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Well today has been a busy day for the M.E.

According to a poll released Hamas' popularity is fading amongst Palestinians. Now I know nothing about the group doing the polling and so I am not taking that as gospel.

However... Other pieces of news surface and one potentially bad piece of news from the weekend.

Follow me for a round up of news concerning the Middle East.

SET CLOCKS - JUMP!

Last week, everyone was saying there was a deal for Gilad Shalit. Ha'aretz reported it as imminent. Now, not so much. There apparently is a split between Fatah and Hamas over the prisoner exchange.

Hamas is claiming they are in total agreement with Fatah on unity and in a gesture according to Ha'aretz the PA released 50 Hamas militants. For the chaos surrounding this try: http://www.haaretz.com/... or this: http://english.pnn.ps/...

Now onto some interesting news:

Ha'aretz is reporting the following:

Discontent with Hamas over slow-moving Palestinian unity talks and Israel's ban on Gaza reconstruction aid have led to a sharp decline in the Islamist group's popularity, an opinion poll showed on Monday.

The survey by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre (JMCC) put public support for Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at 18.8 percent, compared with 27.7 percent in its previous poll in January.

http://www.haaretz.com/...

With that drop in support Hamas needs to find a way to gain popular support and when was it seemingly at the height of it's support - during Cast Lead.

If this is true it seems the Palestinian people are seeing the problems that Hamas' obstructionism is bringing. Of course, Israel has a hand in manipulating this as well - considering the Blockade of Gaza is meant to do exactly what it is doing politically.

So what is Hamas doing to combat this. First off we have seen the newer and more moderate Hamas opinion in statements to the U.S. - they seem to think they can fool President Obama into thinking the "leopard can change its spots". Now, in some cases it can but Hamas simply does not have the track record to prove it. AND coincidently today Tzahal Radio reports they have shot militants planting explosives along the Border fence. Just the kind of incident that led to the beginning of Cast Lead.

Now interestingly enough the P.A. reports today that it arrested a Hamas Militant for planning an attack from the West Bank. This is not the first attack they have stopped. Now as to the legitimacy of this report - who knows but, it makes sense that this might happen. This does fit the meme that if Hamas attacks and causes further Israeli security crackdowns on the West Bank - they will gain influence with the local population for "standing up to the Israelis".

This report also boosts Fatah as the folks that can keep the Israelis from levelling the West Bank. So who knows how true any of this is... however it is worth noting.

The Israelis on the other hand are doing themselves no favors by continuing to snub President Obama's plans. Reports have Nicolas Sarkozy telling Netanyahu to toss Lieberman (which he should) - this might as Assaf correctly pointed out in his diary might either result in A. Coalition collapse or B. Bringing the more moderate (yes I know who did Cast Lead) Kadima into the government.

http://www.haaretz.com/...

A side note: Netanyahu determined to do teh Stoopid had this to say:

Netanyahu reportedly told Sarkozy that Lieberman came across differently in private than his public appearances would suggest.

Good to see Bibi not fooled by good advice (snark)

Israel - also in a move to reinforce Teh Stoopid just pledged to build 50 homes for the Outpost settlers they tossed the other week. What makes this "Teh Stoopid" THEY ARE BUILDING THEM IN THE WEST BANK.

All of this makes me wonder Can lefty - moderate Israelis or moderate Palestinians EVER catch a break????

Originally posted to volleyboy1 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 01:09 PM PDT.

Poll

Can the Moderates win

56%22 votes
17%7 votes
25%10 votes

| 39 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Leopards have spots, not stripes (5+ / 0-)

    And as for Israel, "teh Stoopid," and "continuing to snub President Obama's plans," perhaps you might want to look at the New York Times today:

    Israel would be open to a complete freeze of settlement building in the West Bank for three to six months as part of a broad Middle East peace endeavor that included a Palestinian agreement to negotiate an end to the conflict and confidence-building steps by major Arab nations, senior Israeli officials said Sunday.

    ...

    Among the steps being discussed that Arab nations might take as confidence building measures for Israel are permitting Israeli travelers to transit through their airports, allowing Israeli airplanes to fly in their airspace and creating limited academic and tourist exchanges. Among Arab countries, only Egypt and Jordan have full diplomatic relations with Israel.

    ...

    Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Two Days per Bottle.

    by dhonig on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 01:25:01 PM PDT

  •  Palestinian poll (14+ / 0-)

    The Palestinian opinion poll was certainly interesting, but I question whether it shows a lasting trend.  I see the opinion shift as linked to two things:

    1. Hamas intransigence in negotiations with Fatah (as the Haaretz article noted), and
    1. Obama.

    For the negotiations with Fatah, there is a lot of insight in a letter sent to Egypt by the other Palestinian factions (not Fatah or Hamas).  The letter hints that Hamas (and to some extent Fatah) are pulling away from discussing a unity government at all, and moving more toward finding a modus vivendi for a permanently divided government, with Fatah respecting Hamas in Gaza (though controlling some PA institutions there) and Hamas respecting Fatah in the West Bank.  A divided government is the death knell for Palestinian national aspirations.

    As for Obama, I think the Obama effect is very real.  As the Israel policy goes, Hamas effectively represents resistance without negotiation, while Fatah effectively represents negotiation withour resistance.  Any fool can see that neither option can succeed: negotiations without any leverage will never win more than the crumbs Israel choose to cast away.  As for resistance without negotiations: there is no evidence that Palestine can or ever will be able to force a military solution on Israel.

    However, Obama has unbalanced that calculation by talking directly to Arabs (Cairo), recognizing the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle, dealing directly with Abbas, and pressuring Israel to seriously improve life in the West Bank and move seriously on negotiations.  Thus, even if Palestinians have no real how with either the Hamas (all resistance) or the Fatah (all talk) routes, with Obama providing the strategic leverage for Fatah, some Palestinian seem to hope that there is a window for real negotiations despite their powerlessness.

    Of course, part of the upshot of this fact is that the window must be narrow.  Unless Obama can be seen to make real and continuing advances in the Palestinian national aspirations of a state (not just minor improvements in the standard of living), then the new pro-Fatah boost will soon dissipate, and Palestinians will again be evenly split between two weak parties that each only provide half a solution for the Palestinian national aspirations.  

    •  The difference between the two forms of leverage (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      volleyboy1

      is that resistance in the form of rockets for example will likely spark a new cycle of violence and only keep Israeli Right parties boosted politically.

      It remains to be seen but I think leverage in the form of US pressure would instead help moderates in both Israel and Palestine.  I have no doubt Obama sees that if diplomacy shows it can bear fruit and militancy shows it does not, extremists will be weakened.

      •  That is my hope (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sirclown

        I think that President Obama is a pretty smart guy and is making the right moves to make this happen. I am confident in him but, I really hope they (all parties) do not let this slip by. I really think these next 7 years (I am confident in the President) will be our last opportunity for a reasonable two state solution.

        "In any event, you certainly are a total asshole." Timaeus

        by volleyboy1 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 04:14:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I voted yes, inshallah. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattman, volleyboy1

    "Neither a borrower nor a lender be"

    by HenryBurlingame on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 01:29:08 PM PDT

  •  I'm getting really pissed at Israel. (10+ / 0-)

    Today about this, specifically:

    Israel will build 50 new homes in an existing West Bank settlement as part of a wider plan to absorb residents slated to be evicted from the illegal outpost of Migron.

    The complete plan calls for the construction of 1,450 homes in the settlement of Adam.

    What a fucking slap in the face to Obama.

    I'd never switch sides, but I'll just start caring a whole lot less.

    "Ambrose...Just stop it now ! Your intellect is just to overpowering and opressive for us average bloggers"

    by AmbroseBurnside on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 01:29:12 PM PDT

    •  Oh well then (6+ / 0-)

      how about this to further piss you off:

      http://www.haaretz.com/...

      Gosh Darnit (in lieu of more graphic terms) - Why is this happening????

      Is Israel trying to live up to the worst in itself.

      On the other hand: What the "f" are the Palestinians in power doing???????

      Everyone needs a collective "Pull heads from planted in Rear Ends". Jeez.

      "In any event, you certainly are a total asshole." Timaeus

      by volleyboy1 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 01:41:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  haha what a classic (0+ / 0-)

        "you guys really need to stop building settlements! ...don't worry, it's really ok if you don't, we're just saying that it might be nice if you did?"

        i'm up early 'cause ain't enough light in the day time...

        by keonhp on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 02:00:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ambrose (0+ / 0-)

      Israel is 'consolidating' positions.  They're rec'cing Obama re: dismantling illegal outposts and consolidating those citizens within settlements that Israel has no intention of ever giving up.  To do that, they need to both dismantle the outpost and build a house for the citizen on land Israel is keeping.  Specifically, there is a ring around Jerusalem that Israel just isn't giving up no matter how hard Obama or anyone else pressures her.

