Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The US-Israel dispute continues over settlements (1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11), especially in Jerusalem, and the future of the separation barrier (7, 18). Speculation continues about the state of relations between the Obama administration and PM Netanyahu (6, 13, 15, 16). Netanyahu urges Jewish investment in the Palestinian economy (14). Hamas claims it will not block a PA-Israel agreement (4). The Israeli government decides to remove all references to the Palestinian Nakba from school textbooks (17).

EXCLUSIVE: U.S., Israel at odds over 2003 settlements accord
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Times
by Eli Lake - July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli officials Tuesday accused the Obama administration of failing to abide by an agreement allowing settlement construction, but a key Israeli negotiator said the deal was never implemented. The unfinished negotiation between the administrations of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President George W. Bush has contributed to rising tensions between the two allies since the Obama administration took office.

Is Israel serious about closing 23 fringe settlements?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - July 21, 2009 - 12:00am

A reported Israeli plan to forcibly evacuate 23 unauthorized settler outposts in a single day could finally fulfill a promise that successive Israeli governments have made to Washington, while minimizing the violence and bad public relations that have marred previous evacuations.

U.S. Pressure On Jewish Settlements Spurs Sales
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from National Public Radio (NPR)
by Peter Kenyon - July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

Relations between the Obama administration and the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continue to worsen over Israel's refusal to halt new construction in Jewish settlements. But as the Obama administration continues to press for a freeze to all new units, real estate agents are reporting a rush to buy apartments both in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Real Estate Boom

Hamas: We won't stand in way of PA-Israel deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff, Barak Ravid - July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshal told a Russian diplomat a few days ago that his group would not stand in the way of a peace deal brokered between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel. Meshal reportedly told Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov in Damascus that if Abbas comes to an agreement on a final settlement of the conflict with Israel, and if the agreement is approved in a Palestinian referendum, Hamas would not try to derail such an accord.

Envoy to U.S.: Differences on settlements to be resolved soon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

There is no crisis in relations between Israel and the United States, despite a lingering dispute - which will be settled "soon" - over settlement construction in the occupied territories, Israel's new ambassador to Washington said Wednesday. "There is no crisis in Israel-U.S. relations. Here we are talking about disagreements over certain subjects, very, very specific," Michael Oren told Israel Radio.

Israeli rabbis to U.S. Jews: Sway Obama administration in our favor
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

A group of Israeli rabbis, headed by Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, have sent a letter to U.S. rabbis and the President's Conference, urging them to exert political leverage in Israel's favor, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday.

PM: Separation fence won't be dismantled
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Amnon Meranda - July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected the Opposition's accusations during a Kadima-initiated Knesset plenum discussion on the subject "A failing and flip-flopping prime minister on the political and economic fronts." At the end of the discussion, 51 Knesset members voted in favor of the prime minister's announcement and 39 voted against it. Labor ministers abstained. Addressing the Palestinian demand to remove the separation fence, the prime minister clarified that it would "remain where it is. It won't be dismantled."

US: Too soon to discuss Israel sanctions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

Washington believes it is too early to talk about imposing sanctions on Israel to force it to freeze settlement building in east Jerusalem, a State Department spokesman said Tuesday. "It's premature to talk about that," spokesman Robert Wood said when asked about the possibility of US financial sanctions. "What we are trying to do, as I said right now, is to create an environment which makes it conducive for talks to go forward," he added. "And you know, as I said, Senator Mitchell is working very hard on this."

Mitchell, Gates, Jones to visit Jerusalem next week
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

The American administration has decided to send an "airlift" of senior officials to Israel for talks with the Netanyahu government – Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, special Mideast envoy George Mitchell and National Security Advisor James Jones. The first to visit will be US President Barack Obama's special envoy to the region, who will hold a series of meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Mitchell will land in Israel on Sunday as part of another effort to advance a resumption of the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

'US, Israel rift on settlement issue to be resolved soon'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said that the disagreement between America and Israel on the settlement issue would be resolved soon. In an interview with Israel radio Wednesday, Oren claimed that there was no confrontation and no tension between the two countries. This was Oren's first interview since he presented his credentials on Monday to US President Barack Obama.

'Gov't spent 22.3% more on settlements'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Tovah Lazaroff - July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

In past years, the government has spent 22.3 percent more on municipal budgets in the settlements than it has on such budgets within the Green Line, according to a new report issued Tuesday by the Israel European Policy Network. It explained how in 2002, the state provided 34.7% of the municipality budget for communities within the Green Line, and 57% of settlements' municipal budgets. Roby Nathanson, who coauthored the report for the policy forum, told The Jerusalem Post that the breakdown was similar in 2007. The Finance Ministry could not be reached for comment.

Gaza blast shakes Dahlan wedding
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

An explosion in southern Gaza has torn through a party attended by relatives of the West Bank-based Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, injuring 50 people. The blast happened on Tuesday at a wedding reception in Khan Younis. The groom, who is Mr Dahlan's nephew, as well as women and children, were injured. The Hamas authorities said three suspects were in custody. The device was reported to have been placed under a street stage erected so the wedding guests could dance.

Jerusalem ‘crisis’ reveals U.S.-Israel communications breakdown
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

The summoning of an ambassador usually signifies a crisis. So what does it mean when the ambassador isn't summoned? That's the question that had U.S. officials scratching their heads after last week's mixed signals over whether the State Department had summoned Michael Oren, Israel's new ambassador, for a dressing-down over a Jewish plan to build 20 apartments in Sheik Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem. Israeli officials had leaked the reports of a "summons" to the media -- except Oren was never summoned, JTA has confirmed.

Netanyahu calls for Jewish investment in Palestinian economy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

Diaspora Jews should join Arabs in investing in the Palestinian economy, Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Jewish leaders. The Israeli prime minister listed prosperity for the Palestinians among six conditions for lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace in a call Tuesday with members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Netanyahu outlined steps he was taking to facilitate commerce in the West Bank and spur the Palestinian economy, which he said could flourish with the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority and with the help of Jews and Arabs overseas.

Arrogant defiance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel’s arrogant defiance of the US, its main ally and supporter, over the construction of yet another Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem has no easy or immediate answers. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of Washington’s demands that it cease and desist from building yet another housing project in the heart of East Jerusalem is unprecedented and provocative. Never before has the Jewish state provoked its closest ally to such an extent and gotten away with it.

Anti-colonialism, the Barack Obama way
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

One of the most important political dynamics in the Middle East these days is the escalating war of words between the United States and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the international demand to freeze Jewish settlements and colonies in Arab lands occupied in 1967. It is surprising yet heartening that the Obama team has come out strongly demanding that Israel freeze the expansion of all settlements, with no exceptions for natural growth, pre-approved projects or anything else.

Israel cuts Palestinian tragedy from textbooks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Matti Friedman - July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

The Israeli government will remove references to what the Palestinians call the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation from textbooks for Arab schoolchildren, the country's education minister said Wednesday. The reference to "al-naqba" or catastrophe, what the Palestinian's call their defeat and exile in the war over Israel's 1948 creation, was controversially inserted by a dovish education minister for the first time in 2007. The phrase remains contentious six decades after Israel was founded.

Israel's barrier to progress
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Seth Freedman - (Opinion) July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

In many parts of the West Bank, Israel's much-vaunted separation wall is conspicuous by its absence; Ha'aretz reports that only around 60% of the barrier has been completed will come as no surprise to those who spend time in the area around the project's proposed route.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017