Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Jerusalem Old City Initiative releases new proposals, and former New York Mayor Ed Koch also has suggestions. Fatah accuses Israel of planning a large mall in occupied East Jerusalem. Israel is refusing to allow the relative of an assassinated Hamas operative to leave Gaza for urgent medical treatment. Pres. Obama and Pres. Abbas reportedly agree to begin talks with border and security issues. Former PM Olmert says Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem must belong to the Palestinians. The Arab Bank shuts down all its operations in Gaza. Pres. Obama reiterates his commitment to a Palestinian state and holding both sides accountable. Palestinians say Israel is withholding Jerusalem access for students who refuse to become informants. Ben White says Israel is trying to stifle dissent. Palfest promotes Palestinian writers. JJ Goldberg examines incitement. Mkhaimar Abusada says a failure of talks will create a period of volatility in Palestinian politics. Gilead Sher says the US must remain hands-on. Michael Sfard says the settlement movement may benefit from the partial moratorium. Eyal Press asks what the Israelis really think of Obama. Gilbert Achcar looks at Arab and especially Palestinian attitudes towards the Holocaust.

Jerusalem Old City Initiative Releases New Peace Plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Voice of America
by Meredith Buel - May 12, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel and the Palestinians have resumed peace talks following a 17-month break in negotiations. Possibly the most difficult issue on the table in the conflict is the future of Jerusalem's Old City - an area sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews. A group of Israelis, Palestinians, Canadians and Americans has released a new initiative designed to help the parties resolve this thorny problem.

Fatah: Israel planning mall in East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 12, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel is planning to build a shopping mall in East Jerusalem on three dunums of land owned by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Endowments, behind the US Consulate, Fatah Jerusalem Affairs official Hatem Abdul Qader said Tuesday. The land's trustee was handed down administrative orders, including eviction notices, from the director of the Israel Lands Administration, claiming the land as government owned rather than residential, Abdul Qader said.

Israel halts care for dead militant's relative
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Karoun Demirjian - May 11, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel has barred a cousin of an assassinated Hamas operative from entering from Gaza for medical care, security officials said Tuesday, though the man's doctors warn his life is in danger. Mohammed al-Mabhouh, 56, is the cousin of senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was assassinated in Dubai in January in a hit local authorities blamed on Israel's Mossad spy agency. Israel has not commented on the charge.

Abbas, Obama agreed to top proximity talks with borders, security issues
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 12, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. President Barack Obama have agreed that the U.S.-proposed indirect Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks would focus on the issues of security and borders, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported Tuesday. In a phone conversation, the two leaders have also emphasized that neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis should make any " provocative" action "that could destroy the confidence" during the talks, according to Wafa.

Olmert speaks out against proximity talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Atilla Somfalvi - May 11, 2010 - 12:00am

While under investigation over his alleged involvement in the Holyland affair, Former Prime Minster Ehud Olmert on Tuesday questioned the effectiveness of proximity talks with the Palestinians and said that "anything less than direct talks – is not as good." During a speech at the Social Economic Forum named after Benny Gaon in Tel Aviv, Olmert said that "there was no need for a referee between us and the Palestinians.

Exclusive: Arab Bank shuts down in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Golan Hazani - May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

The largest bank in the Arab world, the Arab Bank, will shut down its three Gaza branches, the Calcalist learned Monday. Their closing will mark the last of the banks working according to international banking standards in Gaza. Tunnel operators in Strip say ruling Islamist movement issue the order late Wednesday for unknown reasons; Hamas says tunnels will continue to operate as long as blockade not lifted Full Story

Obama to Abbas: I am committed to creation of Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - May 11, 2010 - 12:00am

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday pledged commitment to the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state and vowed to hold both Israel and the Palestinians accountable if either side takes actions that "undermine trust" during U.S.-mediated talks launched this week. In a telephone conversation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Obama welcomed the beginning of indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and reiterated his strong support for the two-state solution.

Shin Bet recruiters enticing Palestinian medical students with Jerusalem entry permits
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - May 12, 2010 - 12:00am

The Shin Bet security service is trying to recruit Palestinian medical students as a condition for granting them entry permits to Jerusalem, according to two medical students at Al-Quds University pursuing internships in Palestinian university hospitals in the city.

