Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel's mayor is attempting to relocate Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem as Israel is planning more settlement activity. Clashes continue in Hebron over Israel's claim on holy sites, PM Netanyahu seeks to defuse tension, and J.J. Goldberg says this is the last thing Israel needs. The UAE seeks justice in the Mabhouh assassination but has no leverage, as Israel faces a mounting international backlash. Some Palestinians in Gaza favor closing smuggling tunnels. The UN is not satisfied with either Israel's or Hamas' responses to the Goldstone report. The PA denies that proximity talks will begin next week. Hamas bars a Fatah delegation from visiting Gaza. A newspaper claims Special Envoy Mitchell sought to resign. PLO officials threaten to adopt a one-state policy. A poll suggests growing support for Israel in the United States. Henry Siegman says Israel's legitimacy and future as a Jewish state depends on a two-state agreement. The EU rules that settlement goods are not Israeli. Tariq Alhomayed says the Palestinian issue is a source of emotional blackmail. Palestinians in Lebanon form a new faction.

Mayor’s Housing Offer Sets Off Row in Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - February 25, 2010 - 1:00am

The mayor of Jerusalem is offering 120 Palestinian families in a jumble of houses scheduled for demolition a deal he believes they can’t refuse: new apartments atop shops and restaurants, a day care center, boutique hotels and a huge park. Tourists and income will flow. It is — as the mayor likes to say — win-win.

More Clashes Over Israeli Claim to Shrine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - February 25, 2010 - 1:00am

Dozens of Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli forces for a fourth day on Thursday at various locations in this volatile city over the inclusion of a hotly contested religious shrine here, the Cave of the Patriarchs, in a list of places earmarked for renovation as Jewish heritage sites.

Dubai assassination: UAE demands justice but with what leverage?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Carol Huang - February 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Diplomatic tensions are heating up over the forged European passports used by a hit squad that came to Dubai to murder of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. But there's not a lot that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can do beyond complaining to European ambassadors. The focus now is mostly on European countries calling in Israeli diplomats, and the European Union, which today issued a public condemnation of the use of forged passports.

Close Gaza tunnels? Some Palestinians say yes.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Erin Cunningham - February 25, 2010 - 1:00am

When Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak confirmed in late January that his government was planning a new wall along Egypt's border with Gaza that will descend 100 feet below the surface – to shut down the Gaza tunnels that have smuggled trade goods, people, and weapons under the border for years – merchants here rushed to stock up. Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, dubbed the structure "the wall of death."

Pressure On Israel Increases Over Death
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Chip Cummins, Joshua Mitnick - February 26, 2010 - 1:00am

International pressure on Israel mounted as the probe into the alleged murder of a top Hamas leader in Dubai reached American and Australian shores. On Thursday, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith summoned Israel's ambassador and demanded his help in investigating how three Australian passports ended up linked to the death. That followed Dubai's disclosure Wednesday that it had identified 15 more passports, including the Australian documents, carried by suspects in the case, bringing the total number to 26.

Israel plans more homes for East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Allyn Fisher-Ilan - February 26, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel has plans to build another 600 homes in occupied land it considers part of East Jerusalem, the Haaretz daily newspaper reported on Friday. The plan approved by a district planning commission could further stymie U.S.-brokered efforts to renew stalled peace talks as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who has insisted on a total settlement freeze including in Jerusalem. Israeli spokesmen for the Jerusalem municipality and the Interior Ministry that oversees the planning commission were not immediately available for comment.

Israeli PM tries to ease 'heritage site' tensions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Tia Goldenberg - February 26, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel's prime minister tried Thursday to calm tensions over the addition of two West Bank shrines to a list of national heritage sites, a decision that has sparked clashes with the Palestinians and drawn widespread international criticism. In an interview to Israeli TV, Benjamin Netanyahu called the affair a "misunderstanding," saying there was no intention to infringe on Muslim freedom of worship. He said the intent was to protect and maintain the sites.

Israel, Palestinians likely to receive more time for Gaza inquiries
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by David Harris - February 25, 2010 - 1:00am

The fighting that rocked civilians in and around Gaza 14 months ago will be revisited once again on Friday when the United Nations General Assembly is slated to discuss the roles played by Israel and the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement Hamas. While UN member states are likely to agree to give the two sides more time to conduct investigation, it's doubted that the further probe could get any substantial result.

