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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Report: Announcement on Shalit deal soon

If Israel gets the body of Gilad Shalit, are we obligated to end the blockade of Gaza and release prisoners?

Sources: Announcement on Prisoner Exchange Deal Close12/09/2009

By Abdul Sattar Hatita and Ihab Hussein

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat - Egyptian and Israeli sources stated Friday that Cairo and Tel Aviv are close to reaching agreements on developments in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, at the heart of which is the prisoner exchange deal between the two sides. The sources also stated that these agreements would be made public following a meeting between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

In this regard, the sources also referred to important meetings between Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, Israeli negotiator Haggai Hadas and head of the Hamas politburo Khaled Meshaal on the "prisoner exchange deal." They added that the fact that the Israeli Interior Minister will be accompanying Netanyahu on his visit to Cairo is a good indication, from the practical side, that a prisoner exchange deal will be reached soon.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hadas' visit to Cairo lasted many hours and he met Omar Suleiman and a number of his senior aides in order to discuss the details of the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The sources said "the Egyptian President will meet Netanyahu and his delegation over Iftar [the breaking of the fast in Ramadan] in Heliopolis, Cairo, in order to discuss developments in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, the prisoner exchange and bilateral ties between Tel Aviv and Cairo."

On his part, North Sinai Governor Major General Mohammed Abdul Fadil Shousha said that Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing to Palestinian pilgrims trying to make their way to Saudi Arabia. An official at the Rafah border crossing said that Egyptian authorities will open the crossing again next Tuesday for three days so that hundreds of stranded Palestinians on both sides could cross and spend Eid al Fitr with their relatives in the Gaza Strip.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Is Egypt getting serious about Gaza smuggling?

Last update - 00:08 01/01/2009       
Sources: Egypt begins installing cameras, sensors at Gaza border
By News Agencies
Egypt has begun installing cameras and motion sensors along its border with the Gaza Strip to try to combat smuggling to the Hamas-run territory, security sources said on Saturday.
The sources said Egyptian authorities had begun installing the equipment two days ago with joint U.S., French and German expertise, and added that they hoped the sensors and cameras would help detect any tunnel construction in the border area.
"Cables that are part of a tunnel detection device are being installed along the Gaza-Egypt border," a security source said, adding the cables were being installed from south of Rafah to the Mediterranean coast.
The source said some cameras and sensors had already been installed, and the cameras would be connected by the cables.
For the 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip, the tunnels have become a main source of goods, including fuel, since Israel tightened its embargo after Hamas seized control of Gaza from the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.
Israel bombed the tunnels during its recent 22-day Gaza offensive, and the Israel Defense Forces fears Hamas could use them to re-arm. But many tunnels have sophisticated systems and seem to have survived weeks of Israeli bombardment.
Roughly 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the Gaza offensive before both sides declared an end to the fighting on January 18. Israel says its offensive was aimed at halting Hamas rocket attacks on its southern communities.
Egypt, which has kept its Rafah border crossing with the territory largely closed, has agreed to help stop the tunnel smuggling with international technical assistance.
But no firm plan is yet in place as Israel and Hamas argue through Egyptian mediators about installing a longer term ceasefire that would meet Israel's demands for shutting off the arms supply and Hamas' demands for an easing of the blockade.

Egypt arrests politician for sneaking into Gaza
A security official says a former Egyptian opposition lawmaker has been arrested for allegedly using a smuggling tunnel to sneak into Gaza.
The official says Magdi Ahmed Hussein was arrested Saturday after showing up at the Egyptian-Gaza border crossing in Rafah without a passport. He says Hussein crossed into Gaza through an underground tunnel about two weeks ago.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the press.
Hussein is a banned Labor Party politician and former parliamentarian who has led several anti-government protests in the past. The party confirmed his arrest on its Web site but said Hussein traveled into Gaza through a hole in the border fence.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Real reason for "breaking the siege" in Gaza?

Hamas worked for months to break open the Rafah border. Are we sure they did it for humanitarian reasons?

Egypt arrests 12 Hamas planning Sinai attack

Egyptian authorities arrested 12 Hamas terrorists planning an attack on Israelis in the Sinai Desert.

Israeli reports quoted Egyptian media as saying on Friday that the men, from two separate terrorist cells, were arrested with weapons and explosives near Egypt's breached border with the Gaza Strip.

They were planning attacks on Israelis who flock to the Sinai's Red Sea shore.

