So: You Made A Deal With Hamas: Are You Desperate Or A Fool?

So You Made A Deal With Hamas

 

Why would you, or anyone for that matter ever make a deal of any kind with hate filled murderers? We all know well the sins of Fatah, the PLO, and the PA.. The PA had legal control of Gaza, and Hamas took it from you. You had to cancel the election because you knew you would lose. Mr. Abbas, is this a last step to save your Government, or your life? Mr. President, within one year of Hamas being welcomed in, it will be Hamas who will shut your door. You are bound to know this so you must have made a deal, to get out with your life. The people of the whole West Bank are about to have Hell’s burner knob turned up a notch or three.

 

The only thing that matters here is that Hamas is one large step further out of Hell and one huge step further into Israel. Hezbollah and Iran dug in to their north and Hamas all dug in southern Israel, not a picture of peace for Israel, or the Middle-East in general. This PA and Hamas deal seems to be a done deal, so now, how is Israel suppose to take this news? There could be total peace in this region of the world tomorrow, but the very teachings of Islam will not allow it to be. Peace, no peace not as long as one side is dominated by religious hate. So, you made a deal with the Devil, wearing the veil of Hamas.

Gaza Opens its Doors after Years of Deprivation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Gaza Opens its Doors after Years of Deprivation

Wednesday, 4 October, 2017 – 11:30
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

Gaza’s leadership finally welcomed the Palestinian Authority with arms wide open to end their dispute.

This is a very important political and humanitarian agreement credited for the government of Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, the first in a decade who succeeded in doing so.

If the deal’s implementation went as planned, and Ramallah and Gaza’s leaders cooperated, one of the worst politicians-made humanitarian disasters would be over.

There is no doubt that Gaza’s leaders, who were drawn into Qatar’s adventures and Iran’s exploitation, are responsible for the dark stage.

For ten painful years the densely populated strip suffered, and its people witnessed devastating wars having no political objectives. The factions in the enclave fought with extremists and radicals.

Trade was banned, tunnels were blocked, swimming in the sea was forbidden, and fishermen were constrained.

The suffering began when the airport, symbol of peace promise and better future, was closed.

Most of Gaza’s news became about the crossing point, and when it would be open for humanitarian cases.

The people’s suffering was neither a national duty nor a political necessity. It was rather a nonsensical disagreement and personal rivalry over leadership.

Not until the new agreement goes into full effect for weeks and months, will we be certain that it will last. However, this remains the best thing that has happened in years.

Can Rami Hamdallah’s government run the enclave and coexist with Hamas simultaneously? Will disagreements be forgotten and replaced by a cooperation that shall unite the strip back with the West Bank?

Many old reasons make this a difficult task, and even if it succeeds today, it might not last.

Gaza’s return to Ramallah is an important sign on the Palestinian leadership’s ability to speak on behalf of all Palestinians.

The reconciliation puts an end to Israel’s rejection of peace claiming that “Hamas,” “Islamic Jihad”, and other armed opposition movements thwarted past attempts for peace.

Reconciliation opens the door to any international desire to launch a new initiative.

Even if a serious peace plan is not produced, at least it will be possible to reform the internal Palestinian situation shattered by conflicts over authority.

Egypt’s return is an important new peace factor. It was responsible for sponsoring the Gaza Strip, hadn’t it been for the Qatari-Iranian interventions that struck Egypt’s role, created a wall of fear and closed the strip.

During the 10 years of intra-Palestinian conflict, Egypt tried to mediate but failed. However, this is the first time we see a sign of hope in ending the conflict between two brothers.

Sincere intentions are required so that the authority isn’t tempted into total domination, nor does it become a victim of Hamas’ deception to open the crossings in order to overcome the crisis, provide its needs, and then return to disagreement and estrangement.

Reconciliation and the opening of Gaza may be the door to regional stability and a sign of an end to regional chaos.

