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May 2, 2012 0:00 AM (EST+7)
Daily Summary 04/30/2012
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SAADAT TAKEN TO RAMLEH PRISON HOSPITAL; SAADI AND ISLAMIC JIHAD PRISONERS JOIN STRIKE
Dozens of prisoners from various Israeli jails joined the “promise and loyalty” battle which has entered its 14th day after refusing Israeli offers to halt their strike, saying the offers were a way to circumvent their demands and try to manipulate them. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, meanwhile, held the Israeli government full responsibility for the life of its secretary general, Ahmad Saadat and all the prisoners on hunger strike after he was transferred to the Ramleh Prison Hospital. According to a press statement released by the PFLP, it said its members refused an Israeli offer to end their hunger strike in exchange for ending Saadat’s solitary confinement and transferring him to ordinary cells, saying they would continue to adhere to their just demands. According to prisoner affairs minister Issa Qaraqe, Saadat, who has been in isolation in the Ramon Prison, was taken to hospital after 13 days of hunger strike. During a press conference in Ramallah, Qaraqe said Israel may consider the hunger strike as an opportunity to eliminate Palestinian leaders such as Ahmad Saadat by neglecting them medically and tightening their isolation. Saadat’s wife, Abla said he husband had been in solitary confinement for three years and that he needed medical attention for illnesses he has, adding that Saadat is determined to continue his battle along with the other prisoners. A Red Cross representative visited Saadat last night in the hospital and said that he was ‘stable’ but did not offer any details on his health condition.
In a statement, the prisoners called for a one day hunger strike on May 1 and a commercial strike on the same day as part of their escalatory measures, confirming that over 2,000 prisoners are now on hunger strike. The statement said there would also be a comprehensive strike in all prisons on May 1, which coincides with Labor Day.
The prisoners also expressed their deep concern for the life of Mohammed Hillis, one of the strike’s leaders, in the Soroka Hospital who is reportedly drifting in and out of a coma in addition to Imad Sraj from Gaza who is also in critical condition. Qaraqe called on permanent members of the Security Council to intervene and force Israel to allow medical teams to enter the prisons and check on the hunger strikers, holding the international community responsible for the dangerous violations Israel is carrying out on a daily basis. Qaraqe said lawyers have also been banned from visiting the prisoners.
Also yesterday, prisoners from the Islamic Jihad announced they had joined the open hunger strike, including Sheikh Bassam Ragheb Saadi, one of the movement’s leaders. (Al Quds)

AL QUDS PUBLISHES DETAILS OF MEETING BETWEEN HEAD OF THE ISRELI PRISON SERVICES AND LEADERS OF THE PRISONERS MOVEMENT
Prison Affairs minister Issa Qaraqe revealed yesterday what took place between the head of the Israeli prison services Aharon Franco and heads of factions in the Haradim Prison: Marwan Barghouti, Karim Younis and Naser Abu Srour for Fatah; Abdel Nasser Issa from Hamas; and Thabet Mardawi from the Islamic Jihad. According to Al Quds sources, the meeting was called by Franco and was held inside the prison. He said the committee mandated by prison authorities had completed their study of the prisoners’ demands and would give them their response in no more than 10 days. During the meeting, the prisoners stressed on the need to end solitary confinement and to close this chapter once and for all. They also said the problem of visits by families from the Gaza Strip had to be solved and the Shalit law canceled, among other demands. The prison leaders told Franco that if the prison authorities did not respond, the other prisoners still not participating in the strike would join within days, calling on them not to stall or delay their response. (Al Quds)

THE PRESIDENCY CONDEMNS THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT’S APPROVAL FOR THE BUILDING OF SETTLEMENT UNITS NEAR RAMALLAH
Presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdeineh said yesterday that the presidency condemned the Israeli government’s approval to build settlement units in the Kochav Yacov settlement near Ramallah. In a press statement, Abu Rdeineh said the decision to continue with settlement building contradicts with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims that he wants peace, which requires an immediate and comprehensive halt to settlement building. Abu Rdeineh called on the international community to force Israel to halt its unilateral actions which are major obstacles to the peace process. (Al Hayat Al Jadida). The new settlement extension is presumably to house the residents of Migron, a random settlement outpost to be evacuated. The settlers will be able to move into the Kochav Yacov settlement by the middle of July, or two weeks before the Israel High Court verdict to evacuate MIgron. Furthermore, the Israeli High Court postponed the demolition of five settler homes in Beit Il built without licenses in order to give the government time to find a case against the demolitions, even though they are built on privately-owned Palestinian land. The postponement is for 60 days. (Al Ayyam)

