Olmert, Livni, Mofaz decide to transfer funds to Palestinians despite Hamas victory; argument: Hamas government has not yet been formed, no legal reason to freeze transfers. A week and a half after Hamas' stunning elections victory, Israel decided to nonetheless hand over tax money collected on behalf of the Palestinians to the PA.
The decision on the fund transfer to the tune of no less than NIS 250 million (about USD 65 million) was taken Sunday in a special meeting headed by Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Foreign and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz also took part in the session, along with senior security officials and special advisor Dov Weisglass.
Israel delayed the transfer of the funds for five days while exerting behind-the-scenes pressure on the international community to refrain from funding a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. However, at this time it was decide to go ahead with the fund transfer because a Hamas government has not yet been formed. In addition, no legal reason to curb the transfers was found. The decision already prompted scathing criticism by Likud and right-wing parliamentarians.
The funds in question were collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority at Gaza and West Bank crossings as part of agreements signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Israel has been handing over the money at the beginning of each month since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 1995.
The decision to hand over the funds was also intended to signal to the world, on the eve of Livni's trip to Washington, that Israel will be seeking to maintain the stability of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' regime.
Ahem. I just don’t understand the psychology of the Kadima government. Talk about an overwhelming need to commit national suicide. Debkafile is reporting this:
Hamas will be allowed to take charge of the Palestinian security and intelligence services.
DEBKAfile adds: this deal, confirmed by Abu Mazen’s spokesman, contradicts his pledges to US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice over the telephone after the Hamas victory and which he offered to King Abdullah of Jordan and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak whom he met last week.
The shape of this deal emerged from the news conference Hamas leaders Ismail Haniya and Mahmoud a Zahar held in Gaza after meeting with Mahmoud Abbas Saturday night, Feb. 5 for the first time since their election victory. A-Zahar said a Hamas government would honor agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority but never recognize Israel. The Gaza-based Hamas leaders fly to Cairo to meet their Damascus-based superiors to plot their next steps.
And as dire as the reprecussions are according to the Debkafile piece suggests; I have to ask why does the Kadima government feel the need to prop up the leadership of a man who refused to disarm the terror militias and while power has not officially transferred to Hamas the Jerusalem Post is reporting this:
Twelve would-be suicide bombers have been arrested recently on their way into Israel to carry out attacks, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Yuval Diskin revealed at the Sunday cabinet meeting. "We are in the midst of a wave of terror. The security situation is growing graver," Diskin warned.Someone needs to diagnose Kadima and determined how deep is the death wish ethos.
Addressing the cabinet Sunday, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz also cautioned that attempts to carry out terror attacks were on the rise lately. A Hamas operative from Rafah who planned to abduct Israelis in Israel was arrested in Arwar in the Negev on December 27 in a combined operation conducted by the Shin Bet and the Border Police, security officials said.
Forces arrested Raid Tsofi, 22, who had succeeded in infiltrating Israel from Sinai. Security officials said his arrest is just one more example of how active Hamas is behind the lines, despite declaring it would uphold the tahadiya, or truce, in 2005.
According to details released on Sunday, prior to leaving his home in Rafah, Tsofi underwent military training to prepare him for the planned kidnapping of an Israeli civilian or soldier in order to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Tsofi was also to have recruited additional operatives to the cause. An official noted that it was not the first time in recent months that Hamas planned to kidnap Israeli citizens.