During a celebration in Ramallah marking the 52nd anniversary of the founding of his Fatah faction, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas declared that 2017 will be the “year of international recognition of the State of Palestine.” Hailing the recent anti-settlement UN Security Council resolution 2334, Abbas said he was prepared to work with the new administration of Donald Trump “to achieve peace in the region.”
But while Abbas and his lieutenants were celebrating in Ramallah, at least 11 Palestinians were wounded in a scuffle that erupted between rival Fatah factions in the Gaza Strip. According to sources in the Gaza Strip, the fight broke out between Abbas loyalists and supporters of estranged Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan. The confrontation, which was the most violent between the two sides in many years, is yet another sign of increasing schism in Fatah. Moreover, it is an indication of how Abbas’s control over his own faction is slipping through his hands. Hamas policemen who were at the scene did not interfere to break up the fight between the warring Fatah activists.
The melee in Gaza exposes as the lie that is Abbas’s repeated claim of a unified Fatah, able to lead the Palestinians towards statehood. Incredibly, Abbas seeks global recognition of a Palestinian state at a time when the flames in his own backyard are set to engulf him and his questionable regime.
Abbas says he wants to work with the Trump Administration to achieve peace in the Middle East, yet he cannot even achieve peace in his very own faction.
Abbas’s speech coincided with a new public opinion poll that showed that 64% of Palestinians want him to step down. The poll, conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, also showed that two-thirds of Palestinians do not believe that the current Fatah leadership can achieve their aspirations.
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The election of Yehya Sinwar to lead Hamas in Gaza represents the completion of a lengthy takeover by the terror movement’s military wing at the expense of the political wing, and it could signal a more imminent confrontational path with Israel than previously thought.
The Izzadin Al-Kassam Brigades gradually have been pushing aside Hamas’s political wing, seeing it as an impediment to its jihadist war efforts against Israel.
Sinwar and his military wing comrades want to reestablish their alliance with Iran and boost a tactical partnership with ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula.
His rise likely means that Hamas and Iran will grow close once again, after years of turmoil over their opposing stances on the Syrian war.
In fact, Sinwar’s rise to power is being described by veteran analyst Pinhas Inbari as Iran’s taking back the reigns to Gaza, which stemmed from Iranian concerns over a more hardline policy from the United States after President Donald Trump’s election.
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The Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, which is currently celebrating the 29th anniversary of its founding, misses no opportunity to broadcast its stated reason for being: to wage jihad (holy war) in order to achieve its goal of destroying Israel. Those who allege that Hamas is moving toward pragmatism and moderation might take note.
Last week, tens of thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of the Gaza Strip to participate in rallies marking the anniversary of the founding of Hamas. As in previous years, the rallies were held under the motto of jihad and “armed resistance” until the liberation of all Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Another message that emerged loud and clear from the rallies: Hamas will never recognize Israel’s right to exist.
This year’s rallies once again also served as a reminder of the enormous popularity that Hamas continues to enjoy among Palestinians — not only in the Gaza Strip, but also in the West Bank, where supporters of the Islamist movement celebrated the occasion, but on a smaller scale and with a lower profile, out of fear of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israeli security forces.
Khalil Al-Haya, a senior Hamas official, outlined in a speech before his supporters in the Gaza Strip his movement’s strategy, namely to pursue the fight until the elimination of Israel. “We will not recognize Israel because it will inevitably go away,” he declared.
“And we will not backtrack on the option of armed struggle until the liberation of all Palestine. Since its establishment, Hamas has been — and will remain — a Palestinian Islamic national and resistance movement whose goal is to liberate Palestine and confront the Israeli project. The liberation of the Gaza Strip is just the first step toward the liberation of Palestine — all Palestine. There is no future for the Israeli entity on our homeland.”
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction posted a graphic on its official Facebook page on Saturday, suggesting that it was expressing gratitude to the UN Security Council for endorsing terrorism against Israelis, a Jerusalem-based research organization reported on Sunday.
