Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Roger Cohen says Israelis are trapped between security and anxiety. The Washington Post profiles Israeli settlement activity in Jerusalem. In a new poll, 60% of Palestinians favor proximity talks, huge leads for Fatah over Hamas. The Arab Bank closes two out of three Gaza branches due to Hamas policies. Bethlehem prepares for the second Palestine Investment Conference. Special Envoy Mitchell meets PM Netanyahu. Hamas condemns Pres. Abbas for opposing violence. Ha'aretz analyzes the list of goods banned from Gaza by Israel. The Israeli Foreign Ministry is working closely with an ultra-right wing organization on Palestinian "incitement." Israel's Vice-Premier says talks are doomed to failure. Avi Shlaim and Simon Mohun say the OECD must put conditions on Israel's membership. An Israeli general is accused of a cover-up in the death of Rachel Corrie. Patrick Seale says the US extracted valuable concessions from Israel but Palestinians may squander them. Rami Khouri looks at the debate on the pro-Israel lobby. George Hishmeh says Walt and Mearsheimer disagree about the viability of a two-state solution. Daoud Kuttab says Arabs are pessimistic about Israel but see hope in the US. Alon Ben-Meir says Arab states should re-prioritize the Arab Peace Initiative.

Sunny Days in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Roger Cohen - (Opinion) May 6, 2010 - 12:00am

A cool breeze came in from the sea, knocking over salt shakers at the Zorik Café. It was a beautiful day in Israel, clear skies, brilliant light, and the volleyball players were out. Young couples in low-slung jeans sipped smoothies and ate poached eggs. Things are calm in Tel Aviv. Menace is beyond the horizon. Nobody thinks twice about boarding a bus, hanging out. It was pleasant to sit and people watch, see the smiles and bear hugs. New York’s West Village of a balmy Sunday.

Israeli construction in East Jerusalem adds to difficulties facing negotiators
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Janine Zacharia - May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

When the Obama administration launches indirect peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as early as this weekend, it faces a much more complicated landscape than the Clinton or Bush administrations did, especially in Jerusalem. In the decade since Israelis and Palestinians came close to a peace deal in 2000, the complexion of Jerusalem, perhaps the most sensitive of all the sticking points, has been altered. Israeli construction is blurring lines between Arab and Jewish neighborhoods, making any bid to share or divide the city even more difficult than in the past.

Poll: 60% of Palestinians favor indirect talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO) released the findings of its most recent poll on Wednesday, which revealed surprising results, including that 60% of Palestinians support the current effort at peace talks. The poll, carried out between 15-28 April, asked a random sample of 1,153 respondents from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem about their thoughts on various political indicators. All respondents were over the age of 17.

Gaza: Lineups to remove cash from Arab Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 6, 2010 - 12:00am

Hundreds of Gaza residents started lining up outside the Ar-Rimal branch of the Arab Bank in Thursday morning, the day after an announcement by the administration that two of the three Gaza Strip branches would close. In a statement, the bank announced that "in light of worsening conditions under which the Bank is called upon to operate in Gaza and after having recently reduced the number of its staff there, it has also decided to close two of its three branches."

Bethlehem prepares for 2nd Palestine Investment Conference
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 5, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority cabinet allocated 485,000 US dollars to Bethlehem councils, southern West Bank, for local improvements and renovations ahead of the Second Palestine Investment Conference scheduled for June. Bethlehem Governor Abdul Fattah Hamayil met on Wednesday with mayors and heads of village councils to inform them of the PA cabinet's decision, providing them with the requested funding for preparations.

U.S. envoy meets Netanyahu ahead of peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
May 6, 2010 - 12:00am

U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday for the second time in two days before the expected start of indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The United States hopes the two sides will embark on negotiations in an indirect format in the coming days, a U.S. spokesman said on Wednesday, after the first, three-hour meeting between Netanyahu and Mitchell. Neither side commented on the details of Thursday's meeting.

Hamas knocks Abbas on anti-armed resistance statements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 6, 2010 - 12:00am

Islamic Hamas movement criticized on Thursday the statements of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian people, including his Fatah party and Hamas, are not interested in the "armed resistance" against Israel. In a press release, a Hamas official, Salah al-Bardawil, described Abbas' statements as false and only aim to "fraud the will of the Palestinian people and their right to struggle for their freedom."

