Middle East News: World Press Roundup

MJ Rosenberg reviews yesterday’s congressional hearing on Gaza at which ATFP testified (1). Numerous analyses examined the results of Israel’s election (2), (3), (4), (5), (9), (11), (15). Speculation continues on a Hamas-Israel truce including the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (6), (7), while violence continues to flare up (10), (13). The Daily Star analyzes the future of the Palestinian Authority after the Gaza war and the Israeli elections (8), while Hamad Al-Majid it considers what a process of “Somalization” would look like for the Palestinian political scene (12). Raghida Dergham argues that President Obama’s commitment to “justice and moderation” does not bode well for Middle Eastern figures hoping to evade tribunals and trials (14).

Congressman Ackerman Speaks Middle East Truth
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by M.J. Rosenberg - (Blog) February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Anyone who believes that anti-Semitism is a thing of the past needs to consider the case of Bishop Richard Williamson, the cleric who denies that the Holocaust occurred and insists that the murder of six million Jews is "lies, lies, lies." Williamson is a Jew-hater, pure and simple. Pope Benedict's support for him demonstrates that the current pontiff, who started out as a Hitler Youth, has a rather different attitude toward Jews than his revered predecessor, John Paul II, who started out in the Polish Resistance.

Israel's broken politics
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Boston Globe
February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

ISRAEL has enough troubles without having to cope with a dysfunctional political system. Yet that is exactly what Israelis are now struggling to do in the aftermath of Tuesday's general election. This was a democratic exercise in which the winner, Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni, is almost certain to end up the loser, while the loser, Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, will likely form the next government with a melange of partners he would rather not have.

With Israeli vote count final, party negotiations intensify
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM - After counting all of the outstanding votes cast by soldiers and diplomats, Israel's election commission announced Thursday that the distribution of parliamentary seats remained exactly as initial exit polls had predicted, following a national ballot earlier this week that plunged the country's political system into deepening uncertainty.

Kadima official says party may join coalition led by Likud
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yossi Verter - February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Kadima will head for the opposition benches if Benjamin Netanyahu forms the government, Tzipi Livni said Thursday, adding that her party has no intention of accepting a right-wing, ultra-Orthodox government. However, a senior Kadima official said the party probably would join Netanyahu's government eventually, and would demand the foreign and defense portfolios for Livni and Shaul Mofaz, or the foreign and education portfolios for Livni and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik.

Stalemate all around
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Economist
February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

FOR reasons of his own, Barack Obama chose to disregard the advice he got from many quarters that he should spell out his views on Palestinian statehood before Israel’s voters went to the polls on February 10th. That is a pity. Israelis disagree about many things, but most understand the value of having a prime minister who is liked and welcomed in the White House.

Hamas 'set for truce with Israel'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

A long-term truce between the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel may be announced within days, Hamas officials said in Cairo. Border crossings would reportedly be re-opened and a ceasefire would be called for 18 months under the Egyptian-brokered deal. Israel and Hamas called unilateral truces at the end of Israel's offensive against Gaza last month. US envoy George Mitchell recently urged the sides to extend their ceasefire. There was no immediate Israeli reaction to Thursday's announcement by Hamas officials.

Hamas said ready to sign deal on Shalit release
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas is prepared to sign a deal next week for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit as part of a long-term truce agreement between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the Arabic daily Al-Hayat reported on Friday. According to the report, Hamas will cement the truce within the next few days and finalize the deal to free Shalit by Wednesday. Palestinian sources told Al-Hayat that Shalit, who was captured by Hamas-allied militants in a 2006 cross-border raid from Gaza into southern Israel, would be freed in exchange for 1,000 Palestinians jailed in Israel.

The end for the Palestinian Authority?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by George Giacaman - February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

As usual, the future Israeli government will be a coalition, either a right-wing one composed of Kadima, Likud, and Labor, or an extreme right-wing one, including Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, and others. Either way, this does not bode well for the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is entering the third stage of its turbulent life, and perhaps its last. The first stage began with the Gaza-Jericho agreement of 1994, followed in late 1995 with expansion of the PA's authority over parts of the West Bank. This stage ended with Yasser Arafat's death in November 2004.

War and violence have moved Israel to the right
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Daoud Kuttab - December 31, 1969 - 8:00pm

War and violence always have a direct effect on elections. Wars account for dramatic shifts in voter preferences, and radical leaders and parties often poll much higher after a round of sharp violence than in normal times. Minority ethnic groups are therefore often able to sway the balance of power between major competing forces.

Israel air strike hits Gaza Strip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel has launched an air strike in Gaza, killing one Palestinian and wounding at least one other, medical officials said. The strike hit close to the town of Khan Younis, in the south of Gaza. The men were on a motorcycle when they were hit by fire from an Israeli drone, Palestinian security officials said. The strike came hours after officials from Hamas - which has internal control of Gaza - said they expected a truce with Israel to be announced in days. The Israeli military said the men had been planning an attack into Israel, the Associated Press reported.

Run, Tzipi, Run!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Middle East Times
by Claude Salhani - February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

The gang of usual suspects, the pundits who traditionally cover the Middle East, have never been as much on opposite ends in trying to predict what may come from the region in the next few months. Remember the German film "Run Lola Run?" Depending on how fast Lola ran from her apartment to wherever she was going, a few seconds difference would alter the entire ending of the film. The Middle East today finds itself in much the same situation. In short, nearly total confusion.

The Somalization of Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Dr. Hamad Al-Majid - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Khalid Mishal as leader of the Palestinian Authority, Ahmed Qurei as Prime Minister, Saeb Erekat as Foreign Minister and Ismail Haniyeh as Minister of the Interior. This is what the Palestinian political scene would be like if we transferred the results of the previous Somali elections which obtained political confirmation, and US blessing, and instead apply them to the Palestinian scene with regards to the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

14-year-old Palestinian killed by Israel Border Police in Hebron
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anshel Pfeffer - February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

The Israel Border Police on Friday killed a 14-year-old Palestinian in Hebron during a clash between the Israeli forces and stone-throwing Palestinian youths. The IDF said dozens of Palestinians hurled rocks at a military guard tower next to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank city and a soldier shot the ringleader. On Thursday night, an Israel Defense Forces unit operating in the West Bank town of Qabatiyeh, near Jenin, found a five kilogram explosive device and a smaller pipe bomb. Border Police sappers safely detonated the explosives.

No Deals or Impunity under Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Raghida Dergham - (Opinion) February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

New York --- Those who call for striking deals at any cost under the pretext of buying stability are merely burying their heads in the sand, regardless of how much they prance around like giraffes or imagine that US President Barack Obama is willing to sacrifice justice for stability or to give his blessing to extremism in order to spare himself its evil.

After Israel's Election, Palestinians Weigh New Intifadeh
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Time
by Tony Karon - February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel's election and the Gaza conflict have revealed the scale of the challenge facing U.S. President Barack Obama in jump-starting Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Israeli voters tacked to the right, and the government that results from Tuesday's election will be, if anything, even less inclined than the current government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to conclude a two-state peace agreement with the Palestinian leadership.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017