Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The LA Times profiles the evolution of a play about an Israeli and Palestinian gay couple. Hamas demands Fatah apologize to the Palestinian people for peace negotiations. Fatah calls for the escalation of nonviolent protests. PM Fayyad joins a Land Day protest. A senior Fatah official arrested at a protest refuses to appear before an Israeli court in solidarity with others. Ha'aretz reports that the US is seeking a four-month settlement freeze in occupied East Jerusalem in exchange for direct negotiations, and editorializes that only a serious Israeli peace proposal can forestall an imposed settlement. French Pres. Sarkozy condemns Israeli settlement activity in occupied East Jerusalem. A Passover-themed YNet commentary compares Pres. Obama to "Pharaoh," a "dictator/king," calls him "hard-hearted" and describes Sec. Clinton as "hysterical." Alon Ben-Meir says the fundamentals of the US-Israel relationship have changed. The pro-Israel lobby presses Congress to soften Obama's tough stance on Netanyahu. Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler look at possible future scenarios. Scott McConnell says Pres. Obama should and may treat Israel like any other country.

A script that may never be finished
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Raja Abdulrahim - March 30, 2010 - 12:00am

When Saleem Azzouqa first wrote a pivotal scene in his semi-autobiographical play, "Salam Shalom," two gay lovers were depicted arguing over a fictional suicide bombing. But this was no ordinary couple. One of the men was an Israeli Jew, the other a Palestinian Muslim, and the site of the imaginary bombing was Tel Aviv. Soon, the playwright realized he need not invent dramatic twists for this story. The nightly news would provide all the material he needed.

Hamas: Fatah must apologize to Palestine for failed efforts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 31, 2010 - 12:00am

Fatah’s call for an escalation of peaceful resistance is an admission of the failure of the government to reach a peace deal for Palestinians, Hamas officials declared on Tuesday following a cabinet meeting in Gaza. Fatah and the Palestinian Authority must now "apologize to the Palestinians for forcing them into a failed process that lasted 20 years," a statement from the Gaza government said, citing the continued occupation of the West Bank, the siege on Gaza, and the unfaltering settlement construction in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

Fatah calls for escalation of non-violent resistance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 31, 2010 - 12:00am

Fatah's Central Committee stressed the necessity for an escalation of non-violent resistance against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, officials said following a meeting on Tuesday. United Palestinians should continue to protest the crimes committed against them by Israel, the Central Committee said, and recruit the help of international solidarity activists, officials said, noting their willingness to put forward a concerted effort toward Palestinian unity.

Fayyad joins protest to mark Land Day
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad joined over 200 Israeli, Palestinian and internationals marking Land Day on Tuesday in the village of Qarawat Bani Hassan, in the West Bank governorate of Salfit. The march began at around 10am and lasted until 12:30pm, Israeli peace activist Jonathan Pollack said, beginning near the Ein Entweteg Spring in the village.

Senior Fatah official refuses to appear alone before Israeli court
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 31, 2010 - 12:00am

A senior official from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party on Wednesday refused to stand before an Israeli military court, showing a solidarity sign with a group of detainees who were detained with him and being tried separately. Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah central committee, was arrested with 11 Palestinians on an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank during a demonstration this week.

U.S. seeks 4-month East Jerusalem building freeze in return for direct talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - March 31, 2010 - 12:00am

One of the U.S. administration's requests to Israel regarding the peace process with the Palestinians is a four-month construction freeze in all parts of East Jerusalem. In exchange, the United States would pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to hold direct talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instead of the indirect talks to which the Palestinians have agreed.

Needed: An Israeli peace plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) March 31, 2010 - 12:00am

While in Washington the U.S. administration is trying to reduce tensions with Israel, in Jerusalem they go out of their way to depict in war paint the demands President Barack Obama put to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Political sources in Jerusalem told Haaretz's Ari Shavit this week that hiding behind the American demands is an intention to impose a permanent settlement on the two sides in less than two years. This is being presented as a troubling change in U.S.

Sarkozy 'condemns Israeli construction in East Jerusalem'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
March 31, 2010 - 12:00am

French President Nicolas Srakozy on Tuesday said his country stands with the United States in condemning Israeli settlement activity in East Jerusalem. Sarkozy said his own commitment to Israel's security is well known but adds that the settlement activity in an area claimed by the Palestinians "contributes nothing." Speaking at a news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama after their White House meeting, Sarkozy praised Obama for trying to engage the two sides in peace talks.

Palestinian PM ploughs ahead with future state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ali Waked - March 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad got behind a horse-drawn plough in the West Bank on Tuesday and drilled a furrow in protest against Israeli control of Palestinian land. Wearing a T-shirt and a hat, the former World Bank economist put his foot to the rusty plough as Jewish settlers watched from a hilltop outpost nearby. Arab protestors attend special ceremony in Sakhnin, cry out: 'Barak, how many children have you killed today?' MKs present complain of Israel's 'racist policies', say they won't stop fighting for 'stolen land'

The meaning of Exodus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Moshe Dann - (Opinion) March 30, 2010 - 12:00am

As if Jews needed a reminder in the form of a modern rendition of "Pharaoh's heart hardened," President Obama provides an example, emphasizing an important lesson: The Egyptian dictator/king was part of the process of liberation and, ultimately, of God's will and the destiny of the Jewish People.

Time to change the status quo
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Alon Ben-meir - (Opinion) March 30, 2010 - 12:00am

The last few weeks have looked like a crash course in Middle East diplomacy, replete with the grandeur of talks and lofty speechmaking and the lows that shamed even those most committed to the peace process. As the media frenzy played out, the public watched as Israel and its closest ally celebrated proximity talks, clashed over the untimely announcement of new construction in Jerusalem and worked through their differences during the AIPAC conference in Washington and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s subsequent meeting with President Barack Obama.

Israel lobby presses Congress to soften Obama's tough stance on Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Chris McGreal - March 30, 2010 - 12:00am

America's main pro-Israel lobby group is mobilising members of Congress to pressure the White House over its bitter public confrontation with Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. The move, by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), appears aimed at exploiting differences in the Obama administration as it decides how to use the crisis around settlement building in Jerusalem to press Israel towards concessions to kickstart peace negotiations.

Israel recognizes Obama means business
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Asia Times
by Jerrold Kessel, Pierre Klochendler - March 31, 2010 - 12:00am

Against all expectations, it's becoming the forerunner of a peace plan. Indeed, it might in the end even surprise the world as Israelis and Palestinians are forced into peace. Even if, for now, it's shaping up as anything but peaceful. It's a battle royal. "It" is the ongoing and unprecedented crisis in relations between the United States and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to insist that the divide between his government and the administration of President Barack Obama is still bridgeable.

Normalizing Relations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The American Conservative
by Scott McConnell - May 1, 2010 - 12:00am

President Obama has probably studied the first President Bush’s standoff with Israel. Then as now, the issue of contention was Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank and Jerusalem. George H.W. Bush was hopeful about moving toward a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

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