Israel Resource Review 20th December, 2005


The test of Netanyahu's Leadership
David Bedein

Following the victory of Benyamin Netanyahu as the new leader of the Likud, the question remains as how Netanyahu will cope with the policies of his major party rival: Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.

FM Shalom has nurtured a policy that is based on the unilateral creation of a PLO state, following the initiative of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Under the direction of FM Shalom, the Israel Foreign Ministry has formed an unprecedented working task force to pioneer a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, while Gideon Meir, the deputy bureau chief of "hasbara" for the Silvan Shalom's foreign ministry, has been declaring that Israel's settlement policies in Judea and Samaria are "illegal", taking the position of the nations that attack Israel for the intrinsic decision to allow Jews to settle in "occupied territory".

Last May, when Gideon Meir was challenged at a Bar Ilan University seminar by Bar Ilan University professor Mordecai Kedar to hear another opinion about the legality of Israeli Jewish settlement beyond the 1967 lines, he would not hear of it.

FM Sylvan Shalom has ignored numerous letters that question the appropriateness of Meir's statements in this regard, which indicates that Meir's policy statement is the position taken by Shalom.

The question remains as to what Netanyahu will say and do about a foreign policy that stands diametrically opposed to the policies for which Netanyahu stands.

In other words, the quality of Benyamin Netanyahu's leadership will be tested in the days to come.

Will he stand on principle against the positions taken by Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom or embrace Shalom's policies?

Moreover, since the Yesha Council and MK Uzi Landau played a crucial role in Netanyahu's decisive election victory, what will the Council say now about Netanyahu embracing the Shalom/Meir foreign policy which paves the way for further unilateral Israeli withdrawals in Judea and Samaria.

Time will tell.

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U.S. AID building Hamas town
Aaron Klein, Correspondent
Ynet - internet newspaper of Yediot Aharonot

American agency contributed money for the construction of roads in village ruled by terror organization

While the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for a halt in funding to the Palestinians if Hamas wins upcoming parliamentary elections, the U.S. government is currently in the process of funding a Gaza town run by Hamas.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, in conjunction with the Islamic Development Bank, reportedly contributed USD 392,000 for construction of roads and public facilities in Bani Suhaila, a Gaza village outside the populated Palestinian city of Khan Yunis. Gaining Strength Hamas wins big in local elections / Ali Waked Round of elections held in Palestinian Authority's big cities; Fatah defeated by Hamas in Jenin, Nablus, al-Bireh; representatives of Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine gain victory in Ramallah Full Story

U.S. AID has contracted a company specializing in road development and will oversee the road construction project, a spokesman for the agency told WND.

Israel Resource News Agency and Middle East Newsline reported the mayor of Bani Suhaila, Hamas activist Abdul Khader Al Rokab, told the Palestinian media he expects additional funds from U.S. AID for development of other projects in his municipality.

Hamas earlier this month won 13 out of 14 seats in Bani Suhaila's local municipal elections. According to Israeli security sources, the terror group has long maintained a civilian infrastructure in the area consisting of Hamas-owned shopping centers, medical clinics and other public facilities.

Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas' Gaza chief, told WND his group is "absolutely in charge in Bani Suhaila. The Palestinian people have voted and told us in an open and fair manner that they want us to represent them and their interests."

Anna Litvak, a public affairs officer for U.S. AID's regional headquarters in Tel Aviv, told WND development of Bani Suhaila was in the works long before Hamas won the town's elections.

Hamas gunmen have taken charge

"Leaderships change all the time," said Litvak. "We are here to benefit the Palestinian people, not Palestinian groups. We don't want to deal with Hamas."

Asked if her agency will call off its Bani Suhaila development initiatives now that Hamas rules the municipality, Litvak replied, "The fact that the project is now located in a municipality run by Hamas doesn't change things."

Friday, Congress passed a resolution in a vote of 397 to 17 saying it would freeze aid to the PA if Hamas wins parliamentary elections currently scheduled for January 25. The terror group swept this month's local elections throughout Gaza and in many Judea and Samaria towns.

Congress further demanded Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dismantle the various Palestinian terror groups before elections are held.

The European Union, the largest Western donor to the PA, also hinted it may halt contributions if Hamas wins in the elections.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana told reporters in Tel Aviv, "It is very difficult that parties that do not condemn violence."

Security officials say since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza this past summer, Hamas gunmen on the ground have taken charge of many Gaza Strip neighborhoods.

As WND first reported, in what many expelled Jewish Gaza residents called the "ultimate insult," Hamas leaders said they turned Neve Dekalim, the former Jewish capital of Gaza, into a "martyr training camp" and have used the territory to launch rockets into Israel.

Hamas leader al-Zaha told WND Israel's Gaza withdrawal is a victory for "resistance operations," and he vowed to continue "operations" against the Jewish state until "all territories" are liberated.

Reprinted by permission of World Net Daily

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