Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Palestinian Pres. Mahmoud Abbas announces he will not seek another term in office. PLO and Fatah officials urge him to reconsider and the US and Israel express concern, while Hamas dismisses the announcement as a ruse. Fawaz Gerges and Daoud Kuttab consider the implications. Several papers question whether this means Abbas will cease to be the Palestinian president and speculate as to potential successors. The UN General Assembly passes a resolution in support of the Goldstone report, but Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman expresses satisfaction at the result. A new State Department report finds that Israel is not a tolerant, pluralistic society. Ghassan Khatib explains that the absence of Abbas could be a serious blow to the peace process.

Top Palestinian Rules Out Race for Re-election
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner, Mark Landler - November 5, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, warned on Thursday that he would not seek re-election, the latest sign that the Obama administration’s drive to broker a Middle East peace accord, one of President Obama’s key foreign policy goals, has fallen into disarray.

Highlights from Abbas speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

Following are highlights from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's speech on Thursday, in which he said he did not seek re-election and deplored deadlocked talks with Hamas and with Israel. ACCUSING ISRAEL... We pledged, us and the Israelis, with the participation and sponsorship of the international community, to reach a two-state solution. But month after month, year after year, there was procrastination and the increase of Jewish settlement and Israeli settlement on our land, which compromises the credibility of negotiations.

Abbas Makes His Move
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) November 5, 2009 - 1:00am

Abbas Momani/Agence-France Press/Getty Images Mahmoud Abbas announcing in a televised speech on Thursday that he will step down as president of the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, announced on Thursday that he would not seek re-election in a presidential vote he has called for in January. While he said that this was not a “maneuver,” some of his aides have said that his decision is part of a strategy to persuade President Obama to support a full peace plan for an independent Palestinian state. What’s behind this unexpected announcement?

Abbas pushes back
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Laura Rozen - (Blog) November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

A day after Hillary Clinton returned from a swing through the Middle East where she pushed the Palestinians to go into peace talks with Israel short of a full Israeli settlement freeze, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to not run in Palestinian elections he has called to be held in January, reports say.

Goldstone report: UN votes for probe into Gaza war crimes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Howard Lafranchi - November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

The United Nations General Assembly approved Thursday afternoon a resolution that calls on both Israel and the Palestinians to investigate the accusations of war crimes in last winter's Gaza incursion as described in a UN-commissioned report. The resolution – approved 118-14, with much of the developing world and Arab countries in favor, and the US and Israel notably opposed – underscores the broad support for the Goldstone report, the investigation commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council to look into alleged war crimes committed during the three-week-long Gaza war.

Abbas: I will not seek second term
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas announced in Ramallah on Thursday he would not seek a second term in office. Confirming day-long rumors of his impending retirement, Abbas said the decision came amid Israel's intransigence on settlements and the international community's indifference to it. "I have informed the PLO Executive Committee and Fatah's Central Committee that I do not intend to seek a second term in the upcoming [24 January 2010] election," he said in a televised address. "This decision is not up for debate or negotiation."

Fatah, PLO urge Abbas to reconsider candidacy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas' announcement on Thursday evening that he would not be seeking a second term has left the PLO and Fatah without their top nominee, several officials said beforehand. According to Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary-general of the PLO's Executive Committee, Abbas remains the preferred candidate for next January's elections. He told reporters at a news conference in Ramallah that the PLO would reject Abbas' retirement from politics.

Clinton: Will work with Abbas in any new capacity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday she looked forward to working with President Mahmoud Abbas in "any new capacity" after he announced on Thursday he would not seek a second term. "I look forward to working with President Abbas in any new capacity," Clinton said, noting that the two discussed his political future when they met last week in Abu Dhabi, Reuters was reporting.

Abbas decision to withdraw from race draws Israeli, U.S. concern
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff, Barak Ravid - November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli and American officials expressed concern over Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's announcement on Thursday that he would not be running for reelection in January. President Shimon Peres telephoned Abbas on Wednesday night in an effort to persuade the Palestinian leader to change his mind. Peres told Abbas that he was worried that the decision would trigger political crisis in the Palestinian Authority, leading to a Hamas takeover in the West Bank.

