Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel arrests a leader of nonviolent opposition to the settlement barrier in the occupied West Bank, and disrupts the farewell ceremony for UNRWA's outgoing chief. Swedish officials say the EU resolution on Jerusalem is very close to their original proposal. Israeli military officials say Palestinians are trying to coerce Israel into accepting Palestinian statehood. More Israelis approve of Pres. Obama, but still do not feel that he supports Israel. The BBC looks at divisions between Fatah and Hamas in Nablus. Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti is profiled by the Independent. PM Salam Fayyad says Palestinians will not issue a unilateral Declaration of Independence. Gideon Levy says Israel is a "semi-theocracy." Michael Jansen says the Arabs should take advantage of the recent EU declaration on Jerusalem, and the Swedish ambassador to Jordan reaffirms European concerns about human rights in the occupied territories. Israeli FM Lieberman expresses sympathy with extremist settlers. In Bitter Lemons, Ghassan Khatib says Israeli pressure must be resisted, and Daniel Seidemann says the EU resolution is neither revolutionary nor trivial.

Israel seizes Bil'in anti-wall protest leader
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli forces seized Abdullah Abu Rahmah, a member of the Popular Committee against the Wall ofthe village of Bil’in early on Thursday, according to Palestinian Authority police. PA police said Abu Rahmah was seized from a house in the At-Tira neighborhood in Ramallah. Iyad Burnat, the head of Bil'in's Popular Committee confirmed that the arrest took place at around 2:30am. He said Abu Rahmah was likely taken to the military prison in the settlement of Ofer, on the outskirts of Ramallah. Abu Rahmah is a high school teacher in the Latin Patriarchate school in Birzeit near Ramallah.

Israeli forces disrupt UNRWA chief's farewell
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli police ordered outgoing UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd to leave an East Jerusalem home on Thursday during her last official visit as the head of the relief agency. Ma’an’s reporter on the scene said AbuZayd left after police gave her five minutes to evacuate the premises of the house of the Al-Kurd family, as a Palestinian woman yelled "We want our homes and our lands. We have no alternative."

Swedish consul: EU statement not changed from draft
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Sweden’s Consul General in Jerusalem dismissed reports on Wednesday that the language of an EU statement on the Middle East had changed significantly from its original text which his country authored. “There are very little substantive differences between the two,” Consul General Nils Eliasson said during an interview at Ma’an’s Bethlehem television studio. “I feel that it has been used as an excuse to avoid some of the main items of the conclusion yesterday to argue that it was weak compared to the original draft,” he added.

Defense officials: Palestinians trying to coerce Israel into accepting statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Defense establishment officials said Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority is orchestrating a diplomatic campaign with the international community to coerce Israel into accepting a political arrangement which would pave the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin, Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin and other top defense officials told ministers during a briefing at the political-security cabinet that the Palestinian Authority is trying to push Israel into a settlement "from above" by drawing in the international community.

Poll: More Israelis like Obama, but don't feel he supports them
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

U.S. President Barack Obama has a higher approval rating among Israelis than is widely believed, undercutting arguments he has lost Israeli public support for new peace efforts, a poll said on Thursday. The poll by the Washington-based New America Foundation found that 41 percent of Israelis had a favorable rating of Obama against 37 percent who rated him unfavorably.

Gideon Levy / Let's face the facts, Israel is a semi-theocracy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The storm over remarks made by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman is in many respects a tempest in a teapot, which has for a long time taken on holier aspects than it seems. Neeman wants Torah law, or in other words, he wants Israel to be a country governed by Jewish religious law, halakha. In any event, Israel is already a semi-theocracy. The Israelis who were frightened by the minister's remarks and who love viewing their country as liberal, Western and secular are forgetting that our life here is more religious, traditional and halakhic than we are prepared to admit.

EU warns Israel not to divide bloc over Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The European Union says Israel must not play "divide and rule" with the 27-member bloc over a recent resolution calling for Jerusalem to become the shared capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state following negotiations. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said Thursday the bloc was united and would not "remain shy" on so crucial an issue.