Hamas gunmen blew open the border last week to allow Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip to leave. Israel has blockaded Gaza in a bid to stop rocket attacks on Israel's south.

Soon after the breach, Israel issued its citizens a travel warning advising against Sinai travel.


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Egypt pledges to seal Gaza border - or will they?

Other sources state explicitly that Egypt refuses to close the border. Which is true?
Time will tell.


Egypt pledges to seal Gaza border

Published: January 24, 2008, 09:38


Washington: Egypt has assured the US that it will soon close off it's border with the Gaza strip to prevent Palestinians from desperately trying to enter the country to access goods they can't afford or gain access to in their closed-off territory, said Arab and US officials.

Washington has expressed its concern over the high number of Palestinians pouring into Egypt from the impoverished seaside territory controlled by Hamas militants.

The US has refrained from criticizing Egypt's response to the influx of Palestinians or Israel's role in sealing its much larger borders with Gaza.

It is estimated that around 50,000 people had crossed through breaches in border barrier by late Wednesday afternoon.

Egypt expects the exodus to end by midday Thursday and has pledged to rebuild a border barrier smashed by Hamas militants.

Deteriorating conditions in Gaza have complicated new U.S.-backed peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians, although US officials said Wednesday there was no sign that the outlook of the talks had been worsened.

Israel has come under international criticism for sealing off Gaza as a pressure tactic to curb Hamas militants who occupied the region in June.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dichter: Egypt strengthening Hamas at the expense of PA

Egypt allowing Hamas to amass arms'

Rebecca Anna Stoil , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 18, 2007
Thirty years after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Israel, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter accused Egypt on Sunday of knowingly permitting smuggling that strengthens Hamas. He called on the Quartet to intervene and force Egypt to stop the steady stream of men and materiel through the porous Rafah border.
"Egypt understands the situation and they know that the continuation of smuggling is strengthening Hamas and weakening the PA," Dichter said in a phone interview. "After Oslo and especially after the intifada, when smuggling started to be the trend, everybody thought that Egypt was going to play its role….but Egypt is doing practically nothing," he complained.
Dichter emphasized that Israel had given ample chances to Egypt to prevent smuggling across the Rafah border - even allowing Egypt's Border Brigade - a paramilitary police unit under army command - to be positioned along the sensitive area. At times, upwards of 5,000 Egyptian troops had been stationed along the Egyptian side of the Philadelphi Corridor but - according to Dichter - to no avail.
"Egypt could deploy to stop the smuggling within an hour," said the former Shin Bet chief, who specialized in the Gaza sector. "What we previously perceived as weakness or inability to act may be Egyptian policy," he explained - adding that the smuggling seemed to serve no one's interest other than that of Hamas.
Weapons, drugs and what Dichter described as Iranian-trained terrorists were smuggled across the border, mostly through tunnels dug deep in Rafah's sandy soil.
But 30 years after the two countries opened neighborly discourse, Dichter said that he did not believe that Israel could do anything to convince the Egyptians to change their lax policy toward border infiltrations.
"Israel doesn't have strong leverage against Egypt, but other countries such as the US or coalitions such as the Quartet should use the leverage that they have to convince Egypt to stop the smuggling," Dichter suggested. He emphasized that he hoped the topic would be discussed at the upcoming summit in Annapolis. "I hope it will be discussed because it has a lot to do with the stability of the entire area," he said.
In lieu of acting to stop the smuggling through talking to Egypt, Dichter said that there were three directions through which Israel could confront Hamas's growing capabilities in Gaza.
First, he said, Israel must create a deterrent factor to raise the cost of engaging in terror acts against Israel such as the Kassams fired at the Western Negev. Second, the further enhancement of Hamas's capabilities should be blocked. "If not by Egypt," warned Dichter, "then it must be done by Israel." Dichter described these first two steps as "immediate," whereas he termed the third step - "to harm and reduce Hamas's capabilities" - as "the most complicated."
"The problem isn't just about Israel's security, but also that of the PA and of Egypt itself…. Hamas did in the Gaza Strip what Abbas said that he wanted to do throughout the PA. Gaza is united under one leadership: Hamas; one law: Islamic law; and one gun: Hamas's army that they are building there."

