At Ramallah protest, Hamas’ green overcomes Fatah's yellow

 At Ramallah protest, Hamas’ green overcomes Fatah's yellow

Amira Hass, reporting for Haaretz on a protest in Ramallah: 

This wasn't just a show of strength by Hamas, it was a show of weakness by the groups making up the Palestine Liberation Organization, headed by Fatah. The few PLO members who took part in the rally were outnumbered by Hamas people, and when Fatah supporters – probably members of the security forces in civilian clothes – tried to shout out slogans advocating Palestinian unity, they were drowned out by the Hamas protesters, yelling the name of their organization.

Palestinian reconciliation: Hamas' opening gambit

Hamas and Fatah leaders have been meeting Cairo this week to continue hammering out the details of the third unity agreement they’ve tried to reach in the past five years. The agreement would give Mahmoud Abbas the authority to appoint a transitional cabinet, sidelining Hamas and, in theory, his own Fatah party. Officially, Hamas’s top leaders - Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh - have committed to them. But Al-Ahram, Egypt’s state-owned daily, is reporting that Hamas is determined to secure their own concessions from Abbas in exchange for allowing him to assume the post of interim prime minister. It is not clear which Hamas leaders are pushing these measures, though if there is a concerted effort from within the group, I would not be surprised to see the name of their #2 man in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahhar, pop up.
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Links for Dec.21.09 to Dec.23.09

Middle East Online | The End of Brotherly Love? | Tarek Kahlaoui on the Egyptian MB. * The Israel Lobby and the Prospects for Middle East Peace « P U L S E | Lectures by Stephen Walt. * Israeli Organ Trafficking and Theft: From Moldova to Palestine | Investigation by Washigton Report. * Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent | World news | The Guardian | Unbelievable. * Israel gives response to Hamas prisoner swap offer | "Israel relayed its response to the proposed swap and handed over a list of Palestinians it wants exile." * Jimmy Carter to U.S. Jews: Forgive me for stigmatizing Israel - Haaretz - Israel News | WTF? * The Fascination of Israel – Forward.com | Review of three books on Israel. * «Il y a 40.000 Chinois en Algérie» | 40,000 Chinese in Algeria, 2000 Algerians in China. * Meedan | Moroccan and Jordanian forces join Saudi offensive against Houthis. | Handle with care, chief source appears to be Spanish press. * In Shift, Oren Calls J Street ‘A Unique Problem’ – Forward.com | Israel ambassador ramps up the attack on new lobby. * IRIN Middle East | EGYPT-ISRAEL: Perilous journey to the promised land | Middle East | Egypt Israel | Migration Refugees/IDPs | Feature | On sub-Saharan migration to Israel via Egypt. * Palestinians shoot at Egypt | Response to the collapsing of tunnels that have claimed many Palestinian lives? * Egypt's ailing cotton industry needs shake-up | Reuters | Industry risks a "slow death." * Middle East Report Online: Broken Taboos in Post-Election Iran by Ziba Mir-Hosseini | On the Green Movement and gender issues. * Egypt rebukes Hamas over 'foot-dragging' in Palestinian reconciliation - Israel News, Ynetnews | Omar Suleiman:
Suleiman said Egypt had promised Hamas it would address the terror group's reservations vis-à-vis the reconciliation deal "after they sign and begin to implement it." He said Hamas' concerns "lacked substance," adding that the agreement would not be revised. "If it will (be changed), I'll resign," said Suleiman.
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Links for 11.12.09 to 11.15.09