ABBAS LOOKING TO REGAIN ARAFAT ARCHIVES IN TUNISIA
Discussions over Palestinian archives, especially those of late President Yasser Arafat, are reportedly one of the most important goals of President Abbas four-day trip to Tunisia. The archive has been a point of contention ever since Arafat passed away and Hamas and Fatah split. Both sides have wanted the archive and to monopolize its many benefits however, the agreement between the PLO and former Tunisian president Zein Al Abedeen did not allow for the handover of the archive. The Tunisian government postponed the handover until Tunisian law was imposed that stipulated the handing over of the archive to an immediate relative. At the time, it was said that Suha Arafat tried to impede the handover of the archive because of her close relations with the ruling family. According to informed sources in Tunisia, the discussions will be difficult, with the Palestinians requesting at least an electronic version of the archive in the first stage until the negotiations are completed and the originals are handed over. The archives, especially those of Arafat, are important in that they uncover the secrets of an important period in the history of the Palestinian struggle. It includes a number of political, security and economic papers and documents the period between 1982 when the PLO moved to Tunisia, until Arafat moved out of Tunis to the Palestinian territories in accordance with the Oslo Accords. Palestinian leaders call the archive “huge” and carry the history of the PLO for a big chunk of time. The same sources say Arafat’s archives carry a treasure of intelligence information about a number of Arab and Muslim leaders; it also has information about Israel, saying that the danger of the information in the archives is what made Arafat stay in Tunisia for a time after the Oslo Accords were signed out of fear that Israel would take control of them.
Palestinian property in Tunisia will also be a point of discussion, say the sources, including the home of Hakam Balawi and a house that belongs to Arafat’s daughter. (http://www.aawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&issueno=12207&article=675072&feature=)



MESHAAL: WE AGREED WITH ABU MAZEN AND AL ARABI TO INTERNATIONALIZE THE CASE OF THE PRISONERS
Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said today that he agreed along with Arab League head and President Mahmoud Abbas to internationalize the case of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails and to propose the issue to the UN General Assembly. In a press conference following his meeting with Al Arabi in Cairo, Meshaal said the file of prisoners “must be opened, especially 12 days after prisoners began their hunger strike.” Meshaal said the prisoners had two main demands: the first is to end solitary confinement, which he said had been a stipulation in the prisoner swap sponsored by Egypt, which is a violation by Israel. The second is the halt of the so-called Shalit law, which imposes more restrictions and sanctions on prisoners. Israel imposed this law when Gilad Shalit was captured and has yet to rescind it after his release. He said the Arab League chief promised to move on the international front to secure a special session of the General Assembly dedicated to the prisoner issue. Meshaal also stressed that the efforts were in coordination with President Abbas, saying the PA was also pushing to internationalize the issue to put double the pressure on Israel. Within the same context, Meshaal also called to expedite the implementation of the Doha Agreement. Answering questions as to why the reconciliation had been delayed for so long, Meshaal said there were “problems and differences and external pressures” but said they would be overcome with more Palestinian-Palestinian communication and with Egyptian and Arab help. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=480883)


EREKAT DENIES ANY DISPUTE BETWEEN HIMSELF AND FAYYAD OVER THE LATTER’S REFUSAL TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MEETING WITH NETANYAHU
Yesterday, PLO executive committee member Saeb Erekat vehemently denied reports about a dispute between himself and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad over Fayyad’s absence in the Palestinian delegation that handed President Abbas’ letter to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu on April 17. Erekat called the press reports “cheap” saying he was shocked at such reports that were published without having referenced either himself or Fayyad. The press reports said the spat occurred before the scheduled date for the meeting because Erekat did not disclose the results of his meetings with Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho. Israel was supposedly to take two weeks to respond to the Palestinian letter and has yet to do so, with Erekat saying that “the practical response has been the approval over establishing three new settlements.” (http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=today\29qpt956.htm&arc=data\2012\04\04-29\29qpt956.htm)


