Daily TIP

Palestinian infighting intensifies ahead of leadership meeting

Posted by Tip Staff - November 22, 2016


Clashes between gunmen and Palestinian Authority police in the West Bank have intensified in the run-up to the leadership meeting of the long-ruling Fatah party later this month, the Associated Press reported Monday.
One of the Fatah-aligned gunmen, Hatem Abu Riziq, spoke to the AP about his decision to participate in fierce shootouts against the Palestinian Authority, which is led by President Mahmoud Abbas. “I no longer want to fight Israel,” said Abu Riziq, who was imprisoned by Israel for seven years for aiding a suicide bombing. “I’m not willing to die for these officials who are only taking care of their families and letting us suffer.”
Abu Riziq’s stance on Abbas reflects popular Palestinian dissatisfaction with Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization, described by the AP as “organizations seen as stale and ossified.” The upcoming convention, which is set to include elections for new political leadership, “is whipping up the tensions that have sparked waves of internecine violence around the West Bank,” the AP reported.
About a dozen people have already been killed in the internecine violence this year.
At the heart of the conflict is the rivalry between Abbas and Mohammad Dahlan, a former top Fatah official in the Gaza Strip who is currently in exile in the United Arab Emirates. A Palestinian court convicted Dahlan in absentia on corruption charges in 2011 (a case that was later dismissed), but he retains influence and a following in the West Bank.
The last Fatah convention was held in 2009 and a subsequent one was supposed to take place in 2014. “Abbas repeatedly delayed it, both because Dahlan still enjoyed strong support and because the Palestinian leader had no great interest in making changes,” the AP noted. “Each side is [now] believed to be pumping funds to supporters, among them armed men, in a bid to buy loyalty.”


Iran wields “unparalleled influence” over fighting forces in Syria, positioning itself to be a key decision-maker in the country’s future, The Washington Post reported Sunday. Tehran’s reach may actually rival Moscow’s and eventually put the two in direct competition, analysts say.
“History proves that whenever Iranians craft groups like these, such as Lebanese Hezbollah, they don’t give up arms, they don’t stand down and they don’t leave territory that they’ve taken,” said Phillip Smyth, an expert on Shiite militias at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They will be in Syria for years and years, and that will have consequences for everyone.”
There are as many as 25,000 Shiite militiamen fighting in Syria, many whom are spreading “Iran’s influence and their extremist ideology,” added Abdulmunem Zaineddin, a religious scholar involved with rebel forces in the battles in Aleppo. He suggested that the fighters are hijacking a revolution intended to bring freedom to Syrians and turning it into another power grab by Tehran.


Egyptian-Israeli relations are at their “highest level in history,” regional analysts told the Qatari-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera on Monday, with Cairo and Jerusalem having forged a “full partnership and unbreakable alliance.”
The two countries indeed share mutual defense concerns, particularly the extensive coordination between Hamas and Sinai Province, an ISIS affiliate active in the Sinai Peninsula. The Palestinian terrorist group finances ISIS operations, trains its fighters in planting deadly IEDs and firing lethal anti-tank missiles, and smuggles weaponry across the border from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai.
Egypt and Israel have also upped diplomatic visits—including watching football at the Israeli prime minister’s residence—while coming together on pragmatic issues such as desalinization and recycling.
A textbook introduced by the Egyptian government this spring also casts Israeli-Egyptian peace in a much more positive light than previous editions, asking ninth graders to memorize the terms of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979 and to explain the “advantages of peace for Egypt and the Arab states.” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry defended Israeli policies to a group of high schoolers in Cairo in August, shortly after visiting Israel to offer his government’s assistance in restarting peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
"Renewing peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis was largely a smoke screen for Egypt to pursue closer diplomatic ties with Israel, while avoiding public backlash," Safa Joudeh, a Cairo-based political and security analyst, told Al Jazeera.


In a historic first, an Ethiopian-Israeli has been nominated to be chief medical officer for the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command, putting him on track to be the first Israeli of Ethiopian heritage to hold the rank of colonel.
Lt. Col. Dr. Avraham Yitzhak was nominated by by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot on Monday. He currently heads the Medical Corps’ operational medicine department.
Yitzhak had already started medical school in Addis Ababa before he arrived in Israel at the age of 19 in 1994. He then enrolled at Ben-Gurion University’s medical school. He did his army service as a surgeon after graduation, where he became the IDF’s first Ethiopian-Israeli doctor.
He originally served in the Paratroopers Brigade before transferring to Maglan, an elite unit that operates behind enemy lines. He was injured on the last day of fighting during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, while serving in the Nahal Brigade.
Yitzhak also served as a surgeon in the three recent wars against Hamas: Operation Cast Lead in 2009, Operation Defensive Shield in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Most recently he headed the IDF’s Medical Corps’ operational medicine department.

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