Divided loyalties in Nablus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Alan Johnston - December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The deep division between the Hamas and Fatah parties is not only confined to the Palestinian political arena. It often comes much closer to home, dividing families. Ahmad and Hamid know how that feels. They are brothers, and both rising figures in their local political scene. But one is climbing the ranks of Fatah, and the other, Hamas. The great Palestinian party political fault line runs through the home they share.

Jailed Fatah chief emerges as Palestinian presidential contender
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Ben Lynfield - December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Marwan Barghouti, the senior Fatah leader who could be set free in a prisoner swap with Israel, appears to be already testing the waters for a possible bid to succeed the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. In an interview yesterday in al-Quds newspaper, the charismatic leader criticised his rival for relying on negotiations alone in dealing with the Jewish state and said he is considering standing as a candidate if an agreement is reached to hold presidential elections.

Fayyad rejects unilateral statehood declaration
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority prime minister in a meeting with Jewish Council for Public Affairs leaders said he opposed a Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood. Salam Fayyad told a group of 15 JCPA leaders visiting Israel this week that he did support Palestinians unliaterally building infrastructure and political institutions in preparation for future statehood, and compared those efforts to the work of the founders of Israel before its statehood in 1948. The JCPA group also has met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders on the weeklong trip.

'A major EU interest'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - (Opinion) December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Deliberations on a statement on Palestine at this week’s European Union gathering of foreign ministers followed a familiar pattern. The bloc’s current Swedish presidency presented a text approved by the Palestinians and Arabs, and Israel did its best to weaken the document.

Building on achievements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Charlotta Sparre - (Opinion) December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Today is the international day of human rights, marking the anniversary of the United Nations adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Over the years, a whole system of human rights instruments and mechanisms has been developed to ensure the supremacy of human rights and to tackle human rights violations, wherever they may take place.

Next step regarding Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Forty-two years is a long time. Israel somehow thinks that with passing of time, and by passing unilateral laws, it can dictate history. This week, the Israeli arrogance in going against international will, which has been going on for so many years, seems to be facing a reality check. The next logical step is then for European Union countries to refuse to recognise any products produced in industrial zones created in East Jerusalem as coming from Israel.

Israeli minister says settlers' resistance 'natural'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

As Jewish settlers step up their resistance to a temporary and partial settlement construction freeze ordered last month by the Israeli government, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, yesterday said the opposition was “legitimate” and “natural”.

Israeli pressure must be resisted
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The council of European foreign ministers is currently debating a draft resolution drawn up by Sweden, holder of the rotating EU presidency, which is supposed to specify EU positions on different aspects of the Middle East conflict. The draft posits positions, including on the issue of Jerusalem, that have caused fierce debate in European policy-making circles. Such debate indicates that there is a growing feeling among Europeans in general as well as their governments that Israeli actions in Jerusalem are exceeding all acceptable limits and are in clear violation of international law.

A timely wake-up call
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
(Interview) December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

an interview with Mahdi Abdul Hadi bitterlemons: What do you make of the reported Swedish draft resolution on Jerusalem? Abdul Hadi: There are several elements to this issue. First of all, in presenting this resolution to European countries, Sweden is merely stating what Europe's position has always been, whether in public or private, which is within the framework of United Nations resolutions. bitterlemons: So there is nothing new in the resolution?

Neither revolutionary nor trivial
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Daniel Seidemann - (Opinion) December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The current episode in the never-ending saga of Jerusalem-related controversies relates to a leaked draft resolution implying that the Council of the European Union expects East Jerusalem to become the capital of a future Palestinian state. Banner headlines highlighted Israel's shock and dismay over this diplomatic "outrage". At this writing, PM Binyamin Netanyahu is pulling out all the diplomatic stops to convince the Europeans to retract the offending words; it is still not known if he will succeed.

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