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Iran & al-Qaeda Fan Palestinian Flames

As the security situation in the Palestinian Territories worsens and Hamas continues to refuse recognition of Israel and existing agreements between the Jewish state and the PA, the Quartet agreed to an unrevealed mechanism to funnel Palestinian aid ‘directly to the Palestinians’ which will supposedly bypass Hamas.

But, while Hamas’ PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh ripped the US for insisting Hamas accept Israel, Israel accepted the Quartet plan and gave Hamas a one-year deadline to demonstrate good faith in negotiations. “If it becomes clear by the end of the year that we really have no partner, and the international community is also convinced of this, then we will take our fate into our own hands and not leave our fate in the hands of our enemies,” said Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon.

For his part, Haniyeh asked Palestinian terrorists to end the rocket attacks on Israel, reportedly reasoning that the Israeli artillery fire they claim to be responding to is actually in response to their initiation of rocket attacks. But, unheeded, 3 Qassam rockets were again fired at Israel, in the direction of Sderot and Ashkelon. The IDF responded with more artillery fire at the northern Gaza launch points.

Amid the swirling events, it was revealed by the IDF that it had intercepted an explosives shipment of Egyptian origin in the Mediterranean off the coast of Gaza, where the vessel had dumped 1,100 pounds of military grade TNT overboard before racing toward a crowd of other Gaza vessels near the shore. While IDF divers later recovered the explosives from the sea floor 100 feet below, they did not pursue the boat amongst Gaza fishermen. Arms smuggling continues to be a concern for Israel and remains the primary reason they will not permit a Palestinian seaport or airport to operate within Gaza.

Meanwhile, a new al-Qaeda group distributed their first communiqué in Gaza City, declaring loyalty to Osama bin Laden and vowing to “blow up our bodies in their positions” and “strike with an iron fist at all the crusader, American and Zionist campaigns.” Security in Israel and the Palestinian Territories is about to experience a new calculus as Hamas and Fatah continue to fight one another for control and al-Qaeda begins to actively enter the fray, capitalizing on the lawlessness to establish a new base of operations.

The news all around for the region is troubling. It is possible to view Haniyeh’s request of the terrorists in the Palestinian Territories to halt their rocket attacks as a positive development and a possible sign of moderation, just as it is possible to view Ahmadinejad’s letter to President Bush as a desire for discussion. Both will likely prove to superficial observations. Just as Ahmadinejad’s letter did not address the crisis within which it was submitted, the various Palestinian groups will likely forget his words, even if they are sincere – such groups now including an opportunist al-Qaeda seeking fertile grounds of operation in the wake of their failure in Iraq.

The events viewed in context and with a longer view in mind begin to illustrate a picture of a West losing its resolve. Within a 24-hour period, the Quartet submits and decides to relieve Hamas financially and the EU-3 offer Iran ‘new’ deal, one no different in reality than the one offered and rejected in 2004. The Islamist Iranian revolutionary regime clearly sees itself as fulfilling its destiny. And the West seems to be seeking to appease them with economic packages in exchange for that destiny – the destruction of Israel and regional military, political and religious hegemony through nuclear arms.

Why would Iran agree to economic packages when their belligerence assures them a far greater economic package without sacrificing to the West, as the words of Ahmadinejad nearly dictate the asking price of their life blood, crude oil exports? Iran reaps the reward of obstinate fury in route to their destiny, as Ahmadinejad and the mullahs reap windfalls from $70+ per barrel crude prices, dictated nearly exclusively beyond that by the chosen words among them. Manipulation beyond $100 per barrel is but a breath away, funding the very program in question and allowing for further fiscal support to Hamas, encouraging a continuation of both crises through bellicosity.

Why would Hamas recognize Israel when it counters their very purpose for existence, based on their own founding charter? For, in spite of any spoken words (again, sincere or insincere),- the Palestinian conflict - internal and external - rages on.

With Iranian support and increasing influence within and upon Hamas, it is becoming impossible to compartmentalize and distinguish the Iranian international crisis from the Palestinian crisis. This is by Iranian design. Enter al-Qaeda. The Palestinian conflict is far too important to regional players to allow Hamas to sue for peace, even if it desires it.

When 2006 comes to a close, the events of this day will be looked upon as one of the defining days of the year for the entire region and monumental steps in retreat for the West.