Update 3: Amazing coincidence? Truce Is Off as Clinton Lands in Tel Aviv

TEL AVIV, Israel (NBC News) – As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Israel, a Hamas official said a truce with Israel would not be reached until Wednesday at the earliest because the Israeli government had yet to respond to proposals.

“The Israeli side has not responded yet, so we will not hold a (news) conference this evening and must wait until tomorrow,” Ezzat al-Rishq, a senior Hamas leader, told Reuters in a short telephone interview. “The truce is now held up because we are waiting for the Israeli side to respond.”

Clinton landed at 9:51 p.m. local time in Tel Aviv, where she is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a senior State Department official said.

A U.S. official stressed to NBC News that Clinton would not meet with representatives of Hamas, the Islamist organization that controls the Gaza Strip, largely because of its failure to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Qatar and UAE and Saudi Arabia have not recognised Israel, yet are allowed to buy US weapon systems …

UPDATE 2: No truce yet .. parties agree to a 24 hour calm. Israel postpones ground attack on northern Gaza. Egypt’s president Morsi and UN chief Ban Ki-moon stepped upto the plate in negotiations between Hamas and Israel. The United States is nowhere to be seen. Congress does not allow meeting with Hamas delegates.

Netanyahu: Our Hand Grasps the Sword of David

« click – Binyamin adresses hareidi recruits

BREAKING NEWS: Gaza cease fire will be declared at 19:00: Hamas official via Reuters.

Hamas says cease fire deal imminent, end hostilities today. Israel spokesperson Mark Regev says no deal yet, ball still in play. Interpretation: Netanyahu meeting Hillary Clinton to get side letter with further territorial concessions to the Sharon/Bush deal of 2004.

This afternoon IDF dropped leaflets over large area from Gaza City suburbs to the border with Israel. The leaflets warn all residents to move out as they are in a mortal danger zone in coming hours expecting aerial bombing from the air, sea and land.

    “The Bible finds no worse image than this of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases. The tendency towards conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow him any compromise or agreement. It doesn’t matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His existence is one of perpetual war. Israel’s must be the same. The two states solution doesn’t exist; there are no two people here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab population… there is no Palestinian people, so you don’t create a state for an imaginary nation… they only call themselves a people in order to fight the Jews.” Benjamin Netanyahu

Al Jazeera LIVE!

According to a poll by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, 84 percent of Israelis supported the current Gaza assault, but only 30 percent wanted an invasion, while 19 percent wanted their government to work on securing a truce soon.

Dutch newspaper (translated) – Difficulty to end all hostilities – Israeli Air Force warns Gaza residents to leave ‘immediately’

Title original diary – Clinton On ME Peace Mission, Won’t Talk to Terrorist Group Hamas

Hillary Clinton Middle East: President Obama Sends Secretary Of State To Mideast Amid Gaza Crisis

(Boston Globe) – Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the U.S. believes “Israel will make its own decisions about the military operations and decisions that it undertakes.”

“At the same time, we believe that Israel, like the United States, like other countries, would prefer to see their interests met diplomatically and peacefully,” Rhodes said. “It’s in nobody’s interest to see an escalation of the military conflict.”

Obama and Clinton have consulted about the widening crisis throughout their three-day tour of Southeast Asia, their final joint trip before Clinton leaves her post as the top U.S. diplomat. They spoke again about the situation Tuesday morning, aides said, and made the decision for her to travel to the region.

Still, it was unclear what impact Clinton’s presence would have on the spiraling violence or whether she was heading to the Mideast with any specific overtures from the U.S. Rhodes said “there are a number of ideas that are in play,” but offered no further details.

Obama and Clinton each have held multiple telephone calls with their counterparts in Israel and Egypt, which is at the center of negotiations to quell the violence. Because the U.S. considers Hamas a terrorist organization and prohibits contact between its members and American officials, it is relying on Egypt, as well as Turkey and Qatar, to deliver its message to the Hamas leadership in Gaza.

Israel and Hamas say they are open to diplomatic mediation efforts being led by Egypt, but they are far apart in their demands.

Hamas wants Israel to halt all attacks on Gaza and lift tight restrictions on trade and movement in and out of the territory that have been in place since Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007. Israel demands an end to rocket fire from Gaza and a halt to weapons smuggling into Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt.

