Monday night, Israel's Foreign Minister Tzippy Livni met with Machmud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen.
Abbas has two identities, both of which he inherited from his mentor, Yassir Arafat: the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the political entity that represents the Palestinian Arab people in negotiations with Israel and the rest of the world; and as the head of the Fateh Al Aksa Brigades, defined by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization which continues to conduct violent actions against the state and people of Israel.
Monday, only a few hours before the Livni-Abbas meeting, Abbas' Al Aksa Brigades took responsibility for firing mortar rounds into the Israel's Western Negev city of Sderot, where two people were injured and hospitalized.
Since Israel's dismantlement of the Jewish communities in the Katif sector of Gaza, Arab terrorist organizations have conducted 930 missile attacks on the Western Negev, according to statistics compiled by the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson's office. Al Aksa has been one of the prime terror groups that have instigated these attacks.
Over the past six months, Al Aksa has taken responsibility for a series of lethal attacks in Israel, including the attack in a Tel Aviv restaurant on April 19th, where 10 people were killed, including an American teenager, Daniel Wultz.
Before the Livni-Abbas meeting, The Evening Bulletin posed the following questions to Livni, through her spokesperson, Ido Aharoni, and through the spokesperson of the Israel Foreign Ministry, Mr. Mark Regev.
Those questions were:
1. Did Livni rebuke Abbas for formally endorsing Hezbollah, as reported and confirmed by the "Voice of Israel" Radio and confirmed by both The Evening Bulletin and by Israel Resource News Agency?
(In an interview on al Arabiya TV on Aug. 6, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas voiced strong support for "the resistance" in Lebanon. Abbas said that he and his people "definitely perceive the resistance in Lebanon as noble Arab resistance.")
2. Will Livni ask that Abbas cancel his school curriculum, as translated at www.intelligence.org.il/eng/default.htm, which trains school children of the PA to make war on Israel, with no recognition whatsoever of the Jewish state?
3. Since Abbas is the head of the Al Aksa Brigades, will Livni rebuke Abbas for Al Aksa taking credit for murder attacks and for mortar attacks on Sderot?
4. Will Livni raise any issue concerning the news report that Abbas will name Khaled Mashal, leader of Hamas as his no.2?
Following the Livni-Abbas meeting, Aharoni gave a telephone interview with The Evening Bulletin in which he responded to these questions posed the day before. The quotes are from Aharoni.
The questions inserted are from this reporter.
1. "The issue of Hezbollah did not come up during the meeting."
And Abbas's support for Hezbollah?
"This also did not come up"
2. "The school curriculum of the Palestinian Authority did not come up. There is only so much time allotted for meetings like this."
3. "Abbas accepted the idea that Hamas must cease all terror activity." What about the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which is under Abbas' direct command?
"Abbas accepted the idea in principle that all terror has to cease. There was no direct mention of Al Aksa Brigades."
4. "We are looking into the news story that Abbas will be appointing Mashal as his number two." Israeli Foreign Minister Livni, however, had this upbeat statement, which she made to the "Voice of Israel" Radio news reel following her meeting with Abbas:
"...We have progressed quite a bit with the Palestinians in past years, since the beginning of the peace process, based on the idea of two nations. If we now ignore the fact that at the head of the government of the Palestinian Authority is a Hamas government, we will find ourselves going backward and facing a situation in which this government does not recognize our existence. If we want to establish any kind of political process it must start at a point of mutual agreement."
Dr. Aaron Lerner, the director of IMRA (Independent Media Review and Analysis), an on-line news service, challenged FM Livni's statement of progres with the following items:
Before: Lightly armed and poorly coordinate local terror groups that were subject to a constant struggle to survive as they operate from within areas under the control of the IDF.
Progress: Heavily armed groups equipped with rockets, anti-aircraft missiles, massive tunnel networks, coordinated assaults, etc. Many of them are drawing salaries from the PA and enjoying support from various foreign countries and groups as they operate from within areas under Palestinian control.
Before: Right for Israel to insist on both an end to terror activities and a clearing out of illegal weapons as a precondition for "progress" considered reasonable (though Palestinian noncompliance typically ignored).
Progress: The "Prisoner's Document", now presented by the Fateh, "focuses" armed attacks against Israel to the "occupied territories" and puts all terrorists on the PA payroll.
Livni has been in her position as the foreign minister of Israel for five months. She had no previous experience in any diplomatic role on behalf of the State of Israel.
©The Bulletin 2006