Violence Flares Ahead of Algeria-Egypt Soccer Match - The Lede Blog - NYTimes.com | The NYT's blog The Lede has a nice post about the Algeria-Egypt, game, so I don't have to do it as I don't even like football. ✪ Daily News Egypt - Egypt Among States Attempting To Weaken Un Anti-Corruption Convention Enforcement Mechanism | Egypt and others against review mechanism for corruption convention. ✪ The Young Brotherhood in Search of a New Path | Khalil al-Anani. ✪ The Brotherhood vs. Al-Qaeda: A Moment Of Truth? | Jean-Pierre Filiu. ✪ The Saturday Profile - An Arms Dealer Returns, Now Selling an Image - Biography - NYTimes.com | Profile of arms dealer Adnan al-Khashoggi, who apparently has fallen on hard times. Still, I'd like to know why he met with Richard Perle in 2002. ✪ Blogging Imam Who Knew Fort Hood Gunman and 9/11 Hijacker Goes Silent - The Lede Blog - NYTimes.com | Can't believe this guy has not been arrested prior to leaving the US. ✪ 'Going Muslim' - Forbes.com | NYU professor "goes desi" after Texas massacre. Is this just Indian (I assume the professor is originally Indian or Sri Lankan) prejudice against Muslims? I wonder if the next time an Asian shoots people at a college we'll say, "going oriental"... Shame on you, Forbes. ✪ Palestine: Salvaging Fatah | ICG's new report on Palestine. [PDF]
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Avishai: Fatah Dictatorship + Israeli Occupation = Doubleplusgood

Bernard Avishai looks on the bright side of things when discussing Salam Fayad and Benyamin Netanyahu's "economic peace" concept:
Fatah held its first general convention in almost twenty years in Bethlehem on August 4, and a young guard more determined to cooperate with Hamas is now challenging President Abbas’s sorry diplomatic record. Behind the scenes, however, it is Ramallah’s business elites who are positioning themselves. Fayyad is not the only seasoned manager now taking a role in the PA: the new economics minister is Dr. Bassem Khoury, the former CEO of generic drugmaker Pharmacare; Dr. Mohammad Mustafa, another former World Bank official, now runs the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF), Palestine’s $850 million sovereign wealth fund, put together with painstaking transparency from monies Yasir Arafat once controlled with virtually no oversight. Even outside the PA, the influence of senior telecom executives such as Paltel’s Sabih Al-Masri and Abdul Malik al-Jaber, or private-equity magnates such as Sayed Khoury, is gossiped about, counted on. One sees the makings of a quiet revolution. Sam Bahour, an Ohio-born management consultant who was instrumental in setting up Palestine’s first telecommunications company and who, subsequently, pushed through construction of Ramallah’s first shopping center and supermarket during the darkest days of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, does not approve of Fayyad’s American-trained police force’s peremptory jailing of Hamas cadres and their curtailment of civil liberties. But he does appreciate the law-and-order government Fayyad has established in West Bank cities, which the Israeli army tends to avoid. This is a kind of dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, Bahour admits, but the alternative is an Islamist command-state, like the one in Gaza, which offers no real hope and thrives on the uncertainties and brutalities of the occupation. We are sitting in a café, nicely appointed in Art Deco style, which, Bahour tells me proudly, is the first of a chain, a kind of aspiring Palestinian Starbucks. But everywhere on the walls outside are pictures of young people, “martyrs.” “Pictures of the Israeli army’s innocent victims merge into pictures of suicide bombers and real armed fighters, looking sincere and ready for sacrifice,” Bahour says. “This kind of thing works on our young people. When Israel attacked Gaza, my kids were on Facebook every night showing solidarity. We are surrounded by morbid memorials on every corner. We have got to create another reality fast.” Bahour means a Palestinian state that Palestinian entrepreneurs themselves create in the womb of, and in spite of, the occupation, much as Zionism created a state within the British Mandate occupation. He is on the board of Birzeit University. He is also part of a business delegation that’s been petitioning the Israeli Defense Forces to open the crossings to Gaza, so that West Bank enterprises can get in. (“Put a real Palestinian store next to a Hamas-controlled tunnel, and the store will win every time.”) One green shoot of “another reality,” Bahour notes, is the surprisingly robust Palestine Securities Exchange, whose companies’ market capitalization exceeds $2.3 billion.
Helena Cobban has ruminations on the more important aspects of the question, i.e., just what kind of puppet is Salam Fayyad?
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Links for 08.09.09 to 08.13.09

