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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

With this week’s U.S.-backed Annapolis summit aiming to hand the West Bank to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s organization, Israel has cracked down on a cell of leading Palestinians suspected of setting up a Hamas military arm to take over the strategic territory, WorldNetDaily has learned.

According to Israel and Palestinian security officials, the Israeli Defense Forces arrested seven members of Abbas’s Fatah organization. One of those arrested is the assistant to Maged Abu Shamaleh, secretary-general of Fatah in Gaza and a member of the PA parliament. Shamaleh, along with his assistant and the other six arrested militants, moved to the West Bank in June following Hamas’s takeover of Gaza.

Israeli security officials said they were concerned that Abbas’s Fatah organization in the West Bank is “heavily infiltrated” by Hamas. The issue of Hamas infiltration of Fatah was thought to have led to the terror group’s takeover last summer of the entire Gaza Strip.

The security officials said they were also concerned that Abbas is not strong enough in the West Bank to impose law and order without the help of the IDF. According to the officials, Fatah’s intelligence apparatus routinely hands the IDF lists of Hamas militants that threaten Fatah rule, requesting that Israel make arrests.

Hamas leaders in recent weeks vowed their organization would seize the West Bank if Israel hands the territory to Abbas.

Last June Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, overwhelming all U.S.-backed Fatah security compounds in less than one week.

Intelligence Gap

At the request of the Palestinians, the U.S. has been holding back from Israel reports critical of Abbas’s purported attempts to fight terrorism in the West Bank, according to diplomatic sources familiar with the reports.

The U.S. has been closely monitoring Abbas’s implementation of commitments to fight armed groups in the West Bank. Understandings reached last month commit the State Department and U.S. security representatives to share their observations with Israel, while the U.S. also monitors Israeli commitments to dismantle anti-terror roadblocks and to take initial steps toward bulldozing what are termed illegal outposts, or Jewish structures built in the West Bank without government permits.

While the U.S. has been reporting to the Palestinians on Israel’s actions on the ground ahead of Annapolis, according to informed diplomatic sources, it has withheld some State Department reports critical of Abbas’s Fatah security forces’ purported fight against terror.

Fatah forces in recent weeks carried out what it called arrest operations against some gunmen in the West Bank, including members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and leaders of Fatah’s declared military wing, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

According to Israeli security sources, Fatah rounded up some Brigades and PFLP members in the northern West Bank city of Nablus and transferred them to nearby Jericho, where they spent one night in a Fatah compound and were then freed but told they must stay in Jericho until after Annapolis. Most gunmen continue to receive room and board at Fatah compounds.

An Alternate Plan…

As the international community focuses on Annapolis, a new diplomatic initiative that proposes Jordanian citizenship for the Palestinians has been gaining some support here from across the political spectrum.

Named the Israeli Initiative, the alternative plan seeks to end widespread backing for the PA, dismantle what are termed Palestinian refugee camps and have Jordan grant citizenship to Arabs remaining in the West Bank while the Jews there maintain their Israeli citizenship. Israel would extend its sovereignty over the entire West Bank.

“It is time for new thinking, for learning from our mistakes, and for re-reading the regional map toward a revitalized and genuine quest to achieve peace,” said Knesset Member Benny Elon, author of the plan.

Elon said he received support on Capital Hill during a visit to Washington last week, including what he called “positive meetings” with House of Representatives whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.; and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

…And the Saudi Idea

Meanwhile, in exchange for Saudi Arabia’s attendance at the Annapolis conference, the Israeli government agreed to recognize the importance of a Saudi initiative that has been widely criticized here. The plan calls for Israel to give up the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, eastern Jerusalem, and the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief  for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the recently published book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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