UPDATED: Dweik: Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel

Dweik: Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel

Palestinian Legislative Council speaker Aziz Dweik on Thursday denied reports by Israeli news outlets that he said on Wednesday Israel has a right to exist.

“The media reports in question were inaccurate,” he said in a statement, adding that since his release from an Israeli prison last year, Israeli news outlets have repeatedly misrepresented his views.

The Jerusalem Post, an English-language Israeli newspaper, quoted Dweik as saying on Wednesday that the Islamic movement has accepted Israel’s right to exist and would be prepared to nullify its charter, which calls for dismantling the state.

The remarks were said to have been made during a meeting in Hebron with British millionaire David Martin Abrahams, who reportedly maintains close ties with senior Israeli and British government officials.

Dweik told Ma’an, however, that he offered no such recognition of Israel’s “right to exist on Palestinian land,” as was reported, and moreover, that he told Abrahams the PLO had made a mistake by nullifying its charter.

“The PLO canceled its charter, and Palestinians achieved nothing,” he said. “This is Hamas’ stance and the opinion of any Hamas leader regarding the nullification of [its] charter.”

Dweik said the talks was held at Abrahams’ request, and came within a series of meetings with the PLC’s leadership with international officials, delegations and other news outlets. There was nothing unusual about Abrahams’ visit, he said. [continued…]

‘Hamas accepts Israel’s right to exist’

Hamas has accepted Israel’s right to exist and would be prepared to nullify its charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel, Aziz Dwaik, Hamas’s most senior representative in the West Bank, said on Wednesday.

Dwaik’s remarks are seen in the context of Hamas’s attempts to win recognition from the international community.

Dwaik is the elected speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He was released a few months ago after spending nearly three years in an Israeli prison.

Dwaik was among dozens of Hamas officials and members who were rounded up by Israel following the abduction of IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit near the Gaza Strip in June 2006.

His latest remarks were made during a meeting he held in Hebron with British millionaire David Martin Abrahams, who maintains close ties with senior Israeli and British government officials.

Abrahams is scheduled to brief British Foreign Secretary David Milliband this weekend on the outcome of his meeting with Dwaik and other top Hamas officials in the West Bank.

Abrahams, a major donor to Britain’s Labor Party, told The Jerusalem Post he would urge Milliband to “consider the implications of Hamas’s positive overtures.” [continued…]

Netanyahu: No preconditions, except ours

Speaking to reporters last night Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hammered away on one of his favorite points: the Palestinian precondition, no peace talks without a comprehensive freeze on West Bank settlement construction. “Let’s stop piling preconditions.” Said the Prime Minister, “Let’s get on with it. Let’s get on with peace negotiations.”

During the same speech, Netanyahu also insisted that East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want for a Capitol of their future state, is not up for negotiation and will remain part of Israel at the end of a peace deal. He demanded that Israel maintain a presence “on the Eastern side of a Palestinian state” to keep militants from using the territory to launch rockets at Israel ’s heartland. The Prime Minister was not clear if that simply meant a military presence on the Jordanian border or if Israel would keep the Jordan valley. Either way, it would leave the future Palestinian state as an Island with no control of its border. [continued…]

Palestinians reject Israeli presence in future state

The Palestinians on Thursday rejected the idea of an Israeli presence on the eastern border of their future state, which was mooted by Israel’s hawkish prime minister.

“The Palestinian leadership will not accept the presence of a single Israeli soldier in the Palestinian territories after the end of the occupation,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for president Mahmud Abbas, told AFP. [continued…]

Uncomfortably numb

The underground tunnels between Egypt and Gaza are a lifeline for those trapped inside the blockaded Strip, but along with the clothes, furniture and food that make their way through the tunnels, a dangerous drug – Tramadol – is also entering the territory. Tramal, as it is known in Gaza, is a dangerously addictive painkiller which is illegal without a prescription, but an increasing number of Gazans are becoming hooked on it. Uncomfortably Numb talks to some of those addicts, those who are trying to help them and the authorities seeking to crack down on drug abuse.

Israel must get used to the new Turkey

Turkey and Israel are at loggerheads again, and this should come as no surprise.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon recently staged a rebuke of the Turkish ambassador in Tel Aviv over the contents of a Turkish television show. Israel subsequently apologized, but this will go down as yet another milestone in the ongoing tension between Turkey and Israel.

Despite some Israeli and American efforts to paint Turkey’s objections to Israeli policies as “anti-Semitic,” people in the business of statecraft understand very well where Turkey is coming from.

They recognize that disagreements between Turkey and Israel are likely to continue provided there is no recognizable change in issues such as improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza. They also recognize the complete and immediate freezing of settlements and the overall posture of Israel toward the peace process – if one can still talk about such a process. [continued…]

Israel removes American employed by Palestinian news agency

The American editor of a Palestinian news agency was removed from Israel on Wednesday after being questioned by authorities about his “anti-Israeli” views…

“They judged me to have anti-Israeli politics,” Malsin, 24, said from a cellphone as he boarded the El Al plane. “It’s outrageous that would even appear in a legal argument, that a person’s politics would be a relevant issue.”

An official with the Israeli Interior Ministry said Malsin had refused to answer questions about his presence in Israel and had “exploited” the fact that he is Jewish to say he wanted to explore immigrating to Israel.

“He was asked, why would he want to make aliya and become an Israeli citizen, as his opinions are clearly anti-Israeli,” Interior Ministry official Mietal Rochman wrote in an account of Malsin’s interrogation at the airport, which included a check of numbers stored in his cellphone and a review of his writings on the Internet. “The passenger chose to remain silent.” Malsin’s attorney provided a copy of Rochman’s report. [continued…]

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