Moises Naim -- A New Recipe for Autocrats Around The World - washingtonpost.com | Some good stuff there, but he goes to easy on Mossad and the CIA - they would not be scapegoats if it wasn't sometimes true! The Groping Elephant in the Room: Sexual Harassment in the Arab World « the long slumber | More from The Long Slumber on sexual harassment in the Arab word - recommended, thought-provoking reading. شارك - حوار مفتوح لشباب مصر مع جمال مبارك | Tell me this man is not running for president... Fiji Water: Spin the Bottle | Mother Jones | Nothing to do with the Middle East, but outrageous. BBC NEWS | Middle East | Frustrated dreams of young Egyptians | Living in the City of the Dead: "I dream of leaving this place. One day we will buy a new home and pretend we have lived there all our lives." Get Good at Arabic « MediaShack | Good tips on picking up the lingo - this method really works although it means you must be disciplined and dedicated (and have no other job, ideally). Even if it might seem a tiny bit exploitative. 'Just World News' with Helena Cobban: Agha, Malley, and some other ideas | Helena Cobban's critique of the Malley/Agha op-ed, saying it's quite banal. Well yes and no: it's banal because experts and many Israelis and Palestinians have known it for a long time (that it's about 1948), but it's still important to reiterate the point because politicians (in Israel/Palestine, among the two diasporas and among foreigners) still pretend otherwise. Op-Ed Contributors - The Two-State Solution Doesn’t Solve Anything - NYTimes.com | Malley and Agha say it's all about 1948: "For years, virtually all attention has been focused on the question of a future Palestinian state, its borders and powers. As Israelis make plain by talking about the imperative of a Jewish state, and as Palestinians highlight when they evoke the refugees’ rights, the heart of the matter is not necessarily how to define a state of Palestine. It is, as in a sense it always has been, how to define the state of Israel." Les ministres israéliens divisés sur la libération de Marwan Barghouti - Proche-Orient - Le Monde.fr | Israelis pols split about whether or not to free Marwan Barghouti. Dar Al Hayat - Ayoon Wa Azan (Why Are Men Allowed to Wear Dresses?) | Jihad al-Khazen suggests (jokingly?) that Gulf Arabs buy up the Observer, which is shutting down (alas, although perhaps they shouldn't have spent so much money on stupid lifestyle supplements and Nigella Lawson pageantry.) Will the leader of Lebanon's Druze really form an alliance with Hezbollah? - By Lee Smith - Slate Magazine | Weird Slate story in whcih Walid Jumblatt is celebrated as hero, disowns his old friends, and they react: "His former American friends are not amused. "I don't believe for a minute that he's sorry he met with the dreaded neocons, and I'm sorry he feels somehow compelled to say that," said Elliott Abrams, the Bush administration's deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy. "I just hope he keeps sending all of us that nice wine from the Bekaa."" Three soldiers, Al-Qaeda leader killed in Yemeni clashes - AL SHORFA | Note that this site is funded by US Central Command. I don't know much about Yemen, but isn't it rather odd to refer to the insurgents in Yemen to al-Qaeda (as opposed to people motivated by local grievances, as a recent International Crisis Group report argued)? Le Figaro - International : Mauritanie : attentat suicidedevant l'ambassade de France | Suicide bombing outside French embassy in Mauritania.
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Links for 08.04.09 to 08.06.09

Iran is the problem, not settlements: US lawmaker (AFP) | Slimy Republican sings from Bibi's songbook. Most Taliban fighters 'could switch' | From Windows to Mac? Where Have All the Palestinian Moderates Gone? | Read this obscene article by Israel lobby stooge David Schenker (and many others like it from WINEP): it makes a compelling argument that people from this institution should never be regarded as serious analysts or scholars, but as propagandists. The guy talks about Fatah reserving the right to armed resistannce - i.e. self-defense from a brutal occupation - but never once mentions occupation. Whither Fateh? | Palestine | On the inner rifts of the Palestinian faction - quite good. Middle East Democracy (404 Not Found) | Priceless. Al-Ahram Weekly | Focus | Business interests | Hossam Tammam on the Muslim Brothers' economic policy.
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Links for 08.04.09

