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Posts Tagged ‘Khaled Abu Toameh’

US Efforts to Retain PA’s Fayyad May Have Finally Torpedoed Him

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

There have been rumors for years that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the Western-trained and most Western-oriented member of the PA leadership, was miserable in his position and that he was going to resign.

He finally did.

At least most media outlets are reporting that Fayyad has resigned.  There are some still reporting that the resignation has not gone through, or that it was not yet tendered or some other speculation, but no one doubts that if it has not yet happened, it will happen soon.

What was the final straw?  Fayyad and acting PA leader Mahmoud Abbas often disagree about finance.  Fayyad is considerd, and for good reason, the financial brains in the PA.  He has a PhD in economics from the University of Texas, taught the subject in Jordan, and worked at the International Monetary Fund for almost a decade.  Since becoming PA prime minister in 2007, Fayyad also held the post of finance minister.

But that changed when Abbas pressured Fayyad into appointing Nabil Qassis as PA’s finance minister last year.

And then, last month, after Qassis and Fayyad disagreed over a draft budget, Fayyad accepted the resignation of Qassis. According to many reports, Abbas was furious that Fayyad accepted the resignation, and tried to rescind it.

Although a darling of the West, Fayyad has never gained traction as a favorite of the Arab Palestinians.  He ran for public office in 2006, having created a new political party called the “Third Way,” but his party came in last, winning only 2 seats.  Hamas came in first, winning 74 seats, and the party of Abbas, Fatah, came in second with 45.

And even as Prime Minister, Fayyad has had problems with his constituents.  In September a huge banner of him was pelted with shoes (a huge insult in the Arab world) during a protest of big increases in the prices of consumer goods.

But there are few with whom Fayyad’s popularity is lower than Abbas and other Fatah leaders who yearn to have their hands in the international aid piggy bank, just like their old boss Yassir Arafat did.

But for the West, Fayyad is their “Great Arab Palestinian Hope.”

So now the West, especially the U. S., is leaning on Abbas to entice Fayyad to stay just a little bit longer.  Why?  So that the U.S. has the opportunity to try out its latest peace initiative efforts.  Two months is what they are asking.  Sure, it’s reasonable to think that Secretary of State John Kerry will be able to clinch the deal that more experienced foreign policy experts and snake charmers were unable to accomplish over the course of decades.

Please.

But once again the U.S. and EU leaders have been pressuring Abbas and other Arab leaders to retain Fayyad, who is the only fig leaf of sophistication and corruption-free leadership in the PA.  Those qualities are essentials that foreign aid donors require – or should – before agreeing to send still more cash to a never-filled bank account.

But this time the efforts of the U.S. may have done more harm than good. Arab Israeli journalist Khaled abu Toameh explained that western efforts to pressure Abbas to retain Fayyad have instead worked to further discredit the prime minister in the eyes of many Arab Palestinians.

“Fayyad’s enemies have cited these efforts as ‘proof’ that he is a ‘foreign agent’ who has been imposed on the Palestinian Authority by Americans and Europeans.”

So, whether Fayyad is gone today or next week or next month, it will happen and it appears there is little the west can do to keep him in place.

Given that is the case, perhaps it will give the new U.S. peace professionals pause before they attempt to impose any major changes in an already dangerously unstable region.

Facebook Apologizes for Closing Anti PA Page

Monday, January 21st, 2013

As The Jewish Press’ Lori Lowenthal Marcus reported last week, Facebook has restored an Israeli –Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh for closing his Facebook account and removing posts. Now Facebook has also apologized to Abu Toameh.

Facebook last week closed for 24 hours Khaled Abu Toameh’s account for what it said was “security reasons.” The account was opened one day later with two posts critical of corruption in the Palestinian Authority and in Jordan removed. Abu Toameh had received hate mail and death threats due to the posts.

Abu Toameh wrote in a column published Friday in The Jewish Press that “Facebook’s move came at a time when Arab dictatorships in general, and the Palestinian Authority in particular, have been cracking down on Facebook users.”

