Middle East News: World Press Roundup

As the debate over an Israeli settlement freeze continues (5), The Washington Post discusses a 1979 State Department legal opinion, that found the settlements to be “inconsistent with international law” (1). Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent policy speech continues to draw varied reactions (3) (8) (10). Israel’s internal security minister apologizes after being recorded using an offensive Arab slur word (4). Quartet envoy Tony Blair says that Israel’s delay in setting up a proper mobile phone network is restricting West Bank development (6). The IDF is set dismantle a crossing near Jericho (9), while a right-wing Israeli group announces its plan to construct 30 new outposts in the West Bank this summer (11). A Haaretz poll finds that 64% of Israelis support a peace based on two states (12).

Old Legal Opinion Raises New Questions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Glenn Kessler - June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

Thirty years ago, the State Department legal adviser issued an opinion in response to an inquiry from Congress: The establishment of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories "is inconsistent with international law." The opinion cited Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an occupying power "shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." Israel has insisted that the Geneva Convention does not apply to settlers and broadly contests assertions of the settlements' illegality.

How the Palestinians should respond to Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) June 16, 2009 - 12:00am

The response from Palestinian and Arab leaders to Benjamin Netanyahu's defiant foreign policy speech last Sunday has so far consisted mainly of throwing up their hands in despair. While understandable given the prime minister's intransigence on Israel's prior commitment to a complete settlement freeze and other key issues, this approach is not likely to accomplish very much.

Netanyahu Feels the Heat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Harold Meyerson - (Opinion) June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has at last acknowledged, with caveats, the need to establish a Palestinian state. Actually, Netanyahu's Palestine is primarily caveats, with a dash of state thrown in for appearances' sake. In his speech last Sunday, the prime minister failed to address the continual growth of Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank, where close to 300,000 Israeli settlers live. The Palestine that Netanyahu envisions must steadily shrink to accommodate the growing number of Israeli settlers in its midst. It would be a collection of barely contiguous cantons.

Israeli minister in Arab slur row
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's internal security minister has apologised after being caught on film using the word "Araboosh" - highly offensive Hebrew slang for Arabs. While Yitzhak Aharonovitch was on a tour meeting police, one plain clothes officer apologised to him for his scruffy appearance. "What do you mean dirty? You look like a real Araboosh," the minister was heard to respond. He is a member of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's far right party. Mr Aharonovitch later said he wished to "apologise to anyone who was hurt".

Israeli envoy hopeful for solution on settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Aron Heller - June 16, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's incoming ambassador to the United States said Tuesday he was confident that his government will soon reach an agreement with Washington to allow some construction in West Bank settlements. President Barack Obama, seeking to restart Mideast peace talks, has called on Israel to halt all construction on captured lands claimed by the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says existing settlements must be permitted to expand to accommodate natural growth in the populations.

Israel's West Bank phone delay hurts growth: Blair
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Mohammed Assadi - June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's delay in releasing frequencies for a second West Bank mobile phone network is holding up economic development, Middle East envoy Tony Blair said on Tuesday. Blair said if Israel released frequencies for Wataniya Palestine mobile, it would create thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment. "I hope that we can get this moved satisfactorily in the next few weeks," he told Reuters in an interview. "But again it has been very frustrating because we have an agreement, we secured the agreement. All we need is the frequency released."

Debating, Again, the Founding of Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

As the Obama administration deepens its outreach to the Muslim and Arab world, it faces the difficult task of countering Holocaust denial without reinforcing an increasingly popular anti-Zionist narrative that ties the legitimacy of the State of Israel to Jewish suffering in Europe. And as discussion of the Holocaust becomes more widespread, so does the argument heard from Tehran to Gaza that while Europeans were responsible for atrocities against Jews, it is the Palestinians who are paying the price.

America's Vague Praise for Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Randa Takieddine - (Opinion) June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

Some believe that the description by US President Barack Obama of Netanyahu’s speech as a step forward is because no one in the West confronts Israel openly. It is the state of Holocaust victims and everyone applauds a bad speech with nothing new in it except the position of Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist, right-wing government. Others believe that Obama’s description of Netanyahu’s speech as a step forward represents an American welcome that precedes real pressure on Israel to enter negotiations.

IDF to dismantle crossing near Jericho
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Elie Leshem - June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

The army will remove the Vered Yericho Crossing, south of Jericho in the West Bank, on Wednesday, in order to allow free movement for vehicles and pedestrians from the city to the Jordan Valley, the IDF Spokesman said Wednesday. According to the announcement, the decision was made following an assessment by the IDF's OC Central Command as part of the government's plan to ease travel restrictions for the Palestinians.

PM faces rebellion from Likud activists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Hoffman - June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received the backing of his ministers and most of the Likud faction regarding his plans for a demilitarized Palestinian state, but will have a harder time obtaining the support of the Likud central committee, party activists said on Tuesday. Top Likud central committee members have begun an effort to obtain the 1,000 signatures necessary to force an emergency meeting without the approval of Netanyahu and committee head Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon.

Right-wing group plans 30 new outposts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Tovah Lazaroff - June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

The Land of Israel Faithful group says it has a plan to construct 30 new outposts in the West Bank over the summer, in response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech a day earlier in which he said that no new settlements would be built and no additional land would be expropriated for settlement development. Former Kedumim mayor Daniella Weiss, one of the leaders of the Land of Israel Faithful, told The Jerusalem Post late Monday that her group was recruiting activists for this summer's outpost building.

Haaretz poll: 64 percent of Israelis back two-state solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Analysis) June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

Figures close politically to Benjamin Netanyahu, and even Labor Party leaders, were worried that the prime minister's fear of U.S. President Barack Obama would overcome his terror of the settlers and force the words "settlement freeze" from his mouth. Here is what senior labor figure Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog said two weeks ago at a Knesset hearing on the illegal outposts: "There are components that certainly can be authorized or for which a solution can be found through negotiations," adding, "I absolutely believe in the need for natural growth."

Documents suggest total settlement freeze is possible
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - June 16, 2009 - 12:00am

The report in Haaretz on Tuesday whereby the U.S. administration has become convinced that it would be impossible to freeze West Bank settlement construction altogether came as a shock to Israeli peace activists. The activists quickly handed over to the Americans documents proving the legal system's approval of a settlement freeze, containing High Court of Justice rulings in which the justices rejected petitions filed by settler organizations in a bid to prevent the settlement freeze.

Despite Netanyahu's speech, building in W. Bank settlements continues apace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

On the very day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conditionally recognized a demilitarized Palestinian state, construction continued apace in the West Bank, about 30 kilometers east of Bar-Ilan University, the venue of Netanyahu's speech. At the Nofei Nehemia outpost, construction workers completed four prefabricated homes on Sunday. Nofei Nehemia, about two kilometers east of Ariel, is one of 26 outposts the government of former prime minister Ariel Sharon promised the U.S. to evacuate.

Netanyahu's message is there will be no peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by David Grossman - June 17, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech was indeed, as it has been decribed, the speech of our lives. Our bogged-down, hopeless lives.

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