Jerusalem – While sources in the Israeli government assert that the formation of a new Hamas-Fatah government in the Palestinian Authority will immediately put an end to peace negotiations with Israel, no Israeli government source was ready to make any comment on the record concerning the accord that was signed between Hamas and Fatah in Yemen this week.

Israel’s decision-makers are worried about how the international community will respond to the accord.

The fear in Israel is that part of the international community will view such an agreement as the lesser evil, with which one has to do business.

Therefore, there is considerable concern in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry over the erosion of the Quartet’s position that there have to be three threshold conditions – denounce terror, recognize Israel and recognize previous agreements – and over the prospect that the Quartet may turn a blind eye to Hamas joining a Palestinian government.

The Quartet includes the U.S., the E.U., the U.N. and Russia as arbiters of Middle East negotiations.

“The contacts in themselves prove that there is no real difference between the Palestinian organizations,” said a Likud member of the Knesset, Gilad Erdan. “They are all connected with terrorism against Israeli civilians.”

National Union member of the Knesset Efraim Eitam noted that “the rapprochement between the two organizations proves that Fatah is and remains an organization that supports and favors terrorism.” Eitam added that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s reliance on Fatah was futile, because they had been shown to be unreliable.

Egypt Speaks Out Against Syria ‘Due to Crisis in Lebanon’

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is expected to announce that he will not attend the summit of Arab League leaders, which will convene this coming Saturday in Syria.

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal, which first reported Mubarak’s decision yesterday, stated that the reason was the “negative role being played by Syria in the crisis in Lebanon.”

The Egyptian president’s decision to refrain from attending the Arab League’s annual summit is a blatant message to Syria that Egypt does not support Damascus’ meddling in Lebanon. Syria, together with Iran, is behind Hezbollah in its opposition to the appointment of Lebanese Chief of Staff Michel Suleiman as president. Hezbollah and its fellow opposition member General Michel Aoun are not opposed to Suleiman in principle but have made his election contingent on fundamental changes in Fouad Siniora’s government.

However, commentators believe that Mubarak’s decision is also intended to “punish” Syria for the role that it is playing in the Palestinian arena, particularly in light of its behind-the-scenes support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which pose a threat to the Egyptian border in Gaza.

The tension in Gaza has led the Egyptians to invest itself in efforts to attaining a truce between Palestinian armed factions and Israel.

Egyptian sources told the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat yesterday that Israel had conveyed a message to Cairo saying it was willing for a year-long declared truce. According to the report, the Israeli message was conveyed to the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in their meeting with the Egyptians over the weekend at the Rafah crossing.

Tension between IAF and Lockheed-Martin

The discovery of carcinogenic vapor in one of the Sufa [F-16] warplanes has led to tension between the Israel Air Force (IAF) and the American manufacturer of the plane, Lockheed-Martin. The view in the IDF is that the cause lies in a structural defect in the aircraft, while the company says it is probably due to defective maintenance.

The IAF reported the problem to the manufacturer, and together they decided to set up what is called a Tiger Team of company engineers and IAF technical experts to examine the plane. Because no complaints have been received from other countries flying this model of the F-16 and also because the Sufa carries Israeli-manufactured systems, the company believes that the fault lies in the maintenance rather than the structure.

On the other hand, the maintenance wing of the IAF, headed by Brig. Gen. Dr. Yaakov Bortman, is regarded as one of the best in the world on account of its strict enforcement of procedures. “Aircraft maintenance in the IAF is viewed as one of the best in the world, by virtue of the human resources of the IDF,” says combat navigator Col. (res.) Yehoar Gal.

“The aim in setting up the special team is to examine the plane and find the fault quickly, since this fighter plane is the spearhead of the IDF,” a security official explained. “The matter has aroused interest not only in Israel but also in Greece, Poland and the United States, who also benefit from the F-16.”

Experts in the IAF equipment wing have already ruled out several possible sources of the defect and are now concentrating on two systems of the plane – the air conditioning and the oxygen supply.

“I have been flying various planes for decades, and I have never encountered eye irritation or a burning sensation,” Gal said. “The decision to ground the Sufa was the right one.”

©The Bulletin 2008

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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.