Monday, 28 April 2014


What Blair should have said

Tony Blair, Britain’s former prime minister, took a scalpel to a neuralgic issue last week. In a major speech on Wednesday, he declared that the West needed to swallow its differences with Russia and China and make common cause with them to counter the threat of radical Islam, the biggest threat to global security today.

Blair has understood that, with the world facing this lethal threat, there is an even more dangerous reluctance in the West to engage with it – even to the point of understanding exactly what it is.

His remarks provoked scorn and fury in equal measure. He was accused of being “the tyrants’ friend,” “embarrassingly simple-minded” and posing a “threat to world peace.”

Blair, the Middle East envoy for the Quartet of the UN, the EU, the United States and Russia, has long been a lightning-rod for widespread fury in the UK over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Critics claimed that, as prime minister, he was in the pocket of Israel and US president George W Bush.

Excoriated by both Left and Right as a Neo-con warmonger who took the UK to war in Iraq “on a lie” about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, he is hounded by demonstrators calling him a “war criminal” and “Bliar” whenever he appears in public.

In his London speech, Blair poked directly at these wounds – even though, in a number of respects, he himself flinched from the full implications of a situation he rightly criticizes the West for refusing to acknowledge.

He suggested that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan failed merely because of sectarian fighting in those countries. That provoked unbridled rage amongst those who believe that the carnage in Iraq, in particular, was the result of an “illegal” war that was his fault and pointless from the start.

The second issue on which Blair provoked fury was Israel. Despite his pro-Israel views – for which he paid a heavy price in British politics – he used to maintain that solving Israel/Palestine would solve the region’s problems. Now he understands, correctly, that solving the region’s problems is critical to solving Israel/Palestine.

This is incomprehensible to those for whom Palestinian “victimization” by Israel is the defining issue of the times. But Mr. Blair wants people to understand that the real issue is the global threat from radical Islam.

As he said, “There is not a region of the world not adversely affected by Islamism” – including Europe, where the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda of Islamizing the West has been allowed to proceed unchecked. Yet the West goes to extraordinary lengths to deny this common factor. For saying we need to take sides, to “engage” and “intervene” against radical Islam, Blair stands accused of supporting tyrants. But in strategically crucial Egypt, it is only rational that Blair should say of General Sisi, the autocrat who stands against rule by the Muslim Brotherhood, that “it is massively in our interests that he succeeds.”

Nevertheless, aspects of this speech suggested Blair remains in a bit of a muddle. The turmoil in the Middle East, he said, was fundamentally due to the “titanic struggle” between Muslim reformers and Islamic radicals within both the Sunni and Shia worlds. That undoubted struggle, however, is by no means the whole story.

The unpalatable truth which he failed to acknowledge is that, invariably, the choice in the Middle East is not between a nasty strong man and nice reformers, but between a nasty strong man and Islamic radicals who threaten the West.

That, of course, is precisely the complaint thrown at him for deposing Saddam Hussein. But it was necessary to get rid of Saddam because he was too dangerous to the West to continue in office. It was similarly necessary to go to war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

But it was disingenuous of Mr. Blair to blame the subsequent chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan on the “distorting feature” of religious extremism. The murderous battles there took place only because the strategic failures of both the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns had removed the restraints which had previously kept those sectarian divisions under control but then signally failed to help install new restraints in their place.

His deepest mistake, however, was to say that the “radicalized and politicized” view of Islam was “an ideology that distorts and warps Islam’s true message.”

This is the argument that Islam is really a religion of peace and so the extremists don’t represent “true” Islam. But this is not correct. While millions of Muslims around the world do shun the violent or extreme tenets of the religion, these are endorsed by all the Islamic authorities who matter.

It is more correct to say Islamic radicalism is a valid interpretation of Islam, no less “true” just because it is not universally endorsed. Yet Blair elides “interpretation” with “perversion” – thus undermining his own message that the West doesn’t understand the nature and severity of the threat from the Islamic world.

