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HOW TO TACKLE HAMAS

FM Livni: Israel May Stop Hamas Officials From Passing Through IDF Checkpoints in West Bank

Hamas Will Start Making More Moderate & Vague Statements About Israel In Order To Gain International Recognition - Israel Wont Buy It

Although Jordan Anticipates That Israel Court-Martial IDF General Who Said King Abdullah May Be Country's Last Monarch, There Is No Strategic Crisis

FM Livni

The Hamas issue was at the top of the agenda, when Foreign Minister Zippi Livni gave her first briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee. Livni said Hamas officials can now be expected to tone done their ideology about destroying Israel by making more moderate and vague statements about recognizing the Jewish State. She explained that Hamas now needs international recognition to receive foreign aid but Israel would not fall for it.

:: IsraCast Audio ::

'Israel is considering stopping Hamas officials at IDF check-points in the West Bank' - so says Israeli Foreign Minister Zippi Livni.

How should Israel cope with the Palestinians electing Hamas, a terror organization bent on the extermination of the Jewish state? The hindering of Hamas officials at the roadblocks could make it difficult for Hamas to form a government. But Livni indicated that the new Hamas reality poses a dilemma for Israel. She argued that a legitimate democratic process could not allow the participation of a terror organization. Israel would have nothing to do with a Hamas government unless it recognized Israel, dismantled the terrorists and accepted prior agreements. Israel would consider halting the transfer any more tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, unless these conditions were met. By and large the international community, except for Russia and Turkey, agreed. There were differences over the timing - Israel says it should start with the installing of the Palestinian parliament; other states opt for the forming of the new Hamas government. Livni approved the transfer of money for humanitarian needs such as water, electricity etc. was fine but not to Hamas terrorists. If the condition of the Palestinian people deteriorated it would trigger pressure on Israel.

Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas):   After previously saying the Palestinian president was irrelevant, Livni did not discount the Palestinian president entirely. But she did not expect the moderate Abbas would be stronger now after the Hamas victory than he was before. This would be clearer in another month or so.

Hamas Tactics: In order to receive international funding Hamas was in need of international recognition. Therefore, Livni expects Hamas officials to conduct a policy of double talk. They will make more moderate and vague statements about recognizing Israel and former agreements. In her words: Hamas will play near our three conditions and say that change takes time. Israel would not buy it and she hoped neither would the international community. Roadmap: The peace plan that calls for a two state solution is making a comeback, for the time being anyway. Livni stressed that it stipulates the Palestinians must fight terrorism. Terrorist Hamas would now have to cope with squaring that circle. Referring to Avi Dichter's declaration that Kadima would implement another unilateral withdrawal on the West Bank, the Foreign Minister said: Disengagement is not a principle and unilateralism was not an ideology. But she added: If there is no change on the Palestinian side, Israel will have to decide what is in its best interests.

Jordan: The recent comment By IDF General Yair Naveh is still a major sore point with the Jordanians. After protesting vehemently, Amman is also anticipating that General Naveh be brought before a court-martial. Incidentally, the General said the rising Palestinian population in Jordan may result in King Abdullah being the last monarch to rule the country. Although Livni said there was no strategic crisis with Jordan, the Jordanians were still annoyed. There has been no indication that Gen. Naveh will be fired, but Livni and other committee members did demand that IDF officers refrain from making political statements.

Likud: As for Hamas, right wing Likud members accused the government of having no real policy for coping with Hamas. Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz said Israel must go on the offensive and prevent a Hamas government taking office. He recalled how Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had kept Yasser Arafat holed up in his Ramallah headquarters. If not, Hamas would soon be hosting Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah fighters in the Palestinian areas and preparing for the next round against Israel.

David Essing

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