THE SPINE MAY 13, 2007
Isabel Kershner and I do not exactly share the same politics on Israel. But she is an extraordinary and extraordinarily honest journalist. She has been the "Palestinian" correspondent of the Times for a while now, joining my good and admired friend Steven Erlanger (the head of its Jerusalem bureau) and Greg Myre in covering what may be the most emotionally laden beat in the world. She gets it. So, when a visit -- a "rare" visit, she adds -- King Abdullah of Jordan was to make to Ramallah in the West Bank to see Mahmoud Abbas was cancelled because of "bad weather," she checked and found that flights were taking off all day from Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. So what's the story? Abdullah was clearly not eager to fly into another and different kind of storm. And the storm was the same one that has been raging off and on for many months in Gaza between Abbas' Fatah faction and Hamas. There were clashes today between the two, and the commander of the Fatah-affiliated Al Aksa Martyr's Brigade was gunned down. The Hamas gunmen fired on his funeral. At the end of the day, five people were dead. No one has announced a toll of the wounded. In the meantime, a spokesman for Hamas declared its indifference to the project of which the Ramallah meeting was a part: the renewal of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and, also, the Saudi initiative. A spokesman for the Hamas leader and Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya, declared that Hamas is, according to Kershner, "not involved in efforts to promote the peace efforts." Or, in the spokesman's own words, "We have nothing to do with the negotiations file." Is the spokesman from Hamas' "military" wing or its "political" wing? Ask the great banker. If he doesn't know, ask his girlfriend, the queen. But she would not be reliable since she really does not wish the reigning king any good.