Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Washington Post reports Israel's controversial West Bank separation barrier may remain uncompleted. The U.S. strongly criticizes increased Israeli restrictions on West Bank access for foreign nationals, especially Arab Americans. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu denounces Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alons derogatory remarks about American and Israeli anti-settlement groups, especially Peace Now. Several articles offer analyze the spate of violence between Hamas and Al-Qaeda-style extremist groups in Gaza. Controversy continues over an article published in the Swedish paper Aftonbladet accusing Israeli soldiers of stealing the organs of Palestinians during the war in Gaza.

Momentum Slows for Israel's Barrier
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Linda Gradstein, Howard Schneider - August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

Cost overruns, court rulings and a decline in violence have led Israel to slow construction of a barrier through and around the occupied West Bank, and many analysts predict the project, which is a deep source of contention between Israelis and Palestinians, will not be completed.

U.S. blasts Israeli restrictions on American travelers in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass, Natasha Mozgovaya, Barak Ravid - August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

The United States has harshly criticized new Israeli restrictions placed on foreign nationals entering the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge, calling the new regulations 'unacceptable'. A report on the restrictions appeared in Haaretz last week. Earlier this week, a senior official at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv met with the head of the Foreign Ministry's consular division, Yigal Tzarfati, for clarifications on the new procedure, by which passports are stamped at the bridge with a directive limiting the bearer to areas of the Palestinian Authority only.

Netanyahu slams Vice Premier's anti-peace jibe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday lambasted Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon, who told a closed-door meeting of far-right activists last week that he was "not afraid of the Americans" and that anti-settlement groups like Peace Now were "viruses" to Israel. The statements, referring to the United States' role in the Middle East peace progress and its demand Israel halt settlement activity, came to light after video footage taken by a cellular phone was leaked to Channel 2.

Al-Qaida-style Islamism comes to Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Jonathan Spyer - August 19, 2009 - 12:00am

Quiet has now returned to the Gaza Strip after the weekend violence which claimed the lives of 28 people. The last of the funerals of the Jund Ansar Allah fighters killed in the suppression of the organization by Hamas authorities has taken place. This episode demonstrated the tight hold which Hamas maintains on the Gaza Strip.

Fatah, Hamas trade accusations over failure to bridge rift
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - August 19, 2009 - 12:00am

Egypt has once again failed in its efforts to end the rift between Hamas and Fatah, sources close to the two parties said on Wednesday. An Egyptian security delegation that met with Hamas and Fatah representatives in Ramallah this week left without succeeding in persuading the two sides to attend another round of reconciliation talks in Cairo late this month, the sources told The Jerusalem Post.

Hamas rejects elections, Arab normalization with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Saud Abu Ramadan - August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

The Islamic Hamas movement rejected on Wednesday participation in Palestinian elections early next year unless a reconciliation deal is reached with rival Fatah party. Hamas sources in Gaza stressed that the movement would never go to legislative and presidential elections on Jan. 25 before signing a reconciliation deal that ends the current internal rift. "Ending the file of political prisoners in the West Bank, and reaching a reconciliation agreement are conditions for holding the elections on time. Otherwise, the idea will be rejected for sure," the sources told Xinhua.

Swedish government disagrees with embassy in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

Sweden's Foreign Ministry on Thursday said a response by the Swedish Embassy in Israel to a report by the Aftonbladet news saying IDF soldiers killed Palestinians in order to harvest their organs does not represent the government's stance. The embassy had stated that the report was "appalling". But the Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman said, "The embassy in Tel Aviv responded in accordance to Israeli public opinion, however the Swedish government is committed to freedom of the press." She added that Israel had not issued an official complaint on the report.

Boycott Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Neve Gordon - (Opinion) August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli newspapers this summer are filled with angry articles about the push for an international boycott of Israel. Films have been withdrawn from Israeli film festivals, Leonard Cohen is under fire around the world for his decision to perform in Tel Aviv, and Oxfam has severed ties with a celebrity spokesperson, a British actress who also endorses cosmetics produced in the occupied territories. Clearly, the campaign to use the kind of tactics that helped put an end to the practice of apartheid in South Africa is gaining many followers around the world.

