11:41 AM@final library hour@academic West: for 'Jour Gems'.

The International Herald Tribune on Friday May,6 2011@Page 1 Top Right;


U.S. leaves door open for Hamas in peace talks


Found@iht & Nytimes.com as:

Accord Brings New Sense of Urgency to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


Pier Paolo Cito/Associated Press

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, right, and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé in Rome on Thursday.

<h6 class="byline">By and </h6><h6 class="metaFootnote">A version of this article appeared in print on May 6, 2011, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Accord Brings New Sense of Urgency to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.</h6>


CAIRO — A day after Palestinian leaders signed what many called a landmark reconciliation accord, the antagonists in the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their international mediators in Europe staked out positions in a rapidly shifting political and diplomatic landscape on Thursday.


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, travelling to Rome for a meeting focused on Libya, refused to slam the door on negotiations that could include Hamas as part of a larger Palestinian authority, even as Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshal, said he was fully committed to working for a two-state solution.



<h6 class="kicker">Op-Ed Contributor</h6>

Hurting Moderates, Helping Militants

<h6 class="byline">By NATHAN THRALL (As I will print to hand to contacts)</h6>

THE rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah officially agreed this week to reconcile and form a unity government. In response, Israel has decided to punish the Palestinian Authority by withholding two-thirds of its annual revenues. It’s a tactic Israel tried after Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 — and it will probably have as little success now as it did then.


Blocking the funds that pay the salaries of civil servants would destroy the Fatah-dominated West Bank’s relative prosperity, turning it into something resembling the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. There, several years of isolation have led not to the weakening of Hamas but to the strengthening of even more uncompromising enemies of the Jewish state.


In Gaza, the number of Salafi jihadis — austere militants willing to kill those they don’t consider true Muslims — has grown significantly since 2006. Many of them are former Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters who see Hamas as caving to Israel while getting only blockades, closed border crossings and military incursions in return.


Three weeks ago, a group of Salafi jihadis strangled Vittorio Arrigoni, a 36-year-old Italian activist who had advocated an end to the blockade of Gaza. Mr. Arrigoni’s killers posted a video showing him bloodied and blindfolded while scrolling text denounced Hamas for not instituting Islamic law in Gaza. It also demanded the release of all Salafi jihadi prisoners, especially Hisham Saidani, leader of a small group named Tawhid and Jihad. Earlier this year, he issued a religious ruling permitting the killing of Jewish and Christian civilians because they “are fundamentally not innocent.”


Like other Salafi jihadi groups in Gaza, Tawhid and Jihad has few members, its organization is poor, and its ability to threaten Gaza’s government is slight. Yet with a single rocket or a single murder, such groups can drastically change the fate of Gazans by scaring off their foreign supporters or provoking another war.


Embarrassed by Mr. Arrigoni’s murder, Hamas held a state funeral for him, offered to name a street in his honor, and on April 19 sent snipers and security forces to confront his suspected executioners, two of whom were killed in the raid.


Some in Israel hope that such bloodletting between two of the Jewish state’s enemies will result in their mutual destruction, but such thinking has proven faulty before.

In the mid-1980s, members of the Israeli government sought to weaken the Palestinian Liberation Organization by strengthening Islamists who would go on to form Hamas, a strategy that leading Israeli defense officials have since acknowledged was a mistake.

So was the closing of Gaza’s borders. Five years of isolation have not dislodged Hamas, revived the peace process, strengthened Fatah or ensured Israel’s security. Most of the Gaza Strip’s imports now pass largely unimpeded through tunnels that are wide enough to carry cattle, cars, anti-tank missiles and foreign radicals.

Nor has isolating Hamas persuaded most Palestinians to embrace the alternative model in the West Bank, where undemocratic practices remain common, local leaders lack popular legitimacy, and tight security coordination with Israel is routinely denounced.

Instead, blockading Gaza and isolating Hamas have given rhetorical strength to militants who argue that the Islamist movement has erred by holding its fire against Israel and failing to impose Islamic law. As a result, Hamas is slowly losing members to more radical groups.


On Monday, Hamas self-defeatingly sought to bolster its flagging Islamist credentials by mourning the death of Osama bin Laden and praising him as an Arab holy warrior — just days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ominously warned that “Israel would not recognize any government in the world that included members from Al Qaeda.”

In reality, the likelihood of such a government is slight, but if Israel continues to oppose Palestinian reconciliation, Mr. Netanyahu’s nightmare may become less of a fantasy.

Repeating the mistakes of the past will only strengthen Hamas’s Salafi jihadi challengers, who proliferated the last time Palestinians were penalized for their votes and could one day pose an even greater threat to Israel.


Nathan Thrall is a Middle East analyst at the International Crisis Group

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/05/opinion/05Thrall.html?scp=1&sq=Nathan%20%20Thrall&st=cse For documentation.


Haaretz English Edition of Friday May 6, 2011@Page 1 Top right;


Steintz defends freezing PA asseta ahead of unity deal


Found@Haaretz.com as:


Finance Minister: Ridiculous to give PA money days before signing deal with Hamas

Steinitz defends move, says freezing assets ahead of unity accord is meant to act as a warning to PA.

By Moti Bassok


Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz yesterday defended his decision to freeze the transfer of tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority, saying it was meant to act as a warning to the PA against moving closer to Hamas.

The Finance Minister stressed that the first meeting with the Palestinians to discuss the transfer of money collected as VAT and customs by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority was due to take place last Sunday, but the second meeting, during which the Palestinians were to be given the money, was scheduled for Tuesday - a day before the signing of the agreement between the PA and Hamas in Cairo. According to Finance Ministry sources, it would have been ridiculous for Israel to transfer the funds to the Palestinians on that day.

