Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Proximity talks begin. PM Netanyahu appoints an Arabic-language spokesperson. Israel bombs two Gaza tunnels. Palestinian refugees say UN food aid is greatly reduced. Palestinians claim new settlement activity is the first violation of negotiation conditions. Kadima leader Livni hints at a possible coalition with Netanyahu. Israel is unanimously accepted into the OECD. Akiva Eldar says everyone should by Palestinian and not settlement products. Daoud Kuttab says Israeli maps obliterate Palestine. The US says Israel has agreed to delay the Ramat Shlomo project for at least two years. Israelis worry Americans support for their nuclear policy is eroding. Ha'aretz requests official documents on the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre. Asharq Al-Awsat interviews Pres. Abbas. The Jordan Times is skeptical about indirect initiations, but the Arab News says low expectations may be useful. Moshe Yaroni says Israeli democracy is threatened by the Kamm affair and the secret arrest of Palestinian-Israeli activist Ameer Makhoul, which Israeli media is banned from reporting.

U.S.-Brokered Mideast Shuttle Talks Begin Again
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - May 9, 2010 - 12:00am

The Obama administration announced Sunday that indirect, American-brokered talks had resumed between Israel and the Palestinians, capping a year of efforts by Washington to revive the peace process. The American special envoy to the region, George J. Mitchell, is expected to shuttle between the two sides over the next four months as mediator of the so-called proximity talks. They are aimed at forging a joint vision of the outlines of a solution based on the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

ISRAEL: Netanyahu's government reaches out in Arabic
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Batsheva Sobelman - May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau is upgrading its public diplomacy efforts with the appointment of an Arabic-language spokesman. Ofir Gendelman, formerly the Arabic media spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign affairs, will from now on be entrusted with getting Israel's message out in Arabic too. A news release from the prime minister's office last week said the appointment was important in order to deal with "recent media developments in the Arab world and especially in light of global developments regarding Arabic language television stations."

Israeli air force strikes Gaza tunnels
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli warplanes struck what a military spokesman described as "two terror sites" in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday morning, destroying two smuggling tunnels with no injuries reported. The spokesman said the strikes were in response to projectile fire from Gaza on Saturday night. The Jerusalem Post reported a single home-made projectile landed in Israel at approximately 11pm on the night in question, but no Gaza factions have claimed the assault. The last time a projectile hit Israel, a Thai worker was killed just outside of Ashkelon, over one month ago.

Camp committees: UNRWA reduced aid by 70%
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 9, 2010 - 12:00am

West Bank refugee camp committees have accused UNRWA of reducing food aid to Palestinian refugees by 70 percent. Following an emergency session of Nablus and northern West Bank refugee camp committees, Nablus-area refugee camp coordinator Ibrahim Saqr said UNRWA had not adhered to its duties laid out in previous agreements. "After two months, the emergency support program failed to cope with the demands of needy families in refugee camps and has several shortcomings which were reported to more than one UN official on several occasions," said Saqr.

Palestinians frustrated by report of newly announced East Jerusalem construction plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Reports of Israeli renovation work which started Sunday and will include construction of 14 housing units in a Jewish settlement in disputed East Jerusalem frustrated the Palestinians. A report by the Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement movement, said that the housing units would be appended to a place that has once been used as a post by Israeli police, which overlooks the Muslim holy shrine al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli opposition makes coalition overtures as peace talks begin
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by David Harris - May 9, 2010 - 12:00am

United States special envoy George Mitchell is expected to begin his shuttle diplomacy between the Israelis and the Palestinians from next week. This follows Sunday' s announcement by the chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat that the indirect talks with Israel has begun. Mitchell met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday before leaving the Middle East for a week of consultations in Washington. He will be back in the region by the middle of next week to begin the proximity process repeatedly travelling the short distance between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Israel gets accepted into OECD after unanimous vote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

The 31 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Monday unanimously voted in favor of accepting Israel as a member of the group, a senior Jerusalem source said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to convene a special press conference at 4 P.M. to discuss Israel's admittance into the Paris-based international economic group. Israeli officials have said acceptance would be an important stamp of approval for the country's economy, boosting its credit rating and strengthening ties with foreign investors.

