Middle East News: World Press Roundup

ATFP President Ziad Asali analyzes the Palestine Investment Conference. The CSM asks what drives PM Netanyahu and says Israel's easing of the Gaza blockade shows that progress is possible. Palestinians are divided on the blockade easing. Ha'aretz says it is a victory for the activists, but that the decision was not announced in Hebrew. Experts say it's not a lasting solution. The National calls it a ploy. Peace Now says settlers are still building in spite of the moratorium. Special Envoy Mitchell holds talks with Pres. Abbas, and urges restraint in a meeting with DM Barak. Ha'aretz profiles Israel's inner cabinet. The Palestinian cause finds strong support in Ireland. The World Zionist Congress votes in favor of a two-state solution and a settlement freeze. Rami Khouri says Pres. Obama is facing a test of his credibility. Dominique Moisi says Israeli political reform is essential.

Palestine is open for business!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Ziad Asali - (Blog) June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Almost everything about the second Palestine Investment Conference held in Bethlehem in early June, which I had the honor of attending as a member of President Barack Obama's official delegation, was encouraging.

Beyond the Gaza blockade: What drives Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

It was one of those moments in Israeli politics – any nation's politics – in which the numbers just don't add up. Lawmakers had been toiling all night trying to fashion a budget. Now night had turned into dawn and debate into occasional tempestuousness when, at 7 a.m., Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strode into the Knesset in his trademark crisp white shirt, designer tie, and dark suit.

Israel partially lifts its blockade of Gaza - and lifts hope for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
(Editorial) June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

An inkling of hope for Middle East peace may be one result of Thursday’s decision by Israel to ease its three-year-old blockade of basic goods for the Palestinian enclave of Gaza. The hope lies not so much in a slightly better life for the poor Gazans – who are nearly totally dependent on aid. Rather, the world can note that this decision was forced upon the Israeli government after its botched May 31 raid on an aid ship bound for the tiny strip of Palestinian land between Egypt and Israel.

Palestinians divided on blockade changes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian analysts disagreed with officials on Thursday, over the issue of Israel's cabinet decision to change the methods by which the siege on Gaza was implemented, apparently to allow in a greater number of goods including construction materials. While officials in the PA, the Quartet and the UN all welcomed the announcement described by one analyst as an "announcement that the siege will continue," and neither side saw the move as a real solution.

Settlers 'building in West Bank despite freeze'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Google News
June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli settlers are continuing to build in the occupied West Bank despite a partial moratorium on new projects that expires later this year, the Peace Now settlement watchdog said Thursday. Authorities do not appear to have issued any new construction permits since the start of the year, but the group said it had documented dozens of instances in which settlers have begun building new structures in violation of the ban. "Peace Now in the past few months has recorded a significant slowdown in building starts, but not a complete cessation," it said in a statement.

Mitchell holds talks with Abbas in Ramallah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

U.S. peace envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell arrived on Friday in the West Bank city of Ramallah and immediately held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, official Palestinian sources said. The sources said that Mitchell met with Abbas to follow up the U.S.-sponsored proximity talks, which were officially launched between Israel and the Palestinians on May 9. Meanwhile, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official, said in a statement that President Abbas is awaiting to hear the Israeli answers that Mitchell is carrying with him.

Israeli ease of blockade not lasting solution for Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by David Harris - June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel will in the near future lift some of the restrictions placed on the import of goods into the Gaza Strip. The decision was taken on Thursday by the country' s security cabinet, comprising senior government ministers. The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a brief statement to the media immediately after the meeting, which lasted for two days, but government spokespeople would not detail the measures to be taken.

MESS Report / Easing of Gaza blockade marks victory for flotilla activists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Despite the contradictory statements issued by the Prime Minister's Office yesterday, the general direction is clear. Whether the decision has already been made, as the English statement indicates, or will become official only at a later stage, as the Hebrew statement implies, Israel has folded.

Israel announces let-up to Gaza siege - but only in English
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

The Prime Minister's Office announced on Thursday that the security cabinet had agreed to relax Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip, but as it turns out, no binding decision was ever made during the cabinet meeting. The Prime Minister's Office issued a press release in English following the meeting, which was also sent to foreign diplomats, was substantially different than the Hebrew announcement – according to the English text, a decision was made to ease the blockade, but in the Hebrew text there was no mention of any such decision.

The seven pillars of wisdom: Who's who in Israel's decision-making forum
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Doron Rosenblum - June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

As to the Rock of Gibraltar, which thrusts, stable and trustworthy, out of the tempestuous waters below, so the eyes of the Jewish nation are uplifted in these turbulent times to the Ministerial Forum of Seven.

Mitchell: Show restraint, avoid clashes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Laboring under the cloud of the flotilla episode and its aftermath, US envoy George Mitchell held separate meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak Thursday as part of his fourth round of indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians. One diplomatic official quipped that it was probably a good thing the talks were indirect, because if they had been direct, on May 31, when the IDF raided the Gaza flotilla and nine people on the boat were killed, PA President Mahmoud Abbas would have been forced to cancel the negotiations.

Israel and the Palestinians: The Irish connection
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Vincent Dowd - June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

For three years journalist Eoghan Harris has been an independent member of the Irish Senate. How does it feel being avowedly pro-Israel in today's Republic of Ireland? The Senator sighs. "I would probably be the only voice currently in the upper house of the Irish parliament to support Israel. "The fact is there's a whole consensus now in Ireland against Israel." Few would disagree. For a small nation, the involvement in attempts to deliver aid to Gaza by sea has been notable. At the end of May there were Irish nationals in the original flotilla.

Zionist Congress calls for settlement freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

(JTA) -- The World Zionist Congress passed a resolution endorsing a two-state solution and a West Bank settlement freeze. The vote in Jerusalem came a day after some opponents of the resolution walked out of a meeting of the 36th Congress’ settlement committee. Following the walkout, the remainder of the meeting was chaired by Hadar Susskind, the vice president of policy and strategy at J Street, which favors U.S. pressure on Israel toward a two-state solution.

Easing of blockade is an Israeli ploy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

This is no easing of the blockade. Israel’s national security cabinet voted yesterday to “liberalise” the system for transferring civilian goods into the beleaguered Gaza Strip. Other than allowing some construction materials into the Strip for some “civilian projects”, the office of Israel’s prime minister offered few details. After they were barred for three years, it took until March for Israel to allow Gazans to receive shoes. Who knows what weapons those clever shabab from Hamas are concocting at this very moment with a rubber sole and a shoelace or two?

Is Obama believable?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Rami Khouri - June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

A few days ago, during a meeting at the White House with visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, US President Barack Obama made an important statement, calling for a new approach to allowing Gazans to trade freely with the world while protecting Israel’s legitimate security needs. It sounded to many, including myself, like a serious and sensible shift in policy, and a long-needed one. Why, then, does it generate mainly yawns and disbelief?

Israeli political reform has become a life or death matter
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Adi Mintz - (Opinion) June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

What is wrong with Israel? In the last few years, the country seems to have done more than all of its combined enemies to delegitimize itself in the eyes of the world. The apparent inability of its leaders to think in strategic terms, and their indifference to the tribunal of global public opinion, is resulting in growing frustration among its citizens. And what may be more dangerous in this, such behavior is also deepening Israel’s international isolation.

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