DOZENS JOIN THE INITIATIVE:  THE FLAG OF PALESTINE ON EVERY WINDOW IN [ARAB] HAIFA
A group of active youths in Haifa came out with an initiative on the eve of the 64th anniversary of Al Nakba to raise the Palestinian flag and hang in from the windows and porches of homes in the city to reaffirm the Arab and Palestinian character of Haifa. The initiative comes in tandem with Israel’s independence celebration where Jewish citizens hang the Israeli flag from their homes and cars. The group formed a Facebook page called “The Flag of Palestine on each window in Arab Haifa” which has more than 1,000 ‘friends’. The page also posts pictures of the houses involved in the initiative. One girl, who posted a picture of the entrance to her home with a flag on her personal Facebook page wrote: “Our flag is the flag of Palestine…it is our duty to raise it…even if the seven heavens fall on Haifa, we will not lower it.” (Al Ayyam)

EGYPT ARRESTS TWO PALESTINIANS WHO ENTERED ITS TERRITORY THROUGH GAZA TUNNELS
Egyptian sources said yesterday that security sources in the northern Sinai arrested two Palestinians from the Izzedin Al Qassam Brigades after they entered Egypt illegally. The two Palestinians, Bassam Mahmoud and Haitham Ibrahim were in a taxi cab and were stopped a security checkpoint in Baloutha. When the police checked their documents, they were expired; neither did they have residency permits in the country. During their interrogation, the men admitted to entering Egypt illegally through a tunnel from Rafah. (Al Ayyam)

‘WE ARE NOT A POLITICAL PARTY…ISLAMIC JIHAD DENIES HOLDING INTERNAL ELECTIONS
The Islamic Jihad denied a report in the London-based Al Sharq Al Awsat, which quoted an unnamed sources in the movement saying the Jihad would carry out internal elections within the next few months. Jihad leader Ahmad Mudallal told Quds Net yesterday that this was not true, saying the Islamic Jihad was not a political party but a Palestinian resistance movement managed through organizational institutions that abide by Al Shura at all its levels and are government by organizational bylaws and regulations. He said no senior source in Al Jihad made such statements about internal elections. (http://qudsnet.com/arabic/news.php?maa=View&id=218824)


MUGHANNI: RESIGNATION OF COMMUNICATION MINISTER IS ‘PROPAGANDA BETWEEN MINISTERS’
Attorney general Ahmad Mughanni said yesterday that the resignation of communications minister Mashour Abu Daqqa had nothing to do with the shutting down of websites but was more of “ministerial propaganda’, which he said, “we would not tolerate.” Mughanni said the timing of his resignation was unjustified because he was already ‘resigned’ as part of the ministerial reshuffle that resigned back in February 2011. “I hope that any minister or official who wants to resign will do so without linking their resignation to rumors or delusions that have no basis in the law,” he said. (Al Quds)

Settlers level agricultural land in the Nablus countryside
Jewish settlers began yesterday morning to level agricultural land near the village of Qusra southeast of Nablus. According to Ghassan Daghlas, official in charge of the settlement file in the northern West bank, settlers leveled privately owned land belonging to villagers far from the closest settlement, saying the area has been the scene of confrontations between Palestinian residents and settlers. Government press office spokesperson Ghassan Khatib said the behavior of Netanyahu’s right wing government is the main motivator for settlers to increase their aggression in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Khatib said the takeover of land outside of settlements in the Nablus area came after Netanyahu’s decision to legitimize three settlement outposts. Khatib also said the leadership was working on three fronts to combat this policy: the first is to continue encouraging all forms of popular resistance against the settlers and settlements; second is support the steadfastness of those in areas adjacent to settlements, especially around Jerusalem; and third two work with international and foreign institutions and parties to put external pressure on Israel. (Al Hayat Al Jadida)


