Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The New York Times, LA Times, the Economist, and Patrick Seale in the Gulf News all praise President Obama’s Middle East peace initiative and encourage him to continue to pursue an Israeli settlement freeze. The Wall Street Journal outlines Hamas’ present policies. As Israeli human rights groups challenge settlement activity in courts and seek an end to US federal tax exemptions for donations to settlements, the Israeli government considers banning foreign donations to “subversive” NGOs. Ha’aretz profiles the role of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, and reports on the first Palestinian “planned city” in the West Bank. Asharq Al-Awsat reports on Arab foreign ministers’ conditions for normalization steps in response to a potential Israeli settlement freeze, while Zuheir Kseibati in Al-Hayat warns against such steps.

The Settlements Issue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) July 30, 2009 - 12:00am

The last American president to openly challenge Israel on settlements was George H.W. Bush and we commend President Obama for demanding that Israel halt all new construction. The controversy must not obscure Mr. Obama’s real goal: nudging Israel and the Palestinians into serious peace negotiations.

Obama's evenhanded Mideast policy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
(Editorial) July 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Evenhandedness usually is considered to be a positive attribute in diplomacy, but when it comes to the Middle East, many Israelis and their supporters see it as code for a pro-Arab policy. In that view, President Obama's insistence that Israel freeze Jewish settlement construction is anti-Israeli and a sop to the Arab street. That's wrong. Obama has committed himself to a comprehensive peace that would give Palestinians a state of their own and provide Israel with security and recognition from the wider Arab world.

Settlement Foes Take Fight to Israel's High Court
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - July 31, 2009 - 12:00am

It has been nearly a decade since the Jewish settlement of Migron appeared on the hilltop opposite this Palestinian village, beginning with a communications tower and followed by a cluster of homes and a fence around approximately 90 acres of land. Data tucked onto the hard drive of anti-settlement activist Dror Etkes's computer indicates that the land belongs to the residents of Burqa and nearby Deir Dibwan, and Etkes said he expects that information will one day force the settlers to leave.

Hamas Chief Outlines Terms for Talks on Arab-Israeli Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Julien Barnes-Dacey, Jay Solomon - July 31, 2009 - 12:00am

The chief of Palestinian militant group Hamas said his organization is prepared to cooperate with the U.S. in promoting a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict if the White House can secure an Israeli settlement freeze and a lifting of the economic and military blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Get stuck in, Mr President
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Economist
July 30, 2009 - 12:00am

THE American president may think he has enough on his plate without worrying about the dog’s dinner simmering away in the corner: the sickly Middle East peace process, with its often nauseous ingredients. This week he has sent an array of colleagues to stir the pot, including his envoy, George Mitchell, who has been in and out of the region; Robert Gates, his secretary of defence; and Jim Jones, his security adviser, who knows the Palestinians from the past. But Mr Obama is the indispensable head chef. However preoccupied, it is he who must decide what to serve up—and when.

Not quite as gloomy as they look
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Economist
(Editorial) July 31, 2009 - 12:00am

BACK in the autumn of last year, Ehud Olmert, then Israel’s fading prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians’ more durable president, were astonishingly close to a peace deal. Judging by an interview with Mr Olmert published in Newsweek in June, after he had given up his post, they appeared to have been only a whisker apart—though Mr Abbas has since called the gap “wide”. But it is worth spelling out what Mr Olmert says he offered, in an account that other senior Palestinians have pretty much verified.

Rahm Emanuel: Self-hating Jew or peace-broker?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - (Opinion) July 31, 2009 - 12:00am

When I ask a liberal American Jew involved in politics what he thinks of the claim that Rahm Emanuel is an anti-Israeli fifth column in the Obama administration, he laughs. "So, do they really think in Israel that Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Dan Shapiro, Mara Rudman, Dennis Ross and the other good American Jews who work with Obama are a fifth column?" And then he says slowly, like someone explaining something to a person who has difficulty understanding: "How many times do you have to be told ... " "... that you love us?" I try to complete the sentence.