Hamas Says It Won’t Even Discuss Giving Up Their Weapons: Only An Idiot Would Think They Would

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Hamas says it won’t even discuss giving up weapons if PA takes over Gaza

Still, Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar says Muhammad Deif, Qassam Brigades terror chief, ‘strongly backs’ reconciliation with Fatah

Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, attend a memorial in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on January 31, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, attend a memorial in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on January 31, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said on Thursday that the Gaza-based terror group is not prepared to discuss the dissolution of its military wing during talks with the Fatah party, as the two sides attempt to form a unity government.

At the same time, Hamas Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar said the elusive commander of the terror group’s military wing, Muhammad Deif, supports the reconciliation attempt.

“This issue is not up for discussion, not previously and neither will it be in the future,” Abu Marzouk said in a long interview with the semi-official Turkish news agency Al-Andalous. “The weapons of the resistance are for the protection of the Palestinian people, and it is inconceivable that Hamas will lay down its weapons as long as its land is occupied and its people dispersed.”

Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk, September 18, 2014. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

Fatah and Hamas have been at loggerheads since Hamas violently took control of the Strip in 2007, with the two groups operating separate administrations.

Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has a reported  27,000 armed men divided into six regional brigades, with 25 battalions and 106 companies.

It has fought three conflicts with Israel since the terror group took control of Gaza.

Hamas announced earlier this month that it had agreed to steps toward resolving the split with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, announcing it would dissolve a body seen as a rival government — known as the administrative committee — and was ready to hold elections.

The statement came after Hamas leaders held talks with Egyptian officials and as Gaza faces a mounting humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by retaliatory moves by Abbas following Hamas’s decision to set up the administrative committee to govern the enclave in March.

While Abbas welcomed Hamas’s dissolution of the administrative committee, he didn’t commit to removing PA sanctions on the Strip.

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is slated to travel to Gaza on Monday to begin reinstating the PA’s control over the Strip.

Reconciliation attempts between the two sides have failed numerous times, and one of the biggest sticking points has been who will control the border and security in the Gaza Strip.

(From L to R) Palestinian Fatah delegation chief Azzam al-Ahmad, Hamas prime minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk pose for a photo as they celebrate in Gaza City on April 23, 2014, after West Bank and Gaza Strip leaders agreed to form a unity government within five weeks. (photo credit: AFP/Said Khatib)

Abu Marzouk also said in his comments on Thursday that Hamas would not be willing to accede to the demands of the so-called Middle East Quartet — the United States, Russia, the European Union, and United Nations — that it renounce terrorism and agree to accept past agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which is the largest Palestinian political umbrella group.

Despite refusing to give up its military, Hamas on Thursday reiterated that it is completely committed to the idea of a unity government.

“Hamas will not remain a party to the division in any way,” said Hamas Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar in remarks given during a closed meeting with journalists and later published by a Hamas spokesperson, adding that he won’t allow anyone to foil the reconciliation plans.

“The page of the previous stage must be turned over, and we must move into the future to build our national project,” he said.

Hamas military wing commander Muhammad Deif (courtesy)

In a surprising statement, Sinwar said that Deif, the leader of the Qassam Brigades, Deif, who Israel has tried unsuccessfully  to kill numerous times and whose condition has been unknown since the 2014 summer war with Israel, is “strongly supportive” of the reconciliation efforts.

US ‘withdrew veto’ against Palestinian reconciliation

In his statements on Thursday, Abu Marzouk claimed Hamas was informed that the US was ending its opposition to a Hamas-Fatah unity government.

“We received information from sources of our own, and other Western diplomats, confirming that the United States has lifted its veto on Palestinian reconciliation,” he said.

The Hamas leader said the removal of American opposition grants Abbas “the space to take a bold step to end Palestinian division, as America formed a primary obstacle.”

On Thursday the Quartet, of which the US is a part, welcomed the PA’s impending return to the Gaza Strip as part of renewed reconciliation efforts with the Hamas.

It said renewed PA control over Gaza “is critical for efforts to reach lasting peace.”

US President Donald Trump reaches to shake Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hand before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017, in New York. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski)

The latest reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas come as US President Donald Trump has sought to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and met separately with Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week.