79% of Palestinians trust President Abbas and 21% support Haniyeh
The most recent public opinion poll carried out by Near East Consulting showed that 52% of respondents said both Fatah and Hamas were the reason behind the delay in the Doha Agreement’s implementation; 22% said they believed Hamas bears the responsibility for the delay while 7% said they held Fatah responsible. Furthermore, 22% of respondents said they believed Hamas was the party most benefiting from the delay while 7% said it was Fatah and 38% said both were benefiting. In terms of trust, 79% of those polled said they trusted president Abbas more while 21% said they trusted Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh more. 84% of respondents said they were either very “worried” or ‘somewhat worried” putting the main reason for their anxiety on economic conditions. (44%) followed by the Israeli occupation (16%) and the internal political split (14%). The poll was carried out between April 24 to 26 on a sample of 840 Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem (Al Quds)


MAAN: Fayyad to remain Prime Minister and Kassis as finance minister
Informed sources confirmed to Maan News that President Mahmoud Abbas gave the green light to carry out a cabinet reshuffle after a meeting that lasted two hours between himself and Fayyad last week. According to the source, President Abbas requested that Dr. Nabil Kassees, former President of Birzeit University and head of the Yasser Arafat Foundation be named finance minister in the new government. He also called for Salam Fayyad to remain prime minister while naming a deputy prime minister and relieving several other ministers from their posts. Furthermore, new faces will be introduced in the shuffle. The sources said Fayyad has already started deliberations over forming the government and will try to bring in Islamic figures into the new formation. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=480940)

Palestinians inside the 1948 area reject “civil service”

Palestinians inside the 1948 areas have stressed their rejection of an Israeli plan which provides an alternative called “civil service” to the military service that will be enacted as a law. This plan, which they consider as a “deceleration of war” against them, coincides with growing demands in the Israeli street to impose military service on Orthodox religious Jews.
The leaders of the Palestinian population inside the 1948 areas view the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu`s announcement yesterday on his intention to impose “civil service” on their youths as extremely dangerous and an escalation, emphasizing they will seek foiling it by all means.
Arab Knesset member Hanin Zou`bi said that Israel, which defines itself as a Jewish state, and imposes civil service on it Arab citizens under the pretext of “shouldering the burden”, is a stupid and blind state that is trying to underestimate their intelligence and humiliate them. She inquired: how could Israel call on shouldering the burdens after it has looted land and established Jewish settlements for Jews alone and prevent the return of internal displaced (Palestinians) to their villages? A-Zou`bi stressed that a real participation in shouldering the burdens should mean returning millions of dunam of land that Israel has grabbed and the rebuilding of thousands of homes it demolished, citing that civil service is an alternative label to military service.
Arab Knesset member Maso`ud Ghanayem said on his part: “everyone agrees on the necessity of voluntary work by our youths in their society; yet, our concerns can be attributed to that they are being initiated by the security establishment”.  He expected the Palestinians inside the 1948 areas to rebel against this service, unless it would be endorsed through the ministry of education and the ministry of social welfare and implemented by the Arab local councils in order to ensure that this service is truly civil not for any other goal.
A statement by the Israeli prime minister office said yesterday that Netanyahu is working on imposing civil service on the Arab citizens as an alternative to military service. This was published after Netanyahu`s meeting with representatives of a protest movement that is led by reserve military officers who call on a fair shouldering of burdens and duties that the state impose on its citizens. However, the statement did not make any reference to any plan by Netanyahu concerning the orthodox Jews who refuse to serve in the army since 1948 for religious reasons. (http://aljazeera.net/news/pages/1f2265dd-8087-4902-9518-7b288d870492?GoogleStatID=9)





