Middle East News: World Press Roundup

An Israeli settler leader reportedly calls for the assassination of Palestinian President Abbas during a fund-raising speech in New York City (1). Concern grows about the radical views of possible new Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman (2). Fallout continues regarding Israeli soldiers’ disturbing accounts of the war in Gaza (3) (10) (13). Israel’s emerging new cabinet may find itself at odds with the US government (4) (8). A UN official accuses Israel of war crimes (5), while the PA accuses Israel of ‘ethnically cleansing’ East Jerusalem (6). Talks regarding captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may resume (7). The United States lays out its conditions for dealing with a Palestinian national accord government (9). Raghida Dergham argues that moderate forces must go on the offensive against extremism across the Middle East (12). Australian journalists interview Hamas leader Khaled Mishal (14). Israeli authorities block a Palestinian cultural festival in East Jerusalem (15).

In NY synagogue, Israeli settler leader calls for assassination of Abbas-- and tax-deductible contributions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Mondoweiss
by Philip Weiss - March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

Exclusive report from Mondoweiss: In a speech at a New York synagogue Wednesday night, Nadia Matar, a leader of the Israeli settlers' group "Women in Green," called for the assassination of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, as a way of bringing peace to Israel.

An Israeli foreign minister who won’t wear velvet gloves
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Alan Philps - March 20, 2009 - 12:00am

Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. For a generation this document has guaranteed that Israel will not come under attack from Arab armies. So it is surprising that the next foreign minister of Israel – barring some upset in the still incomplete coalition negotiations – will be Avigdor Lieberman, the man who used the podium of the Israeli parliament last year to tell President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to “go to Hell”.

Soldiers’ Accounts of Gaza Killings Raise Furor in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - March 20, 2009 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — In the two months since Israel ended its military assault on Gaza, Palestinians and international rights groups have accused it of excessive force and wanton killing in that operation, but the Israeli military has said it followed high ethical standards and took great care to avoid civilian casualties.

Israeli Coalition Appears Fated to Clash With U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - March 20, 2009 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, March 19 -- The foreign minister of Israel's incoming government lives in a West Bank settlement and will begin life as a diplomat battling the perception that he is anti-Arab.

UN envoy: Gaza op seems to be war crime of greatest magnitude
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

A United Nations human rights investigator said on Thursday that Israel's offensive against Hamas in densely populated Gaza appeared to constitute a war crime of the "greatest magnitude." Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the Geneva Conventions required warring forces to distinguish between military targets and surrounding civilians. "If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law," Falk said.

PA says Israel 'ethnically cleansing' east Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of 'ethnically cleansing' east Jerusalem of Palestinians, following the tearing down of dozens of buildings in the capital's east. "There is an unprecedented escalation of the Government of occupation and what they call the municipality of Jerusalem against the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem through the destruction of tens of houses and the issuance of demolition orders against dozens of others," said Nabil Abu Roudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

'Final word on Schalit yet to be said'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
March 20, 2009 - 12:00am

Egyptian sources said Friday said a final decision on the Gilad Schalit deal was "yet to be made," a day before the IDF soldier marks 1,000 days in Hamas captivity and his family spends its last hours in a protest tent outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem. Speaking to the London-based Al Hayat newspaper, the sources said a final decision on Schalit will be made before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leaves office. The sources said Israel's announcement on Tuesday was "a maneuver intended to pressure Hamas." The Jerusalem Post could not confirm Al Hayat's report.

What hopes now for peace in the Middle East?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Donald MacIntyre - March 20, 2009 - 12:00am

The stark headline on yesterday's New York Times read "Israel faces isolation as new leader gets ready". The report referred to the backlash against the recent offensive in Gaza. But a bigger theme was Israeli concern at overseas reaction to the imminent premiership of a man for whom a two-state solution is not a priority – not to mention his appointment of a nationalist demagogue, Avigdor Lieberman, as Foreign Minister.

US makes demands on Palestinian unity government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States said Thursday that Hamas must be committed to non-violence and meet other international demands before Washington can recognize a Palestinian unity government with the radical group's members. The statement referred to the quartet of the United States, United Nations, Russia and the European Union, which have mapped out the conditions for pursuing Palestinian-Israeli peace.

'Shooting and crying'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - March 20, 2009 - 12:00am

Less than a month after the end of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, dozens of graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory program convened at Oranim Academic College in Kiryat Tivon. Since 1998 the program has prepared participants for what is considered meaningful military service. Many assume command positions in combat and other elite units of the Israel Defense Forces. The program's founder, Danny Zamir, still heads it today and also serves as deputy battalion commander in a reserve unit.

Can There be Hope in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Middle East Times
March 20, 2009 - 12:00am

With Avigdor Lieberman set to join the next Israeli government and Israel clamping down with more Hamas arrests this week, it is even less easy than usual to generate much hope for a peaceful settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. But there has been one intriguing glimmer of a more hopeful future emerging from that small fragment of popular culture that is shared by Israelis and Palestinians alike. Noa, a popular Israeli singer and peace activist, was asked last year to make a bid to represent Israel at this year's Eurovision song contest in Moscow in May.

The Dangers of Indulging Extremism… from the Taliban to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Raghida Dergham - (Opinion) March 20, 2009 - 12:00am

New York - Indulging extremism and adapting to it is not in the interest of the US, nor is it favorable to the future of the Middle East. What is meant here is not Islamic extremism alone, but also Jewish extremism, as it characterizes Israel's inclinations during the present phase.

Soldier says rabbis pushed "religious war" in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 20, 2009 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, March 20 (Reuters) - Rabbis in the Israeli army told battlefield troops in January's Gaza offensive that they were fighting a "religious war" against gentiles, according to one army commander's account published on Friday. "Their message was very clear: we are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land," he said.

Staring into the heart of Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Canberra Times
March 20, 2009 - 12:00am

The tea cup stops short of his lip, as Khalid Mishal pauses to consider the ironies of trench warfare in the Middle East: a lurch to the political right has anointed as Israel's next prime minister the man who, 11 years ago, sent Mossad agents on a bizarre mission to assassinate Mishal.

Jerusalem Police set to prevent 'Palestinian Culture Festival'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - March 20, 2009 - 12:00am

Jerusalem Police announced on Friday they would prevent the so-called Palestinian Culture Festival the Palestinian Authority plans to organize in the city on Saturday. The PA is planning to fly a glider plane painted in the colors of the Palestinian national flag over the walls of the Old City as part of the festival, which is meant to declare the city to be "the capital of Arabic culture for 2009." The police said that they were determined to enforce the law, whereby any event organized and funded by the PA is prohibited within Jerusalem's municipal jurisdiction.

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