I wrote recently about my suspicion that Hamas, having acquired sensitive Fatah intelligence in Gaza, might be using that information to extort Fatah to make certain concessions. In her JPost column on Friday, citing MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), Caroline Glick carried this a good deal further. It appears that damaging intelligence acquired from Fatah and shared by Hamas with Iran may be central to the positions now taken by Egypt, Jordan and the Saudis that Abbas should find a way to forge new accords with Hamas — positions that represent a reversal of statements made right after Hamas took Gaza.
Glick calls this "the greatest intelligence victory ever accomplished by a jihadist organization." It is a matter of considerable import.
Rumors are floating in the news fast and furious with regard to negotiations on prisoner trades with Hamas and Hezbollah that would secure the release not only of Gilad Shalit who is in Gaza, but also of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser who are presumably in Lebanon.
I will not report details here as the reports are tentative and even contradictory. This is one of those many "wait and see" situations.
As to prisoners, the Cabinet today approved in principle the release of 250 Fatah prisoners without blood on their hands, which will be carried out to "strengthen" Abbas. All three Shas ministers, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and Israel Beiteinu ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Yitzhak Ahronovich voted against.
The specific names of those to be released are still under discussion. Apparently Fatah wasn’t happy because we were going to release people whose terms were almost up.
The news, in general, is so abysmal that I seek humorous interludes (of a sort) where I can find them. This is one such:
There were supposed to be high school matriculation exams in the PA on Saturday, but they were halted in the Nablus area by scores of gunmen. Why? Because the gunmen weren’t being permitted to take the exams in secret halls and say that as they are wanted by Israel it wasn’t safe to take the exams sitting in public halls.
I read this not once, but twice. And I asked myself (and have no answer): Does this mean the protesting gunmen running around the streets of PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria are 17 and 18 year old high school students? In some instances I am certain they are. But in other instances perhaps they are older but never managed to take their exams before, as they were too busy running around the streets with their guns. They clearly had a lot to occupy them.
These student gunmen are part of Fatah’s Al Aksa Brigades , you should know. Until recently students from the Brigades received special treatment from the PA Ministry of Education. They were not only permitted to take their exams in secret halls, they were allowed to take their guns with them. This is in the PA under Abbas. Do you have the picture?
Now, denied this protection, 100 of these guys went on a rampage, shooting their guns.
A bit hard to imagine? This is life in a lawless PA. Lawless in spite of pledges by Abbas to ban all militias and make them surrender their guns. What I note in particular is that Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades has vociferously rejected calls to surrender arms. Khaled Abu Toameh, in the Post, quotes an Al Aksa Brigades spokesman as saying, "Our weapons are legitimate because they are being used against Israeli occupiers. We reject (PA Prime Minister) Fayad’s attempts to depict us as a militia because we are a legitimate force. We call on President Abbas to stop him and others from attacking us."
So, once again, there you have it: In spite of all Abbas’s declamations to the contrary, it is clear that he has a special connection to the terrorist Brigades.
No laughing matter is the fact that Condoleezza Rice will be coming to town on July 16. With her eagerness to push "peace prospects" and her disregard for Israeli security, she will do us no good.
YNet reports that last week Israeli Defense Minister Barak met secretly with PA Prime Minister Fayyad, as a prelude to meetings between Barak and Abbas.
Fayyad reportedly asked for cessation of Israeli military operations in zone A (which called for full Palestinian control in the Oslo accords) and zone B (which referred to Palestinian civilian control and Israeli security control) so that the situation would revert to the pre-Intifada status.
He’s joking, right? The PA that cannot disarm gunmen who shoot up at matriculation exams wants Israel to pull out of PA areas? As I’ve made clear again and again, Israeli lives are saved on a daily basis by the intelligence and military operations of Israel in all parts of the PA. The notion of stopping this is a horror.
It is being predicted that current political tensions in Lebanon may become violent after July 15. This prediction is based upon information from MEMRI (http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD164807), which cites Arab and Iranian media sources. July 16 is the date on which the UN Security Council is to discuss stationing of international monitors at the Lebanese-Syrian border. Additionally, the Council is set to discuss a key report on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which is likely to point a finger at Syria. To top off this situation, Hezbollah — which is Shiite — has been threatening to form a second government in Lebanon.
Word is that Syria is calling all of its nationals out of Lebanon. What is anticipated is not a war against Israel, but a full scale civil war with the Iranian-backed Shiites — who are determined to gain control — facing down Sunnis, Christians, and Druze. Lebanon has a history of factional instability and civil war. How this might impinge upon Israel is not clear.