Brotherhood on the defensive in Egypt - The National Newspaper | On the alleged "deal" being brokered between the Muslim Brothers and the Egyptian regime. 'Just World News' with Helena Cobban: Countdown to Fateh conference? | Cobban: "Abbas's decision to hold the conference in the Israeli-controlled West Bank gives Israel a de-facto veto over who attends, and thus wrecks the idea that the conference will produce any authentic or legitimate expression of an independent Palestinian nationalist will." Hamas Chief Outlines Terms for Talks on Arab-Israeli Peace - WSJ.com | Yet again, Hamas speaks in favor of 67 lines: "We along with other Palestinian factions in consensus agreed upon accepting a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines," Mr. Meshaal said. This is the national program. This is our program. This is a position we stand by and respect." In kingdom, Saudi prince's coup 'fails' | Something rather odd in that after months of Bandar not being seen around (apparently), this Iranian press agency is the only one reporting on an alleged coup Bandar would have led. Chávez activists storm TV station | Chavez, the Mubarak / Ben Ali / Muhammad VI of South America.
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Links for 08.02.09 to 08.03.09

Liam Stack, Greek Club Civil War, and Developing Developments | Boi boi Liam... Al-Maqdisi’s Online Library of Translated Jihadi Material | Get your jihadi agit-prop in translation... Fatah to reject Israel as Jewish state at congress: document (AFP) | Rightly so. 50 Palestinians evicted from their Jerusalem homes (AP) | "AP - Israeli police evicted two Palestinian families in east Jerusalem on Sunday, then allowed Jewish settlers to move into their homes, drawing criticism from Palestinians, the United Nations and the State Department." Criticism? Cut off their funding! Jewish Tribune - Pepe Le Pew makes aliyah and protects the Jews | Columnist in Canada's Jewish tribune, on protests by International Solidarity Movement for Palestine against Israel's wall: "I personally would recommend use of live ammo on the ‘anarchists'". [Thanks, Saeed]
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The Ghost of Yasser Arafat

