Khaled Meshaal Returns to Gaza

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Today’s Top Stories

1. Khaled Meshaal returned to Gaza to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hamas’ founding. The Jerusalem Post‘s Khaled Abu Toameh describes the speech he gave to hundreds of thousands.

“Palestine was, still is and will always be Arab and Islamic,” Mashaal said. “Palestine belongs to us and to no one else. We can never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Palestine belongs to us, and not to the Zionists.”

Mashaal’s fiery statements stood in sharp contrast to a recent interview he gave to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, where he said that Hamas accepted a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines.

Moreover, they refuted claims that he had endorsed a “pragmatic” approach toward the conflict with Israel.

2. Indicators point to high likelihood of a third intifada according to Israel media reports. See the Times of Israel and YNet. The latter writes:

In recent weeks, the number of arrests made by the Palestinian Authority’s security forces against Hamas operatives in the West Bank has plummeted, and the PA no longer seems motivated to curb their activities in the area.

Almost simultaneously, military intelligence has seen a spike in alerts suggesting terror groups are planning attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians alike.

3. Mohammed Morsi withdrew most of his power-grabbing decree, but insists the constitutional referendum will go on as planned.  Washington Post coverage is straightforward, but in the bigger picture, it’s worth reminding ourselves that this is yet another example of Calvinball in Cairo. The Post writes:

The new decree satisfies a key demand of opposition leaders by scaling back some of Morsi’s power, though many said the article has already served its purpose for Morsi. He had used it to protect an Islamist-dominated constitution-writing panel from dissolution by Egypt’s highest court, enabling the panel to pass a draft charter that the opposition said fails to enshrine the rights of women and minority groups, or limit the powers of the president.

Israel and the Palestinians

• Netanyahu’s response to Meshaal speech:

“They have no intention of compromising with us; they want to destroy the state.”

I liked seeing LA Times reporter Ed Sanders go against the grain. He found plenty of Gazans unhappy with Hamas and in no mood to celebrate an imagined “victory.”

Even as Hamas leaders bask in what they see as the political accomplishments of their eight-day clash with Israel last month, a growing number of Gaza residents say their initial excitement over the cease-fire agreement has given way to the realization that life is not much better.

A Christian Science Monitor op-ed makes the strongest case I’ve yet seen explaining why dragging Israel to the International Criminal Court will hurt the Palestinians more.

In fact, ICC status may give the advantage to Israel on future prosecutions, while putting Hamas at a likely disadvantage. Because the ICC is considered a court of last resort that defers to national courts, it will not take on cases that states have made good-faith efforts to investigate or prosecute. Israel has already conducted investigations and undertaken some disciplinary actions regarding its forces’ behavior in Gaza; fear of ICC involvement might even encourage Israel to do more. Hamas, by contrast, has made no such efforts to deal with war crime allegations.

ICC membership also brings with it obligations that may not be easy for Palestinians to fulfill. ICC members pledge to cooperate with the court, which includes complying with arrest warrants and assisting in investigations. A new Palestinian state might be called upon to provide evidence against, and even surrender, some Palestinian nationals, like Hamas leaders. As members of an international community interested in justice, all states should respect ICC warrants as a matter of principle, but Israel – which originally signed onto the ICC, but then sought to withdraw its signature – has no such legal obligation. If a new Palestinian state joins the court, it will be taking on legal duties that Israel does not share.

The Jewish Chronicle quotes a former heavyweight UK editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, that anti-Israel coverage is “a form of proxy for antisemitism by  journalists in the West.” Via Chas Newkey-Burden.

CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria talked to former Secretary of State James Baker. Zakaria sets up Baker’s monologue by asking about settlements “which would make a contiguous Palestinian state almost impossible.” The rest is Baker’s own righteous indignation. Danny Ayalon also talked to CNN about the settlements.

NY Times columnist Tom Friedman’s still in Israel. In a spot-on observation, he notes that the old generation of Israeli “bastards for peace” is disappearing with Ehud Barak’s retirement, while the Mideast spirals into worrisome chaos:

The full Israeli experience today is a living political science experiment. How does a country deal with failed or failing state authority on four of its borders — Gaza, South Lebanon, Syria and the Sinai Desert of Egypt — each of which is now crawling with nonstate actors nested among civilians and armed with rockets. How should Israel and its friends think about this “Israeli experience” and connect it with the ever-present question of Israeli-Palestinian peace?

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