      "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." --Barack Obama, June, 2008

      by oldskooldem on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 03:24:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep (0+ / 0-)

        I see that too and it seems in violation of the spirit of peace. I have my thoughts on Jerusalem that probably would not fly with anyone BUT....

        The thing is that as long as the Palestinians cannot seem to get it together, the Israelis are not going to come to the table. Negotiating with Hamas is a no-no given their behavior at this point. The current PA leadership does not have the respect or ability to deal.

        Assaf talks about Marwan Barghouti - I have heard others say the same. I wonder from an Israeli perspective what they think.

        "In any event, you certainly are a total asshole." Timaeus

        by volleyboy1 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 03:29:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I guess I just disagree (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          deaniac20, volleyboy1

          The problem with these outposts is that they start with a trailer, then they become 10 trailers, then a small community, and eventually they become a problem.  Israel just isn't pulling out of large established towns around Jerusalem--so by shutting down an outpost and giving someone with a frontier mindset a home outside of Jerusalem, you're both stopping new settlements and preventing an internal civil war with your frontier population.

          "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." --Barack Obama, June, 2008

          by oldskooldem on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 03:42:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh I understand your point and it (0+ / 0-)

            makes sense in context - I am not arguing that. I am just saying there is going to have be some movement there particularly as those large settlements can be big bargaining chip particularly when it comes to giving up big bargaining chips on the Palestinian side. One huge one comes to mind.

            "In any event, you certainly are a total asshole." Timaeus

            by volleyboy1 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 03:47:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I almost always disagree with you but..... (8+ / 0-)

    you make me believe that there is room for reasoned and civil I/P discussion here.

    Savez-vous quelque bien qui console du regret d'un monde?

    by DawnoftheRedSun on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 01:32:52 PM PDT

  •  Israel needs another Yitzhak Rabin (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil

    Netanyahu is not that person.  I don't think that Tzipi Livni is that person as well.  The only way another Rabin will come about is if the international community forces Israel to makes the hard choices that it refuses to make.

    That would require open criticism from it's allies.  Saying "settlements are unhelpful" is just pussyfooting around the issue so that people's "feelings" don't get hurt.  Sometimes being a friend requires you to tell them the truth even if it hurts them.  

    Hamas on the other hand, will change it stripes.  I see them as something similar to the mormon church.  Hamas is also not in control of all of Gaza.

    Jimmy Carter did a fact finding tour recently and it was said that Hamas agents had discovered and defused roadside bombs. It was said that they where planted on the former president's route in Gaza.  

    Knowing the situation there, i can't trust if it is the truth or not.  More propaganda comes out of that area of the world then facts it seems.

    Born in a vacuum. Living for the next rhetorical victory. Death by apathy.

    by ArthurCrandall on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 01:44:18 PM PDT

    •  Well I agree that they need another Rabin (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      livosh1, CN, somtam, ArthurCrandall

      another gift from the Settler movement.

      And I think you are right about Being a friend.

      On the other hand, Hamas is not going to change his "stripes" (it should be as dhonig pointed out). I mean if reports are true - they are planting Bombs on the border fence - A dumbass move if ever there was one, and then trying to bring the Israelis down on the W.B. not only dumb but evil as well.

      It will be years before Hamas ever amounts to a legit partner for peace (you should see what I first wrote) for the Israelis OR Americans. I think your final sentence:

      Knowing the situation there, i can't trust if it is the truth or not.  More propaganda comes out of that area of the world then facts it seems.

      Truer words have not been spoken.

      "In any event, you certainly are a total asshole." Timaeus

      by volleyboy1 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 02:10:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think moderates will win (0+ / 0-)

    as there are rumblings of a settlement freeze from Ehud barak, and most importantly, Hamas is losing popularity, thanks to the blockade of Gaza, which has shown its worth, and tho could have been done better, is achieving a long term objective of fundamentally weakening the jihad groups which threaten to destroy the peace process.

    "If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it"-Barack Obama, Sderot, Israel

    by deaniac20 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 02:04:28 PM PDT

    •  Right Barak is saying that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      livosh1

      but he has been saying that for some time. My hope is the gov't falls and Kadima can grab power. While Tzipi is not my favorite person I like her a far-sight more than Bibi. AND while I know that some folks think she is just as bad - those same people see Bush and Gore as the same. Look what that accomplished.

      I hope you are right about moderates. I voted "yes" too but, I almost voted the part about the afterlife.

