Steven Erlanger / International Herald Tribune & Aaron Klein / World Net Daily – 2007-06-13 22:34:08
Israel Confirms Approval of
Weapons Shipment to Abbas
Steven Erlanger / International Herald Tribune
JERUSALEM (December 28, 2006) — After coordination with Israel and the United States, Egypt has sent a shipment of weapons and ammunition into the Gaza Strip to forces loyal to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, Israeli officials said on Thursday.
Senior Palestinian officials denied the report, including the spokesman for Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, calling the story “Israeli propaganda aimed at aggravating the situation between Fatah and Hamas.”
But Israeli officials confirmed a report in the Haaretz newspaper that the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, approved the shipment in his meeting Saturday evening with Abbas. Four trucks with some 2,000 automatic rifles, 20,000 ammo clips and some 2 million bullets passed from Egypt through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, where Gaza, Israel and Egypt meet. The shipment was turned over to Abbas’s Presidential Guard at the Karni crossing between Gaza and Israel.
Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, an Israeli cabinet minister and former defense minister, appeared to confirm the transfer to Israeli Army Radio, saying that the weapons are intended to give Abbas “the capability to hold his own against those organizations that are trying to spoil everything.” That was an apparent reference to Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and rejects previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements that call for a permanent two-state solution.
American officials were circumspect, but said that various efforts to boost Abbas’s forces were taking place. They included training of the Presidential Guard and the likely return to the Palestinian territories of a thousand or so well-trained but aging Fatah fighters, the Badr Brigade of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who are currently living in Jordan.
The Bush administration is seeking congressional support for up to $100 million in funds, mostly for salaries and training, to bolster Abbas and his security forces and extend their control over the Gaza crossing points.
A senior American official insisted that the aim was not to promote civil war with the ruling Hamas faction, but to help Abbas and Fatah and “to provide deterrence and balance” in Gaza, where Hamas is especially strong.
The arms shipment is part of a broader American and Israeli effort, in coordination with moderate Arab states like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, to strengthen Abbas, weaken Hamas and show some movement on the stalled issue of Israeli-Palestinian peace. At their meeting Saturday, Olmert also promised to eliminate some West Bank checkpoints and turn over to Abbas $100 million of the approximately $500 million in funds that the Israelis have collected for the Palestinians but refused to turn over since Hamas took power.
But officials involved consider their efforts something short of a plan, because Fatah remains weak, Abbas is considered unpredictable and too wedded to the Fatah old guard, and conditions are not ripe for a major attempt to reach a comprehensive settlement.
Still, the officials say, given the problems of the region — the American difficulties in Iraq; the growing influence of Iran; Israel’s summer war with the Iran- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and Hamas’s sway over Gaza — efforts are needed to alter the status quo and promote moderate Palestinian political goals.
“The most important thing for us is to get a process going between Abbas and the Israelis,” the American official said. “If the Palestinians end up with a consensus supporting Hamas, you push off any real peace process for a long, long time. If they opt for this kind of unity, fine, but then there is nothing we can do for them and there will be no Palestinian state, and it’s not a good outcome.”
Abbas has called for early presidential and parliamentary elections, which Hamas opposes. But the Americans were pleased by his call. They would have liked him to confront Hamas six months ago, the official said, but fear that if Abbas waited much longer, his position would be even weaker. “The longer that goes by, the harder it is for him,” the official said. “We’ve been trying to explain to him that every option is risky now, but that the status quo also has its downside. Doing nothing and getting weaker does not help.”
The Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, in essence has been suggesting talks with Abbas that result in a Palestinian state with temporary borders, with Israel pulling back in the West Bank to the current route of the separation barrier it is building there.
In an interview published in Haaretz’s upcoming weekend magazine, she talked gingerly about “a detailed operative plan” to negotiate with Abbas, ideas she has discussed with the United States secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and Abbas aides. “My vision says that the two nation-state principle is not only an Israeli gift to the Palestinians but advances Israeli interests,” she said.