Headlines

*Netanyahu plans to propose the imposition of civil service on Arab citizens (Al Ayyam)
*Syria: 45 killed by regime forces in tandem with the arrival of the international monitoring mission head (Al Ayyam)
*Increasing possibility of early parliamentary elections in Israel to be held this August (Al Ayyam)
*The President receives Palestine students in Tunis and briefs Sabasi on developments (Al Ayyam)
*Israel: Egypt has not yet decided on the prisoner swap deal (Al Ayyam)
*Egypt: the army decides to modify Janzouri’s government by including members of the Islamic forces (Al Ayyam)
*Armed men rob money truck from the Jerusalem cigarette company (Al Ayyam)
*Dagan: the ruling system in Israel is more dangerous than the Iranian threat (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*British Co-op broadens its boycott of settlement products (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Contacts to end the crisis between Cairo and Riyad.. Al Arabi considers it a ‘passing cloud’ (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Abul Homous expects delay in salaries this month (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Al Natsheh uncovers 35 corruption files transferred to court (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Settlers level agricultural land in the Nablus countryside (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*The PA welcomes Obama’s resumption of financial aid to the Palestinians (Al Quds)
*Paul Krugman: to criticize Israel’s ‘suicidal’ policy is to put yourself under massive attack (Al Quds)
*Diskin: Netanyahu and Barak drink vodka and smoke cigars during secret talks (Al Quds)
*Former Mossad chief: Israel is at the brink of an abyss and the current ruling system threatens its future (Al Quds)


Front Page Photos

Al-Quds: Cairo: Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al Arabi receiving Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal
Al-Ayyam: 1) Scene from solidarity march with prisoners in Ramallah; 2) Tunis: President Abbas and his Tunisian counterpart Munsif Marzouqi during a wreath laying ceremony at the memorial site of Hamam Al Shat martyrs
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida:  1) Citizens protest in Ramallah in solidarity with prisoners; 2) The president lays a wreath on the memorial site of Hamam Al Shat martyrs who were killed in an Israeli air raid.


Voice of Palestine News

Jerusalem: 12 minor Jerusalemites were arrested during the last two days during raids by Israeli occupation forces in Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem. All of those detainees were harshly beaten by the occupation soldiers and some of them, including resident Ya`qob Sarhan, are suffering from serious injuries.
With respect to solidarity activities with the Palestinian hunger strikers inside the Israeli jails, the Palestinian Prisoner Club will inaugurate today a protest tent at the ICRC headquarter in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Moreover, a mass march will be launched today at noon from A`nata village through Shu`fat camp until the military checkpoint that has been erected at the entrance of Shu`fat village, north of occupied Jerusalem.

The West Bank: Prisoner Taher Halahleh, who has been on hunger strike for 64 days, was evacuated to a hospital following a sudden and severe rise in his body temperature.

Voice of Palestine Interviews

**PLO`s Erekat: no date has yet been set for Molcho`s visit in Ramallah**
Saeb Erekat: Member of the PLO Executive Committee.
Q: According to Israeli sources, envoy Yitzhak Molcho is expected to deliver Netanyahu’s response on the president`s letter in two days. Can you confirm this?
No date has yet been set.
Q: What would be the next Palestinian scenario in wake of the persisting Israeli intransigence?
The president will meet with the Israeli prime minister`s envoy as soon as we get notice on the (date) of the response. Afterwards, there is a complete Palestinian strategy according to which we are going to act.
Q: Will this action include resorting to the UN General Assembly by the end of next month in pursuit of a non-state membership?
Our strategy includes the (internal) reconciliation, the building of institutions, the elections for presidency and the PNC, the popular peaceful resistance, defining our ties with Israel, the Palestinian-Arab and the Palestinian-international ties in addition to motions at the UN and its agencies. I do not want to preempt future steps and their specific time as the Palestinian leadership will take the required decisions on this regard.  

