Showing posts with label Hamas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hamas. Show all posts

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Robert Fisk On The Middle East "Deal Of The Century'

From the UK Independent :
LinkSecret meetings between Palestinian intermediaries, Egyptian intelligence officials, the Turkish foreign minister, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal – the latter requiring a covert journey to Damascus with a detour round the rebellious city of Deraa – brought about the Palestinian unity which has so disturbed both Israelis and the American government. Fatah and Hamas ended four years of conflict in May with an agreement that is crucial to the Paslestinian demand for a state.

A series of detailed letters, accepted by all sides, of which The Independent has copies, show just how complex the negotiations were; Hamas also sought – and received – the support of Syrian President Bachar al-Assad, the country’s vice president Farouk al-Sharaa and its foreign minister, Walid Moallem. Among the results was an agreement by Meshaal to end Hamas rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza – since resistance would be the right only of the state – and agreement that a future Palestinian state be based on Israel’s 1967 borders.

“Without the goodwill of all sides, the help of the Egyptians and the acceptance of the Syrians – and the desire of the Palestinians to unite after the start of the Arab Spring, we could not have done this,” one of the principal intermediaries, 75-year old Munib Masri, told me. It was Masri who helped to set up a ‘Palestinian Forum’ of independents after the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and Hamas originally split after Hamas won an extraordinary election victory in 2006. “I thought the divisions that had opened up could be a catastrophe and we went for four years back and forth between the various parties,” Masri said. “Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) asked me several times to mediate. We opened meetings in the West Bank. We had people from Gaza. Everyone participated. We had a lot of capability.”

In three years, members of the Palestinian Forum made more than 12 trips to Damascus, Cairo, Gaza and Europe and a lot of initiatives were rejected. Masri and his colleagues dealt directly with Hamas’ Prime Minister Hanniyeh in Gaza. They took up the so-called ‘prisoner swap initiative’ of Marwan Barghouti, a senior Fatah leader in an Israeli jail; then in the winds of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, the youth of Palestine on 15 March demanded unity and an end to the rivalry of Fatah and Hamas. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had always refused to talk to Abbas on the grounds that the Palestinians were not united. On the 16th, he made a speech saying that he was “thinking of going to Gaza”. Masri, who was present, stood on a chair and clapped.

“I thought Hamas would answer in a positive way,” he recalls. “But in the first two or three days after Abbas’ speech, it gave a rather negative response. He had wanted an immediate election and no dialogue. Hamas did not appreciate this.” Abbas went off to Paris and Moscow – to sulk, in the eyes of some of his associates. But the Forum did not give up.

“We wrote a document – we said we would go to see the Egyptians, to congratulate them upon their revolution. So we had two meetings with the Egyptian head of intelligence, Khaled Orabi – Orabi’s father was an army general at the time of King Farouk – and we met Mohamed Ibrahim, an officer in the intelligence department.” Ibrahim’s father had won renown in the 1973 war when he captured the highest ranking Israeli officer in Sinai. The delegation also met Ibrahim’s deputies, Nadr Aser and Yassir Azawi.

Seven people from each part of Palestine were to represent the team in Cairo. These are the names which will be in future Palestinian history books. From the West Bank, came Dr Hanna Nasser (head of Bir Zeit University and of the Palestinian central election committee); Dr Mamdouh Aker (the head of the human rights society); Mahdi Abdul-Hadi (chairman of a political society in Jerusalem); Hanni Masri (a political analyst); Iyad Masrouji (businessman in pharmacuticals); Hazem Quasmeh (runs an NGO) and Munib Masri himself.

The Gaza ‘side’ were represented by Eyad Sarraj (who in the event could not go to Cairo because he was ill); Maamoun Abu Shahla (member of the board of Palestine Bank); Faysal Shawa (businessman and landowner); Mohsen Abu Ramadan (writer); Rajah Sourani (head of Arab human rights, who did not go to Cairo); ‘Abu Hassan’ (Islamic Jihad member who was sent by Sarraj); and Sharhabil Al-Zaim (a Gaza lawyer).

“These men spent time with the top brass of the Egyptian ‘mukhabarat’ intelligence service,” Masri recalls. “We met them on 10 April but we sent a document before we arrived in Cairo. This is what made it important. In Gaza, there were two different ‘sides’. So we talked about the micro-situation, about Gazans in the ‘jail’ of Gaza, we talked about human rights, the Egyptian blockade, about dignity. Shawa was saying ‘we feel we do not have dignity – and we feel it’s your fault.’ Nadr Asr of the intelligence department said: ‘We’re going to change all that.’