PNA denies indirect talks to start next week
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 25, 2010 - 1:00am

A Palestinian official on Thursday denied reports that indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) were going to start next week. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said President Mahmoud Abbas is still in an Arabian and European tour to discuss about the U.S. offer to hold the indirect negotiations. "How can a decision be taken while President Abbas has not yet ended his consultations?" Erekat wondered. Earlier, an Israeli newspaper quoted Palestinian sources as saying the negotiations would start next week.

Hamas bars Fatah delegation from visiting Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 25, 2010 - 1:00am

Islamic Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, told mediators that a delegation from President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party will not be allowed into Gaza, a member of the delegation said Thursday. Amal Hamad, who was supposed to be in Gaza along with six Gaza native colleagues, said Hamas had told mediators that Fatah must stop arresting Hamas supporters in the West Bank before letting any leading member of the movement into Gaza. "Nobody has the right to prevent any Palestinian citizen from visiting Gaza," Hamad told Xinhua.

Arab source: Mitchell wanted to quit over U.S. bias for Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jack Khoury - February 26, 2010 - 1:00am

An Arab political source said Friday that special U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell has requested to resign due to his frustration with the way the Obama administration has been handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a Nazareth-based daily. Hadith a-Nass reported that Mitchell's request stemmed partly from to his own failure to advance the resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and also from his perception that certain elements within the State Department hold biased favor toward Israel.

Palestinians threaten to adopt one-state solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - February 26, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority has warned that it may abandon its support of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which outlines a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, and instead pursue the creation of a binational state between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, according to a document drafted by the PA's veteran chief negotiator. The paper, entitled "The Political Situation in Light of Developments with the U.S. Administration and Israeli Government and Hamas's Continued Coup d'etat," was written by Saeb Erekat in December 2009.

Israel enjoys near record support in US, Gallup finds
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Haviv Rettig Gur - February 25, 2010 - 1:00am

Support for Israel among Americans is at a 19-year high, a February Gallup survey of American attitudes toward international affairs has found. According to the telephone survey of 1,025 American adults conducted February 1-3, just 15 percent of Americans side with the Palestinians, while 23% either said they support both sides, neither side or had no opinion.

For Israel, defiance comes at the cost of legitimacy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Henry Siegman - (Opinion) February 23, 2010 - 1:00am

The Middle East peace process and its quest for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that got under way nearly 20 years ago with the Oslo accords has undergone two fundamental transformations. It is now on the brink of a third.

EU: Goods made at Jewish settlements are not Israeli
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
February 26, 2010 - 1:00am

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Israeli goods made in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank cannot be considered Israeli. This means goods made by Israelis or Jews in the West Bank cannot benefit from a trade deal giving Israel preferential access to EU markets. EU import duties on Israeli goods from the settlements may now be imposed, making them less competitive. Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. The EU has agreements with both Israel and the Palestinians that end customs duties.

Playing With Matches in Hebron
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - (Opinion) February 24, 2010 - 1:00am

There are two ways to explain Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement of plans to renovate two sacred shrines in the West Bank and add them to his new heritage trail of Israeli historical sites. One explanation is that he wants to buy some credit with settlers and the religious right in order to shore up his right flank, because he’s preparing to enter negotiations with the Palestinians that will entail serious concessions. The other is that he‘s not prepared to make serious concessions at all right now, and he figures he can buy some time by stirring up a bit of a rumpus.

Go Ahead
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq Alhomayed - (Opinion) February 25, 2010 - 1:00am

In my previous article, entitled ‘Dubai, Hamas and the “Real Killer”’, I commented on the statements made by the Dubai Police Chief who said that an agent within Hamas had leaked information [to the Israelis] which led to the assassination of Mahmoud al Mabhouh. In the article, I also asked whether Imad Mughniyeh had been killed because a spy from within Hezbollah had informed against him in the same manner as in the al Mabhouh assassination. A reader responded by saying "Fear God, despite there being around 11 suspects to the assassination you only comment on a Hamas spy.”

Palestinians Form New Faction in Lebanon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Rachelle Kliger - February 25, 2010 - 1:00am

A group of ten Palestinian figures announced the formation of a new Palestinian faction in Beirut on Wednesday. The organization, The National Body for the Protection of Permanent Rights, aims to preserve the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and the diaspora, including those living in refugee camps.

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