Mashal: “We come to power with gun in hand!”
10 February: “The Palestinian rifle proved its power to evict the Jews from the Gaza Strip when Israel carried out its evacuation,” Meshaal declared. “Unless we use force, no one will talk to us. At this moment, Palestinian government belongs to the force whose platform pledges warfare.”
debkafile‘s political sources describe the rush of events Friday as blowing away the last policy parameters charted for the Middle East in Washington and Jerusalem
Our Moscow sources report Meshaal made his speech after Russia’s special Middle East envoy Alexander Kalugin personally handed him President Putin’s invitation to visit the Russian capital. He then received a pile of invitations from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Syria. Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan said he justified the Russian-French position. “I too invite Hamas leaders to Ankara,” he said.
Too Late to Thwart Hamas
10 February: debkafile‘s political sources accuse acting prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni of doing too little, too late in their campaign to keep the Hamas Islamic terrorists from coming to power.
Russian defense minister Sergei Ivanov predicted correctly that other states will follow suit and favor contacts with Hamas now that the Jerusalem campaign heavily dependent on Washington has gone up in smoke. As he spoke, France jumped aboard.
What this means is –
1. After failing to prevent the election, Israeli should have struck hard and swiftly to round up the terrorist group’s leaders, all of whom have black records of orchestrating dozens of suicide massacres of Israelis. Instead, Olmert and Livni decided to wait for the “international community” to fight Israel’s wars and then trail in its wake.
2. Russian president Vladimir Putin did not miss the opening left by the inaction of Washington and Jerusalem for scoring points with the Muslim world, which is up in arms against the West over the Prophet Mohammed cartoons.
3. Jerusalem must stop stammering over such issues as the transfer of moneys to the Palestinian Authority and abandon its waiting stance – “Let’s first see what sort of government Abu Mazen sets up” – and seize the initiative with clear action.
On Jan. 26, the day after Hamas swept the Palestinian election, Jerusalem’s first response was to wait for Washington to wake up (it was still night) and provide a lead. However, Bush administration officials were just as much at sea as the Israelis.
That was the Olmert government’s big chance for a move to block Hamas’ ride into government. Instead, they waited for Washington to cobble some guidelines together – and Hamas walked off with the initiative.
After that, Israeli officials echoed the US State Department’s decision to leave it to Mahmoud Abbas to clear up the mess. When he failed, the Egyptians were called in to save the day.
Abu Mazen frees second batch of convicted Palestinian terrorists from Jericho lock-up
12 February: IDF brought reinforcements Sunday night to surround the town and threw up roadblocks on roads to other parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem.
The first 56 were suddenly released on Palestinian Authority chairman’s orders Thursday Feb. 9. Among them were 26 Islamic Jihad members from northern and central Samaria, who plotted and masterminded suicide bombings in Hadera, Netanya, and Kfar Saba in 2005. Also released were 13 members of the PA General Intelligence Service, loyal to Col. Tewfik Tirawri, and 17 members of the PA Military Police – all of whom participated in terrorist attacks.
Abu Mazen thus renews Yasser Arafat's revolving-door policy for terrorists.
Hamas Angles for an Invitation to Baghdad
12 February: Our sources in Baghdad report Hamas leaders are making a point of being received and recognized by an Arab government backed to the hilt and sustained by the US government and army.
debkafile‘s counter-terror sources note: An invitation from the democratically-elected government in Baghdad to a democratically-elected Palestinian (terrorist) party would place the Washington in a cleft stick, after having initiated both elections. Cooperation between the only two elected Arab regimes would be hard to challenge. On the other hand, since Hamas is listed as a terrorist group in the US and Europe, such cooperation would show the Bush administration as having placed democratic reform in the Middle East ahead of the global war on terror and at its expense.
Abu Mazen Assumes Presidential Powers
13 February: Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas took advantage of the last day of his own Fatah majority Monday, Feb. 13, to push through the parting session of the outgoing legislature a series of measures which incoming Hamas deputies describe as a “white revolution.” They accused him of seizing the prerogative for drumming up a constitutional crisis in a few months’ time, sacking the Hamas government and dissolving the legislature. Hamas promised to annul these measures when its 74 members take their seats for the first time in the new house next Saturday.
But, according to debkafile‘s Palestinian sources, Hamas lacks the two-thirds majority in the 132-seat house to annul Abbas’s draconian legislation.
The measures endorsed::
1. Set up a constitutional court of nine judges to arbitrate in disputes over the distribution of powers among the president, government and legislature, disqualify basic laws, dissolve parliament and call new elections.
2. A new Palestinian broadcasting service was placed under control of the president 4.
New 207mm Katyusha rocket in hands of Fatah terrorist arm, al Aqsa Brigades
13 February: The menacing Russian-made rocket, which the Palestinian terrorists have dubbed Aqsa 2 or Aqsa 207, arrived in the Gaza Strip last week through northern Sinai. It extends the range of Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip to a maximum of 16-18 kilometers. Well within this range are Ashkelon and its port, power and oil pipeline installations, as well as the southern Israeli towns of Ofakim and Netivot.
While the rockets are “imported”, the launchers are assembled at Fatah foundries in the Gaza Strip.
The war materiel is smuggled in from Sinai – either through illicit tunnels running under the border or openly under the eye of the Egyptian border units. The Fatah armed group is anxious to prove that despite its crushing defeat by Hamas in last month’s election, it is still capable of spearheading the war against Israel.