Yuval Steinitz

Yuval Steinitz

Photo by: Ofer Vaknin




From today's Haaretz magazine;


The face of independence 2011

A photograph and its interpretation

By Doron Rosenblum

First, the hands. Those hands not cut out for any work other than appearing on television. Hands that have been put through their paces as a well-trained public-relations army: to be squeezed into a theatrical fist to express determination, to spread out like a wing to indicate growth, to rise and fall in numberless (all right, four or five) gestures in order to hammer home a PR point: mostly rejecting, contrarian, quarreling.

Face of independence 2011


And now, in a slightly unusual form, the palms of the hands have been caught by the camera unfolded: possibly in supplication, possibly in a desperate attempt to explain something else, without much hope that the explanation will help. The right hand is still trying to enumerate, on a desk void of activity, as on an imaginary document, clause after clause of reasons, positions, conditions, apprehensions, threats; and the left hand seems to be trying to send them on their way. But all this - somewhat subversively, given the content and context of the occasion - joins a rather wretched and gloomy spectacle: the hands look either like they are asking for a handout or appealing to the heavens, like Muslims during prayer or lamentation.


This is the appearance by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately after the announcement of the reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. "Immediately" means just that. Not two hours had gone by since the announcement was issued, before Netanyahu was flickering and shimmering, fully prepared, on the small screen. As though he had been sitting there all along behind the scenes, closeted in "his element," namely the sterile, calculated "bureau" setting, which seems to have come from a comedy skit, just waiting for someone to turn on the lights and roll the camera.

Now, at a minute's notice, he is revealed to the audience, complete with backdrop, like on a revolving stage. He emerged in full makeup behind the polished desk; between the flag on which the ironing folds are visible, and the spines of books that look like a fake library at IKEA.


As one whose whole universe is speechmaking ("We were paid because he was invited to do an appearance," as wife Sara let slip in her appearance), Netanyahu can embody prime minister" only when all the stage props are in place and only after he has memorized the gestures. Indeed, the fastest draw in the Middle East would not have thus embodied himself - immediately - if he did not already have a "silver bullet" ready in his ammunition belt, a winning, crushing, repulsive argument: "The Palestinians have to choose - peace with us or a unity government. They cannot have both peace with us and peace with Hamas."

A potent, even triumphant, argument. The man sat around for two years, waiting idly, like the fox in the parable, in the expectation of some crumbs from a PR flop that would fall from the mouth of the Palestinian crow - an act of terror, a surprising political move, a betrayal of wiliness; and lo and behold, it was worth the wait: the prey fell straight into his jaws. The reconciliation is the definitive proof - in addition to the missile fired at the bus and the massacre in the settlement (in fact, if we only wait long enough, everything is "just proof") - that there was no point in trying anyway; no point is what there is, was and will be. True, until this week Netanyahu repulsed the political process by means of a symmetrically opposite "proof" - that the Palestinians have two governments - but there is no small inconsistency that can't be overcome with a little ill will.


So it's a good argument, a strong argument. An A-OK argument, which is both not illogical, ostensibly, and sits well on the tongue. In other words, a verbal jingle, which thousands of Internet responders and dozens of right-wing functionaries will soon be parroting in the best "know how to respond" style. After all, every form of "information" comes down to rebutting reality with a potent argument; and given that there is no one outside to listen, it's all aimed primarily at domestic consumption: the members of the faction, the archetypal "Masouda from Sderot," the people in the framed family photo, which someone (possibly of the female gender) chose carefully.

But alas, if the argument is so cogent, so informationally brilliant, why the crestfallen look? Why do the resentful red eyes look like they have been crying? Why such a dark, bitter gaze?

Perhaps, you will say, this too is part of the theater of "appearance" - aimed at demonstrating supposed affected anguish over the fact that the coveted negotiations have fallen through, and with them the generous concessions. Maybe this is the grim face of a performing artist who feels he has lost it, feels in advance that the "appearance" will not, finally, go over well; like the ones that went before, it will draw only mockery and will turn out to be a boomerang ricochet. Perhaps, you will say, it is simply a habit, from his father's house, the habit of a pessimist drained of hope, who sees around him catastrophe after catastrophe and takes solace in the knowledge that he told them, he warned them; lowered expectations to grass level, and accordingly also the plane's instruments, until the triumphant crash.


http://www.haaretz.com/weekend...ndence-2011-1.360219  For documentation.




What people don't understand is that Netanyahu is an idealist. Like Israel itself. A constantly disappointed idealist, because reality does not respond to his explanations, thumbs its nose at his reprimands. The Arabs are not turning into Norwegians, the Norwegians are not turning into Likud members, Likud members are not turning into Steinitz and Steinitz is not turning into a Minnesota Republican. Nothing works out in this topsy-turvy world the way it's supposed to, the way it should.

And as for the argument, here's a correction: it is not a "winning argument." Definitely not. It is a self-victimizing, losing argument, projecting fears internally almost with masochistic pleasure. It bears a diaspora mentality, functioning from year to year with a pitiful righteousness. Yes, pitiful, when all is said and done. Hence, the gestures of puzzlement, the supplication, the lamentation. Hence, too, the deep, deep sadness of the eyes.

But hey, if we already have a camera, a flag and a bureau setting, what can we say but: Happy Independence Day to the whole of Am Yisrael.


Now@12:35 PM from academic West@Jerusalem; I wish All; שבת שלום= Sabbath Peace.


To Life!=לחיים   Michael of the upper West side.  Originally Manhattan. Now Jerusalem.


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