Abbas's Plan to Steal Local Elections
According to Hamas officials, there can be no free and fair elections in the West Bank while Abbas is cracking down on anyone who dares to challenge him. Also, Fatah's decision to hold local elections only in the West Bank is an admission that the Palestinians have two separate entities: the West Bank and Gaza. UN members next month should ask Abbas when he applies to upgrade the status of a Palestinian state to "non-member," which state he is talking about -- the one in the West Bank or the one in the Gaza Strip?
After repeated delays, Palestinians in the West Bank are scheduled to hold local elections on October 20 for 245 village councils and 98 municipalities.
In recent weeks, the Fatah leadership has been working hard to ensure that its candidates win the local elections.
Since the first free and democratic Palestinian local elections were held in 1976 under the Israeli military government, the Palestinians have had only one local election -- in 2005.
The 2005 elections saw Hamas candidates score major victories in most West Bank cities, including Nablus, Kalkilya, Bethlehem and Tulkarem.
This year's elections, however, are being boycotted by Hamas, leaving its rival Fatah faction as the main contender.
Hamas's decision to boycott the upcoming vote was, ironically, one of the main reasons why the Palestinian Authority leadership decided to go ahead with the elections.
When Hamas announced its decision to boycott the local elections, there was a sigh of relief in Ramallah.
The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank wants to avoid a repeat of the 2005 election, which saw Hamas candidates take over many village councils and municipalities.
Fatah is instead being challenged by independent candidates and representatives of some PLO groups, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the People's (Communist) Party.
The question now is not whether Fatah would win the vote, but how large the victory will be.
To ensure a landslide victory, the Fatah leadership, headed by Abbas, has taken a number of measures aimed at weakening its rivals.
First, Fatah has dismissed about 50 of its members who decided to run as on an independent ticket in the elections.
Among those who were dismissed is Ghassan Shaka'a, a prominent Fatah figure from Nablus who has decided to contest the vote outside his faction's framework. Shaka'a, a former Nablus mayor, has angered Abbas and the Fatah leadership by running as an independent candidate.
Second, Fatah has decided to suspend funds to the other PLO groups that are running against Fatah in the local elections.
Until last month, these groups, especially the PFLP and DFLP, used to receive regular funding from the PLO leadership, although most of them are opposed to the Oslo Accords and peace talks with Israel.
Abbas is hoping that the dismissal of unruly Fatah candidates and the suspension of funds to his political rivals will guarantee his loyalists a smooth victory.
Abbas's efforts to take over the village councils and municipalities began long before the date was set for the local elections.
Over the past few years, Abbas's government and security forces have dismissed and arrested several elected mayors and members of municipal councils who were affiliated with Hamas or other rival groups.
This is, in fact, one of the main reasons why Hamas says it decided to boycott this year's elections. According to Hamas officials, there can be no free and fair elections in the West Bank while Abbas is cracking down on anyone who dares to challenge him.
Fatah's decision to hold local elections only in the West Bank is an admission that the Palestinians have two separate entities: the West Bank and Gaza. Abbas's critics say that by insisting on going ahead with the vote, he has "solidified" the split between the Fatah-controlled West Bank and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
This is something that the UN General Assembly will have to take into consideration when it is scheduled next month to vote on Abbas's application to upgrade the status of a Palestinian state to "non-member." The UN members should ask Abbas which state he is talking about -- the one in the West Bank or the one in the Gaza Strip?
Comment on this item
by Bassam Tawil
What is sad is that the Gazans have not yet been able to free themselves from the yoke of Hamas.
The world seems not to understand that Hamas, like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, does not exist in a vacuum. It is one cog in the radical Islamist wheel that threatens the Arab and Muslim world and the major cities of Europe.
The Western world also seems not to understand that it has to incapacitate or totally neutralize the countries funding terrorism, such as Iran, Qatar and Turkey, for whom the Palestinian problem is only a pretext on the way to destroying the Western world as we know it and replacing it with only Islam.
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Underdog-nation romanticism tells us Israel should not respond when under rocket attack because it is capable of intercepting the rockets.
That there are fewer Israeli casualties does not mean Hamas does not want to kill; it just means, for the moment, Hamas cannot kill.
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"The spectrum of recruits for the conflict in Syria is ethnically diverse. The motivation, however, appears to be uniformly jihadist." — Austrian intelligence agency BVT.
"Allah also gives you the opportunity to wage jihad in Austria." — Austrian jihadist Firas Houidi.
"We are proud that Allah has chosen us. We feel like lions." — Austrian jihadist Abu Hamza al-Austria.
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Putin repeatedly claims that Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons as a "de-escalatory measure" even against non-nuclear states.
The evidence that this war was preplanned is overwhelming. The planning for this Ukrainian operation started in 2006, when Putin offered to "guarantee Crimea's territory."
The forces fighting in Kiev consist not mainly of "separatists" or rebels, but of trained Russian army, intelligence and paramilitary officers, as well as Russian and some Ukrainian "volunteers" recruited by Moscow.
Putin would incite disturbances in Crimea, then graciously offer to take over Crimea to solve the problems.
For the Russians, and particularly for Putin, Ukraine can have no future other than as a Russian colony. This is indeed a phased invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. did not accept Russian aggression before; it should not accept it now.