Saturday, October 18

Hamas and IS - Two Sides of the Same Coin

A cease-fire between Israel and the terrorist group, Hamas is tenuous. The chance that it will be a long-term cease-fire depends entirely on Hamas. While Hamas will not agree to disarmament, they will re-arm and continue their home industry of lethal weapon manufacture. They will continue to get financial support from their allies, Turkey, Qatar and Iran. Gaza cannot be blockaded hermetically from Hamas allies. There are ways of smuggling goods and weaponry into Gaza. Hamas has received a large setback because of Operation Protective Edge but they have not been brought to their knees. If we listen to the hateful rhetoric coming from their leaders, who wasted no time in coming out of their bunkers after the cease-fire was declared, making "victory” speeches as if they are on the verge of annihilating Israel.

In my last article, the Cairo Conference on Reconstruction of Gaza of 12th October 2014 was discussed. Pledges of aid for reconstruction and rehabilitation of Gaza were made. Mechanisms of preventing the money landing in Hamas hands was not discussed at the conference nor was disarming Hamas. If these two essential conditions are not met, there will be a repeat of hostilities and war against Israel and no reconstruction of Gaza will occur. 

While Israel's Defense Minister has made statements that Hamas will not break the cease-fire soon, many Israelis, especially those living bear the border of Gaza, remain unconvinced.

The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict remains in negotiations, which also requires both sides of the conflict to recognize each others right to exist and security. While Hamas remains adamant in not recognizing Israel "the Zionist Entity" and is unwilling to lay down its arms, we have a serious problem and it will not take long before hostilities will begin in the not so distant future. This time, the players will become more complicated. There will be unimaginable alliances between Shiite and Sunni Islamist extremists uniting in order to commit terrorist acts against Israel. It will be a matter of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

We are seeing a sporadic flare up of hostilities in Israel's northern borders with Syria and Lebanon, where Hezbollah - an extremist Shiite terrorist organization, cooperates with the Sunni Hamas organization to commit terrorist acts against Israel. There are also Al Qaeda branches of Wahabi extremists, Jabhat al Nusra, including the Islamic State (IS) branch. The Middle East is as volatile as it is unpredictable. New alliances of former enemies occur in order to achieve a common goal which is the destruction of Israel. So it is not beyond one's imagination that IS, Hamas and even Hezbollah will form some form of alliance to achieve this.

Hamas and IS have similar ideologies. Both are ruthless, Sunni Islamist terrorist organizations. They will not tolerate any opposition in their ranks and are quick to mete out kangaroo court justice to those that
Huffington Post (Aug 20) by Arsen Ostrovsky, an international human rights lawyer — Hamas and ISIS are two sides of the same Islamic terror coin, 
oppose them. Hamas shoots those, who they consider as traitors, in the public square in front of children.Both terrorist groups are barbarians with similar agendas. One has to listen to their religious leaders' sermons from their pulpits of mosques in their Diaspora as well as in the Middle East. If one has doubts as to their motives, those sermons are proof of their violent hatred of Jews. Europe must be held responsible for importing this Islamist garbage into their countries, where their Imams are given free reign to make racist and hateful sermons in the mosques they establish. They also brainwash non-Muslim youths to join the ranks of Jihadis in IS against their own countries.
 They mask their victims as well as their gunmen shooting them in the head then dancing in their blood in the street screaming "Allah Akbar!" IS beheads their victims after forcing them to declare statements against their countries of origin before their beheadings.

Hamas wishes to replace Israel by establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in its place. IS plans to establish a caliphate based on Sharia in the countries it conquers. Israel is able to contain Hamas today but IS is an unknown entity in Israel. There are cells of IS that are operating clandestinely in Israel. If these cells become stronger, it is possible that they will cooperate with Hamas because of their common goal of forced conversions under threats of terror.

The two-state solution to the conflict is becoming unattainable because of Israel's settlement policies. There are various think tanks comprised of academics, searching for other options as a solution such as a federal or confederal solution. The Palestinian Authority cannot be viewed as a negotiating partner for a settlement with Israel as they lack Palestinian support according to the latest Palestinian polls. Hamas with all its fantasies of victory against Israel has the majority of Palestinian support.

