Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal meet again to discuss the internal Palestinian dialogue (Wafa News Agency, date, 2011).
This past week sporadic rocket and mortar shell fire from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev continued. Three rocket hits and two mortar shell hits were identified in Israeli territory.
�Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, is on a flying tour of several Arab-Muslim countries, the first since 2007. His first stop was Egypt, where he met with the Deputy General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood and high-ranking general intelligence personnel. From Egypt he is expected to fly to Sudan.
Another round of talks in the internal Palestinian dialogue ended in Cairo. Both sides projected a positive atmosphere and progress to the media, while disagreements and tensions remained in the background. In the coming weeks Fatah/the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are supposed to continue the process in an effort to bridge the gaps.
Important Terrorism Events Israel's South
Rocket and Mortar Fire Attack the Western Negev
This past week three rockets and two mortar shells were fired into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. Two rockets fell in an open area in the western Negev on December 24. A third rocket fell on December 26. Two mortar shells fell on December 23 in open areas. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 1
Rocket Fire -- Monthly Distribution
Mortar Shell Fire -- Monthly Distribution
Judea and Samaria
The Situation on the Ground
This past week the IDF carried out routine counterterrorist activities in Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities and confiscating weapons. There were attempted attacks against IDF forces and Israeli civilians in Judea and Samaria.
An exceptional event occurred on December 24 when terrorist operatives opened fire on an Israeli vehicle east of Qalqilya. An initial investigation showed that the weapon was been an improvised hunting rifle. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman, December 24, 2011).
Developments in the Gaza Strip
Ismail Haniya Visits Regional States
On December 25 Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, left for a round of visits to countries in the region leading a delegation of high-ranking Hamas figures from the Gaza Strip. It is the first time he has left the Gaza Strip since 2007. His first stop is Egypt. Before he left he said that he was going there because of the Arab uprisings and prisoner exchange deal.
In Egypt he met with Brigadier General Ahmed Abd al-Khaleq, who holds the Palestinian portfolio in Egyptian General Intelligence, and with high-ranking figures in the Arab League and the Muslim Brotherhood General Guide and his deputy.
Ismail Haniya meets in Cairo with Dr. Khairat al-Shater, Deputy General Guide of the
Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, December 25, 2011).
From Egypt Ismail Haniya is expected to fly to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, where he will participate in an international conference about Jerusalem. He has also received invitations from other countries, among them Turkey and Qatar (Ma'an News Agency, December 25, 2011). Ibrahim al-Dirawi, head of Palestinian studies in Cairo, said that Ismail Haniya's current tour will include Sudan and Tunisia. He will return to the Gaza Strip and then set out for other countries (Hamas' Palestine-info website, December 26, 2011).
The Second Phase of the Gilad Shalit Prisoner
In Turkey Mahmoud Abbas Meets Released Female Terrorist
This past week Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, paid a state visit to Turkey. While in Ankara he met with 11 Palestinian terrorists who had been released in the first phase of the prisoner exchange deal (which led to the liberation of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit) and deported to Turkey. Mahmoud Abbas held a separate, private meeting with released female terrorist and convicted murderer Amna Muna (Haber.gazetevatan.com website, December 23, 2011).
Amna Muna arrived in Turkey in October as one of the Palestinian terrorists released in the first phase of the exchange deal after she refused to enter the Gaza Strip. Muna, who was handled by Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, was convicted of the murder of an adolescent Israeli boy who went to meet her in Ramallah after meeting her on the Internet. On her arrival in Turkey after her deportation, she said she wanted to continue her "resistance" [i.e., terrorist] activities (Al-Jazeera TV, October 18, 2011).
Mahmoud Abbas and the terrorist
(Haber.gazetevatan.com website, December 23, 2011).
Remarks from Another Terrorist Released in the Second Phase of the Deal
In the first interview given from his home after his release in the second phase of the prisoner exchange deal, Salah Hamouri, a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operative, said that he had been imprisoned after he tried to kill Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. He wanted to kill him, he said, because he and his collaborators had the right to try to kill him because, he claimed, deserved to die (Reuters, December 20, 2011).
Since the implementation of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal, a number of released terrorists, some of them prominent and involved in mass-casualty terrorist attacks in Israel, have boasted of their exploits and stated their readiness to return to terrorist activities. Some of them have joined in an appeal to the heads of Hamas and the hearts of the Palestinian public to abduct other Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips for the release of all the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
The Internal Palestinian Dialogue
In Cairo another round of internal Palestinian dialogue talks has ended. On December 22 the first meeting was held by the "interim leadership," an overall Palestinian leadership appointed to temporarily replace the PLO. The meeting was chaired by Mahmoud Abbas with the participation of Khaled Mashaal (head of Hamas' political bureau), Ramadan Shallah (secretary-general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad), and Salim Zaanoun (chairman of the Palestinian National Council). Representatives of other Palestinian organizations also attended. Murad Muwafi, head of Egyptian General Intelligence, was also present (Wafa News Agency, December 22, 2011).
Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal hold another round of talks
(Hamasinfo.net website, December 24, 2011).
After the meeting Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential edict relating to the restructuring of the central elections committee, stating it would prepare itself to conduct and oversee the elections. It also stated that Dr. Hana Nasser would chair the committee and Dr. Rami al-Hamdullah would be its secretary general (Wafa News Agency, December 22, 2011). The elections are scheduled for May 2012.
Both Fatah and Hamas projected a positive atmosphere and progress to the media, but the latest round of talks did not lead to meaningful, practical agreement and the disagreements and tensions between them remain (which they tried to bridge with an statement stressing common ground). The most important achievement of the current round of talks was the establishment of a "interim leadership." In the coming months Fatah and Hamas are supposed to continue trying to bridge the gaps between them. The following are on the agenda:
The Inclusion of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the PLO
The interim leadership decided to appoint a committee to examine a way to reform the PLO to make it possible for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to join. It will be headed by Salim al-Zaanoun, chairman of the Palestinian National Council, and include representatives from all the Palestinian organizations. Its first meeting will be held on January 15, 2012 (Hamas' Palestine-info website, December 22, 2011).
Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration, said that Hamas would join the PLO only after the elections to the Palestinian National Council were held and based on its strategy, seek common areas of action to promote the national goals, which would enable the movement to join the other organizations (Hamas' Palestine-info website, December 23, 2011). Ismail Radwan, an important figure in Hamas, said that Hamas and all the other Palestinian organizations would join the PLO only after the reform, but agreed that Hamas and the PIJ would join the PLO's interim leadership (AP, December 22, 2011).
The Issue of the "Resistance" [i.e., the path of terrorism]
According to Palestinian sources, at the meeting in Egypt the PLO leadership, in collaboration with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, determined that the so-called "resistance" in all its forms was the legitimate "right" of the Palestinian people, but that for the present it would be limited to a "peaceful resistance" in accordance with the international conditions current at this time (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, December 24, 2011).
However, Hamas spokesmen continue to make it clear that the movement has no intention of abandoning the "resistance." For example, interviewed by Al-Jazeera TV, Khaled Mashaal said that all forms of "resistance," especially armed "resistance," were the Palestinians' "right," although during the "Arab spring," "popular resistance" was preferable. (Al-Jazeera TV, December 26, 2011). Salah Bardawil, a member of Hamas' political bureau, also stressed that Hamas refused to recognize the State of Israel and would adhere to the option of "resistance" until the so-called Israeli "occupation" had been removed from the soil of Palestine (Alresalah.net website, December 25, 2011).
Khaled Mashaal tells the head of the Arab League about his meeting with Mahmoud Abbas
(Wafa News Agency, December 23, 2011).
The Issues of Recognition of Israel and the Borders of the Palestinian State
According to Khaled Mashaal, despite the differences of opinion between Fatah and Hamas, they had the common goal of the establishment of a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders (AP, December 24, 201). In other statements, however, Hamas spokesmen make it clear that the movement's final goal was the so-called "liberation" of all "Palestine" from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river. So far, neither Hamas nor Fatah has raised the issue of the PLO's recognition of the State of Israel, claiming that at this stage the construction of the new state has priority over its policies (Al-Quds TV, December 23, 2011).
Israel and the Palestinians
On December 25 the Israeli ministerial committee for legal affairs was supposed to discuss a fundamental law which would turn united Jerusalem into the capital of the State of Israel (Israeli Prime Minister's website, December 25, 2011). The Palestinian Authority and Hamas were strongly critical of the move:
Ahmed al-Rawidi, Mahmoud Abbas' advisor for issues relating to Jerusalem, said that the law was indicative of Israel's growing racism. He claimed that the same bias was shown by the mayor of Jerusalem when said Israeli Arabs living in Jerusalem's western neighborhoods should no longer be allowed to carry blue identity cards.2 He added that Israel intended to create a Jewish majority in Jerusalem and prevent any future discussion about giving up East Jerusalem, and stressed that East Jerusalem was an occupied city (Voice of Palestine Radio, December 26, 2011).
Hamas issued an official statement denouncing the Israeli intention to vote on the law. It warned Israel not to take the step, which for Hamas was "direct, new aggression" against the Palestinian people and their national rights (Website of Hamas' information bureau, December 25, 2011).
1 The statistics do not include rockets and mortar shells fired which fell inside the Gaza Strip. As of date December 27, 2011.
2� Note: East Jerusalem Arabs carry orange-covered identity cards.