In apparent contradiction of Abu Marzouk’s statement, last week, Trump’s Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt slammed Hamas’s rule in the Gaza Strip and called on the PA to retake control of Gaza and urged the international community to help this process come to fruition.

“Relief from the suffering in Gaza can only be found when all interested parties gather together to help the Palestinian people and isolate Hamas,” he said, accusing Hamas of using money meant for Gaza’s civilian population on terror infrastructure.

READ MORE:

Allowances for families of Palestinians killed by Israel are intact, says official

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PALESTINIAN NEWS AGENCY ‘WAFA’)

Allowances for families of Palestinians killed by Israel are intact, says official
RAMALLAH, May 2, 2017 (WAFA) – Allowances for families of Palestinians killed by Israel will not be touched and they will be dispersed on Thursday, a Palestinian official said on Tuesday.

The official, Mohammad Sbeihat, secretary general of the National Coalition for Families of Martyrs, was dispelling reports that President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered a halt to these allowances.

“I checked with all official parties related to his issue and they all confirmed that these are just rumors and that the allowances will be distributed on time on Thursday morning,” he told WAFA.

The reason for these rumors is to create confusion and to hurt the Palestinian Authority, he said, and “to shift attention away from efforts by President Abbas in Washington to achieve the dream of independence and statehood.”

Abbas is expected to hold talks on Wednesday in Washington with US President Donald Trump on revival of the moribund Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been using the allowance issue to discredit Abbas before his US visit by claiming that he pays from money provided as foreign aid for families of Palestinians involved in attacking and killing Israelis.

Reports said three  US Republican senators wrote Trump on Tuesday asking him to pressure Abbas to stop these allowances, and one of them has proposed legislation to stop all US funding for the Palestinian Authority if it does not halt them.

M.K.

The Roadblock To Peace In Israel/The Holy Land Is The Pure Hate Of The Palestinians!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIANS AND JEWS)

The Roadblock to Peaceful Coexistence

October 27, 2016

Dear Friend of Israel

It was a simple gesture of goodwill. Last week when the mayor of Efrat, a Jewish town not far from Jerusalem, invited Palestinians from surrounding villages to his home to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, it was a chance for Jews and Palestinians to spend time together, discuss their differences in a safe environment, and perhaps take a small step toward peace.

Though, as the Washington Post notes in its account of the event, “the dynamic was a little awkward,” the gathering itself went well. But when the Palestinian guests headed home, and pictures of the event were posted on social media, four of the Palestinians were arrested – by Palestinian security forces.

Why does the idea of Jews and Arabs sitting down together civilly to discuss the possible reconciliation of their differences – or to discuss anything civilly, for that matter – so offend Palestinian leadership that they will order their citizens arrested for doing so? Because it does not fit in with the narrative that Palestinian leadership promotes: that Israel, and Israel alone, is the cause of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The true story of these arrests was told by a Palestinian security official quoted in The Times of Israel, who spoke on conditions of anonymity: “Any Palestinian cooperation with settlers is viewed as violating the law, as he cooperates with the enemy.” The mayor of Efrat, Oded Revivi, summed it up in human terms: “It is absurd that having coffee with Jews is considered a crime by the Palestinian Authority.”

The four men who were arrested were eventually released. But the damage is done. There’s a lesson to be learned from this sad and tragic event: Palestinian leaders are the roadblock to peace. They have continually turned down Israel’s offers made in goodwill. They have created and have a vested interest in perpetuating the misery of their people. Attempts by Jews living in the West Bank – biblical Judea and Samaria – to foster peaceful coexistence with their Arab neighbors fly in the face of the ultimate goal of Palestinian leadership: a West Bank free of Jewish residents.

The psalmist wrote, “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:6-7). This is the situation Israel finds herself in today – longing for peace, and willing to make painful concessions to achieve it, but facing an enemy committed to hatred, terror, and bloodshed. Let us pray for the day when Israel has a true partner for peace, and when that peace will cover this entire troubled region of the world.

