Friday, February 20, 2009

Palestinian Authority to Pay All Salaries in Gaza, Including Hamas

Meanwhile, Fatah and Hamas Join Forces

RAMALLAH - The Palestinian caretaker government has resumed payment of members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), including Hamas members such as deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and former Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahhar. The caretaker government, headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is also meeting today in Ramallah to discuss the plight of more than 6,000 Palestinians stranded in Egypt at the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip.

Official sources in the PLC said that all members have received a portion of their salaries, which were not disbursed at all in the last period.

The Palestinian daily Al Hayat quoted caretaker Information Minister Riyad Najib Al-Maliki saying, "The Government transferred part of the employees' salaries in addition to the PLC members' without any exclusions." He also said: "No one can seize the salary of any PLC member because of his political views. The salary payment is part of the job of the Palestinian Authority."

PLC deputy speaker Hassan Khraishah said that he found NIS 12,000 in his bank account, part of his previously unpaid salary. He continued, "After a revision of the account and clarifying things with other members I found that the salaries of all the PLC members were paid including the salary of Prime Minister Haniyeh."

The Ramallah-based caretaker government was sworn in by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Jully forth after the term of an emergency government expired. The emergency government had been declared following internecine fighting in the Gaza Strip.

[What follows remains ample evidence that Fatah is seeking an alliance with Hamas, while the prevailing assumption of Israeli foreign policy is that Fatah remains in opposition to Hamas - DB]

Fatah, Hamas optimistic as Egypt reschedules unity conference;Summit to open 25 February in Cairo

View the original article at Ma'an News

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Egypt has rescheduled a conference aimed at restoring Palestinian unity to 25 February.

Officials from Hamas, Fatah, and other factions said they welcomed the resumption of the dialogue.

The head of the Fatah bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Azzam Al-Ahmad said, Egypt has informed [Palestinian] president [Mahmuod] Abbas and the factions that it will launch a dialogue on February 25 with all Palestinian groups."

The meeting had originally been planned for 22 February, but was postponed.

Egypt at fist said it wanted to broker a ceasefire in Gaza before pressing forward on the internal Palestinian track.

Fatah spokesperson Fahmi Az-Za'arir said, "The movement welcomed this development and will attend the meetings of the dialogue out of the belief that the huge challenges faced by the Palestinians need unity and the empowerment of the internal front, recalling that Fatah had called for not connecting between truce and dialogue so that Israel will not control the Palestinian dialogue indirectly."

"Fatah's participation aiming at bringing success to dialogue restoring unity of our political system and the good status of the Palestinian cause," he added.

Hamas: PA prisoners an issue

Hamas also said it received an official invitation from Egypt for the meeting, saying it is keen on the success of the dialogue.

Hamas leader Ayaman Taha said, "We are interested in bringing success to the dialogue.. The meetings that were held with Fatah leaders had paved the way, creating a positive atmosphere for its success.

Taha however said that a "good atmosphere" would require the Palestinian Authority to release Hamas-affiliated political prisoners, and resume payments to civil servants in Gaza.

"If these prisoners were not released it will be difficult for the dialogue to succeed," he warned.

Concerning the visit of senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Az-Zahhar to Cairo, Taha said that "he held a meeting with chief of Egyptian Intelligence, Umar Suleiman, and his assistants," adding that "there was nothing new concerning the issues of truce or other issues.

"Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was working on releasing Shalit or transferring all of the files to the coming government," Taha added.

He also urged the Arab countries to withdraw their ambassadors from Israel praising Egypt's withdrawing of its trade delegation from Israel."

Five dimensions

The opening session of the summit will be attended by the leaders of each of the factions. During the meetings, five committees will be named to resolve various aspects of the intra-Palestinian conflict.

The five committees will be devoted to reform of the PLO, formation of a unity government, security, elections, and reconcilliation respectively.

Walid Al-Awad, a member of the politburo of the Palestinian People's Party (PPP) also noted Egypt's signal of the resumption of the talks. He said that the five specific committees would begin work on 28 February.

The Palestinian ambassador to Egypt, Nabil Amr, told Ma'an on Friday evening that dialogue would be resumed soon. Amr also attributed delay in the Cairo conference to the failure of ceasefire efforts.

