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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

The Gaza cease-fire agreed to last week by Hamas and Israel is a “victory” for Palestinian “resistance” and will be used by local terrorist groups to rearm and prepare for battle against the Jewish state, top Gaza-based terror leaders told this column.

“We are humiliating the Israelis. They kept threatening to make a huge operation in Gaza, but they were the ones who begged us to go into the cease-fire,” said Muhammad Abdel-Al, a leader and spokesman for the Hamas-allied, Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees.

Along with Hamas, the Committees took responsibility for firing nearly 30 mortars and rockets from Gaza into nearby Jewish communities just hours before the truce took effect, lightly injuring one Israeli woman.

“[The rocket attacks] prove we are not going into this cease-fire from a weak point but from a point of force and power,” Abdel-Al said.

Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas’s so-called military wing, said his group will use the truce to rearm itself.

“The hudna [temporary truce] will be used for more training [and] arming. We don’t have any intention to stop from bringing in weapons from the Sinai into Gaza,” said Abdullah.

He called the cease-fire “one more sign of the collapse of the Israeli army, that this big Israeli army with the so-called best air force in the world didn’t succeed to stop the rockets, and they accepted the truce.”

PA Unhappy Over Truce

Meanwhile, a top Palestinian Authority official said that the Israel-Hamas cease-fire enhances the position of Hamas and amounts to the Jewish state’s tacit recognition of the terrorist group’s control of the Gaza Strip.

The PA publicly endorsed the Gaza truce agreement but has been unofficially expressing strong opposition to the truce, which went into effect last Thursday.

“[Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice sold us out,” said the PA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It is not possible that Israel agreed to the truce with Hamas without U.S. approval.

“Israel has now negotiated indirectly with Hamas and is doing business with them. Hamas is the deal makers and power brokers,” the official said.

His complaint was that Israel was enhancing Hamas at the expense of the PA. He said the PA took particular offense at talk of eventually expanding the truce to the West Bank, which until now has been considered the territory of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization.

He said if Hamas was seen as the main power broker in the West Bank it would be a “disaster” for Fatah and the PA.

The official described the mood at Abbas’s headquarters following the truce as one of mourning. “It’s our Tisha B’Av,” he said.

Arab Parties Back Olmert

Israel’s Arab parties coordinated with the Palestinian Authority to ensure that Prime Minister Olmert was not toppled during this past week’s crucial no confidence vote, according to political sources close to the Arab parties.

Olmert found unlikely allies in Israel’s Arab parties, whose leaders told the Israeli media last week they would vote to keep Olmert in power.

According to the sources, an Abbas representative, Abu Hisham, met with the Israeli Arab parties to urge them against voting to bring down Olmert.

The sources said Abbas feels the Palestinians would be offered the most generous deal for a state under the Olmert administration. They said Abbas is worried that current negotiations started at last November’s U.S.-backed Annapolis summit would be fruitless if a deal is not made while Olmert is in power.

The political sources said that aside from meeting with Israeli Arab party members, Abu Hisham also met with Ghaleb Majadele, the only Arab member of the Labor party, to urge him to lead the opposition within his party against new elections. Indeed, Majadele was nearly alone within his party in supporting Olmert.

Al Qaeda Swap for Reporter?

Is the release from prison last week of a radical cleric once described as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe part of a deal that Britain made with Gaza-based terrorists for the freedom last summer of kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston?

Shocking many in the security establishment, Britain on Tuesday released Abu Qatada, who celebrated his freedom with the release of a book in which he urges Muslims to commit terrorist attacks in the West.

Johnston was released last July after being held captive by a Palestinian group for nearly four months – the longest detention of any foreign correspondent kidnapped in Gaza.

At the time of his release, Palestinian sources involved in the negotiations to free Johnston claimed to this column that Britain told the kidnappers through mediators it would free Qatada, who has been accused of serving as Al Qaeda’s spiritual adviser in Europe.

The Palestinian sources claimed last year that the British government pledged through a third-party mediator to release Qatada only after a period of at least six months so that the release wouldn’t appear connected to Johnston’s freedom.

Qatada is accused, among other things, of planning terror attacks in Jordan and advising 9/11 terrorists and attempted shoe-bomber Richard Reid.

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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