      "In any event, you certainly are a total asshole." Timaeus

      by volleyboy1 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 02:14:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think Bibi is going anywhere (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CN, volleyboy1

        because he now has broad political support among parties and voters in Israel. Sadly, he may be the only way to get peace, as he has united Israel and its government on a two-state deal. However, Sarkozy told Netanyahu to dump Lieberman, and replace him with Livni. I think Sarko L'Américain is onto something.

        "If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it"-Barack Obama, Sderot, Israel

        by deaniac20 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:07:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  but Abbas has to come to the table (0+ / 0-)

    already, and stop stalling. The settlements are not the be all and end all.

    "If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it"-Barack Obama, Sderot, Israel

    by deaniac20 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 02:04:51 PM PDT

    •  I think you are underestimating the settlements (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, Conure

      BUT as you stated you were for an agreement around the '67 borders (as am I).

      The settlements break up the West Bank into a series of cantons rather than allowing for a contiguous state. I simply think they are a major roadblock. If I were Palestinian they would be a big time stumbling block for me.

      "In any event, you certainly are a total asshole." Timaeus

      by volleyboy1 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 02:18:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kadima should join the government (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    volleyboy1

    in exchange for the Foreign Ministry.  Unless someone can outline a realistic scenario under which Bibi's government falls.  I don't see it myself.

    Bibi is a hardliner but he's mostly power hungry.  As long as he gets to be the top dog and Israel isn't left in demographic or physical danger, I think he'll end up showing more flexibility than the conventional wisdom believes.  I think Kadima would serve the country better by joining and influencing diplomacy instead of holding out for the unrealistic hope that Bibi's government falls.

    I also think such a government should try to reach a deal, waiting to be implemented, with the PA ASAP to further push Hamas into the role of obstructionists and keep their popularity down.  If logistically possible, maybe even implement a deal only with the West Bank until the leadership of Gaza is ready to sign off on it.

  •  No, unfortunately I think we are (6+ / 0-)

    screwed. I'm drunk in Rome, and I just checked in here for the first time in a while.

    Extremists always seem to call the tune while reasoned technocrats and people who believe in small peaceful progress get laughed at. It takes years to build trust, and flame-throwing yahoos come in and trash the place in hours.

    Sorry to unload the cynicism, but that's where I am right now.

    Keep writing VB, maybe someday you'll have something more hopeful to write about.

    You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

    by FrankCornish on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 03:11:30 PM PDT

  •  Does anyone here know of any existing websites, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    volleyboy1

    maybe somewhere along the lines of dkos, that are dedicated to bringing together moderate Israelis and Palestinians to join in discussions like the ones we are having here?

    I've actually thought about this from time to time for several years now, and it seems to me that if these people could get together and have the discussions that their governments seem unprepared to have, it could be a very powerful force for positive change.

    The trick would be to find a way to moderate the diaries/forums/whathaveyou in such a way as to steer them away from useless blaming and fighting and towards a focus on resolution.

    "Leap, and the net will appear." -- John Burroughs

    by somtam on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 04:57:36 PM PDT

    •  That would be a great thing. (0+ / 0-)

      The only thing is that then you wouldn't have Pootie diaries and believe me those go a long way to a good distraction. Just kidding (although I do read that every day)

      J Street probably has some good resource materials or I would assume that they do.

      I have been thinking it would be great to have a Middle East Moderates conference. However, who are the moderates that are there. I am not a big Chomsky fan or anyone like that. For me I trust folks from the Israeli left or Kadima. Right there I think you would have some problems but.....maybe not.

      There are some excellent voices on both sides for peace and understanding. It would be great to have a roundtable discussion on that. PLUS we could all buy each other beers. Nothing promotes peace like a good "heat on". (again sort of kidding).

      "In any event, you certainly are a total asshole." Timaeus

      by volleyboy1 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:04:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A Middle East Moderates conference is a great (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        volleyboy1

        idea. Might even be a natural result of discussions within an online community.

        I know that when people meet each other one on one, especially in person, there is a tendency to want to get along rather than fight. In my travels abroad, I have encountered on a number of occasions Israelis and Arabs (including Palestinians) partying together and getting along just fine. They couldn't understand why that surprised me so much :-)

        Anyway, I just tried to get over to to J Street site to see what its all about, but they seem to be having some problems. I definitely want to check out more of the site and see if they are trying to do anything similar to what we are talking about.

