Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Muslims, Christians and Jews combine on a major study of Jerusalem. Israeli PM Netanyahu angrily rejects any notion of Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood, and Israeli officials say West Bank territories could be unilaterally annexed. PLO officials say Pres. Abbas tenure could be extended, or that the PLO will assume the responsibilities of the PA. IDF chief rabbi says those who show mercy will be damned. The JTA profiles a new "planned" Palestinian city in the West Bank.

Unusual Partners Study Divisive Jerusalem Site
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - November 15, 2009 - 1:00am

At the heart of this contested city, the holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, has become, for many, the epicenter of the conflict between Israel, the Palestinians and the wider Muslim world. The mere mention of the place stirs passions and memories of centuries of bloodshed. Its alternative names evoke the depth of religious devotion and the competing claims.

Israel rejects Palestinian statehood bid via the UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority leaders say that they are launching a new diplomatic campaign to gain international backing for a Palestinian state, after which they will unilaterally declare statehood in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem – without waiting for a peace treaty with Israel. Israel pushed back Sunday, issuing a warning that such a declaration of statehood would destroy previous peace agreements and goodwill.

Abbas mandate as president could be extended: PLO official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Mahmud Abbas's mandate as Palestinian president, disputed by Hamas, could be extended to avoid a constitutional vacuum, a Palestinian official said on Sunday. "The PLO central committee will discuss the options to avoid a constitutional vacuum" at its meeting due to take place on December 15, Mohammed Dahlan told reporters in the West Bank town of Ramallah. "One of them (the options) is the extension of the mandate of president Abbas," said Dahlan, a member of both the committee and of the Palestinian leader's mainstream Fatah party.

Israeli ministers threaten to annex West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli ministers continued threatening to take unilateral measures if the Palestinian Authority (PA) declares statehood without a negotiated peace agreement. According to Israeli sources, Benjamin Netanyahu's administration may even consider withdrawing from the Oslo Accords. Israeli Minister of Environment Gilad Erian on Monday threatened to stop delivering taxes collected on behalf of the PA. He also threatened to erect more military checkpoints in the West Bank. "We will not allow the Palestinians to declare a state unilaterally."

Netanyahu: We too can act unilaterally
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinians are determined to build state institutions in preparation for statehood, caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in Ramallah on Sunday. Speaking alongside US officials, he dismissed Israeli concerns as irrelevant. "They're talking about unilateralism, to which we reply - yes, building state institutions is our responsibility and we embrace it," Fayyad said.

Report: US diplomats held up at checkpoint
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli soldiers manning new USAID-funded military checkpoint held up a convoy of US Consulate vehicles for several hours on Sunday, the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Maariv reported. The incident was apparently sparked when the diplomats refused to submit to a search, which Israeli soldiers were demanding at the new Jalamah crossing, which opened this week.

Netanyahu: If Palestinians act unilaterally, so will Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Israel would respond to any unilateral Palestinian steps - particularly declarations of statehood - with one-sided steps of its own. This was the prime minister's first response to a Palestinian initiative to ask the United Nations Security Council to endorse a Palestinian state, seen as an appeal for international backing.

IDF Chief Rabbi: Troops who show mercy to enemy will be 'damned'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anshel Pfeffer - November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

The Israel Defense Forces' chief rabbi told students in a pre-army yeshiva program last week that soldiers who "show mercy" toward the enemy in wartime will be "damned." Brig. Gen. Avichai Rontzki also told the yeshiva students that religious individuals made better combat troops.

Erekat: Determined to declare state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinians are making it clear that they will not hesitate to take their fate into their own hands: Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Sunday said the Palestinians are determined to obtain the international support necessary to approach the UN Security Council with the demand to declare a Palestinian state in the borders of June 1967.

PA confirms PLO to take over parliament
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Political maneuver against Hamas: Salim Zanoun, chairman of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), confirmed Sunday evening that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was planning to take over the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The plan was first revealed by Ynet on Saturday. Zanoun, who spoke to Palestinian trade unions in the West Bank city of Nablus, confirmed that the PNC would decide in its meeting next month to transfer the authorities of the PLC to the PLO's Central Council.

Press split on Palestinian statehood move
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Arab and Israeli press commentators are divided over a possible move by Palestinian leaders to ask the UN to recognise an independent Palestinian state. They have also been considering the warning issued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israeli countermeasures. Some in the Arab world feel that the Palestinians have been left with little alternative, since Middle East peace talks have "gone astray" and "reached gridlock".

Israel 'personally attacking human rights group' after Gaza war criticism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Chris McGreal - November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

America's leading human rights organisation has accused Israel and its supporters of an "organised campaign" of false allegations and misinformation, including "extremely personal attacks" on its staff, in an attempt to discredit the group over its reports of war crimes in Gaza.

Palestinian push for an independent state causes Israeli alarm
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Donald MacIntyre - (Interview) November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian leaders from President Mahmoud Abbas down have alarmed Israeli ministers by swinging their weight behind a planned effort to secure UN backing for a unilaterally declared independent state in the West Bank and Gaza. In an innovative strategy which would not depend on the success of currently stalled negotiations with Israel, the leaders are preparing a push to secure formal UN Security Council support for a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders as a crucial first step towards the formation of a state.

Plans for new Palestinian city in West Bank raise hopes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Dina Kraft - November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Dusk has fallen on a terraced hillside and workers clearing the red earth hurry to finish planting trees in the twilight, their labor the initial step in the construction of the first-ever planned Palestinian city. The city, with a construction price tag of some $350 million, already has its city limits registered, a name -- Rawabi, Arabic for hills -- and funding from the government of Qatar. It’s located about five miles north of Ramallah.

Watchdogs target left-wing Israeli university scholars
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - (Opinion) November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Right-wing groups in Israel want to create a climate of fear among left-wing scholars at Israeli universities by emulating the “witch-hunt” tactics of the US academic monitoring group Campus Watch, Israeli professors warn. The watchdog groups IsraCampus and Israel Academia Monitor are believed to be stepping up campaigns after the recent publication in a US newspaper of an Israeli professor’s call to boycott Israel.

Washington Committed to Middle East Peace Process- US Officials
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Mina Al-Oraibi - (Opinion) November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Many questions are being asked whether it is possible to resume peace negotiations in the Middle East that can achieve real and concrete results after the peace process has been faltering over the past few months. A total of 10 months have passed since US President Barack Obama announced his determination to bring peace to the Middle East on his first day in the White House. However, there have been no indications that such a peace would be reached.

New voices for Palestinian conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Adel Safty - (Opinion) November 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Although the peace process is at an impasse, two recent debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have started to redefine some of the most fundamental issues of the conflict: the first started in the US and focuses on the nature and appropriateness of the unconditional American support for Israel; the second is taking place in Israel itself and addresses such fundamental issues as the very nature of being a Jewish state, and, crucially, the wrongs the Palestinian people have suffered.

Between a rock and a hard place
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) November 16, 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 (PA) leadership may follow – in effect dissolving the PA – should provide some indication.This seems to many to be the only real remaining weapon the Palestinian leadership has, albeit something of a doomsday scenario. Abbas and the others clearly feel all their other options have been systematically foreclosed.

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