As much as we all seek peace and a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, both sides do not have the leadership qualities to make the essential bold decisions necessary to negotiate peace and an end to the occupation.

Even if Israel withdraws from the occupied West Bank, a vacuum will be created that Hamas will fill. As I mentioned earlier, according to polls, the majority of Palestinians support Hamas. Can Israel afford to have a Gaza-like situation on its doorstep? These questions must be addressed. Hamas and IS have very similar goals. Hamas wishes to destroy Israel and establish a Caliphate in its place. It is not Israeli propaganda against Hamas but this is Hamas's own admission.

In my previous article, Hamas tycoons were discussed as well as their motivation in destroying Israel. While Israel is not directly affected by IS at this stage, the situation can change.

This weekend John Kerry had quoted what he heard from various Arab leadersWe need “to find a way to create two states that can live together side by side, two peoples, with both of their aspirations being respected,” Kerry added.
“I still believe that’s possible, and I still believe we need to work towards it.”
He said the unresolved Israel-Palestinian conflict was fueling recruitment for the Islamic State jihadist group.
“There wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation,” Kerry said.
“People need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity,” he added.
Kerry was the architect of the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process between July 2013 and April. THIS WAS NOT HIS PERSONAL OPINION as Naftali Bennett claimed. Bennett is a right wing rabble-rouser and a thorn in the flesh of those striving for peace. His ideas on Jewish claims are based on Biblical history with no relevance to the realities of today. He is deeply conservative with a high tech, start up facade of "modernity". Every time he makes statements justifying the occupation and encouraging illegal settlement building in disputed lands based on Biblical claims is exacerbating a highly tense situation between Israel and the EU as well as Israel's best friend, the US leadership.
 If there will be a mutually agreed security mechanism in place that prevents Hamas from taking over the occupied West Bank when a stage is reached on agreed Israeli withdrawal then there is grounds for the establishment of a Palestinian State. Naturally this would involve disarmament of Hamas as an essential requirement if a Palestinian state is established and suitable arrangements made for the settlers who have been living there since the June 1967 War. Pragmatism is essential in finding a solution. Declaring areas "Judenrein" as part of a solution is unacceptable no less than declaring areas "Arabrein".

The world response to IS is weak and is really an impotent token response not that different from its response to Hamas with its tycoon states supporting it.

IS and Hamas alliances cannot be ruled out in the future while lip-service with impotent sporadic airstrikes by the so-called anti-IS coalition are carried out. Time is on the side of Hamas and IS. At this time and place, there is no connection between the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and IS. In the unlikely event of the conflict being solved, IS will not disappear. It would view the Palestinian Authority as traitors and their resolve to spread Jihadi terror and bloodshed would increase and include Israel and Palestine. So all this nonsense about suffering of Arab Muslims creating fertile ground for IS is a load of hogwash.

Thursday, October 16

Rehabilitation of Gaza and Solution of Conflict

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi at the Gaza reconstruction conference in Cairo, October 12, 2014. Photo by Reuters
The meeting in Cairo between delegates from the Arab states, Europe,US and other states round the world under the auspices of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi of Egypt is an important step in rehabilitating Gaza. What is significant is that the most important players, Israel and Hamas were not invited. Hamas, being a terrorist organization, whose goal is to use the pledged funds for rearming and building new tunnels to send terrorists in their fight to destroy Israel. This has to be avoided at all costs. Rehabilitation of Gaza, including infra-structure and economy cannot be achieved if funds are used by Hamas for perpetuating violence and enriching their own leadership. Israel was not invited to participate because of the presence of Arab States at the meeting, who are technically at war with Israel. This is unfortunate and makes one realize how important it is that Israel should accept the Saudi Initiative of 2002. This would lead us closer to a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Naturally that would mean jump-starting the moribund Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
A general view shows delegates attending the Gaza reconstruction conference in Cairo October 12, 2014. Egypt, 

Sissi's message “the road to Riyadh goes through Ramallah” rings true. Netanyahu will never be able to forge normal relations with the moderate Arab states without negotiating a peace settlement with the Palestinians. Somehow, Netanyahu is evading this issue as he has always done. His answer was the normal automatic reaction in order to pacify his right wing coalition partner by increasing settlement activity as in the case of Givat Hamatos recently.

