Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The UN Human Rights Council endorses the Goldstone report putting diplomatic pressure on Israel, but Russia joins the US in asserting that it will not permit a debate in the Security Council. The controversy has damaged the popularity of President Abbas, who is now only slightly more popular than Hamas leader Hanniyeh according to a new poll. Asharq Al-Awsat reports Abbas may be considering calling for elections in January in spite of objections from Hamas. The BBC profiles Hamas-Fatah rivalry in Qalqilya. Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly says that an agreement has been reached with the United States on settlements. Patrick Seale argues that Israel should understand that President Obama’s patience is not endless. Hussein Ibish outlines what would be at stake for Israel and the Palestinians in a third intifada.

U.N. Panel Backs Gaza Report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Colum Lynch, Howard Schneider - October 16, 2009 - 11:00pm

The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday endorsed a controversial report on alleged Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip, advancing a process that has roiled Palestinian politics and threatens to further derail the Middle East peace process. The vote drew condemnation from Israel's main political parties, while both the Islamist Hamas movement and the Palestinian Authority hailed the decision.

UN vote to endorse Goldstone report increases pressure on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - October 15, 2009 - 11:00pm

The United Nations Human Rights Council's decision Friday to adopt the controversial Goldstone report on the Gaza war increases the pressure on Israel to conduct its own investigation into alleged war crimes. The council voted 25-to-6, with 11 abstentions, to endorse the report, which calls for both Israel and Hamas to investigate its allegations within the next few months. If either side fails to comply – and Israel has so far refused to do so – the report calls for the UN Security Council to take up the matter and consider referring it to the UN's International Criminal Court.

Poll: Abbas approval plummets after UN delay
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

President Mahmoud Abbas lost significant public support over his role in delaying international action on a United Nations report that accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza, a new opinion poll shows. The survey released on Sunday by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre (JMCC) indicates that if an election were held today, Abbas would receive just 16.8 percent of the vote, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh 16 percent. A similar percentage said they would vote for Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, who is currently in prison in Israel.

Russia says won't let Goldstone Report reach Hague
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

Russia has made it clear to Israel that it will oppose a Goldstone Report discussion at the United Nations Security Council or at the International Criminal Court in Hague, although its representatives voted in favor of adopting the report accusing the Jewish state of committing war crimes at the UN Human Rights Council, Foreign Ministry officials told Ynet on Sunday night.

Netanyahu: Israel and U.S. have resolved settlements row
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero last Thursday that talks between Israel and the United States over construction in the settlements on the West Bank had ended. "We solved the matter of the settlements with the Americans," Netanyahu told his Spanish counterpart. "I cannot say more than that. If you are interested in hearing more details, ask in Washington," added Netanyahu.

Why Israel failed in the Gaza war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yehezkel Dror - (Opinion) October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

"Operation Cast Lead was the most planned operation in the annals of Israel's wars," Aluf Benn wrote in these pages over the weekend ("The noose tightens," October 16). Heaven help us for such planning, which was technically sophisticated yet one-dimensional.

Israel pulls textbook with chapter on Nakba
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Or Kashti - October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

The Ministry of Education has taken the unusual step of collecting all copies of the history textbook, "Nationalism: Building a State in the Middle East" which was published about two months ago by the Zalman Shazar Center. They will be returned to the shelves only after corrections are made to the text, particularly with reference to the War of Independence. The book had already been approved by the ministry.

Political struggle over West Bank town
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Heather Sharp - October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

"The decision was purely political," says Wajih Qawas, fiddling with a string of prayer beads as he explains how he lost his job. Until a month ago, the softly-spoken management systems graduate was the mayor of the West Bank town of Qalqilya, although he has spent much of that time in Israeli prisons. The town of 40,000 was one of several major West Bank towns in which Hamas won control of municipal councils in elections in 2004 and 2005. Locals and outsiders alike wondered how a group known for suicide bombings would handle fixing potholes and sewage pipes.

