Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Jewish Daily Forward discusses Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's probable choice for U.S. ambassador (1). Members of Congress express skepticism over President Obama's recently proposed amendments to the Palestinian aid plan (2). The Christian Science Monitor looks at a joint Israeli-Palestinian event to mark the anniversary of the founding of Israel (3). Despite recent crackdowns , smuggling tunnels continue to run between Gaza and Egypt (4) as two Palestinians are killed in a tunnel collapse (6). Palestinian officials say that President Mahmoud Abbas may form a new government before he meets with President Obama in late May (9), while Hamas warns that they will reject any new government if it does not gain approval by the Palestinian Legislative Council (10).

Probable Pick For New Israeli Envoy Often at Odds With U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - April 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Michael Oren, a prominent historian widely seen as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s imminent pick to represent Israel in Washington, is a highly regarded writer and an articulate and telegenic speaker. But his public viewpoints on a number of key issues clash sharply with those of the Obama administration, to which he soon may be credentialed.

Members of US Congress sceptical of Palestinian aid plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from McClatchy News
April 29, 2009 - 12:00am

The Obama administration, already on treacherous domestic political ground with its outreach to Iran, Cuba and others, has opened the door, if only slightly, to engagement with the militant group Hamas. The Palestinian group is designated by the US government as a terrorist organisation and under law may not receive federal aid. But the administration has asked Congress for minor changes in US law that would permit aid to continue flowing to Palestinians in the unlikely event that Hamas-backed officials become part of a unified Palestinian government.

In Israel, Jews and Arabs aim to bridge 'independence' and 'catastrophe' narratives
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - April 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Bet Oren, Israel - It happens every year around this time: Israelis celebrate the founding of their state in 1948 while Palestinians solemnly mark the same period in history they call the Catastrophe, and never the twain shall meet.

Gazans continue digging lifeline tunnels even as Egypt, Israel scramble to seal them
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - April 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Once a profitable business, Abu Abdullah's tunnel under the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip has been out of work for three weeks due to an Egyptian security crackdown on smuggling. The Palestinian network of some 3,000 tunnels, created to thwart Israel's blockade of the coastal territory ruled by Hamas Islamists, was reduced to hundreds by bombing during Israel's three-week offensive in January. Now Egyptian police efforts are also biting into Gaza's underground supply system, which supplements the tightly restricted flow of aid commodities allowed in by the Israelis.

Views on Country’s Direction Shift in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Angus Reid Global Monitor
April 30, 2009 - 12:00am

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - A third of Israelis appear satisfied with their country’s direction right now, according to a poll by Keevoon and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. 33 per cent of respondents feel this way, up 17 points since 2007. Conversely, 46 per cent of respondents believe things in Israel are going in the wrong direction, down 20 points in two years.

Two killed in Gaza-Egypt tunnel collapse: medics
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
April 30, 2009 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY - Two Palestinians were killed on Thursday when a smuggling tunnel linking the Gaza Strip and Gaza collapsed, Palestinian medics said. Three other people who were in the tunnel at the time of the collapse were still missing, they said. The Palestinians have been using hundreds of tunnels to ferry food supplies and other necessities into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since June 2007. Israel claims the tunnels are also used by the Islamists to smuggle weapons including rockets into the Gaza Strip for use against the Jewish state.

Israeli Arabs arrested for plotting attacks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
April 30, 2009 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM (AP) - Police say they have arrested seven Arab Israelis who plotted bomb attacks and kidnappings of Jews in retaliation for Israel's recent military offensive in Gaza. Police superintendent Avid Agarissi told Israel Radio the suspects were charged with contacting "terror groups in Gaza" to train to kidnap civilians and build explosive devices. He said they wanted to carry out attacks to avenge Palestinians killed in Gaza earlier this year. Police said the men were arrested earlier this month but details were only released Thursday for security reasons.

Righting the wrongs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) April 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Americans of all walks of life are busy nowadays assessing the first 100 days of the administration of Barack Obama, a traditional yardstick at which a new president's performance is measured. The general impression in the words of one State Department announcement is that this period has been among "the busiest in presidential history both in terms of domestic initiatives and foreign policy challenges."

Abbas may form new govt before US visit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Mohammed Mar’i - April 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may form a “new government” within 10 day, senior Palestinian officials said yesterday. The officials told the independent Palestinian news agency Ma’an that Abbas “may be forced to form the new government before he heads for talks in Washington with US President Barack Obama on May 28.” The development came a day after the rival Hamas and Fatah movements decided to adjourn the current round of Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo to May 16-17.

Hamas to Reject New Palestinian Government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
April 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Mahmoud Hamas says it will reject any new Palestinian government, expected to be formed shortly, if the new cabinet does not get the approval of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), effectively the Palestinian parliament. A Hamas spokesman was quoted by Xinhua, saying any new government formed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud ‘Abbas, which is not approved by the PLC, is illegal and unconstitutional.

Israel, EU to postpone summit while Netanyahu makes policy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
April 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli officials said the European Union has accepted an Israeli request to delay a high-profile summit in order to give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu time to formulate his Middle East peace policy. The delay comes ahead of a planned trip to Europe next week by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The minister's critical comments about Arabs and the Middle East peace process have raised international concerns about the new government's intentions. Netanyahu has so far refused to endorse the idea of an independent Palestinian state.

100 days on
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Opinion) April 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Yesterday marked President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office. An entirely arbitrary construct to evaluate a leader’s performance, it is nevertheless irresistible when it comes to Obama, of whom expectations are so high. His first priority was always going to be the global financial crisis. The massive stimulus package has yet to work its way down and out and it is impossible to say anything other than that Obama has tackled the crisis immediately and with enthusiasm.

Amman, Riyadh seek peace within regional context
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
April 30, 2009 - 12:00am

DAMMAM (Petra) - His Majesty King Abdullah held talks with King Abdullah Ben Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday on efforts to launch serious and effective negotiations to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution within a regional context. His Majesty briefed the Saudi leader on his talks with US President Barack Obama in Washington last week, which tackled the need for immediate action to launch negotiations in accordance with the agreed-on terms of reference, especially the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

Israel to EU: Criticism of Netanyahu government unacceptable
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - April 30, 2009 - 12:00am

A Foreign Ministry official has been warning European countries that unless they curtail criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu's government, Israel will block the European Union from participating in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. The main target of the offensive is EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who recently called for a freeze in upgrading ties with Israel over its peace process policies.

5 Israelis indicted for planning terror attacks, kidnapping
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ahiya Raved - April 30, 2009 - 12:00am

The Haifa District Prosecutor's Office on Thursday charged five youths with planning a series of terror attack and soldier abductions. The five, residents of the northern villages of Mrar and Barta'a, were indicted on multiple counts of aiding and abetting the enemy, contacting a foreign agent and weapon charges. Identified as Suhaiv Khalil Kabha (20), Kutaibeh Dura Kabha (19), Muhammad Shawqi Kabha (19) and Ahmed Hassin Kabha (21) – all from Barta'a, and Abdullah Yunis Karube (20) of Mrar, they have entered a plea of not guilty.

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