He also omitted to mention the most devastating blow of all to the security of the West: that President Obama’s America has stopped defending its allies and is instead empowering its enemies. The Arab and Muslim world perceives the US throwing in the towel in Afghanistan, breaking its own red lines over Syria and displaying impotence over Ukraine.

Above all, it recognizes from the farcical negotiations in Geneva that the US will not stop Iran from getting the bomb, and that it has actually strengthened Iran’s stranglehold on the region.

Arab rulers will always align themselves with whatever “strong horse” they perceive to be dominating the pack. Accordingly, Arab states previously helpful or essential to the West such as Egypt are cozying up instead to Russia, China or even Iran itself.

The one beacon of stability and freedom in the entire region is the nation that is directly threatened with annihilation: Israel. America and Europe should therefore stop beating it up and rewarding or appeasing those who want it destroyed, from the Palestinian Authority to Iran. They should instead start defending their one true ally against the enemies who threaten them all.

Western interests, commercial as well as security and political, lie in supporting Israel. Only when the West finally understands that will it have any hope of defeating the radical Islamist enemy.

That’s what Blair should have said.

Thursday, 24 April 2014


Rapture? Of Whom? When?

Lately I keep on coming across website after “Christian” website that questions the pre-Tribulation rapture. It really looks like some people are making a special effort to eliminate this teaching. Rather than refute the rapture with Scripture, however, what usually suffices for debate is to associate the teaching with Jesuits, and Catholics, like Emmanuel Lacunza and Margaret McDonald; Guilt by association.
All this, of course, in spite of the fact that the Roman Catholic church is officially opposed to this teaching. The idea of a future millennial reign of Christ is totally opposed by the idea that the Catholic Church is reigning in Christ’s place today. If the Roman Catholic Church is ruling and reigning on earth today, in Christ’s place, then there would be no need for Him to come and set up an earthly reign, Himself.
For the record, I believe in a Pre-Tribulation rapture because this is what the bible teaches, and it matters not who else believed, or believes this doctrine. If there are, or were, Catholics who believed in a pre-tribulation rapture, it is in spite of the teachings of their Church, not because of them.
Anyway, I read Margaret McDonald’s statement a couple of years ago, and it certainly does not resemble the rapture as taught by Dispensationalists. Even if it did, that would be no different than the demon-possessed slave girl saying that Paul was a servant of God in Acts 16:16-18
16And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
What she said was true, but it didn’t come from God but from a demon, in order to cast doubt on the gospel. Guilt by association. If Paul was associated with a demon-possessed slave girl, it would cast doubt on the gospel. He understood this and so cast out the devil.
In the old days Millennialists, or Chiliasts, were subject to public beatings, imprisonment, and death, so I suppose there has been some progress made in the anti-Millennialist camp. Or, maybe, it just isn’t socially acceptable to do those things today.
I was going through some of the pertinent Scriptures this week and I thought it would be appropriate to go over some of them again.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive andremain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.18Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
Here we have the most referenced rapture passage in the New Testament. This is very clearly a snatch of believers from off of the face of the earth.
Notice the word “prevent’ in verse 15. This actually means “precede” and means that the saints in Christ who have died will receive their new bodies shortly, or immediately, before the living saints are taken off of the earth.
This passage in 1 Thessalonians is a direct reference to a passage in Isaiah 26. A look at that passage puts the “rapture”, the great snatch of believers, in context;
19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they ariseAwake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. 20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. 21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. Isaiah 26:19-21
Here Isaiah is speaking, and prophesying of the End Times. In verse 19 he is stating that God’s dead men will be resurrected, and he expects to be raised himself at this time. This is not a general resurrection of all humanity, but only of the saints; they are specifically God’s dead men, or as Paul put it “the dead in Christ”. This is not only Israel, but all of God’s saints, up to that time. They will sing, for this is the resurrection of the saved. The lost will have nothing to sing about at their resurrection!
Notice that immediately after the resurrection of the saints, God calls his living saints to come into their chambers, and to hide there until the “indignation” is over. The indignation is the Great Tribulation period. This is the time that the Lord will bring unimagined horrors upon the earth, as judgments against humanity for their unbelief. This is the same “indignation” mentioned in Daniel 11:36, in relation to the Antichrist’s rule.
The implication of them hiding themselves “as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” is that once the indignation is done, they will come out of hiding, or in fact, return to earth. They will return to earth, at the end of the Tribulation, with Jesus.
As Paul said, “and so shall we ever be with the Lord”; If the Lord is in Heaven, then we will be with Him there, but when He returns to earth, then we will be coming back with Him to rule with Him here! The saints are the “clouds of Heaven”(Matt. 24:30, 26:64, Mark 14:62).
The last verse is a reference to the Lord’s return at the end of the Tribulation period. He will come with righteous anger and will slaughter His enemies. When it says “the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” it is a reference to the final battle, Armageddon, where those who take the mark of the Beast will be slain in public, and left to rot in the open, unburied. They will be eaten by birds and wild animals.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heavenCome and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bondboth small and great. Revelation 19:17-18
Obviously, the dead of this war, will not be buried, in order for the prophecy of Isaiah 26:21 to be fulfilled.
So, here in Isaiah 26:19-21 we have a brief overview of the End Times events, in chronological sequence. Since it is brief, it cannot go into all of the pertinent details, but there is enough here that we can know that the true believers in Jesus Christ will be taken away from this earth, and will spend the Tribulation period in Heaven with the Lord.

