Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Direct negotiations are anticipated shortly.The Israeli military condemns pictures of an ex-soldier posing with Palestinian prisoners, but she insists she did nothing wrong. The easing of the Gaza blockade may strengthen Hamas. The PLO says Israel is trying to block a Quartet statement on direct talks and is imposing preconditions. Hamas leaders accuse the PA of waging a “war against Islam.” The World Bank grants the PA $5 million for teacher training. A projectile fired from Gaza wounds two Israeli soldiers, and another is injured while a Palestinian is killed in a separate incident. An Israeli court holds the state responsible for the rubber bullet killing of a 10-year-old Palestinian girl. Ha'aretz says business is now the main topic of conversation in Ramallah. Israeli rightists plan a demonstration in support of rabbis who authorize the killing of non-Jews. Gershon Baskin asks what will happen in direct negotiations.Ben White says the Jordan Valley is a microcosm of Israeli colonization. Harvard says its sale of Israeli assets is not connected to any boycott. Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi says Palestinian education is crucial. Israel is criticized for discrimination against Palestinian citizens in higher education. Jonathan Cook says Israel must open the archives from 1948. Hussein Ibish looks at Palestinian efforts to use state building and education to bolster diplomacy.

Israeli-Palestinian direct talks expected to be announced soon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Laura Rozen - August 16, 2010 - 12:00am

An announcement that Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to go into direct peace talks is expected in the coming days, U.S. officials, Mideast watchers and European diplomats said Monday. “We are close, we are optimistic,” a U.S. official said. “There’s still work to do, details remain.” One western diplomat said the announcement was expected Monday, adding that both parties are essentially agreeing to go into direct talks based on assurances they have received from the United States.

Ex-Israeli Soldier’s Photos Condemned
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - August 16, 2010 - 12:00am

An Israeli woman who completed her military service last year posted photographs of herself from the army posing with blindfolded and bound Palestinian prisoners under the title “The Army ... The Most Beautiful Time of My Life,” producing enraged commentary on the Internet and condemnation from the military. The woman, Eden Abergil, from the southern city of Ashdod, is seen in the pictures, posted on her Facebook page, smiling next to the prisoners.

For Hamas, an end to Gaza's tunnel trade may be only the beginning
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Liam Stack - August 16, 2010 - 12:00am

Under the watchful eyes of both Egyptian border guards and Hamas tax collectors, more than 1,000 tunnels snake below the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Since Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas took control in 2007, the tunnels underneath Rafah, a chaotic border town, have helped bring in everything from snack food and cement to a lion for the zoo. Without this underground highway system, Gazans say they would not have survived the past three years of sanctions.

Source: Israel seeks to avoid Quartet stance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 17, 2010 - 12:00am

The Israeli government is trying to prevent the release of the Quartet statement on direct talks, and hopes to replace it with a US decision, a source within the PLO told Ma'an on Monday evening. The source said the PLO's Executive Committee would convene after the Quartet releases its statement, expected to call for talks under conditions that would attempt to satisfy both Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. A PLO position would be determined following the announcement, the source said.

Haniyeh: PA waging war against Islam
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Gaza government Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh accused the Palestinian Authority on Monday evening of waging a war against religion and Islam. Haniyeh, speaking to reporters at the rebuilding ceremony of the police station in Al-Shati refugee camp, said "what is happening in the West Bank is a religious war that targets the pious people, particularly the new generation."

World Bank grants $5 million to PA to train primary teachers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 17, 2010 - 12:00am

The World Bank will provide the Palestinian Authority $5 million to fund the Teacher Education Improvement Project, a statemenet read, after the deal was signed last Wednesday by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Dina Abu-Ghaida, Acting World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza (WBG).

Israeli in Facebook storm defends prisoner photos
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ori Lewis - August 17, 2010 - 12:00am

A former Israeli soldier said on Tuesday she saw nothing wrong in having posted pictures of herself on Facebook posing next to handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees. The images, from Eden Abergil's "Army -- the best period of my life" photo album on the social media website, drew international attention and condemnation by Israel's military after they appeared in Israeli newspapers on Monday. The Palestinian Government Media Center described the pictures as indicative of "the mentality of the occupier, to be proud of humiliating Palestinians".

