Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The US Administration and the Quartet welcome Israel's decision to ease the blockade of Gaza and Palestinian President Abbas calls for a full lifting of the siege. Prime Minister Netanyahu defends the decision domestically, as ships are set to leave from Lebanon and Iran. Ze'ev Segal examines the mandate of the committee appointed by the Israeli government to investigate the flotilla raid. President Obama is set to meet PM Netanyahu in Washington on July 6 amid reported plans to demolish Palestinian homes and build new settlement units in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Post examines tensions between Hamas and Fatah while Ma’an News Agency report on an upcoming meeting between Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran in Damascus. Khairallah Khairallah examines how the Arabs' illusive search for the ideal hero leaves them vulnerable to external manipulation.

Israeli Easing of Blockade of Gaza Draws Praise of U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - June 20, 2010 - 12:00am

Bowing to worldwide pressure and condemnation, Israel on Sunday formally announced an eased blockade of Gaza that could significantly expand the flow of goods overland into the impoverished coastal Palestinian enclave, isolated by the Israelis for three years.

Obama to meet with Israel's Netanyahu on July 6
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

President Obama's latest White House meeting with Israel's prime minister is set for July 6 -- more than a month after their last one was scuttled at the last minute. Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu had planned talks on June 1. But that fell apart after Israel's deadly raid May 31 on an aid flotilla hoping to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. The raid has strained U.S. and Israeli relations, and the White House has announced a $400 million aid package for Gaza and the West Bank.

Lebanon grants permit for blockade-busting ship bound for Gaza to sail to Cyprus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Zeina Karam - June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Another blockade-busting ship with activists and aid on board could embark within days on a new attempt to reach Gaza after Lebanese authorities granted permission Monday for it to sail first to Cyprus. Israeli navy commandos raided a blockade-busting international flotilla bound for Gaza on May 31, killing nine pro-Palestinian activists. An international outcry over the raid pressured Israel to ease its three-year-old blockade of the Palestinian territory.

Middle East monitors welcome Israel's shift on Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators on Monday welcomed Israel's decision to ease its blockade of Gaza but said the situation in the territory remained "unsustainable and unacceptable". In a statement agreed during a conference call, the Quartet -- the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations -- said Israel's change of policy towards Gaza was encouraging but said much more needed to be done to alleviate pressure on the Palestinian territory's population.

Jerusalem revives plan to raze Palestinian homes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Amy Teibel - June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

A Jerusalem planning body on Monday approved a plan to raze 22 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem to make room for an Israeli tourist center, a decision that could raise tensions in the divided city and deepen the conflict with the Obama adminstration. Back in March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pressured Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to hold up the plan so authorities could consult with Palestinians who would lose their homes — a delay that appeared to be aimed at fending off criticism from the U.S.

Israel drafting new list of goods banned from Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Mark Lavie - June 20, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel pledged Sunday it will immediately allow all goods into Gaza except weapons and items deemed to have a military use under its decision to ease its three-year-old blockade of the Palestinian territory. The list of banned goods replaces an old list of allowed items that permitted only basic humanitarian supplies for the 1.5 million Gazans. Under the new system, the government said practically all non-military items can enter Gaza freely.

Abbas asks int'l community to press Israel to end Gaza siege
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called for international pressure on Israel to lift its three-year blockade on the Gaza Strip, a statement by his office said. Abbas made his call during a meeting with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who is serving as an envoy to the Quartet committee of Middle East peace players. "Mr. Abbas requested obliging Israel to lift the Gaza siege completely according to international resolutions," the statement said.

Ground broken for 600 J'lem settler homes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli construction vehicles and bulldozers began digging in Jerusalem on Monday morning, in what is believed to be ground work for the building of some 600 new settlement units. The homes were announced in late February, and are set to be built near the illegal Pisgat Ze'ev settlement and the Palestinian neighborhood of Shu'fat. The number was reduced from 1,100 to 600, when it was revealed that much of the land was owned privately by Palestinians, the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported at the time.

Hizbullah, Hamas, Iran to meet in Damascus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian opposition factions, Hizbullah officials and a delegation of Iranians, will soon meet in Damascus, the Kuwaiti Al-Anba daily newspaper reported on Monday. The meeting, according to the anonymous source quoted in the paper, will take place in late June, under official Syrian patronage, in an effort to activate resistance in the region in light of an expected Israeli offensive against Iran or against Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Noam Shalit slams Netanyahu over ease of Gaza blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Noam Shalit, father of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, lashed out Monday at the government over its decision to ease the land siege on the Gaza Strip and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of surrendering to international pressure. "Yesterday, in a confident voice and without compromise Netanyahu announced the change in policy on the Gaza siege," said Noam Shalit. "In other words, he announced, 'I surrendered to international pressure that was applied to us' and we are asking where Gilad stands in this equation. We are asking where is Gilad, our son?"

Clipped wings
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ze'ev Segal - (Opinion) June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

The Turkel Committee that is investigating the handling of last month's Gaza-bound flotilla - otherwise known as the "independent public committee" - convened last week for a preparatory meeting. The committee is a kind of Israeli council of sages whose purposes are to examine whether the naval blockade and the way it was enforced were compatible with international law, and to placate the world, especially the United States.

Hamas, Fatah crisis continues
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Efforts to end the crisis between Hamas and Fatah suffered a setback over the weekend when Egypt announced that it won’t make any changes to its plan to achieve reconciliation between the two parties. Hamas said last week that it would accept the Egyptian initiative only if Cairo agreed to make some changes in it. Hamas is worried that the Egyptian initiative will undermine its authority in the Gaza Strip and allow the Palestinian Authority to reassume full control over the area. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday that Cairo would not succumb to Hamas pressur

Gaza still off limits to dignitaries
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Despite Sunday’s government decision to significantly increase the goods and materials to be allowed into the Gaza Strip, Israel’s policy of not opening the door to foreign politicians is still in place. Jerusalem recently turned down a request by Dirk Niebel, Germany’s minister of economic cooperation and development, to go to Gaza from Israel. Niebel, who has asked permission on numerous occasions, both before and since the Mavi Marmara incident, is scheduled to meet Monday with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

Misled by mythical heroes, Arabs still keep dreaming
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Khairallah Khairallah - June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

The Arab world continues its search for the ideal hero. Within our culture there is a steadfast determination to find the perfect representative – and a strict adherence to the image of a saviour on a white horse. In the popular imagination, it is an image of a hero who will come and, with the help of the Almighty, rescue Arabs from the dire straits in which they find themselves. Tens of millions go to sleep every night, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf, dreaming about his arrival.

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