2081984106_09cdadc0fa.jpg Poster commemorating the death of Yasser Arafat in Damascus, from Flickr user Magh While I was away last week, the biggest event of the Arab world appears to have been Farouq Qaddumi's allegation that Ariel Sharon, Muhammad Dahlan, Mahmoud Abbas and someone unnamed Americans may have conspired and agreed to poison Yasser Arafat. Qaddumi made his statement while being interviewed on al-Jazeera, prompting the West Bank Palestinian government to shut down their offices for several days — but it's now reopened, although the Fayyad government is still considering taking the channel to court. Arguably al-Jazeera should not be responsible for what its guests say, but at the same time it has been heavily promoting the story. Marc Lynch covered the incident from the point of view of his speciality, al-Jazeera, and in terms of the West Bank Palestinian government making a typical mistake of the repressive Arab states — I can't say I'm surprised nor do I share Marc's high expectations for Palestinian democracy under Mahmoud Abbas, or indeed, under Israeli occupation. (Or indeed that the United States is a supporter of press freedom, a rather ironic statement to make in context of previous US policy towards al-Jazeera.) Michael Collins Dunn also focused on al-Jazeera's standing in the region and whether or not its ban increased the credibility of Qaddumi's claim, while As'ad AbuKhalil gave background on al-Jazeera's relations with the Abbas regime and Qaddumi's place within Fatah. Likewise Brian Whitaker also wrote about Arab "leaders who can't adjust to a new era of transparency in which their actions are liable to be scrutinised and questioned as never before." I am not sure this should be the focus of the story — al-Jazeera is a power of its own in the region (more or less influenced by the Qatari royal family) but I see it more as an additional bloc in the pan-Arab spectrum, shifting alliances regularly, rather than the "game-changer" it is generally described as. Before al-Jazeera, after all, there were other sources of information (many of them outside the Arab world, such as the BBC World Service or Radio Montecarlo) which fed into Arab political debate. Today's multiplication of information sources has still not made much of a dent in the transparency of governments or their willingness to disseminate information. Indeed, in some cases it has helped neutralize potential "bombshells" such as the one released by Qaddumi. Marc Lynch was spot on in saying that this particular bombshell should be read in the context of the upcoming (but still uncertain) Fatah conference, the first to take place in 20 years. I don't know enough about Palestinian politics to comment on this in detail, but I think it's pretty obvious that Fatah is in deep crisis, and that Abbas has lost much moral authority over the Palestinian people. Several months ago, I spoke to senior Fatah officials who were in Cairo for the reconciliation talks and it seemed clear that the Fatah conference would not be taking place — that Abbas was going through the motions, and that he had reportedly even asked Egypt to refuse to host it so he could at least claimed that he had asked. Hosting the conference inside of occupied Palestine is problematic, of course, since Fatah members outside the West Bank would most likely not be able to attend. Actually having a Fatah conference would provide a venue for many of the group's members to air their grievances in a legitimate way the current leadership might not be too happy with. The last few months, after all, have seen test balloons by various Fatah factions as to what direction the movement should take, while the US, EU and Israel all but consecrated Abbas as the sole person they want conducting final status talks should a peace process properly restart. That — Fatah politics — is one issue. The other is the seriousness of Qaddumi's accusation that senior Fatah members (Abbas and Dahlan) conspired with Israel and the US to eliminate Arafat. Let's remember that Arafat has been alleged to have died by poisoning, from a brain tumor, from AIDS, cirrhosis of the liver and other causes. We still don't know. His widow, Suha Arafat, refused that his body undergo an autopsy in Paris or that French authorities release his medical file. The French government denied the poison theory, but rather weakly. His personal physician, Ashraf al-Kurdi, alleged that while Arafat was HIV positive it was poison that killed him. His nephew, who had access to medical records, says there were unclear, although it has been confirmed he had a blood-clotting disorder called "disseminated intravascular coagulation" (DIC). I had noted Qaddumi's first allegation that Arafat was poisoned, back in November 2004, and dismissed him since he did not really back it up and it was one in a chorus of voices offering different explanations. Then, in 2007, the Israeli peacenik Uri Avnery drew attention to the fact that Uri Dan, a longtime Ariel Sharon advisor, had mentioned that Sharon had asked the Bush administration for a go-ahead to kill Arafat. That decision would have presumably been taken in 2003, when Arafat was under tremendous pressure from the US and had been forced to name Abbas as his PM as a form of power-sharing. (It didn't last long and Abbas resigned after Arafat ensured security services were still loyal to him.) Around that time is when the meeting between Sharon, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Abbas, Dahlan and an unnamed American delegation (possibly headed by William Burns). Since Qaddumi has now released the transcript — exclusively translated into English by Toufiq Haddad of the Faster Times — we now have an idea of what might have taken place. The whole conversation is worth reading (the meeting is essentially about how to get around Arafat, "liquidate" leaders of the Second Intifada in Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad and impose a new Palestinian leadership under Abbas and Dahlan). But here's the bit where Sharon suggests poisoning Arafat:
Sharon: As long as Arafat is around in the Moqata’ [the Palestinian Authority headquarters] in Ramallah, you will certainly fail. This fox [Arafat] will surprise you as he did in the past. Because he knows what you intend to do. And he will work towards your failure and put inevitable obstacles. He’ll proclaim, as the [Palestinian] street does, that you are being used to do the dirty work of the era. Dahlan: We’ll see who uses the other. Sharon: The first step needs to be to kill Arafat by poisoning. I don’t want him exiled, except if there are guarantees from the concerned states that he will be under house arrest. Otherwise Arafat will return to living on a plane [a reference to Arafat's frequent travels before his return to the OPT to drum up support for the Palestinian position internationally.] Abu Mazen: If Arafat dies before we are able to have control on the ground and all the institutions, and over Fateh, and [Fateh's armed wing] the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades, then we will face great complications. Sharon: On the contrary, you won’t control anything as long as Arafat is alive. Abu Mazen: The plan needs to be where we pass everything through Arafat. This will be more successful for us and for you. During the period of clashing with Palestinian organizations and the assassination of its leadership and its member - these matters will bring with them consequences for Arafat himself. And he can’t say to the people that this is the work of Abu Mazen. But it is the work of the head of the PA. For I know Arafat well. He doesn’t accept to be on the margins. He needs to be the leader, even if he has lost all his options, and when he has no option but civil war. He prefers to be the leader. Sharon: You used to say before Camp David that Arafat is the last to know and [then] Barak, Clinton and Tenet were surprised that he is the decider [i.e that Arafat feigned ignorance, but knew what was going on all along, engineering it as such.] Perhaps you do not learn from the past.
Do read the whole thing, but as you can see here Abu Mazen (Abbas) is actually arguing with Sharon over the need to kill Arafat. So it's pretty inconclusive, although if the document is taken at face value it does show Israeli willingness to kill Arafat. This is hardly surprising since so many Palestinian leaders have been assassinated and during that time Sharon was convinced that Arafat was behind the suicide bombings and other killings of Israelis. What is revealing about the exchange (again, assuming this meeting did take place) is the degree to which Abbas and Dahlan are seen to be cooperating with Sharon to isolate Arafat, protect Israeli interests and assume control over the Palestinian Authority. This, without the assassination, should be damning enough. It seems Yasser Arafat will be haunting this gang for a while yet, especially should a Fatah conference actually come through.
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Links for 07.13.09

