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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

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Representatives of President-elect Barack Obama recently told Syrian officials in meetings that Obama supports ending their county’s isolation and that as president he would work to bring Damascus into the international community, Syria’s state-run SANA news agency reported.

The Syrian outlet claimed Obama’s aides said the president-elect supports the pick up of negotiations between Israel and Syria leading to a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, the strategic, mountainous territory looking down on Israeli population centers that was twice used in the past by Syria to mount ground invasions into the Jewish state.

The SANA article echoes a report in this column last week that quoted a Syrian diplomatic source revealing that Obama’s policy aides made the pledges this past summer in a meeting in Washington, D.C., with Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha. The source said Moustapha was asked at the time by Obama’s camp not to comment on the meeting.

Squabbling, Ambiguity Surround
Alleged Obama-Hamas Link

A Hamas official’s claim that his group held a meeting with advisers to President-elect Obama has prompted infighting within the terrorist group, with some top members complaining such announcements do not serve its long-term interests.

Ahmed Yousef, Hamas’s chief political adviser in Gaza, told the Al-Hayat Arabic-language newspaper last week that Hamas held a meeting with Obama aides in Gaza and has maintained regular communication.

“We were in contact with a number of Obama’s aides through the Internet and later met with some of them in Gaza, but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as they may have a negative effect on his election campaign and be used by Republican candidate John McCain [to attack Obama],” Yousef told Al-Hayat.

Obama’s senior foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough, responded that the claim “is just plain false.”

Then, in a well-circulated but false report, the Xinhua-China news agency claimed Hamas released a statement this week denying it held any meetings with Obama advisers. The statement, obtained by WorldNetDaily, does not directly deny the occurrence of such a meeting.

“The report in Al-Hayat was not accurate,” began the carefully worded Hamas statement, without identifying which part was inaccurate. “Hamas does not comment on our private diplomatic activities. Ahmed Yousef’s statement and his opinions represent himself only. He is not a Hamas spokesman,” read the statement.

A top Hamas source said Yousef’s announcement of meetings with Obama aides generated a “small crisis” within the group.

“We were not ready to make any such announcements,” the Hamas source said. “Yousef needs to hold his enthusiasm and stop making these statements that are not coordinated with all of the Hamas leadership.”

More Bnei Menashe To Arrive In Israel

The Israeli government has given permission for about 150 Indian citizens who believe they belong to one of the lost tribes of Israel to move to the Jewish state. This decision clears the way for the arrival here of some of the remaining 7,200 members of the Bnei Menashe in India, who believe they are the descendants of Manasseh, one of the biblical patriarch Joseph’s two sons and a grandson of Jacob.

The remaining thousands of members of the Bnei Menashe still reside in India, waiting to move to the Jewish state. Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, whose office must approve the group’s immigration, reportedly allowed the 150 members to move here on humanitarian grounds, since the families were recently told their immigration had been approved, prompting many of them to sell their houses.

Tribe members live in the two Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, to which they say they were exiled from Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire. According to Bnei Menashe oral tradition, the tribe was exiled from Israel and pushed to the east, eventually settling in the border regions of China and India. Most kept customs similar to Jewish tradition, including observing Shabbat, keeping the laws of kosher, practicing circumcision on the eighth day of a baby boy’s life and observing laws of family purity.

“With so much economic and political turmoil in the world, it is comforting and reassuring to see that the divine process of the ingathering of the exiles continues,” said Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based immigrant organization working with the “lost” Jews.

Fatah Arrests Hamas Infiltrators

Members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah security forces in recent days arrested dozens of Hamas members suspected of infiltrating Fatah forces in an eventual attempt to take over the West Bank, according to informed security sources.

The sources believe Fatah has been infiltrated by Hamas all the way up to the highest levels. The sources said Fatah clamped down on Hamas money transfers meant for cells in the West Bank city of Ramallah, which has traditionally been Fatah’s greatest stronghold.

The issue of Hamas infiltration of Fatah is thought to have been the Achilles heel that led to the terror group’s takeover of the entire Gaza Strip, including dozens of major, U.S.-backed Fatah security compounds in the area.

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 book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

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About the Author: Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m (CHANGE TO 7-9 p.m.). His website is KleinOnline.com


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