Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Palestinians commemorate the fifth anniversary of the death of Pres. Arafat, and debate the possibility of a unilateral declaration of statehood. Hamas reiterates that it will never negotiate with Israel, and bans all public commemorations in Gaza of Arafat's death. Tony Blair welcomes the latest economic progress in the West Bank, while the New York Times profiles the struggle of Gaza shopkeepers. White House officials express disappointment at the meeting between Pres. Obama and PM Netanyahu. Israeli military intelligence is re-examining the notorious "Lavon Affair" of the 1950s in which Israel plotted terrorist attacks against Western targets in Egypt. The JTA argues that Obama has quietly adopted Israel's position on negotiations without preconditions. In Bitter Lemons, Ghassan Khatib explains that a settlement freeze is crucial to peace negotiations. On the Washington Post website, Hussein Ibish tries to explain the frustrations of the Palestinian leadership and people.

A Chronicle of Gaza, in Kitsch Form
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Dan Williams - November 10, 2009 - 1:00am

“I can offer you a discount on the headbands,” said Tareq Abu Dayyeh, souvenir-store owner. “They’re just like the kind used by suicide bombers.” He was making a sales pitch at his Chairman Arafat Shop, one of Gaza’s oddest commercial outlets. A battery-powered, dancing Osama bin Laden doll occupies a shelf above Barack Obama coffee mugs emblazoned with a misspelling of the U.S. president’s middle name: “Abu Hussain Palestine Loves You.” A plastic Virgin Mary and Jordan River holy water share space with plaques depicting the Dome of the Rock, the foremost Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.

Blair Hails Economic Steps in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - November 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinians marked two significant economic breakthroughs on Tuesday, counterpoints to the growing crisis in peace negotiations with Israel: a second cellphone company opened, with a planned investment of hundreds of millions of dollars; and a long-closed crossing point from Israel opened to limited motor traffic.

Arafat celebrated five years after death
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

More than 13,000 Palestinians gathered in Ramallah on Wednesday to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. Large crowds packed into the Presidential Compound to hear a memorial from President Mahmoud Abbas, who donned a white ball cap emblazoned with the flag of Palestine and a black and white kuffeyeh as he addressed the crowd for what many anticipated to be a historic speech. Rumors spread before the event that Abbas would announce his resignation, precipitating the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority.

Declaring a state? Palestinian leaders weigh in
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinian National Council proclaimed the establishment of a Palestinian state during a meeting in Algiers on 15 November 1988. Like the declaration of a Palestinian state in Gaza in 1948 amidst the war with the nascent Israeli state, the 1988 declaration has little practical meaning today. For whatever reason, recent media speculation has raised the notion that Palestinian leaders could make another such declaration in the current political climate.

Hamas says never to negotiate with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian Islamic Hamas movement said Tuesday it will never negotiate with Israel, slamming Palestinian officials who warned of possible talks between the Islamic movement and the Jewish state. "Hamas will not negotiate with the (Israeli) occupation and will not be the lifeboat for Oslo team," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, referring to the Palestinian National Authority's(PNA) negotiation with Israel under the Oslo accords since 1993.

Hamas said to ban Arafat death commemorations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
November 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza has banned all public commemoration of Yasser Arafat's death this year, officials with the rival secular Fatah group said on Tuesday. Wednesday will mark five years since Arafat, the revered Palestinian leader and founder of Fatah, died in a Paris military hospital at the age of 75. "The (Hamas) internal security forces have summoned dozens members of the (Fatah) movement in the Gaza Strip to tell them that all commemoration of Abu Ammar's (Arafat's) death has been banned," a senior Fatah official told AFP.