A new Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - July 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Remember the name: Rawabi. The city of hills to be built nine kilometers northwest of Ramallah. The first planned city in Palestinian history. The first planned city in the West Bank to be inhabited by Palestinians rather than settlers. A city designed to be a Palestinian city of abundance - secular, open and vibrant. A city of pedestrian malls, cafes, kindergartens and schools. A city of thriving Palestinian start-ups and Palestinian yuppies. A city that will pave the Palestinians' way to the 21st century.

Israel targets foreign gov't NGO funds
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - July 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Recent revelations about foreign government funding for local NGOs involved in political activity have triggered discussions by senior Israeli officials about the possibility of making such aid illegal, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The senior officials are looking into whether it might be possible to ban donations from foreign governments to political NGOs, just as it is forbidden for foreign residents, let alone governments, to contribute to Israeli political parties.

Israeli NGO battles settlements in US
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Dan Izenberg - July 30, 2009 - 12:00am

The left-wing organization Gush Shalom is launching a campaign against organizations soliciting donations in the United States, particularly those receiving US federal tax exemptions for settlements and illegal outposts, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The timing of the campaign has been stepped up from September to August because the Foreign Ministry recently launched its own campaign to block governments of foreign countries from donating money to human rights organizations in Israel.

Gaza children go for world record for kite flying
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak - July 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Thousands of children in the Gaza Strip attempted to set a new world record Thursday by flying colorful homemade kites amid the ruins of Israel's bruising offensive earlier this year — a rare display of joy in the isolated seaside territory ruled by Hamas militants. The festive event, sponsored by the United Nations, brought some 6,000 campers in orange uniforms and blue caps to a beach in Gaza's war-torn north, where they released their kites into clear skies. Some included designs such as the red, green, black and white Palestinian flag.

Breaking Israel's spell
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Seth Freedman - (Opinion) July 31, 2009 - 12:00am

For the most part, London's Jewish community is a shining example of social cohesion and pastoral care. Large charitable donations are raised on a constant basis and distributed to those in need of assistance; sick or lonely individuals are clutched to the communal bosom and provided for by welfare associations and concerned neighbours; and the ethics inculcated into each new generation are built on a bedrock of values dating back to biblical times.

Israel defends IDF action in Gaza war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
July 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel issued a 160-page document justifying its military offensive in Gaza. The report, published on Thursday and entitled "The Operation in Gaza - Legal and Factual Aspects," asserts that Israel had a right to undertake Operation Cast Lead last December and January following "incessant rocket and mortar attacks upon thousands of Israeli civilians and (Hamas') other acts of terrorism." Hamas violated international law, says the report, which also documents Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians and the ways in which Hamas put Palestinian civilians in danger.

Arab Ministers on Conditions for Accepting Mitchell's Bid for Ties with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Michel Abu Najm - July 30, 2009 - 12:00am

George Mitchell, US special envoy to the Middle East, has made a statement in Cairo calling on the Arab countries to take measures toward the partial normalization of ties with Israel in order to facilitate launching peace negotiations on all Arab-Israeli tracks.

With a Semi- or Quarter-Normalization
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Zuheir Kseibati - (Opinion) July 30, 2009 - 12:00am

US peace envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell neither utters a word nor reveals the features of the final solution that President Obama’s administration wants, when he insists that comprehensive peace means the normalization of Arab ties with Israel. The Arab peace initiative does not rule out normalization as a result of final settlements, which would restore the Golan Heights and the remaining occupied lands in southern Lebanon. This settlement would also end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict once and for all by establishing a Palestinian state.

Obama's Middle East map
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Patrick Seale - (Analysis) July 30, 2009 - 12:00am

The utter determination of US President Barack Obama to bring peace to the Middle East is no longer in doubt. The US president's manner is gentle. He seeks to persuade rather than coerce. He gives precedence to the carrot rather than the stick. But the iron will is there. It would be rash indeed for Arabs or Israelis to attempt to thwart him. Right across the region the message is sinking in. We are beginning to witness what might be called the 'Obama effect'.

Another historic opportunity for Mideast peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Ahmad Majdoubeh - (Opinion) July 31, 2009 - 12:00am

As days and events unfold, the Obama administration - though recent on the global and Middle-Eastern scenes - has proven itself to be a most knowledgeable and reliable peace patron or broker: the Arabs’ and Israelis’ best bet, I would say.

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