“At 7.0 pm, we came back and saw Khaled Orabi again. I told him: ‘Look, I need these things from you. Do you like the new initiative, a package that’s a win-win situation for everyone? Is the Palestinian file still ‘warm’ in Cairo? He said ‘It’s a bit long – but we like it. Can you pressure both Fatah and Hamas, to bring them in? But we will work with you. Go and see Fatah and Hamas – and treat this as confidential.’ We agreed, and went to see Amr Moussa (now a post-revolution Egyptian presidential candidate) at the Arab League. He was at first very cautious – but the next day, Amr Moussa’s team was very positive. We said: ‘Give it a chance – we said that the Arab League was created for Palestine, that the Arab League has a big role in Jerusalem’.”

The delegation went to see Nabil al-Arabi at the Egyptian foreign ministry. “Al-Arabi said: ‘Can I bring in the foreign minister of Turkey, who happens to be in Egypt?’ So we all talkled about the initiative together. We noticed the close relationship between the foreign ministry and the intelligence ministry. That’s how I found out that ‘new’ Egypt had a lot of confidence – they were talking in front of Turkey; they wanted (italics: wanted) to talk in front of Turkey. So we agreed we would all talk together and then I returned with the others to Amman at 9.0 pm.”

The team went to the West Bank to report – “we were happy, we never had this feeling before” – and tell Azzam Ahmed (Fatah’s head of reconciliation) that they intended to support Mahmoud Abbas’s initiative over Gaza. “We had seven big meetings in Palestine to put all the groups there and the independents in the picture. Abbas had already given us a presidential decree. I spoke to Khaled Meshaal (head of Hamas, living in Damascus) by phone. He said: ‘Does Abu Mazzen (Abbas) agree to this?’ I said that wasn’t the point. I went to Damascus next day with Hanna Nasser, Mahdi Abdul Hadi and Hanni Masri. Because of all the trouble in Syria, we had to make a detour around Deraa. I had a good rapport with Meshaal. He said he had read our document – and that it was worth looking at.”

It was a sign of the mutual distrust between Hamas and Abbas that they both seemed intent on knowing the other’s reaction to the initiative before making up their own minds. “Meshaal said to me: ‘What did Abu Mazzen (Abbas) say?’ I laughed and replied: ‘You always ask me this – but what do you (italics: you) want? We met with Meshaal’s colleagues, Abu Marzouk, Izzat Rishiq and Abu Abdu Rahman. We reviewed the document for six and a half hours. The only thing we didn’t get from Meshaal was that the government has to be by agreement. We told him the government has to be of natiuonal unity -- on the agreement that we would be able to carry out elections and lift the embargo on Gaza and reconstruct Gaza, that we have to abide by international law, by the UN Charter and UN resolutions. He asked for three or four days. He agreed that resistance must only be ‘in the national interest of the country’ – it would have to be ‘aqlaqi’ – ethical. There would be no more rocket attacks on civilians. In other words, no more rocket attacks from Gaza.”

The Full Story Is Here

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hamas : How Israel Lost Its Latest War

Just like during World War II, in the War On Terror you sometimes get to hear from the scheduled enemies in the mainstream media. Here's the deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau :

Israel's objectives from the war on Gaza were set long before its launch: to remove the Hamas movement and government, achieve the reinstallation of the Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas, in Gaza, and end the armed resistance. Two other objectives were not announced. First, restore the Israeli public's wavering confidence in its armed forces after its defeat by Hezbollah in 2006. Second, boost the coalition government in the coming elections.

Accordingly, we declare that Israel lost, and lost decisively. What did it achieve? The killing of large numbers of civilians, children and women, and the destruction of homes, ministry buildings and other infrastructure with the most advanced US weapons and other internationally banned chemical and phosphorous elements. Almost 2,000 children were killed and injured in desperate pursuit of political goals. Many international organisations called these attacks war crimes, yet barely a word of denunciation was uttered by any western leader. What message does the EU mean to send Palestinians by its shameful silence on these crimes, when it speaks incessantly on human rights?

If anything, the last three weeks, and previous 18 months, have proved that the Palestinians can never be broken by either starvation, economic strangulation or brutal attack. European leaders have only one option: to recognise the outcome of a democratic process they had called for and supported.

The aggression failed to undermine or weaken the Hamas-led government, or turn Palestinians against Hamas. If anything, public support is stronger than ever in Palestine and worldwide. Hamas's military capabilities have not been hurt, either. This explains Israel scurrying to sign such a strange agreement with the US to stop arms reaching Hamas. It is doomed to fail. As the former Israeli chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon and Binyamin Netanyahu agreed, Israeli forces failed to achieve their objectives.

Why is Israel allowed a continuous flow of the most lethal arms, including banned weapons, while national resistance movements are denied the means of defence? International laws permit occupied nations to resist their occupiers, and that is a right we aim to utilise to the full.

