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Hamas Video Calls for Allah to 'Kill Christians & Jews'


Hamas TV calls for Allah to kill Jews, Christians, Communists and their supporters.

The video asks Allah to "count them and kill them to the last one, and don't leave even one."

Washington Settlements Decision a Sign of Hope for Israelis, Despair for Palestinians

By Luis Ramirez (VOA-Jerusalem)

The U.S. decision to abandon efforts to persuade Israel to curb building on Jewish settlements in the administered West Bank is stoking anger among the Palestinians, who are questioning the Obama administration's ability to broker a peace agreement. Some analysts, however, say Washington's action may help jump-start the peace process.

For the Israelis, Washington's announcement was merely a change of approach. As the Palestinians see it, it is a sign that the peace process has run amuck. Chief Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat accused the Israelis of manipulating Washington into giving up a demand that the Palestinians see as key.

He said the damage that the Israelis have caused to the peace process is huge. He said the Palestinians still hope that the U.S. administration holds Israel responsible for that failure, and announces recognition of a Palestinian state if Washington wants to be true to its prior commitments to a two-state solution.

The Palestinians threaten to stay away from negotiations unless Israel freezes construction on settlements. They see no point in negotiating while Israelis are - in the words of one negotiator - colonizing the land on which the Palestinians hope to build a future state.

Israel declared a 10-month slowdown on settlement construction last year under U.S. pressure and as an incentive to bring the Palestinians back to negotiations. When the freeze expired in September, Israel refused to extend it, prompting the Palestinians to walk out of talks.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, said the freeze issue has gotten in the way of progress in the negotiations, and he welcomed Washington's decision to drop it.

"The freeze was seen as a mechanism to help bring forward the peace agreement," he said. "Unfortunately, that proved to be dysfunctional. So, now we've got to find another mechanism by which to move forward and achieve a historic peace agreement. We think it's doable."

Mustafa Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian activist who heads an opposition movement in the West Bank, is not as hopeful. He said the Palestinians had depended on President Barack Obama to push harder against Israeli settlements and occupation as he articulated in his speech to the world's Muslims in 2009, when Obama said it was time for Israel to stop its settlement activity.

"There is a great disappointment here because there were lots of hopes after President Obama made his speech in Cairo," said the activist. "The fact that the United States President, the head of the only superpower in the world is incapable of making Israel come to mind and stop its violation of international law is definitely an alarming sign."

The perception among many Palestinians is that the support they thought they had in the U.S. President is no more, and leaders say they are considering their options, which analysts say may not be many.

PA Jails Atheist 'For His Own Good'


Several weeks ago, Palestinian Authority police arrested 26-year-old Walid al-Husseini because of a series of anti-religious blog posts he had written. Now PA officials say Husseini is not in jail for his religious beliefs, but rather, for his own safety. If he is released, they say, he could be murdered.

"It is impossible to release him because we are afraid he will be killed by his family," a PA officer told AFP. The officer said Husseini's family had disowned him.

He was arrested after the owner of the Internet cafe he frequented turned pictures of his Facebook page over to PA intelligence officers. The PA conducted a special operation, monitoring Husseini for weeks and finally arresting him as he sat in the cafe.

The PA had faced criticism over the arrest from Human Rights Watch, which said Husseini's right to free speech had been violated. In addition, HRW organizers said, under PA law Husseini was supposed to have been released after three days, as he had not been charged with a crime at that point. Husseini has still not been charged with a crime. He was originally arrested for insulting Islam, which is prohibited under PA law.

Last week a new post appeared on Husseini's blog, ostensibly authored by him, in which he apologized "for the offense I have caused to all religions and especially to Islam" in his blog. Husseini condemned all religions equally on his blog, but explained his reasons for leaving Islam in particular detail, and criticized Mohammed, revered by Muslims as a prophet, as a "sex maniac" who was "no different than barbaric thugs."

When Husseini was first arrested, several residents of his hometown of Kalkilya, just east of Kfar Saba, told journalists they hoped he would be put to death. His blog sparked condemnation online as well, with some opponents forming a Facebook group calling to "fight the blasphemer."

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