Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel vows to intercept the Gaza flotilla. Jacob Dayan insists Israel is a democracy. Israel's entry into the OECD is shrouded in controversy over occupation statistics. Pres. Obama and Pres. Abbas will meet on June 9 to discuss negotiations, state building. In response to PM Netanyahu, Abbas says direct negotiations should begin after borders have been agreed. Hamas dismisses the latest Amnesty International report as "a joke." Details of the Gaza blockade baffle observers. The PA establishes a $50 million fund to help Palestinian settlement laborers find alternative work. The Israeli military issues new rules of engagement. Over 100 Palestinian children report abusive treatment by Israeli soldiers in 2009. Yossi Sarid says Israel is better at boycotting than the Palestinians. PM Fayyad hands out boycott leaflets in the West Bank. The new National Security Strategy document affirms the US interest in Palestinian statehood. Israel establishes a mechanism to "compensate" settlers for the partial moratorium. An extremist rabbi bans women from settlement elections. Aluf Benn calls for an interim agreement based on provisional Palestinian statehood.

Defying Blockade, Cargo and Passenger Vessels Head for Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - May 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel braced Friday for a showdown with a flotilla of nine vessels carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists and thousands of tons of supplies headed for Gaza. It was the most ambitious attempt so far to break Israel’s maritime blockade of the Hamas-run coastal enclave. The flotilla of cargo ships and passenger boats, led by the Free Gaza Movement and a Turkish organization, Insani Yardim Vakfi, converged at sea from a number of countries over the last 10 days.

Yes, Israel's a democracy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Jacob Dayan - (Opinion) May 27, 2010 - 12:00am

The Jewish state of Israel is a diverse nation that has absorbed people from more than 140 countries. Among its population are about 1.5 million Arabs, including Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, who in a May 23 Times interview lashed out at Israel, using inflammatory words like "racist" and "fascist." As is his style, Tibi failed to back up his white-hot rhetoric with hard facts.

Political coup? Israel welcomed into OECD despite criticism over Gaza, settlements.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Erin Cunningham - May 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel won an important symbolic victory against its international critics today, as it officially joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Membership in the elite, staunchly capitalist 31-member club has long been sought by Israel as a stamp of approval on its efforts to transform itself from a nation of socialist farmers to a high-tech powerhouse that dramatically outperforms its Middle Eastern neighbors.

Obama extends White House invite to Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

One day after White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington, the same offer was extended to President Mahmoud Abbas. A statement from the White House press secretary released on Thursday morning confirmed that Abbas would sit with US President Barack Obama on 9 June, almost a week after Netanyahu meets with the leader. Netanyahu will head to Canada later in the week on a previously scheduled visit, and from there travel south to the US for his meeting with Obama on Tuesday 1 June.

Abbas: Direct talks only after borders solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

President Mahmud Abbas told reporters in Malaysia that no second phase of proximity talks would be initiated until mediators had successfully set down borders for a Palestinian state. Speaking during the second leg of his Asia tour, Abbas said Thursday that the current proximity talks focused on borders and security, key elements and confidence measures set up as first points of discussion by Palestinian and Israeli negotiations officials respectively.

Hamas calls Amnesty report a joke
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Hamas' Salah Al-Bardawil said Amnesty International's comparison of resistance projectiles to Israel's war on Gaza last year must have been done in irony, given the total misalignment of consequences of the two. "Tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed or disfigured, their limbs were amputated or they lost their homes," the Hamas official said of Israeli strikes on Gaza and the impact of the country's Operation Cast Lead last winter.

Israel's Gaza blockade baffles residents
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Diaa Hadid - May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Military bureaucrats enforcing Israel's blockade of Gaza allow frozen salmon filet, facial scrub and low-fat yogurt into the Hamas-ruled territory. Cilantro and instant coffee are another matter — they are banned as luxury items. Over the past three years, Israel has determined down to the tiniest detail what gets into the Gaza Strip and to its population of 1.5 million, using secret guidelines to differentiate between humanitarian necessities and nonessential luxuries in its blockade meant to squeeze the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Palestinian fund to help workers quitting jobs at Jewish settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, May 27 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian government will soon launch a fund of 50 million U.S. dollars with the aim of supporting Palestinian workers who intend to leave their jobs at Israeli settlements, labor minister at the Ramallah-based government said Thursday. "The government has adopted this choice since it has made its decision to boycott the Israeli settlements," Ahmed Majdalani told Xinhua.

IDF outlines rules of engagement in populated areas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anshel Pfeffer - May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

For the first time, the IDF has produced a document defining rules of engagement for the military during combat in areas of civilian population. It incorporates lessons gleaned from Operation Cast Lead, the Goldstone report and reports by human rights groups on IDF activities in Gaza. The document, prepared two weeks ago in the IDF's Concepts and Doctrine Section headed by Colonel Meir Finkel, is the army's first attempt to formulate a theory regarding IDF commanders' expected conduct during combat in a populated area.

Over 100 Palestinian minors reported abuse in IDF, police custody in 2009
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Most Palestinian children arrested by the Israel Defense Forces and police are intimidated, abused and maltreated in custody, according to the sworn testimonies of minors who were arrested last year. This happens both before and during interrogation, and several minors have been sexually assaulted. The Palestinian branch of the non-governmental organization Defense for Children International has asked the United Nations to probe complaints of sexual assaults.

A sour pickle
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yossi Sarid - (Opinion) May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Ehud Barak was once asked how he would behave if he were a young Palestinian living all his life under an occupation that refused to go away. I would have joined one of the terror organizations, he said without hesitating. All this happened while Barak's party was still alive and before he became his master's apprentice. Barak, of course, got carried away. No decent person would ever agree to be a terrorist, no matter what the reason for his struggle. My worldview would not allow me to kill random passersby whose bad luck it was to be on a bus during an explosion.

Fayyad hands out settlement boycott leaflets
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ali Waked - May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinians will continue to adhere to the anti-settlement boycott until their homes "will be empty of settlement goods," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Thursday. The PM passed out leaflets on Thursday urging consumers to boycott products made by Jewish settlements in the West Bank. He handed out leaflets bearing the names and pictures of 500 items on the black list of his Palestinian Authority, from peanuts to door frames.

'Israeli-Arab peace a US priority'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Hilary Leila Krieger - May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the top US national security priorities, according to the National Security Strategy released by the White House on Thursday. Along with defeating al-Qaida, leading the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and ending the Iran challenge to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the strategy refers to Arab-Israeli peace as an important American interest.

Gov't to compensate W. Bank settlers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Rebecca Anna Stoil - May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

The government is expected to announce the compensation formula for settlers harmed by the six-month-old new-construction moratorium in the coming weeks, although it is still not certain how much money needs to be budgeted due to ongoing negotiations, sources close to the talks told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.

West Bank rabbi bans women from local election
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

The chief rabbi of a West Bank settlement has prohibited women from standing in a local community election. Rabbi Elyakim Levanon of the Elon Moreh settlement, near Nablus, said women lacked the authority to stand for the post of local secretary. He wrote in a community newspaper that women must only be heard through their husbands. No women have registered for the election due to be held later on Wednesday, Israeli media reported.

A way forward for Netanyahu and Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Globe and Mail
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

After much effort, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has succeeded in resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace process through “proximity talks.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is visiting Canada this weekend, and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas meet separately with U.S. envoy George Mitchell to discuss the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

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