In his first call to a foreign leader, President Barack Obama spoke to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the phone Jan. 21, saying he wants to work “as partners to establish a durable peace in the region,” according to an Abbas aid. He shortly followed the call up with one to and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Israel is currently withdrawing the last of its troops from the Gaza Strip, but prevented Abbas’ administration from transferring $80 million to Gaza to pay Palestinian Authority workers there. Israel told the UN and other aid agencies they must apply for project-by-project Israeli approval and provide guarantees none of the work will benefit Hamas. (Bloomberg, Reuters, Jan. 21)
Thousands of Palestinians rallied in cities across the Gaza Strip Jan. 20, responding to a Hamas declaration that the people should “celebrate the resistance victory in the war against Israeli forces.” Massive crowds gathered in front of the demolished Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) headquarters in Gaza City, shouting that they were with the resistance.
Hamas leader Ismail Radwan addressed the mass of people saying, “We took to the streets to celebrate the resistance victory in the battle between good and evil. Radwan quoted Israeli leaders Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, saying “they thought they would ‘topple Hamas’ and ‘stop the flow of Palestinian projectiles on Israeli towns.’ But what have you done, Zionists? Have you toppled our government? Have you stopped projectiles? Have you broken Hamas? Today, the legitimate Hamas government—elected by its people—has more support than before. Today, the Arab and the Islamic peoples support Hamas because Hamas awoke the hopes of the nation… You will not have security and safety unless we do.” (Ma’an News Agency, Jan. 20)