Buy Palestinian products
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Suppose some Palestinian group managed to set up a new settlement on land abandoned by refugees of the 1967 war in the Jordan Valley. What would your average Israeli patriot have to say about an Israeli contractor who agreed to build it, or about Jewish workers clambering on Palestinian scaffolds? What an outcry we'd hear from the Israeli right about such traitors! Never fear, our forces would never allow the uncircumcised to fix even a peg in the occupied territory under absolute Israeli control (some 60 percent of the West Bank ).

Palestinians report first Israeli violation of talks to U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Just two days after resuming peace talks with Israel, the Palestinian Authority has reported to the United States what it termed the first violation of negotiation terms, a senior Palestinian official said Monday. Yasser Abed Rabbo said the construction of 14 housing units for Jewish settlers in an East Jerusalem neighbourhood, as reported by the Israeli Peace Now pressure group, violated the terms of new talks.

Israel's tourism ministry is wiping Palestinians off the map
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Daoud Kuttab - May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

As Israeli-Palestinian negotiations restart, Palestinians are determined to begin by tackling the issue of borders, before working backwards toward deciding how to implement the establishment of a Palestinian state. Once agreement is reached on borders, the thinking goes, it will become clear who has the right to decide whether or not settlement activity can continue.

US: Israel promised not to build in Ramat Shlomo for 2 years
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - May 9, 2010 - 12:00am

The State Department said the first round of indirect peace talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities have been completed. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in a statement Sunday that US special envoy George Mitchell has left the Middle East after concluding talks characterized as serious and wide-ranging.

'US support for nuke policy eroding'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Jerusalem is increasingly jittery that cracks are appearing in the nearly half-century-old US policy of upholding Israel’s right to maintain its “nuclear ambiguity,” following reports that Israeli nuclear capabilities are, for the first time, scheduled to be on the agenda of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board meeting next month.

A massacre of arabs masked by a state of national amnesia
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Catrina Stewart - May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

More than one unwitting visitor to Jerusalem has fallen prey to the bizarre delusion that they are the Messiah. Usually, they are whisked off to the serene surroundings of Kfar Shaul psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of the city, where they are gently nursed back to health. It is an interesting irony that the patients at Kfar Shaul recuperate from such variations on amnesia on the very spot that Israel has sought to erase from its collective memory.

A Conversation with President Mahmud Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Ali El-saleh, Nazar Majli - (Interview) December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

As it has been the custom for years, there was no specific date, not to mention hour, for the interview with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (Abu-Mazin), which has been conducted every year since the time of late President Yasser Arafat. When you ask for an interview with the president, you cannot hope for more than an agreement in principle, and they would ask you to come to the city in which the president is located, which normally is Ramallah.

All over again?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Opinion) May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinians and Israelis are projected to soon commence proximity talks, expected to touch on certain final status issues of crucial import, such as borders and security. Proximity talks, by one definition, mean “diplomatic discussions between intermediaries, though the involved parties are close by”; in the case of Palestinians and Israelis, the notion seems to have gone awry, as it will involve an impartial representative acting as a mediator between parties who are willing to attend the same conference but unwilling to meet face to face.

Proximity and peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

A POTENTIAL four months of indirect negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis began yesterday, mediated by US Middle East special envoy George Mitchell. Like the tumbler in a complex lock mechanism, success will rely on the progressive definition of a succession of key issues. It is by far from certain that the key to open direct talks between the two sides will work, and even then there is the second bigger lock of substantive face-to-face agreement to be opened.

Prescription for Survival
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Zeek
by Moshe Yaroni - (Opinion) May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

The time has come to ask the question: what is Israel turning into? For decades, those of us who fervently support Israel but oppose with equal passion certain Israeli policies could make some allowances for Israeli behavior because of its traumatic creation and long string of conflict. But now, the actions of the government are becoming so onerous, and the support for such actions are becoming so widespread among the Israeli populace that any supporter of Israel whose politics are anything other than far right has got to be asking what Israel is becoming.

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