Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Hussein Ibish explains why Palestine must be a secular state. Hamas clears itself of Goldstone report war crimes charges. PM Netanyahu says Israel's relief efforts in Haiti have boosted its image. Israel appoints a more moderate chief military rabbi. Pres. Abbas says the Palestinian capital must be in Jerusalem. An outspoken Palestinian MK denounces Holocaust denial. Gideon Levy says Holocaust remembrance cannot excuse the occupation, and Ha'aretz says settlers who attacked Palestinians are terrorists. At Davos the head of the Arab League presses for a Palestinian state. The long-neglected cinema in Jenin is being renovated. A financial dispute threatens a key Gaza power plant. The new Fatah charter does not call for the elimination of Israel. Israel plans to relocate the separation barrier at the site of nonviolent protests. Palestinians are divided in supporting the Egyptian and Algerian soccer teams. Gaza fishermen defy dangers. The Jordan Times backs PM Fayyad's warning on peace, and Daoud Kuttab says Jerusalem is the key. Hani Almadhoun says Hamas benefits from the siege of Gaza.

Palestine must be a secular state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

As Palestinians press the international community to live up to its commitment to ensuring the establishment of an independent Palestine alongside Israel, conversation is intensifying about the character of this new state. In their own interests, Palestinians should buck the regional trend towards religious politics and ensure, from the outset, that it is firmly and irrevocably a secular state.

Hamas clears itself of UN Gaza war crimes charges
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

The Islamist Hamas movement said Wednesday it has investigated allegations in a UN report into last winter's Gaza war and absolved Palestinian armed groups of any atrocities. The UN Human Rights Council report authored by the respected former international prosecutor Richard Goldstone accused both Israel and Palestinian groups of war crimes during the devastating 22-day conflict.

Netanyahu sees Israel image boost in Haiti relief
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jeffrey Heller - January 28, 2010 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday an Israeli army field hospital that treated earthquake victims in Haiti had given Israel an image boost, after allegations of war crimes in the Gaza conflict. "Especially at a time when there are those plotting against us, distorting facts and slandering us, you showed the real face of the Israel Defence Forces," Netanyahu said at an airport ceremony welcoming home the military medical team.

Israel names new chief military rabbi
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ben Hubbard - January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel on Wednesday appointed a new chief military rabbi to replace a polarizing figure critics say injected a militant mix of religion and nationalism into the secular institution. The new cleric is seen as more moderate than his predecessor, but he's clearly no liberal. Lt. Col. Rafi Peretz is a former Jewish settler in the Gaza Strip and opposed Israel's 2005 withdrawal from the territory.

Arab MK slams Holocaust denial, wins praise from Jewish colleagues
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List - Ta'al), one of the most vocal critics of government policy in the Palestinian territories, evoked praise from his fellow lawmakers after delivering what Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin called "one of the best speeches he has ever heard in the plenum" about the Holocaust.

Abbas: Palestinians will accept only Jerusalem as our capital
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
January 28, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared on Thursday that Palestinians would not accept any alternative to Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, despite other proposals. Abbas told Russian television that Jerusalem should not be divided and that there should be free passage for people of various faiths. The Palestinian leader added it must be made clear what belongs to the Palestinians and what belongs to Israel.

Holocaust remembrance is a boon for Israeli propaganda
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) January 28, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel's bigwigs attacked at dawn on a wide front. The president in Germany, the prime minister with a giant entourage in Poland, the foreign minister in Hungary, his deputy in Slovakia, the culture minister in France, the information minister at the United Nations, and even the Likud party's Druze Knesset member, Ayoob Kara, in Italy. They were all out there to make florid speeches about the Holocaust.

Badge of terror
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) January 28, 2010 - 1:00am

There is no way to describe the West Bank settlers' attack on the Palestinian village of Bitilu but as a well-planned terror attack. The settlers' "military" organization and violent resistance to the cabinet decision to destroy the illegal outpost of Givat Menachem, as described by Chaim Levinson in Haaretz yesterday, are no different from the activities of other terrorist organizations.

