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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Today's PalArab press

A Fatah member who was tortured in Hamas prisons writes to Firas Press, saying that Hamas torture was even worse than Israel's. "We stood, blindfolded, even during prayers, flogging, humiliation and insults, without pity or mercy, without water or food or medicine, and complained he will get one of us following the strike in the same place him in pain..."

An Arab analysis of why Jordan started talking to Hamas concludes that Jordan wants more influence with the Palestinian Arabs in bringing about a truce between Fatah and Hamas as well as Jordan wanting to influence Hamas to dissuade the Muslim Brotherhood from acting against Jordanian interests. Meanwhile, Hamas is nervous about a Syrian peace treaty with Israel that might force it out of Syria and wants to re-open its office in Amman.

Bahrain's king, in London, called on Jews who left Bahrain to return either as citizens, investors or tourists. Bahrain's Jewish community is tiny but enjoys good relations with Bahrain's Arabs, and Bahrain is the only Gulf country with a synagogue.

A week ago Egypt opened up the Rafah crossing for a VIP - Sheikh Yassin's son. Yesterday, it opened it up for another VIP: Mahmoud Zahhar's son. Meanwhile, there are reports that Gaza still has hundreds of Egyptians who cannot cross Rafah into Egypt.

Mahmoud Zahhar himself rejected any dialogue with Fatah, claiming that Abbas is under the "robe of America" and that any dialogue is useless until Bush, Olmert and Abbas are out of office. (Hamas has previously said that it will not recognize Abbas' presidency after this year, citing the PA's own laws.)

On the "goodwill gesture" front, Israel decided to re-open the Kerem Shalom crossing for the first time in four months after a deadly terror attack there. Also, Israel decided to allow some prisoners with "blood on their hands" to be released. Goodwill gestures on the Palestinian Arab side includes a 16-year old boy with bombs who tried to go through the Huwara checkpoint.