Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Hezbollah's leader again accuses Israel of responsibility for the assassination of former Lebanese PM Hariri. Micah Zenko says Israel should be open about its nuclear arsenal. A PA official denies claims by Fatah officials that a cabinet reshuffle is imminent. Israel will increase water supplies to Bethlehem. Israeli officials testify at the flotilla attack inquiry, and DM Barak takes full responsibility but contradicts PM Netanyahu. Pres. Abbas will again ask the US for clear terms of reference for direct talks and Akiva Eldar says he faces a difficult choice. Barak says that a robust peace process will end international pressure on Israel. Ami Ayalon says Israel should begin the process of voluntary resettlement of settlers back into Israel. Settler rabbis refuse to be interrogated over a book authorizing the killing of non-Jews. Asharq Al-Awsat interviews PLO official Ahmed Qurei. Shlomo Ben-Ami warns that if mishandled, the peace process could lead to war. The Arab News says Hamas is wrong to condemn the Arab League's approval of direct negotiations. Hussein Ibish looks at political and regional influences on Hamas' policies.

Hezbollah Leader Says Israel Was Involved in Lebanese Assassination
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Nada Bakri - August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

In a two-hour long television appearance, Hezbollah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, offered Monday what he contended was evidence proving Israel’s involvement in the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in a 2005 bombing.

Israel, the bomb, and openness
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Micah Zenko - (Opinion) August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

It's time for Israel to come out of the closet. After five decades of maintaining a nuclear weapons program without acknowledging its existence, Israel should proactively announce and provide information about its nuclear weapons status. Though Israel's bombs have long been an open secret, unprecedented international scrutiny in coming years will make this "nuclear opacity" increasingly untenable.

PA official denies reports of Cabinet reshuffle
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority Cabinet’s secretary-general denied on Monday that a government reshuffle was imminent. Speaking to Ma’an radio, Na’im Abu Al-Hummus said Prime Minister Salam Fayyad informed the Cabinet that it was not the right time to form a new government Monday’s weekly meeting in Ramallah. The remarks followed Fatah's parliament speaker Azzam Al-Ahmad’s announcement Sunday that a new Cabinet would be formed within two weeks. Reports of a reshuffle first surfaced in February, and were confirmed by President Mahmoud Abbas until May.

Israel to transfer extra water to Bethlehem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli authorities have approved an increase in water supplies to the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Palestinian officials said Monday. Dr Shaddad Al-Attili, head of the Palestinian Water Authority, said that following negotiations with the Israeli water company Mekerot, an extra 2,000 cubic meters of water would be delivered daily for a limited period beginning this week. Al-Attili said the Water Authority would launch a campaign with police to punish anyone caught stealing water or using others’ water illegally.

Israel weighed all options in Gaza boat raid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel exhausted all other options before carrying out its deadly raid on a Turkish aid flotilla enroute to the blockaded Gaza Strip, Defence Minister Ehud Barak told a government-appointed inquiry on Tuesday. Barak also said he was told by Israel's military chief that the operation "won't be simple, but we can get it done". Nine Turks were shot dead when Israeli commandos stormed the lead ship on May 31. Israel says its commandos used live fire only after being attacked with clubs, knives and gunfire by activists who it says were clearly prepared for violence.

Abbas to reject direct talks before setting peace references
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will tell the visiting U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell that he will not go to direct talks unless peace references are set, a Palestinian official said Tuesday. Abbas will meet Tuesday with Mitchell in the West Bank city of Ramallah to discuss the efforts made to push forward the stalled peace process. "We reiterated in many occasions that we are ready to jump to direct talks," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told the official Voice of Palestine radio.

Three times no
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

At the start of his last meeting with George Mitchell at the Muqata'a in Ramallah about three weeks ago, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen ) introduced the American envoy to an unfamiliar person: "I'd like you to meet Yasser al-Masri, a head of the Takamul (Wholeness ) group, which is calling for the establishment of a single state on the land of historical Palestine."

'I take full responsibility,' Barak tells Gaza flotilla probe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday took "full responsibility" for Israel's deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May, saying the government had foreseen the potential for violence when it decided to launch the operation. Testifying before an Israeli investigative committee - which foreshadows an impending United Nations probe - Barak said he accepted full responsibility for the instructions given to the military over its interception of six Gaza-bound ships.

Barak: Peace process will get world off our back
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Atilla Somfalvi - August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak took advantage of his testimony to the Turkel Committee, probing the deadly Navy raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, to voice political messages as well. "The key for changing Israel's legitimacy, and the ability to get the world off our back, is to restart a comprehensive peace process, to utilize the chance to reach agreements to the fullest, particularly with the Palestinians, despite the difficult price," he said.

Barak contradicts Netanyahu's testimony on flotilla
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Atilla Somfalvi - August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Speaking before the Turkel Commission probing the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla in May, Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday contradicted statement's made by the prime minister on Monday, who told the committee the seven-minister forum only discussed the media aspects of stopping the flotilla and did not address the operational aspects.

Hamas on killing spree in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Alex Fishman - August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

News stories about bodies found at sea are occasionally published by Gaza newspapers. The number of such bodies isn't huge, yet not all those drowning victims chose to go swimming voluntarily. The Gazans who found their death at sea include mid-level officials at sensitive government ministries, the Interior Ministry for example, alongside police and security officers. Some of them were shot in the head before being sent on their swim.

'Voluntary Settler Return Law’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Ami Ayalon - August 9, 2010 - 12:00am

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is impossible to defer any longer. Most importantly, we will soon be facing the end of the construction freeze imposed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last year, the convening of the Knesset’s winter session, the recent Arab League resolutions and the elections for the two houses of Congress in the United States. This quadrangle of political influence is a signal that we must act now.

Rabbis refuse questioning over war book
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Lappin - August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Two prominent rabbis from the national-religious camp refused police requests on Monday that they undergo questioning for their endorsements of a controversial book authored by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. The book, Torat Hamalech (The King’s Torah), discusses the rules of war and states that in certain situations, non-Jews can be killed. The book has attracted a firestorm of controversy since being published in 2009, and police questioned Shapira over the text last month while raiding his yeshiva, Od Yosef Chai, in Yitzhar in order to confiscate copies.

A Talk with Palestinian Negotiator Ahmed Qurei
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Kifah Zaboun - August 9, 2010 - 12:00am

Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- Ahmed Qurei, who is also known by his Arabic Kunya Abu Alaa, is a former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, and a veteran negotiator. In 1968 he joined the Fatah political party, and lived in exile with its founder, Yasser Arafat. After improving the economic fortunes of the party, he became a member of the Fatah central committee in 1989, and subsequently went on to play a prominent role in peace negotiations. He is highly regarded for the instrumental role he played in negotiating the Oslo accords of 1993.

The Mideast ‘peace process’ could end in permanent war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Shlomo Ben-Ami - August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Twenty years after the Madrid Peace conference, and 10 years after President Bill Clinton’s heroic efforts at Camp David failed to yield a settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, one cannot escape the conclusion that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has become one of the most spectacular deceptions in modern diplomatic history.

Editorial: Crux of the problem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

When last week the Arab League backed restarting direct peace talks between the Palestinians Authority and Israel, but only when the Palestinians believe the circumstances are right, the response of Hamas was of angry rejection. The movement’s Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal not only said that such negotiations were illegitimate, he denied the Arab League’s right to make such a pronouncement.

Hamas’ many-splendored contradictions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Hamas was in the news last week, accused by Egypt of having been behind the rocket attacks from the Sinai against the Israeli town of Eilat and the Jordanian town of Aqaba. This, once again, told us something about the paradoxes of the Islamist group.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017