What did Israel’s acting PM Olmert mean by “new rules for a Hamas Authority”?
13 February: Ehud Olmert warned that after the newly-elected Palestinian legislative council is sworn in Saturday, Feb. 18, it becomes a “Hamas Authority” and new rules of the game then apply:
1. The new legislature will be denied full attendance at its first session in Ramallah by an Israeli ban on the passage of Hamas delegates from Gaza, Nablus, Tulkarm, Hebron or Jenin to take their seats. The full 74-man Hamas complement will therefore be kept away from the 132-seat parliament.
The session will be held by videoconference.
2. Olmert proposes to finally halt all payments to the Palestinian Authority once Hamas is sworn in.
3. Israel will cancel the Palestinian VIP passes that facilitate the movements of top Palestinian officials between the West Bank and Gaza.
4. Israeli-Palestinian exchanges on mundane matters like water, electricity, food supplies, port facilities and access to hospitals will be left henceforth to petty officials, who will have to defer to their bosses for every decision – with consequent delays.
Supreme Court Justice Mishael Heshin defines the Palestinian Authority as an enemy state de facto
14 February: He rejected petitions to allow Palestinians married to Israelis to settle in Israel under the family reunification law as a loophole that would pose a risk to state security. “Just listen to daily declarations made by Hamas. The Palestinian people chose Hamas which seeks to destroy Israel and they are citizens of an enemy state.” He asked why Israel should take risks with Israeli lives, any more than did England and America by admitting Germans in the Second World War. The judge said no one is preventing mixed couples from building a family, but they should live in Jenin. The right to life takes priority over any other consideration.
Hamas politburo head Khaled Mashaal says: Our mission is to liberate Jerusalem, purify the al Aqsa Mosque
14 February: Addressing a pro-Hamas rally in Khartoum, Mashaal referred to Western threats to cut off aid: “God, the Islamic nation are with us, will lead us to victory and liberation. Do not fear poverty.” He thanked Sudanese parties for raising funds for the Hamas-ruled Palestinian government.
Hamas leader Mahmoud a-Zahar declares Palestinian war on Israel will go on
14 February: Spelling out the incoming Palestinian government’s agenda, a-Zahar said: We will not recognize Israel; our armed struggle will go on until all of Palestine is “liberated;” we will abrogate the Oslo accords and all the agreements the PLO and the Palestinian Authority signed; all negotiations with Israel must go through a third party; we don’t need money from Israel or “the Satan;” Arab nations will give us money; we have long-range missiles.
debkafile: Mahmoud a-Zahar, who is terminally ill with cancer, in effect handed down his political-military testament. It contained the incoming Palestinian government’s point-by-point response to the conditions laid down by the United States, Israel and the Middle East Quartet (sans Russia) for dealing with a Hamas-led government – recognize Israel, renounce terror and honor international accords. He showed the Islamic terrorists to be unmoved by threats of isolation and the restrictive rules of engagement the Olmert government proposes to impose on a Palestinian Authority after Hamas is sworn in.
Egypt unofficially blockades Palestinian transit to and from Gaza Strip
15 February: Six days after the naval attache at the Egyptian embassy in Gaza City Hossam Musseili was snatched by masked gunmen, Cairo has suspended permits for Palestinians to enter Egypt from Gaza or enter Gaza from northern Sinai.
The blockade will remain in force until they surrendered the abductors to Egypt.
The Egyptian government knows who the kidnappers are. They are members of the Atiya clan of Rafah, one of the Palestinian crime families operating the weapons-smuggling tunnels from northern Sinai to the Gaza Strip. Last week, Egyptian security officers rounded up Atiya clansmen living on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border. Musseili was snatched as an act of retaliation..
Israel‘s defense chiefs recommend embargo on Hamas-governed Palestinian areas
16 February: debkafile reports: Thursday, Feb. 16, defense minister Shaul Mofaz and top officials of the national security and military branches advised the following steps to be enforced when Hamas deputies take their seats in the new Palestinian legislative council Saturday, Feb. 18:
1. To annul existing customs accords between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel’s customs authorities will henceforth treat Palestinian imports and exports like any other foreign goods transiting state borders according to tariffs determined in Jerusalem. This will also eliminate any future transfers to the Palestinian Authority.
2. Palestinian workers will no longer be allowed to work in Israel. Tens of thousands will be stopped at the Gazan checkpoints as of Sunday.
3. Israel will cancel all the VIP permits issued to high Palestinian functionaries.
4. Palestinian travel between the Gaza Strip and West Bank across Israeli territory will be banned.
These steps are recommendations. It is up to the prime minister to decide whether to adopt them.
King Abdullah okays Hamas politburo move from Damascus to Amman
16 February: The Jordanian king, held up as Israel’s foremost Arab ally, has granted Khaled Meshaal permission to reopen his offices in the Jordanian capital, seven years after the late King Hussein expelled him with his staff as a threat to the realm
debkafile‘s sources: Abdullah’s move is a grave setback for the Olmert-Livni plans to cut down Hamas. The Islamist terrorists will now have an alternative base of operations for bypassing Israel’s steps against them next door in Jordan, with direct access to the West Bank. A Hamas government will, for instance, be free to channel incoming assistance for running its administration through Jordanian banks, thereby circumventing Israel’s freeze on allocations.