Israel must accept the reality that it is incapable of breaking the Palestinian resistance. Similarly, Europe must accept that bringing back Abbas on an Israeli tank is not an option. Nor are attempts to win by "diplomacy" what the might of the Israeli military failed to secure by force. To state that all aid for Gaza reconstruction must go through the illegal government of Salam Fayyad suggests there is no end to some parties' exploitation of Palestinians. We will never cease to pursue national unity, but we will never allow it to be attained by compromising Palestinian rights.

And to President Obama we say: the wave of hope that met your election was heavily dampened by your silence on the Gaza massacre. This was compounded by your pre-election statement siding with the Israeli settlers of Sderot. You would do well to know the history of the places of which you speak. Sderot, which may be known to some as an Israeli town, lies on the ruins of Najd, a Palestinian village ransacked in May 1948 by Zionist terrorist gangs. Villagers were forced from their beds and homes with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, rendering them refugees for the next 61 years. That is the story of Sderot. It is never a good start to get your tyrant and victims mixed up, but there is still room for a revival of passionate optimism. Only if you decide to fairly address the issue of the 6 million Palestinian refugees and the ending of occupation of Palestinian lands, including Jerusalem, will you be able to start a new relationship with the Muslim world.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gaza City Goes To Hell

27 Killed In Hamas Vs Fatah Clashes In 24 Hours

Syria Says Palestinians Are "Playing Into The Hands Of Israel"

Reality inside Gaza has become so warped that one 'terrorist' group, backed, armed and funded by Israel and the US, is warring against another 'terrorist' group that is actually the democratically elected government.

If what is happening today in Gaza is not civil war, it is something so close as to be all but indistinguishable.

More than 50 people have been killed in five days of fighting, mostly militants, with at least 27 killed in one day. Fatah and Hamas militants are gunning each other down in the street, raiding each others' homes, destroying each others' security compounds and taking each other hostage :

Hamas militants waged an assault on the three main security forces compounds in Gaza City on Wednesday, seizing control over most of the Gaza Strip, in clashes with the rival Fatah movement which left at least 27 people dead.
Hamas' armed wing said "the coup-seekers" - a reference to Fatah - in that area have until Friday evening to hand over their weapons.

Hamas' assault on Gaza City, the main city in the coastal strip, came hours after the key southern town of Khan Yunis fell to Hamas. The Islamic militants detonated a one-ton bomb underneath the Preventative Security headquarters there, nearly demolishing the building and killing at least one person, Palestinian security and medical officials said.
From ABC :

Hamas Islamist fighters have gained ground against forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in intense battles for control of the Gaza Strip.

Diplomats said a top aide to Mr Abbas told them that some of the president's men ran for their lives, others ran out of bullets and that after five days of battle "Gaza is lost".

As Hamas continued to press for control of Gaza, the Arab League tried to end the fighting between Hamas and Mr Abbas's more moderate Fatah faction.

Hamas forces took important ground in north and central Gaza as they pressed their attacks on Wednesday (local time).

With the machine guns and mortars of civil war echoing in Gaza City after dark, hospital officials tallied another 33 deaths over the day, including a teenager at a peace rally and schoolboy shot leaving an exam room.

But most of the dead were fighters from Abbas's secular Fatah faction and their Hamas rivals.

Forty members of the security forces, loyal to Fatah, blew a hole in the fence between Gaza and Egypt and fled the chaos. Another 300 members of a clan which is loyal to Fatah surrendered to Hamas in a refugee camp in Gaza city.

Civillians demanding an end to the chaos came under fire and two were killed. It was not immediately clear who shot at them.

The Arab League has scheduled a meeting this weekend in a bid to end the fighting.

Syria claimed the fighting factions in Gaza are "playing into the hands of the Israelis" and warned them to stop :
"Syria is watching with concern the confrontations between brothers, which only serve the interests of the enemies of the Palestinian cause and of the Arab nation,’ the foreign ministry said.

‘We exhort our Palestinian brothers to stop the violence, because the recovery of (their) rights and the achievement of national objectives come through national unity.

‘The building of an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, and the guarantee that Palestinians will return to their homes can only be achieved by unity in the ranks against the Israeli occupation."

