Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel's designation of two sites in Hebron, deep in the occupied West Bank, as National Heritage sites sparks EU, UN condemnation, clashes with Palestinians. More fallout from the Mabhouh assassination: EU condemns the killing; the UK offers help to identity theft victims; Dubai police say other Hamas officials played a crucial role and that Hamas must launch an internal probe; Hamas retracts accusations against the PA, rejects any internal probe and demands proof of Palestinian involvement; and the Times publishes a detailed account of the hit. PM Fayyad calls on the US to take urgent measures to stop Israeli raids, settlement activity. The PLO seeks further clarifications, assurances from the US on new talks, and Ghassan Khatib says clear terms of reference are essential. The EU is considering an initiative to recognize a Palestinian state in 18 months. Amira Hass says Israel is severing East Jerusalem from the West Bank. Ha'aretz interviews PM Netanyahu. Amir Oren says the US prefers to deal with Israeli military leaders rather than politicians. Donald Macintyre says better public relations won't improve Israel's image.

Clashes reported in Hebron over Israeli heritage decision
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli forces were reported in Hebron on Monday, as public figures declare a general strike across the city, amidst growing anger at the Israeli cabinet's decision to include two religious sites in the occupied West Bank, including Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque. Protesters in the southern part of the city set tires alight, while in the city center, an Israeli military outpost at the entrance of Ash-Shuhada' street, closed off to Palestinians, was pelted with stones. According to locals, Israeli soldiers used stun grenades against demonstrators.

Hamas to Dubai police: Prove collaborator claim
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Hamas said on Monday that Dubai Chief of Police Dahi Khalfan Tamim had yet to provide evidence that a collaborator from within the movement had supplied Mossad with information on Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, who was murdered in his Dubai hotel room in January. "Who is this person he speaks of, why haven't they disclosed his name and why wasn't he arrested like the two other Palestinians?" party sources said.

EU condemns Dubai killing and passports theft
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Luke Baker - February 22, 2010 - 1:00am

European Union foreign ministers condemned on Monday the use of forged European passports by assassins who killed a Palestinian militant in Dubai, but made no direct reference to Israel. Diplomatic sources said earlier on Monday that the statement was intended to censure Israel over its alleged involvement in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last month. Israel has declined to confirm or deny any involvement.

UK offers help to Israelis linked to Dubai killing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Aron Heller - February 21, 2010 - 1:00am

The British Embassy in Israel said Sunday it is giving new passports to six British nationals whose identities were stolen by the suspects in the slaying of a top Hamas operative in Dubai — a first step toward clearing their names and returning their lives to normal. The six Britons — and a seventh man whose name appeared on a German passport used by the alleged hit squad — have had their lives thrown into turmoil by the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last month. The seven, all dual citizens, have expressed anger and confusion and say they were victims of identity theft.

Palestinian PM urges Washington's pressure on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Sunday called on the United States to oblige Israel to take steps to pave the way for resuming stalled peace talks. Washington should take "tangible political movement" to stop the Israeli settlement, raids in the Palestinian-controlled areas and restrictions on the movement of goods and individuals, Fayyad said. Fayyad made his remarks at the reception of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew at his office in Ramallah.

Dubai police chief calls for internal Hamas probe: newspaper
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 21, 2010 - 1:00am

The chief of Dubai police called on Hamas to launch an internal inquiry into the murder of a top official at a Dubai hotel last month, an English newspaper of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported Sunday. A Hamas member played a significant role in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior commander of Hamas military wing the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades, Dahi Khalfan Tamim was quoted as saying by Gulf News. The Hamas man leaked information on al-Mabhouh's whereabouts to suspected assassins, he said.

Hamas rejects Dubai police's call for internal probe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 21, 2010 - 1:00am

Islamic Hamas movement rejected on Sunday what it called "allegations" by Dubai police chief that a Hamas member had leaked information which led to the killing of a senior Hamas commander in Dubai last month. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the "allegations" of Dahi Khalfan Tamim of Dubai police were "mere speculations that lack accuracy." Earlier, Tamim said that information regarding Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's arrival to Dubai was leaked to Israeli intelligence service Mossad through one of Hamas members.