**Fatah`s al-Ahmad in Cairo on May 2 to meet with Egyptian officials and Hamas leaders on the reconciliation**
A`zzam al-Ahmad: Member of Fatah Central Committee.
Q: Will Fatah leaders visit Cairo soon in wake of visits by Hamas leaders there?
According to accurate information I received, the goal of the visit by Hamas leaders to Cairo is to hold a meeting for their politburo. I will personally head to Cairo on May 2nd upon a request from Egyptian officials who are in charge of following up the issue of reconciliation. Still, I think that this issue will continue to be frozen as long as Hamas is preoccupied in arranging its internal affairs.
I recently heard a statement by Mr. Meshaal in which he calls on immediate formation of a national unity government in accordance with Cairo agreement. Knowing that Mr. Meshaal is aware of the details of the agreement and the party that should be blamed for obstructing the implementation, I would like to respond to him by saying that president Abu Mazen is ready to pursue consultations related to the formation of a national unity government immediately after the Election Commission will be given permission to work in the Gaza strip. I appeal to Mr. Meshaal to adhere to the agreement he reached with president Abbas whereby the formation of the next government can be pursued one day after Election Commission is allowed to work in the Gaza strip.  
Q: Will your next visit in Cairo be restricted to meeting with Egyptian officials not with Hamas leaders?
I am going to meet with Egyptian officials but I will contact Hamas leaders and meet with those who will     be present there. In other words, holding meetings with Hamas officials in Cairo is not part of the official schedule so far but I usually meet with them during my stay in Cairo.
Q: Can you confirm press reports about president Abbas`s intention to conduct reshuffles to Fayyad-led government upon his return from Tunisia?
He is going to form the government regardless of the number of ministers who will be replaced because the current government from a legal perspective resigned but the Palestinian Center Council requested the PA chairman to delay the formation of a new government in order to farther facilitate the national reconciliation.   The president has actually pursued consultations on the formation of the government that will happen immediately after his return from his recent visit (in Tunisia)

**  The Higher Commission to Follow Up the Prisoners` Affairs: 3,500 prisoners from all factions and at the entire Israeli jails are expected to be on open-ended hunger strike on May 1st if the prison service would not meet their demands**
Amin Shumal: The Higher Commission to Follow Up the Prisoners` Affairs.
Q: Have all prisoners truly decided to join the open-ended hunger strike by the end of this week?
The number of prisoners who are joining the hunger strike constantly increase at all jails and from the various factions. By May 1st, a high number of prisoners that could reach 3,500 from all jails will be on open-ended hunger strike. This is the information we received from them. They said that this will happen if the prison service would not fulfill their just demands before May 1st.
Q: Was this decision taken by prisoners from all factions and at the entire Israeli jails?
Yes, it was taken by the leadership of the prisoners` movement that represents all factions. They agreed earlier on giving an ultimatum of ten days to the prison service to meet their demands.
The hunger strikers’ medical condition is in constant deterioration. Two of them have been evacuated to the medical centre of Ramleh prison in addition to secretary general of the PFLP Ahmad Saad who has been hospitalized there since last Thursday.    

**The PFLP holds the Israeli occupation full responsibility for the hunger strikers` life**
Abdel Rahim Mallouh: Deputy Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
Q: Do you have information about Saadat`s medical condition?
The health condition of the PFLP`s secretary general and the entire hunger strikers inside the occupation jails, mainly those who first started the strike including Halahleh and Diab, is too grave. We hold the occupation full responsibility for their life. Although those strugglers were engaged in a legitimate fight against the occupation and for the sake of freedom, their current demands are not aimed at ending the occupation. Their demands are just and guaranteed by all internal conventions.  
Q: Has the Palestinian leadership been in contact with Arab and international parties on the prisoners` affair?
Yes, the Palestinian leadership has conducted several contacts on the international level to pressurize Israel. Nevertheless, Israel is persistent to turn its back to all appeals. It gives repetitive promises without meeting any. We will wait until next Wednesday, which was chosen by the Israeli prison service as a deadline to give its responses on the prisoners` demands.

**Minister of labor denies reports about delay of payment of public servants` salaries**  
Ahmad Majdalani: Minister of Labor.
Q: Would you confirm reports about an expected delay of payment of April salaries?
The Palestinian society, particularly the public servants, usually suffers from rumors that are aimed at creating confusion and disorder.
The financial crisis which the PA has been enduring is not new matter and yet the cabinet exerts the utmost efforts to at least ensure the monthly payment of salaries. This month in particular, the efforts of were pursued even earlier than usual by the cabinet.  
Q: Are you trying to say that the salaries will be disbursed on due date?
Yes, I can confirm that the government is exerting the utmost efforts to disburse the salaries on due date, during the first week of next month.  

