Friday, February 24, 2006

Haniyeh in the crosshairs

From Ynet News 23/2/06 by Tzadok Yehezkeli ...

Former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter says Hamas top man Haniyeh is legitimate assassination target

A living room in a house in the refugee camp of Shati in the Gaza Strip has become the center of focus of the world media in recent days....Pictures of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and the al-Aqsa mosque hang on the walls of the living room where everyday thousands of Palestinian well-wishers, students, and politicians visit the man in charge of forming the next Palestinian government.

Ismail Haniyeh’s closest aides find it hard to believe that the man who until recently spent most of his time in hiding, has become the center of unprecedented public attention.

Former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter told Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that “Haniyeh should praise God twice a day that he is alive....Israel gave up more than once targeted assassination operations against him for fear that innocent civilians would lose their lives.....This man was part of Hamas’ murder machine...” ...

...(a) 250 kg ... bomb unleashed by the IDF aircraft on September 6, 2003, hit a Gaza house where Hamas’ top brass – “the dream team” as Dichter likes to call it - was holding a meeting. The bomb hit its target but failed to make its way to the underground floor where Haniyeh and his comrades hashed over the group’s strategy in the midst of the intifada.

Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin and Hamas top figure Abdel Aziz Rantisi escaped unharmed, as did Haniyeh. Yassin and Rantisi’s luck ran out the second time around when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the liquidation of Hamas’ two most prominent figures.

Haniyeh, third on the IDF’s assassination list, was saved by an Egyptian-brokered truce, to which Hamas agreed.

“I see no situation in which Haniyeh enjoys immunity just because he is the prime minister. In my eyes he was and remains a terrorist, whatever he does. Exactly like Marwan Barghouti. If there is a terror attack and Israel decides to reply with a targeted assassination, Haniyeh will be a legitimate target, because Hamas cannot carry out an attack without the leadership’s consent,” Dichter says.

A Haniyeh close aide says the new Palestinian prime minister “knows he enjoys no immunity” as far as Israel is concerned. “He knows he will be arrested and therefore he won’t leave Gaza. He is convinced Israel will try to kill him. Haniyeh is waiting for this; he is neither scared nor hiding,” the aide said. But Haniyeh is certainly not delivering his head on a silver platter. Four burly bodyguards constantly watch over the 43-year-old.

Anat Tal-Shir contributed to this report

Jimmy Carter: Give Hamas a chance

(Cartoon from Cox & Forkum 23/2/06)

From - Feb 1, 2006 .. . .
Former president says U.S. should not cut off aid to Palestinians

(CNN) -- Hamas deserves to be recognized by the international community, and despite the group's militant history, there is a chance the soon-to-be Palestinian leaders could turn away from violence, former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday.

Carter, who monitored last week's Palestinian elections in which Hamas handily toppled the ruling Fatah, added that the United States should not cut off aid to the Palestinian people, but rather funnel it through third parties like the U.N.

"If you sponsor an election or promote democracy and freedom around the world, then when people make their own decision about their leaders, I think that all the governments should recognize that administration and let them form their government," Carter said. (Watch the former president cautiously defend Hamas -- 4:35)

"If there are prohibitions -- like, for instance, in the United States, against giving any money to a government that is controlled by Hamas -- then the United States could channel the same amount of money to the Palestinian people through the United Nations, through the refugee fund, through UNICEF, things of that kind," he added. . . .

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

France sees anti-Semitic link in Jew's death

From Ynet News 21/2/06 Reuters ...

French interior minister denounces torture, killing of young Jewish Parisian man as anti-Semitic crime, says police found literature linking some suspects to Muslim causes

... He spoke after days of confusion over the case and confirmed the local Jewish community's fears about the death of Ilan Halimi on February 13. Police had said it was motivated by greed for a ransom and not any religious motive.

Sarkozy called the killers barbaric criminals and urged people not to draw racist conclusions – a clear warning against blaming France's Muslim community, which was widely suspected in a wave of anti-Jewish attacks several years ago. "The truth is that these crooks acted primarily for sordid and vile motives – to get money – but they were convinced that 'the Jews have money' and ... his family and community would provide it," Sarkozy told parliament.
"That's called anti-Semitism by conflation," He said, adding four of six other people the gang tried to kidnap were Jewish.