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Friday, August 31, 2007

The peace dividend: Egyptian Actors' Union to probe movie star working with Israeli

Was it worth giving up all of Sinai for this? Remember, dear US taxpayer, that the US gives Egypt $2 billion a year in military aid.
Last update - 09:24 31/08/2007    
By The Associated Press

The chairman of Egypt's Actors' Union said Thursday that the group planned to investigate one of the country's brightest young movie stars for appearing in an upcoming miniseries with an Israeli actor.
The controversy began when the group discovered that Amr Waked, who starred in the Hollywood film Syriana, was in Tunisia filming a four part series on Saddam Hussein's life opposite Yigal Naor, an Israeli of Iraqi descent.
"We found out Amr Waked was participating in a movie with an Israeli artist and so when he returns from abroad he will be investigated," union chairman Ashraf Zaki said. "The Actors' Union here is against normalization with Israel."

Media and artistic circles in Egypt remain deeply opposed to improving cultural relations with Israel even though the country is one of only two Arab nations that has made peace with Israel.
Nearly a dozen articles have appeared over the past week condemning Waked for participating in the series, titled Between Two Rivers and backed by the British Broadcasting Corporation and Home Box Office.
"Who will hold Amr Waked accountable?" read a headline Monday in Egypt's opposition daily el-Wafd.
Zaki said Waked would be questioned by a committee made up of two members of the union's board and a senior judge from the country's Administrative Court.
Waked declined to comment on the upcoming investigation, but in earlier interviews with Egyptian media, the actor said he did not know the nationalities of every person involved in the project.
The Egyptian actor also indicated he has no intention of leaving the series, in which he plays the role of Saddam's son-in-law Hussein Kamel, who defected from Iraq to Jordan but eventually returned and was executed.
Naor, who played a Palestinian character in Steven Spielberg's film Munich, stars as Saddam in the series. Many in the Egyptian press found it disturbing that an Israeli was playing the former Iraqi leader, who is still lionized by many Arab nationalists.
Though Egypt was the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, professional and artistic associations have resisted opening up to Israel, citing the continued occupation of Palestinian lands.
Anti-Israeli sentiment flared in the country during the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000, much of it led by left wing academics and artists who have long been Israel's fiercest critics in Egypt.
"The [film] industry is in general very left wing and stays away from normalization as a whole," said Richard Woffenden, the former cultural editor of the local Cairo Times weekly.
Woffenden, who hailed Waked's emergence onto the Egyptian film scene in 2001 as part of a new generation of Egyptian actors, noted that he was one of the few Egyptians in recent years to surmount the language barrier and cross over to Western films.
Egyptian actor Khaled el-Nabawy appeared briefly in Ridley Scott's crusader movie Kingdom of Heaven - for which he was also criticized by the Egyptian media.
The investigation could have serious ramifications for Waked's career in Egypt, where the majority of his films are still made.
When Egyptian actress Sawsan Badr appeared in the 1980 film Death of a Princess about Saudi Arabia, it caused a furor for allegedly being anti-Arab, and it was years before she appeared again in an Egyptian film.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Egyptian Grand Mufti: Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a Fiction, and I never endorsed them

This is a remarkable and important statement.
The Grand Mufti of Egypt in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram:
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – a "fictitious book" that "has no truth to it"; in his article he categorically denies having written the foreword to the 2003 edition of The Protocols , which was attributed to him
January 2007

Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, denies having written the foreword to The Protocols, which is a "fictitious book" that "has no truth to it" (Al-Ahram, January 1, 2007 )

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and their Biblical and Talmudic Roots (an edition published in Egypt in 2003). The book's anti-Semitic foreword was thought to have been written by Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt

1. In 2003, a new edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, titled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and their Biblical and Talmudic Roots, was published in Arabic in Egypt . That edition was published jointly by Dr. Ahmad Hijazi al-Saqa (Professor of Comparative Theology in Al-Azhar University ), and Hisham Khadr (a journalist working for Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq). That edition of The Protocols was—and, in our opinion, still is—distributed among Arab/Muslim communities in Britain and, in all likelihood, in other countries outside of Egypt.

2. The 2003 edition of The Protocols features a detailed foreword attributed to Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt and Lecturer of Islamic Jurisprudence Sources in Al-Azhar University . The foreword contains blatant incitement against the Jewish people and rules that it was the Jews who wrote The Protocols. Such a foreword provided that edition with an air of Islamic religious dignity and authority.

