Israeli Defense Minister Barak to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad on Monday

The location has not yet been disclosed.

The Jerusalem Post reported in the late morning that the meeting was at the King David Hotel in West Jerusalem.

Other sources report that the meeting would be at 1:30 pm.

A Hamas official criticized the meeting, saying it violated the refusal to hold direct talks.  Palestinian sources later said that Fayyad would, in the meeting, demand that Barak should cancel deportation orders against four East Jerusalem Palestinian politicians who were elected on the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform ticket to the now-dormant Palestine Legislative Council in January 2006 balloting.

After the Hamas victory in that election, Israel arrested many of its affiliated members, preventing the PLC from having a quorum to vote.  The PLC has not met in years — at least in the West Bank.

Now, legal experts believe that the PLC four-year term has expired in January 2010.

Nevertheless, Israel is proceeding with moves to effect the deportations — although this would violate one of the clear stipulations of the U.S.-backed Road Map.

From the frying pan into the fire? Abu Tir deportation trial continued until 12 July

An Israeli court on Sunday continued the detention of Hamas-affiliated East Jerusalem politician Mohammad Abu Tir for another week, until Monday 12 July.

On the basis of a “deportation” order pending since 2006, Israeli Police took Abu Tir’s Permanent Residence ID card soon after he was released from jail in May, after serving a more-than-four-year sentence following his election to the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) on the Hamas-backed Change and Reform Party ticket.

Three other East Jerusalem Palestinian parliamentarians, elected on the Hamas-backed ticket in 2006, are also under Israeli “deportation” orders — Ahmad Atoun, Mohammad Totah, and Khaled Abu Arafeh. News reports indicate that the Israeli Police have called their families, looking for them. Meanwhile, at least two if not all three have been participating in a public sit-in in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in East Jerusalem, protesting the “deportation” orders.

Israel contends that East Jerusalem Palestinian politicians who serve in the PLC — at least, those on the Hamas-affiliated ticket — are “disloyal” to the State of Israel.

[Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad — appointed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to head an Emergency Government post in June 2007, in the wake of a crisis which saw Hamas expel Fatah/Palestinian Preventive Security forces in Gaza — is a permanent resident of East Jerusalem without any problem…]

Abu Tir was arrested last week while driving in a Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem near his home of Um Tubas (Sur Bahr) — and jailed for not having a valid ID card.

He is accused of “illegal entry into the State of Israel”.

Abu Tir and his three colleagues want to stay in Jerusalem for reasons of normal human emotions. They are also taking a political stand in favor of Palestinian national rights.

YNet reported that Abu Tir said in court last Thursday: “I am prepared to do anything in order to stay in Jerusalem”. According to YNet, Abu-Tir “refused the imprisonment alternative offered him by which he would be banished from Israel and NIS 100,000 (about $25,700) bail be posted that he not return to the area within the Green Line”. YNet added that “Abu-Tir’s lawyer, Attorney Osama Saadi, explained that he contacted the interior minister last week on behalf of his client and three other civilians whose permanent resident status has also been revoked. According to him, they asked that a letter be sent regarding talks ‘on the highest levels between the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel’. ‘We believe that the decision is not a legal one, but a political one’, said Saadi. He also asked for another opportunity to settle the matter out of court”. This is published here.

If these East Jerusalem politicians are deported to the West Bank — where an adamantly anti-Hamas campaign has been underway for years — they will not be in a comfortable situation.

In fact, they would be going from the frying pan into the fire…

But these pending “deportations, like a number of other “provocative” and “unhelpful” measures, particularly in East Jerusalem, appear to be on hold pending Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week. He is due to meet U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Deportation is an explicit violation of the Road Map backed by the U.S. and the Quartet of Middle East negotiators (U.S., Europe, Russia, and UN). The Road Map has also been endorsed in UN Security Council resolution 1515 of November 200.

Continue reading From the frying pan into the fire? Abu Tir deportation trial continued until 12 July

Hamas-affiliated East Jerusalem politician jailed, not "deported" — yet

East Jerusalem’s elected politician Mohammad Abu Tir was not summarily dumped on the other side of Qalandia Checkpoint (going to the West Bank) nor in front of Erez Terminal (leading to Gaza) after his arrest on Thursday in [Greater Municipal] Jerusalem. Instead, he was jailed pending an Israeli court hearing on Friday.

UPDATE: The Friday court hearing has been postponed until Sunday (and may well be postponed again…)

Three other Palestinian politicians whose “permanent resident” IDs have also been withdrawn by the Israeli police in recent weeks are Mohammed Totah, Khaled Abu Arafa, and Ahmed Atoun.

Their “crimes” were to have been elected to the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) on the Hamas’ Change and Reform party platform in January 2006 elections. To general surprise, Hamas won a majority of seats in the PLC in elections it had to be coaxed into contesting. Hamas won in both Gaza AND the West Bank.

The four have made statements saying that they only represent their constituents in East Jerusalem, but for Israel this seems not to be enough. Israeli officials have indicated that they want a clear and unambiguous renunciation of Hamas.

