Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal issued the order to the group’s military wing last month after reconciliation talks in Cairo with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Fatah party, the officials told Ha'aretz.
Israeli officials say they are unaware of any change in Hamas‘ policy.
A change in Mr. Meshal’s tone has been detectable in recent weeks.
Last week, he said popular protest, separate from armed struggle, has “the power of a tsunami,” citing recent uprisings in the Arab world.
Still, the new policy marks a divergence from Mr. Meshal’s previous militant rhetoric and signals a shift in strategy that could encourage Israeli consideration.
FP: Did I or did I not not predict that (1) Hamas will do this and that (2) it will be effective?
The Egyptian government has agreed to return equipment and money seized Thursday from Egyptian, American and other nongovernmental groups and to begin formal talks over their disputed participation in Egypt's political system, U.S. State Department officials said Friday.
U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson "sought and received Egyptian leadership assurances that the raids will cease and property will be returned immediately," said a statement by a senior administration official who asked to be identified as such.
Yet officials acknowledged that the groups' activities will remain suspended indefinitely, including their participation in observing the round of parliamentary elections that is scheduled for next week.
Egyptian activists and U.S. officials reacted with outrage when authorities seized laptops, cellphones, other equipment and cash from the Egyptian offices of at least 17 nongovernmental groups. Among them were three U.S.-based groups: the National Democratic Institute, Freedom House, and International Republican Institute.
The 17 groups say their activities are nonpartisan and aimed at helping the Egyptian people organize and learn technical skills involved in democratic government. But the country's military rulers have strongly resisted the organizations' work, in some cases viewing them as foreign meddling in their domestic politics, and have launched an investigation into alleged violations of Egyptian law.
FP: Ain’t the Arab spring grand? More:
Al Qaeda's leadership has sent experienced jihadists to Libya in an effort to build a fighting force there, according to a Libyan source briefed by Western counter-terrorism officials. The jihadists include one veteran fighter who had been detained in Britain on suspicion of terrorism. The source describes him as committed to al Qaeda's global cause and to attacking U.S. interests.
The source told CNN that the al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, personally dispatched the former British detainee to Libya earlier this year as the Gadhafi regime lost control of large swathes of the country. The man arrived in Libya in May and has since begun recruiting fighters in the eastern region of the country, near the Egyptian border. He now has some 200 fighters mobilized, the source added. Western intelligence agencies are aware of his activities, according to the source.
Looks like the poor, oppressed Arab masses were indeed liberated.
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan's government signed a deal Wednesday with China's state-owned National Petroleum Corporation, allowing it to become the first foreign company to exploit the country's oil and natural gas reserves.
FP: An excellent example of how a dominant power self-destructs: the US has bankrupted itself and spilled its blood for China and Iran gains. I recently came across a comment by somebody that the US should pray that China not attack Taiwan, or the US would be compelled to borrow more from the Chinese to respond. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.
Just as their mission begins, Arab League observers are already in danger of losing their credibility in Syria. Their comments about the situation in the opposition stronghold of Homs seemed dismissive to the insurgents. And that's not the only mistake already made during the important visit.
The information emerging about the visit of Arab League observers to Syria is alarming -- but not because they plan to pointedly pursue the accusations against the regime of President Bashar Assad. Instead, it's because the first statements made by its leader, Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mustafa al-Dabi, are scandalous.
Speaking in the insurgent stronghold of Homs, he said that some areas looked "a bit of a mess," but otherwise he'd seen "nothing frightening"
While Dabi also said the mission to Syria would require more time, the fatal aspect of his statement is that it sounds dismissive, even if perhaps that's not how it was meant, even if the observers didn't witness a massacre that day, and even if he was trying to acknowledge the regime's promised withdrawal of the military from the area.
His statements set off alarm bells for parts of the Syrian opposition. They fear that Assad will be whitewashed, or that the regime in Damascus will be able to lead the observers only to places where no human rights violations are apparent. It seems inconceivable that the Arab League has praised Dabi for his diplomatic experience. This is exactly the kind of situation where making light of things should be avoided.
FP: Dabi is hardly an amateur, he is the founder of the Sudanese Janjaweed pogromist thug militia. His very assignment by the Arab League to observe another massacring thug tells you all you need to know. These are the Arabs in their natural state.
Bruce Kesler: Cal State’s Chutzpah
Spend any time on a university campus, and the official culture will become obvious in short order. Bigotry and prejudice against blacks, gays, or women simply isn’t tolerated. Even a hint of racism or sexism is met with quick and decisive punishment. But anti-Israel rants on California’s public-college campuses seem to be tolerated, politely ignored, or even tacitly condoned by the powers that be.
It isn’t hard to imagine what would happen to a professor who used the university’s website to post content opposed, say, to illegal immigration or legal abortion, especially if the subject was outside his academic field. Administrators would demand that the pages disappear, and they’d cite the university’s policies, chapter and verse. We know university administrators would loudly condemn a professor who maintained a website off campus that had a “deleterious effect on the university’s reputation.”
FP: Today only anti-Semitism is the sanctioned racism.