President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had a grand old time on Tuesday, as they talked of ways to transform Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas into something he's never been: a competent leader who is willing and able to effectively combat Hamas. Messrs. Olmert and Bush correctly noted that Mr. Abbas has spoken out in favor of moderation and had plenty of positive things to say about the importance of strengthening "moderates," however defined. Left unexplained thus far is how to ensure the U.S.-Israeli plan to bolster Mr. Abbas' Fatah organization by lifting sanctions, training its army and providing it with access to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of frozen tax revenues actually goes to fight terrorism rather than bolstering it.
Recent violent events in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon, as well as the internecine Palestinian fighting raging in Gaza, are a stark reminder of the inherent instability of the current Palestinian political culture and the rise of extremism within the population.
THE WASHINGTON TIMES President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday declared that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a U.S.-backed moderate who ousted the militant Islamic group Hamas from a unity government earlier this week, is the one true leader of "all the Palestinian people."
After meeting with President Bush in Washington this week, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will return next week to Israel in time to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on June 25.
THE WASHINGTON TIMES The Bush administration yesterday lifted economic sanctions and a diplomatic embargo against the Palestinian Authority after its expulsion of the Islamist group Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip last week.
The law of unintended consequences continues to throw up more consequences that were not intended. Israel is now boxed in between three pro-Iran entities (Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas) and two pro-al Qaeda terrorist groups — Hezbollah that is dominant in Lebanon to the north and Hamas that now controls Gaza, the size of Washington, D.C., to the south.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Alan Johnston's kidnappers have threatened to "slaughter" him if Hamas tries to rescue him, but Hamas sources say the comments are little more than bluster ahead of an imminent handover of the long-held BBC correspondent.
The bloody anti-Fatah putsch staged by Hamas last week constitutes a strategic black eye for the United States and another sign of the ability of the Tehran-Damascus Axis to project power with absolute ruthlessness and brutal precision throughout the Middle East. Ismail Haniyeh, (who served as Palestinian Authority prime minister until PA President Mahmoud Abbas fired him after the coup) is widely believed to be a front man for Hamas boss Khaled Meshal, who is based in Damascus. After visiting Iran in December, Mr. Haniyeh declared that Iran constituted "'strategic depth" for the Palestinians. Hamas is reported to have dispatched the first of what will become hundreds of its members from Gaza for months of military training in Iran.
Forty years ago this month, Israel stunned the Arab states in six days of war whose consequences are yet to be resolved. Hamas' version of its own six-day war has created new political realities that may be with us for some time to come. Negotiations, conferences and meetings of diplomats and pundits flying around the world will do very little to undo the new realities if we dither and lose the opportunity this crisis presents.