Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The European Union’s foreign policy chief calls on the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state (1). Britain revokes several arms exporting licenses from companies selling weapons parts to Israel (2). An article in the Jordan Times looks at how Palestinian children are being paid to work in the dangerous Gaza smuggling tunnels (6). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterates his refusal to resume peace talks until Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accepts the two-state solution and halts settlement activity (9). A series of opinion articles examine the ongoing issue of a proposed Israeli settlement freeze (3) (10) (11) (12).

EU's Solana calls for UN to recognise Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
July 12, 2009 - 12:00am

The European Union's foreign policy chief called for the U.N. Security Council to recognise a Palestinian state by a certain deadline even if Israelis and Palestinians have not reached agreement among themselves. The EU's Javier Solana made his comments on Saturday at a lecture in London while Palestinian and Israeli peace talks remain stalled. The Palestinians have said they will not revive peace talks unless there is a halt to Israel's settlement activities in the West Bank.

Britain revokes 5 arms export licenses to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - July 13, 2009 - 12:00am

Britain has revoked several licenses granted to British companies to sell weapons parts to Israel because of concerns over their use in Israel's recent war in the Gaza Strip, British and Israeli officials said Monday.

Defending the indefensible settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Richard Silverstein - July 13, 2009 - 12:00am

A former insider at Aipac has spilled the beans on a major secret initiative by The Israel Project (TIP) designed to counter opposition in the US to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Douglas Bloomfield, former chief lobbyist for Aipac, writes that TIP, a group dedicated to promoting Israel's positive image among the US media and policymakers, has circulated a 140-page primer designed to prompt supporters in their exchanges with US journalists and key decision-makers when they are arguing in favour of the settlements:

Israel phone firm's West Bank wall gag fails to amuse
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Allyn Fisher-Ilan - July 12, 2009 - 12:00am

A television advert for an Israeli cellphone firm showing soldiers playing soccer over the West Bank barrier has sparked cries of bad taste and prompted Arab lawmakers on Sunday to demand it be taken off air. The jaunty commercial for Israel's biggest mobile phone company Cellcom makes light of Palestinian suffering and shows how far Israelis fail to understand their neighbors, critics said. The company stood by the ad, however.

Conflict-worn Palestinians carve out niches of joy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - July 11, 2009 - 12:00am

Middle-class matrons shop for imported furniture in a marble-and-glass emporium. A new movie house is screening "Transformers." Teens bop to a Danish hip-hop band performing on their high school basketball court. Life in the West Bank — in sharp contrast to beaten down, Hamas-ruled Gaza — has taken on a semblance of normalcy. Exhausted after more than two decades of on-and-off conflict with Israel and deeply skeptical about prospects of statehood, Palestinians here are increasingly trying to carve out their own little niches of happiness.

Children risk their lives in Gaza’s blockade-busting tunnels
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Patrick Moser - July 13, 2009 - 12:00am

Anwar, 15, can’t read or write, but says he’s good at tunnel work. He needs a new job as Israeli planes bombed his workplace, one of hundreds of smuggling tunnels on Gaza’s border with Egypt. His rough voice and tough looks belie his young age, but his small, wiry body is what makes him a perfect candidate for the job. And, like thousands of other children in the impoverished and war-shattered Gaza Strip, his family badly needs the money. The job is comparatively lucrative, with children getting up to $30 for a 12-hour shift.

Playing for Peace: Palestinian and Israeli Teenagers Groove
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Matthew Kalman - July 12, 2009 - 12:00am

An unusual scene in Tel Aviv: Palestinian and Israeli teenagers – Christians, Muslims and Jews – have just spent two weeks together recording a music track, writing their own lyric and producing a video clip to upload to YouTube. The 19 youngsters, aged from 14 to 17, gathered at the headquarters of Windows for Peace, a veteran people-to-people organization that tries to bridge the gaps between Israeli and Palestinian youth through workshops, a regular magazine in Hebrew and Arabic, and other joint activities.

Brothers divided by Gaza rivalry
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Erin Cunningham - July 13, 2009 - 12:00am

Every morning Nidal dons his blue camouflage fatigues, trademark of the Hamas Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip, and sets off to work as a civil policeman in the Jabaliya refugee camp outside Gaza City. In the same camp, another policeman, Ismail, keeps his own uniform tucked neatly in a drawer, forbidden to wear it after Hamas fighters ousted his fellow Fatah forces from Gaza in a violent power struggle in 2007.

Abbas says he won't meet Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - July 12, 2009 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated on Sunday his refusal to resume peace talks with Israel unless Binyamin Netanyahu's government accepted the two-state solution and agreed to freeze all construction in the settlements in the West Bank. Abbas's remarks came in response to an appeal from Netanyahu made during the Sunday cabinet meeting in which the Israeli prime minister called for the two leaders to revive the stalled peace process. Abbas was speaking to reporters in Ramallah after meeting with visiting Romanian President Traian Basescu.

Negotiations and settlement construction cannot coexist
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) July 13, 2009 - 12:00am

One subject on which there is complete Palestinian consensus across the political spectrum is that negotiations and Israeli settlement expansion in occupied territory including East Jerusalem are mutually exclusive. Indeed, according to numerous studies and surveys, one of the main reasons for the steady decline in public support for the PLO leadership, whether under President Mahmoud Abbas during the Annapolis process or the late President Yasser Arafat before him, is that they continued negotiating with Israel in spite of the settlement expansion.

Freezing settlement construction a defining test of Israel's intentions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) July 13, 2009 - 12:00am

A year or so after the signing of the Oslo accords, I was one of a group of Palestinian journalists who were invited by Shimon Peres to his office at the Israel Foreign Ministry in West Jerusalem. When questions focused on continued settlement activities, the then foreign minister tried to deny them.

For our own good
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) July 13, 2009 - 12:00am

Ever since the Israeli-Palestinian peace process began in earnest with the Oslo accords of 1993, the two sides' negotiations have been accompanied by Israeli settlement construction. Serious Israeli peace-seekers like Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert all continued building or at least expanding settlements even as they sought interim and final status arrangements with the PLO leadership. The latter, first Yasser Arafat and in recent years Mahmoud Abbas, proceeded with negotiations even as they protested settlement expansion.

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