Arab Press

A Boring Issue Called Palestinian Reconciliation
“Al-Quds Al-Arabi” Editorial
(http://www.alquds.co.uk/scripts/print.asp?fname=data\2012\04\04-29\29qpt999.htm)


Mr. Khaled Meshaal, politburo chief of “Hamas” movement, is currently in Cairo to hold talks with Egyptian officials on means to revive the reconciliation pacts that he signed with the PA and “Fatah” movement.
Meshaal`s meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister Kamel A`mr was noticeable as it marked the first meeting between him and this high ranking Egyptian official considering that his previous meetings were restricted to former Egyptian intelligence chief major general Omar Suleiman and other security officials.
This transformation came as a result of the Egyptian revolution and the collapse of the regime of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who insisted on limiting the issue of the Palestinian resistance to Egyptian security affairs.
We cannot tell if Meshaal`s presence in Cairo at the same time other Palestinian leaders, like secretary general of the Islamic Jihad Ramadan Shallah, is part of  a new Egyptian move to bridge the gaps first between these Palestinian factions an afterwards between them and “Fatah” movement, or is it aimed to reinforcing bilateral ties with these factions.
All reconciliation pacts that have been reached between “Fatah” and its rival “Hamas” following extensive Egyptian efforts have collapsed and any attempt to revive them requires going back to square one.
“Hamas” movement has been living a multifold crisis, partially due to internal disputes between its leaders that came to the surface after Meshaal signed Doha agreement, which mandated the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to head a national unity government that would replace Salam Fayyad-led government. Other reasons are associated with the issue of the siege that has been imposed on the Gaza strip and the exacerbating electricity and fuel crisis.
As for “Fatah” movement, the crisis it has been enduring is not less complicated than that of “Hamas”. Disputes between the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and his premier Salam Fayyad have reached an unprecedented dangerous degree when the latter refused to chair a trilateral Palestinian delegation that was commissioned to deliver the PA`s letter to the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and in wake of the partially of Mr. Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary of the PLO Executive Committee and a close ally to Abbas, towards Fayyad by withdrawing the delegation as well.
The Palestinian national reconciliation has become more complicated than in any time before. An internal reconciliation inside “Hamas” movement and another one inside the PA are now requisite before moving to the more crucial reconciliation.
The key dilemma lies in that the Palestinian people is no longer aware of the disputed issues that require reconciliation, and on what foundations would this reconciliation be based in case of achieving it. Will these foundations be related to negotiations or to resistance? If the answer is negotiations, where can we find them? And if the platform of reconciliation will be rather resistance, where can we find this resistance?
These are legitimate questions that are currently being voiced loudly in the popular Palestinian circles, and it is too painful that the two most essential poles of the Palestinian political equation do not want to hear the people`s voices and questions and here lies the biggest tragedy.
What is most important is that while the sweeping majority of the Palestinian people has lost interest in reconciliation and stopped following it up, the Arab public opinion has completely abandoned the Palestinian cause and the same applies to the international public opinion, with few limited exceptions.
The Palestinian political crisis is suffering from a state of flaring ailment which is a very worrying matter in light of escalating Arab revolutions that call on change while the people of one of the most important Arab revolutions are dead to the world.  



Opinions

Can critique of Iran strike by security figures change Israeli public opinion?
By: Dahila Scheindlin
(http://972mag.com/author/dahlias/)


Will Diskin crack Netanyahu’s “good for security” armor?
A review of public surveys on the Iran issue shows that even prior to the damning critique on Friday by Yuval Diskin, former head of the Internal Security Agency, the public already diverged sharply from the leadership’s policy: Survey after survey, as I wrote in March, showed that only a minority – somewhere between 19 percent and 31 percent – favors a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran. The majority – at least half (here’s a similar survey in Hebrew), and up to nearly two-thirds (Hebrew) – is against a unilateral attack.
There are a few reasons why Diskin’s words could open a crack in the myth among the public that Netanyahu is good for security: First, Diskin voices the public’s basic divergence with government policy, as stated above. Second, Diskin joins a growing list of senior security figures who have expressed reservations about an attack, and that’s hard for the public to ignore. Third, commentary and speculation from some of the most influential (and most importantly, non-left wing) opinion-forming columnists in the Hebrew press have largely defended Diskin’s integrity.
At the very least, Diskin’s words and their reverberations could raise reasonable doubt in the public mind about Netanyahu’s competence on security. If so, citizens may then re-visit their own positions, instead of placing unqualified trust in the government. And if the public looks at itself, here’s what it will see (this revisits the polls I wrote about in March):