Obama asks Abbas to prevent anti-Israel incitement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by Yitzhak Benhorin - May 11, 2010 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama Tuesday asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to prevent anti-Israeli incitement during indirect peace talks and said he would welcome him at the White House "soon." During a phone conversation between the two leaders, Obama also expressed appreciation for Abbas' recent decision to appear on Israeli television, and said he would hold both the Palestinians and the Israelis accountable for any actions that undermine the proximity talks.

Israel seeks to silence dissent
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ben White - May 11, 2010 - 12:00am

Last Thursday, in the early hours of the morning, a Palestinian community leader's home was raided by Israeli security forces. In front of his family, the wanted man was hauled off to detention without access to a lawyer, while his home and offices were ransacked and property confiscated. While this sounds like an all-too typical occurrence in West Bank villages such as Bil'in and Beit Omar, in fact, the target in question this time was Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and head of internationally renowned NGO network Ittijah.

The Palfest book festival puts Palestinian writers on the map
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Akin Ajayi - May 11, 2010 - 12:00am

When it comes to literary festivals, the way it usually works is that the organisers find a nice spot for writers to set up shop, then wait for the public to turn up to listen to the writers talk. In Palestine, though, things are a little different. Here, it's the job of the writers to go out and travel from city to city, seeking out an audience. And here, the writers listen as much as they talk: to the people whom they've come to meet about the realities of life under military occupation.

Palestinian Terror Wanes, but Fear Remains
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - May 5, 2010 - 12:00am

On May 3, just two days before Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations were to resume through American mediation, Israel’s deputy foreign minister appeared alongside the head of a right-wing research organization at a press conference in Jerusalem to release new evidence that the Palestinians are not, in fact, ready for peace. It’s what you might call a confidence-building measure, Middle East style.

Jerusalem: Still Relevant After 2000 Years
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Ed Koch - (Opinion) May 11, 2010 - 12:00am

Here's my advice on how Israel and the Palestinian Authority should proceed with their so-called "proximity" talks mediated by George Mitchell. Instead of putting the hot-button issue of Jerusalem last on the agenda, the issue should be addressed first. If the Jerusalem question is solved, everything else should fall into place more easily. I believe there is a way to keep Jerusalem unified. I am talking not only of the old walled city, which is a very small part of the city of Jerusalem, but the whole city, east, west, north and south.

A PALESTINIAN VIEW: The price of indirect talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Mkhaimar Abusada - May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

The PLO Executive Committee's decision to approve so-called proximity talks between the Palestinians and Israelis marked a shift in Palestinian politics. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had previously stated that there would be no talks with Israel until it halts all settlement expansion, including in East Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, has not veered from his vow that building in Jerusalem is just like building in Tel Aviv.

AN ISRAELI VIEW: The best of a bad lot?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Gilead Sher - May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

The good news first: after more than a year wasted over trial and error in United States foreign policy, President Barack Obama has set the Israeli-Palestinian process back on track. The bad news is that for the first time in close to two decades, Israelis and Palestinians will be talking indirectly to one another.

The lesser known settlement freeze deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Michael Sfard - May 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Proximity talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership have just begun. It took Barack Obama's administration almost 15 months to obtain the consent of the parties to talk to each other indirectly, through George Mitchell's team. For the 19-year-old peace process (if counted from the Madrid summit) it is doubtful whether this new phase deserves even the modest "small step" label.

What Do Israelis Think of Obama?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Review Of Books
May 12, 2010 - 12:00am

“PRES OBAMA: SAVE ISRAEL FROM ITSELF.” So proclaimed a sign at a demonstration in late March in Sheik Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem where activists gather every Friday to protest the eviction of Palestinian residents from their homes. Among the demonstrators was the Israeli novelist David Grossman, with whom I struck up a conversation about Barack Obama, who is not generally regarded as a popular figure in Israel these days, not least because of his public call for a halt to Israeli settlement activity.

Arabs have a complex relationship with the Holocaust
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Gilbert Achcar - (Analysis) May 12, 2010 - 12:00am

The issue of Holocaust denial in the Arab world has been widely covered in the media. Every public display of Holocaust denial by an Arab source is prominently reported and construed as further evidence of the pro-Nazi inclinations that Arabs, or Muslims, hold in their deepest hearts, especially when they are hostile to Israel. The deliberate provocations that the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stages regularly contribute considerably to fostering this image.

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