With prayers for shalom, peace,


Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

In Philadelphia Pa Stupid Evil Man Shooting Everyone He Can Find

(This article is courtesy on the CNN News Network)

Woman killed in Philly shooting rampage; gunman also dead

  • Woman dies after being shot seven times, police say
  • Gunman pumped rounds into a police cruiser, police say

(CNN)A gunman with a reported hatred of law enforcement went on a deadly tear late Friday in Philadelphia, ambushing a police sergeant and firing rounds into a tavern and a car before police shot him dead, authorities said.

The rampage left a 25-year-old woman dead after she was shot seven times in the torso, police said. Two police officers and three others — two men and a woman — also were wounded.
“Right now we have a lot of questions. This is completely a bizarre situation,” Philadelphia police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. said at a press conference Saturday.
Ross said police found a rambling note at the scene that said the gunman hated police and probation officers and it mentions a “particular probation officer.”
“Obviously we are trying to track that individual down to make sure they are OK first and foremost,” he said.

Sergeant shot in protective vest

The shooting occurred at about 11:20 p.m. Friday when a man approached a police car and fired through the window at Sgt. Sylvia Young, who was sitting in her cruiser at 52nd and Sansom streets in west Philadelphia, police said.
No words were exchanged, according to Ross.
Young, a 19-year veteran of the force, was struck in her left arm and her protective vest. She is in stable condition at a hospital, police said. Ross said she is talking and is going to be OK.
Officers nearby heard the gunfire and responded, chasing down the man as he fled.

Cornered in an alley

The gunman fired into a bar, which had its door open, injuring a security guard, police said. He then grabbed a woman and used her as a human shield, shooting her in the leg, authorities said.
He discharged further rounds into a car, striking a man and woman inside, police said.
The man ran into an alley before a University of Pennsylvania police officer and two others from the city police cornered him. Police said they shot and killed him, and he was declared dead at the scene.
The university police officer was shot in the pelvis and the right ankle, police said, and he is in stable condition at a hospital.
Four officers were believed to have discharged their weapons, police said.
There was no immediate information on the gunman’s identity, but police said they don’t believe anyone else was involved at this time.
CNN affiliate WPVI reported that “officers will be riding two to a car until further notice.”

The Hypocrisy Of The PA And Many Of The Palestinian Officials Is Humerus/Sickening

(This article is courtesy of the Times Of Israel)

On day of violence, Abbas aide says IDF killing of attackers is ‘execution’

Amid spate of four attacks by Palestinians, Nabil Abu Rudeineh urges world to defend Palestinian people from Israeli ‘crimes’

September 16, 2016, 8:26 pm 15

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with a delegation of the Federation of Jews from Arab countries in Ramallah, in the West Bank, on March 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with a delegation of the Federation of Jews from Arab countries in Ramallah, in the West Bank, on March 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday called the killing by Israeli security forces of two attackers in separate incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba earlier in the day “a crime and an execution.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh called on the international community to defend the Palestinian people.

Israel has previously come under criticism for the way in which it responds to attacks on its civilians and soldiers. In March, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat submitted a request to the United Nations asking it to formally investigate what he called Israeli extrajudicial “executions” of Palestinian attackers. The request came days after an IDF soldier was filmed shooting and killing a wounded assailant in Hebron.

Israel has in turn repeatedly accused Abbas of failing to condemn the wave of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces that erupted late last year, and says his PA hierarchy presides over incitement to terror and violence against Israel.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh (L), spokesman of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, welcomes Israeli opposition head Isaac Herzog (C) at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 18, 2015. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Nabil Abu Rudeineh (L), spokesman of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, welcomes Israeli opposition head Isaac Herzog (C) at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 18, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in July that a condemnation of terror attacks by Abbas would help to reduce incitement and therefore the level of violence against Israelis.

In the first of four attacks Friday, a Jordanian man was shot and killed by Border Police officers when he tried to carry out a stabbing attack near the Damascus Gate, in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The man, Fadi Aljaba, arrived at the Damascus Gate from inside the Old City and approached a group of officers with a knife drawn. The 28-year-old assailant was carrying a Jordanian passport, but police were still investigating if he also held a Palestinian ID card.