•Just one-fifth of all Israelis (22 percent) – and only 19 percent of Jews – believe that a strike would delay the nuclear program by five years or more. All the rest believe it would delay it only by one to five years (31 percent). Some think it would actually accelerate the program (11 percent) and one-fifth (19 percent) say it would have no effect at all. (Telhami)
•Three-quarters of Israelis believe that if Israel strikes, a major war would erupt in the Middle East. (Truman)
•Half the population believes that the ensuing conflict would last months or years; nearly half believes it could strengthen the Iranian government; and almost 70 percent (actually, a full three-quarters among Jewish respondents) believe that Hezbollah would join a retaliatory effort by Iran. (Telhami)
One newer survey showed quite different results – and it’s one of the more biased reports I’ve seen, by the usually-respectable Camil Fuchs (who polls for Haaretz). The survey was conducted on behalf of the right-wing Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, an outfit which helped found NGO Monitor, is headed by Dore Gold and has Gerald Steinberg (the head of NGO Monitor) on its list of fellows. The respondents are Jews only; remarkably, the sample contains a disproportionate number of ultra-Orthodox (see the survey information notes, below). The survey stated hawkish positions and asked people to agree or disagree, rather than presenting two opposing views and asking them to state a preference. According to the data:
•When told that “The only way to stop Iran from becoming nuclear is through a military strike,” 60 percent agreed (37 percent disagreed).
•When told that “Israel will pay a higher price for living under the shadow of an Iranian bomb than it will for attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities,” 65 percent agreed (the question did not clarify whether the attack would be unilateral or in concert with any other actor).
•But when asked to compare American versus Israeli military capacity to substantially harm Iran’s nuclear program, the gap becomes apparent even here: 87 percent agreed that America has this capacity, compared to 66 percent who agreed with relation to Israel.
Close monitoring is needed, but the public has spoken clearly against an Israeli unilateral strike and knows categorically that it will cause a major, protracted war. Personally I’d be happier if the numbers showed more doubts about a military strike in general.
But when surveys prior to Diskin’s critique repeatedly show Netanyahu and Likud running high, affirmed again by a survey published today in the pro-Netanyahu daily paper Israel Hayom (a classic case of shoddy poll reporting, free of sample size, description and dates), and the New York Times called Netanyahu’s popularity “all but impenetrable,” it’s clear that the venting of economic frustrations last summer never touched the current government. A crack in the armor of Netanyahu/Barak’s security defense (of themselves, that is) is probably the only thing that stands to chip away at their support.
Survey Information:
•Telhami: Survey authored by Professor Shibley Telhami at University of Maryland. Dates: February 22-26, 2012. Sample: 500 adult Israelis, national representation (Jews and Arabs); error: +/- 4.5%
•Truman: Survey authored by Professor Yaacov Shamir as part of the Israel-Palestine poll project at the Truman Institute at Hebrew University. Dates: March 11-15, 2012. Sample: 600 adult Israelis, national representation (Jews and Arabs), interviewed in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian; error: +/- 4.5%
•Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: Authored by Camil Fuchs, March 2011 (no precise dates given). Sample: 505 Jews, no margin of error given. Sample critique: the demographics show that 15% of the sample self-defined as Haredi (ultra-orthodox), the most right-leaning group in Israel – and the group with the highest support for an attack. I have never seen statistics from the Central Bureau of Statistics or in any survey I’ve conducted that shows their number higher than nine percent. The report says the numbers in the analysis are weighted according to CBS data; but since Haredim invariably under-respond to surveys, the sample is quite hard to explain.
Correction appended: Nearly half the Israeli public believes a strike on Iran would strengthen the Iranian government, not the Israeli government as originally written

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