CNI: The Council for the National Interest aka Council to Nuke Israel meets with Hamas and Christian "peace makers" in Gaza
June 18, 2006
CNI Delegation Visits Hebron, Meets with Hamas Leader
A delegation from the Council for the National Interest met on January 29 with Shaikh Naif Rajoub, a member of Hamas who recently won a seat in the new Palestinian Legislative Council representing Hebron. The CNI delegation, which includes Ambassador Edward Peck, Ambassador Robert Keeley, and Eugene Bird, discussed Hamas and its desire for relations with Israel, Washington, and the European Union.
Shaikh Naif has been held in high repute in the city ever since his return more than a decade ago from southern Lebanon, where he and 415 fellow Palestinians were forced to live in exile for a year, having been illegally expelled from Israel in 1992. He expressed regret at the violence done to Israelis, but said that it was in retaliation to the military's targeted assassinations of their leaders and people.
The delegation sensed during their time in Hebron that the Palestinians were overjoyed by the Hamas victory. Many expressed their happiness to see Americans but their disagreement with American policy, which was viewed as being responsible for their current situation.
It represents the first time that former American diplomats have met with members of Hamas. Said Eugene Bird, president of CNI, "We are convinced that communication with Hamas is going to be necessary in order to preserve the ceasefire and continue the peace processes."
Also on hand to congratulate the new Hamas leader was Rabbi Menachem Froman, a founder of the militant settler group Gush Emmunim. He is known for his views on the need to reconcile Palestinians and Israelis through their Muslim and Jewish faiths.
Hebron has been scene of recent violent clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers who are intent upon occupying the market stalls in downtown Hebron which until 2001 were in the hands of Palestinian merchants. On January 30 the Israeli Defense Forces forcibly removed eight settler families who had been squatting for years in the market area. The settler movement promised that they would be replaced shortly by eight more families.
The city, which is supposedly the site of the tomb of Abraham, is revered by both Muslims and Jews, and has been the scene of bitter clashes since Jewish settlers re-established a presence in the city following the 1967 war.
The CNI delegation also spent time with the Christian Peacemaker Team which has provided street patrolling to prevent violence in the city since 1995. In a moving ceremony, delegation and CPT team members held hands praying for the safe return of the Iraq CPT team, which has been kidnapped since November 29th.
The delegation will provide a full briefing on their meetings in the Middle East upon their return to Washington.