Less than an hour later, one Palestinian was killed and another was seriously wounded when they rammed their car into a bus stop outside the Kiryat Arba settlement in the West Bank, the army said.

Soldiers at the scene where a soldier was stabbed in Hebron on September 16, 2016 (YouTube screenshot)

Soldiers at the scene where a soldier was stabbed in Hebron on September 16, 2016 (YouTube screenshot)

The driver and passenger were shot as they plowed their vehicle into the bus stop at the Elias Junction near the settlement, the IDF said.

In one of the other two attacks Friday, an IDF soldier sustained light wounds when he was stabbed in the face in an attack at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday. The assailant was shot and killed by forces at the Gilbert checkpoint near the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of the city, the army said.

Also Friday afternoon, a bus driver was lightly wounded when unidentified perpetrators threw rocks and glass bottles full of paint at his vehicle on the highway between Jerusalem and the Ma’ale Adumim settlement.

— Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

FROM THE WEB
FROM THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

Don’t Act Like You Are Ignorant: Palestinians Want Every Hector Of Israel

 

(This article is courtesy of the Times of Israel)

Netanyahu: Palestinians won’t accept our existence

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, briefing reporters during a state visit to the Netherlands, claims that the Palestinian Authority celebrates terror and refuses to countenance Israel’s existence.

“The Palestinians want Acre, Jaffa and Tel Aviv,” he says, according to quotes reported by Israel National news and confirmed by Netanyahu’s spokesman. “The Palestinians and [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas won’t agree to the existence of Israel. The Palestinians celebrate murderous terror around the world and in Israel, they name their streets after murderers,” he says.

While Abbas has refused Netanyahu’s demand that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the PA has recognized Israel and regularly called for a peace deal based on a two-state solution.

Netanyahu also claims that settlements are not at the heart of the conflict.

“Their problem is not the West Bank, it’s our very existence,” he says.

In a meeting with Dutch lawmakers, Netanyahu says that they have Israel to thank for their safety.

“Israel doesn’t only protect itself, but also protects Europe,” he says. “Israel is the most stable actor in the Middle East and the most stabilizing force in the Middle East.”

Editors note: An earlier version of this post paraphrased Netanyahu’s quote as claiming Palestinians won’t recognize Israel. According to his spokesman, he only said Palestinians won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Hamas, Fatah: The Palestinian People Are Facing Another Civil War With Hamas

 

In Hebron, Fatah faces a civil war at the polls

While Hamas has a low profile, and just as low stakes, in upcoming local elections, its Palestinian rival is trying to keep other moderates from splitting the secular vote, and preparing for the worst if it doesn‘t succeed

August 28, 2016

Flags of Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian movements atop the West Bank security barrier during a protest in November 2015. (illustrative photo: Muammar Awad/FLASH90)

Flags of Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian movements atop the West Bank security barrier during a protest in November 2015. (illustrative photo: Muammar Awad/FLASH90)

Wednesday noon, downtown Hebron. Registration for the various slates for the local elections will be closing in roughly 36 hours, and it is hard to sense anything special in the air. Those who see themselves as candidates are meeting with their advisers and their friends in anticipation of the official announcement of their candidacy, but no election posters have yet gone up in the West Bank city.

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The well-known restaurants here — Al-Khalil, Abu Mazen, the Pasha’s Palace — are full of customers, and one would be hard-pressed to say that the residents are all that excited about the municipal elections planned for October 8.

The talk of the day, of all things, is an incident that took place here just about two weeks ago, when an argument between two kids devolved into a deadly armed battle between two clans in the city.

Yet although the public in Hebron seems somewhat indifferent to the elections, for the Fatah party, tensions are as high as the stakes.

These are the first elections in more than a decade in which voting is taking place at the same time in both Gaza and the West Bank, and Hamas and Fatah are going head-to-head against one another.

Whatever the result may be, it will affect not only the status of these organizations but also of their leaders, and could even seep into the relationship between the Palestinians and Israel.

While these elections are local, and won’t directly change anything politically or security-related between Israel and the Palestinian, a sweeping win by the hardline Islamist movement Hamas is still liable to ramp up the amount of suspicion and lack of trust between the two peoples.

