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Another Return to Dialogue

Egyptian sources announce that Cairo is in the process of calling for another round of dialogue between Palestinian factions. Invitations will be issued next week, and negotiations might start in the aftermath of the upcoming Eid Al- Adha.

What was new in these comments was that these sources confirmed that the upcoming dialogue would be based on the Egyptian working paper, without any modifications.

Hamas spokespeople in Gaza said that a delegation from the movement would pay a visit to Cairo to discuss the potential of such a visit. It is well known that Fatah has signed the Egyptian paper, while Hamas refused, claiming that it wanted some modifications since more articles were added to what was agreed upon, a matter that must be discussed, too.

What could be concluded is that the dialogue was halted at this point. Palestinians do not know the boundaries or the possibilities of any progress, let alone an agreement, should the dispute continue. The question is what might change: Hamas’s position or the articles of the Egyptian paper, especially after President Abu Mazen’s call for presidential and legislative elections.

That constitutional step was obstructed by Hamas when it prevented the Election Committee from entering Gaza or performing any actions there. This means a step backward to the time that followed Hamas’s initial refusal to sign the Egyptian paper.

Every honest Palestinian, however, will never get tired of calling for unity and an end to division. Hope for a possible agreement between various Palestinian powers and factions will never vanish. Egypt, interested in the Palestinian cause, will be always welcomed to continue its efforts in preparing an atmosphere that might facilitate such a reconciliation.

New signs of Israeli extremism

Successive religious edicts were issued in the recent days by influential Israeli rabbis advocating extremism, some justifying the killing of those dubbed as threatening Israel- even children.

The rabbi behind the most notorious edict could not explain how a child might cause a threat. Another edict was that of the Israeli Army’s Chief Rabbi, who warned his soldiers that God’s curse would fall upon every soldier showing the slightest mercy on the enemy in the battlefield. That rabbi forgot he was lecturing while standing on Palestinian land confiscated to build a settlement there. He was speaking, moreover, to settlers, the illegal residents in the occupied territories.

We expected these rabbis to preach for mercy, especially on the blessed olive trees which his settlers routinely uproot all over the West Bank- from Hebron in the south to Jenin in the north. We also expected the same rabbis to ask their followers not to attack the innocent civilian Palestinians in their communities as instances of such attacks are numerous.

The extremist tendency in Israeli society, according to several surveys, is apparently intensifying. That society produces extremist leaders, the likes of Netanyahu and Lieberman. Religious edicts issued by rabbis affiliated with the Israeli right only serve to expose the roots of extremism, a phenomenon that requires an effective approach to contain. Extremism could easily spread to the entire region, and Israel is not immune to its dangers.