Monday, March 17, 2008


Arlene Kushner

Last week I mocked Condoleezza Rice, who -- when testifying before a Congressional committee -- answered a question with regard to statements in favor of terrorism that Abbas had made by saying that she knew that Abbas was committed to the peace process and rejected violence.

The group Rice was speaking before was the US House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, chaired by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D).

Congresswoman Lowey had, with eminent good sense, moved to freeze $150 million that Bush wanted to go straight to the PA.

But after hearing Rice, who gave heartfelt testimony to the peaceful and sincere intentions of Abbas, she decided to release $100 million of the money. This a portion of her released statement, which was addressed to Secretary Rice:

"I placed a hold on the $150 million in cash transfer assistance for the PA because of specific process requirements that had not been fulfilled by the State Department and USAID —specifically receiving a copy of the Memorandum of Agreement...and a certification that the conditions...had been met. I also expressed concern about President Abbas’s commitment to peace in light of his recent comments.

"I have since received a copy of the draft Memorandum of Agreement and your assurance that the
Palestinian leadership is committed to peace with Israel. While I remain skeptical about the
political will of a Palestinian leadership that all too often lapses into inflammatory rhetoric that
belies their stated commitment to peace, I want no one to doubt the commitment of the United
States to pursue peace when Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas have once again
publicly affirmed their commitment to the peace process. Based on these events, I lifted the hold
on $100 million in cash transfer assistance. Madam Secretary, I have maintained my hold on the
additional $50 million pending the certification that I understand is forthcoming."


So, it falls to us, my friends, to provide Congresswoman Lowey with information and expressions of concern that will bolster her reservations. Rather than being focused on making sure that no one should doubt the commitment of the US to pursue peace when Olmert and Abbas are committed to it, she must be helped to see that the current negotiations will not lead to peace and that certainly in the case of Abbas, the commitment is not real (while Olmert is without a mandate from the electorate).


Congresswoman Lowey is from the 18th district of NY (which includes parts of Westchester and Rockland County).

Good to contact her, in any case, as a US citizen -- and I strongly encourage this. But it is a certainty that she is more receptive to her own constituents. If you are in the 18th district of NY, please contact her and let her know that you are in her constituency. If you know people who live in her district, even if you do not live there, please ask them to contact her.

Phone: 202-225-6506 Ask for Matt Dennis, Congressional Aide
Fax: 202-225-0546 Address the fax to Matt Dennis, Congressional Aide


Remember that numbers count. In your own words (and keep it simple):

Offer appreciation to Congresswoman Lowey for her caution in dealing with the matter of allocations for the PA, and her reservations regarding Abbas's commitment to peace.

Express your own deep concerns regarding the release of money to the PA because all past experience indicates that it is likely to be severely misused, and some part of it end up in terrorist hands.

Emphasize that there is strong evidence for Abbas's lack of commitment to peace, no matter what he says for western ears. Pick one or two of these to address:

-- The textbooks used in the PA don't accept Israel as legitimate and encourage martyrdom and Jihad. "Your enemies seek life and you seek death..." one 8th grade text tells them. Share the link to my report on this, if you fax:

-- Abbas will not relinquish the "right of return" or recognize Israel as a Jewish state, so his saying he's for a "two state solution" is a farce.

-- On March 8, the official PA daily, Al Hayat Al Jadida, placed a photo of the terrorist, Alaa Abu D'heim, who murdered the eight students at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav, on its front page, and conferred upon him the title Shahid (holy Islamic Martyr), a designation of the highest honor.

-- Al Aksa Martyr's Brigades -- a terrorist arm of Abbas's Fatah party -- has not been disbanded, and not been required to surrender its arms. Some members of the Brigades are incorporated into the PA security forces.

-- There is documentation that PA security forces don't receive direct orders to take on terrorists.

-- There are reports that Fatah has agreed to meet with Hamas in Yemen to settle differences. This undercuts all notions of supporting Fatah as a moderate foil to Hamas.


At the end of this posting, I provide the names of the members of Congresswoman Lowey's subcommittee. If you are a constituent of one of these, please also contact him or her.


On Friday, three Kassams were shot into Israel. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i was in Sderot when two rockets came in, and he was forced to seek shelter.


