“Khaled Mashal, head of Hamas, is the problem,” said Israel’s Justice Minister Tzip Livni, speaking to a group of Conservative Rabbis from the USA visiting congregation Yair Ramot in Jerusalem.
Justice Minister Livni, who is also a member of Israel’s security cabinet, said that Mashal, who lives in luxury in Qatar, feels suddenly like “Allah” (God) with the world coming to him begging for a cease-fire. Mashal feels in control of the situation and has made impossible demands. “He wants to turn Gaza into Hamastan, with their own airport, sea port, and open borders with Egypt and Israel. Something that will never happen,” Said Livni.
When asked what she would tell US Sec. of State John Kerry when she meets with him in Jerusalem during his impending visit she said, “I’ll tell him to force Qatar to expel Khaled Mashal from Qatar.” She went on to say that the US should use its power to pressure Qatar until this is accomplished. Mashal is the problem, Livni said.
She also said that the PA’s Abu Mazen (Mohamed Abbas) is ready to broker a cease-fire but Mashal consistently denies the entreaties. Livni said the situation in extremely delicate. Abbas is under pressure from his own people as the death toll of Palestinians mounts. She also said that the PA had “given up” armed struggle and is now looking for a way to establish a lasting peace.
One audience member speculated that Kerry was also behind the FAA decision to cancel flights to and from Israel. “This was his finger wagging at Israel for not including him in the negotiations,” the source said. The source pointed out that just a few days earlier the US State Department had issued a warning to US citizens against traveling to Israel. The source, in the tourist business, said that potential tourists have cancelled because of the US State Department warning. “We’re not insured if we come, because of the warning,” the source said he’d been told by tourists who had cancelled their trips to Israel. He lamented that he’d had to return $120,000 to those who had pre-booked trips with him, adding, “And we’re a small agency. Imagine what’s going on with the big boys.” He also said he stood to lose the taxes he’d paid on the money as if there were income.
Meanwhile, unrest has begun in the West Bank and other areas where Palestinians live, including East Jerusalem. Israeli forces have been confronting protests in Hebron, East Jerusalem and other places. Molotov cocktails and rocks were hurled at cars traveling along route 443 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Analysts believe the longer the hostilities continue in Gaza the more Israel will witness demonstrations against operation Tzuk Eytan, both from Palestinians and anti-war Israelis.
Unofficial reports state that nearly 80,000 Israeli soldiers are now active in the Gaza strip. Should Hamas not agree to a cease-fire and continue firing rockets at Israel, the Israeli forces will expand their objectives with the demolition of Hamas’ leadership an obvious target.