debkafile reports: Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert again dodges decisions on Hamas-ruled Palestinian government
Friday, Feb. 18, the day before 72 Hamas deputies were to be sworn in by the new Palestinian legislative council, a top-level Israeli security conference decided to avoid adopting the national defense chiefs’ recommendations for a limited boycott of the new Palestinian administration. They will come before the cabinet Sunday.
On the contrary, Olmert decided to let Hamas deputies from the West Bank, including wanted terrorists, reach the parliament session in Ramallah Saturday, refrain from isolating Palestinian West Bank towns and to allow funds to continue to go through to the new Palestinian government.
These actions contradict the bombastic promises by Israeli leaders of tough, resolute measures against an administration ruled by unrepentant terrorists. These assurances were delivered in the latter half of the week amid top-level foreign affairs and security chiefs consultations in Jerusalem on the handling of the Hamas regime put in place last month by the Palestinian voter. Olmert himself pledged at the Sunday cabinet meeting that the rules would change after the swearing-in of the Hamas faction Saturday.
Thursday, Feb. 16, defense minister Shaul Mofaz and top officials of the national security and military branches presented the prime minister with a package of recommendations:
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.
The effect of 2. and 3. will be to bring to a standstill the entry of Palestinians into Israel.
4. Palestinian travel between the Gaza Strip and West Bank across Israeli territory will be banned.
However, Friday, Feb. 17, prime minister Olmert set these and other recommendations aside.