Middle East News: World Press Roundup

In a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jordan’s King Abdullah urges Israeli commitment to a peace based on two states (1), while Netanyahu explains to the Pope his reservations regarding a Palestinian state (2). The first meeting between Netanyahu and President Obama is set for Monday in Washington (3) (11) (9). Four former Mideast ambassadors sign a letter to President Obama urging an ‘active U.S. role’ in seeking peace based on two states (4). Quartet envoy Tony Blair urges urgent action towards such an agreement in testimony before the U.S. Congress (5). Hamas boycotts the visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Syria (7). Egyptian security forces discover a significant weapons cache on the Gaza border (13). An op-ed in Ynet News scoffs at Israeli President Shimon Peres’ ‘natural growth’ explanation for settlement expansion (14).

Jordan Tells Israel to Accept Two-State Solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - May 14, 2009 - 12:00am

The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, met on Thursday with King Abdullah II of Jordan, who urged the Israeli leader to commit to a two-state solution with the Palestinians, according to news reports. Mr. Netanyahu made the unannounced trip to Jordan hours before he was to meet in Nazareth with Pope Benedict XVI, and days ahead of a pivotal meeting with President Obama, scheduled to take place in Washington on Monday. It will be the first meeting between the Israeli and American leaders since the conservative-leaning Mr. Netanyahu took office six weeks ago.

Israeli leader tells pope of qualms about Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Richard Boudreaux - May 15, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday that a Palestinian state backed by Iran would jeopardize Israel's security. He urged the Roman Catholic leader, who favors an independent Palestine, to turn his moral authority against Iran and its threats toward the Jewish state. The two leaders met in Nazareth for about 15 minutes, sharing views on the Middle East. "In him I think we found an attentive ear," Netanyahu said later.

Netanyahu to Meet Obama as U.S. Priorities Shift
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mark Landler - May 14, 2009 - 12:00am

The last time Benjamin Netanyahu met an American president as Israel’s new leader, in 1996, it did not go well. Mr. Netanyahu lectured President Bill Clinton about Arab-Israeli relations, aides recalled, driving Mr. Clinton into a profane outburst after his guest left. Mr. Netanyahu is likely to avoid a repeat of that when he meets President Obama at the White House on Monday. But the relationship between Israel and the United States has become more unsettled since Mr. Obama took office.

A letter to Obama from former Mideast ambassadors
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Eric Fingerhut - May 14, 2009 - 12:00am

Four former U.S. ambassadors to the Middle East, including three former envoys to Israel, have signed a letter to President Obama urging an "active U.S. role" in pushing for a two-state solution. The letter was put together under the auspices of the Israel Policy Forum and,was signed by Samuel Lewis, a former ambassador to Israel; Robert Pelletreau, a former ambassador to Egypt; Thomas Pickering, a former ambassador to Israel and Jordan; and Edward Walker, a former ambassador to Israel and Egypt.

Tony Blair holds out hope for two-state solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Barry Schweid - May 14, 2009 - 12:00am

A self-described optimist, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told Congress on Thursday there is no workable alternative to a two-state solution to the long and bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and both sides are in favor of it. But in practice, "they doubt it can happen," Blair told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

US-Israel gap is widening
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Pascal Boniface - (Opinion) May 15, 2009 - 12:00am

The American-Israeli strategic partnership differs from any other one. Usually when a great power grants protection and strategic guarantees - not to mention massive economic help - to a minor partner, the latter is eager to satisfy its protector's demands. During the Cold War it would have been impossible for Germany to reject Washington's requirements on a major issue. Germans were too frightened to see a weakening of the United States' strategic umbrella against the Soviet Union. The same goes for Japan.

Abbas visit to Syria boycotted by Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Phil Sands - May 15, 2009 - 12:00am

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and his rival Khalid Meshaal, the head of Islamic resistance movement Hamas, yesterday pointedly failed to overcome the deep and bitter rivalry that continues to divide their people. Mr Meshaal, who lives in exile in Damascus, and Mr Abbas, in town for talks with the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, might have found themselves in the same city but they could not agree to sit in the same room, much less hold face-to-face discussions.