Olmert does not like grandstanding by his cabinet ministers, and some aides were dismissive about the notion of a new plan. But her thesis — largely shared by Olmert, too — is that Israel, the West and moderate Arab states want Abbas and Fatah, whatever their weaknesses, to win out over Hamas, said a Foreign Ministry official.
“So they should have guns, and resources for patronage, and there should be a political vision and framework for moving forward, so that if Palestinians do choose the right path, there is something real and tangible for those who believe in a two-state solution,” the official said.
In essence, Livni is suggesting talks with Abbas that result in a Palestinian state in temporary borders — effectively the second stage of the moribund road map peace plan — with Israel pulling back in the West Bank to the current route of the separation barrier.
Abbas has repeatedly rejected the idea of a Palestinian state in temporary borders, seeing it as a trap, because there would be no guarantee that Israel would move farther toward a final settlement.
“But it’s possible that now Palestinian moderates need some political ammunition to show people that negotiations will bear real and tangible results,” the Foreign Ministry official said. “We need to strengthen the political horizon that Palestinian moderates can offer.”
Then, he suggested, with such results in hand and a period of visible reform in Fatah, new elections could result in Hamas’s defeat, and then a stronger move to dismantle Palestinian terrorist organizations, as called for in the first stage of the road map, which did not foresee one of those organizations, Hamas, running the Palestinian Authority.
“There’s no perfect solution now, but how can we move in the right direction,” he asked, with a weak Israeli government, a weak Palestinian president and Hamas in power?
“Abbas has got a lot of work to do — in Fatah, in his own office, with the security forces,” the American official said. “We’ll continue to help,” he said, pointing to the likely visit next month by Rice. “But Abbas has to make some choices.”
Olmert is already facing criticism from his right for his concessions to Abbas, including the money and arms transfer, given the involvement of Fatah militants like the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades in firing rockets into Israel. Israeli opinion, after the summer war and the Gaza rockets, is generally opposed to handing back large portions of the West Bank to the Palestinians.
Copyright © 2007 The International Herald Tribune | www.iht.com
Posted in accordance with title 7, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
More US Weapons
Transferred to Palestinians
Aaron Klein / World Net Daily
TEL AVIV (February 6, 2007) — Just days after the Hamas terrorist group reportedly obtained an American arms shipment, the U.S. transferred more weapons to militias associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, WND has learned.
Palestinian and Israeli security sources said 10 trucks filled with U.S. weapons were transported Sunday night from Egypt through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Israel and from there delivered by an Israeli Defense Forces convoy to Fatah security officials in the Gaza Strip.
The American weapons shipment, the sources said, contained assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition and bullet-proof vests.
Officials from Force 17, Abbas’ security detail which also serves as de facto police units in Gaza, told WND the U.S. weapons were received Sunday night at the Ansar compound, a complex in northern Gaza housing headquarters of Fatah militias.
The U.S. weapons were provided to Abbas purportedly to bolster his Fatah forces against Hamas, according to defense sources. The two factions have engaged in nearly two months of deadly clashes after Abbas called for new Palestinian elections in a move widely seen as an attempt to dismantle the Hamas-led PA.
The latest American weapons transfer follows a botched transfer Thursday that was intercepted by an ambush during which Hamas says it obtained the U.S. weapons.
“We are in possession of American rocket-propelled grenades,” a leader of Hamas’ so-called military wing told WND Thursday. “This will prove to the Americans their conspiracy of toppling our government will be used against them.”
Fatah spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khoussa told reporters the attacked convoy was carrying generators, tents and medical equipment, but senior Israeli and Palestinian defense officials, including security sources from Fatah, confirmed to WND Hamas obtained American weapons.
The U.S. has been reportedly providing Abbas’ forces with aid and weapons the past few months.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month told reporters the U.S. is working with Fatah to create a unified Palestinian security force. The Bush administration reportedly will grant $86.4 million to strengthen the Fatah forces, including Force 17, Abbas’ security detail, which also serves as de facto police units in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
WND reported the U.S. in recent weeks transferred 7,000 assault rifles and more than 1 million rounds of ammunition to Fatah militias.
