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Update – 5 May 2011

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Posted by Emily Gian on Thursday 5 May 2011 at 2:35pm:

Dear All,

In my last update I touched on the unity deal between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas and what it means for Israel.

Yesterday, in a reconciliation ceremony in Cairo, Egypt, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared that the Palestinians had “turned forever the black page of division. Hamas is part of the Palestinian people” (see more).

Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal stated, “We want an independent Palestinian state with sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza”. Hamas and Fatah have been in conflict since Hamas took over Gaza in a bloody coup in June 2007. As he stood united with Fatah yesterday he declared that now, “Hamas’s only conflict is with Israel”.  Peaceful words from the man who has now aligned with Israel’s supposed peace partner.

But according to Palestinian officials, the deal has been brokered in a way that the new government will ‘manage affairs in the Palestinian territories’ whereas ‘the Palestine Liberation Organisation, of which Hamas is not a member, will remain in charge of peace talks with Israel’ (see more). So basically, Hamas does not have to take any responsibility for peace with Israel?

I wonder then who has jurisdiction over negotiations concerning the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit? As Ophir Falk from Yediot Achronot stated, “with the new joint Hamas-Fatah venture, Gilad’s fate is also in Fatah’s hands. If Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas insists on the matter, Shalit can be back home by week’s end. His continued stay in captivity will clearly show who truly is in charge of the new Palestinian conglomerate” (see more).

Honest Reporting has released a comprehensive ‘Palestinian reconciliation quiz’ which really shows why the Hamas-Fatah unity will do nothing to help the cause of peace.

Today’s Australian chose to run an article by the AFP on the issue entitled ‘Palestinian deal angers Israel’. The article claims that “the Jewish state boycotts [Hamas] as a terrorist organisation”.  Implicit in this is that Hamas is only a terror organisation according to Israel, whitewashing the violence of the Hamas Covenant, its bloody coup of 2007 and the barrage of rockets fired on Israel including the firing of a laser guided missile at a yellow Israel school bus which killed one of its teenage passengers, just to name a few. The Australian was at least a step above Melbourne’s other broadsheet newspaper, the Age, which saw it fit to put the news of the unity agreement in its brief world news section.

Of course the local media has been reticent about one aspect of Hamas in recent days, namely its stance on the form of worldwide terror unleashed by Al Qaeda and its recently deceased leader Osama bin Laden.

On Tuesday, the Age published an article by Middle East Correspondent, Jason Koutsoukis and another correspondent entitled ‘World leaders praise the US’ opening with a quote from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It continued with a quotes from the spokesman of the Palestinian Authority and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the latter declaring, “with bin Laden’s death, one of the reasons for which violence has been practised in the world has been removed”.

What Koutsoukis failed to report on was the Hamas statements regarding the killing (and let us not forgot that Hamas sees itself as the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood).

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in Gaza declared, “we condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs” (see more). Nothing of this in our local media although the news was followed by expressions of outrage from the United States. Still nothing in our local media. Then again, even the United States was not outraged enough to immediately connect Hamas’ praise of bin Laden and its worthiness for consideration as a serious partner in peace.

And yet again, if one closely reads the disingenuous unity agreement, it is not supposed to be a peace partner. The role of peace partner is assumed by the PLO or the PA or Fatah whose armed wing has also condemned the bin Laden killing. There have been conflicting reports on Fatah’s reaction to the killing, adopting Arafat’s perfected art of double speak – saying one thing in Arabic and another in English – which Palestinian Media Watch exposes here.  What’s more, the PA presides over daily incitement to violence against Jews so, what does the word “peace partner” really mean these days?

To bogle the mind further, the Deputy Head of Iran’s Majilis Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Esmail Kowari has been quoted as saying “Bin Laden, who all Muslim nations despised, was simply a stooge in the hands of the Zionist regime [of Israel] to show a violent image of Islam following the 9/11 attacks” (see more). 

Bin Laden’s killing has also exposed much more hypocrisy. The killing involved “collateral damage” and took place on foreign soil but the same people that praised the US have constantly condemned Israel for similar actions, such as the targeted assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Hamas’s spiritual leader, in 2004. Yassin was responsible of the deaths of countless Israelis in terror attacks (see more). 

As one commentator, Manfred Gerstenfeld notes: “On Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that ‘the death of Osama bin Laden… is a watershed moment in our common global fight against terrorism’. Yet after the killing of Sheikh Yassin, then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said, “I do condemn the targeted assassination of Sheikh Yassin and the others who died with him. Such actions are not only contrary to international law, but they do not do anything to help the search for a peaceful solution’.” (see more)

Double standards and hypocrisy at its finest.

Best wishes,

Emily.

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