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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Arab journalist: Don't Rush to support Abbas, he is not in control

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/06/arab-journalist-dont-rush-to-support.html

Conference Call with Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh

Ellen Schor sent us this account of a conference call with journalist Abu Toameh a few days ago.


Highlights:

Regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Abu Toameh has not heard about anyone starving in the Gaza strip and there is no shortage of water and fuel, Drinking water is supplied by Israel, which is continuing to send water.

"Abu Toameh warns the United States and Israel not to rush to support Abbas, since it is not sure that Abbas will be able to control the West Bank. He said Abbas has failed to take action and failed to reform his party. Money given to Abbas didn't go into the right hands. The conflict in the Gaza strip was over money and power. There were bad guys fighting bad guys."

...

His concern is that Abu Mazen will continue to fail as a leader, as he has not learned from the election nor from the military action in Gaza. He has to convince Palestinians that he can reform the party and get rid of corrupt leaders. He does not see this trend occurring.

He feels Abbas' position is that of "Give me more money or you will get Hamas".

In the future, the West Bank may accept Hamas, as they have enforced law and order. Fatah is not united now. It is still in turmoil and is still weak.

Ami Isseroff

Friends:

This morning I participated in a conference call with Khaled Abu Toameh in Jerusalem. I would like to share the words of this veteran outstanding journalist, who specializes in Palestinian Affairs.

He said the security level now is calm. There has been no fighting on the ground since Friday.

As we have heard, the United States and Israel will release the financial restrictions on the Fatah government in the West Bank. Currently, there is hope and optimism in the West Bank, The question is what will happen to the 1.4 million Palestinians living in Gaza. Will Abu Mazen, the head of Fatah succeed in controlling the West Bank? We do not know what will happen to Gaza. Will there be extreme isolation of Hamas resulting in shortages in food, medicine, fuel, etc.?

Regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Abu Toameh has not heard about anyone starving in the Gaza strip and there is no shortage of water and fuel, Drinking water is supplied by Israel, which is continuing to send water.

He feels that the West Bank will give aid to the Palestinians living in Gaza.

Regarding Gaza's financial situation, Hamas has been smuggling millions of dollars into Gaza for the last 1 1/2 years. This money comes from donations, the last donation is from Yemen. 50 million dollars has been raised for the Gaza strip.

Some questions that arise: Sharia law is one of the main points included in the constitution. Will Hamas impose a Taliban style in the Gaza Strip? The Palestinians there are very religious and conservative. If public beheadings are staged in public squares and hands are chopped off for thievery, Abu Toameh predicts they will lose the support of the people.

He does not believe that the emergence of an Islamic Republic between Egypt and Israel will become a military threat, so there shouldn't be a security problem for Israel. Hamas will want to show the world that they are capable of governing and establishing law and order.

Olmert is presently in the United State to consult with Bush. He said they will have to determine what can be done to contain Gaza and if they want to boost Abu Mazen in the West Bank. He thinks Israel might be safer now. The number of rockets aimed at Israel from Gaza has dramatically stopped. He says that Hamas wants to be in full control and they do not want to drag Israel into the conflict.

He tells us that Hamas has been confiscating arms from huge clans. Jordan is sending food and medicine that come through Egypt.

He reports that the Palestinians have mixed reactions to Hamas being in control. He hasn't seen any Palestinians shedding tears over Fatah's loss. Perhaps they don't really miss the Palestinian Authority or perhaps, they are afraid to talk. Abu Toameh states that they believe that United States' and Israel's backing of Mahmoud Abbas is really a conspiracy to pull down their democratically voted government.

A reporter from the Daily News asked whether the West Bank will join with Jordan. Abu Toameh responded that Jordan has 80% Palestinians in their Hashemite Kingdom and they don't feel they need any more.

Abu Toameh warns the United States and Israel not to rush to support Abbas, since it is not sure that Abbas will be able to control the West Bank. He said Abbas has failed to take action and failed to reform his party. Money given to Abbas didn't go into the right hands. The conflict in the Gaza strip was over money and power. There were bad guys fighting bad guys.

Now is the time to extract promises from Abbas, if he is given money. Abu Toameh says that he must get rid of Fatah's gangsters and reform his party. He needs a new list of people in the government and he must offer Palestinians a better authority.

Answering a questions about the fate of Christians in the Gaza strip, he said it was not clear if Hamas was behind the attack on a Latin church. Masked gunman were involved. He said there are less than 3000 Christians in the Gaza Strip. In April, a Christian Book Store was attacked. The Christians are not only being pressured to leave the Gaza Strip, but also the Christians in Bethlehem, Ramallah and other areas.

Answering a question about Hamas building up an army and attacking the West Bank, Abu Toameh said Hamas has many supports in that area. Instead of an army attacking, he thinks sleeping cells of Hamas will wake up in the West Bank.

His concern is that Abu Mazen will continue to fail as a leader, as he has not learned from the election nor from the military action in Gaza. He has to convince Palestinians that he can reform the party and get rid of corrupt leaders. He does not see this trend occurring.

He feels Abbas' position is that of "Give me more money or you will get Hamas".

In the future, the West Bank may accept Hamas, as they have enforced law and order. Fatah is not united now. It is still in turmoil and is still weak.

He said that in the Middle East, you go to sleep with one reality and wake up with a different reality.

Palestinians have never been so divided, Toameh noted. The dream of a Palestinian state is as remote as ever. He wonders how America and Israel will deal with the new reality. He asks can you really ignore Hamas now that it is in power? What to do about the 1.4 million people who live there?

Abu Toameh said the emerging government is composed of good guys, most of whom are technocrats who can run the affairs of their ministries.

He concluded by saying the firing that came from Lebanon is an attempt by certain Palestinians to provoke Israelis to return to Lebanon, so the attention will move away from the Gaza Strip.

Jennifer Lazlo Mizrahi of the Israel Project, which sponsored this conference call, concluded the conversation by bringing up the fortieth anniversary of the Six Day War, the consequences of which are still being faced. She said it is very hard to assess what this new "Six Day War" in Gaza will bring.

Ellen Schor

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