Why won't Israel allow Gazans to import coriander?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

The Defense Ministry is refusing - on security grounds, it says - to reveal why Israel prohibits the import into the Gaza Strip of items such as cilantro, sage, jam, chocolate, french fries, dried fruit, fabrics, notebooks empty flowerpots and toys, while allowing cinnamon, plastic buckets and combs. Palestinian smuggler climbing down into an underground tunnel that leads from Gaza to Egypt. But in its response to a freedom-of-information suit last week, the state did admit, for the first time, that there is specific list of permissible goods.

Foreign Ministry working with rightists against Palestinian incitement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

Last Monday, diplomatic reporters and members of the foreign press corps were invited to a press conference with Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon and the director of Palestinian Media Watch, Itamar Marcus, at which PMW's new report on Palestinian incitement against Israel was presented.

'Talks doomed due to Arafat's legacy'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by David Horovitz, Herb Keinon - May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are doomed to hit a brick wall because no Palestinian leader will accept anything less than what Yasser Arafat rejected at Camp David 10 years ago, and no Jewish prime minister will offer anything more, Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom said Thursday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “No matter what we do, I do not see a Palestinian leader who is willing to accept what Arafat rejected, and I don’t see a Jewish prime minister who can give more than what [Ehud] Barak offered. Therefore, I see it as a dead end,” he said.

Put conditions on Israel's OECD entry
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Avi Shlaim - (Opinion) May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

In the absence of any last-minute objections, Israel will be welcomed as a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development at its annual ministerial council in Paris on 26-28 May. A successful outcome to the long-standing Israeli campaign to be admitted to the OECD would be hailed by Israeli government ministers as a major diplomatic triumph at a time when they have come under growing global criticism for the policy of building settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

General 'tried to cover up truth about death of Rachel Corrie'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Ben Lynfield - May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

Seven years after the American activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza, evidence has emerged which appears to implicate Israel's Gaza commander at the time, in an attempt to obstruct the official investigation into her death.

Mitchell's moment of truth
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Patrick Seale - (Opinion) May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

George Mitchell, US President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, deserves a modest round of applause. His patient coaxing of Israelis and Palestinians over the past 15 months is about to bear fruit: indirect talks between the parties are due to begin within days. There is no denying, however, the intense distrust with which both sides view the coming negotiations or the yawning gap between their positions. Mitchell's hard work is about to begin.

Israel lobby part of the debate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

One of the fascinating aspects of recent tensions between the American and Israeli governments over Washington’s Middle Eastern diplomacy has been a sea change in the public posture of what is usually called “the Israeli lobby” in the United States. This phrase refers to a very sophisticated, extensive and successful web of American organisations and individuals working to shape American foreign policy so that it favours the prevalent Israeli rather than Arab view of things.

Turning the other cheek
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by George S. Hishmeh - May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

By choice or coincidence, US President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas find themselves this week in the same boat, thanks to the mischief of Benjamin Netanyahu.The two leaders have turned the other cheek helplessly, seemingly adopting the choice offered in the Christian doctrine, which favours a non-violent response to an aggressor. One explanation of this doctrine, among many, is that to turn the other cheek is not humiliating, but rather aresponse of strength that says “I will not seek revenge because I am stronger than that”.

Moment of truth has arrived
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

If ever there was a statement that reflected the true position of Palestinian negotiators and Arab leaders, it was the one made by the Qatari prime minister, Hamad Ben Jasem Al Thani. The statement, made after the Arab follow-up committee gave the PLO the green light to resume indirect negotiations, reflects a pessimistic outlook of peace. "We don’t trust Israel, but we find positive indications on the part of the US mediator," said the Qatari premier, who is also his country's foreign minister.

The Arab peace initiative: Now or never
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Alon Ben-meir - May 7, 2010 - 12:00am

It has been almost a year now since US President Barack Obama set out for Cairo to deliver what has been seen as one of the largest overtures by the US to publicly engage the Middle East.

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