Israel halts payments to PA. The electoral victory of Hamas has prompted Israel to freeze payments to the Palestinians: 'Israel's Cabinet on Sunday approved an immediate freeze on the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax money to the Palestinians in its first response to the takeover of the Palestinian parliament by the militant group Hamas. The decision came a day after a new Hamas-dominated Palestinian legislature was sworn into office and tapped to form the next government. Israel had promised that relations with the Palestinians would suffer the moment that happened. The Palestinian Authority is becoming "a terrorist authority," and all funds to it must be halted, acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Cabinet. Israel, he added, "won't have contacts with a government in which Hamas takes part."' (AP via Yahoo)
Ismail Haniyeh nominated Palestinian PM by Hamas. Newly-elected Hamas has named Ismail Haniyeh to be the next Prime Minister of Palestine: 'Ismail Haniyeh, a prominent Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, was nominated Sunday to be Palestinian prime minister. The militant group announced the nomination in a text message, a day after its members were sworn into the new Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament. The nomination was widely expected.' (AP via Ha'Aretz)
VDH: No nukes for IRI. Victor Davis Hanson spells out the case against a nuclear islamist Iran: 'irst, we cannot excuse Iran by acknowledging that the Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea, and Pakistan obtained nuclear weapons. In each case of acquisition, Western foreign-policy makers went into a crisis mode, as anti-liberal regimes gained stature and advantage by the ability to destroy Western cities. A tragic lapse is not corrected by yet another similar mistake, especially since one should learn from the errors of the past. ...' Read the full analysis at the link. (VDH)
Russia/Iran: Last chance for diplomacy? 'A meeting between the Iranian and Russian governments in Moscow on Monday may be the last chance for diplomacy before international sanctions and other punitive measures against Tehran become inevitable, according to most observers,' says this report. (Inter Press Service via RCI)
Russia/Palestine: Russia to arm Hamas in exchange for "peace pledge". Internet Haganah is a wee bit skeptical of this Russian offer to Hamas. (Internet Haganah)
Debka: Olmert follows Washington script for dealing with Hamas. A feature article at Debka outlines some pros and cons of Israeli acting Prime Minister Olmert's likely strategy. According to Debka's analysis of the Bush plan:
DEBKAfile’s Washington sources therefore cut straight to the chase to examine in general outline the plan the Bush administration has compiled for curtailing the Hamas regime, including the role assigned Israel.
1. To starve the Hamas-ruled Palestinian Authority of funding.
2. Foreign aid will be channeled directly to the Palestinian population through international organizations.
3. The Gaza Strip will be cut off from the West Bank so as to isolate the main body of the Hamas leadership and diminish its influence on the seat of government in Ramallah.
4. Careful orchestration of Abu Mazen’s actions as chairman of the Palestinian Authority to ascertain that he uses the next four to six months to restore and consolidate his own defeated Fatah.
5. He will then trump up a constitutional crisis, sack the Hamas government and dissolve the 132-member legislative council along with the 74-member majority Hamas gained in January, and call a snap general election.
6. This time, unlike in January, the United States will apply all its intelligence and financial might to make sure Hamas does not win again.
7. The Olmert government will act in conjunction with the steps laid out in the Bush administration’s plan of action.
DEBKAfile’s Palestinian experts see little chance of this blueprint actually succeeding for three main reasons:
A. Reliance on Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party for practical steps has never worked – witness the mayhem in the Gaza Strip, the arms smuggling, the failure to rein in terrorists. Nonetheless, for twelve years, Washington has pinned its Palestinian policy on the man in charge, be he Yasser Arafat or Abu Mazen – a course that promoted anti-Israel violence rather than peace.
B. Hamas leaders have known about the Washington-Jerusalem scenario for at least two weeks - long enough for a head start for moves with their Arab and Muslim allies to balk the American plan. The Palestinian Islamic terrorist group belongs to and enjoys the support of the vast, powerful Muslim Brotherhood network spread out across the Middle East. In Egypt, the Bush administration is pushing for local elections on schedule - and a certain victory for the Muslim radicals with consequent shocks for the Mubarak regime. How will the US government manage the acrobatic contortions of supporting a Muslim Brotherhood victory in one part of the region and combating the same group in the next-door state?
C. Hamas can easily circumvent the plan to starve its administration of finances. Palestinian employees staff all the international organizations operating in Palestinian areas; these locals will not risk their lives by holding back incoming funds from the ruling Hamas. And personnel associated with Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah will be told to hand the cash over - after taking their cut.
For its part, Debka favors 'Palestinian military coup d’etat in the West Bank, which would leave Hamas government isolated and hanging out to dry in the Gaza Strip.' Full analysis at the link. (Debka)
Belmont Club: "To be outnumbered always; to be outfought, never." Turning to the history of the Philippines, Wretchard looks to the campaign against the Molos of a century ago for inspiration in today's battle against islamist fanatics. 'When the US acquired Mindanao after the beating Spain in the Spanish-American war, Americans came face to face with what came to be known as asymmetrical warfare. Here were attacks on civilians, beheadings, raids on schools. All the stuff of modern headlines. And in the pre-explosive era the ultimate weapon of Imams was the suicide bomber of the day: the juramentado.' Go to the link for the whole story. (Belmont Club)
February 19, 2006