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Earlier today, the Jerusalem Post ran a story on Hamas' smuggling efforts to avoid the sanctions placed on the Palestinian Authority since they came to power. They have successfully imported $66 million, but that wasn't what caught the eye of The Anchoress when she read the article. Her jaw dropped at this:
Hamas officials have managed to smuggle more than $66 million in cash through the Rafah border crossing in the past eight months, a member of the Hamas-led government revealed Wednesday.
Meanwhile, sources close to the Hamas-led government claimed that Hamas representatives recently held talks with officials from the US Democratic Party at a secret location.
The sources told the Bethlehem-based Maan News Agency that Hamas representatives have also been holding secret talks with European government officials, including Britain and France.
However, a funny thing happened to the story in the intervening hours between The Anchoress' post and now -- the last two paragraphs have disappeared from the story. It no longer discusses any contact Hamas purports to have with any Western officials, either in Europe or the United States. The Jerusalem Post offers no explanation for the redaction, either.
It seemed a strange notion at best. While European government officials probably have some contacts with Hamas, Democratic politicians would have no basis on which to conduct talks with the Palestinian terrorist group. In fact, it might violate the Logan Act and possibly any of several laws forbidding talks with terrorist organizations. It would also be incredibly stupid, politically speaking, for Democrats to expose themselves to charges of appeasing and even enabling terrorism. Only rogue extremists from the party would be foolish enough to even consider it.
My guess at the time was that Hamas was shooting its collective mouth off, trying to pose as the more influential faction while Mahmoud Abbas tried to evict them from the government. I tend to believe that terrorists spend more time lying than breathing, and Hamas maybe more than most. I suspect the Jerusalem Post reconsidered their sourcing on the story and withdrew it without explanation, a poor journalistic choice on their part after a poor journalistic choice for including it in the first place.
At least, I hope that's the explanation.
UPDATE AND BUMP, 12/7 7:57 AM: The Israeli wire service YNet is carrying the same report, along with a little more detail:
The Palestinian news agency Maan, quoting a senior member of the Palestinian government, reported Wednesday that "ministers of the Hamas-led government recently held talks with European countries and with a delegation of the American Democratic Party. According to the source, in the talks, the European officials showed their understanding for Hamas' stance.
According to the report, several European countries are already holding talks with Hamas, and the dialogue has succeeded in bringing about a certain change in the European stance toward the Hamas-led Palestinian government.
The Palestinian official said that Hamas representatives held meeting in European countries and even succeeded in convincing the Europeans to accept the movement's stance.
Again, one has to consider the source on this. Hamas claims that they have had a breakthrough with Europe on their handling of the Palestinian government, but we have seen no evidence of any change in the European posture. They still have not released any funds to the Palestinian Authority nor have made any effort to change that policy. Hamas, it must be remembered, is fighting to keep control of the PA, while Mahmoud Abbas wants to call new elections on the basis of Hamas failures in foreign policy. Hamas wants the Palestinians to think that they have made a series of breakthroughs that only exist in their imagination -- it's nothing more than diplomatic vaporware.
As for their assertion that they do not want to harm the electoral chances for Democrats in 2008, that only proves that they read American newspapers. The Democrats would know better than to attempt to engage terrorists in an end run around the White House ... or they'd better know better.
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