Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel rules out kidnapping as a possibility after launching a search for a soldier who was feared missing. Oman and Qatar have reportedly told the U.S. that they will renew diplomatic ties with Israel if it freezes settlement activity, while Israel expresses its skepticism about the pledge. At a press conference yesterday President Mahmoud Abbas insists that Palestinians will not agree to a state with temporary borders. A district court refuses a request from Jewish families who have moved into homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem to issue a restraining order against the Palestinian families who were evicted from those homes. As analysis of the recently concluded Fatah party congress continues, an op-ed in The Guardian criticizes the conference for excluding women entirely from the new leadership committees.

After Alert, Israel Rules Out Kidnapping of Soldier
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - August 13, 2009 - 12:00am

Twelve hours after the Israeli Army began a desperate search for what it feared was an abducted soldier, it said late Thursday that it had ruled out any such possibility. “The special operations room has been closed and all roadblocks have been removed,” a military spokeswoman said. “Both the army and the Shin Bet have ruled out any kidnapping. There is still an investigation under way to understand what happened.” Shin Bet is Israel’s internal security agency.

Oman, Qatar: We'll renew Israel ties if it freezes settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 14, 2009 - 12:00am

The United States told Israel last week that Gulf states Oman and Qatar are willing to renew their relations with Israel if it agrees to a moratorium on construction in the West Bank, Haaretz has learned. The Obama administration has been pushing for a construction freeze in the West Bank settlements, which are illegal under international law. President Barack Obama's demand has been repeatedly rejected by Israel's government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to resume negotiations until Israel complies with a freeze.

J'lem not counting on Gulf states' gestures
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - August 14, 2009 - 12:00am

The winds of change blowing in from the Gulf are being received coldly in Jerusalem. According to a message recently relayed from Washington, Qatar and Oman may be willing to renew relations with Israel if the latter freezes construction in West Bank settlements. But as there has been no progress in talks with the US regarding its demand to halt construction, Israeli officials say these are premature promises, and that no significant change in ties should be expected in the near future.

Following election triumph, Fatah sets out to 'liberate' Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - August 14, 2009 - 12:00am

At the start of the week, a member of Iz al-Din al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, died in the Palestinian Authority's Juneid Prison, in Nablus. The circumstances of Fadi Hamadneh's death are unclear, with PA officials claiming he committed suicide, and Hamas claiming he was tortured to death by PA security operatives. In response to the charges, the spokesman of the Palestinian security services, Adnan Damiri, said that Hamas, which has executed hundreds of people in the Gaza Strip, has no right to talk about torture or the violation of human rights.

Abbas: We won't agree to temporary state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - August 14, 2009 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that Fatah would oppose any plan to form a Palestinian state with temporary borders. In a press conference held in the West Bank city of Ramallah following the end of the Fatah Congress in Bethlehem, Abbas said that the movement will adhere to former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's legacy.

Court refuses to issue restraining order against evicted Sheikh Jarrah Arabs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Jonah Newman, Abe Selig - August 14, 2009 - 12:00am

A Jerusalem District Court rejected on Thursday a request by Jewish families who have taken possession of homes in east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood by court order to issue a restraining order against the Arab families who were evicted from those homes. However, Judge Eilata Diskind issued a warning to the Arab families to refrain from violent behavior.

Israel sells off refugees’ hopes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - August 14, 2009 - 12:00am

Amin Muhammad Ali, a 74-year-old refugee from a destroyed Palestinian village in northern Israel, says he only feels truly at peace when he stands among his ancestors’ graves. The cemetery, surrounded on all sides by Jewish homes and farms, is a small time capsule, transporting Mr Muhammad Ali – known to everyone as Abu Arab – back to the days when this place was known by an Arabic name, Saffuriya, rather than its current Hebrew name, Tzipori.

