A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending February 9, 2006

Hizballah Triumphs over Attempts to Disarm Its Terrorists


4 February: debkafile Exclusive: Hizballah’s attack on Israel was an act of triumph for its re-admission to the fold of Lebanese government without disarming

Thursday, Feb. 2, twenty-four hours before raining 40 shells and rockets on Israeli Mt Dov positions, five Shiite ministers rejoined the Lebanese government. They ended their boycott, after prime minister Fouad Siniora dropped his demand for an international tribunal to try the pro-Syrian murderers of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. This decision left the UN probe of the assassination with nowhere to go.

Siniora’s surrender to the pro-Syrian, Iran-backed Hizballah bodes ill for Lebanon’s future and security on Israel’s northern border.

The Lebanese prime minister has also backed away from his demand for the Lebanese-Syrian border to be demarcated – another Hizballah victory. The demarcation teams were to have confirmed that the disputed Shaaba Farms are sovereign Syrian territory as determined in Nov. 2004 Security Council resolution 1559 and therefore an issue to be negotiated between Syria and Israel as part and parcel of the future of the Golan Heights. By pretending the Shaaba Farms belonged to Lebanon, Hizballah claimed the right of a resistance army to attack Israel. It was therefore not subject to Security Council demands to disarm as a terrorist militia. By abandoning a settlement of the of the Shaaba Farms issue by drawing a line on the map, the Lebanese government has also drawn back from its prerogative to order the national army to reclaim the south from Hizballah occupation.

debkafile‘s counter-terror sources add: the Hizballah victory provides Palestinian Hamas with the perfect precedent for staying armed and continuing to send suicide bombers against Israel.

debkafile‘s Middle East sources report that Fouad Siniora would not have surrendered so abjectly to Hizballah’s dictates unless Washington had not bowed first.


Israel‘s Nuclear Policy Fiasco after Its Hamas Contretemps


4 February: Washington and the European Union are congratulating themselves on getting 27 of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)‘s 35 members to refer the Iranian nuclear program to the UN Security Council. This is still a long way from sanctions. But the diplomatic achievement was achieved at a price, one that was paid for by the collapse of a fundamental Israeli policy platform just two weeks after the interim Olmert government was rocked back by the Islamic Hamas terror group’s attainment of enough parliamentary seats to form the next Palestinian government.

Saturday, Feb. 4, Jerusalem stood back and watched the United States buckle under European pressure and accept Egypt’s demand to incorporate the following phrase in the resolution on Iran:

The resolution recognized “that a solution to the Iranian issue would contribute to global nonproliferation efforts and… the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery.”

This linkage between Iran’s violations of its commitments under international treaty and the Israeli case has long been demanded by the Arab states and opposed by Washington. Its acceptance now opens the way for the integration of the same linkage in the Security Council debate on Iran. It provides a pretext for a whole new set of maneuvers and dilatory tactics by Tehran.


Why Are Muslims Protesting when the British Press Did not Run Prophet Cartoons?


6 February: Since London transport suffered a deadly al Qaeda terrorist attack last summer, the British government has worked hard to prove that the majority of British Muslims are law-abiding and averse to terrorism and violence. But the story told by the virulent demonstration staged by British Muslims in protest against the cartoons run in a Danish paper bespeaks an alienated community.

The banners are eloquent: Massacre the blasphemers; Behead those who insult Islam; Europe, take lessons from 9/11; You’ll come crawling when the mujahedeen fight. Some youths masked their faces with Arab head-cloths and one dressed as a suicide bomber “to make a point.”

They were above all an arrogant reminder tossed in the face of the British police and intelligence of their failure to nab the masterminds of the July 7, 2005 suicide bombings on London trains and a bus which killed 53 people

This did not deter British opinion-makers from arguing back and forth how to define “inflammatory” and what charges to bring against the demonstrators.

But 10 Downing Street could do no less than back police action against the rioters, because the rallies did indeed underscore not one but three points:

1. British intelligence is stumped in its efforts to penetrate the sections of the Muslim community which spawned the suicide bombers.

2. No member of this community has come forward with information that sheds light on the organization behind the attacks.

