Middle East News: World Press Roundup

A US representative to the UN strongly reaffirms US commitment to a two state solution and Pres. Obama declares this "a vital national security interest." Hamas denies closing Gaza tunnels and Egypt opens the Rafah crossing. Hamas executes two Palestinians. Israel is considering more settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem. WJC President Lauder questions US commitment to Israel's security. Ha'aretz reports that Obama is skeptical about Netanyahu's willingness and ability on peace. Settlers uproot 300 olive trees. David Axelrod says a two state solution is in Israel's interests. Israel prepares soldiers for more settler violence. Palestinians increasingly adopt nonviolent protests. Carlo Strenger says any new US peace plan must deal with theological problems. George Hishmeh says Netanyahu's intransigence undermines Obama. Michael Jansen says Israel's new expulsion orders in the West Bank are another violation of international law. Daoud Kuttab describes how Palestinians are affected by Israeli military rule.

Remarks by Ambassador Alejandro D. Wolff, U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations, on the Middle East, in the Security Council Chamber
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from United Nations
by Alejandro Wolff - (Opinion) April 14, 2010 - 12:00am

Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Under Secretary-General Pascoe, for your briefing. Before turning to the subject at hand, let me join my other colleagues in extending our own condolences the government and people of China for the loss of life and injuries suffered by so many as a result of the devastating earthquake.

Obama Speech Signals a U.S. Shift on Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Helene Cooper, Mark Landler - (Analysis) April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON — It was just a phrase at the end of President Obama’s news conference on Tuesday, but it was a stark reminder of a far-reaching shift in how the United States views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how aggressively it might push for a peace agreement. When Mr. Obama declared that resolving the long-running Middle East dispute was a “vital national security interest of the United States,” he was highlighting a change that has resulted from a lengthy debate among his top officials over how best to balance support for Israel against other American interests.

De facto gov't denies shutting down Rafah tunnels
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

The Ministry of the Interior in the Gaza Strip has denied reports that the Hamas-run government shut down smuggling tunnels along the Egyptian border. Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab Al-Ghussein said in a statement posted on Hamas-affiliated Web sites Wednesday that "the Palestinian government in Gaza did not issue any order to shut down tunnels along the border." The reports are rumors and nothing more, Al-Ghussein stressed.

Egypt suddenly reopens Rafah crossing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

Within hours of announcing the terminal's "indefinite closure," Egyptian authorities said on Wednesday that Cairo had reopened the Rafah crossing into Gaza. Egyptian security sources told Ma'an the crossing's reopening came "without mentioning any reasons," and that it would remain open for Palestinian patients who have completed treatment in Egyptian hospitals to return until Thursday, in accordance with its weekly schedule.

Hamas executes two Palestinians in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

Hamas said on Thursday it executed by firing squad two Palestinians convicted by a Gaza military court in 2009 of collaborating with Israel. It was the first time that Islamist group has carried out formal executions since the it seized control of the Gaza Strip three years ago from the rival Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas, which governs in the occupied West Bank. A Hamas government official confirmed the executions after the bodies of two men arrived at a Gaza hospital. The group's interior ministry said they were carried out by firing squad.

Israel ponders construction, demolition in disputed Jerusalem areas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Dave Bender, Qi Xianghui - April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

The Jerusalem municipality has taken an administrative step towards building some 200 apartments, a synagogue and a school in a disputed area in East Jerusalem, Israeli media reported. It is unclear when the building would begin. Yossi Gottesman, deputy spokesperson for the municipality, told Xinhua on Wednesday that the municipality has "transferred legal ownership of several dunams of land" in the neighborhood of Gilo. But he did not specify if the property would be used for housing, the synagogue or the school.

World Jewish leader to Obama: Is U.S. committed to Israel's security?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder has publically questioned U.S. President Barack Obama's commitment to Israel's security, in a letter he reportedly drafted with the approval of his close friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Our great country and the tiny State of Israel have long shared the core values of freedom and democracy," wrote Lauder, in a letter published Thursday as an advertisement in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Obama to Sarkozy: I'll keep up pressure on Israel, Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

U.S. President Barack Obama has told French President Nicolas Sarkozy that he is determined to keep the pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to renew peace talks and implement confidence-building measures. Obama made his comments despite potential political damage at home ahead of the mid-term congressional elections in November.