Monday, 21 April 2014




… when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, [they] took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is theKing of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. (John 12:12-13)
Recently there has been a big uproar in the conservative media about the “war on Easter.” Bill O’Reilly, who believes the Bible is allegorical, “lambasted President Obama and the White House for empowering ‘secular progressives’ to pressure school districts around the country to decide not to use terms like ‘Easter bunny’ and ‘Easter egg’” (from MediaMatters). My question is, what do the “Easter bunny” and “Easter eggs” have to do with Easter anyway? The bunny and eggs are pagan fertility symbols that were used to celebrate the vernal equinox and the beginning of new life – not in a spiritual sense, but simply the time when trees bud, green returns to plant life, the time for planting of new crops, etc. Even the name “Easter” is a derivative of the fertility goddess Ishtar (Babylonian), Astarte (Phoenician), or Ashtoreth (Canaanite). So, the White House wants to stop Easter egg hunts or remove these symbols from public schools – so what! Christians should not be offended by this. More offensive is the expulsion of God and His Word from the public schools. That boat has sailed never to return to port again. The outcry and outrage should have been sounded four decades ago, and now we are whining about the Easter bunny and Easter eggs!
As we enter this Holy Week, Christians should reject paganism in all its forms. “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Aw, what’s the harm in taking the kids out for an Easter egg hunt? Well, what does that teach them about Christ’s death on the cross, His three days in the tomb and His victorious resurrection? Instead of “Easter Sunday,” why not start calling it “Resurrection Sunday”? Instead of Easter eggs and Easter bunnies, why not celebrate what Christ has done to save us? Now, that really is a big deal!
On Sunday morning, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt (Matthew 21:1-9Mark 11:1-10Luke 19:29-38John 12:12-15). That in itself is miraculous! Matthew, citing Zechariah 9:9, says that the donkey was a “foal” – really too young yet to bear a heavy burden – and yet this little donkey carried our Lord without complaint. Zechariah had prophesied this presentation of the King of kings, and within a few short days the King would be rejected and crucified as a common criminal. But then came Sunday! And soon, He will return as a conquering king, riding upon a white steed (Revelation 19:11-16) – no longer a Lamb to be slaughtered, but a Lion to conquer His enemies and rule with a “rod of iron” (Psalm 2:9Revelation 2:2712:519:15).
So, kill the Easter bunny. It is of absolutely no value. We have a greater truth to defend and a greater message of hope to share!