Obama's mettle is about to be tested
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Simon Tisdall - (Opinion) October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

It's getting harder each day for the Obama administration to maintain the illusion of progress in Middle East peacemaking. The UN human rights council's vote to condemn January's Israeli assault on Gaza, furiously rejected by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, at the weekend, was the latest blow to US efforts to kickstart negotiations on a two-state solution. Across the region, all the signs point not to reconciliation, but to renewed confrontation. As Washington talks about talks, the Arab world mutters ominously about the prospect of a third intifada.

Goldstone: Israel could stop report with open inquiry
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - October 17, 2009 - 11:00pm

Israel could stop the Goldstone report process if it openly investigated its army's conduct in the Gaza War, Richard Goldstone said. "If the Israeli government set up an appropriate investigation it would really be the end of the matter," said Goldstone, the former South African judge and international human rights prosecutor who authored the report alleging war crimes by both sides in last winter's war between Israel and Hamas. "The heart of the report would become pretty irrelevant if there was an open, bonafide investigation."

A Gaza war resolution that resolves nothing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

The recent UN condemnation of Israel brings to mind the image of Nero fiddling away while Rome burned. In the aftermath of the Gaza war, there can be little doubt that war crimes were committed – crimes that will eventually have to be answered for – but the UN Human Rights Council’s vote on Friday is a variation on a very old tune that has done little to assuage the flames in the Middle East. Indeed, by pushing one-sided recriminations into the Security Council at this juncture, the recent resolution makes justice more difficult to attain and peace a more distant prospect.

Fatah Considering Elections Without Hamas Approval
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Kifah Zaboun - October 17, 2009 - 11:00pm

Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Palestinian presidency was surprised on Friday by Egypt's stand toward Hamas's request to postpone the signing of the reconciliation agreement and its agreement on postponing the date of the signing, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned. Earlier, Azzam al-Ahmad, official in charge of national relations in the Fatah Movement Central Committee, conveyed to the Egyptian side the movement's approval of the reconciliation agreement, provided that the signing date would not be postponed and no new words would be introduced to the text.

Israel’s Dangerously Battered Image
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Patrick Seale - (Opinion) October 15, 2009 - 11:00pm

In international politics, image counts. A country’s reputation, the aura it projects, the esteem in which its leaders are held – these are as important as its armed services in providing protection for its citizens. Most politicians know that ‘soft power’, skilfully used, can be at least as effective as blood-drenched ‘hard power’.

Two Palestinian Causes… or More
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Husam Itani - October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

The path taken by the Palestinian reconciliation suggests that the current situation between the struggling parties requires much more than reconciliation. Indeed, the difficulties that obstruct ratifying the Egyptian agreement are only a sample of how deeply rooted and difficult the disagreement is between the components of Palestinian political society.

When the Arabs Shut their Ears
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Mohammad Salah - October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

You can close your eyes at will, without falling asleep or becoming unconscious, even if for the only reason that you do not want to see something in front of you. However, you cannot shut your ears at will, and as long as your hearing is unimpaired, and also as long as you are conscious, you can still hear, even if you did not want to.

Abbas' indecision benefits Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Adel Safty - October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

The Goldstone Commission's report about the Gaza war, which was published by the UN last month, has generated intense debates about how to handle its findings and its recommendations, both in the corridors of the United Nations and beyond.

PA on a slippery slope
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

IT is, of course, all the fault of Judge Richard Goldstone. He is to blame for the trouble we are having at the UN, both in New York and in Geneva. Now he is to blame also for the existential danger facing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). When the Goldstone Report was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, the Israeli government exerted heavy pressure on the US. The US exerted heavy pressure on Abbas. Abbas gave in and instructed his representative in Geneva to withdraw his request for a debate.

What would be at stake in a third intifada?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) October 18, 2009 - 11:00pm

As the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially East Jerusalem, is balanced on a knife edge and could erupt at any moment into a new explosion of violence or even a third intifada, it is crucial to review what is at stake for all parties should such a catastrophic turn of events occur. Far too many actors and commentators are casually viewing the present extremely dangerous situation, and even welcoming the prospect of a third intifada or the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, or are calling for less dramatic but also extraordinarily dangerous scenarios.

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