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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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BACK CHANNELING AN OLYMPIC SPORT?

State Dept. Denying Hamas Back Channel, Working to Unfreeze US, Israeli Funds for Palestinians

"There have been some bizarre claims out there that Hamas has a back channel to the U.S. Government or that the U.S. Government is dealing with ex-officials to have some kind of a back channel to Hamas."
If mugs could talk: Hamas hero Mashaal (R) shares a mug stand in a Gaza market with another Palestinian hero, Abu Hussain, as he is identified on the mug bearing his re-attired image.

If mugs could talk: Hamas hero Mashaal (R) shares a mug stand in a Gaza market with another Palestinian hero, Abu Hussain, as he is identified on the mug bearing his re-attired image.
Photo Credit: Wissam Nassar/Flash90

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At Wednesday’s press briefing, DOS Spokesperson Victoria Nuland unexpectedly declared—not in response to a reporter’s question, and in the middle of an only loosely-related topic, that the U.S. is not seeking diplomatic contact with the Hamas government in Gaza.

Nuland told the room, seemingly out of the blue: “… Let me just say one other thing which has to do with Hamas.

“There have been some bizarre claims out there that Hamas has a back channel to the U.S. Government or that the U.S. Government is dealing with ex-officials to have some kind of a back channel to Hamas. I want to say here that these assertions are completely untrue. There is no such back channel. And our position on Hamas has not changed. And recent remarks by Hamas leaders during Khaled Meshaal’s visit to Gaza reinforce the fact that Hamas is not a partner for peace. And unless Hamas unambiguously accepts the Quartet principles for peace, it cannot be a partner in any negotiations.” As you may recall, the U.S. Congress last month froze $200 million in development aid to the Palestinian Authority, in response to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s successful move to upgrade his organization’s status at the UN.

At the daily press briefing on Wednesday, a reporter asked Spokesperson Nuland: “Victoria, what about the money that is being withheld? The Palestinian sources … say that they are on the verge of collapse and total bankruptcy. Have you done anything to … persuade Congress to release the money?”

NULAND: Well, we’re continuing to work with Congress, we’re continuing to make our views known about this, that we think this money is important. We think it supports important work by the Palestinian Authority and to support the needs of the Palestinian people and it should move.

QUESTION: Are you also urging Israel not to hold up their tax revenue?

Israel’s finance minister, who declared the suspension of tax payment transfers, explained at the time that this was done because the PA hadn’t been paying its electric bill, and owes $800 to the Israeli electric company.

According to Wednesday’s Jordan Times, at the recent Arab foreign ministers’ meeting in Doha, Qatar, Arab states agreed to come to the rescue of the Palestinian Authority by pledging a $100 million monthly payment.

That should cover the electric bill…

NULAND: We are making clear to the Government of Israel that we think funding of the Palestinian Authority is necessary, and that it should work with the PA to address the issues that they have, and that all sides need to take steps to reduce tensions, to build trust, to produce the kind of climate that’s going to get us back to direct talks.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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One Response to “State Dept. Denying Hamas Back Channel, Working to Unfreeze US, Israeli Funds for Palestinians”

  1. What the Arab world needs to know is that there are consequences ti their behavior. This has largely been ignored by the international community. For instance, when Muslim Brotherhood head Morsi went to Gaza to express their support for Hamas and then had the gall to say Israel was the aggressor, President Obama should have responded by freezing all funds to Egypt. Not only didn't Obama freeze the funds but he approved a deal to give the Egyptians F-16 fighter jets. Israel should not send one cent to the Palestinians. I don't know what came about that Israel should be paying the Palestinians at all but it should stop immediately. Once again, the press is making the Palestinians out to be the poor victims of Israeli wrong doing. The fact is, that the nothing is stopping the Palestinians from building up their country except their own misguided priorities. In 1948, Israel inherited a tiny piece of disease ridden land. No one gave Israel anything and look what the people have been able to build in just sixty four years. Irrigation for farming, a whole infrastructure, a highway system, an electrical grid, a democratic government, world class universities and research, Israel has more Nobel Peace Prize winners per capita than any other nation in the world and so much more. The Arabs are bright people and there is no reason why they can't do the same. But, they need to stop wasting billions of dollars on weapons in their ongoing quest to destroy Israel and use those resources to educate their people, attract business to generate capitol and increase the standard of living, allow women to become educated and pursue any profession they wish, have a representative government where all citizens have full representation, allow freedom of religion, have a free and open press, etc. But, before any of these things can happen the Arab world must abandon their commitment to dictatorships and iron fist regimes that kill there own people. In addition, I noticed the Arab people have a propensity for violence and anarchy. When something happens in an Arab country that the people are unhappy with, what usually happens, riots, looting, and violence. Look at what is happening in Egypt right now. But, this behavior does not only happen in Egypt, it happens throughout the region. Part of the problem stems from the fact that the Arabs have been coddled by the international community. As a result, the Arabs feel they can do whatever they want and the rules don't apply to them and to be honest it's true. There is no problem with making Israel the punching bag of the world. When Israel was a burgeoning country, it made a commitment to be a law abiding and morally centered country. I don't claim to have the answers to these problems. But, I am only concerned about one country, Israel. However, I do believe that it will take a rudimentary shift of philosophy for anything to change in the middle east. Unfortunately, I don't see anything happening in the near future.

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