May 13, 2011:
Hamas and Fatah have agreed to each hold elections next year, but Hamas is expected to manage its elections so that it cannot lose. This is how Islamic radical groups deal with democracy; one election followed by permanent religious dictatorship (at least until the next revolution). Arab-language Palestinian media describe the kinder and gentler Hamas as an attempt to get more cash and diplomatic support from Europe, and get Hamas free of sanctions for being tagged an international terrorist organization. This would enable Hamas to bring in larger rockets, allowing all of Israel to be hit. This is part of a strategy that considers a peace deal with Israel (to establish an independent Palestinian state) is but one stage in the eventual destruction of Israel. Non-violence is looked down on among Palestinian. It's taken for granted that much violence will eventually be needed to destroy Israel. Conning Europeans into helping to weaken Israel is part of the plan. All this is regularly discussed in Arab language media, which the Palestinians' Western supporters simply ignore.
Israel insists it will not release tax money it collects for Fatah (which is 70 percent of the West Bank Palestinian government income) as long as the union with Hamas continues. So Fatah is appealing to Arab states to supply the $170 million a month needed to pay for the West Bank Palestinian government. Other Arab states are fed up with the Palestinians, and reluctant to provide a lot of money to self-destructive incompetents and ingrates (as the Palestinians are frequently described in the Arab language press). The Arab states may be shamed into providing the cash once Iran offers to do it. Iran is not Arab (but Indo-European) and is hated by most Arabs. Iran expresses a haughty disdain for Arabs, which does not help matters much. While the Arab states and Iran work this out, the EU (European Union) has agreed to make up most of the shortfall for the next month or so.
The Israeli military has admitted that four years of efforts to locate kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit have failed. Shalit was taken in Gaza, and is held by Hamas. Negotiations to exchange Shalit for imprisoned Palestinians have stalled over Hamas demands for the release of Palestinians convicted of killing Israelis.
Israel's new Iron Dome rocket defense system has proved about 90 percent successful in actual use. So Israel has agreed to spend about a billion dollars to buy another dozen or so batteries, and basically cover all of its Gazan and Lebanese borders. It will take several years to build these systems. Meanwhile, if enough rockets are fired at the same time, Iron Dome can be saturated, bring the interception rate down to 50 percent or less. So Israel still has to depend on bombing, artillery and ground troops to destroy the rockets before they can be launched.
Israel is becoming less of an emigrant nation. After 63 years of existence, some 70 percent of the 7.7 million Israeli citizens are native-born. Some 75 percent of Israelis are Jewish, 20 percent Arab and the rest non-Jewish migrants.