Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel hardens its stance on the Goldstone report and will seek to change the international laws of war, although its cabinet is split on an internal independent inquiry. China joins Russia and the US in pledging to block consideration of the report at the Security Council. Goldstone writes that Israel could defuse the crisis by launching its own internal investigation. Pres. Abbas says that he will announce elections for Jan. 24, despite objections from Hamas. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says the US should blame Israel for stalled peace talks. Prime Minister Fayyad reiterates that the occupation must end. The JTA analyzes the tense Obama-Netanyahu relationship. An original ATFP translation of an article printed in several Arab newspapers by Khairallah Khairallah and another from the Arab News profile last week's ATFP Gala.

Israel hardens stance on U.N. Gaza report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

Israel hardened its opposition Tuesday to international calls for an independent inquiry into its offensive in the Gaza Strip last winter, saying it would urge the United States to stop the issue from advancing at the United Nations. The decision came at a cabinet meeting called to discuss a U.N. report that has accused both sides of committing war crimes during the three-week operation. The report, which was adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council last week, recommends war crimes proceedings if Israel and the Palestinians do not conduct credible internal investigations.

Palestinian president to set Jan. election date
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
October 19, 2009 - 11:00pm

The Palestinian president said Tuesday he will set Jan. 24 as the date for presidential and legislative elections, despite objections from his rivals in the Hamas militant group. Mahmoud Abbas told journalists in Cairo he will set the date in a presidential decree Sunday. Hamas, which wants the voting delayed, dismissed Abbas' announcement as an attempt to pressure the group into an agreement to end a bitter two-year division between the two sides that has interfered with peace talks with Israel and hampered reconstruction of war damage in Gaza.

Netanyahu seeks change in laws of war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

Facing mounting international pressure for an investigation into charges of war crimes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his government on Tuesday to find ways of changing the world’s laws that govern warfare. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the professional bodies within the relevant government ministries to examine the facilitating of an international initiative to change the laws of war in keeping with the spread of terrorism throughout the world,” said a statement from Netanyahu’s office.

In Washington, Erekat says US must denounce Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

The US is obligated to expose Israel for blocking the resumption of peace negotiations, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Tuesday. "When we say that we want to resume permanent status negotiations on all core issues without exceptions, that's also an Israeli obligation," Erekat told reporters outside the State Department in Washington, DC, according to AFP. Erekat was speaking after meeting with US President Barack Obama’s Middle East peace envoy, George Mitchell.

Fayyad: Occupation must end
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

Israel must end its occupation of the West Bank, caretaker Prime minister Salam Fayyad said on Tuesday. Fayyad added that Israel must stop building settlements on Palestinian land, especially in Jerusalem, and must stop invading Palestinian-held territory and closing Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem. He was speaking in the West Bank town of Beit Sahour, at the opening ceremony of a “heritage handcrafts village” at the YMCA.

Deputy PM to Haaretz: Israel must probe Gaza war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gidi Weitz - October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor thinks Israel should establish its own independent committee to investigate Israel Defense Forces activity in the Gaza Strip during last winter's Operation Cast Lead.

Senior Shin Bet official: Hamas completely lost Gaza war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

A senior official in the Shin Bet security service argues that Hamas failed militarily during Operation Cast Lead and did not achieve any of its aims. According to the official, the group's battle doctrine was proved hollow and failed to cause any real damage to Israel. This is the first assessment of its type published by a senior Shin Bet official since the end of the Gaza offensive nine months ago. The report was published on the Web site of a major research institute based in the United States.

Palestinian official: We're ready for talks with U.S., but not Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat arrived in Washington Tuesday, where he is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other American officials to discuss the first phase of the road map for Mideast peace and the renewal of final-status talks.

Solana: Palestinian state in 1967 borders
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

EU Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana said the European Union's goal is to establish a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders. Speaking in Ramallah on Wednesday, Solana said the sooner this happens, the better. Solana met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday morning, and is scheduled to meet later with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. His visit to the Palestinian Authority is aimed at highlighting the EU's commitment to the region and supporting the PA leadership. Solana is slated to visit Israel on Thursday, and meet with Israeli officials.

China against report's referral to UNSC
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

Beijing will oppose discussing the Goldstone Commission's report at the UN Security Council and allowing the document to serve as a basis for law suits against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Chinese members of parliament told a visiting delegation of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in Beijing on Wednesday.

Israel's missed opportunity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Richard Goldstone - (Opinion) October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

Five weeks after the release of the report of the fact-finding mission on Gaza, there has been no attempt by any of its critics to come to grips with its substance. It has been fulsomely approved by those whose interests it is thought to serve and rejected by those of the opposite view. Those who attack it do so too often by making personal attacks on its authors' motives and those who approve it rely on its authors' reputations.

Israel Cabinet split over calls for war inquiry
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Donald MacIntyre - October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

A meeting of Israel's inner security cabinet yesterday left ministers split over whether to yield to growing diplomatic pressure to hold a major public investigation to deflect the findings of the UN's Goldstone report on last winter's war in Gaza. The meeting postponed any decision on an independent investigation as it emerged that the Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, has so far led opposition to the setting up of an inquiry.

Trust remains an issue in Obama-Bibi relationship
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - October 19, 2009 - 11:00pm

With the major knots that bedeviled U.S.-Israel ties this summer largely behind them, U.S., Israeli and American Jewish leaders say the relationship between the two countries is much improved. But with some misapprehension and mistrust persisting, all sides appear to agree that things could bear further improvement. Among the thorniest issues: a mutual perception between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations that each side is playing the other using leaks.

Attacks on J Street as parley approaches
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Eric Fingerhut - October 19, 2009 - 11:00pm

Days before the inaugural conference of the left-wing pro-Israel group J Street, critics’ attacks on the organization are having an effect on the planned event.

Hamas Demands Guarantees before Reconciliation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Saleh Al-Naeimi - October 19, 2009 - 11:00pm

The Hamas movement has stressed that it needs guarantees for implementing any agreement reached with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. Ismail Radwan, a leading movement figure, asserted that the countries sponsoring the reconciliation should offer such guarantees so that any future agreement would not have the same fate as that of agreements reached in the past between the two movements. He stressed at the same time that reconciliation is the movement's strategic option and that it is committed to its success.

Accountability: core of Goldstone's report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) October 20, 2009 - 11:00pm

The Goldstone Report on the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip that was released by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) late last month generated a brief flash of publicity because it criticized Israel and Hamas over conduct in the war that could be classified as war crimes and crimes against humanity. The deeper and wider implications of the report, however, have not been sufficiently discussed or acted upon, which is a shame.

Obama committed to two-state solution in ME, says aide
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Barbara Ferguson - October 19, 2009 - 11:00pm

The Obama administration is committed to creating a Palestinian state and determined to move forward with peace talks, said National Security Adviser Gen. James L. Jones, at the fourth annual gala of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP). "We are clear, unambiguous and consistent. The time has come to relaunch negotiations without preconditions to reach a final status agreement on two states," said Gen. Jones, adding that he was proud to represent President Barack Obama at the ATFP event, held this weekend.

A New Image of Palestine in Washington
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Raya
by Khairallah Khairallah - (Opinion) October 16, 2009 - 11:00pm

(a translation from Arabic, see below for Arabic version) Thank God for the new face of Palestine in Washington, an image that the United States of America can respect along with the rest of the international community. This Palestinian image, which has the potential to permeate the American consciousness, operates under the rubric of an organization called the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP). A few days ago, on the evening of Oct. 15, the Task Force, which is headed by Dr. Ziad Asali, held its annual dinner in one of the premier hotels of the American capital.

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