The big fear for the Netanyahu Government is its ending the occupation of the West Bank, which means an end to the settler enterprise there. Netanyahu has often paid lip-service to the two-state solution but without any hint of solving the Israeli settlement problem that is an obstacle to a two-state solution. In fact, it is business as usual there with settlements continuing to be built and weakening Israel's stance even further.

President Al-Sissi is correct in his assessment that Israel cannot expect to improve relationships with the Arab World without solving the problem of occupation. Israel can only play an integral part with those countries who pledge financial for Gaza when the door to a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian is opened. Negotiating an end to the occupation of Palestinian lands, as well as ensuring Israel's security from extremist Islamist terrorist groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, is essential in solving the conflict.  While Hamas remains a terrorist organization with a will to destroy Israel as an integral part of its ideology as outlined in the Hamas Charter, it will never be a partner to peace negotiations.

Since the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the latter has continued with its hateIsrael as they emerged from their bunkers underground. Hamas has proved itself unable to come to terms with Israel's right to exist. Both Israel and Egypt have a shared interest in a weakened Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot, Hamas. Israel has to end the occupation and work towards a two-state solution, federation or confederation solution. The latter two options may seem more viable in view of the complicated, logistic problems involved in withdrawing over half a million West Bank settlers.
rhetoric towards

One thing is certain that whatever the direction will be in negotiations, Hamas must be disarmed and Israel's security must be assured. Hamas has no place in a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The recent Operation Protective Shield has proved this beyond any doubt. Hamas has proved that it is a terrorist organization and must be made accountable for the heavy losses inflicted on the Gazan Palestinians because of Palestinian human shield use and non-investment in bomb shelters for Palestinian civilians apart from the Hamas leadership, whose silence during the war was deafening, apart from the diamond-studded Hamas leader, Khaled Mashal, in Qatar, who made the bloody decisions to have as many Palestinians killed as possible as this served his agenda of propaganda against the "Zionist Entity". This evil, enriched worm is now in the background and we do not hear much about him these days. Most of the leaders of Hamas are tycoons and criminals.

Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General, visited Gaza on 13th October and expressed great concern over the destruction in Gaza. At the same time, the continuing settler policies of the Israeli Government are not constructive in reaching a settlement with the Palestinians. Naturally, the Israeli right wingers accuse Ban Ki Moon of being biased and anti-Israel when he expressed what he had seen. It seems as if many right wing Israelis are in denial about the destruction in Gaza and anybody who is upset about it is viewed as an anti-Semite and anti-Israel. This is really quite pathetic! Ban Ki Moon is a very high ranking UN clerk and has no power at all, nor can he really influence decisions. He came on a fact-finding mission and he did not deny Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas. 

The situation in Gaza cannot remain as it is now. It is imperative that a massive rehabilitation programme commences immediately and Israel as well as the participants of the Cairo meeting on Gaza ensure that finances pledged for that purpose reach the parties responsible for undertaking the rehabilitation of Gaza. Security controls must be in place to prevent the donations from reaching Hamas. If this is not done then Hamas will use the money for personal enrichment as well as building tunnels and re-arming. Total disarmament of Hamas is essential before any money reaches Gaza! By the way, the Hamas tycoons can also donate their illegal financial gains for rehabilitation of Gaza. After all, they should be held accountable for Palestinian suffering and mortality there. This suggestion was not brought up in the recent Cairo Meeting.

Lifting of the siege on Gaza is essential no less than the prevention of weapons and building materials for renewing hostilities against Israel by Hamas. A prosperous Gaza with a sound economy is the best weapon against Hamas terror. It is also to the benefit of both Israelis and Palestinians.