Middle East News: World Press Roundup

President Abbas reportedly tells President Obama he may not run in scheduled Palestinian elections if Israel does not begin to cooperate on peace talks, and PLO officials complained that Israel is portraying the Palestinians as "untrustworthy bastards." The New York Times highlights isolation and despair among professionals in Gaza, while the PA tries to prevent Israel's closing of Gaza's main fuel terminal.Hamas reportedly eases strict enforcement of religious social conservatism. Two Israeli soldiers are injured in the process of demolishing a Palestinian home. Reuters' Alastair Macdonald explains the intense restriction of movement in the West Bank. Israeli settlers begin their annual attacks on the Palestinian olive harvest. Amnesty International accuses Israel of withholding water from Palestinians in the West Bank. An Israeli army judge claims that all Jews have a religious right to West Bank land and Palestinians have none. The Guardian profiles Palestinian American comedienne Maysoon Zaid who performed at the ATFP Gala earlier this month.

Abbas Says Might Not Run In Poll
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told U.S. President Barack Obama he would not run for re-election unless Israel dropped its refusal to freeze settlements, Palestinian officials said on Tuesday. "Abu Mazen (Abbas) told him that he would not be a candidate in the presidential election (in January) unless Israel abided by the peace requirement," said one of the officials, who are briefed regularly by Abbas and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Opportunities Fade Amid Sense of Isolation in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - (Analysis) October 25, 2009 - 11:00pm

The bank executive sits in a suit and tie behind his broad empty desk with plenty of time to talk. Almost no loans are being issued or corporate plans made. The Texas-trained engineer closed his firm because nothing is being built. The business student who dreamed of attending an American university — filling a computer file with meticulous hopes and plans — has stopped dreaming. He goes from school to a part-time job to home, where he joins his merchant father who sits unemployed.

Gaza: Hamas tightens, then backs off, Islamic social strictures
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Erin Cunningham - October 24, 2009 - 11:00pm

Like many high-schoolers in Gaza City, Diana Hawajiri often favors trendy jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and a head scarf. But when she showed up after the summer break, signs posted at her government-run school announced that it was mandatory for all female students to wear the jalibab – a loose dress designed to shroud the female figure. Diana complied. And though the decision was later rescinded, she still wears the garment to avoid criticism both at school and in public, she says.

Gridlock in the Mideast
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Alastair MacDonald - (Blog) October 25, 2009 - 11:00pm

Want to know how it feels to be George Mitchell, President Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East? Try getting from Jerusalem to Ramallah on a typical weekday at the rush hour. And experience stalemate, frustration, competitive selfishness, blind fury and an absence of movement that even the most stubborn and blinkered of West Bank bus drivers might see as a metaphor for the peace process that is going nowhere fast right now.

Soldiers injured as Israeli forces demolish Jerusalem homes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

Two Israeli soldiers were injured in a rock-throwing incident as they participated in a home demolition on Tuesday morning in occupied East Jerusalem. According to local sources, Israeli military forces and a demolition crew from the Jerusalem Municipality entered the East Jerusalem village of Sur Bahir, south of the Old City, and destroyed the two-story house of Nimir Ali Nimir. The 300 square meter house was home to 11 people. Outraged at the destruction of the house, stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators confronted the Israeli officers, mildly injuring two.

PA seeks to reverse Gaza fuel terminal closure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 23, 2009 - 11:00pm

Nathmi Mhanna, the Palestinian Authority's head of borders and crossings, said he and others were working hard to thwart Israel's recently announced plan to shut down Gaza's main fuel terminal. Israel's military said on Thursday is planned to close the Nahal Oz crossing, which is the only border terminal staffed jointly by Israelis and Palestinians as per previously signed agreements with the PA. In an interview, Mhanna said Israel was seeking to shut down the crossing due to unspecified security concerns voiced by individual soldiers.

Settlers clash with Palestinian 'security threat' olive growers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff, Anshel Pfeffer - October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

Residents of the settlement of Shvut Rachel clashed with Palestinians picking olives in the northern West Bank on Tuesday, after the settlers held a march to protest the "security threat" posed by the harvest. The settlers, who were joined by residents of nearby illegal outposts, said the Palestinian harvesters were a threat because could gather intelligence and launch attacks from the olive groves. "If they harvest near us, then we'll be near them," one of the settlers said as they headed out for the march.

PA negotiator: Israel painting us as 'untrustworthy bastards'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

The chief Palestinian negotiator lashed out at Israel's stance toward peace talks on Tuesday, after a report that his president, Mahmoud Abbas, had threatened to step down due to the lack of progress in the peace process. "You're presenting us as 'untrustworthy bastards,' while the fact of the matter is that you're the ones foot-dragging and refusing to end the occupation," Saeb Erekat told Army Radio.

