Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel launches a major civil defense exercise. The LA Times interviews Palestinian MK Tibi. The Wall Street Journal interviews Israeli Pres. Peres. Hamas' financial crisis worsens. Edward Djerejian says borders are the key to peace. Israel says it will ease West Bank checkpoints. Australia expels an Israeli diplomat over the Dubai assassination. Italian grocery chains ban settlement goods. Gaza extremists torch a UN children's camp. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agree to the principle, but not the scope, of a land swap. Palestinian nonviolent protesters are injured by the Israeli military. Ha'aretz highlights Palestinian villagers trapped by Israeli restrictions. Israel denies offering nuclear weapons to apartheid-era South Africa. Israel is retroactively "authorizing" both Palestinian and settler buildings. Hamas claims to have captured an Egyptian "spy." The PA promises to find alternative employment for Palestinian settlement workers. Hussein Shobokshi accuses Israel of preparing a mass expulsion of Palestinians in a coming conflict. ATFP presents a set of resources illustrating US support for a two state solution and its centrality to the American national interest.

No Worries, Israel Insists, Defense Drill Is Just a Drill
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - May 23, 2010 - 12:00am

As Israel embarked on a large-scale civil defense exercise on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to reassure Israelis and some jittery Arab neighbors that the nationwide drill was not meant to signal a deterioration in security or an imminent war. “This is a routine exercise that has been scheduled for some time,” Mr. Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “I would like to make it clear that it is not the result of any exceptional security development. On the contrary, Israel aspires towards calm, stability and peace.”

On being an Arab lawmaker in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - May 23, 2010 - 12:00am

Ahmad Tibi, a member of Israel's parliament, talks about why he thinks democracy in Israel applies only to Jewish citizens, why he'll never accept Israel as a Jewish state and why he'll never leave. Reporting from Jerusalem As one of Israel's few Arab lawmakers, Ahmad Tibi knows how to fight to be heard, even when colleagues don't want to listen.

Transcript: Shimon Peres
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
(Interview) May 24, 2010 - 12:00am

In an exclusive interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Peres said Israel's survival as a Jewish state depended on its ability to conclude a two-state peace deal with the Palestinians. Below is an edited transcript. The Wall Street Journal: Where should we begin?

Hamas faces financial crisis after three-year Israeli blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Erin Cunningham - May 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Hamas has failed to pay in full the monthly salaries of its roughly 30,000 civilian and security employees in the past two months, signaling that the Islamist organization may be in the throes of its first financial crisis since it seized control of Gaza in 2007. "The government is facing a crisis," said Hamas lawmaker Jamal Nassar last month. "The siege on the [Hamas-run] Palestinian government has been tightened recently and because of this it has been unable to bring in funds from abroad."

Borders key to peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Houston Chronicle
by EDWARD P. DJEREJIAN - May 22, 2010 - 12:00am

As U.S. Middle East peace special envoy George Mitchell holds proximity talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, he will have to immediately address two of the timeliest issues in the conflict: the future borders of Israel and a Palestinian state and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The settlements — which are illegal under international law — have been described by both Republican and Democratic administrations as an obstacle to peace.

Israeli army to ease some restrictions on WB movement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 24, 2010 - 12:00am

The Israeli army said Monday evening that it would relieve some of the restrictions placed upon travel in the West Bank, after meeting with Palestinian Authority officials, a statement read. The apparent "good will gestures" include the entry of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and ID cards through all checkpoints into the West Bank, and Tulkarem via the 104 checkpoint at weekends. Restrictions will be eased on senior Palestinian businessmen going through checkpoints and 60 roadblocks will be lifted throughout the West Bank, the army said.

Australia expels Israeli diplomat over Mabhouh hit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 24, 2010 - 12:00am

Australia has expelled an Israeli diplomat after a probe revealed Israel was behind the forging of four Australian passports linked to the murder of a Hamas operative in Dubai, various media outlets reported Monday. Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told parliament that Israel's conduct was "not the actions of a friend," the British Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Settlement goods no longer sold in Italian grocery chains
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 22, 2010 - 12:00am

The Italian Coalition Against Carmel-Agrexco announced Saturday that two major Italian supermarket chains, COOP and Nordiconad, said they would suspend the sale of products from a settlement good exporter. Products from Agrexco, what the coalition calls a "principal exporter of produce from Israel and the illegal Israeli settlements" will be cleared from stores by the end of the month, the director of Nordiconad told the coalition.