Listen to the women of Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Hannah Wright - (Opinion) August 14, 2009 - 12:00am

As Fatah delegates meeting in Bethlehem elected their new leadership, one could not help but feel that despite the reshuffling of senior figures, the same old faces kept reappearing. Despite talk of reinvention and bringing in "new blood", patrimony and nepotism maintain the same tight grip over the Palestinian leadership – a nephew here, a PLO grandee there, outsiders not welcome. One thing that unites them all, even the newer faces, is that they are all middle-aged or older (even those described as "young"), and they are all male.

The New Fatah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
(Editorial) August 12, 2009 - 12:00am

Al-Fatah, the Palestinians’ nominal ruling party, presented Israel with both a gift and a challenge on August 12 as it wrapped up its international party congress in Bethlehem. It had been 20 years since the last congress. Party leaders were touting this one, in the face of near-universal skepticism, as a transformative moment in Palestinian politics, a chance to burnish Fatah’s corrupt, fossilized image, restore its credibility on the Palestinian street and reassert its legitimacy as Israel’s negotiating partner.

The Anti-Pressure-Over-Settlement-Expansion League?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Leonard Fein - (Opinion) August 13, 2009 - 12:00am

The tag line above the Anti-Defamation League’s Web site reads, “To stop the defamation of the Jewish people, to secure justice and fair treatment for all.” Its mission statement, unchanged since it was founded in 1913 and prominent on the home page of its Web site, is straightforward: “The immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people.

Obama's America is not delivering the goods
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) August 14, 2009 - 12:00am

With great sorrow and deep consternation, we hereby declare the death of the latest hope. Perhaps rumors of its death are greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase the famous quote by Mark Twain, but the fears are being validated day after day. Barack Obama's America is not delivering the goods. Sharing a glass of beer with a racist cop and a pat on the back of Hugo Chavez are not what we hoped for; wholesale negotiations on freezing settlement construction are also not what we expected.

The Generation of "Palestine First"!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Zuheir Kseibati - (Opinion) August 13, 2009 - 12:00am

Fatah has revived its youth, and clung to armed resistance as a tool of struggle to establish the Palestinian State, akin to the tool of diplomacy and negotiations. But this is not enough, as Hamas has appointed itself as sole custodian over the issue of the conflict with Israel. Thus, it is waiting for a new test for the "patriotism" of Fatah after its sixth conference.

Israel could push too far
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Marwan Al Kabalan - (Opinion) August 13, 2009 - 12:00am

In his last days as US president, George W. Bush seemed almost oblivious to most of the key problems in the Middle East. As a result, during the 75-day interval between the end of his administration and the commencement of Barack Obama's presidency, key regional powers took up the slack and sought to fill the void. Attempts were made through multilateral mediation to reduce the tension that had resulted from the Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Perpetual and collective failures
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) August 14, 2009 - 12:00am

Two opposing trends were affirmed in Israel and Palestine this week, and one of them must disappear. The Fateh congress in Bethlehem reaffirmed the strategic decision among a majority of Palestinians to seek a negotiated peace with Israel, while a string of senior Israeli officials said that they would continue expanding settlements in East Jerusalem and would not repeat the “mistake” of withdrawing from Gaza.

A Fateh facelift?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) August 14, 2009 - 12:00am

If one chooses to be charitable, last week’s meeting of the most significant Palestinian nationalist movement in Israeli-besieged Palestine for the first time since its founding in the early 1960s could be considered an achievement, certainly historic. If nothing else, it allowed over 2,000 members of the Palestinian Liberation Movement, or Fateh, to assemble in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and begin the process of rejuvenating what has been described as “a bloated gerontocracy” which has not met for 20 years.

Obama is right not to spoil Israel in the same way that Bush did
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by J.J. Goldberg - (Opinion) August 14, 2009 - 12:00am

Alarm bells have been ringing around the neighborhood pretty much nonstop since July 13, when President Barack Obama sat down to talk Middle East policy at the White House with a pack of leaders from a dozen American Jewish organizations. The meeting was supposed to help buff up Obama’s relationship with the Jewish community, which is bubbling lately with resentment at the president’s aggressive peace-processing. By reaching out to the community’s customary spokesmen, he hoped to build rapport and perhaps recruit a few backers for his policies.

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