Jerusalem – One of the cardinal assumptions of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was that the world would not recognize a government headed by Hamas. She had been proven wrong, because Mahmoud Abbas has successfully sold the idea to the world, since he is the figurehead leader of that government.

Last Thursday, Abbas met with the Swedish prime minister in Stockholm. Following the meeting, Abbas said that he found that there was a positive atmosphere that tended toward lifting the economic siege on the Palestinian government. Saeb Erekat, the director of negotiations in the Palestinian Authority, said last week that the PLO recently signed an agreement with SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, that the latter would donate $25 million in aid to the Palestinian people in addition to the aid that Sweden transfers to the Palestinian people by means of UNRWA and other international organizations.

Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr said last week that a number of countries, like France, Spain and Norway, intend to normalize their relations with the Palestinian government.

Different voices are beginning to be heard in the United States as well. While the U.S. administration is prevented by law from helping a government that is headed by a member of Hamas, which was defined by the United States as a terrorist organization, a spokeswoman for the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem said last week that financial relations with the PLO were not a violation of American law. She was referring to the possibility that the United States might take steps against the PLO similar to the ones being taken against the Hamas government, particularly in light of the recent Palestinian efforts to revive the PLO and the possibility of placing Hamas and Islamic Jihad under the PLO umbrella.

Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayad met last Wednesday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington to discuss the financial restrictions currently placed on the Palestinian government.

Following the meeting, Fayad said that the secretary of state was understanding of the government’s needs to manage its banking affairs without restrictions in order to ensure transparency. Fayad said that the minimum sum the Palestinian government needed to get through 2007 was $ 1.8 billion.

Yet the U.S. government behaves as if this is not a Hamas government, when that is exactly what it is.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2007

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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: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.