Gaza assailants vandalize UN summer camp
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Rizek Abdel Jawad - May 23, 2010 - 12:00am

Armed assailants in black masks burned and vandalized a U.N. summer camp site Sunday and left behind three bullets next to written death threats against U.N. officials — the latest escalation of tensions between Islamic extremists and U.N. representatives in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Also Sunday, a U.N. agency reported that three-quarters of the damage inflicted on Gaza by Israel's war against Hamas more than a year ago has not been repaired or rebuilt. The report warned that the international community is being increasingly sidelined in Gaza because of Israel's blockade of the territory.

Palestinians, Israelis dispute size of land swap
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by David Harris - May 23, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinians and Israelis have agreed to the principle of swapping land in any peace deal, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in Ramallah on Saturday. This is the one concrete advance made public following the launch of indirect peace talks between the two neighbors that took place last week. U.S. special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is heading the proximity talks, which at this stage are between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

3 wounded during West Bank weekly anti-wall demonstration
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Three Palestinians were injured and five others detained during the weekly protests against the separation wall that Israel is building in the West Bank, witnesses and medical sources said Friday. The witnesses said that the Israeli army dispersed by rubber bullets and tear gas canisters a demonstration near the village of Bel'ein, west of Ramallah, in the West Bank.

MESS Report / Palestinian villagers trapped by permanent red light
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - May 24, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel's defense establishment is not permitting residents of the Palestinian village of Sheikh Sa'ad, southeast of Jerusalem, to leave the town in their cars. There are even restrictions on walking out of the village, a privilege reserved for residents with Israeli identity cards.

Israel denies offering nuclear weapons to Apartheid South Africa
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
May 24, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel on Monday vehemently rejected claims in a British newspaper that it offered to sell nuclear warheads to Apartheid-era South Africa in 1975. "There exists no basis in reality for the claims published this morning by The Guardian that in 1975 Israel negotiated with South Africa the exchange of nuclear weapons," the president's office said in a statement.

Report: Israel legalized over 1,600 unauthorized Palestinian homes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - May 24, 2010 - 12:00am

The Civil Administration retroactively legalized 1,611 Palestinian structures built without the necessary permits all over the territories in recent years, according to internal documents obtained by Haaretz. Meanwhile, the High Court of Justice is deliberating over a number of petitions filed by Israeli settlers demanding that the Civil Administration, which deals with non-military issues in the West Bank, retroactively legalize homes built without permits in Jewish towns there.

Hamas: We caught Egyptian spy in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - May 24, 2010 - 12:00am

Hamas' Interior Minister Fathi Hamad on Monday revealed that security forces recently arrested a senior Egyptian officer that infiltrated into the Gaza Strip in order to collect information on its residents and the Hamas government. Hamad added that the officer "was intending to perform other tasks," on which he did not elaborate.

PA minister promises employment for settlement workers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - May 23, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian Social Affairs Minister Majida al-Masri said Sunday that her ministry has begun preparations to absorb 6,000 female Palestinian workers currently employed in the settlements as the ban on Israeli settlement produce progresses. Al-Masri invited the workers to fill out forms in branches of the Social Affairs Ministry in order to find new jobs inside Palestinian Authority territory.

Israel's Transfer Scheme
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Hussein Shobokshi - May 24, 2010 - 12:00am

The eyes of the Arab world are intensely focused on fears of a possible Israeli strike against Lebanon or Syria or even Iran. But the biggest fear lies in the secret scheme that is being whispered against the West Bank. Israel continues to believe that the biggest obstacle to its expansionist policy and settlement construction activities is the Palestinian human "numbers" on the lands of the West Bank. This intense and major Palestinian presence is the "truth" that is facing and delaying Israel's expansionist designs.

Resources on the American National Security Interest in Israeli-Palestinian Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Ziad Asali - May 20, 2010 - 12:00am

My colleagues and I founded the American Task Force on Palestine in 2003 with a clear, focused mission: to advocate that a negotiated end of conflict agreement that allows for two states, Israel and Palestine, to live side-by-side in peace and security is in the American national interest. Over the past seven years, we have been gratified by the development of the understanding that this is a vital national interest for our country into a clear policy focus for our government and a growing consensus within the foreign policy establishment.

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