Arab League chief presses for Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
January 28, 2010 - 1:00am

Arab League chief Amr Moussa said Wednesday that if a Palestinian state is not established soon there will be a single state for Israelis and Palestinians. "We cannot just continue to raise the flag of two states living next to each other in peace," he told a panel on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Renovated cinema to bring new life to Jenin
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Jon Donnison - January 28, 2010 - 1:00am

Standing in the dusty, half-lit lobby of Cinema Jenin with paint splattered builders beavering away all around, it's hard to imagine that this venue was once the place to be on the Jenin social scene. The cinema in the centre of the West Bank city was first opened in 1957. But over the years, Jenin has seen some of the worst violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and the cinema was eventually forced to close during the first Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, in the mid 1980s. But now it is being renovated, and is due to re-open in August 2010.

Gaza key power plant could shut over money row
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

A money dispute between the rival Palestinian governments is threatening to shut down Gaza's only power plant. The dispute pits the internationally backed government of the West Bank against Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers. The plant provides power to much of northern Gaza. The European Union used to pay for the plant's fuel as part of an aid package to the Palestinian Authority. However, the EU decided to start scaling back and said it wants the Palestinian Authority to find other ways to pay for the fuel. The Palestinian Authority demands that Hamas pay its share.

Rattling the Cage: Segregation blues
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - (Opinion) January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

I spent the day in Nazareth recently, doing a story about Israeli Arabs in hi-tech, and when I got in the car with the (Jewish) photographer to leave, I said to him, "Isn't it a relief to talk to Arabs as regular people?" He smiled in agreement.

New Fatah charter omits language on Israel’s demise
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

The new Fatah charter maintains a militant tone but emphasizes democratization and omits language in earlier documents that called for Israel's destruction. The office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence translated the document that emerged from Fatah's council in Bethlehem last summer, and Secrecy News, a project of the Federation of American Scientists watchdog group, obtained a copy and published it Wednesday.

Israelis To Move Security Barrier At Site of Palestinian Protests
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Jeffay - January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

Two-and-a-half years after a Supreme Court order, Israel’s army is preparing to adjust the route of the long security barrier it has constructed on the West Bank at a key flashpoint where a fence cuts off Palestinian villagers from their own land.

Algeria v Egypt clash is dividing Palestinian supporters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

It may only be a football game and it does not even involve their own team. Even so, Palestinians will be eagerly awaiting the Algeria versus Egypt clash tonight in the semi-final of the African Cup of Nations, and support will be divided and highly partisan. The game is a repeat of the two countries’ highly charged World Cup qualification games two months ago, when violence flared causing Egypt to withdraw its ambassador from Algeria. The two countries have since mended relations, but a footballing rivalry that dates back decades will not be quelled so easily.

Gaza fishermen risk lives for survival
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Erin Cunningham - January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

While the rest of the Gaza Strip is deep in slumber, Fathi Sayadi, 30, and his brother, Hatem, 26, steal away under the cover of darkness and into neighbouring Egyptian waters. Using small, dinghy-style boats purchased especially for their covert missions, the Sayadis slip across the border with Egypt, returning to the Gaza Strip with their contraband just before dawn.

Where the problem lies
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Editorial) January 28, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is right to warn Europeans that the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, such as it is, is headed for failure. He is also absolutely right in his prescription. Israel is not serious about finding an equitable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; until such time, talks are pointless. Moreover, while building the institutions of state is an important task and one that Europeans have been particularly keen on supporting, it is not an alternative to ending the occupation. This is a message that Europeans would do well to heed.

At the centre of peace efforts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) January 28, 2010 - 1:00am

As negotiators and politicians wonder who needs to do what before moving, it is clear that all good minds and good people should focus on one issue: how to resolve the conflict over Jerusalem. If the 1980s and 1990s witnessed a relatively nonviolent first Palestinian uprising and a breakthrough mutual recognition between the PLO and Israel, the first 10 years of the third millennium were violent and destructive. The decades-long hard work and sacrifice of Palestinians, Israelis and international supporters of peace evaporated almost overnight.

The Upsides of the Siege for Hamas: An Honest Assessment
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Hani Almadhoun - (Blog) January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

Spending more than four months in Gaza with not much to do but observe the situation on the ground, I interacted with the Palestinian people in Gaza, listened to Israeli jets fly over, noticed minimal Israeli military campaigns against Hamas, and did not see nor hear news of any significant homemade rockets. One cannot help but conclude that there is a sort of unspoken ceasefire between Hamas, the local ruling party, and the Israelis.

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