Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Hamas enforces a ban on water pipes in Gaza, especially for women. Egyptian Pres. Mubarak urges direct negotiations, and analysts say the parties are preparing for them, but Egyptian officials express pessimism. Israel destroys Palestinian structures in the Jordan Valley. The EU and PA launch a program to rebuild the Gaza economy. A Gaza family struggles to survive in a tent. PM Netanyahu says African immigration is threatening Israel's Jewish character. Akiva Eldar says he wouldn't accept a loyalty oath. Alon Ben-Meir says PM Fayyad deserves all possible support. The PA is moving to end a telecommunications monopoly. The BBC profiles the house-by-house struggle over Jerusalem. A woman in Gaza is killed by Israeli shelling. A controversial nine-year-old video surfaces of PM Netanyahu speaking candidly, and The National says it shows that he is not held back by extremists but is one of them. Raghida Dergham says a regional war might serve Israeli and Iranian interests at Arab expense. Rami Khouri says direct talks are likely to fail. The Arab News says Israel must have defined borders. Hussein Ibish says any solution must reflect the basic interests of all parties.

Hamas Moves to Enforce Water Pipe Ban in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Fares Akram - July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

In its latest attempt to try to impose a conservative Islamic way of life on Gaza, Hamas started this weekend to enforce a ban on smoking water pipes in public. Palestinians smoked water pipes, a long-standing pastime, at a cafe in Gaza recently while watching a World Cup match. A spokesman for the Hamas police, Ayman al-Batniji, said that the ban applied only to women and that it was in line with “the Palestinian people’s customs and traditions.” But many cafe owners said they had been ordered to ban water pipes for both men and women.

Egypt's Mubarak urges Israel, Palestinians to move toward direct talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Pressure intensified on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to direct talks with Israel as Egypt held separate, back-to-back meetings with the two sides Sunday in search of a compromise. Abbas says he will not negotiate directly with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu unless Israel agrees to recognize its 1967 frontier as a basis for the borders of a future Palestinian state and accepts the deployment of an international force to guard them. Netanyahu has refused to be pinned down on a framework for negotiations.

Israel continues Jordan Valley demolitions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel's Civil Administration began demolishing over 20 farmer's sheds in the Al-Farisiya area in the northern Jordan Valley on Monday morning, officials said. Director of the Save the Jordan Valley campaign Fathi Khdeirat described the demolitions as an "Israeli policy of collective displacement, aimed at expanding settlement outposts in the northern Jordan Valley."

EU, PA launch program to rebuild Gaza economy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

The EU and the Palestinian Authority officially launched the Private Sector Reconstruction in Gaza program Sunday. The launch coincides with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s visit to the besieged Strip, where she saw two of the 203 companies to benefit from the scheme. In total the EU will contribute €22 million to the program initiated by the PA in the aftermath of Israel’s war on Gaza which began December 2008, a statement said. Together, the PA and EU will target businesses which were destroyed by the attack, providing machinery, building materials and office furniture.

Gaza family struggles to survive in a tent
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Karoun Demirjian - July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

The few dozen yards (meters) of fraying blue tarpaulin and dirt-stained canvas that define the Awaja family's living space can't keep out the cold in winter, or the dust and heat in summer. And when a strong wind blows at night, the shelter caves in on the six children sleeping inside. The Awajas are among thousands whose houses were destroyed during Israel's three-week military offensive against Hamas-ruled Gaza, launched in December 2008 with the aim of halting Palestinian rocket attacks.

Palestinians, Israelis set to start secret direct talks: analysts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Emad Al-Azrak, Wael Naguib - July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

The Middle East region on Sunday witnessed unprecedented meetings focused on promoting the direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held separate talks with Israeli, Palestinian leaders and U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell. Analysts believe that through these extensive meetings, the two sides will be set to start direct talks, maybe secretly, although the indirect negotiations have not been so fruitful.

Netanyahu: Illegal African immigrants - a threat to Israel's Jewish character
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the recent "flood of illegal workers infiltrating from Africa" into Israel was "a concrete threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the country."

I am not declaring loyalty
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Why is the government requiring only those seeking citizenship to have to declare their loyalty to a Jewish and democratic state? I want to do it too! The time has come that all of us, irrespective of whether we are Jews or Muslims, ultra-Orthodox or secular, declare our loyalty to the only Jewish democracy in the world. On one condition: the declaration ceremony would take place in the courtyard of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, following a tour of the center of Hebron.

'Basis for direct talks lacking'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli officials continued to express optimism on Sunday that direct talks with the Palestinians were imminent, even as Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that more needed to be done to bridge the gaps between the two sides. Aboul Gheit’s comments followed a meeting in Cairo between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Hosni Mubarak that were aimed at securing Arab League approval for moving from proximity to direct talks.

