Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Today's news is dominated by controversy surrounding the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh: Mossad comes under fire in Israel for its tactics and competency; Dubai says it's 99% sure Israel is responsible; European states demand explanations over fake passports; accusations grow that other Hamas officials were involved; Brian Whitaker profiles the victim and Robert Fisk questions Britain's role. Israel tries to mobilize ordinary citizens for public diplomacy. Erwin Chemerinsky says shouting down is not free speech. Bill Fletcher Jr. says the world should support Palestinian nonviolent protests. The PA Economy Minister urges a boycott of settlement goods in Italy. Palestinian FM al-Maliki hints at indirect negotiations with Israel. Larry Derfner says Israeli youths are being trained to be bullies. The Red Cross condemns the occupation. Ali Ibrahim says the PA is not more corrupt than Hamas but allows more public criticism, and Daoud Kuttab says that Fatah should follow the anti-corruption example of PM Fayyad.

Israelis Share Suspicions in Hamas Leader’s Killing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - February 17, 2010 - 1:00am

The initial nods, winks and pats on the back here over the assassination last month of a senior Hamas official in Dubai are turning to puzzlement and concern as mounting evidence, including extensive surveillance videos, points to a remarkably clumsy operation many Israelis deem unworthy of their intelligence service, Mossad.

Positive Views of Israel, Brought to You by Israelis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - February 17, 2010 - 1:00am

The Israeli government, deeply worried about the country’s declining international image, began a campaign on Wednesday to turn every Israeli — and ultimately every Jew — into a traveling public relations agent. With a Web site backed by an advertising blitz, the Information and Diaspora Affairs Ministry began issuing Hebrew-language pamphlets to passengers on Israeli airlines and offering coaching courses to groups heading abroad. The message: “Are you fed up with the way we are portrayed around the world? You can change the picture.”

Fake passports fuel questions about Israeli role in Hamas official's slaying
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - February 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Pressure mounted Wednesday for Israel to respond to speculation that its Mossad spy agency killed a Hamas operative in a Dubai hotel last month, with Britain's prime minister promising to investigate the use of forged British passports by the alleged assassins and analysts in Israel taking unusual aim at the country's vaunted undercover organization.

Use of citizens' identities in assassination roils Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - February 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel has seldom shied from attacking its enemies -- even if it takes years, even on foreign soil, even if it sours relations with allies. Israeli citizens for the most part have supported such policies and cheered their internationally respected spy agency, the Mossad, which obtained legendary status after hunting down and killing the terrorists responsible for the slaying of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

UC Irvine's free speech debate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Erwin Chemerinsky - (Opinion) February 18, 2010 - 1:00am

College campuses, especially at public universities, are places where all ideas should be expressed and debated. No speech ever should be stopped or punished because of the viewpoint expressed. Of course, there must be rules to regulate the time, place and manner of such expression to preserve order and even to make sure that speech can occur.

Don't deny peaceful protests in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from CNN
by Bill Fletcher Jr. - (Opinion) February 17, 2010 - 1:00am

Every year, beginning with the January birthday celebrations for the Rev. Martin Luther King and moving through Black History Month in February, Americans and others revisit the history, role and significance of the black freedom movement in the United States. But there is a frequent tendency to misrepresent the lessons of that movement and apply them to other social movements overseas in a way that misses the mark. This has been happening increasingly with the historical lessons that are being misapplied to the Palestinian freedom movement.

PA minister urges Italy to boycott settlement goods
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority Economy Minister Dr Hassan Abu Libda on Wednesday brainstormed ways to educate the Italian public about Israeli settlement products and strategies to boycott them in the country. A delegation, visiting the Ramallah Ministry of the National Economy headquarters, was lead by a deputy from the Italian foreign minister's office, a statement said Wednesday. The group met with an agenda to strengthen Italian-Palestinian relations, and directly addressed the issue of a boycott of settlement goods, a statement said.

Dubai says 99 pct sure Israel behind Hamas killing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
February 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Dubai's police chief said he was 99 percent certain that Israel was involved in the January killing of a Hamas militant at a Dubai luxury hotel, according to an Emirati newspaper on Thursday. "Our investigations reveal that Mossad is involved in the murder of (Mahmoud) al-Mabhouh. It is 99 percent, if not 100 percent, that Mossad is standing behind the murder," police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim told The National newspaper.

