Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Tensions continue to mount in occupied East Jerusalem, with the city under "siege." The US calls for calm as fears of an explosion of violence grow. An Israeli Cabinet minister agrees that Jewish extremists are also to blame for Jerusalem tensions. The Washington Post looks at the continued influence of Hamas. Reports suggest that Palestinian President Abbas may have received significant assurances from the United States in return for agreeing to defer debate on the Goldstone report, while PLO leaders say the decision was "a mistake" and Libya has requested a Security Council meeting on the report. The Jerusalem Post reports on efforts by Foreign Minister Lieberman to craft "a new Israeli foreign policy." Hussein Ibish analyzes changes in US foreign policy under the Obama administration, and Paul Salem looks at the lack of Arab diplomacy.

What to Do With Hamas? Question Snarls Peace Bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

In the two years since it seized power here, the militant Hamas movement has undercut the influence of the Gaza Strip's major clans, brought competing paramilitary groups under its control, put down an uprising by a rival Islamist group, weathered a three-week war with Israel, worked around a strict economic embargo -- and through it all refused a set of international demands that could begin Gaza's rehabilitation.

The future of Israel?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Nathan Gardels - October 6, 2009 - 12:00am

Nathan Gardels: For those of us who have not had the opportunity to read your book "Right of Return," which imagines Israel in 2024, what is the picture you paint?

What was Abbas promised in return for burying Goldstone?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

The public is both bewildered and outraged about President Mahmoud Abbas’ reported capitulation to US pressure in delaying action on Richard Goldstone’s report on war crimes in Gaza. One of many unanswered questions about the Geneva affair is: What was he promised? What did the US offer Abbas that convinced him to burry Goldstone’s meticulously-researched indictment of Israel? An Israeli journalist attempts to answer this question in an article that appeared on Tuesday.

Israel tightens Jerusalem 'siege'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City are describing it as a community “under siege” as Israeli forces continue to operate in large numbers fearing renewed demonstrations. Restrictions in the city were so severe Wednesday that children were prevented from reaching schools in the Old City. Israeli forces also prevented Islamic Endowment (Waqf) personnel from reaching the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which has been the site of rolling demonstrations and clashes with Israeli forces over the past four days.

PLO official admits "mistake" in delaying Goldstone report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

A senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official admitted for the first time on Wednesday that the Palestinian leadership made a mistake by delaying action on a United Nations report on war crimes in Gaza. "We have the courage to admit there was a mistake," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the PLO executive committee and an advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas, according to AP. Abbas’ government buckled to US pressure last week and withdrew a motion from the UN Human Rights Council to take action on a report by South African Judge Richard Goldstone.

U.S. to Israel and PA: Calm Jerusalem tensions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

In its first response to recent clashes in Jerusalem, the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take steps to calm the tensions in the capital. Israeli police mobilized reinforcements from across the country to secure the volatile Jerusalem on Tuesday, deploying thousands of officers on city streets for fear that two days of low-grade clashes with Palestinian protesters would escalate.

Israel fears violence following arrest of Islamic Movement head
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

Security forces fear an outbreak of further violence following the arrest of the leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Sheikh Ra'ad Salah on Tuesday. Salah was arrested, and later released, after Police Commissioner David Cohen, State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and Jerusalem police chief Aharon Franco decided that Salah would be interrogated about recent statements.

Minister Braverman: Jewish extremists also at fault for riots
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Sharon Roffe-ofir - October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

Minorities Minister Avishay Braverman (Labor) said Wednesday that Jewish extremists were also to blame for the recent violence in Jerusalem. Speaking to Ynet, Braverman warned that outlawing the Islamic Movement would only bolster it and hurt Israel's status. "Ministers and MKs' calls to have the movement banned only serve the Islamic Movement's political interests. Outlawing the group would only embolden extremist elements and strengthen the movement itself," he told Ynet.