The Fayyad difference
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Alon Ben-meir - July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

When the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Salam Fayyad first introduced his plans to build the infrastructure for a future Palestinian state, many Israelis and Palestinians thought of it as nothing more than another Middle Eastern mirage that will leave no lasting impression. A little more than a year later, the plan is showing not only tremendous promise, but has become indispensable to the emergence of a democratic Palestinian state – one living alongside Israel in peace and security.

Cheaper Internet: Next Stop, ‘Palestine’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Benjamin Joffe-Walt - July 18, 2010 - 12:00am

[Jerusalem] Internet is about to get cheaper for Palestinains. Within weeks, the Palestinian Authority will be taking action which is expected to end the virtual monopoly held by the Palestinian Telecommunication Group PalTel over Internet services in its territory. Palestinian Authority Minister of Telecom and Information Mashhour Abu Daka told The Media Line he will be issuing certificates shortly for telecommunications companies wishing to provide Internet services to the Palestinian market.

House-by-house struggle for East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Jeremy Bowen - July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Sometimes you can see just why it is so difficult to make peace in Jerusalem. This city excites strong passions. Not only is it holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians. It is also a national symbol for Israelis and Palestinians. No piece of ground on the planet is more contested. It has changed hands violently many times. On a dusty, narrow and steep street on the Israeli occupied eastern side of the city stands a battered seven-storey building. Scorch marks smudge the stonework around some of the windows.

Mother of five killed by Israeli artillery fire close to Gaza buffer zone
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - July 16, 2010 - 12:00am

A mother of five was killed by Israeli artillery fire when she went to fetch her two-year-old son from outside her village home close to the "buffer zone" created by Israel along its border with Gaza. Three of her relatives were wounded in the shelling earlier this week, but Red Crescent ambulances were not permitted to reach the family for several hours.

Netanyahu admits on video he deceived US to destroy Oslo accord
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - July 18, 2010 - 12:00am

The contents of a secretly recorded video threaten to gravely embarrass not only Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister but also the US administration of Barack Obama. The film was shot, apparently without Mr Netanyahu’s knowledge, nine years ago, when the government of Ariel Sharon had started reinvading the main cities of the West Bank to crush Palestinian resistance in the early stages of the second intifada. At the time Mr Netanyahu had taken a short break from politics but was soon to join Mr Sharon’s government as finance minister.

Three minutes of honesty from Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
July 18, 2010 - 12:00am

The video should be aired on the evening news throughout the world. It reveals in stunning clarity the breadth of the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s disdain for the peace process, the Palestinians, and even Israel’s foremost ally, the US. Aired in Israel, a video shot in 2001 depicts Mr Netanyahu declaring that he personally destroyed the Oslo Accords. He boasts that it was he who prevented the “galloping to the ‘67 lines”. Given that these events transpired nine years ago, it would be possible that Mr Netanyahu’s views have changed; his actions reveal that they have not.

The War to Save Israel and Iran from their Isolation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Raghida Dergham - July 16, 2010 - 12:00am

Whatever feelings one might harbor towards international individual and group stances on Arab problems, it would be useful for everyone to carefully analyze these stances. Indeed, such stances are adapted to the nature of relations between international players, most prominently the five nuclear countries that are permanent members of the Security Council: the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France. Arab concerns during this period are focused on what is going through the mind of Israel and Iran, as well as Turkey to a lesser extent.

The deceptive promise of direct talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - July 17, 2010 - 12:00am

I am not privy to the discussions that took place privately between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month in the White House. From the noise and chatter that has followed this meeting, I believe we should start pondering the consequences of the likelihood that there will be no resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict during this generation. I base this pessimistic short-term outlook on several premises:

Foundation of peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
July 18, 2010 - 12:00am

It might seem Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas forgot something when he recently put forth only one condition to resume direct peace talks: That Israel accept its 1967 frontier as a baseline for the borders of a Palestinian state. Abbas did not state the usual prerequisites — the halt of Jewish settlements, that Jerusalem be the capital of the future Palestinian state, the right of return or the return of Palestinian prisoners.

Ibish, why do you keep talking about what the Israelis will accept?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - July 19, 2010 - 12:00am

It is frequently asked, although rarely directly to my face, “why does Ibish always talk/only seem to care (some version of that) about what Jewish Israelis will accept rather than what Palestinians want?” This question was recently repeated in a tweet, although not, as usual, directly addressed to me. Nonetheless, I do want to answer it because this confusion lies at the heart of a gulf of misunderstanding between the analyses I have been developing in recent years and much conventional wisdom among Arab-Americans and other pro-Palestinian groups.

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