On Sunday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented the Annapolis summit principles to the Israeli government cabinet. They were accepted unanimously.
What Olmert informed the Israeli government cabinet was that Israel’s acceptance of the Middle East road map, as presented by President Bush in Annapolis, meant that Israel would not have to take any steps of compliance towards the creation of a Palestinian state until and unless the Palestinians would abide by the first stage of the road map – to crush terror organizations in its midst.
However, at Annapolis, President Bush declared that Israel must set up a Palestinian state led by the Fatah within one year. In that context, Bush was careful to declare that both sides are to accept and abide by the April 30th, 2003 road map, not the May 25th, 2003 version of the road map, when the Israeli government spelled out its 14 reservations to the road map plan, which calls for the Palestinians dismantling terrorist organizations as the first stage of fulfilling any road map.
Since President Bush also declared that the US government would be the judge of compliance, this reporter asked US state department officials if the US demanded that Abbas:
1. Cancel his school curriculum which inculcates children to destroy Israel, which can be found at www.edume.org.
2. Disband and disarm the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades of the Fatah, which is defined by the US law as a terrorist organization.
The answer that this reporter received on the record from US State Department officials was that neither issue is on the agenda.
Meanwhile, a member of Congress has reported that she received an official study from US AID, which works in conjunction with the US State Department, which erroneously or deliberately determined that Palestinian incitement had been eliminated from their curriculum.
The US Congress is not aware of the fact that the author of the report works as an advisor to the Arab lobby in Washington.
DECLARATION OF FATAH: WILL FIGHT ALONGSIDE HAMAS
Only two days after the Annapolis summit meeting, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah has declared that Fatah will fight alongside Hamas if and when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launches a military operation in the Gaza Strip to combat the incessant rocket fire of terrorists operating in the Hamas-controlled territory. A Fatah official was quoted as saying that "Fatah won't remain idle in the face of an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip ... We will definitely fight together with Hamas against the Israeli army. It's our duty to defend our people against the occupiers ... The homeland is more important than all our differences."
Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's military wing, issued a statement on Friday in which it called on Abu Mazen to provide them with the ability and equipment necessary to repel an Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip.
Ignoring the warnings that Fatah remains at war with Israel, Israel will work out the final terms for the entry of the armored vehicles for Fatah into Palestinian cities over the coming week. These armored vehicles were a gift from Russia to Abbas.
Israel will also allow an increase in the number of conscripts into Fatah's security forces which would allow them to enter Palestinian cities, from where they can better attack Israeli towns and villages on Israel’s narrow coastal plain.
Meanwhile, eight Palestinian terrorists who were identified as members of Hamas' military wing, Iz a Din al-Kassam, were killed in a Friday nocturnal IAF air strike east of Khan Yunis. Another three Hamas men were killed the following day by members of an IDF patrol in the northern Gaza Strip. Hamas' terrorists opened fire on the Israeli patrol, which returned fire with a rocket, killing the three. Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas's military wing, warned that the "day of reckoning is drawing near" and that Hamas would take its revenge. Over the weekend, Palestinians reportedly fired four rockets and 15 mortar shells out of the Gaza Strip aiming for Israel.
One high-ranking IDF official said: "every attack by Hamas on an Israeli town by means of mortar shells or Kassam rockets will lead to a response of damaging Hamas centers, such as bases and other positions held by the organization."
On Saturday, Hamas terrorists opened fire at a patrol of troops from the Golani Brigade's 12th Battalion in the northern Gaza Strip near the border fence opposite Kibbutz Kfar Azza. The troops returned fire with a rocket, which killed three terrorists.
On Friday night at around 2:30 in the morning, IAF jets attacked a group of armed terrorists to the east of Khan Yunis. The Palestinians reported that Israeli helicopter gunships fired six missiles at a group of terrorists from the Iz a Din al-Kassam brigades. In that attack the brothers Mohammed and Ziad Suleiman Abu Anza, aged 21 and 35, Ibrahim Asad, 20, Jihad Fauzi Kadih, 19, and Tamer Abu Jamaa, aged 21, were killed.
Hamas officials threatened to seek revenge. "The enemy will pay a heavy price and the day of reckoning is drawing near. All of the occupation's calculations will be inverted and the results will be beyond all expectations," said Abu Obeida, the spokesman for the Iz a Din al-Kassam Brigades. In a press conference he held in Khan Yunis, Abu Obeida called on Israel to "begin to prepare the funerals for soldiers and settlers." He said that Hamas had "many alternatives for responses to the enemy's crimes."
"The day is drawing near in which the members of al-Kassam will shift the entire balance on the heads of the Zionists and will crush all of their expectations," said Abu Obeida, "the enemy won't be glad for long when he sees our dead, but he needs to get ready and to prepare the black bags."
ISRAEL SHELVES PLAN TO INVADE GAZA
Israel's military has again been forced to shelve plans to invade the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Military sources said the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has rejected plans for a major ground operation in the Gaza Strip as part of an effort to stop daily Palestinian missile fire into Israel. The sources said Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak determined that any major incursion into the Gaza Strip would torpedo U.S. plans for accelerated negotiations for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank by 2009.
"Right now, there are no plans for an invasion even though everybody understands that the violence will get worse," a military source said. "The reason [for the rejection of a military invasion] is political."
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY WITH AN OUTSTRETCHED HAND
The PA will ask for 5 billion dollars from the donor countries who will gather this month in Paris to finance reforms in its institutions and for economic rehabilitation.
The plan is to be spread over three years and is intended, among other things, to reduce the deficit of the PA, about 1.5 billion dollars, and to finance reforms in the Palestinian security organizations and enterprises in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Planning Minister, Samir Abdullah, who is coordinating the reform plans on behalf of Prime Minister Fayyad, said that the plan is almost complete and that a draft of it has been sent for the donor countries to study.
ABBAS: WE WON'T ACCEPT ISRAEL AS A JEWISH STATE
PA Chairman Machmud Abbas has been touring Arab capitals in the aftermath of the Annapolis conference. The Palestinian leader took pride in the achievements that were made in the course of the conference, but clarified that he rejected Israel's "red lines," including its demand to be recognized as a Jewish state.
"We achieved the primary goal that we set for ourselves in advance of the Annapolis conference-to set the peace process in motion," Abbas said after meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "The joint committees will begin their work on December 12 and will discuss all of the issues, including the final status arrangement issues, including Jerusalem, the borders, the settlements and the refugees."
Abbas also cited the conference of the donor countries in Paris on December 17th and the follow-up conference to Annapolis, which is supposed to be held in Moscow.
"We have no guarantees that the talks will reach their conclusion, but behind us stands the international community and international institutions that want the promotion of the peace process," he said. "We have international, Arab and Islamic legitimacy and American sincerity of intent."
Abbas added: "The Palestinians do not accept the formula that the State of Israel is a Jewish state. We say that Israel exists, and in Israel there are Jews and there are those who are not Jews." The Palestinian Authority chairman undertook also to combat terrorism. "That is included in the road map. We will meet the demands that have been presented to us, and it is incumbent upon the Israelis to meet their obligations, particularly with respect to ending the settlement activity, removing the outposts and restoring the Palestinian institutions to East Jerusalem."
Queried about Abbas’s statements, the Israeli Prime Ministers office refused to comment.
429 PALESTINIAN CONVICTS TO BE RELEASED ON MONDAY
The most significant Israeli good will gesture for the Annapolis conference will be carried out on Monday with the release of 429 Palestinian convicts from jails across Israel. The convict release was originally scheduled to be held ON Sunday but was delayed by a single day at the Palestinians' request, said Prisons Service officials.