Settlers are encountering their first real opponent - Obama - Haaretz - Israel News | An interesting article even for an Obama-settlements skeptic like me. Provides good details and background. Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s Fatwa – Tehran Bureau | "[TEHRAN BUREAU] In a very important development, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the most senior cleric living in Iran, and one of the top two* marja’ taghlid (source of emulation) in Shiite Islam, issued a series of Fatwas, calling the Supreme Leader illegitimate and saying that he was working with the government against religion. Montazeri has called on people to take action against this injustice, even if they have to pay a heavy price for it." Egypt's President Mubarak planning to retire and transfer power to son - The Irish Times - Sat, Jul 11, 2009 | The Irish Times has a scoop. I really must get around to writing that post warning against following the hysteria of the Egyptian and Arab press on succession etc. MIDEAST: Succession Issues Face Key U.S. Allies - IPS ipsnews.net | Helena Cobban on Egypt and Saudi Arabia's dueling successions. Brothers divided by Gaza rivalry - The National Newspaper | Cool story on two brothers - one from Fatah, one from Hamas - and how they make do. News | Egyptians protest award to controversial writer | Sayed al-Qimni receives award, Islamists angry. Don't let it be said that the MB does not do this anymore. Israel phone firm's West Bank wall gag fails to amuse (Reuters) |
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'Egypt entices Palestinians to unite with Gaza crossings pledge' - Haaretz - Israel News

> 'Egypt entices Palestinians to unite with Gaza crossings pledge' - Haaretz - Israel News - "There will be no reconstruction, no lifting of siege, no truce and no peace talks until an agreement is reached," Egypt's official news agency quoted Suleiman as saying after Saturday's meeting.
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AJI: Focus on Gaza - Factional Violence

Part I of report on factional violence between Fatah and Hamas and Israel efforts to pressure Gazan fishermen into acting as informants. Part II: Link to HRW report on factional violence by Hamas in Gaza. One wonders: there is anti-Fatah action by Hamas, and there are punitive measures against people suspected of collaboration. Collaborators are never treated kindly anywhere.
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Links January 25th and January 26th

Automatically posted links for January 25th through January 26th:

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Links January 15th and January 19th

Automatically posted links for January 15th through January 19th:

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Links for December 4th

Automatically posted links for December 4th:

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