3. Muslim integration in British society is a myth. Far stronger is Muslim pride over their home-grown terrorists’ ability to outwit the British authorities.


Good Hamas, Bad Hamas…


6 February: Hamas leaders are laying down a smoke screen of contradictory statements to lower resistance to their forthcoming formation of a new Palestinian government. Their spokesmen issue reasonable-sounding statements which have no relation to their actions or demands.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is going along with this tactic. The concessions he is in the process of making to the Islamic terrorists contradict his pledges to US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, King Abdullah of Jordan and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak last week to make Hamas recognize Israel and disarm before entrusting the terrorist group with government.

Instead, he is faced with a list of Hamas demands.

They want the civil affairs portfolio because it controls Palestinian exchanges with Israeli officials, and the interior ministry which covers the Palestinian police and the preventive intelligence services. The new rulers will then have the mechanisms for controlling West Bank traffic arteries in the areas under Palestinian rule and the C zones where Israel has the say on security. It will then be in Hamas’s power to create daily friction with Israel military and police forces on the spot and Israel inhabitants. All three will have no choice but to do business with Hamas to make life bearable.


Rice Asks Olmert to Accept Hamas in the Back Seat of Government


7 February: debkafile reports: Washington backs the Egyptian bid to sway Hamas leaders to accept a back-seat, wire-puller role in Palestinian rule and then extort Israeli assent.

Monday, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice telephoned Israel’s acting prime minister Ehud Olmert to convey the impression that the Bush administration favored the deal. Rice argued in favor of letting Hamas form a government headed by a neutral figure under their backroom control. Hamas would get minor portfolios like Labor or Social welfare, but use them to pull the levers of government. Mahmoud Abbas said he could pull this off but, as usual, asked for time – six months’ grace in this instance to restore the strength of his Fatah. He would then cook up a constitutional crisis and call a new election in which the restored Fatah would oust Hamas.

Rice informed Olmert that Washington believes the Abu Mazen scenario can work because Hamas’ 74 legislative council seats are less than the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to frustrate it. Israel was not asked for its consent.

debkafile‘s analysts sum up the real objective of this US-Egyptian exercise as being to buy six months of calm – time for edging Israel into accepting the accomplished fact of a Hamas-backed Palestinian government. But the radical Islamic terror group means to use the six months’ grace to establish its legitimacy in government and quietly pick up international acceptance without recognizing Israel or disarming – whether Israel likes it or not.


Hardline Hamas Leader Contracts Cancer


8 February: debkafile Exclusive: Hamas Gaza leader Mahmoud a-Zahar is gravely ill with intestinal cancer. His illness has slowed down the Cairo talks with Hamas leaders on a Palestinian government. Egyptian and Palestinian doctors attending him are pessimistic about his chances of recovery. It has also encouraged the Americans and Egyptians to build on the prospects of a formula that will let Hamas into a government with which Israel can be asked to live, or at least conduct routine day-to-day affairs.

Khaled Mashaal’s statement to the BBC Wednesday, Feb. 8, was the first outcome of this amended approach. He offered a message to the next Israeli government that Hamas would be ready to talk if Israel met certain strict conditions. The most important of these was its pullback to the pre-1967 boundaries. This willingness, he said, would be taken as Israeli recognition of the rights of the Palestinians and the Hamas would “possibly give Israel a long-term truce,” while not renouncing violence.

debkafile‘s Middle East sources report that Mashaal’s words responded to the proposal Egyptian intelligence minister placed before Mashaal and a-Zahar Tuesday, Feb. 7 with backing from Washington: Hamas must accept a back-seat, wire-puller role in Palestinian government and enter into a long-term truce lasting 10-15 years.


Fatah gunmen abducted the Egyptian naval attache


9 February: Husam al-Musali, naval attache and liaison officer between the Egyptian embassy and armed Palestinian groups, was waylaid in Gaza and bundled into a car which disappeared. debkafile reveals the Fatah acted to put Hamas leaders on the spot and derail their Cairo talks led by Egyptian intelligence minister Omar Suleiman for a new Palestinian government. The day after the Hamas election victory last month, 50 Egyptian military instructors departed the Gaza Strip as a safety precaution and because they judged hopeless any chance of training or setting up any Palestinian unit which they could control.

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