        "Leap, and the net will appear." -- John Burroughs

        by somtam on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:33:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It would be a great thing (0+ / 0-)

          if it could come about. I am curious is there ever a DKos Conference? I think it would be cool if we all had one broken into different policy parts at different times. Like a roundtable discussion comprised of Kossacks not experts (subtle dig, no?) about various subjects.

          Like a morning session on The M.E. for an hour and a half, then another on Latin America, healthcare and so forth. I think it would be awesome. Has this ever happened?

          "In any event, you certainly are a total asshole." Timaeus

          by volleyboy1 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:26:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Oh yeah, and... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        volleyboy1

        The only thing is that then you wouldn't have Pootie diaries and believe me those go a long way to a good distraction.

        Maybe so, but I'm getting hungry just thinking about the amazing recipes people will be posting on the troll diaries.

        "Leap, and the net will appear." -- John Burroughs

        by somtam on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:37:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weasel, Gracian

    "So what is Hamas doing to combat this. First off we have seen the newer and more moderate Hamas opinion in statements to the U.S."

    In fact, as I'm sure you know, these Hamas statements merely echo and in some cases repeat verbatim many similar ones issued in recent years.

    "Now, in some cases it can but Hamas simply does not have the track record to prove it."

    Hamas's track record is far better than Israel's and the US's in this conflict. It hasn't orchestrated a suicide bombing for years; it has repeatedly offered Israel a long-term ceasefire; it has undertaken self-imposed unilateral ceasefires with Israel and adhered to them in the face of considerable Israeli provocations; it has repeatedly  adhered to ceasefires even when violated by Israel; it has repeatedly offered to end Qassam rocket attacks in exchange for an end to the criminal siege of Gaza, and has in fact virtually ended them despite the continuation of that siege; it has pledged to abide by any agreement reached between Abbas and Israel so long as it passes a popular referendum; it accepted the Prisoner's Document which implicitly recognised Israel and which would have restricted resistance attacks to the oPt; and its stated positions on the two-state settlement are far less rejectionist than those of the US and Israel.

    Does all of that "prove" that Hamas is being sincere when it expresses support for the two-state settlement? No, but if proof of sincerity were a prerequisite for negotiations than the entire discipline of diplomacy might as well be shelved right now. People who are serious about achieving results react to overtures from allegedly rejectionist parties by pursuing them in good faith to see if they are genuine. People who aren't serious about achieving results react to them in precisely the manner the US and Israel have done so far.

    "AND coincidently today Tzahal Radio reports they have shot militants planting explosives along the Border fence. Just the kind of incident that led to the beginning of Cast Lead."

    Firstly, the incident to which you're referring involved a group of Palestinians supposedly digging tunnels, whether for defensive or offensive purposes we don't know. What led to "Cast Lead" was Israel's violation of two separate ceasefires rigidly adhered to by Hamas, and its flat rejection of repeated offers from Hamas to agree to a third.

    "This report also boosts Fatah as the folks that can keep the Israelis from levelling the West Bank."

    Fatah is doing exactly what it did during the 90s, acting as Israel's enforcer in the territories. For its troubles it got nothing in the way of political progress, the virtual destruction of the PA during the Second Intifada and the election defeat to Hamas in 2006. There are no indications that the returns will be different this time around.

    "also in a move to reinforce Teh Stoopid just pledged to build 50 homes for the Outpost settlers they tossed the other week. What makes this "Teh Stoopid" THEY ARE BUILDING THEM IN THE WEST BANK."

    Israel also in recent days initiated moves to facilitate the expansion of Ma'ale Adumim; authorised the construction of 300 new homes in the 'outpost' of Givat Habrecha; issued demolition orders for the agricultural infrastructure of the village of Azzun Atma, trapped between the Green Line and the wall; handed over 65 demolition orders to Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem; issued demolition orders for the homes of over 300 people in the Jordan Valley; demolished 30 structures in the Jordan Valley, displacing 29 people; levelled scores of citrus groves in the Gaza Strip; etc. etc.

    If we're talking about "track records", perhaps you might like to bear all that in mind.

    •  HAHAHAHA Stop. You are killing me (5+ / 0-)

      First calling Finklestein a great scholor now this comment about Hamas... You getting dizzy from all the spinning?

      Sorry boss, but rather than spend tons of time picking apart your ridiculous response point by point - I am going to pick up my children.  

      Have a great day - You have given me a good laugh. "Next up - the Khmer Rouge - haven't killed anyone for years would they still be a threat today."

      "In any event, you certainly are a total asshole." Timaeus

      by volleyboy1 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:50:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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