As in the other cities in the West Bank, the trouble in Hebron is that because there are so many secular slates of candidates, there is a reasonable chance that the more moderate camp of Fatah and groups of their ilk will split the secular vote, paving the way for victory by Hamas candidates.

For Hamas’s leaders in Gaza and abroad, the vote marks an extraordinary opportunity to take stock of where public opinion stands.

But fear of arrests by Israel or the Palestinian Authority have kept Hamas from openly running their members for office in the municipalities, forcing the movement to content itself with semi-independent figures who are known as Hamas supporters.

The flip side is that should Hamas lose at the polls, the movement will be able to claim that the lists it ran were not really part of the group, exposing it to less potential damage in the vote than Fatah.

Like the parliamentary elections of 2006, these elections are more liable to show the degree of weakness of Fatah and the secular camp than the strength of Hamas.

Where enemies become friends, and friends enemies

One need only travel to nearby Yatta to see what the risks of Fatah and the other moderates tearing themselves to bits looks like in action.

A 20-minute drive from Hebron, Yatta is a town that has metastasized into something resembling a city of 120,000 people.

Although the elections are a month and a half away, the fighting has already begun. Attacks, violence, threats and the like have been reported, mainly between groups considered to be associated or affiliated with Fatah.

Hamas has refrained from running a list under its own name in Yatta. As in other locales, its leaders are in no hurry to present their candidates for fear of Israeli or Palestinian security. But they are promoting figures who are identified with them on independent or semi-independent lists.

One of those candidate slates is the Joint List, headed by outgoing mayor Musa al-Muhamra, who resigned from his position just last week to run in the election.

If his last name is familiar to readers, its because the two terrorists who opened fire inside a restaurant at the Sarona entertainment center in Tel Aviv are from the same clan, and the ruins of their demolished home can be seen fairly close to his own.

Palestinians check the damage in the house of Mohammad Mahamra after it was demolished by the army in Yatta, south of Hebron, August 4, 2016. Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Palestinians check the damage in the house of Mohammad Muhamra after it was demolished by the army in Yatta, south of Hebron, August 4, 2016. Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

“My list contains representatives from the Arab Liberation Front, the Popular Front,” Muhamra says. “Several political movements are represented there. My list contains [representatives from] Hamas as independent representatives.”

In the past, Muhamra was a member of the People’s Party movement, which is considered left-wing, but quit over its support of the Oslo Accords in 1993. His lefty past makes him an odd bedfellow for Hamas, and shows the length to which the movement is willing to go in order to see its candidates defeat Fatah.

The threat to Fatah is real enough that COGAT commander Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who heads the Israeli Defense Ministry body which administers the West Bank, and top Shin Bet officials even warned high-ranking PA officials that holding the elections could be a dangerous gamble.

But PA President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted on holding the elections on schedule in order to demonstrate the existence of even a shred of democracy in the territories.

When I asked Muhamra about Israel’s connection with the local elections, he could hardly stem the flow of words.

“Unfortunately, there is more than one sign that [Israel] is interfering with the Palestinian elections, using people who are connected with the Israeli Civil Administration and also through direct interference by the State of Israel and its mechanisms to influence the elections.”

When asked if that means people are being “pushed” as candidates by Israel, he says “exactly.”

File: COGAT commander Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, left, at the Bitunya Crossing near Ramallah. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

File: COGAT commander Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, left, at the Bitunya Crossing near Ramallah. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

“It is pushing people, and it is playing a role in heating up the security situation and in the change that took place in the security situation on the Palestinian street as a result of this unfair and wrong interference,” he says.

Asked to explain how they are interfering, though, he answers in generalities, accusing Israel of using Palestinians who used liaise with the Civil Administration as agents to do its bidding.

“It interferes in everything that happens on the Palestinian street that has to do with elections and acts to keep Palestinian citizens from voting freely in the local elections,” he says. “Everybody knows that. It’s known on the street and in the Palestinian Authority that Israel is interfering directly in the elections. It has a certain specific attitude toward the various candidates.”