Palestinian FM hints at indirect talks with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 17, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh al-Maliki on Wednesday hinted at the possibility of holding indirect negotiation with Israel, but said it won't be an alternative to the face-to-face talks. Al-Maliki said the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is still waiting clarifications from the United States which has proposed the indirect negotiations in a bid to revive the Israeli- Palestinian peace process, stalled since December 2008. "If the U.S. response was positive, then the indirect talks would not be a final alternative to the direct talks," al-Maliki told reporters in Ramallah.

Training our boys to be bullies
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - (Opinion) February 17, 2010 - 1:00am

The main thing that drew me to Israel was that here, you put your life on the line in a great political struggle, unlike in the West, where political struggle is something you talk about from a safe distance.

ICRC condemns Israeli occupation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
February 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Israeli restrictions make normal life "close to impossible" for many West Bank Palestinians, the International Committee of the Red Cross has said. Some Palestinians are often unable to reach a hospital or visit relatives, while 50% live in poverty, it said. They are also frequently harassed by Jewish settlers, the organisation said. An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said the ICRC had ignored statements by the Palestinian Authority that West Bank residents lived a "normal life".

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's murky world
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Brian Whitaker - (Opinion) February 17, 2010 - 1:00am

Murder is a serious matter but amid tales of forged passports, not to mention the suspects' use of wigs and glasses for disguise, there's more than a touch of the Hollywood thriller about Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's killing. Already fingers are being pointed at the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad – and not without reason. Israel had an obvious motive (Mabhouh was a senior Hamas figure wanted by Israel but living out of reach in Syria) as well as the form (numerous assassinations and other exploits in various countries, such as the arrest of Mordechai Vanunu).

Hamas official accused of helping Mossad hit squad
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ian Black, Kate Connolly, Paul Lewis - February 17, 2010 - 1:00am

A key security operative of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas was under arrest in Syria tonight on suspicion of having helped an alleged Israeli hit squad identify Mahmoud al-Mabhouh before he was assassinated in Dubai, the Guardian has learned. Palestinian sources in the Gulf confirmed Nahro Massoud, a Hamas security official, was in detention and under interrogation in Damascus in connection with the 19 January killing, which is now widely assumed to have been mounted by Israel's Mossad secret intelligence service.

Britain's explanation is riddled with inconsistencies. It's time to come clean
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Robert Fisk - (Opinion) February 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Collusion. That's what it's all about. The United Arab Emirates suspect – only suspect, mark you – that Europe's "security collaboration" with Israel has crossed a line into illegality, where British passports (and those of other other EU nations) can now be used to send Israeli agents into the Gulf to kill Israel's enemies. At 3.49pm yesterday afternoon (Beirut time, 1.49pm in London), my Lebanese phone rang. It was a source – impeccable, I know him, he spoke with the authority I know he has in Abu Dhabi – to say that "the British passports are real.

Palestinian Dubai Murder Suspects are Hamas Members – Palestinian Security Official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Mohamed Al-Du'ma, Kifah Zaboun - February 17, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority police spokesman General Adnan al-Dameeri played down Hamas's accusations that the two Palestinians who have been arrested in Dubai on suspicion of participating in the assassination of senior Hamas member Mahmoud al-Mabhouh were working for the Palestinian Authority security forces.

Corruption…The Conflict between Ramallah and Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Ali Ibrahim - (Opinion) February 17, 2010 - 1:00am

The decision taken by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to suspend his chief of staff as a result of the case created by the dissident Palestinian intelligence officer who revealed violations and corruption committed by officials in the Palestinian Authority on Israeli television was most certainly the right decision. However we must take into account that a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty and it is the task of the commission of inquiry to investigate this and this commission is scheduled to submit its report within three weeks.

Fatehgate - between fact and fiction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) February 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Corruption has always been the Achilles heel of the Palestinian leadership. At the height of PLO’s popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, the relationship between revolution and money was the movement’s major weakness. Well-respected Palestinian artist Kamal Boulatta best reflected this dichotomy in his painting mixing the words thawra (revolution) and tharwa (riches).

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