3. On January 1, 2007 , more than three years after that edition of The Protocols made its appearance, a clarification on behalf of the Grand Mufti was published in Egypt 's popular daily Al-Ahram, in the section titled "Religious Thought" (p. 13). In that article, the Grand Mufti categorically denies having written the foreword to "that fictitious book [ The Protocols ], which has no truth to it". Therefore, the Grand Mufti says that he sent a legal warning to the Egyptian publishing house of The Protocols, demanding it to remove the foreword from the copies of the books that it has and not publish it again without his permission.

4. To the best of our knowledge, such an article is highly unusual both in terms of its contents and in terms of its wording. It is highly significant, being a public renouncement of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in a popular Arabic-language newspaper by a senior Muslim-Arab religious personality, commanding extensive religious authority in Egypt and in the Sunni Muslim world. See Appendices for the article and its full translation.

Appendix A

Translation of the article in which the Grand Mufti of Egypt denies having written the foreword to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion 1

A Binding Warning

By Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of the Republic [i.e., Egypt ]

[Unfortunately,] I was forced to stop [writing] a series of articles [about] the sources of Islamic legislation; the reason is that I am very saddened by the [grave situation] of several publications, which in no way represent what is happening in the [field of Arabic-language] publishing-not in Egypt and not in the Arab world. [For these publications contain] lies, fabrications, and false attribution.

[This time] I am talking from personal experience, for I was surprised to find a book titled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion . I was likewise surprised [to discover] my name on it, with my original title—a lecturer in the esteemed university of Al-Azhar. Seeing my name [in the book] made me wonder; [so] I lifted my eyes [to read] what it said above [my name], and came across the word "foreword". I was even more surprised when I saw the year of publication, the year 2003, and [the name of] a publishing house called Maktabat al-Nafidha. Furthermore, the [book's main] title included, in addition [to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the sub-heading:] "and their Biblical and Talmudic Roots".

[Furthermore,] the first page [of the book] states [that the authors are] Dr. Ahmad Hijazi al-Saqa and Hisham Khadr. Well, I do not remember writing a foreword to that fictitious book, which has no truth to it. 2 Likewise, I recalled the meetings I had with the lecturer Dr. Abd al-Wahab al-Masiri, 3 who specializes in Jewish studies and pertaining subjects, and the long, extensive evidence [he presented to me] to prove that the document, or the book, has no truth to it—as we have believed 4 for a long time. Then I asked myself: "do you [suddenly] have amnesia? Did you write such a foreword to this book and forgot [about it]? And what did you say in it [i.e., in the foreword]—did you criticize it [the book] and ruled it out?" as it is etched in my memory.

Well, I started reading the foreword, and was surprised at how poorly-written it was, surprised by the [weak] arguments and citations, which cannot be attributed to me. What is more, it is inconceivable that I should use such statements, for I am no expert on the Torah to be quoting such things [i.e., verses] from it, and it is not my custom to seek the aid of the residents of the world, as written on page 13 by [the author of] the foreword, who spreads falsehoods: "O residents of the world, these are the Jews, be sure to notice: they are a people cursed by Allah, their Maker. They help the corruptors corrupt the land and the wicked spread wickedness in the world. But we Muslims want nothing from them except for them to convert to Islam, for 'If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost' [in the afterlife, i.e., those who go to hell]—[the Quran, Surat] Aal 'Imran [3], [verse] 85.

At that point, I became aware that these were not my words and that the name Ali Gomaa, which appeared on the cover of the book, could not be mine but was probably somebody else's name [with the same name and title]. [That is what I believed,] until I saw [my own full name and titles] at the end of these falsehoods, on page 14: Dr. Ali Gomaa Muhammad Abd al-Wahab, Lecturer of the Sources of Islamic Law in the University of Al-Azhar.

I [immediately] contacted the University of Al-Azhar, which I know well, to look for my "double", the possibility of whose existence is a billion to one—impossible odds, in light of my acquaintance with all those well versed in Islamic law in the entire world, not just in the University of Al-Azhar. [After my investigation,] I realized that I was being the victim of a criminal act since the year 2003, that criminal act being the illicit use of my name on those fabrications, of which I did not know up until now. Well, what could those [responsible for that criminal act] be preparing for us? Why are they doing this? They only do damage; they do no good. [Therefore, all] I can say on this occasion is: Allah is enough for us; He is the best protector [a quote from the Quran, Surat Aal 'Imran, verse 173], for the protection of Allah and His Messenger [Prophet Muhammad] is enough for me.

