Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Pres. Abbas signals willingness on proximity talks. Roger Cohen sees reasons for hope. Lara Friedman and Daniel Seidemann list the top 10 myths on settlement activity promoted by Israel's Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who is interviewed by the LA Times. Two Palestinian children are being tried in a military court for stonethrowing. Abbas issues a decree banning settlement goods. Israel reprimands soldiers in "avoidable" deaths of four Palestinians. Palestinian girls participate in Intel's youth science fair. AP profiles PM Fayyad's new brand of politics. More reports suggest Israel has instituted a de facto settlement freeze in Jerusalem, and has demolished 10 settler houses. Palestinians agree to reshuffle the cabinet. Bradley Burston says hating Pres. Obama is becoming a religion in Israel. Haggai Alon says the siege of Gaza spurs Muslim anger.

Israel: Abbas Signals Readiness for Indirect Peace Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
April 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, signaled Monday that he was ready to start indirect peace talks with Israel. Mr. Abbas, left, told Israeli television that he would present the American proposal for talks to the Arab League this week, and “we hope that the reply will be positive.” The talks were derailed last month after Israel announced a new housing development in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital. Jerusalem officials have said the government has effectively frozen new Jewish construction in East Jerusalem.

Beating the Mideast’s Black Hole
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Roger Cohen - (Opinion) April 26, 2010 - 12:00am

The U.S. Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, has come and gone, again, with peace talks still on hold and one Israeli commentator, Yossi Sarid, musing that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a black hole that swallows up goodwill ambassadors through the ages.” I can’t argue with that. Cold wars come and go, new technologies transform the world, but the clash of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism in the Holy Land defeats resolution.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Jewish housing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - (Interview) April 26, 2010 - 12:00am

When Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat took office 18 months ago, he was heralded as a secular, progressive high-tech entrepreneur who would apply his business savvy to modernizing the ancient city, particularly after five years under an ultra-Orthodox leader. Barkat hired the same consultants as Disney for advice about crowd management and stood up to ultra-Orthodox demonstrators who demanded that he close city parking lots on the Sabbath.

Children stand trial for stone throwing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Fourteen and 15-year-old brothers stood trial at Ofer's military court on Monday, facing charges of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank. The boys, Nadim and Jihad Basim Kawazba from Bethlehem's Al-Minya neighborhood, were recommended for sentences of three and four months detention but the judge's decision was delayed when lawyers Eyhab Al-Ghaleith and Iyad Misk requested that the hearing be postponed until Thursday.

Abbas signs anti-settlement legislation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday signed into law a ban on Israeli settlement goods in Palestinian markets. The move officially makes trade in settlement goods a criminal offense, and follows weeks of deliberations and declarations. Abbas legal advisor Hasan Al-Ouri was quoted by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA as saying the regulations would target "the cancers found in the Palestinian body, which target the Palestinian people's humanity, soil, and fate."

Israel commanders reprimanded for W.Bank shootings
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ori Lewis - April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel's army chief has reprimanded two senior officers over the killing of four Palestinians in two separate shooting incidents in the West Bank last month, the military said on Tuesday. Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi determined after military investigations of the incidents that commanders and soldiers could have behaved differently to avoid the killings. In the first incident, two teenagers were shot dead in the village of Iraq Burin on March 20 as troops moved in to protect Jewish settlers from Palestinians protesting against Israeli settlement policy.

Palestinian girls get ticket to Intel science fair
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Grant Slater - April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Watching her blind aunt and uncle struggle to navigate the steep slopes and scant sidewalks of this hilly city, one Palestinian girl decided to reinvent the stick. Armed with spare parts that are hard to find in the West Bank, Asil Abu Lil and two classmates patched together an obstacle-detecting cane that has won them a trip to San Jose, California, for Intel Corp.'s international youth science fair. The three girls are the first Palestinians to participate in the prestigious event.

A new style of politics in the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is quietly changing the rules of the Arab-Israeli conflict with a simple credo: Palestinians have to build their state now and cannot wait for an elusive peace deal with Israel. He is moving ahead with an ambitious plan to get the Palestinians ready for statehood by August 2011 by trying to build it from the ground up: paving roads, reforming the judiciary, planning new cities.

APNewsBreak: Israel halts east Jerusalem building
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel's prime minister has effectively frozen new Jewish construction in east Jerusalem, municipal officials said Monday, reflecting the need to mend a serious rift with the U.S. and get Mideast peace talks back on track. The move comes despite Benjamin Netanyahu's repeated assertion he would never halt construction in east Jerusalem and risks angering hard-liners in his government. One lawmaker from Netanyahu's Likud Party warned the governing coalition could collapse over the issue.

Fatah okays cabinet reshuffle in exchange for more key portfolios
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party agreed that Prime Minister Salam Fayyad reshuffles his government but said that Fatah should enjoy more presentation in the cabinet, an official said on Tuesday. Fatah's Revolutionary Council, which convened for three days in Ramallah, "agreed that amendments should be applied on the structure of the government in a way giving the movement (Fatah) more sovereign roles," Ameen Maqboul, a council member, told Voice of Palestine radio.

Israel razes 10 settlement houses built after freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nir Hasson, Chaim Levinson - April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel Defense Forces troops on Tuesday destroyed at least 10 structures built by Israeli nationalists in the West Bank following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's declaration of a temporary settlement freeze last year. As security forces and Civil Administration officials arrived in the various outposts - which included East Ba'al Hatzor, Maoz Esther and Ramat Migron - settlers youths barricaded themselves in the structures to protest their demolition. Some of the teenagers also hurled burning tires at the security forces, leading to two arrests.

Ritual terrorism: Hating Obama as a new form of religion
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Bradley Burston - (Opinion) April 26, 2010 - 12:00am

When I was young, I was taught that the purpose of religion was to foster compassion through lovingkindness, to seek peace by example, to perform with human hands the work of angels. Then I moved to the Holy Land.

Gaza is the fuel for Muslim world's anti-Israel struggle
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Haggai Alon - (Opinion) April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

The events of the past few days have created two illusions. One is that Israel and the United States are equal; the other is that the problem is Jerusalem. These illusions are dangerous for Israel, in that they create a dangerous diplomatic perception and self-image.

Abbas 'ready' for proximity talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - April 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s readiness to enter proximity talks with Israel, which he announced during an interview with Channel 2 Monday evening, follows assurances the Palestinians received from US special Middle East envoy George Mitchell that the Israeli government would effectively freeze construction of new homes in some of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods, a PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post.

Is there a de facto east Jerusalem construction freeze?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Abe Selig - April 26, 2010 - 12:00am

The government has imposed a de facto freeze on new Jewish construction projects in east Jerusalem despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s public insistence to the contrary, Jerusalem Municipality officials said on Monday. While whether the slowdown actually constitutes a moratorium, or how long it will last, remains unclear, the apparent freeze likely reflects Netanyahu’s need to mend the current rift with the US regarding construction over the Green Line, on lands the Palestinians claim for a future state, and to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

Top 10 Myths Likely to be Heard from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in Washington this week
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Americans For Peace Now
by Lara Friedman - April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

This week Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat will be in Washington. He will be holding meetings with Members of Congress, Administration officials, think tanks, and the press. These interactions offer an excellent opportunity to hear the mayor's views about the Jerusalem-related issues of contention right now between his government and the Obama Administration. While Mayor Barkat has a right to hold any opinions he wishes, the facts are important and, when and if he deviates from them, he should be challenged.

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