EU lawyers draw up list of IDF officers suspected of Gaza war crimes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anshel Pfeffer - October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

Human rights lawyers and pro-Palestinian activists in a number of European countries hold lists with names of Israel Defense Forces soldiers allegedly linked to war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. Existing legislation enables arrest warrants to be issued against these officers if they enter those countries.

Amnesty: Israel withholds water from Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

Amnesty International is accusing Israel of pumping disproportionate amounts of drinking water from an aquifer it controls in the West Bank, depriving local Palestinians of their fair share. The London-based human rights group also said in a report released Tuesday, that Israel has blocked infrastructure projects that would improve existing water supplies to Palestinians, both in the West Bank and those living in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas is a partner for peace. Is Netanyahu?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) October 25, 2009 - 11:00pm

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has issued a presidential decree that elections will be held in January. This followed his decision to sign the Egyptian plan for intra-Palestinian reconciliation, knowing that Hamas would refuse to sign.

'Conditions for talks have worsened'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

The US will continue pressing for a deal to get Israel and the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table, despite concerns in Jerusalem that Friday's announcement of PA elections in January makes the likelihood of starting negotiations now even more remote. US Middle East envoy George Mitchell is expected back in the region by the end of the week, to continue, as one diplomatic official said, "pushing the rock." The US, he said, has made clear that it will do so until - perhaps because of a change of conditions - the rock actually moves.

West Bank land belongs to Jews, says Israeli army judge
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Meron Rapoport - October 25, 2009 - 11:00pm

Major Adrian Agassi did not make the connection between the Bible, the land and the Jews when, fresh out of university, he left England for Israel in search of his roots. He was not even a practising Jew. But over the past quarter of a century, the Israeli army lawyer and then military judge at the forefront of arguably the most significant battle in the occupied West Bank – the confiscation of Palestinian land for the construction of Jewish settlements – has come to see himself as in service of a higher duty.

Palestinians work to defend Al Aqsa
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

Musa Qous was still asleep Sunday morning when the muezzin at Al Aqsa mosque, right next to Mr Qous’s home in the old city of Jerusalem, called out. But this was no ordinary call to prayer and, at eight in the morning, came at the wrong time. “I knew there was something wrong,” said Mr Qous, 46, who works with a Jerusalem-based social rights non-governmental organisation. Instead, the muezzin called on Muslims to come and defend the mosque and announced that Al Aqsa was in danger.

Turkey can and must mediate in the region
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Sami Moubayed - (Opinion) October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

US President Theodore Roosevelt famously said in 1901 that strong nations should "speak softly and carry a big stick". His big stick was the military might of the United States, wielded repeatedly throughout the 20th century. One hundred and eight years later, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is walking the same path, adding a new twist to what has since been called ‘Big Stick Policy'. Erdogan is speaking loudly and carrying a big stick. His big stick is the political and military might of Turkey.

The illusion of peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Hassan Barari - (Opinion) October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

Fifteen years have elapsed since Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty, yet rarely can one find a Jordanian who would say that peace is a reality. Very few Jordanians are convinced that Israel is serious about what reaching a historical reconciliation with Arabs. That said, the peace treaty, which was subject of regular attack by Jordanian opposition, has survived the ups and downs of the volatile regional challenges. The Jordanian-Israeli relations have become strained over the last decade and a half, due mainly to the way Jordanians view Israeli policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

Palestinians won’t be patient forever
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Linda Heard - (Opinion) October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

There’s little good news in the West Bank and Gaza nowadays. But the long-suffering Palestinians are used to that. The problem is there’s an increasing absence of hope, which is dangerous because without hope people begin to believe they’ve nothing to lose. This is why some commentators are predicting the inevitability of a third intifada. And despite denials from senior Palestinian officials, such as former Security Chief Mohammed Dahlan, a spontaneous uprising remains a very real possibility.

The disabled Palestinian standup helping refugees find their funny side
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Rachel Shabi - October 26, 2009 - 11:00pm

"I am officially the most oppressed person in the world," Maysoon Zayid recently told an audience in California. "I'm a Palestinian Muslim with cerebral palsy." Zayid, the first female standup ever to perform in Palestine and Jordan, added that her shaking often caught the eye of airport security staff, who think: "That chick's nervous!" It's a situation not helped by the fact her dad likes to drop her off – and he looks like Saddam Hussein.

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