A 'secret' UN report,
written by Israel's highest ranking UN officials, condemns the United States for "pummelled into submission" moves by the United Nations to try and bring peace to the region. The report's chief complaints include the following :
* The international boycott of the Palestinians, introduced after Hamas won elections last year, was "at best extremely short-sighted" and had "devastating consequences" for the Palestinian people

* Israel has adopted an "essentially rejectionist" stance towards the Palestinians

* The Quartet of Middle East negotiators - the US, the EU, Russia and the UN - has become a "side-show"

* The Palestinian record of stopping violence against Israel is "patchy at best, reprehensible at worst"

Leaders Of Fatah And Hamas Both Survived Assassination Attempts

EU Will Consider Military Role In Gaza, If Asked

Palestinian Government On Brink Of Collapse

Secret UN Report Condemns United States For Middle East Failures

Bloody Battles Push Gaza Towards Civil War

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Palestine : Devoid Of Hope For A Better Future, Hamas and Fatah Gunmen Go To War

When Hamas claimed victory in Palestinian elections almost a year ago, Palestinians had renewed hope that their misery would soon come to an end. Hamas still refused to officially recognise Israel, but instituted a "cease fire" regardless, and reached out to engage Israel, the rest of the Arab world and chiefly the United States, in peace talks.

But the United States, who backed democratic elections in Palestine, decided to side with Israel and locked Hamas out of 'Roadmap To Peace', two-state negotiations. Funding was cut, Israel destroyed power plants in Gaza and the West Bank under the guise of pursuing militants, and the killings continued.

The Palestinian Authority, once so deeply despised by Israel that its leaders could barely stand to even be in the same room as the Fatah members, let alone Yasar Arafat, suddenly found itself befriended by Israel and the United States.

Recently, Israel and the US began funding Fatah and, remarkably, arming it with an array of guns and ammunition. But there was a condition for the cash and the guns. Fatah had to break Hamas.

And so a virtual civil war rages today in the streets of Gaza, amidst Fatah-Hamas ceasefires and truces. Dozens have died in the past two weeks alone, including many children.

While the 'Qaurtert' meets in the United States, peace and an internationally acknowledged state for the Palestinians now seem further away than they've been for years. If not decades.

From Haaretz :
Clashes between Fatah and Hamas gunmen resumed across the Gaza Strip on Saturday in defiance of a truce deal, sending Gazans who had tentatively ventured from their homes scattering to seek refuge from the violence.

On Saturday afternoon, Fatah sources announced that Hamas gunmen kidnapped six unarmed members of the Palestinian Authority's Preventative Security Service at roadblocks they had set up in the city.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas' Damascus-based political leader Khaled Mashal agreed to an immediate cease-fire late Friday, after two days of factional violence left 25 Palestinians dead, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

Rumours of Iranian involvement in Gaza, backing and arming Hamas, run rampant, as the US and Israel claims that at least six Iranian weapons experts were arrested at a Hamas-run university complex.

Through Gaza and the West Bank there now grows the very proxy Sunni Vs Shia war feared, and sometimes cheered, by all the major regional power players. But hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are now on the verge of starvation. Many live without electricity, fresh water, basic sanitation.

And all the while, Israel and swarms of 'settlers' continue to occupy and annex Palestinian lands while the US pretends it doesn't see what's going on.

From the Melbourne Age :

"What's happening here in Palestine is good only for Israel, but what can we do?" said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, who on Thursday was the target of an unsuccessful Fatah assassination bid.

"We had a democratic process and people voted for Hamas and for us to form the Government. But the whole world supported Israel, even most Islamic countries. What we understand is that some Fatah people are co-ordinating with the Israelis and Americans to destroy our national project."

A Fatah commander in Gaza acknowledged that Fatah was being armed and funded by the US and Israel but said: "There is no other way for us to survive as Palestinians but to look for support from the Israelis, the Americans and the Arab world."

From Haaretz :
The Americans say events of the past week in Gaza have only proved to the Palestinians that the Hamas government cannot provide them with the security they need. "Hamas is trying to shake off responsibility and give it to the international community," a source in the State Department said, "but it's their responsibility."

The American noted that in Gaza, where Hamas' control is ostensibly stronger [than in the West Bank], Hamas is unable "to deliver the Palestinians what they expect."

This is, of course, exactly what Washington and Israel has dreamed of for the past twelve months. They want to prove they were right from the beginning, that Hamas could not bring peace to Palestine.

The majority of Palestinians chose to elect Hamas after Fatah's Palestinian Authority failed to bring peace and improvements to daily life for years. Palestinians are now continuing to be punished for their insolence in choosing to elect Hamas, against the wishes of Israel and the United States.

25 Killed In 24 Hours Of Fighting, Palestinians Declare New Ceasefire

Claim : Iranian Agents Nabbed In Gaza, 1 Commits Suicide - Fatah Fighters Seize Hams Weapons Stockpile

Truce Between Hamas & Fatah Shattered As Street Battles Erupt Again

Russia, US Disagree Over Syria's Role In Mid-East Peace Process

Russia Furious Over US Refusal To Engage Syria, Iran Over Solving The War In Palestine

Egyptians Blame Hamas As Gaza Ceasefire Collapses

US Backing For Fatah Stirs New Conflict