Sarkozy said police had linked some suspects to documents supporting Palestinian and arch-conservative Islamic causes. Judicial sources said these involved literature for Muslim charities found at homes of relatives of some suspects.

Halimi, 23, was found naked, tortured and burned south of Paris after being held for three weeks by a gang demanding a large ransom. He died of his injuries shortly afterwards. A magistrate said on Monday seven suspects were being investigated for "Murder linked to the victim's religion"....

Disengagement empowered Hamas

From Ynet News 21/2/06 by Neta Sela ....

Former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon talks about reasons for power shift in the PA, warns against association between Hamas and Iran. "It's impossible to create legitimacy toward Israel's policy, when we are confused and unsure of our just cause," he says

The meeting between Hamas head Khaled Mashaal and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should concern Israel, former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon warned on Tuesday.

Yaalon, who is currently conducting academic research in Washington, spoke at a conference sponsored by the Jerusalem Center for Public and State Affairs. In his speech, Yaalon referred to Hamas' win in the recent Palestinian elections and its implications, as well as the strategic threats facing Israel.

According to Yaalon, Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza had a huge impact on public opinion in the Palestinian street who credited Hamas with forcing Israel to withdraw and voted for the group as a reward for its attacks against the Jewsih State. "No doubt, the disengagement caused the reinforcement of Hamas and weakened Mahmoud Abbas" he explained.

He referred in detail to the close relations between Hamas and Iran, which were evident in the warm welcome Tehran gave a Hamas delegation on a recent visit.
“Hamas’ victory poses a challenge to those interested in stability in the world and the Middle East, including Israel, the United States, Arabs and Palestinians who favor western democratic values to extremist Islam, Yaalon stated. "In Hamas’ victory speech, leader Khaled Mashaal expressed the line of thought and the spirit pervading al-Qaeda, global Jihad, the Islamic movement and the Iranian regime – all of which direct their struggle against the West and its culture. Israel is the first target for occupation and destruction on the way to conquering the west and establishing a Muslim regime across the world,” Yaalon said.

Iran set to strengthen influence on PA
Yaalon added that Hamas’ victory will fuel the ambitions of Islamic groups in western-friendly Arab countries like Egypt and Jordan to depose the secular regimes.

The former army chief noted that Iran will cash in on strong showing in parliament to gain more influence in the Palestinian Authority and radicalize its attitude towards Israel.

“The meetings between Khaled Mashaal and the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, before and after the elections should keep us awake at night. With or without western financial support, Iran will strengthen its influence on the Palestinian Authority, will back terror attacks against Israel, and will transfer knowledge, technologies and arms,” he said.

...Commenting on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, Yaalon said Israel should seek Washington’s help in pushing the Palestinian Authority to implement reforms and fight terror groups. No concession should be made to the Palestinians so long these conditions are not met.

“Is not clear yet that a society that teaches its children to choose death instead of life is not a peace partner? A society whose narrative is based on denying Israel’s right to exist is not open to negotiations but to war,” Yaalon said.

He warned against misinterpreting Hamas’s softened political discourse into a readiness to abandon its pledge to destroy Israel, saying the Islamic group is ready to make tactical concessions to serve its long term target of “establishing a Palestinian state that extends from the Jordan River to the sea.”

Israel warns of World War

From Ynet News 21/2/06 by Yitzhak Benhorin ...

Israel’s UN envoy Gillerman warns of Hamas’ venture into politics, saying Islamic group is forming ‘Axis of Evil’ with Syria and Iran; Adds terror triangle likely to instigate first World War of the 21st century if not stopped

WASHINGTON - Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Gillerman, on Tuesday warned of a new “terror axis” between Iran, Syria and Hamas, which could kick start “the first world war of the 21st century.”

Addressing the U.N. Security Council on a quarterly session to discuss international terrorism, Gillerman asked council members if their governments would agree to al-Qaeda or the Kurdish group PKK running in elections.

