Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Hussein Ibish says Palestinians are quietly building their state. Israel plans to ease the land blockade of Gaza. Hamas calls it a "trick" and the PLO "insufficient." In July, Presbyterians will vote on a report that condemns Israeli policies in the occupied territories. The UN says last year Israel removed 20% of West Bank checkpoints. US lawmakers harshly criticize Turkey, seek terrorism status for flotilla group. Pres. Abbas says the US and Palestinian positions on peace are virtually identical. Fatah says completely lifting the siege is linked to national reconciliation. Israel prevented a prominent Palestinian journalist from accompanying Abbas on his recent US trip. Ari Shavit says PM Netanyahu and DM Barak need to take urgent steps. Turkey may downgrade relations with Israel. Syrian Pres. Assad says a war is now likely. Larry Derfner says Israel should help PA statebuilding. Official Canadian support for Israel is growing. Arab states are urged to meet aid commitments to the Palestinians. Osman Mirghani says Jews should help Israel develop sounder policies. Michael Jansen calls Israel's flotilla commission a sham.

While No One's Looking, the Palestinians Are Building a State
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Hussein Ibish - June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

In the world of Palestinian politics, the recent weeks have been a study in contrasts. The international media has trained its focus off the shores of Gaza, where the flotilla fiasco has generated dramatic images of dead civilians and battered Israeli soldiers. The politics of this incident reflect the traditional sturm und drang of the Palestinian national movement: full of grand gestures and transformative ambitions that might result in bloodshed and embarrassment for Israel, but make no substantive contribution to Palestinian liberation.

Israel Easing Gaza Land Blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel said on Thursday it was easing a land blockade of the Gaza Strip that drew heightened international criticism after its deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Hamas-run territory. A new Israeli-approved product list included all food items, toys, stationery, kitchen utensils, mattresses and towels, said Raed Fattouh, the Palestinian coordinator of supplies to the enclave.

Presbyterian report condemns Israeli policies in Palestinian territories
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by David Waters - June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

America's largest Presbyterian denomination is preparing for a contentious General Assembly next month as delegates will be asked to consider approving a strongly worded report that calls on the U.S. to stop sending billions of dollars in aid to Israel until it changes its policy toward Palestinians. "Israel has both the responsibility and the ability to reverse the course of the precipitous decline throughout the region," states the 172-page report "Breaking Down Walls," written by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s nine-member Middle East Study Committee.

Erekat slams Israeli 'claim' of relaxed Gaza siege
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat called the Israeli cabinet decision to ease Gaza restrictions "not sufficient," in a statement released moments after the decision was announced. "With this decision, Israel attempts to make it appear that it has eased its four-year blockade and its even longer-standing access and movement restrictions imposed on the population of Gaza. In reality, the siege of the Gaza Strip, illegally imposed on Palestinians continues unabated," the statement read.

UN: Israel removed some checkpoints
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

A senior UN official said Israel has dismantled 20 percent of its West Bank checkpoints in the past year, according to the Associated Press. Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN humanitarian affairs office in Jerusalem, said Israel has removed 121 checkpoints, easing Palestinian movement between villages and towns, but 505 checkpoints and dozens of road obstacles still hinder travel, AP reported. Israel has said it has removed dozens of roadblocks.

US lawmakers rap Turkey for its stance on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

U.S. lawmakers warned Turkey on Wednesday that its ties with Washington would suffer if it continued on what they considered an anti-Israel path. "There will be a cost if Turkey stays on its present heading of growing closer to Iran and more antagonistic to the state of Israel," Representative Mike Pence, the No. 3 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, said. At a news conference, Republicans and Democrats denounced NATO ally Turkey for supporting an aid convoy of ships that recently tried to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Hamas calls Israeli decision to ease siege "trick"
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Gaza-ruling Islamic Hamas movement on Thursday described Israel's decision to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip as "a trick." "This is a new trick aiming at enhancing the siege's image and securing its continuation instead of lifting and ending it," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Xinhua. The Israeli security cabinet, which comprises top ministers, on Thursday approved a series of measures to increase cargo flow to the Hamas-controlled territory as a result of international criticism over the effectiveness of the sanctions that Israel has imposed three years ago to isolate Hamas.

