Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Arab League approves direct negotiations, but analysts believe Pres. Abbas will wait until September to initiate them. Jeffrey Robbins says some of Israel's critics are being unfair. UN officials criticize the seizure of Palestinian residential building in occupied East Jerusalem by settlers and police as “provocative.” A UN committee tells Israel to end the blockade of Gaza. A rocket fired from Gaza hits southern Israel. Palestinian security forces have created a new climate in the West Bank. Yossi Sarid says Palestinians have fulfilled most of their roadmap obligations but Israel hasn't. Daniel Seidemann says Palestinians in Jerusalem are a barely tolerated minority. UN summer camps in Gaza compete with those of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Financial Times interviews PM Fayyad. Ahmad Majdoubeh says security is essential for peace. George Giacaman doubts direct negotiations will change much.

Breakthrough? Abbas gets Arab backing to enter Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Setting the stage for the Palestinians to negotiate directly with Israel, the Arab League agreed in principle today to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas holding face-to-face peace talks with the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The decision of the Arab League's forum on Israeli-Palestinian talks is significant because it provides political cover for Mr. Abbas, who has been locked in a battle for legitimacy with Islamists from Hamas who oppose negotiations with Israel.

For biased critics of Israel, even its defensive actions violate human rights
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Jeffrey Robbins - (Opinion) July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

In 1947, when excusing Soviet totalitarianism had become quite the rage in fashionable progressive circles, George Orwell eviscerated a British politician who consistently defended totalitarians but nevertheless denied that he was a defender of totalitarianism. “But of course he does,” Orwell wrote. “What else could he say? A pickpocket does not go to the races with a label ‘pickpocket’ on his coat lapel, and a propagandist does not describe himself as a propagandist.”

UN envoy says acts in Jerusalem 'provocative'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Robert Serry, the UN special envoy to the Middle East peace process, condemned the takeover by armed settlers of a building in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday. Two Jewish families, protected by Israeli police, entered the building, home to nine Palestinian families, with documents claiming that they owned the property. Israeli National Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said police were examining the documents “to determine whether they are accurate or not."

UN rights body tells Israel to end Gaza blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jonathan Lynn - July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel must lift its military blockade of the Gaza Strip and invite an independent, fact-finding mission to investigate its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, a United Nations rights body said on Friday. The U.N. Human Rights Committee also told Israel to ensure that Palestinians in the occupied territories can enjoy the human rights that Israel had pledged to uphold in the main international human rights treaty.

Gaza rocket ends quiet year for Ashkelon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Douglas Hamilton - July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a rocket into Ashkelon on Israel's Mediterranean coast on Friday, blowing out the windows of an apartment block and damaging parked cars in a residential area of the city. No one was injured in the blast. But the attack ended over a year of calm for the city closest to the enclave ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement and it was likely to trigger a military response by Israel.

Israel believes Abbas will bide time on direct talks until settlement freeze nears end
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff, Natasha Mozgovaya, Barak Ravid - July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Officials in Jerusalem believe that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will attempt to delay at all cost the beginning of direct peace negotiations with Israel, even after the Arab League gave the green light for the process at a special session on Thursday. A senior source in Jerusalem said that Abbas will likely wait until September, when Israel's temporary settlement freeze expires, before declaring his own decision on the matter.

From lynch to escort - cooperating with the PA is bearing fruit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - (Blog) July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Two reservists en route to their Israel Defense Forces base in the West Bank make a wrong turn and find themselves in the heart of a Palestinian city. They run into Palestinian policemen, who demand that they turn themselves in.

We shall be as dreamers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yossi Sarid - (Opinion) July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

This column joins in the call: Let's have proximity talks. For the talks are close, but the proximity is far off. It is not by chance that Benjamin Netanyahu has so far refrained from responding to the questions of the mediator who, had he not identified himself as the representative of a great power, would be suspected of loitering. Why reply, as long as it is possible to put him off with empty verbiage, and every delay is for the best?

A barely tolerated minority
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Daniel Seidemann - July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Hamas-affiliated Palestinian parliament member Mohammed Abu Tir - renowned for his bright orange beard - is my neighbor in Jerusalem. We live about a mile apart. I've never met him, nor do I care to. I have no illusions about Hamas. Abu Tir has just been released after spending four years in Israeli jail in because of his membership of the Change and Reform Party, which is associated with Hamas (and which both Israel and the Palestinian Authority allowed to participate in the 2006 legislative elections ). He is now facing exile. Not new charges, not a new indictment, not a trial.

'Abbas to give negotiations green light by September'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Even though the Arab League agreed in principle to direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas continues to insist on conditions and guarantees before concluding the phase of indirect proximity talks. However, Western diplomats estimate that he will change his stance by the beginning of September. Western diplomatic sources quoted by British Telegraph newspaper on Thursday said Abbas would not withstand the pressure for a very long time, and "is preparing the ground for what could be the gamble of his political career."

Israeli settlers evict Palestinian family from their home of 70 years
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli settlers took over a Palestinian home in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem's Old City today, evicting about 45 members of an extended family which has occupied the building for more than 70 years. The settlers claimed to have documentation to prove they had purchased the building from the owners. The Palestinian tenants, who have been fighting attempts to evict them for many years, were challenging the takeover in court. A police spokesman said the Israelis had entered the home "based on documents claiming that they owned the property".

Playing politics: summer camp for Gaza's children
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

The boys sitting in the shade of an awning erected on a Gaza beach are only half listening to the man addressing them through a megaphone. After all, school's out for the summer and there is football to be played and the sea to be swum in. Some of the 100 or so boys whisper among themselves, others are busy burying their own or a friend's legs in the hot sand. But when the man asks, "What is our slogan?" they snap to attention, responding in unison: "Resistance!"

West Bank leader eyes ‘home stretch to freedom’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck - July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Over the road from the offices of the Palestinian prime minister, a new commercial tower is taking shape – one of countless projects that have sprung up across Ramallah. The building site provides a noisy reminder of the economic boom under way in parts of the occupied West Bank, which registered growth of 8.5 per cent last year. Moreover, the upswing is taking place against a backdrop of relative stability and security. Yet the man most commonly associated with the West Bank’s transformation is far from content.

Sincerity a must for Mideast peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Ahmad Majdoubeh - (Opinion) July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Recent high-level meetings in Washington and the region, and talk about the need for direct negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis on final status issues, indicate that something is in the offing. Peace advocates in the region and abroad always find it positive when the parties to the conflict are moving in the direction of peace, or, at least, exchanging views on how to jump-start the process. Apathy and stalemate are extremely harmful to both peace and the parties involved. As long as the momentum of peace efforts is kept, there is always hope. And hope is essential.

Is there really a difference?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by George Giacaman - (Opinion) July 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Syria and Israel negotiated directly in the US in 2000 and indirectly in 2008. The PLO and Israel negotiated indirectly first in the late 1980s and directly since the start of the Oslo process. Negotiations so far have not led to a comprehensive peace on either track. What moral can be drawn about the modus operandi, direct or indirect? None. The problem lies elsewhere.

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