“Imagine al-Qaeda or the PKK running in elections? A dictator’s democracy is a dangerous false impression,” Gillerman told the Council.

Gillerman warned of Hamas’ venture in politics, saying “the world is witnessing a new alliance between Iran, Syria and Hamas, which
constitutes an axis of terror.”

Gillerman evoked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamadinejad’s January visit to Syria and the warm welcome in Tehran of Hamas leaders this week. Political leader Khaled Mashaal led a Hamas delegation to Iran where he said Iran will play a more central role in Palestinian affairs after guarantees for financial backing to the Palestinian government from the Islamic Republic.

“This new terror axis poses a big threat to regional and world stability, and is a recipe for the worst ever plague. If we ignore this imminent threat, the axis of evil will be the seeds of the first world war of the 21st century,” Gillerman said.

He called on the international community “to take seriously Syria, Hamas and Iran’s joint effort and to act seriously to prevent Iran, an extremist and dangerous government that supports terror, from acquiring the knowledge to develop nuclear arms.”

Gillerman said that the democratic elections in the Palestinian Authority cannot cover up Hamas extreme ideology which calls for the destruction of Israel. He invited Council members to read Hamas’ charter, a key provision of which calls for the murder of Jews and the annihilation of the Jewish state.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

France arrests gang suspected in killing of Parisian Jew

From Ha'aretz, by Assaf Uni, 19/02/2006 ...

PARIS - The French police arrested late Thursday night most of the members of the gang that abducted, tortured and murdered Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Jew from Paris. Hundreds of SWAT officers raided apartments in Bagneux and arrested 12 people. Another suspect was arrested in Belgium. "They acted with indescribable cruelty," the judiciary police chief leading the investigation said. "They kept him naked and tied up for weeks. They cut him and in the end poured flammable liquid on him and set him alight."

While the citizens of France were shocked by the unbridled violence of the gang, Halimi's family claims that the murder was motivated by anti-Semitism. "We think there is anti-Semitism in this affair," Rafi Halimi, Ilan's uncle, told the press. "First, because the killers tried to kidnap at least two other Jews, and second, because of what they said on the phone," Rafi Halimi added. "When we said we didn't have 500,000 euros to give them they told us to go to the synagogue and get it," Rafi said. "They also recited verses from the Koran."

But the Paris public prosecutor, Jean-Claude Marin, told Parisian Jewish radio on Thursday that "no element of the current investigation could link this murder to an anti-Semitic declaration or action." The umbrella group of French Jewish secular organizations, CRIF, issued a statement Friday calling on the Jewish community "to keep calm, cautious and wait for developments in the investigation." Ilan Halimi's family points to the behavior of the kidnappers in their ransom negotiations, which began a few days after Ilan disappeared.

Halimi was abducted on January 21 after a woman came into the mobile phone store where he worked and charmed him into a dinner date. The woman had been sent by the gang, which calls itself "The Barbarians." A police source said the gang is a group of childhood friends who grew up in Bagneux, a suburb south of Paris. The gang includes Muslims of North African descent and is headed by Youssef Fofana, who has escaped police capture so far. According to Marin, the gang had made six similar abduction attempts in the past.

After overpowering Halimi, the gang brought him to an apartment in a high-rise in Bagneux. They contacted Halimi's family and over the next three weeks demanded ransoms ranging from 300,000 to 500,000 euros. According to reports, at one point they agreed upon a deal and set a meeting place but the kidnappers backed out and eventually ended contact.

A source in the Jewish community said the gang's behavior suggested that the motive behind the kidnapping was violence for its own sake, particularly against Jews. "Why didn't they release him when the realized the family couldn't pay ransom?" asked Sami Gazlan, who is responsible for security in the Jewish community.

Last Monday, a few days after the kidnappers ended contact with the family, Ilan was found near a suburban train station south of Paris, naked, handcuffed and gagged, with burns covering 80 percent of his body. He died on the way to the hospital.