Abu Toameh pointed out that some Arab countries, including the PA, have set up teams to monitor Facebook and other social media for critics.

“But the problem becomes worse when Facebook itself starts removing material that bothers dictatorships and tyrants,” he wrote. “One can only hope that the same Facebook employee who ‘accidentally’ removed the article will make the same mistake and close down accounts belonging to terrorist organizations and their leaders.”

Facebook allows Hamas leaders and other known terrorists to maintain pages.

JTA content was used in this report.

Indicators of the Road Ahead for Israel

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

With so much turbulence about (especially now but also in the past several years), it’s easy to overlook the fact that Israel has fought no wars against any Arab state since the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

As Robert Satloff notes in the first of the articles we extract below, Israel’s experiences over these last four decades include “successful diplomacy with intermittent bouts of terrorism and asymmetric war against non-state actors.” Looking ahead, there’s more than a little reason to take a sober view of the future.

The End of the Forty-Year Peace between Israel and Arab States Robert Satloff  in the New Republic: With Hamas’ strong political backing from regional states, future historians might very well view the recent Gaza conflict as the first episode of a new era of renewed inter-state competition and, potentially, inter-state conflict in the Arab-Israeli arena… The “old new Middle East” was a region of peace, trade, and regional cooperation. It reached its heyday in the mid-’90s, when Israelis were welcome everywhere from Rabat to Muscat… The “new new Middle East” is the region defined by the twin threats of Iranian hegemonic ambitions and the spread of radical Sunni extremism, where Israelis are not only unwelcome but where they are building fences along their borders to separate themselves from the fight around them… There is much the U.S. can do to postpone the return to inter-state Arab-Israeli conflict. Such a strategy begins with strengthening American-Israeli cooperation and includes such initiatives as preventing Hamas from winning a political victory over the moribund Palestinian Authority, incentivizing moderate behavior from the calculating Islamist leaders of Egypt, speeding the demise of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, and preventing the collapse of a wobbly Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Hamas Tells Fatah: Let’s Fight Israel Together Khaled Abu Toameh in the Jerusalem PostHamas leader Mahmoud Zahar on Monday called on Fatah to join his movement in the fight against Israel and to stop wasting time and effort with the peace process. “Our hands are extended to Fatah to join the program of [armed] resistance and the liberation of Palestine… Let’s join hands and carry the rifle together.”

Hizbullah TV Claims Its Rockets Can Reach Eilat  Zach Pontz in the Algemeiner: Israel’s Channel 2 television broadcast a video from Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV claiming that the terror group’s rockets could reach as far as Eilat. The segment, accompanied by many graphic descriptions, claimed: “Hizbullah has the following capabilities: the destruction of buildings in Tel Aviv; damage to ports and ships in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea and capability to hit specific targets with missiles on the residents and resources of Israel.” Last week Hizbullah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah told a crowd: “Israel, which was jolted by Fajr-5 missiles [from Gaza] – how will it be able to endure thousands of missiles falling on Tel Aviv and other cities if it attacks Lebanon? Our campaign against Israel is from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat.”

Visit This Ongoing War.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians’ Islamist Spring?

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

After the recent wave of protests and clashes with Palestinian Authority policemen in the West Bank, the Palestinians are asking if the “Arab Spring” might be finally knocking on their door.

The protests, organized by young Palestinians through Facebook and Twitter, are a reflection of increased discontent with the Palestinian Authority leadership.

Recent public opinion polls have shown that the popularity of Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction has declined and that Palestinians are eager for change.

Most Palestinians would like to see new faces among the top brass of their leadership. They are fed up with the fact that the same leaders have been in office for decades.

Many Palestinians feel that under Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority has joined the club of corrupt Arab dictatorships that suppress the opposition and crack down on freedom of speech.

Hundreds of angry men and women continued to demonstrate in the city against police brutality. The protesters accused the Palestinian Authority of ordering the police to use excessive force to stop the demonstrations.