While Muhamra uses the term “Mordechai’s friends” again and again to refer to the colleagues of the COGAT commander , he never mentions the name of Ismail Abu Hamid, the other candidate, who is at the center of a political furor in Yatta.

Abu Hamid was mayor of Yatta until 1995. When the Palestinian Authority came into being, he left his position but is now considering running for mayor again.

Abu Hamid, who has Israeli citizenship, is the owner of a large fuel station at the entrance to the town. “I have a home in Beit Safafa,” he says, referring to a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, as well as businesses in the territories and in Israel.

A Hamas member he is not and posters denouncing him as a collaborator with Israel were put up all over town.

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Amjad Hatem Al-Jundi during his funeral on October 10, 2015 in the village of Yatta, south the West Bank town of Hebron. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Amjad Hatem Al-Jundi during his funeral on October 10, 2015 in the village of Yatta, south the West Bank town of Hebron. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)

When we meet him, he is surrounded by people, and says his decision will come in the next few hours. (Indeed, the next day he filed as a candidate). Some are trying to help him decide, while others appear to be guarding him for fear that someone might try to harm him.

Abu Hamid says that his people had found the ones who were putting up the posters. “They fired a shot at me, but my cousins managed to get the gun away from them and hand it over to the Preventive Security Service,” he says.

What he leaves out is the fact that the people putting up the posters were member of Fatah who did not want to see Abu Hamid run in the elections and split the moderate vote.

“They put up posters against me saying that I was an agent, a member of Hamas, a member of the Civil Administration, that Israel had sent me. It is known who is responsible for these posters, but the PA is not taking any action. It’s not doing a thing. I demand that the PA act on the issue and prosecute all those responsible,” he says.

He says time and again that no Israeli ever spoke to him about the topic, and attacks everyone who criticized him for his connection with Israel.

“There is security coordination, after all,” he says, referring to cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on security matters in the West Bank. “There is coordination with the PA. So they’re attacking me for my own connection with Israel?”

Threat level: Moderate

It’s not only in Yatta that Fatah faces a threat from a candidate likely to nab votes from its clutches.

One of the most popular radio stations in Hebron is al-Huriya (Liberty), headed by journalist Ayman al-Qawasmeh. Just 43 years old, Qawasmeh is considered a key figure in the city and the district. One can see photographs of Yasser Arafat in his office, as well as the Palestine soccer cup that the Al-Ahli soccer club from Hebron won only several weeks ago in a game against the team from Khan Yunis.

Qawasmeh, who reopened the station in April after IDF troops shuttered it for for incitement to violence in November, has put his name up for mayor, leading a list of candidates entitled The Martyr Fahd al-Qawasmeh, named for the mayor of Hebron in the 1970s who was assassinated in Amman in 1984.

Qawasmeh says the decision to run was not made by him.

This image posted by Palestinian social media users overnight Saturday purports to show IDF soldiers outside the offices of a Hebron radio station in November, 2015. (screen capture: Facebook)

This image posted by Palestinian social media users overnight Saturday purports to show IDF soldiers outside the offices of a Hebron radio station in November, 2015. (screen capture: Facebook)

“The heads of 19 of the city’s families met in the Harat a-Sheikh [a neighborhood] and chose me,” he tells me.

When I ask him whether the list will represent only his clan, he assures me that it contains representatives of many other families.

“We took into account the city’s geographical division into many neighborhoods and the division into clans, and we chose people of extraordinary quality,” says Qawasmeh,.

Known in the past as being closer to Fatah, Qawasmeh now says he is trying to distance himself from the movement, and demurs when asked even if he defines himself as Hamas or Fatah.

“We define our movement as representing the people on the street, who actually represent the majority. Forty percent of the people belong to the movements, while 60% have no connection with, and are not members of, any group. Those people are our constituency,” he says.

Our representatives are members of the new generation, he adds. We have brought in new faces. Our list contains more than one woman, he says proudly.

He admits that he was pressured not to run, but repeats “The decision to run for mayor was made for me.”