The first break in the case came on Thursday after the police released an Identikit image of the woman suspected of "baiting" Halimi. The woman turned herself in out of fears that neighbors would identify her, and identified the apartment where Halimi had been kept. The store where Halimi had worked was closed Saturday. Several shops in the area, the 11th arondissement, were closed on Friday, with signs explaining that it was a gesture of sympathy for Halimi's family. Many of the shopkeepers were among the 1,000 or so people who attended Ilan Halimi's funeral in the Pantin cemetery. Dozens of family members returned home, in the 12th arondissement, to begin sitting shiva after the funeral. Walking back, accompanied by police officers, relatives expressed their shock at the murder. "We are in total shock," a close friend of Ilan's said Saturday. "All of us, Ilan's mother especially, have not yet begun to comprehend what happened."


From "The River War", first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 by Sir Winston Churchill (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899).. . .

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries!

Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.

The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.>>Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.

No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome . . .

Summit of evil

from Ynet News 20/2/06 by Roee Nahmias . . .

Khaled Mashaal with Khamenei (Photo: AP)

Summit of evil: Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met Monday with Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal and other members of the group visiting Tehran, telling them they must continue to fight Israel. "The only way to succeed is to continue to resist the occupation," Khamenei said. "The Palestinian people knew voting for Hamas marks the continuation of fighting against the Zionist occupation regime."

Later, Mashaal met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Khamenei noted Hamas' recent election victory was a "sweet surprise, and proof Allah's promises materialize." His comments were quoted by Iran's official news agency. The country's spiritual leader also called for unity among Palestinians, which he said was necessary in order to achieve their national goals.

Mashaal, meanwhile, praised Iran's position, and noted "Hamas' victory belongs to all Muslim nations. Of course Iran has a part in the triumph.....This victory was a blessing by the almighty, meant to spare the blood of the oppressed and reward the martyrs," Mashaal said.

Khamenei later lauded Hamas for continuing its elections campaign despite the obstacles, saying "they continued the campaign until Allah's promises were fulfilled one after the other."
"All those victories are a result of resistance to the occupation," Khamenei said, and praised the Palestinian people for being "intelligent and politically mature" and voting for Hamas with the knowledge this will mean continued resistance.

Iran's spiritual leader backed Mashaal's position, which rejects recognition of Israel, and demanded Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. "This is the only way to succeed," Khamenei said.

Khamenei also called on Arab countries to assist the new Hamas-led government and back its refusal to recognize Israel. "Such support will boost the link between Muslims and Palestinians and have great influence on the world, while also boosting the moral of those facing Israel's systematic belligerence," he said.

Mashaal arrived in Tehran from Syria, where he met with senior Turkish officials and discussed with them financial aid to the Palestinian government. Hamas leaders are expected to visit more countries in the coming days are hoping to visit Kuwait during the tour.

Ali Waked contributed to the story

Shabak Chief: "Don't Agree to Hudna With Hamas"

From Arutz Sheva 17:06 Feb 20, '06 / 22 Shevat 5766 By Hillel Fendel. . .

GSS head Yuval Diskin warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee that Hamas is a strategic threat to Israel, and is planning to build itself into an extremist Islamic country.

Some Hamas officials have said that the new PA leadership would be willing to agree to a hudna - a long-term ceasefire, violable as soon as the Moslem side feels confident of victory - under certain conditions. The conditions, generally overlooked in favor of the very willingness of Hamas to consider a truce, include Israel's consent to remove all Jewish presence from Judea and Samaria and the like.

GSS Chief Diskin hopes to nip all talk of a possible hudna in the bud. He told the Knesset committee today that Israel "must not accept a hudna even if proposed. It would lead to a long-term strategic threat upon Israel. If there is a hudna, Hamas will use it to stabilize its rule and form a fundamentalist extremist Islamic entity with terrorist capabilities... Hamas has a lot of patience, just like the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt."Diskin said that Islamic terrorists from all over the Middle East would arrive in Judea and Samaria and "form an Islamic terrorist state on our doorstep." He also warned that the strengthening of a Hamas Authority would also embolden Israeli-Arabs against Israel, as occurred in the beginning of the Oslo War in 2000.