Sunday, 20 April 2014


Who is ultimately responsible for the ongoing attacks on Christians and their churches throughout the Islamic world?
Focusing on one of the most obvious nations where Christians are regularly targeted—Egypt’s Coptic Christians—one finds that the “mob” is the most visible and obvious culprit.  One Copt accused of some transgression against Muslim sensibilities—from having relations with a Muslim woman, to ruining a Muslim man’s shirt—is often enough to prompt Muslim mobs to destroy entire Christian villages and their churches.
Recently, for example, after her cross identified Mary Sameh George as a Christian, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood mob attacked, beat, and slaughtered her.

However, a recent Arabic op-ed titled “Find the True Killer of Mary” looks beyond the mob to identify the true persecutor of Christians in Egypt. According to it:
Those who killed the young and vulnerable Mary Sameh George, for hanging a cross in her car, are not criminals, but rather wretches who follow those who legalized for them murder, lynching, dismemberment, and the stripping bare of young Christian girls—without every saying “kill.”  [Islamic cleric] Yassir Burhami and his colleagues who announce their hate for Christians throughout satellite channels and in mosques—claiming that hatred of Christians is synonymous with love for God—they are the true killers who need to be tried and prosecuted…  The slayers of Mary Sameh are simply a wretched mob, with the body of a bull but the brain of a worm.  It’s not the puppets on the string who need punishing, but rather the mastermind who moves the puppets with his bloody fingers behind closed curtains that needs punishing.
One fact certainly validates this Arabic op-ed’s assertions: the overwhelming majority of attacks on Christians in Egypt and other Muslim nations—including the slaughter of Mary Sameh George—occur on Friday, the one day of the week that Muslims congregate in mosques for communal prayers and to hear sermons.
The significance of this fact can easily be understood by analogy: what if Christians were especially and consistently violent to non-Christian minorities on Sunday—right after they got out of church?  What would that say about what goes on in Christian churches?
What does it say about what goes on in Muslim mosques?
The Arabic op-ed also does well to name Sheikh Yassir al-Burhami as one of those who “announce their hate for Christians throughout the satellite channels and in mosques, claiming that hatred of Christians is synonymous with love for God.”

For example, Dr. Burhami—the face of Egypt’s Salafi movement—once issued a fatwa, or Islamic edict, forbidding Muslim taxi- and bus-drivers from transporting Coptic Christian priests to their churches, which he depicted as “more forbidden than taking someone to a liquor bar.”
As for hating non-Muslim “infidels,” many Islamic clerics, especially Salafis, believe that the doctrine of “Loyalty and Enmity” (or wala’ wa bara’) commands Muslims never to befriend or be loyal to non-Muslims.
Burhami himself appears on video asserting that if a Muslim man marries a Christian or Jewish woman (known in Islamic parlance as “People of the Book”)—even he must still hate his wife, because she is an infidel.
When asked at a conference how Islam can allow a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman and yet expect him to hate her, Burhami expounded as follows:
Shiekh Yassir Burhami and the scriptures of Islam
Shiekh Yassir Burhami and the scriptures of Islam
Where’s the objection? Do all men love their wives?  How many married couples live together despite disagreements and problems? Huh? That being the case, he [Muslim husband] may love the way she [non-Muslim wife] looks, or love the way she raises the children, or love that she has money. This is why he’s discouraged from marrying among the People of the Book—because she has no [real] religion. He is ordered to make her hate her religion while continuing marriage/sexual relations with her. This is a very standard matter….  Of course he should tell her that he hates her religion. He must show her that he hates her because of her religion, and because she is an infidel. But if possible, treat her well—perhaps that will cause her to convert to Islam. He should invite her to Islam and call her to Allah….  In fact, let me tell you: whoever rapes a woman, does he necessarily love her? Or is he just sleeping with her? He’s sleeping with her for her body’s sake only, and he does not love her in reality, because if he loved her, he wouldn’t have hurt her. Therefore it is possible to have sexual relations [between a Muslim man and a Christian or Jewish woman] without love. This is possible, but as we said, he is commanded to hate her (emphasis added).
Burhami even said that the Muslim husband cannot initiate greetings to his non-Muslim wife when he comes home—according to the teachings of Islam’s prophet as recorded in the hadith.
Like all other Islamic clerics, Burhami justified “infidel-wife-hating” by quoting some of the Koran verses that form the cornerstone of the doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity:
Otherwise what do you do with the undisputed texts [of the Koran], such as “Thou wilt not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, loving those who resist [or reject submission to] Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred… “O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors…”  [Koran 58:22 and 5:51, Yusuf Ali translation].  What do you do with such a verse? What do you do will all these verses?
Indeed, what does a Muslim do with all these Koran verses and sayings attributed to Islam’s prophet Muhammad?
Such is the dilemma.
From here it becomes clear that the aforementioned Arabic op-ed discussing the slaughter of Mary Sameh George is only partially correct.  It is true that behind the mindless mob stand Islamic clerics like Burhami, inciting hatred for Christians and other infidels.  But that is not the complete picture; for behind all these clerics stand Islam’s scriptures—the Koran and hadith—commanding enmity for the infidel.
In short, it’s not just a few “radical clerics”—a few “rotten apples”—that incite mobs to attack Christians, but rather the core texts of Islam itself.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014


