Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s decision to free the Hamas leader, Sheikh Achmed Yassin has immediate ramifications for the Oslo process, and also for the future of Israel’s bilateral negotiations with the Palestine Authority, Jordan, Egpyt, Syria and the United States.

From Netanyahu’s point of view, a key factor in Yassin’s release is that Yassir Arafat and the Palestine Authority can never again deny their connection with Yassin or the Hamas.

Until Sheikh Yassin’s triumphal return to Gaza, almost every action of Arafat and the PA were overshadowed by a sympathetic press that usually negated any connection that Arafat or the PA ever had with incitement, fanaticism and terror of the Hamas.

Arafat’s well-oiled public relations system that has served him well for so many years contrasts with Hamas, which makes no pretensions that it is in the business of building an Islamic entity at war with Zionism and the state of Israel. Arafat speaks in two languages. Sheikh Yassin speaks in one.

Well, the “good-cop/bad-cop” game of the Oslo process is over.

From hereon in, Yassir Arafat and Sheikh Yassin will sit shoulder to shoulder and together run the Palestine Authority.

From Netanyahu’s perspective, it serves Israel very well to have a Palestine Authority that openly conducts a relations with the Hamas rather than a PA which maintains those connections with violent Islamic groups and later denies them.

Netanyahu is the most media conscious Israeli prime minister since Israel’s first PM, David Ben Gurion. Bibi recognizes that Israel’s battle is also one of image. Having the world media conjure up the image of a Yassin rather than a Yassir at the head of the PA fosters a new image in the public domain of the world media and in Israeli public opinion.

Perhaps that is why a senior official of Israeli security confirmed to the foreign press only a few days after Yassin’s release that the Israeli intelligence services had already decided to send the Sheikh back to Gaza.

Benyamin Netanyahu was harshly criticized from all sides of the political spectrum for the way in which he has been handling security affairs.

However, Netanyahu is playing for the long run. Israel now has a presidential form of government, with few checks and balances. No longer does the Israeli prime minister have to worry about constant votes of confidence that could topple a government whose popular support seems to be waning. Bibi is not worried about what people say about his security moves in the short run.


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.