The last confirmed American arms shipment to Fatah took place in May. At first, the shipment, consisting of 3,000 rifles, was denied by the U.S. and Israel, but Olmert in June admitted the transfer took place, telling reporters, “I needed to approve the shipment to help bolster Abbas.”
At the time, Abu Yousuf, a Fatah militant from Abba’s Force 17 security forces, told WND while some of the weapons may be used in confrontations against Hamas, the bulk of the American arms would be utilized to “hit the Zionists.”
He said if there is a major conflict with Israel, U.S. weapons provided to Fatah may be shared with other “Palestinian resistance organizations.”
“The first place of these U.S. weapons will be to defend the Palestinian national project, which is reflected by the foundation of the Palestinian Authority. If Hamas or any other group under the influence of Iran and Syria wants to make a coup de tat against our institution, these weapons are there to defend the PA,” said Abu Yousuf.
“We don’t want to go to civil war with Hamas, because this is what both the U.S. and Israel want. This is our last option. We hope our brothers in Hamas won’t oblige us to find ourselves in confrontation,” Abu Yousuf said.
But the Fatah militant said the new American weapons may also be used to target Israelis. He admitted previous American arms supplied to Fatah were used in “resistance operations” against the Jewish state.
“If Israel will deliver what it promised to Abu Mazen (Abbas), [meaning a] withdrawal from Palestinian lands, including east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, remove all the checkpoints in the West Bank, release our prisoners, and find a clear solution for our refugees, we’ll control our forces and the distribution of weapons.
“But if Israel doesn’t deliver, and we find ourselves manipulated by Israel, we cannot guarantee members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Force 17 will not use these weapons against Israel. Our goal is to change the occupation,” said Abu Yousuf.
“Its unnatural to think these American weapons won’t be used against the Israelis,” he said.
Like some other Force 17 members, Abu Yousuf is openly also a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
All Brigades leaders are also members of Fatah. Abbas last June appointed senior Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader Mahmoud Damra as commander of Force 17. Damra, who was arrested by Israel in November, was on the Jewish state’s most-wanted list of terrorists.
Abu Yousuf said the American weapons shipments may be shared with other Palestinian terror groups. He said that during large confrontations with Israel, such as the Jewish state’s 2002 anti-terror raid in Jenin, Fatah distributed weapons to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
“We don’t look where this piece or that piece of weapon came from when fighting the Israelis,” Abu Yousuf said.
He also pointed to what he said was Hamas’ infiltration of some of Fatah’s security forces as a possible mechanism Hamas can use to obtain Fatah’s American-supplied weapons.
A senior Fatah security official, speaking last month to WND on condition his name be withheld, says Fatah has a “significant problem” of its militia members in Gaza joining Hamas.
Sources close to Hamas said the Fatah militants, including members of Force 17, worked with Hamas after receiving larger paychecks from the terror group.
“When they join Hamas, they bring along their new weapons,” said a Hamas source.
During a WND interview last month, Hamas spokesman Abu Oubaida told WND his terror group will obtain any American weapons transferred to Fatah militias or purchased by Fatah using the incoming $86.4 million in U.S. aid.
“I am sure that like in the past, this $86 million from America will find its way to the Hamas resistance via the honorable persons in the Fatah security organizations, including in Force 17. I can confirm 100 percent that this money and purchased weapons will find its way to Hamas,” said Abu Oubaida
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“Why didn’t the U.S. send arms to Lebanon last year?!”
Awabnavi from Myanmar
(May 25, 2007) — I wonder why the United States didn’t send military aid to Lebanon during the Israeli invasion last summer? According to an article on Aljazeera Magazine, two transport planes carrying American military aid for the Lebanese army arrived at Beirut airport on Friday.
“Although U.S. officials claim that the aid had been agreed to before the fighting began, the speedy shipment marked the first tangible U.S. backing of the Lebanese authorities’ fight against Fatah al-Islam,” the article stated.
I wonder why the United States didn’t send military aid to Lebanon during the Israeli invasion last summer?