At least five Palestinian journalists were injured when Palestinian security officers and Fatah activists beat them in the center of Ramallah. Many protesters, including women, were also beaten during the demonstrations.

The clashes erupted last weekend in protest against a planned visit to Ramallah by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and former IDF Chief of General Staff, Shaul Mofaz. Mofaz’s planned visit to Ramallah was used an excuse to vent out frustration and anger with the Palestinian Authority leadership.

The protests forced Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to call off the visit, but the cancellation did not calm things down, especially in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians.

In March last year, thousands of Palestinians, inspired by the “Arab Spring,” launched their own protests in the West Bank to demand reforms, democracy, and regime change. But the Palestinian revolt was short-lived.

Abbas’s security forces, backed by Fatah thugs, attacked the young men and women who were protesting in the center of Ramallah, torching their tents and beating them with clubs and rifle butts. But now the Palestinian youth groups appear to have reorganized themselves and are preparing for another wave of protests in the West Bank. In recent days, the protesters have even begun chanting the same slogans that Egyptians used against Hosni Mubarak and the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces.

The Facebook and Twitter protesters say they have no political affiliations and that their only goal is to replace the old-guard leaders in Ramallah with young and charismatic faces.

The Palestinian Authority, however, says that the protests are part of a foreign conspiracy designed to undermine the leadership of Abbas and harm the interests of the Palestinians. Some Palestinian officials in Ramallah have gone as far as claiming that the US, Israel and even Hamas are behind the unrest.

These accusations are similar to those that were made by Arab dictators in the past year, including Mubarak, Muammar Ghaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh. Arab dictatorships often try to discredit their opponents by accusing them of being Israeli and American spies and agents.

Yet in the absence of a credible and organized Palestinian opposition in the West Bank, it is most likely that Hamas will hijack any “Palestinian Spring.” Unfortunately, the young men and women who are leading the anti-Palestinian Authority campaign in the West Bank do not represent the majority. That is why a Palestinian Spring could quickly turn into an Islamist Spring, paving the way for Hamas to seize control over the West Bank.

The only way this outcome might possibly be avoided is if the international community immediately demands reforms from Abbas: the end to corruption, and the end to repression of free speech.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Arab Apartheid Against Palestinians

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

The Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are considered the worst in the region in terms of poverty, health, education and living conditions, according to a report published this week by the American Near East Refugee Aid [ANERA], one of the largest American not-for-profit organizations working in the Middle East. This does not mean, of course, that Palestinians living in refugee camps in Jordan and Syria or other Arab countries are happy. But when it comes to Lebanon, the living conditions of the Palestinians are appalling.

The ANERA report coincided with news about mounting tensions between Palestinian residents of refugee camps in Lebanon and the Lebanese army.

The tensions reached their peak last week when Lebanese soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian man in Nahr El Bared refugee camp. Later Lebanese soldiers prevented residents from going to the cemetery to attend the funeral.

In 2007, the Lebanese army destroyed most of the camp’s houses during fighting with militiamen belonging to Palestinian armed groups and radical Islamic groups.

Two-thirds of the camp’s 36,000 residents fled the fighting and found shelter in surrounding fields and valleys. Many set up new homes in the nearby Baddawi refugee camp.

Since 2007, the Lebanese army has imposed a strict siege on the camp: residents are allowed to enter and leave only after obtaining permission from Lebanese security authorities. According to the Palestinian residents, they have since been living in a ghetto.

The Lebanese authorities have also banned the residents from rebuilding the houses that were destroyed or damaged in 2007.

Palestinians are convinced that Lebanon has been trying to get rid of them for many years. Lebanon’s apartheid laws deny Palestinians access to the majority of white collar positions in areas such as banking, medicine, management, law and education.

Like many Arab countries, Lebanon has always been treating Palestinians as third-class citizens. Nearly half a million Palestinians live in Lebanon’s 12 camps. Though born and raised in the country, they are denied political, economic and social rights.

Palestinians cannot attend Lebanese public schools or own property. They do not have access to national health services or the social security system. Checkpoints restricting access to most of the camps, according to the ANERA report, thwart trade and commerce with neighboring counties.

