Jerusalem – The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, defined by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization, published a flyer on Saturday saying that they would heed the instructions of Palestinian President Abu Mazen (AKA Mahmoud Abbas) and are subject to his command, “as he is the elected president and the legitimate leadership.”
This flyer contradicts the claim made by the spokespeople of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem to The Bulletin on Oct. 13, 2006, that it was an independent organization, not subject to Mr. Abbas or Fatah.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have been involved in dozens of terror attacks and attempted terror attacks over the past year.
As reported from Annapolis in the Nov. 28 edition of The Bulletin, the U.S. State Department is not demanding that Mr. Abbas disband or disarm Al-Aqsa.
The flyer also stated that its members are prepared to repel any Israeli military operation and oppose it by force. The flyer was published on the basis of reports about Israeli plans for a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip, in order to stop the rocket fire and mortar shell at the Negev.
Meanwhile, the Hamas-owned Gaza newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, claims that the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip has been coordinating activity with terrorists from Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Hamas officials are also looking for ways for a new agreement with Fatah, also in preparation for the Israeli operation. The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported that Hamas is holding internal discussions about the possibility of canceling its rule in the Gaza Strip and bringing back the unity government with Fatah.
According to Ma’an, Hamas is holding “incisive internal discussions,” as it put it, in connection with returning the situation in the Gaza Strip to what it had been formerly, “before its military revolution,” and establishing a new Fatah-Hamas government.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia Try To Renew Fatah-Hamas Dialogue
The Hamas leadership in Jordan, Syria and Judea and Samaria will convene next week in the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia for a discussion on the topic. Prince Saud al-Faisal is due to meet Khaled Mashal in Jeddah in order to discuss with him the agreement in the making.
Meanwhile, Hamas and Fatah representatives are expected to arrive soon in Cairo at the invitation of director of Egyptian Intelligence, Gen. Omar Suleiman, reported the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper yesterday morning.
Palestinian sources told the newspaper that Egypt was pressuring Hamas to take the first step toward Fatah as a way of renewing dialogue between the two parties. The Egyptians, said the sources, intend to ask Hamas to evacuate the security buildings they seized control of in their takeover of the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian sources also said that many Fatah officials have been urging PA Chairman Abbas to show flexibility in his dealings with Hamas and that he was prepared to be flexible, his public statements on the matter notwithstanding.
Zahalka: ‘Erase The Two-State Idea’
The opposition among the Israeli Arab leadership in Israel to the state’s definition as a Jewish state has escalated once again.
In the course of a speech that Balad chairman and Member of the Israeli Knesset Jamal Zahalka gave on?Saturday at a conference held by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Mr. Zahalka called on the Palestinian leadership to drop its slogan, “Two states for two peoples.”
Mr. Zahalka took the opportunity of the event to call on the Palestinians and their leaders not to agree to the solution of two states for two peoples, which has been the formal position of the PLO for the past 20 years.
“We demand that you erase the slogan of ‘two states for two peoples,'” said Mr. Zahalka. “We on the inside [in Israel] refuse to recognize that Israel is the Jewish state and we refused to recognize the Jewishness of the state. They [the Israelis] are demanding that so as to gain legitimacy to expel our people and to strip the Palestinian people on the inside of its rights.”
The chairman of Balad also capitalized on the opportunity to call on the Palestinians to mend their rifts and to unite. “This is a call that we direct to you, we the Palestinian Arabs on the inside: retain Palestinian national unity since it is the most precious thing we have,” said Mr. Zahalka.
As the chairman of Balad, a party that was vehemently opposed to the Annapolis conference, Mr. Zahalka warned against the results of that international conference. “What we fear more than anything else is that Annapolis will result in the intensification of the Palestinian rift and any political initiative that might move in that direction is entirely unacceptable.”
Lebanese contractors have begun to construct, with Iranian financing, a new highway from north to south. According to an assessment in the British Daily Telegraph, which reported about the project on Friday, this involves the establishment of a main supply road for Hezbollah.
The road is to be a highway, currently being paved, instead of a narrow road. The road will connect the Bekaa Valley with the Jezzine area, and from there to Nabatea in the south, so that the south and the Bekaa Valley, two areas populated by Shiites, will soon be connected to a highway, after having been cut off in the wake of the war. The contractors who were hired to construct the new highway are being paid double the standard amount.
The final part of the project is already in advanced stages: Approximately one year ago Shiite tycoons purchased land from Druze and Sunnis, with the purpose of establishing two Shiite villages along it.
It is believed that these villages are intended to create a contiguous Shiite strip in order to provide support and assistance to combatants traveling along the highway.
Iran claims that this is only a humanitarian project as part of an effort to rehabilitate Lebanon following the war.
However, Lebanese officials doubt this. “The Iranians are playing with fire,” said attorney Simon Karam, originally from the Christian village of Jezzine and a former Lebanese ambassador to the U.S. “Whoever remembers the civil war knows that the rivalry between the various groups is part of our past. But it seems that Iran is making this into part of our future.”
The Daily Telegraph asserts that Iran’s envoys in Lebanon will not forget to hang very clear signs along the new road to remind everyone who financed the project. “There is no problem with Iran’s financial contributions to Lebanon, especially after the war,” said a Druze leader. “But this money must be given to the government, which should be the one to decide how it is to be spent.”
©The Bulletin 2007