Committee Chairman Yuval Shteinitz called upon the Olmert government to stop Hamas by "placing a siege on the Hamas leaders in their cities, just like we didn't let Arafat leave Ramallah.""We must all be concerned by the threat Diskin talked about," Shteinitz said. "Israel must immediately... stop the development of this threat before it grows." He said that the Hamas offer of a hudna is a "honey trap. Whoever [on the Israeli side] wants to commit suicide, will agree to temporary quiet at the expense of the establishment of a Palestinian Revolutionary Guard movement and the threat of Kassams at the heart of the country."

Committee member Danny Yatom (Labor) downplayed Diskin's warning: "Hamas is not an existential threat and not even 'almost' existential; to say it's a strategic threat is overstating the situation."Avi Dichter, a leading candidate for Defense Minister if Kadima forms the next government, feels that Hamas need not be automatically ruled out as a future diplomatic partner. He recently told Haaretz, "The stopping of terrorism, the disarming of the terror organizations, the fulfillment of agreements signed by Israel and the PA, recognition of the State of Israel, and the erasure of clauses in the charter calling for the destruction of Israel and Jews - these are the conditions for dialogue with the Palestinians... The Roadmap [calling for a PA state side-by-side with Israel] is the only diplomatic plan that receives widespread Israeli and international support."

Former GSS head Ami Ayalon of Labor is even more conciliatory: "If these conditions are fulfilled - recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish People, and disarming and ending terrorist activities - there is no reason not to see Hamas as a partner in future Road Map negotiations." Ayalon feels that Israel must also prepare for future unilateral withdrawals and must continue to build the wall separating most of Judea and Samaria from the rest of Israel.

. . .In the meanwhile, Hamas officials are preparing to instill their ideals among the Arab populace in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Leading spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar said last week that one new reform will include education about the "culture of resistance" - i.e., terrorism. Hamas's armed branch, the Iz-Adin al-Kassam, states in its literature that "resistance" is the same as jihad, or holy war.Hamas created an on-line children's magazine in 2004 entitled Al-Fatah (The Conqueror), in which articles include pieces written by suicide terrorists and images of suicide bombers. In addition, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center recently reported that Hamas has launched its first TV channel. The "Al-Aqsa" station, which began last month, resembles Hizbullah's incendiary Al-Manar TV station.

A video from the year 2004 broadcast on a Hamas website shows two suicide bombers, Idham Ahmed Majila and Maumin Rajab Rajab, who blew themselves up at the Karni Crossing in a terrorist attack in 2004. Majila is heard stating, "We are a blood-drinking people and we know that there is no better blood than Jewish blood."

Irving jailed for denying Holocaust.

From ABC News Online: Tuesday, February 21, 2006. 6:14am (AEDT) By Europe correspondent Rafael Epstein . . .

An Austrian court has found the right-wing British historian David Irving guilty of denying the Holocaust and sentenced him to three years in prison.

Irving appeared stunned by the verdict and says he is planning to appeal against the sentence.
Irving pleaded guilty to a charge of denying the Holocaust in speeches and interviews in Austria in 1989.

He now says his claim that there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz was false. . . .

. . .In custody since November, Irving says he never dismissed the Holocaust, and it was only ever a small part of his research.

Irving has been denied entry into countries like Australia and has previously been censured by courts in Germany and Britain that labelled him a racist and an anti-semite.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Prevent 'disaster'

Editorial from Feb. 19, 2006 15:38 ...

... senior security and government officials ... warned that this country must gird itself for "a large-scale disaster," should the Kassam rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip hit one of the super-sensitive targets in Ashkelon's industrial zone.

These include the Rutenberg Power Station - which supplies electricity to nearly half of Israel (as well as to Gaza) - huge depots of fuel and potentially deadly chemicals, the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, a desalination plant and many more.

Ashkelon is not only a large and very soft civilian target; it is of vital strategic importance. In this setting, even unsophisticated weaponry can cause environmental and economic catastrophes, to say nothing of the taking of innumerable lives. The fact that this is largely overlooked by our public discourse is difficult to explain. It is evident, however, that this clear and present danger is nothing a responsible government can afford to downplay.