No-one saw, no-one heard: 300 Palestinian olive trees uprooted
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

Some 300 olive trees belonging to Palestinians were uprooted on the night between Monday and Tuesday in groves near the village of Mihmas, close to the illegal outpost of Migron. Mihmas residents blamed settlers for the attack and said this was the third time the settlers had uprooted trees in the area.

'Obama taking reins on policy towards Mideast conflict'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

US President Obama has taken control over US policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly since Israel announced the construction of 1,600 new housing units in Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood during Vice President Joe Biden's visit, according to an opinion piece published in the New York Times on Thursday.

Obama aide at Independence Day event: 2-state solution in Israel's interest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

During a ceremony held at the Israeli Embassy Wednesday night to mark the Jewish state's 62nd Independence Day, a senior advisor to Barack Obama said the US president is committed to the alliance between the two countries. David Axelrod said that despite the disagreements, the bond between Israel and the US is unshakable, adding that Washington remains committed to Israel's security and to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

IDF preps soldiers for settler violence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz, Tovah Lazaroff - April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

The IDF Central Command has prepared a special crash course for soldiers in the Judea and Samaria Division amid concern about a possible escalation in settler violence should the government extend the moratorium on new settlement construction in the West Bank beyond the end of September, senior officers have told The Jerusalem Post. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened top cabinet ministers earlier this week to discuss the US’s demands to extend the freeze, which were presented during his visit to the White House in March.

More e. J'lem construction on agenda
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Abe Selig - April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

Building projects over the Green Line, including a school and a synagogue in the Gilo neighborhood, and an extension to a synagogue in Pisgat Ze’ev, will be on the agenda when the Jerusalem Municipality’s Local Planning and Building Committee meets on Thursday. Despite reports that the Jerusalem Regional Planning and Building Commission is observing a de facto freeze with regard to east Jerusalem construction, the committee is set to meet on Thursday morning for back-to-back sessions dealing with building requests and permits for those and other potential projects.

Palestinians test out Gandhi-style protest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Heather Sharp - April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

It is strangely quiet. About 40 mainly Palestinian protesters face off with a line of armed Israeli soldiers over coils of razor wire. They calmly explain they want access to land Israel has confiscated to build its West Bank barrier. Chanting begins, followed by impassioned speeches in Hebrew, English and Arabic. "You soldiers standing here, blocking Palestinians from walking on their own land, you need to think about what you're doing," lectures one young woman. "What will you tell your children?" asks an older man.

Obama's theological Israel mission
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Carlo Strenger - April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

The press and the blogosphere keep stating that the Obama administration is considering launching its own peace initiative. The details mentioned are neither new nor surprising: Israel should live alongside a Palestinian state; the Arab parts of Jerusalem will be the Palestinian capital, and there will be a land swap to compensate the Palestinians for the major settlement blocs.

Israel's intransigence undermines Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu has done it again. The Israeli prime minister dug his head deep into the sand on the eve of the international conference on nuclear security held in Washington, for fear that Turkey, Egypt and others would raise the issue of Israel's unmonitored nuclear arsenal.

Israel defies international law, again
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - (Opinion) April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli amendments to standing military orders that took effect last Tuesday were fresh punitive measures in a long line of destructive and illegal acts designed to deny Palestinians their basic human rights. The orders, signed by Major General Gadi Shamni, former commander of Israel's armed forces in the West Bank, broaden the interpretation of "infiltrator" to mean anyone who does not have a valid Israeli residence permit, and expand the powers of Israeli forces to deal with anyone they decide is a "security threat".

Pillar of Israeli government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

There is a reason for the fact that in modern times laws are written by representatives of the people to whom these laws are applied. Governments and parliaments come and go, but laws often outlive them.

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