Gaza: Hamas bans motorbike rides for women
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

The Hamas government has banned motorcycle riders from carrying women on the back seat – the latest in the militants' virtue campaign in Gaza. The ban was posted on Hamas Interior Ministry Web site on Tuesday. It said the ban seeks "to preserve citizen safety and the stability of Palestinian society's customs and traditions." Hamas wants to impose a strict interpretation of Islam. Its other efforts have included breaking up mixed couples on the beach and obliging female lawyers to wear headscarves in court.

Libya asks for UN council meeting over Gaza report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

Libya on Tuesday requested a meeting of the Security Council to discuss a UN report that accused Israel and Palestinian militants of war crimes during Israel's offensive in Gaza, diplomats said. Dang Hoang Giang, a spokesman for the mission of Vietnam, which currently holds the council's rotating presidency, said the Libyan request was being considered. A Libyan spokesman, however, said he understood a meeting would be held on Wednesday.

Solana calls for restraint in Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Elana Kirsh - October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana expressed concern Wednesday over "recent clashes in east Jerusalem." In a statement, he called for restraint, saying, "I have been closely following the situation around the Al Aksa mosque in recent days. I would like to urge all parties to refrain from provocative actions that could further inflame tensions or lead to violence." "Everyone must take action to avoid escalation," he added.

FM wants 'new Israeli foreign policy'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Haviv Rettig - October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

The policy staff in Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's office has drawn up a secret memo calling for a radical refocus of Israeli foreign policy toward the developing world, The Jerusalem Post has learned. According to sources, the foreign minister plans to bring the five-page preliminary policy paper to the ministry's senior professional staff in the coming days, to begin discussion on implementing what is being described as "guidelines for a whole new foreign policy."

'Old City violence may lead to 3rd intifada'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Abe Selig - October 6, 2009 - 12:00am

Recent violence in the capital and the ongoing tensions surrounding the Temple Mount could trigger a third intifada, senior Fatah official Hatem Abdel Kader warned in a conversation with The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "It's a very sensitive situation," the former Palestinian Authority minister for Jerusalem affairs said as he stood outside a home in the city's Wadi Joz neighborhood.

Jerusalem's troublesome sheikh
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Mick Dumper - October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

A subtle shift in power has recently taken place on the street in Jerusalem. The confrontations during the past week between Palestinians and the Israeli police over perceived Israeli threats to the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque bring home the growing role of the Israeli Islamic movement in the politics of the city. As a result of the ineffectiveness of the secular and traditional Palestinian leadership, below the radar, Palestinians in the city are being mobilised by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, led by the charismatic Sheikh Ra'ed Salah.

Mosque rumour sparks clashes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli police mobilised reinforcements from across the country to secure the streets of Jerusalem yesterday, deploying thousands of officers amid fears that violence would escalate after two days of clashes with Palestinian protesters. Rumours that Israeli extremists planned to march on the most sacred Muslim and Jewish shrine in the Holy Land apparently fuelled the unrest. No such march has taken place.

Banned from Al Aqsa
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

Tensions over control of the Haram al Sharif compound of mosques in Jerusalem’s Old City has reached a pitch unseen since clashes at the site sparked the second intifada nine years ago. Ten days of intermittently bloody clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in Jerusalem culminated yesterday in warnings by Palestinian officials that Israel was “sparking a fire” in the city. Israel’s Jerusalem Post newspaper similarly wondered whether a third intifada was imminent.

Two Difficult Tracks Launched as Arab World Absent
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Paul Salem - October 6, 2009 - 12:00am

In a flurry of diplomatic activity, US president Barack Obama has re-launched Israeli-Palestinian talks and taken the US into direct negotiations with Iran. The US-Iranian track has been dead for 30 years; the Israeli-Palestinian track only for eight. In both cases, the re-launch was not off to a promising start. Obama failed to get the Israelis to agree even to a settlement freeze, and the talks with Iran have been prefaced by a dramatic escalation of tension over the new nuclear reactor disclosed near Qum.

Credit Barack Obama with resolve on a Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Hussein Ibish - October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

Under the administration of President Barack Obama, the United States has vigorously re-engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and made commitment to Palestinian statehood an American national security and foreign policy priority. Obama has said that it is “absolutely crucial” to US interests to resolve the conflict, and appears determined to persist despite all difficulties and obstacles.

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