“The refugees live in overcrowded camps and have to deal with discrimination, isolation and social exclusion,” the report states. “The refugees often refer to themselves as ‘forgotten people’ and feel they are living in a hostile environment where their basic human rights are not represented or protected.”

The plight of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and other Arab countries has received little attention in the mainstream media in the West. Although many international aid organizations have been working to assist the Palestinians in the Arab world, Western journalists often turn a blind eye to the misery of these refugees.

The unconscionable condition of the Palestinians in the Arab world will end the day the Arab governments and Palestinian leaders stop lying to them and confront them with reality, namely that they need to get along with their lives and secure a better future for their children. Arab and Palestinian leaders, meanwhile, continue to deceive these people by promising them that if they wait a little longer they will one day “return to the homeland.”

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: Is the Palestinian Authority Losing Control in the West Bank?

Monday, June 18th, 2012

In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority security forces have been launching a massive crackdown on anarchy and lawlessness in various parts of the West Bank.

The crackdown was ordered by Abbas after he discovered what many Palestinians have known for a long time – that his security forces and Fatah loyalists are responsible for the chaos and anarchy.

Palestinians say this is the biggest operation to be carried out by the Western-funded security forces since Mahmoud Abbas was elected to succeed Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority in 2005.

Dozens of Palestinian security officers, some of them holding very high ranks, have thus far been rounded up and transferred to a Palestinian prison in Jericho.

The officers, who were trained and armed by US and EU security experts over the past years, are suspected of involvement in various types of crime, including extortion, armed robbery, kidnappings, physical assaults and fraud. Some of them, according to Palestinian sources in the West Bank, are also suspected of involvement in trafficking weapons and drugs. The clampdown was ordered by Abbas following a series of incidents in Jenin, which reached their peak when unidentified gunmen opened tried to assassinate the Palestinian governor of the city, Kadoura Musa, who was not hurt in the assassination bid, but died a few hours later of a massive heart attack.

Jenin residents said that the assassination attempt provided further evidence that the Palestinian Authority has lost control over their city. They said that for the past few years, Jenin has been under the control of local gangs whose members consisted mostly of former Fatah militiamen and security officers.

The ongoing security crackdown has also resulted in the arrest of scores of Fatah gunmen who were part of the faction’s armed wing, Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

These security officers and Fatah gunmen have been imposing a reign of terror and intimidation on Palestinians not only in Jenin, but in other parts of the West Bank, including Nablus, the largest Palestinian city, and its nearby Balatta refugee camp.

Palestinian security sources say that the crackdown has also resulted in the confiscation of dozens of rifles and pistols, as well as large amounts of ammunition, that were found in the possession of clans, armed gangs and unruly security officers.

But while many Palestinians have expressed satisfaction with the decision to restore law and order, others have, meanwhile, criticized Abbas for acting in a “hysterical” manner.

Abbas’s critics complain that the weapons that his security forces have confiscated were being kept for use against Israel.

In Balatta refugee camp last week, dozens of Palestinians took to the streets, chanting slogans against Abbas and his security forces. The protest drew a harsh response from Abbas, who instructed his security personnel to expand the crackdown inside the camp.

In the short term, the Palestinian Authority may succeed in restoring law and order to areas under its control in the West Bank. But in the long term, the clampdown will increase bitterness and frustration among a large number of Fatah gunmen and security officers who feel betrayed by Abbas.

Abbas loyalists argue that their president if facing an “international conspiracy” aimed at undermining and isolating him because of his refusal to resume peace talks with Israel. According to these loyalists, Abbas’s enemies have been arming and funding disillusioned Fatah gunmen and security officers in a bid to spread anarchy and lawlessness in the West Bank.

Sources close to Abbas have identified the primary enemies as Mohammed Rashid, a former aide to Yasser Arafat, and Mohammed Dahlan, a former Fatah security chief. Both Rashid and Dahlan are currently waging a smear campaign against Abbas and his two businessmen sons, Tarek and Yasser, accusing them of financial corruption and abuse of power.

