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Newsletter : 11fx0512.txt

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Is Peres Threatening Judea, Samaria Expulsions?


President Shimon Peres, the architect of the Oslo Accords, appeared to threaten a forcible expulsion of Jews who live in parts of Judea and Samaria. In a Ma'ariv interview Peres said "Israel is committed to taking down settlements but I know that this is not a simple thing.

"There are two possibilities. One that the settlers return home of their own free will and receive compensation, and the second, that we remain with the three centers, settlement blocs, with land exchanges. We just need to determine where the three blocs will be, in quiet negotiations."

Hamas Admits 'Peace Accord' is a Prelude to War


Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar on Wednesday told the Maan news agency Hamas would never recognize Israel. Saying Hamas would accept a PA state based on the "1967 borders," Zahar made it clear a peace accord would only serve as a prelude to Israel's destruction.

Zahar, who has served as Hamas' foreign minister in Gaza since 2006, said Hamas would not recognize Israel because doing so would "cancel the right of the next generation to liberate the land. If the Palestinian state does not encompass all of Israel the next generation will liberate the land," Zahar said.

Zahar added recognition of Israel could lead to a de facto cancellation of the "right of return" - a term Arabs use when demanding that Israel allow millions of Arabs into Haifa, Tel Aviv and the rest of its cities and communities. "What will be the fate of the five million Palestinians in the Diaspora?" Zahar asked.

Zahar told Maan his faction's unity deal with Fatah, which included maintaining a ceasefire with Israel, is "part of the resistance, not a cancellation. A truce is not peace," Zahar said.

Obama May Preempt Netanyahu


President Barack Obama may deliver a major policy speech next week laying out his new Middle East strategy, US officials said on Wednesday. The announcement comes as Obama enjoys a boost of stature following the elimination of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, and amid ongoing upheaval in the Arab world.

At the same time, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prepared to address the US Congress on his vision for Israel's future and the future of any accords with the PA, on May 24th.

A key question is whether Obama will use his own address to present new proposals for renewed Israeli-PA 'peacemaking' before Netanyahu can do so himself.

A senior administration official confirmed Obama will meet Netanyahu at the White House on May 20, but is considering giving his speech before leaving on a trip to Europe early in the week of May 22.

Some political observers say Obama may be concerned Netanyahu plans to take a hard line vis-à-vis Israeli security and ask Congress to stop funding to the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the recent Fatah-Hamas unity agreement.

The killing of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. raid on his Pakistan compound will give Obama a chance to make the case for Arabs to reject al Qaeda's Islamist militancy and embrace democratic change in a new era of relations with Washington.

Though Obama has made repairing U.S. ties with the Muslim world a key thrust of his foreign policy, one U.S. official said the coming address would be "about political change in the Middle East and North Africa, not about Islam."

Israeli Minister: PA State Would Be Iranian Proxy


Israel Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told the Knesset on Wednesday recognition of a PA state would put Iran on Israel's front door. During a special session of the Knesset on the recent Fatah-Hamas unity agreement Shalom said the integration of Hamas into the PA would render any future PA state an Iranian proxy.

"We are in the midst of a war between the West and Iran for control of the Middle East region, which holds the world's oil reserves," Shalom said. "A Hamas state will constitute another Iranian proxy in this region. We must make clear to the world that if the UN recognizes a Palestinian state in September 2011," Shalom said. "It could find in January 2012 it has sponsored another Iranian entity in the Middle East."

Shalom, referring to Israel's decision to withhold tax revenues from the PA, said the PA wanted to have it both ways. "They [Fatah] wants a situation in which Hamas will participate in PA elections without accepting the Quartet's conditions, which are also the Oslo Accords conditions, but demand we transfer funds to them despite violating previous agreements," Shalom said.

Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon said the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement was the result of internal tensions. "Hamas could not afford for Fatah to get full credit for international recognition of a Palestinian state," Yaalon said. "But Abu Mazen (Abbas) wants it to continue to appear that Salam Fayyad is leading the initiative."

For two years the Palestinian Authority has refused to sit at the negotiating table," he added. "The agreement with Hamas again reveals their true face. The world must not rush for a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state before PA elections in 2012."

Yaalon expressed doubts about the longevity of the Fatah-Hamas accord: "Will Abbas take control of the Gaza Strip and empty it from rockets? Will he allow Hamas to enter Judea and Samaria? If he does, the place will turn into Hamastan."

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