On 12 February, rivals Hamas and Fatah held a rare face-to-face meeting in Cairo in an attempt to "clear the air" before the upcoming summit. Both parties spoke positively about the meeting.

A previous Egyptian attempt to reunite the rivals collapsed last November. Hamas, the group in power in the Gaza Strip, withdrew from the talks in protest of arrests of its members by Fatah-allied security forces in the West Bank.

Hamas beat Fatah in parliamentary elections in 2006. Hamas was then ejected from a unity government after it seized control of Gaza in June 2007.

{This was issued soon after Israel released funds to Fayyad on condition he does not transfer the money to Hamas - David Bedein]
View the original article at Ma'an News.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israel Considering Release of Top Terrorist Barghouti

Israel Considering Release of Top Terrorist Barghouti

The Israeli security establishment is examining the release of a convicted multiple murderer - Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti - as a means of strengthening Fatah chairman and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli security sources confirm that the idea will be to place a strongman next to Mr. Abbas who could succeed him in future and counter the rise in Hamas’ strength.

Mr. Barghouti’s release is complicated from a legal standpoint and would require a pardon from Israeli President Shimon Peres.

The background of Mr. Barghouti’s involvement with terrorism and the incitement of terrorism is now under scrutiny in Israel.

On Jan. 22, 1995, after Hamas massacred 19 Israelis at a bus stop in Beit Lid - a village near the coastal city of Netanya, located within Israeli territory - Mr. Barghouti declared on the Saudi-owned MBC television network that “we cannot condemn such an attack, since this is an area that we have not yet liberated.”

Mr. Barghouti hammered out cooperative agreements in Cairo between Hamas and the PA from 1995 until his imprisonment in 2002, according to the semi-official Egyptian daily al-Ahram. He continues to do so today from prison.

According to Israeli intelligence sources and in the indictment issued against him, Mr. Barghouti, on the outbreak of the Palestinian rebellion known as the Second Intifada in 2000, became the head of a joint coordinating body of all Palestinian organizations in the West Bank - including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The American and the Israeli governments list all three as terrorist groups.

While it is widely assumed that Mr. Barghouti was only “indirectly” responsible for the murder of innocent people, he was convicted in May 2002 of first-degree murder for the cold-blooded killing of 13 innocent civilians. The Israeli Justice Ministry provided documentation that Mr. Barghouti made direct payments to commission killers to commit wanton acts of murder.

He was convicted in the murders of: Salim Barakat, 33, from the Druze village of Yarka in the Galilee, who survived by his wife, daughter, parents and seven brothers and sisters; Eli Dahan, 53, of Lod, who is survived by his mother Sarah, wife, Ilana, two daughters, two sons and three grandchildren; Yosef Habi, 52, of Herzliya, who is survived by his wife, son and daughter; Fr. Georgios Tsibouktzakis, 34, a Greek Orthodox monk from St. George’s Monastery in Wadi Kelt near Jericho; and Yoela Chen, 45, of Givat Ze’ev, who is survived by her husband and two children.

Nor are they Mr. Barghouti’s only victims. At his trial, people who were maimed as a result of Barghouti-sponsored attacks appeared as witnesses to the pain he caused them - pain they will experience for the rest of their lives.

Chicagoan Alan Bauer and his 7-year-old son, Jonathan, were among those witnesses. They were five minutes from their home in Jerusalem when a Barghouti-funded suicide bomber blew himself up three feet away from them on March 21, 2002. Two arteries in Mr. Bauer’s arm were severed. A screw went all the way through little Jonathan’s head. To this day, Jonathan walks with a limp.

According to the court protocols, Mr. Barghouti proudly admitted that he directed terrorist attacks in which scores of Israelis were killed and revealed how he directly allocated funds needed by terrorist cells to operate and purchase necessary weapons.

He stated that Yasser Arafat personally authorized this funding for Tanzim activities, knowing that this money would be used to finance murderous attacks.

Furthermore, protocols of interrogations of PA officials before the trial showed how the process worked: names of Tanzim killers were submitted to Mr. Barghouti, who would routinely take them to Mr. Arafat for approval.

David Bedein can be reached at