Abbas: Palestinian, U.S. positions "completely identical"
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he feels the Palestinian National Authority ( PNA) and the U.S. administration's positions are completely identical. Abbas, who returned Wednesday to the West Bank after visiting five countries, including the United States, said "the most important thing in this tour is that the U.S. and Palestinian positions were completely identical." "There are no differences between me and President Barack Obama on any issue," Abbas told the Ramallah-based al-Ayyam newspaper.

Lifting Gaza blockade linked with inter-Palestinian reconciliation: Fatah official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Hamada al-Hattab, Osama Radi - June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

A Gaza-based senior official in President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party said Wednesday that ending the three-year Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip is linked with reaching an inter-reconciliation treaty. Zakareya al-Agha, member of Fatah central committee and Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) executive committee, told Xinhua in a special interview on the occasion of Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip by force for three years that "Lifting the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip is linked with reaching a real inter-Palestinian reconciliation."

Top Palestinian journalist barred from Jerusalem due to 'security considerations'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yossi Melman - June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

The latest gimmick of the Israeli occupation under the guise of "security considerations" has emerged. The test subject: Nasser Laham, a Palestinian journalist from Bethlehem who is close with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and who advocates peace with Israel.

Twins under siege
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Two or three times a week Defense Minister Ehud Barak's bureau receives a telephone call from the White House. On the line is Biden - Vice President of the United States Joe Biden. The conversation between Joe and Ehud is almost always friendly, almost always solving difficult problems amicably. Joe is what America used to be and Ehud is what Israel used to be. Together they're trying to restore the American-Israeli alliance to what it used to be.

Turkey may not send Israel envoy back
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

A government official says Turkey is considering downgrading diplomatic relations with Israel and reviewing economic and military cooperation unless Jerusalem takes steps to make amends for the deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships. The official said Thursday Turkey wants Israel to apologize for the raid, return the seized ships, agree to an international investigation and offer compensation for the victims. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules. The official said Turkey's envoy will not return if demands are not met "within a reasonable timeframe."

Assad: War likely after flotilla raid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Israel's attack on the Gaza aid flotilla has increased the chances of war in the Middle East, in a BBC interview on Wednesday. Assad said that Syria was working to prevent a regional war but he added that there was no chance of a peace deal with the current Israeli administration, which he called a "pyromaniac government".

Rattling the Cage: Dodo birds vs. Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - (Opinion) June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

There are off-the-record sources saying West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas told the Americans he wanted Israel’s blockade of Gaza to continue. Abbas denies it, of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true. After all, if Israel lifts the blockade, Hamas will be able to tell Palestinians: “We chased the Zionists out of Gaza with resistance, with jihad, and look at the West Bank – they’re everywhere, taking our land, standing over us with their guns. The collaborators Abbas and Fayyad have to beg ‘Mr. Bibi’ to lift a few checkpoints, and then they’re expected to say thank you.”

Canada: Israel's new defender
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Jesse Rosenfeld - June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

At a time when many countries are becoming more critical of Israel's policies, Canada seems to be moving in the opposite direction. A general reluctance to engage in open debate about the Palestinian issue is exacerbated by pro-Israel groups' efforts to shut down discussion and the federal government's unprecedented penchant for defending Israeli actions.

Arab nations urged to meet aid promises
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck - June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Arab countries have been urged to use more of their oil wealth to help the Palestinians after figures showed they contributed only 1.5 per cent of the general budget for the United Nations agency charged with supporting the Palestinian refugee community.

Push To Sanction Backers of Gaza Flotilla Gains Steam in U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Washington — Jewish groups, working with congressional leaders, are pressing to designate one of the main organizers of the humanitarian flotilla that sought to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza as a terrorist group.

Allegiance to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Osman Mirghani - June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

"It would have been hypocritical for me not to speak out about Israeli violations of international law simply because I am Jewish." This is what Judge Richard Goldstone said in self-defense against the violent attack that he faced from South African Jewish leaders and Israel as a result of his report on the Gaza War.

Another sham inquiry
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to appoint an internal commission of inquiry into Israel's commando raid on the Freedom Flotilla that left nine people dead because he is scared stiff of another independent commission of inquiry. Israel is still reeling from the Goldstone report that said it should be investigated for possible war crimes for its 2008-09 onslaught on Gaza.

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