Pope Benedict rises above fray in the Holy Land
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) May 14, 2009 - 12:00am

'A sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers within internationally recognised borders”. In voicing support for this formulation of the two-state solution, Pope Benedict XVI has thrown his considerable moral authority behind a peace settlement based on the 1967 borders. It is the goal of the Arab Peace Initiative, the realisation of which Israel whittles away with every new settlement in the West Bank, and implicitly at least the Pope has taken a stance not just on the side of Palestinians but for what may be the only workable solution.

A New Plan for Mideast?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Khaleej Times
by Claude Salhani - (Opinion) May 14, 2009 - 12:00am

There has been much chatter in recent days that Middle East peacemakers are on the verge of a major breakthrough with some predicting that there may be an announcement when Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanhayu comes to Washington on May 18 to meet with President Barack Obama.

Amira Hass / Life among the ruins in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - May 15, 2009 - 12:00am

Wadi Gaza is an agricultural region southeast of Gaza City. The ruins of Hussein al Aaidy's family home are immediately apparent. The houses (and several other heaps of ruins) are scattered among budding hills, lazing goats and fields that have been plowed but not sown. Up until nine years ago, these houses were surrounded by orchards and other fruit trees. Until the Israel Defense Forces bulldozers uprooted everything in order to safeguard the Israelis driving to the settlement of Netzarim.

U.S. officials: Two states for two peoples is not an empty slogan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - May 15, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state will be a major focus of the upcoming talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, senior American officials have said in internal discussions over the past few days. The officials stressed that the two-state principle was "not an empty slogan."

Hour of decision
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
May 15, 2009 - 12:00am

Seven years have passed since the Arab League came out with its proposal to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for an end to the occupation and a just, mutually agreed solution to the refugee problem. According to the road map peace plan, which the Quartet submitted to the parties in early 2003, the Israeli-Arab conflict should have come to an end more than three years ago.

Report: Egypt finds 266 rockets near Israel border
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - May 15, 2009 - 12:00am

Egyptian security forces uncovered 266 rockets and three antitank missiles in a cache near the border with Israel, an Egyptian security source told the London-based al-Quds al-Arab newspaper. The source said the weapons were likely meant to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip. The cache, that was located in northern Sinai, also contained 43 mines, 51 shells, 21 grenades and 178 machinegun bullets. The source said Egyptian security forces did not find any suspects when they stormed the hideout, in which they found another 50 grenades, 80 mortar shells, 20 rockets and some 500 bullets.

Presidential demagoguery
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by B. Michael - (Opinion) May 15, 2009 - 12:00am

During President Shimon Peres’ public relations campaign on behalf of the Netanyahu government, he sank as low as to defend the weakest national-religious-Orthodox bluff: The myth of natural growth as a pretext for settlement construction. After the American vice president refused to be impressed by this folly, our honorable president gaped at him with amazement and a sense of insult. What do they want?

Fear causes Abbas to delay new gov't
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - May 15, 2009 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was forced this week to postpone the formation of a new government after members of his ruling Fatah faction threatened to openly revolt against him. Abbas is also facing fierce opposition from many Fatah members over his decision to convene the faction's long-awaited sixth "general conference" in the West Bank on July 1. Abbas's critics say that holding the parley in the West Bank would mean hundreds of Fatah members living in various Arab countries would not be able to attend the crucial meeting because of Israeli security restrictions.

PM 'intent' to hold peace negotiations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - May 15, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah II sent out starkly different messages following an unannounced meeting between the two in Aqaba on Thursday. Netanyahu called it an "excellent" meeting, while Abdullah released a statement spelling out the demands he had made, including that Israel immediately declare its commitment to a two-state solution.

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