According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Fatah updated a cartoon that it had posted the day before the passage of the now infamous resolution, which declared Israeli settlement anywhere beyond the 1967 borders, including in east Jerusalem, illegal.
The original meme, PMW demonstrated, depicted a map of “Palestine” – covering the entire state of Israel – as a large knife being held by a stabber, in likely reference to one of the preferred methods of terrorism against Israelis during the course of the ongoing “lone-wolf intifada.” The perpetrator in the cartoon is stabbing the word in Arabic for “settlement.” The text above the drawing reads: “#Palestine will defeat the settlement” — indicating the settlement of Jews in any part of the entire country.
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This has become predictable. Given two minutes of breath, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas resorts to the old tactic of courting Hamas as a way of hiding from the disaffection of his own Fatah faction. The overtures towards Hamas are a smokescreen for what many Palestinians are beginning to perceive as the beginning of a revolt against Abbas.
Last week, Abbas held a surprise meeting in Qatar with Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal. The meeting reportedly considered ways of ending the longstanding dispute between Fatah and Hamas and achieving “national reconciliation.”
Abbas aides said the meeting also dealt with the possibility of forming a Palestinian “national unity” government and holding long-overdue presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The unexpected meeting was held under the auspices of the rulers of Qatar, a country that has long been the Number One sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, of which Hamas is an offshoot.
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Children have long become an integral part of “military” parades held in the Gaza Strip by various Palestinian groups. But this form of child abuse does not seem to bother human rights organizations or the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), whose declared goal is to “work for a world in which every child has a fair chance in life and a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential — to the benefit of a better world.” It seems that UNICEF does not believe that its mandate extends to Palestinian children, who are exploited to serve the interests of Islamist groups.
In the Gaza Strip, children are taught not only to hate Israel, but also to prepare themselves for jihad (holy war) against the “Zionist enemy.” Hamas, the Islamic Jihad Movement, and other radical groups see children as future “soldiers” in the war to eliminate Israel. They raise children to regard suicide bombers and jihadis as role models.
Children in this world do not dream about becoming doctors, pilots or engineers. Rather, they dream of destroying Israel and “liberating Palestine.” In fact, an entire generation of Palestinians, particularly those in the Gaza Strip, has been raised on the glorification of suicide bombers and anyone who kills a Jew. With enough sacrifices, they are taught, the destruction of Israel is not a far-fetched dream. They alone embody the future hope of the Palestinians to see Israel removed from the face of the earth. Forget becoming a physician: their job is to continue what their fathers failed to achieve.
All the while, both local and international human rights organizations look the other way. In their view, recruiting Palestinian children to the ranks of Islamist terror groups does not constitute child abuse.
Yet not only human rights groups turn a blind eye to this child abuse. The Palestinian Authority (PA), which relies heavily on Western donors for its survival, has also chosen to bury its head in the sand regarding this disturbing practice, which has become widespread in the Gaza Strip in recent years.
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“Follow the money” – that fundamental rule for investigating organized crime – also holds true for uncovering terrorist organizations. But if the search leads to your own doorstep, immediate and decisive action must be taken.
This may be the case for the U.S. government in light of recent statements by Mahmoud Abbas, the current president of the Palestinian Authority. The 81-year-old Abbas, who has been president since 2005, is calling for unifying the Fatah party government with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. President Bill Clinton’s executive order first labeled Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization in 1995.
Hamas was included among terrorist groups whose “grave acts of violence … disrupt the Middle East peace process [and] constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”
The State Department followed that up by labeling Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997. Those actions make it prohibited by law for any U.S. citizen to provide material support, including currency, to the organization. That means that if you or I gave a dollar to them or their pseudo charities, we can go to prison.
The U.S. provides approximately $400 million annually to the Palestinian Authority (PA). That support cannot continue legally if the PA unites with Hamas, unless two critical conditions are met. First, Hamas would have to recognize “the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist.” And second, just as crucial, Hamas must accept all previously negotiated Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
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