Jerusalem – The al-Hayat newspaper, known as the voice of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, reported yesterday Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, has asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to put the results of the negotiations with Israel in writing and give the document to her successors.
Her visit ended on Tuesday evening, after she finished her scheduled meetings. Contrary to Israeli expectations, Ms. Rice decided to repeatedly condemn continuing Israeli construction on the West Bank around Hebron, the Jordan Valley, Bethlehem, Beit El, Nablus and East Jerusalem.
Her meeting with Mr. Abbas brought even terser language. There she described the construction as having damaged the atmosphere under which the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are being held.
What surprised Israeli policymakers was Ms. Rice’s failure to distinguish between American opposition to the expansion of a Jewish community in the Jordan Valley and the current construction plans in the area of Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
PA Operates Abduction Unit In Jerusalem
The Middle East Newsline has confirmed the Palestinian Authority (PA) has established a unit aimed at abducting dissidents in Jerusalem.
Israel has identified a branch of the PA police its says has been abducting Palestinians from Jerusalem. The unit has been kidnapping dissidents and their children from Israel’s capital and bringing them to their police headquarters in Ramallah, located on the West Bank.
Jerusalem Police detected the PA abduction unit, which operates in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem in violation of an agreement between Israel and the PA forbidding them from doing so.
In early August, Jerusalem police arrested several suspected. The detainees were identified as residents of the UNRWA Palestinian refugee camp in Shuafat, located in northern Jerusalem.
Members of the abduction team raided Palestinian homes in the guise of being PA police officers, after which they were taken away to the PA police headquarters for interrogation.
In July, the PA unit abducted a Palestinian Christian woman and her two children from their home in Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood.
The woman was taken to the Ramallah residence of her ex-husband, identified as being close to the PA. The woman was then forced to sign an agreement to provide the Palestinian father with visitation rights.
The PA abduction unit operated in conjunction with the ruling Fatah movement. According to reports, a senior Fatah operative in the UNRWA refugee camp of Shuafat approved the kidnappings.
The American and Israeli governments, which provide funds and support to the PA’s security apparatus have consistently declined comment on the tactics used by the PA against its own people.
Barak: Egypt Will Play Decisive Role In Freeing Israeli P.O.W.
Israelis Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Egypt has a major role to play in the recovery of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He remains in Hamas custody in an undisclosed location in the Gaza Strip.
“From Israel’s point of view, freeing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is a mission of the first importance,” Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak said last night to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during their meeting in Alexandria, Egypt.
Mr. Barak expressed appreciation for Egypt’s efforts to prevent arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip, saying the efforts were bearing fruit, but adding more efforts must be made to further limit arms trafficking.
The Israeli defense minister thanked the Egyptian president for his country’s efforts to consolidate the cease-fire in Gaza, stressing every violation of the truce, even isolated or sporadic ones were unacceptable.
Gilad Shalit also came up during Mr. Barak’s meeting with Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman.
Senior Hamas members report a bitter controversy between Cairo and Hamas over its decision to freeze the talks on Gilad Shalit. They told the Reuters news agency that Hamas was furious because Cairo still refused to host talks about opening the Rafah crossing. One Hamas official said he did not think there would be a breakthrough in the current round of talks.
Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri admitted a rift exists between Hamas and Cairo on issues related to Mr. Shalit and the Rafah crossing, but he stressed Hamas is interested in maintaining good relations with Egypt.
During the visit to Alexandria, Barak had lunch with Mr. Mubarak. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, director of the Political-Security Staff in the Defense Ministry Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad and Shalom Cohen, Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, also attended. Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman, Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit were among the Egyptian delegation. Mr. Barak also visited a synagogue in Alexandria and met the few surviving members of the Jewish community. Most of the once 100,000 strong Egyptian Jewish community was driven out by the Egyptians as a result of the 1948, 1956 and 1967 wars.
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008