Following this, we carried out two strikes from the air, in the course of which three members of Islamic Jihad -- members of a cell preparing to launch a rocket -- were killed and six others wounded.

According to reports, those who were killed were from the cell that launched the rocket that caused eight-year old Osher Tuito of Sderot to lose his leg.

One of those taken out -- Muhammad Sha'ar -- was in charge of rocket production for IJ.


In the course of one of these operations, Hamas shot at an Israeli Apache helicopter with one or more machine guns. The helicopter was only lightly damaged and made it back to base without difficulty. However, this is worrisome.

Hamas -- which has now vowed to keep Israeli aircraft within its sites -- is believed to have more than a dozen Russian machine guns and to have set up an anti-aircraft unit. The unit may have been smuggled in, but there is reason to believe (and this is what Hamas itself is claiming) that the unit was secured from Fatah headquarters when Hamas took over Gaza last June.

Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad today announced that it had developed a rocket that reaches 22 kilometers, which is beyond Ashkelon.

I hope all of those who want to delay the major operation into Gaza -- and all of those who think it's a constructive move to supply the PA in Judea and Samaria with more weapons -- are factoring in this information as they make their decisions.


Al Aksa Brigades has distributed a leaflet in the Ramallah area that said: "We renew our call to President Abbas to fire Salaam Fayyad and form a new government that would not abandon the armed struggle." Al Aksa is suggesting that Abbas "open a new page" with Hamas, and stop all coordination with Israel, including with regard to security.


But it's not just the Brigades -- it's others in Fatah as well, who are angry about the government of technocrats, with Fayyad as prime minister, that Abbas established after the break with Hamas. They are greatly unhappy with Fayyad's attempts at financial reform, and about the fact that they are not securing enough positions. They've warned Abbas that there will be a revolt against him unless he lets Fayyad go.

Khaled Abu Toameh of the Post reports that there has been tremendous behind-the-scenes tension between Fayyad and Abbas since reports surfaced that the US wanted to see Abbas replaced by Fayyad.


According to Abu Toameh, the general impression that Fatah sides with the US and Israel rather than with its brothers in Gaza is a major factor in a continuing weakening of the PA.

Rice, whose only goal in life seems to be pushing those peace accords, and who is lacking in all sophisticated comprehension of what's going on in this part of the world, has exacerbated this with her insistence that Abbas return to the negotiating table without securing demanded concessions that Israel agree to a ceasefire.

In spite of his saying he would return, actually, negotiations have not yet resumed, and many within Fatah are demanding that he not come back to the table.


Vice Premier Haim Ramon (Kadima) says that we must dismantle outposts immediately.

What he actually said was that "If [US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] says they should have been dismantled yesterday, we cannot leave them for a few more months."

And there you have it! This goes to the heart of the trouble we're in right now -- this rush to do what a US official wants of us, rather than what might be in Israel's long-term best interesting. Disgusting and shameful, is it not?

(In due course, as time and other issues allow, I still hope to return to that discussion about settlements.)


I recommend here an editorial from the Post that addresses the injustice of how the world responds to us:


And additionally, a commentary by Aaron Lerner of IMRA, regarding that ground action in Gaza:


The members of the allocations subcommittee follow here.

Adam Schiff (D-CA 29th) Phone: 202-225-4176 Fax: 202-225-5828

Steve Israel (D-NY 2nd) Phone: 202-225-3335 Fax: 202-225-4669
Ben Chandler (D-KY 6th) Phone: 202-225-4706 Fax: 202-225-2122

Steven R. Rothman (D-NJ 9th) Phone: 202-225-5061 Fax: 202-225-5851
Barbara Lee (D-CA 9th) Phone: 202-225-2661 Fax: 202-225-9817
Betty McCollum (D-MN 4th) Phone: 202-225-6631 Fax: 202-225-1968

Frank Wolf (Ranking Rep. VA 10th) Phone: 202-225-5136 Fax: 202-225-0437

Joe Knollenberg (R-MI 9th) Phone: 202-225-5802 Fax: 202-225-2356

Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL 10th) Phone: 202-225-4835 Fax: 202-226-0837
Ander Crenshaw (R-FL 4th) Phone: 202-225-2501 Fax: 202-225-2504

Dave Weldon (R-FL 15th) Phone: 202-225-3671 Fax: 202-225-3516

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