Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Jackson Diehl questions Pres. Abbas' commitment to peace. Settlers fret over what will happen during talks and after the moratorium expires in September. The EU says major powers are working on establishing direct talks, which may begin next week. The PA and Israeli economy ministers meet but Palestinians are adamant about continuing the settlement goods boycott, which they say is working. The PA issues a one-year-on report saying that state and institution building are proceeding in spite of the occupation. Aaron David Miller says direct talks are no panacea. Shlomo Avineri says both Jews and Palestinians are national groups with a right to self-determination. Israel is dismantling a Jerusalem barrier constructed during the second intifada. PM Netanyahu may propose Israeli withdrawal from 90% of the West Bank. Shira Herzog and Leonard Fein both say only two states can bring peace. George Hishmeh dismisses claims that Arabs don't care much about the Palestinian issue.

Why doesn't Abbas want peace talks?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jackson Diehl - August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

Give Mahmoud Abbas credit, at least, for consistency. Eighteen months ago, when the then-new Obama administration tried to jump start Middle East peace negotiations, the Palestinian president balked. He said he would not agree even to meet the newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, unless Netanyahu made several big concessions in advance -- including recognition of a Palestinian state on the basis of Israel's 1967 borders and a freeze on all Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks look less likely as settlers fret over freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Christa Case Bryant - August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli and Palestinian leaders are coming under growing US pressure to enter direct peace talks. But despite international mediation this week, they have been unable to close the gap between what their respective constituents will accept. A key sticking point is the 10-month freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, set to expire next month.

'Major powers' working on Mideast framework: EU
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

"Major powers" are at work outlining the basis for direct peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton indicated, a Thursday night Reuters report said. In a letter seen by the British news wire in the wake of a new Palestinian proposal for direct talks, Ashton wrote that a statement would be issued early next week and talks could begin within the month.

Palestinian, Israeli economy ministers meet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority Minister of National Economy Hasan Abu Libdeh held a meeting Thursday with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Ben Eliezer, the Palestinian ministry said. The meeting, called by the Israeli trade and industry minister, was to discuss the PA's campaign to ban settlement produce in the West Bank. “The request for this meeting only indicates the success of the campaign and its impact on the decline in economic strength of the settlements,” Abu Libdeh said.

PA: State-building continues despite occupation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

"Despite the occupation, the Palestinian people have made strong progress in building sound institutions within a stable society, on the way to statehood," the Palestinian Authority declared Thursday. The report, spanning May 2009-May 2010, cataloged what the PA called successes for the year, citing the construction of 34 new schools and expansion of 23 - 11 new clinics, 44 new housing projects, 16 new roads, and 370,000 newly planted trees among other achievements.

INTERVIEW-"Direct talks" no Mideast miracle cure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Douglas Hamilton - August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

Moving from indirect talks to direct negotiations on the Middle East conflict may yield little unless Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a surprise in store, says a U.S. veteran of the peace process. "It would be a mistake of epic proportions to conclude that we've now reached a fundamental turning point that is going to produce quick or easy progress let alone results," former Middle East adviser Aaron David Miller told Reuters.

Abbas 'very close' to direct talks with Israel: EU
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is very close to agreeing to direct talks with Israel, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said in a letter to foreign ministers seen by AFP on Friday. Abbas "has requested a few more days for final consultations with Arab partners as well as with the Fatah and PLO executive bodies," Ashton wrote, and "should be in a position to give a definitive answer by Sunday or early next week."

A Palestinian people, yes, a Jewish people, no?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Shlomo Avineri - (Opinion) August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

Like many readers, I enjoyed the delicate irony, sharp wit and clever Arab tales featured in Salman Masalha's op-ed ("A Jewish and Democratic Restaurant," August 9 ). But these virtues cannot compensate for the fundamental misunderstanding that underlies his concluding declaration: "There is no such thing as a Jewish democratic state, just as there is no Muslim democratic state." That is where the dog is buried, to continue the animal metaphors.

Palestinians 'adamant about continuing boycott on settlement goods'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libda said Thursday that Palestinians would continue to boycott settlement goods despite Israel's requests. Abu Libda made his comments after a meeting with Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. Ben Eliezer had asked the PA minister in the past to put an end to the boycott, which calls on Palestinians not to buy goods from companies such as Shamir Salads, Kobi Burekas, Ramat Hagolan Dairies, Jerusalem Granola, Bagel Bagel, Mei Eden, Soda Club, Barkan Wineries, Ramat Hagolan Wineries, Rav-Bariach and Ahava Products.

PA minister calls boycott of settlement products a success, vows to continue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ora Coren, Barak Ravid - August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libda met with Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer in Tel Aviv yesterday, but said afterward that Palestinians would continue to boycott settlement goods despite Israel's requests that it stop. The two also discussed a new Palestinian law, expected to take effect at the beginning of 2012, which would ban Palestinians from working in the settlements. In addition, Abu Libda detailed the PA's request for observer status in the World Trade Organization and asked for Israel's cooperation on this matter.

IDF to dismantle Jerusalem barrier erected during intifada
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

On Sunday, the Israeli army will begin dismantling a concrete barrier installed eight years ago, during the second intifada, to shield Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood from arms fire from the neighboring West Bank Arab town of Beit Jala. The wall was installed along the eastern edge of Gilo, the area at which the shooting was directed. The worst incident in the vicinity at the time saw a border policeman critically injured after being shot in the head.

Report: Netanyahu to offer withdrawal from 90% of West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has prepared a "tempting" plan to be presented to the Palestinians in the direct negotiations, as part of which Israel will offer to withdraw from up to 90% of the West Bank, excluding east Jerusalem, the London-based Arabic-language al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Friday. The Prime Minister's Office denied the report, calling it "unfounded.

Direct negotiations to begin next week
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may agree to direct talks next week if Israel agrees to pre-1967 borders, according to a letter found by Reuters on Thursday. The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton reportedly said in the letter that Abbas would release a statement as early as next week, if both parties agreed to direct talks. Negotiations would begin before the end of the month.

Two states are better than one
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Globe and Mail
by Shira Herzog - August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

New winds seem to be blowing in Israel’s right wing. Prominent voices opposed to relinquishing the West Bank and Jewish settlements are calling instead for its annexation, with citizenship for Palestinians living there. On the face of it, this sounds virtuously democratic. But the right has no intention of abandoning its vision of a Jewish state in expanded territory. What’s being proposed is neither practical nor intellectually honest.

For Israel, There’s Only One End Game
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Leonard Fein - August 11, 2010 - 12:00am

The “two state solution” to the Israel/Palestine conflict has become the glamourless default position of most of those who think about the conflict. It has achieved that lumpy status despite the flaws in its logic, the problematics of its implementation, the dangers that inhere in it and the determined hostility to it from some on both sides of the conflict. Still, it’s been the only end game in town for quite some time, and it has had as its foundation stone the belief that only with two viable states can Israel preserve itself as both Jewish and democratic.

ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by George S. Hishmeh - August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

Oftentimes, Israelis and their supporters bury their heads in the sand, ignoring all that goes on around them. For example, take the case of a university professor who joyously lauded an “opinion poll” claiming that 71 per cent of Arab respondents have “no interest” in the Palestinian-Israeli “peace process”. Efraim Karsh, who teaches at King’s College, London and is author of “Palestine Betrayed”, cited the poll in a commentary, titled “The Palestinians, Alone” in a leading American newspaper, The New York Times, which in turn was remiss in not checking it.

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