The other three men now have a Saturday deadline to leave “Jerusalem” voluntarily.

One of the new charges against Abu Tir now, in fact, is that he was apprehended while trying to enter the State of Israel without a proper ID.

Continue reading Hamas-affiliated East Jerusalem politician jailed, not "deported" — yet

"Deportation" deadline for Hamas' Mohammed Abu Tir

The imprecision of the language is infuriating.

Israeli police reportedly notified the duly elected Hamas representative to the moribund Palestine Legislative Council (PLC), Mohammed Abu Tir (Teir) that he faces a “deportation” deadline of Friday [tomorrow] from his home in East Jerusalem.r

Abu Tir lives in Sur Bahr, a neighborhood in south-eastern Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where the West Bank is just across the street — but behind barbed wire, watched by Israeli Border Police in a tall concrete tower, where Jerusalem residents must pass through a guarded checkpoint to go back and forth.

So, “Deportation” from East Jerusalem — to where?

To Gaza? To the West Bank? To the Galilee (Israel)? To Europe?

Continue reading "Deportation" deadline for Hamas' Mohammed Abu Tir

Today was supposed to be Palestinian election day

On 24 October 2009 – in what looked at the time to be an attempt to push Hamas to sign a reconciliation document being brokered by Egypt — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) issued the required presidential decree calling for presidential and legislative council elections on 24 January 2010 — that is, today.

A few days later, Abu Mazen said he would not run in the next Palestinian presidential elections.

About two weeks later, Abu Mazen quickly endorsed a statement by the Independent Election Commission saying that free elections could not be held in Gaza, given the current conditions there (in particular, the lack of agreement on reconciliation). He said he would stay in his post until the next elections could be held…

Today, various Palestinian politicians in the West Bank said that their terms in office, as members of the Palestine Legislative Council, have come to an end.

Continue reading Today was supposed to be Palestinian election day

Fatah and Hamas – What's the problem? A view from Yasser Abbas

Other excerpts from the interview with Yasser Abbas in Ramallah on 18 December 2008:
Part 4: Separation of Powers in Ramallah
Part 3: Business and Businessmen in Palestine
Part 1: Fatah and Hamas – and the Abbas family house in Gaza

Yasser Abbas (apparently named after Yasser Arafat), Palestinian businessman and older of the two surviving sons of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in an interview in his office last December, just before the IDF military attack on Gaza:  “You have been politically confused due to the Hamas situation in Gaza – politically confused.  This country has one head, it does not has two heads.  One decides who the second one is.  It’s not two who decide how to run the country.   It’s the President [who] gives a mandate to the Prime Minister, and this President can take his mandate back any time he likes, when he doesn’t see it fit”.

Yasser Abbas continued: “The Ministry, the Cabinet, is ousted in three cases: either the President takes back the mandate from the Prime Minister, or the Prime Minister resigns, or one-third of the cabinet resigns, as a total.  OK?  So these three conditions decide the political relationship, political, in the by-laws, of the relationship between the President and the Prime Minister.  The issue with Hamas becoming, yeah, we are the government – that’s what created the problem here.  Ok?  So, two presidents?  Two heads?  Two governments?  There’s only one legitimate government.  There is no two governments.  This what so-called government of Hamas is pure garbage, they are nothing.  They don’t run nothing.  They run a bunch of gangs, ok, that they are trying to run the country but they are not.  They know nothing about how to run a country.  They are not legitimate whatsoever.  And I’m sure of what I’m saying”.

Q:  What’s interesting, though, about what happened when Hamas took over security in Gaza, was that they continued to recognize the President as the President –  at least until the 9th of January (2008) – and to some, to me, it looked like an occasion that was lost because of hostility, after the government was dissolved … How do you see this crisis?

A:  Well, they cannot deny the legitimacy of the President.  The President has more legitimacy than they do.  It’s very simple.  The President has been elected by all the Palestinians with a percentage of 62.8% percent, in January of 2005.  The President will maintain a President until January 2010, even though his term is four years, but the law says both two elections should take place together, legitimate [legislative] and presidency, simultaneously.  The word “simultaneously” means, both elections will be done in one day.  That’s what simultaneously means – this is how they taught me that in school.  If anybody interprets that in his own terms, that’s his own problem, he has to go and learn Arabic, or English.

Continue reading Fatah and Hamas – What's the problem? A view from Yasser Abbas

Former top officials urge Obama to contact Hamas

Former U.S. National Security Advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, are among the ten authors of a newly-revealed letter handed to Barack Obama just before his inauguration, urging the new president-elect to change policy and make contact with Hamas.

This was revealed today in a story published by the Boston Globe, which reported that “Nine former senior US officials and one current adviser are urging the Obama administration to talk with leaders of Hamas to determine whether the militant group can be persuaded to disarm and join a peaceful Palestinian government, a major departure from current US policy…
Continue reading Former top officials urge Obama to contact Hamas