[In light of the above,] I sent a legal warning to the publishing house, demanding it to immediately remove the foreword from the books [i.e., copies] it has, and not publish it [the foreword] again in that book or in any other book which includes the foreword attributed to me, without my knowledge. [In this context,] I would also like to note that each foreword that I write bears my signature and stamp and is written on documents bearing my name, in Arabic and in English. [Furthermore,] after entering the office of the Grand Mufti [of Egypt ], I also added the emblem of Dar al-Ifta' [the official institution responsible for issuing binding Muslim religious rulings] and its official seal. Therefore, that foreword, of which I knew nothing until now, and into which I am trying to inquire, is a false one--unless it fulfills the criteria I have mentioned [above].

[While writing,] I remembered Abd al-Wahab al-Sha'arani's old complaint about the falsification of some of his books by some ill-wishers. I also remembered what Imam Al-Suyuti had to say about that, particularly in his book Al-Tahadduth bi-Ni'mat Allah [Glorifying Allah's Virtues]. I also remembered the words of [other Islamic] religious scholars about attributing words to a person who did not say them, likening it to attributing a child to another father. It seems that these [Muslim] religious scholars imply that such [phenomenon] can be described as "a criminal act of intellectual prostitution", for "we belong to Allah and it is to Allah that we return" [a quote from the Quran--Surat al-Baqara (2), verse 156—usually said on the occasion of a person's death, meaning acceptance of God's judgment. In this case, the author means to say that a disaster has befallen him (see below), but that, ultimately, everything is in God's hands].

Perhaps the words of [Allah], may He be glorified, [in the Quran]—"And those who do not give false testimony, [even] when they pass by idle talk, [they] pass by with dignity"--[ Surat ] Al-Furqan [25], [verse] 72—can be of some consolation in light of our disaster [today]. Indeed, Prophet [Muhammad], may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him, attributed considerable importance to this criminal act [false testimony], by saying: "Do you want me to tell you what are the three greatest wrongs?" They answered: "Indeed, O Prophet of Allah." Then [Prophet Muhammad] answered: "Polytheism, disobeying one's parents"--he said that while leaning [against something], and then he sat up straight [before mentioning the third wrong, to emphasize its gravity by changing the position of his body]--and telling fabrications." [The storyteller of that tradition] said: He [Prophet Muhammad] said those things [about the third wrong] over and over again, until we said: "We wish he would be silent." [That tradition] appears in Al-Bukhari's [authorized collection of Muslim traditions]. [In addition,] Prophet [Muhammad], may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him, considered lying in public to be one of the future signs of corruption which herald the Day of Judgment. It was [also] said [regarding the above] on behalf of Prophet [Muhammad], who said that among the signs of the Day of Judgment are the breaking up of family relations and perjury in public. [That tradition] is told by Al-Hakem, in [his book] Al-Mustadrak . 5

[In this context,] the poet says:

So many wretched people spread lies

[For] they do not fear God nor are they concerned with their disgrace

So eager were they to kill innocent lives

So that [in the end] nothing but sin and evil will they embrace

Appendix B

The original article (Al-Ahram, January 1, 2007, p. 13, in the section
titled "Religious Thought")

1 The text in bold was highlighted by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center .

2 It should be noted that the Grand Mufti uses a strong word--"fictitious"--to describe his most negative opinion of the book, that is, to say that the book is ridiculous, erroneous, and unimaginably nonsensical.

3 Dr. Abd al-Wahab al-Masiri is an Egyptian intellectual who "specializes" in writing about Jewish and Zionist religion. He has published many books of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist character. In one of his books, The Protocols, Judaism and Zionism (2003), he states that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a fake, prejudiced document, which causes damage to the Arabs since it imbues the Jews with great ability which does not actually exist. For details see our Information Bulletin dated October 29, 2006: "The Arab hate industry: Egypt continues as a center for the publication of crude anti-Semitic literature encouraging hatred for Israel, the Jewish people and the West, and in effect justifying the use of violence against them".

4 The verb "believed" appears in plural in the Arabic original. The author could be referring to himself or to other similar-minded thinkers, but the verb does not refer only to him and to Dr. Al-Masiri.

5 "The completion", that is, a book containing hadiths (traditions) that complete those found in the known collections of hadiths.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Egypt waffles on Palestinian unity deal

Read what it says, not what they want you to believe.