The message from military and civilian higher-ups that we must prepare for a megadisaster is preposterous. If the danger of disaster is real, and its anticipated scope great, it must be prevented, not just prepared for. Waiting for the Kassams to rain down, and heaving a sigh of relief whenever no major calamity is caused, is burying the nation's collective head in Ashkelon's sands. The thrust of Israel's logic must shift from buttressing structures to ending such attacks. Israel must recover its lost deterrence.

New and original thinking is called for. The tried and ineffective artillery saturation barrages on empty Gazan wastelands must be reviewed critically. These aren't even cost-effective. Lobbing thousands of expensive shells into the ruins of the three northernmost razed settlements (Elei Sinai, Dugit and Nissanit), from which the Kassams are now aimed at Ashkelon, makes the IDF Gaza's laughingstock.

....Stopping these attacks must become the problem and responsibility of all Palestinian factions that are staking claims to PA leadership. The PA chairman, government and legislature bear direct responsibility for every rocket flying from the territory they control. Ways will have to be found to clarify that a price will be exacted for each attack. If rockets continue to be aimed at Ashkelon, for instance, the PA should not be able to take for granted continuing supplies of electricity from the very power station against which Kassams are launched.

.... Since when should a nation allow some of its citizens to be terrorized by missile attacks even if, by luck, they do not exact many casualties?

The Kassam is nothing to scoff at or underestimate. Home Front Command's assertion that one suicide bomber can cause more casualties than this "stupid and primitive weapon" is a classic case of denial. Past Kassam near-misses are no consolation. We don't want to test just how much pain a single Kassam strike could cause.

One of the premises of disengagement was that it would not hamper our military capabilities, while enhancing deterrence by improving our diplomatic position. But if the government itself downplays the significance of continuing attacks against us, and seems unable to hold the PA - either directly or through the international community - accountable, how can it be argued that disengagement has increased our security? Asking the public to gird itself for disaster is not an answer.

Hamas charter is like Mein Kampf

From Ynet News 18/2/06 by Anat Barshkovsky ...

Former Shin Bet chief and Kadima Knesset candidate Avi Dichter on Saturday compared Hamas' charter to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, warning of Israeli complacency towards the Islamic group.

Speaking in Lehavim in southern Israel Dichter said: “... The charter is not only against Israel, but against the Jewish people. ...The charter is fundamentally anti-Jewish, exactly like Hitler’s Mein Kampf.”

Dichter added: “Israel warned clearly that Hamas is tainting the Palestinian Authority with the colors of terror. ...” ...Hamas “set the agenda in the Palestinian Authority, and the Gaza Strip in particular, back in 2001. Neither (Yasser) Arafat nor Mahmoud Abbas dared to face them. The last person to be murdered by Hamas was Moussa Arafat, Arafat’s relative, and although the identity of the murderers is known nothing has been done...Had Arafat decided to fight terror he would have been capable to do so.....”

... Dichter ... concluded by explaining his decision to join Kadima: “.... I came to politics to help Israel set its borders.”

New Hamas parliament will "resist occupation"

From JPost, Feb. 17, 2006 By ORLY HALPERN ...

In the opening session of the new Hamas-majority Palestinian Legislative Council, Abdul Aziz Dweik, the newly-elected Hamas Speaker of Parliament promised that Hamas would try to fulfill its "rightful duty to resist occupation."

His words came less than an hour after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah called on the people to use peaceful means of resistance and told the new government to accept the agreements previously made with Israel.

The two speeches laid out the conflicting programs of Hamas and Fatah, and presented a challenge for the future government. Hamas's leaders have stated support for armed resistance "to end the occupation," although they have generally abided by a one-year truce. Hamas has further called for a review of all agreements made with Israel, and has said that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority were futile.

Nevertheless, Abbas retains a range of powers, including over much of the armed forces. Yet Hamas holds a majority in the PLC with 74 seats and will be forming the cabinet.

...However, several Hamas legislators said the group would not agree to negotiations with Israel. Mushir al-Masri, a leading Hamas legislator in Gaza said after Abbas's speech that negotiations with Israel are "not on our agenda....We re-emphasise the commitment to [armed] resistance as a natural right of our people." ......

AP contributed to this report.