Violence in Gaza flares up while PLO seeks U.S. guarantees to resume Middle East peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Saud Abu Ramadan, Emad Drimly - February 21, 2010 - 1:00am

Violence between Israel and the Palestinians had on Saturday mounted in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip while a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official said the Palestinians seek the U.S. guarantees to resume the stalled Middle East peace process. Palestinian and Israeli security sources said on Saturday that Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers traded fire near Gaza Strip-Israel borders east of the southern town of Khan Younis, wounding eight Palestinians, including two militants and six civilians.

EU initiative: Recognition of Palestinian state by next year
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - February 21, 2010 - 1:00am

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Spanish counterpart Miguel Moratinos are promoting an initiative by which the European Union would recognize a Palestinian state in 18 months, even before negotiations for a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are concluded. According to senior European diplomats and senior Israeli officials, Israel has relayed its opposition to the initiative - warning that it would undermine any chance of a successful peace process.

Is Israel severing East Jerusalem from the West Bank?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Analysis) February 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Blocked roads and asphalt that has been ripped open like a zipper can be seen everywhere in Ramallah these days. And whether or not the municipality bothers posting explanatory signs, people know what is being done - a new road, sewage pipes, a sidewalk.

Netanyahu to Haaretz: Palestinians seem to be backing down
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Interview) February 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu, a year into your term, observers seem to agree: You're an impressive survivor, but just a survivor. The government you lead has no vision, no destination. It's not going anywhere.

An American discovery
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amir Oren - (Analysis) February 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Toward the end of the visit to Israel last week by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, a senior officer in his delegation asked an Israeli counterpart to "protect" Mullen's friend. No translator was necessary. The reference was to the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi. The Americans count on him. Not that he would prevent a war over Iran. Rather, he would prevent the start of such a war. For the time being.

UN coordinator slams PM’s heritage plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
February 22, 2010 - 1:00am

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process has expressed concern over Israel's inclusion of Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs and Bethlehem's Rachel’s Tomb in the National Heritage Plan, and the "heightened tensions" that have resulted.

Killed Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh betrayed by associate, says Dubai police chief
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ian Black - February 21, 2010 - 1:00am

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Hamas official assassinated in Dubai, was betrayed by a close associate, the emirate's police chief claimed as it emerged today that the Palestinian's murderers used more fake Irish passports. Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim described whoever leaked details of Mahbouh's arrival to his assassins as "the real killer", Abu Dhabi's al-Khalij newspaper reported. Tamim said last week he was 99% certain Israel's Mossad secret service was responsible.

Killing blamed on Hamas traitor as passport showdown looms
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Ben Lynfield - February 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Hamas last night vigorously denied that a renegade from its own ranks helped set up the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room last month, a shock claim made by Dubai's police chief, as echoes from the killing and its investigation continued to resound in the Middle East and Europe.

Meir Dagan: the mastermind behind Mossad's secret war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Times
by Uzi Mahnaimi - February 21, 2010 - 1:00am

IN early January two black Audi A6 limousines drove up to the main gate of a building on a small hill in the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv: the headquarters of Mossad, the Israeli secret intelligence agency, known as the “midrasha”. Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, stepped out of his car and was greeted by Meir Dagan, the 64-year-old head of the agency. Dagan, who has walked with a stick since he was injured in action as a young man, led Netanyahu and a general to a briefing room.

We shouldn't rush into negotiations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Analysis) February 15, 2010 - 1:00am

In spite of the failure of US-led international efforts to secure the necessary conditions for a successful renewed peace process, pressure is increasing on the Palestinian side to accept going to negotiations anyway. This is in spite of continued Israeli settlement expansion and without any Israeli commitment to specific terms of reference such as previously signed agreements, the 2003 Quartet roadmap or relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

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