U.S. State Department: Israel is not a tolerant society
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel dismally fails the requirements of a tolerant pluralistic society, according to a new report from the U.S. State Department. Despite boasting religious freedom and protection of all holy sites, Israel falls short in tolerance toward minorities, equal treatment of ethnic groups, openness toward various streams within society, and respect for holy and other sites.

Is Abbas just crying wolf again?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel - (Analysis) November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

Resignation, or rather the threat of resignation, is not an invention of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser used to wield the same weapon to boost his public support, and Yasser Arafat would from time to time threaten to quit just to shake up public opinion. It is true that Abbas sounded adamant on Thursday, but within the past year he has made decisive announcements on other matters only to backtrack later. He accepted the resignation of his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, only to reappoint him.

Lieberman satisfied with UN vote on Goldstone
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed his satisfaction Friday with the results of the United Nations General Assembly vote on a report which accuses Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza. "On the whole, we are satisfied with the fact that 18 countries, which are a moral majority, supported Israel's stance and 44 abstained and did not vote with the automatic majority," he said.

Hamas dismisses Abbas retirement plans
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' announcement that he won't seek reelection is merely a pressure tactic that merits no serious response, Hamas says. Abbas' retirement threat is directed mostly at his "American and Zionist friends," Hamas Spokesman Dr. Sami Abu Zuhari said. "Abbas sought to let them know that he is dissatisfied with their conduct." Israel and the US have alienated Abbas and are merely using him as a means for their advancing their plans, he said, noting that Abbas' decision is an internal Fatah matter.

Who can replace Abbas?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - (Opinion) November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

In the wake of Mahmoud Abbas' inclination not to run for-reelection as Palestinian Authority president, the rumor mill is working overtime in respect to possible replacements. Should Abbas follow through on his announcement, we may have to prepare for a new face near the negotiating table: Will it be the honorable President Mohammad Dahlan? Or perhaps Chairman Nasser al-Kudwa? And maybe even President-Prisoner Marwan Barghouti?

Palestinian president: A dream turned sour
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
(Opinion) November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

Whether he makes good on the pledge he made last night not to stand in next year's elections, or whether he is eventually persuaded to stay, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has had enough already. And it is clear why. He was elected nearly five years ago to negotiate a Palestinian state and has got nowhere, even with two Israeli governments who understand that the alternatives to his leadership are worse. But even the best Palestinian president that Israel is going to get could not stop settlement construction, an obligation Israel signed up to in 2003.

Mahmoud Abbas feels betrayed by Barack Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Telegraph
by Adrian Blomfield - (Analysis) November 6, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinian leader is a vital US ally and just about the only official in the occupied territories with whom Israel is prepared to negotiate. But the White House has done him few favours of late. Just six weeks ago, much to the delight of the Obama administration, Mr Abbas was enjoying a surprising renaissance. A successful congress of his Fatah party, which saw popular newcomers inducted into its hierarchy, and an impressive upswing in the economy had combined to convince many Palestinians to shift their support from the Islamists of Hamas to his moderate leadership.

From Initiating Peace to Managing Its Crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Abdullah Iskandar - (Opinion) November 5, 2009 - 1:00am

Barack Obama had great aspirations for change during his election campaign, ever since he was elected a year ago and also ever since he was inaugurated in the beginning of this year. These aspirations were then translated in our region into hopes that the peace process might be now resumed, on the basis of an assortment of ideas, and of the direct interest shown in the peace process [by the United States] through appointing personal envoy and through an unrelenting diplomatic endeavouring.

Abbas' absence would have a dramatic effect
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) November 2, 2009 - 1:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas [Abu Mazen] is known as the Palestinian politician most dedicated to a peacefully negotiated end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His possible absence from the scene could have serious implications for the peace process.

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