Egypt rejected on Sunday imposing any conditions on the new Palestinian unity government

That much is clear. But the Egyptians also said:

"Lifting the economic and political embargo will not happen by appeals ... It depends on the ability of the Palestinian side to put the interests of the Palestinians above those of the factions and to speak with a united voice," he said.

In other words, if we understood correctly, Egypt is not going to do anything to support the Palestinians' bid to lift the sanctions.

Egypt rejects conditions on Palestinian government
By Alaa Shahine Reuters 25 Feb 2007 14:44:36 GMT

CAIRO, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Egypt rejected on Sunday imposing any conditions on the new Palestinian unity government and said it was up to the Palestinians to convince key international mediators to end the U.S.-led financial sanctions.

Jordan's King Abdullah has said there was common Arab ground that the unity government must adhere to the demands of the Quartet of Middle East mediators: recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept interim peace deals.

The king's remarks in an interview broadcast on Saturday cast doubts on the willingness of major Arab donors to sidestep a U.S.-led embargo of the Hamas-led government.

But Egyptian presidential spokesman Suuleiman Awad said: "There is always consultation between Egypt and Jordan but the Egyptian position is that ... we cannot set preconditions." He was speaking after talks in Cairo between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah.

"The policies that the new government will adopt is an internal Palestinian affair and Egypt has not and will not interfere to impose stances," he told a news conference.

Western diplomats have said the agreement this month in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah group has widened the divisions in the Quartet -- the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia -- on how to deal with the new government.

The United States insists on maintaining the boycott, while some European countries and Russia favour a softer line.

Awad said the onus was on the Palestinians to take their case to the world with a "united voice" to lift the sanctions, which have pushed the Palestinian Authority to the brink of financial collapse.

"Lifting the economic and political embargo will not happen by appeals ... It depends on the ability of the Palestinian side to put the interests of the Palestinians above those of the factions and to speak with a united voice," he said.

The letter from Abbas reappointing Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as prime minister called on the government to respect old agreements signed with Israel by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which recognises the Jewish state.

Hamas officials have said they do not object to the PLO negotiating with Israel but that any deal would have to be approved by the Palestinian parliament, where the Islamist group maintains a majority.

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Thursday, February 8, 2007

Dichter: Egypt is letting arms into Gaza

These warnings have been heard before, but somehow seem to make no impression. The end result is inevitable, yet everyone seems paralyzed.

Israel says Egypt is letting arms into Gaza
08 Feb 2007 16:16:33 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Egypt is doing too little to stop arms smuggling into Gaza, which emboldens the militant group Hamas and weakens rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said on Thursday.

"Tens of tons" of explosives were being smuggled into Gaza via Egypt, including anti-aircraft missiles, Dichter told reporters while visiting Washington for meetings with U.S. officials.
"Egypt is not doing enough. That is for sure. It is not doing enough in terms of blocking this smuggling of means of warfare into the Gaza Strip," Dichter said.

He added that he did not believe Egypt was behind the smuggling, just that it was not stopping it.
Dichter said he had raised the issue with the Bush administration and would likely do so again during a meeting later on Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is due to visit the region next week.

The United States has been trying to consolidate the support of moderate Arab states such as Egypt to help break a deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Rice met Egypt's foreign minister in Washington on Wednesday.
"I can't see any reason why Egypt doesn't block totally the smuggling from Egypt into Gaza Strip ... I am sure that if Egypt decides to block this flow of smuggling they can do it, 100 percent," Dichter said, when asked whether he thought Egypt was deliberately not stopping the flow of weapons.
He said the flow of weapons was causing big problems for Abbas and weakening his position in Gaza. "It strengthens Hamas and weakens President Abbas," he said.

"I cannot think of a reason why Egypt is trying to weaken Abu Mazen (Abbas) and that is why I think it is lack of determination," said Dichter.

Abbas is currently holding talks with Hamas in Saudi Arabia on forming a unity government which could help end fighting that has killed more than 90 Palestinians since December.
It could also end an international blockade of the Islamist group Hamas, after it won parliamentary elections last year against Abbas's Fatah party, which had steered peace talks with Israel since 1993.

Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza and parts of the West Bank in late 2005. (Reporting by Sue Pleming; editing by Randall Mikkelsen;; tel:" 202 898 8393 )

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Dutch Newspaper Reporting: A Study of NRC Handelsblad
Hamas (Dutch)
Dries van Agt (Dutch)
Isfake lobby

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Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
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Jewish Gifts: Judaica:
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Elsewhere On the Web
Stop the Israel Boycott


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