More below the fold …

Analysis: Sudan strike – A blow to Iran

(JPost) Oct. 25, 2012 – Amid the latest escalation between Hamas and Israel, a covert strike that is far more strategically significant may have occurred. Israel has remained officially silent over Sudanese accusations that Jerusalem carried out an air strike on a weapons factory near Khartoum, but tellingly, Jerusalem has not taken the trouble to deny the allegations either.

If Israeli fighter jets did fly 1,900 km. to the Sudanese capital to bomb a rocket factory, the move could represent a major blow to Iranian efforts to smuggle arms into Gaza, and contain a demonstrable threat to Tehran of what may occur if it continues to develop its nuclear weapons program.

 « click for video

Sudan’s Bashir threatens Israel over alleged airstrike

(CS Monitor) Nov. 8, 2012 – Sudan accuses Israel of bombing an arms warehouse or factory Oct. 24. Israel has no comment, but accuses Sudan of making or transporting arms for Iran. The recent arrival of two Iranian warships in Sudan seems to indicate strengthening ties. The Sudanese government, meanwhile, is convinced it is the victim of an Israeli attack. Today, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir threatened Israel with retaliation, saying “Israel will remain the number one enemy, and we will not call them anything except the Zionist enemy.”  

Israel asserts that Sudan is the starting point for Iranian arms shipments to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, a militant Islamist group. The allegation is that Sudan moves weapons through the Egyptian mainland and the lawless Sinai Peninsula before they enter the Palestinian enclave’s smuggling tunnels. US, Israeli, and Egyptian officials have frequently confirmed that arms smuggling from Sudan is commonplace, notably to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In 2011, an air attack on a passenger car in northern Sudan was assumed by much of the Israeli press to be the work of their government, though – as with the latest incident – there was neither a confirmation nor a denial from Israeli officials.

In early 2009, Israel carried out three airstrikes in Sudanese territory, one of them an attack on a freighter in the Red Sea. The most serious of the strikes left 39 dead in a convoy near the Egyptian border. Israeli officials have been particularly concerned that Iran will find a way to arm militants in Gaza with longer-range missiles.

Hamas tells Sudan it will avenge Israeli bombing of arms plant

Emir of Qatar on a humanitarian mission to Hamas and Gaza

(Al Arabiya) – The Emir of Qatar entered the Gaza Strip for a visit that will raise the prestige of its isolated Islamist rulers in the Hamas movement, but disappoint Israel and mainstream Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani crossed into Gaza from Egypt at the head of a large delegation on what is billed as a humanitarian visit to inaugurate a multi-million-dollar worth of reconstruction projects.

 “The emir agreed to increase Qatari investment from $254 million to $400 million,” Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said during a press conference in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza to mark the emir’s visit. The Qatari leader was given a red-carpet welcome by Hamas officials as he crossed into the small, coastal territory, which is under a stringent Israeli blockade and has restricted access for visitors via the Egyptian frontier, according to Reuters.

The Qatari leader, who has led Arab efforts to support rebels in Syria and Libya during Arab Spring revolts, had earlier left Doha with a large delegation including his wife Sheikha Moza, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim and other ministers. Gulf Arab states are trying to lure Hamas away from its alliance with Iran, whose nuclear energy program has raised the prospect of a war with Israel.

Israel and Gaza are in a state of perpetual low-level conflict, marked by sporadic rocket attacks from Gaza by Islamic armed groups and air strikes by the Israeli forces. The visit coincides with a spike in tensions around Gaza, with an Israeli soldier severely wounded in a blast along the border early on Tuesday.

A day earlier, two gunmen were killed and four critically hurt in several air strikes, and another died later in the day in disputed circumstances.  Hamas has vowed not to let the bloodshed go unavenged, while Israel has promised to hit back at anyone targeting soldiers or civilians.

 During his brief visit, the emir will inaugurate a $254-million Qatari investment project to rebuild the impoverished and overcrowded Gaza Strip, which sustained major damage during a huge 22-day Israeli military operation which began late December 2008.

Qatar, the tiny Gulf state that has turned into a big player in the Great Game

Filmmaker Dror Moreh about his new film “The Gatekeepers ” in which he interviews former heads of Israel’s intelligence organization “Shin Bet.” Trailer of film.

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