Jailed Palestinian engineer professes innocence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

A Palestinian engineer who vanished on a Ukrainian train and mysteriously turned up in an Israeli prison made his first public comments Thursday, accusing the Jewish state of kidnapping him "for no reason" and saying he had no information about an Israeli soldier held captive in the Gaza Strip. Dirar Abu Sisi spoke as he entered an Israeli court in the central city of Petach Tikva for a brief hearing that extended his arrest until next Tuesday. His lawyer said authorities informed her that he will be indicted on unspecified charges next week.

Colombia: We will not recognize Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Shefler - March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

After suffering a series of diplomatic defeats to the Palestinians in Latin America, Israel won a rare victory on Wednesday when Colombia announced that it would not unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón told a delegation of the World Jewish Congress in a meeting in the Colombian capital of Bogota that his government would not recognize Palestinian statehood as “a matter of principle.”

Gaza engineer held in Israel appears in court
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jeffrey Heller - March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

A Palestinian engineer under arrest in Israel was allowed on Thursday to speak publicly for the first time since his alleged abduction from Ukraine, saying he knew nothing about an Israeli soldier held by Hamas in Gaza. Lawyers for Dirar Abu Sisi had accused Israel of trying to concoct charges against the Gaza resident, linking his arrest to efforts to gather intelligence on the enclave's Hamas rulers and Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, seized by militants in 2006.

Fayyad: Peaceful resistance advancing Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Ben Hartman - March 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that Palestinian non-violent popular resistance of the West Bank barrier has been successful in convincing the world to reconsider the Palestinian cause and advanced the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, in a radio address commemorating "Land Day" on Wednesday. "Land remains the core of the Palestinian cause, and the reason for our existence and future," Fayyad said. "We [have been] here since the very beginning and we are certainly staying until the very end."

Fatah wins Birzeit University elections
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Fatah won Birzeit University's student senate election, which was boycotted by Hamas, officials said Wednesday. Mohammed Al-Ahmad, the dean of students, said Fatah won 29 of 51 seats. The Popular Struggle Front and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's joint bloc won 14 seats, and eight others went to three smaller blocs, Al-Ahmad said. Seven blocs participated in the elections that were held "in a very positive atmosphere" under the auspices of Ramallah governor Laila Ghannam, he said. Voter turnout reached 50 percent despite the boycott calls, he said.

Rights group calls for inquiry into internal projectile fire
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights released a statement of concern Tuesday, in the wake of the fall of several projectiles on a house and soft-drinks factory in the northern Strip, in which six civilians were injured. A report from the organization said it was the third home-made projectile to land on civilian property in Gaza in the past week, and called on government officials to investigate.

UC students met with Hamas leader
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

University of California-Irvine students met with a Hamas leader during a student trip to Israel. The Institute for Jewish and Community Research recently learned that the UC Irvine branch of the Olive Tree Initiative, an Israeli-Palestinian peace organization, arranged for a meeting between UC students and a Hamas leader in the West Bank while the students were on a trip to Israel in September 2009. The communal organization is protesting the meeting.

Israel fears the alternative if Syria's Assad falls
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - March 30, 2011 - 12:00am

As popular unrest threatens to topple another Arab neighbor, Israel finds itself again quietly rooting for the survival of an autocratic yet predictable regime, rather than face an untested new government in its place. Syrian President Bashar Assad's race to tamp down public unrest is stirring anxiety in Israel that is even higher than its hand-wringing over Egypt's recent regime change. Unlike Israel and Egypt, Israel and Syria have no peace agreement, and Syria, with a large arsenal of sophisticated weapons, is one of Israel's strongest enemies.

In the Israeli Knesset, some undemocratic activities
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Harold Meyerson - (Opinion) March 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Democracy is on the march in the Middle East — forward in Egypt and Tunisia; backward, alas, in Israel. The Israeli parliament’s Immigration, Absorption and Public Diplomacy Committee held a hearing last week to determine whether an American Jewish organization that favors a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conundrum could call itself “pro-Israel.”

Palestinian incitement letter garners 27 senators
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
March 30, 2011 - 12:00am

A bipartisan slate of 27 U.S. senators signed on to a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to press the Palestinian Authority to address incitement. The letter, sent Tuesday but initiated two weeks ago by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), focuses on the March 11 massacre of five members of a Jewish family in Itamar, a settlement in the northern West Bank, and suggests that the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, has not done enough to stem incitement.

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