“The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” (Joel 2:31)
On the night of April 14, the world witnessed a spectacular event. A partial lunar eclipse, also known as a “blood moon,” wowed the world by turning the moon red. The blood moon occurred on the second night of Passover and is one in a series of four that is expected to occur over the next two years. In case you missed it, here are some spectacular photos captured by social media users on Instagram. Enjoy!
blood moon 1
blood moon 2
blood moon 3
blood moon 4


Tuesday, 15 April 2014


At this awesome time of year
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Passover Eve 2014 / Erev Pesach 5774

Dear Friends / Shalom Chaverim,
After weeks of anticipation, Passover is finally here! My children have been learning all about the 10 Plagues and are eager to reenact the Exodus tonight at our Seder table, surrounded by family and friends. I know that you are also eagerly anticipating the Festival of Freedom commemorating God’s redemption of His people.
Looking around at the world, it is clear that God has something great planned for our generation. With all of the turmoil in the world now, and especially throughout this region, there are small rays of light and bastions of hope breaking through all the chaos. The Jewish people are awakening to their heritage and returning to the Land of Israel from the four corners of the world - a modern day Exodus story - which is exactly what the Bible promised long ago:
Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say: 'As the LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt'; but: 'As the LORD liveth, that brought up and that led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them'; and they shall dwell in their own land. (Jeremiah 23:7,8)
Jeremiah and Israel’s prophets promised that the redemption from Egypt would be trumped by the final redemption of Israel - which is what you and I are witnessing today. For the first time in hundreds of years, an ancient Jewish community in China is celebrating Passover, learning about their Judaic roots with the hopes of returning and immigrating to Israel.

I urge you to join the Passover spirit and bless this Jewish community through our friends at “Israel Returns”. If you make a Passover gift today, you will immediately be able to download an incredibly inspiring Haggadah called “On the Wings of Eagles” which has the traditional Passover text in both English and Hebrew.

Download the Passover eHaggadah here

Let us make the most of the next few days, the Festival of our Redemption, as we thank God for His loving intervention on behalf of Israel and pray for the final Redemption of Israel and the entire world.

From my family to yours, I wish you a Happy Passover filled with meaning and joy.


Rabbi Tuly Weisz

Sunday, 13 April 2014


What is The Reason Behind Abbas’s Renewed Courtship of Hamas?