The security crackdown in the West Bank has nothing to do with combating terrorism. The arrests and confiscation of weapons are part of an effort by the Palestinian Authority to fight crime and dissension within its own ranks.

The clampdown could last for weeks or months. Abbas is fighting to regain control over refugee camps and other Palestinian communities that have fallen into the hands of gangsters and thugs.

In the last week, Abbas has renewed his threat to go back to the UN to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state if Israel does not comply with his demand for a freeze of settlement construction and acceptance of the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of the state. But before he heads back to New York, Abbas will have to prove that he has not lost control over certain parts of the territories which are supposed to be under his jurisdiction.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Unilateral Withdrawal a Recipe for War

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak believes that Israel should consider a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if negotiations with the Palestinian Authority fail to bear fruit.

Under the current circumstances, such a move would lead to the creation of another radical Palestinian Islamic entity, this time in those parts of the West Bank that would be handed over to Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad.

Any land that is handed over to the Palestinian Authority would end up in the hands of Hamas.

In the summer of 2005, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, passing it to Abbas and his 40,000-strong Fatah-dominated security forces.

A few months later, thanks to a free and fair parliamentary election that was held at the request of the US and some EU countries, Hamas came to power.

One of the main reasons Hamas scored a victory in that election was because it took credit for driving Israel out of the Gaza Strip through rockets and suicide bombings.

A year later, in the summer of 2007, it took fewer than 10,000 Hamas militiamen to defeat Abbas’s security forces and bring down the entire Palestinian Authority regime in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas’s rule over the Gaza Strip has since brought more suffering and bloodshed for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Once Israel carries out a unilateral withdrawal, the same scenario is likely to be repeated in the West Bank.

Even though Hamas does not have a strong military presence in the West Bank, the movement seems to enjoy much popularity among Palestinians.

The so-called Arab Spring, which has seen the rise of Islamists to power in a number of Arab countries, has emboldened Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups, such as Islamic Jihad.

These groups have managed to attract many followers by offering themselves as the best alternative to Western-backed corrupt secular dictatorships in the Arab world.

As before, Hamas’s chances of taking over the West Bank are high after the failure of Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction to implement significant reforms or combat rampant corruption.

Fatah lost the 2006 parliamentary election mainly because of its leaders’ involvement in the embezzlement of public funds. Since then, Fatah has failed to draw the conclusions from its defeat and has not even been able to come up with a new list of capable candidates that could attract Palestinian voters.

The same Fatah men who lost the vote are, in fact, continuing to run the show in Ramallah — as if they had never lost.

Even if the Islamists do not take over the West Bank in the aftermath of a unilateral Israeli pullout, it is almost certain that the Palestinian Authority would not be able to prevent local gangs and clans from seizing power.

The case of Jenin, a city in the West Bank, is a good example of the weakness of the Palestinian Authority security forces, especially with regard to imposing law and order: Palestinian Authority officials have admitted that Jenin has been controlled over the past two years by Fatah militiamen and thugs who worked closely with many top Palestinian security officers, imposing a reign of terror and intimidation on the city’s residents.

A unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank could mean that Palestinian cities like Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Bethlehem and Hebron would fall either into the hands of Hamas or armed Fatah gangs.

Abbas and Fayyad would not be able to do much to prevent a return to scenes of anarchy and lawlessness that were once prevalent on the Palestinian street.

The chaos and violence inside the Palestinian cities would also spill over into Israel, forcing it to launch another “Defensive Shield” type of operation, like the one in 2002, to clear the area of armed gangs.

Before withdrawing from any area, Israel needs to make sure that those who would be in charge would not run away, handing the territories to Hamas or any other local gangs. Under the current circumstances, a unilateral and unconditional withdrawal would only be a recipe for more violence and bloodshed and repression.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/khaled-abu-toameh-unilateral-withdrawal-from-west-bank-recipe-for-war/2012/06/10/

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