Jerusalem – Within the space of a few hours, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and the British House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee called for a change in the international community’s policy of boycotting Hamas.

Prodi, who is considered to be a friend of Israel, said that “we need to recognize that Hamas exists. It’s a complex structure that we should help to evolve. One must push for dialogue so that it happens and not shut anyone out of dialogue.”

Prodi also intends to establish political relations with Hamas leadership, in opposition to the position maintained by the European Union, to which Italy belongs.

Israel officials were surprised by Prodi’s statements, who recently visited Israel and presented a firm position against dialogue with Hamas. Senior foreign ministry officials are afraid that more countries will follow suit before the international conference is held this November.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday responded to the European statements: “Hamas represents an ideology that does not serve the national Palestinian interest and undermines the chances for reaching a solution of two nation states.”

Meanwhile, Livni spoke with Qatar Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani about regional developments in general and the Palestinian issue in particular. Livni underscored that Israel would insist that Hamas not be permitted to take part in the political process unless it adopted the three threshold conditions that were set by the Quartet. Officials in Livni’s circle said that Al-Thani did not dispute Livni’s position. They deduced that there might be Arab states that support Israel’s position.

U.S. Congressional Visit To The PA

Eighteen Democratic congressmen visited with the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership in Ramallah yesterday morning and returned to their hotel in Jerusalem to hold a conference on their glowing impressions of their meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salman Fayyad. “There is reason for hope,” said the delegation leader, Rep. Steny Hoyer, who went on to say that “the PA leadership is opposed to terrorism and will vigorously act against it.”

The Bulletin asked about verifying the PA commitment to peace and reconciliation, considering that the PA armed forces continue their warlike activities against Israel and that the new Palestinian Authority textbooks read like war-training manuals.

Hoyer, in response, said that he was indeed concerned about the communications that the PA issues to its people and the need for tolerance.

Hoyer was also asked for his reaction to Rep. Eric Cantor, who led a Republican delegation to the Middle East last week and issued a scathing statement after it had been discovered that Fayyad, who is also the treasurer of the PA, has paid salaries of Hamas officials from funds that the PA had received from the U.S. and Israel. Hoyer said that he had received assurances from Israeli and American officials that “this was only a bureaucratic mistake.” There were chuckles in the Israeli press in response to this explanation.

Hoyer repeated that the U.S. Congress would have to determine whether the PA had upheld its commitments to stop its involvement in terror and to cease incitement on the official airwaves of the PA media.

In terms of incitement, only a few hours after Hoyer’s press conference, Abbas denounced Israeli military action in Gaza against Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists as a “well-planned vicious Israeli massacre.”

Indeed, following seven Palestinian rockets attacks from Gaza over the past three days, Israeli army ground forces, backed up by helicopters, intensified land operations in southern Gaza against Hamas and Islamic Jihad command posts.

Ten Palestinians were killed and 14 wounded yesterday as Israeli soldiers came under fire in the Arab village of Khan Yunis. Islamic Jihad said six of its members were killed in the latest Israel Air Force strike in the town. The IDF confirmed it carried out the air strike, saying that it targeted Palestinian terrorists in the area.

During the activity, Israeli forces discovered various weapons, including a suicide explosive belt and an explosive device. Approximately 100 suspected Palestinians were questioned by security forces, some of whom taken to Israel for questioning.

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.

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