For Abbas, the issue of reconciliation with Hamas is yet another legitimate weapon to scare the Israelis and the US into submitting to his demands and preconditions. It now remains to be seen whether the US Administration will take the bait.Now that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has succeeded in surprising the US and Israel with his decision to apply for Palestinian membership in 15 international institutions and treaties, he seems to be preparing another surprise for the Americans and Israelis: a unity agreement with Hamas.
Earlier this week, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was also surprised to receive a phone call from Azzam al-Ahmed, a close advisor to Abbas.
The purpose of the phone call was to request permission from Haniyeh for a visit from senior Fatah officials to the Gaza Strip to discuss unity and reconciliation between the two rival parties.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, in February 2007, before Hamas seized total control of Gaza. (Image source: MaanImages)
Haniyeh’s office replied that he would welcome a visit to the Gaza Strip “out of keenness for unity and in order to protect the national interests of the Palestinians.”
Abbas’s renewed effort to join forces with Hamas came even as U.S. envoy Martin Indyk was busy trying to prevent the breakdown of the Israeli-Palestinian talks in wake of Abbas’s surprise decision to apply for membership in international organizations and conventions.
The current crisis in the peace talks has prompted many Palestinians, including Abbas’s loyalists, to renew calls for unity between Fatah and Hamas as a way of confronting Israeli-American pressure.
Adli Sadek, a columnist affiliated with Abbas, said that the Palestinians “have no other choice but to reunite in order to maintain their national stance and adhere to the goal of independence and freedom.”
Sadek and other Palestinians said that the Palestinians were now in need of a “unified and realistic national strategy” to confront Israel and enhance their political power.”
Abbas might have been encouraged by Hamas’s positive response to his request. Shortly after Abbas announced his plan, Hamas spokesman Ehab al-Ghissin praised him for making a “good decision.”
This is not the first time that Abbas is playing the Hamas card as a means of exerting pressure on Israel and the U.S.
Ever since the Israeli-Palestinian talks resumed seven months ago, Abbas has made a number of attempts to show the Israelis and Americans that he has not abandoned his desire to achieve reconciliation with Hamas.
Earlier this year, at the first sign of a crisis in the peace talks, Abbas dispatched a high-level Fatah delegation to the Gaza Strip for talks with Hamas leaders on ways of ending the dispute between them.
Hamas and Fatah representatives have since held a series of meetings in Arab countries with the goal of achieving reconciliation and unity.
More recently, Chief PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat came out with a proposal that calls for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to join the PLO and a Palestinian unity government.
Erekat’s proposal is also seen in the context of the Palestinian Authority leadership’s attempt to put pressure on Israel and the US.
The Palestinian Authority’s message to Israel and the US is: You either give us all that we are asking for or we will join forces with Hamas.
Abbas knows that the Israelis and Americans are strongly opposed to such a move, particularly in light of Hamas’s fierce opposition to any peace process and ongoing threats to eliminate Israel.
Any rapprochement between Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas would only facilitate the Islamist movement’s dream of extending its control from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.
Hamas, for its part, seems to be suspicious of Abbas’s renewed attempts to achieve reconciliation and unity between the two parties.
Hamas representatives say that while Abbas is talking about ending the dispute, his security forces are continuing their crackdown on Hamas’s supporters in the West Bank.
“Perhaps Abbas is not satisfied with what his security forces are doing to Hamas cadres in the West Bank,” said Hamas operative Ibrahim al-Madhoun. “But he’s not doing anything to prevent or limit the crackdown.”
Even some of Abbas’s Fatah loyalists expressed skepticism regarding the prospects of ending the conflict with Hamas, adding that the gap between the two sides remains as far apart as ever.
“Hamas does not want reconciliation,” declared Fatah’s Faisal Abu Shahla. “Each time we come close to ending the dispute, Hamas comes up with new excuses.”
Abbas is now waging a battle aimed at extracting as many concessions as possible from Israel and the US. He has used the decision to apply for membership in 15 international organizations and treaties as a means to intensify pressure on the Israeli government and US Administration to accept his demands for pursuing the peace talks.
Abbas may not be sincere about achieving reconciliation with Hamas. He knows that such a move would be counterproductive and that Hamas would take advantage of the reconciliation to advance its goal of seizing control over the West Bank.
But for Abbas, the issue of reconciliation with Hamas is yet another legitimate weapon to scare the Israelis and Americans into submitting to his demands and pre-conditions. It now remains to be seen whether the US Administration will take the bait.