puppet in Palestine Wants His Own Badr Brigade

Kuwaiti newspaper: "President Abbas requests the entry of Badr forces"

"Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Kuwaiti daily newspaper, Al Qabas, has reported on Thursday that President Abbas has requested the entry of the Badr forces, to restore the Gaza Strip to the PA, following Hamas' overthrow of Fatah-loyal forces.

The paper reported "learned sources" stating that Israeli permission had been sought to allow armored vehicles to enter the occupied territories to support the PA security forces, as part of a plan agreed by the PLO leadership, and as part of indirect support to American plans for the region.

The sources told the paper that "[President] Abbas' insistence against dialogue with Hamas is part of a plan to regain control of the strip," an issue which Egypt has reservations over, according to the sources......"

Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Brigades reject decree of Abbas

"Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Brigades refuse to dissolve or to disarm and reject the truce in the West Bank

Bethlehem - Ma'an Exclusive – The Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Brigades have announced that they have rejected the presidential decree regarding the disbanding of militia in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The spokesman of the brigades, Abu Oday, told Ma'an that, following consultations with the brigades' leaders in the West Bank, they have issued the following declaration:

First: the rejection of the dissolution of the brigades, "because they are a resistance group, and are defending the country and the dignity of the people".

Second: the refusal to disarm the group, "because it is a legitimate arm of resistance, and is the only weapon to remain to defend the Intifada ["Uprising"]."

Third: the rejection of the description of the brigades as 'militias', "which defame the Palestinians, and it is nonsense to describe the only remaining armed wing as a militia."....."

Abbas advisor says Hamas fighting collaborators

""The Gaza events were not a war between Fatah and Hamas; but between Hamas and Fatah collaborators who served the Americans and the Israelis, said a senior Fatah advisor on Wednesday. Hani al-Hassan, the Palestinian president's senior political advisor and member of Fatah's central committee said in a TV interview that what was happening in the Gaza Strip was the defeat of to plans of American Major General Keith Dayton and his Fatah followers.

Al-Hassan's words severely discredit Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Arab leaders' claims that the Gaza takeover was a coup against Palestinian democracy. By making such statements the presidential advisor supports Hamas' claims that the war was between a small group of Fatah men who served Israel and the United States.

Following the interview, which put a dent in Fatah's PR efforts, Fatah gunmen fired at al-Hassan's home. No one was injured, as al-Hassan was abroad for the interview.

Senior Fatah bodies demanded al-Hassan be dismissed from all his duties, but Abbas settled for firing him only from his post as senior political advisor....."

"Picture coming into focus"

"Hamas described the Israeli attacks that killed 13 in Gaza yesterday as the result of an unannounced agreement between Olmert and Abbas, and Al-Akhbar spells this out, as follows:

As each day goes by, a little more is revealed about the "agreements" that weren't announced at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit. The day after Mahmoud Abbas announced the ban on [non-"government"] weapons in the West Bank, yesterday it was Israel's turn to carry out its part of the bargain, targeting the resistance in the Gaza Strip, leading to the martyrdom of 13 Palestinians and the wounding of a large number of others.

With this Israeli operation, the shape of the what went down at Sharm el-Sheikh starts to become clearer little by little: The West Bank and its resistance was handed over to the jurisdiction of Abbas, to issue his "presidential orders" at will, as long as he adds the expression "criminal" to the qualification "armed". Meanwhile, Olmert will focus his attention on Gaza....And as Hamas said: This marked the start of implementation of the secret agreements that were reached at Sharm el-Sheikh between Abbas and his coterie on the one side, and Olmert and his retinue on the other.

The Palestinian resistance factions in the West Bank joined in rejecting the "Abbas decree" and they said he should first remove the occupation from the streets of the West Bank, accusing him of putting the weapons of the resistance on the same footing as weapons of celebration or of disorder....
Even within the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is part of Fatah, only part of the group agreed with the order, while the majority rejected it. There were other signs that the post Sharm el-Sheikh battle for the hearts and minds of Palestinians was not going well...... Hani al-Hassan, a member of the PLO central committee and a top Abbas adviser, had to be fired from the latter position for saying that the events in Gaza were the result of what was being attempted by US General Keith Dayton and his ally Dahlan. So it goes....."

Blair unfit for peace-making

By Khalid Amayreh in East Jerusalem

"There is no doubt that Tony Blair, who has just been appointed by the Quartet (US, EU, Russia and UN) as Peace Envoy to the Middle East is utterly unfit for the job. The man is simply too deceitful and too dishonest and too unethical to be a genuine peacemaker.

Last week, renowned British Journalist Robert Fisk wrote the following about Blair:

“I remain overwhelmed that this vain, deceitful man, this proven liar, a trumped-up lawyer who has the blood of thousands of Arab men, women and children on his hands is really contemplating being ‘our’ Middle East envoy.”.....

Blair’s legacy as British Prime Minister and world leader is undoubtedly dark and ugly. The man was instrumental in getting the uncultured, ignoramus George Bush to invade, occupy and destroy Iraq, resulting in the decimation of the Arab country and annihilation of hundreds of thousands its citizens. To justify the Anglo-American crusade against Iraq, Blair resorted to every conceivable cheap tactic, from brash, brazen lying to the British people to concocting wild tales about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and “imminent” onslaught on western civilization.....

Blair enthusiastically supported the extremely callous siege on Palestinians, including the seizure by Israel of Palestinian customs revenues, which impoverished and starved millions of innocent men, women and children for no guilt they committed apart from exercising their democratic freedoms.This was the behavior of a man who constantly preached to the peoples of the Middle East about the virtues of democracy and human rights, while in reality doing every thing possible to undermine and undo the outcome of democratic and transparent elections, closely monitored by observers from around the world, including former US President Jimmy Carter......

In truth, Blair has never shown any meaningful opposition to Israel’s unmitigated theft of Palestinian land as well as the construction of numerous Jewish-only settlements and transfer of hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens onto the occupied territories.

Last year, when Israel launched its genocidal war on Lebanon, destroying much of the Lebanese civilian infrastructure and dropping millions of cluster bomblets throughout the virtually defenseless country, Blair refused to support an early ceasefire, apparently in order to allow Israel to murder and maim more Lebanese civilians, which it did......."