Washington disappointed: Netanyahu didn't present concrete steps
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

The White House expressed disappointment in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent visit to Washington, with officials saying that they had hoped that the prime minister would present a concrete plan to scale back Israeli construction in West Bank settlements, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Comment / Obama's good intentions lead nowhere
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Shlomo Avineri - (Opinion) November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

After nine months of gestation, it's not too early to make a preliminary assessment of the Obama administration's foreign policy. The overall feeling is one of disappointment, especially in light of the almost messianic excitement that accompanied his election. It's clear to everyone that U.S. President Barack Obama is not George W. Bush, and the international mood regarding the United States has certainly changed for the better, even in the absence of any real breakthroughs. This is why he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

MI figures out what went wrong in Lavon affair - 55 years later
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Fifty-five years after the notorious failure of an Israeli sabotage operation in Egypt, Military Intelligence has finally gotten around to figuring out what went wrong. The answer? Pretty much everything. An educational presentation about the 1954 Lavon affair prepared by the MI history and heritage division found that MI had not sufficiently trained the members of the sabotage unit, who were mostly amateurs and included several Egyptian Jews, and had failed to give them cover stories, plan escape routes or otherwise plan for the possibility that they would be caught.

Dahlan: We may seek UN resolution on Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - November 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Taking steps towards statehood? The Palestinian Authority is looking into the possibility of turning to the Security Council and urging it to adopt a resolution recognizing the Palestinian state’s borders, senior Fatah member Mohammad Dahlan said Tuesday. The PA will seek a state in line with the 1967 borders, including east Jerusalem, Dahlan said. He added that all options were open at this time, including the possibility of a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence.

'Israel is an ally, not problem of US'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Senior Israel officials on Wednesday adamantly rejected the latest media speculation over bad blood between Jerusalem and Washington, backed by one US official expressing anger at the Israeli leader's conduct in the past week, which might have brought on the possibly punitive blackout imposed on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's 100-minute talk with US President Barack Obama.

Obama shifts to Israel’s corner, but tries not to show it
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Uriel Heilman - November 10, 2009 - 1:00am

When the White House chief of staff took to the podium at the federations’ General Assembly to call for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without preconditions, he sounded almost exactly like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a day earlier. "All issues should be resolved through negotiations," Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday to delegates at the Jewish Federations of North America's annual meeting. "No one should allow the issue of settlements to distract from the overarching goal of lasting peace."

Top Obama aide upbeat on Middle East peace deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Steven Stanek - November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Even as US-backed peace efforts in the Middle East appear to be losing momentum, the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, told American Jewish community leaders yesterday that the peace process has reached a critical juncture and that both sides should move forward immediately with negotiations. “This moment is fragile. History tells us that nothing stands still in the Middle East,” Mr Emanuel, the son of an Israeli Jew, told the annual gathering of the Jewish Federations of North America, an umbrella group of more than 500 Jewish federations and communities.

Abbas is playing a bluff with few cards
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Craig Nelson - November 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The year was 1990, and the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, was dragging his feet yet again on committing his government to talks with the Palestinians aimed at setting a date for a peace conference. In a fit of frustration, James Baker, who was the US secretary of state, turned to Israeli officials and uttered those now famous and – as it turns out – tragically rare words from the mouth of a top US official: “When you’re serious about peace, give us a call.”

Prospects for peace against the wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) November 10, 2009 - 1:00am

It was moving to see a group of Palestinians tear down a section of the separation wall on Monday. They were sending a message to the Israelis: the Palestinians will not disappear just because you can no longer see them. Unfortunately, Israel doesn’t appear to be in the listening mood.

Adieu President Abbas?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Osama Al-Sharif - November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

It is probably ironic that the only direct, and most likely genuine, plea with Mahmoud Abbas to stay on and rescind his decision not to contest next year’s elections, came not from his close Arab and Western allies, but from Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Settlement construction contradicts negotiations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

The issues of Israeli settlement activity and the need for a settlement construction freeze are again at the top of the political agenda.

Palestinian despair for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

It is almost impossible to adequately convey the present degree of Palestinian despair, but the recent announcement that President Mahmoud Abbas might resign and that the rest of the Palestinian Authority leadership may follow -- in effect dissolving the PA -- should provide some indication.

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