Taking the Mideast peace plunge
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
(Editorial) August 19, 2009 - 12:00am

One of many problems in making Middle East peace is that no one wants to go first. Decades of injustice, violence, and false promises have sown such distrust that the players look for proof of sincerity from others before considering a move themselves. As a consequence, they all stand frozen, waiting – as if on the shore of a cold lake – for the other one to jump in.

“Jihad” Against Hamas and Sheikh Sharif
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Mshari Al-Zaydi - (Opinion) August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

It was a surprise hearing the Defence Minister of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s government in Somalia and the Spokesman for the Hamas Interior Ministry in Gaza calling for people to embrace “moderate” Islam and branding those who fight against their governments as ideologically deviant and far away from understanding real Islam. They are also described as “brainwashed,” a western term that is used excessively insinuating that they themselves are pure!

Into the Abyss
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Hussein Shobokshi - (Opinion) August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

As if the Palestinians needed a new chapter to be added to their sad story! It seems, however, that the road is still full of sadness, shocks, and unpleasant surprises. How else can one explain the harsh bloody clashes between the "government" of the Hamas organization in the Gaza Strip and the new "alien" faction called Jund Ansar Allah? These clashes led to the killing of scores of people, including Dr. Abdul Latif Al Mousa, the obscure and controversial leader of this faction who is also known by his code name of Abu Noor al-Maqdisi.

The Missing Courage
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Abdullah Iskandar - (Opinion) August 19, 2009 - 12:00am

The state of embarrassment and opportunism, and sometimes malice, that accompanied the military settlement carried out by Hamas against Jund Ansar Allah in the Gaza Strip, is not unique in the relationship between political Islam and the hard-line fundamentalist organizations it brought about under different names. We have seen such a case in Egypt when some fundamentalist organizations ignited armed violence in the face of the state and citizens. We also witnessed it in Algeria with the outbreak of hostile activities.

It's time to speak openly
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) August 19, 2009 - 12:00am

Fatah’s historic Congress, held in Bethlehem earlier this month, has generated widespread optimism in the region due to the ouster of the old guard which paid the price for tolerating the cruel status quo and its ineffectiveness since signing the inconclusive peace accord with Israel in 1993. What was sorely missing from the exchanges at the Congress, and subsequently the media coverage thereof, was any mention of the consequences of Israel’s harsh policies.

Arab reaction to Obama’s Mideast policy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Nasser Ali Khasawneh, Dima Sari - (Opinion) August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

The new American administration is moving at a frenetic pace, trying to break the seemingly interminable deadlock between Israel and the Arab world. Recent press reports suggest that George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, is reaching a critical point in his negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Palestinian Authority. Amid all this, it is fair to say that the average Arab is rather puzzled about the US policy.

Not an impossible demand
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Editorial) August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel is still trying its very best to wriggle out of its obligation to enforce a complete freeze of settlement activity in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. Tuesday, Israel’s housing minister, Ariel Atias, of the ultra-conservative Shas Party, announced that Israel would institute a “temporary” freeze on issuing new housing tenders for settlements. This is clearly an attempt at appeasing Washington, which has been pushing for Israel to abide by its obligations under the roadmap.

The Palestinian position is important
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Shlomo Avineri - (Opinion) August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

Prof. Shimon Shamir is right ("Ask Mustafa Khalil," August 17) in stating that, "It is not our concern if Egypt defines itself as Islamic, Arab, African or pharaonic. We recognize Egypt as a political entity..." Based on this premise, Shamir makes the case that we are not to demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. Yet the analogy is not valid for a number of reasons.

What was he thinking?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Sima Kadmon - (Opinion) August 20, 2009 - 12:00am

What was he thinking? This is the most intriguing question today. What was the deputy prime minister thinking when he attended earlier this week a meeting organized by the Feiglins; yes, the Jewish Leadership faction which Netanyahu made every effort in the last two years to push out of Likud.

It's time to talk to Fatah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Colette Avital - (Opinion) August 19, 2009 - 12:00am

During the much-reported tour of four Knesset members to the illegal outposts earlier this week, one small sentence uttered by Interior Minister Eli Yishai in passing attracted my attention. Why bother, he said - after all, after the Fatah congress, it is obvious now that we have no one to speak to. Thus, he joined a long list of Israeli politicians, among them Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who hurried to characterize the Sixth Fatah Conference as a saboteur of peace.

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