As we speak, it is still not clear who from Hamas or Fatah will run against him come October. But from a look at the candidates on his list, which includes friends gathered in his office, it’s clear, as in the case of Abu Hamid, he’ll steal more votes from Fatah.

Jordan Tourism Is A Star Of The Middle-East

(This article is courtesy of the Berlin Germany News Paper ‘The Local’)

Discover Jordan presented by Jordan Tourism Board

Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East

Photo: Jordan Tourism Board

Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East

Published: 01 Aug 2016 11:38 GMT+02:00

Geography, though, is in fact Jordan’s blessing… its location – nestled on the edge of the Arabian Peninsula and not far from the Mediterranean – has blessed it with an enviable collection of wonders – natural and manmade – that put the country in a class by itself.

If it weren’t for Jordan’s geography, it wouldn’t boast the awe-inspiring rock city of Petra; the spectacular canyons of Wadi Rum and Mujib; the ancient city of Jerash; or Mount Nebo, from where Moses saw The Promised Land; or the site of Jesus’ baptism at Bethany Beyond the Jordan.

Jordanians have a sense that they’ve been tasked to serve as guardians of something bigger than themselves,” says Khalid Itum.

Itum, a Jordanian national, travels frequently to Jordan from his current home in Los Angeles and once operated a travel company that arranged experiential travel to his native homeland.

He concurs that “Jordan really is different” than other countries in the region, due in part to its history and politics, but also because of its capacity to embrace and enmesh cultures that are often at odds with one another elsewhere.

Jordan doesn’t have oil so chose to invest in human resources to thrive. That spawned a more liberal society against a backdrop of security. It’s more open and tolerant and is sort of close to everybody by necessity,” he explains.

In Jordan there is no clash between east and west. They blend together nicely and naturally.”

Over the years, Itum has accompanied hundreds of visitors on their visits to Jordan, seeing first-hand how they react to the country when the also recognize just how different it is.

You can see it in their eyes,” he explains. “The amazing religious sites, castles from the crusades, the amazing landscape – there’s something for everyone which is often more than people were expecting.”

Another hallmark that sets Jordan apart is its openness, which is often expressed on a personal level the legendary hospitality of its people.

I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to visit Jordan without being invited in to someone’s home to share a meal together,” says Itum.

When asked to offer up experiences that best exemplify Jordan as the Different East, Itum is quick to mention Petra – the one-of-a-kind UNESCO world heritage site featured in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I’ve probably been there a couple of dozen times and every time my jaw just drops at how spectacular it is. There really is nothing like it anywhere,” he says.

But he adds that there is far, far more and has always insisted that his guests spend a minimum of a week there and even encourages people to stay for 10+ days.

Itum also mentions his own home city of Jerash – host to one of Jordan’s largest cultural festivals, which features an eclectic mix of Jordanian and international artists, with performances taking place in the open air among the city’s famed Roman ruins.

Sitting there, listening to the music in that atmosphere, you feel like you’ve stepped into a different time,” he says. “But just beyond the spectacular Roman colonnades you find a modern, thriving city much like any other. It’s that sort of juxtaposition that really sums up what makes Jordan different.”

Another special spot for Itum and many of the tour groups he led is Mount Nebo, the spot described in the Old Testament where Moses was able to see the Promised Land.

I’m not religious at all, but you can’t help but be gripped by the spirituality of the place,” he says. “And on a clear day you too can see the lights of Jerusalem.”

In some ways, Jordan’s distinctiveness comes from simply having been around for a long, long time. But more than that, it’s also how the country has preserved the legacy while at the same time embracing what lies ahead.

“Jordan really is one of the best places you’ll ever travel to on the face of this earth,” Itum says. “I can try to paint the picture, but you’ll have to experience it for yourself to truly understand.”

The sentiment was perhaps best expressed by the late King Hussein, who ruled Jordan for more than four decades until his death in 1999:

Jordan has a strange, haunting beauty and a sense of timelessness. Dotted with the ruins of empires once great, it is the last resort of yesterday in the world of tomorrow.”

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Jordan Tourism Board.

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