Two Israeli soldiers wounded in attack from Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ori Lewis - August 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired two mortar bombs into Israel on Tuesday, wounding two soldiers, the Israeli military said. Security officials in the ruling Hamas Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip said after the incident that six Israeli tanks crossed into the territory and that one fired a shell at a house near the town of Khan Younis. No casualties were reported. The army said the two soldiers were lightly wounded and taken to hospital for treatment.

Palestinian killed, Israeli soldier wounded in southeast Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
August 17, 2010 - 12:00am

A Palestinian was killed and an Israeli soldier was lightly injured on Monday evening during clashes in southeast Gaza Strip, an Israeli army spokesman and Palestinian sources said. The spokesman told Xinhua that an Israeli army force noticed a group of Palestinian militants trying to plant a roadside bomb near the fence between southeast Gaza Strip and Israel. The spokesman said that the force had immediately opened fire at the group, killing one Palestinian, and the others ran away. The death of the Palestinian man was not confirmed by medics or security sources.

PLO accuses Israel of imposing preconditions on talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
August 16, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Monday accused Israel of setting preconditions which would obstruct efforts to start direct peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee, said Israel "deliberately impose preconditions on the peace negotiations" by announcing its rejection to a statement by the Quartet. The Quartet comprising the United States, European Union, Russia and the United States, plans to issue a statement establishing the principles of peacemaking process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Court holds state responsible for shooting of Palestinian girl
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - August 16, 2010 - 12:00am

A Jerusalem court on Monday held the state responsible for killing killing a 10-year-old Palestinian girl in January 2007. In a civil suit, the court ruled that border guards had either been negligent or disobeyed orders in shooting Abir Aramin with a rubber bullet, calling the incident 'totally unjustifiable'. The judge ruled ordered the government to pay damages to the girl's family, with the exact amount to be determined later.

MESS Report / This Ramadan, the occupation is not the hot topic in Ramallah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - August 13, 2010 - 12:00am

On Wednesday afternoon, the first day of the month-long fast of Ramadan, the weather in the West Bank was cooler than it had been earlier in the week, making it more conducive to fasting. But with temperatures still hovering around 30 degrees Celsius, it is easy to understand that fasting from dawn to dusk is no great pleasure. When we arrived in downtown Ramallah on Wednesday and looked for parking, we saw that city authorities had designated the area for metered parking. But it's the West Bank, so what could possibly happen to a parking scofflaw? A parking ticket?

Mass support rally planned for defiant rabbis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Akiva Novick - August 15, 2010 - 12:00am

The summoning of Rabbis Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef for police questioning stirred outrage among the religious and haredi public, and now the Religious Zionist Movement plans to hold a large gathering in support of the two, with the attendance of hundreds of rabbis. Last week the two rabbis were summoned for questioning – but refused to appear – after endorsing Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira's controversial book, "Torat Hamelech", in which he presented a halachic perspective on the killing of gentiles, including women and children.

Negotiations under false pretenses
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - August 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are likely to begin in the near future. The international community under the conductor’s wand of the Obama Administration has applied considerable pressure to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from all of his demands for setting the conditions for his participation in the negotiations.

Jordan Valley is a microcosm of Israel's colonisation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ben White - August 17, 2010 - 12:00am

The Jordan Valley, stretching all the way down the West Bank's eastern side, is a microcosm of Israel's discriminatory policies of colonisation and displacement. For 40 years, settlements have been established, military no-go areas declared, and Palestinians' freedom of movement restricted. There are now 27 colonies in the Jordan Valley – most of them had been established by the late 1970s under Labour governments. There are also nine "unauthorised" outposts. In the 1990s, the size of territory afforded to the settlements increased by 45%.

Harvard insists Israeli shares sale not driven by boycott
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ewen Macaskill - August 16, 2010 - 12:00am

Harvard University has sold millions of dollars in shares in Israeli companies, a move that it insists is purely financial but which has already been claimed by a pro-Palestinian group as a victory in its boycott and divestment campaign against Israel. Groups sympathetic to the Palestinians have been pressing universities in the US, the UK and elsewhere to end investment in Israel and to boycott Israeli academics.

Op-Ed: Palestinian leaders must foster hope, not hate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi - August 16, 2010 - 12:00am

With a flurry of diplomatic activity regarding direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, a contingent from The Israel Project (TIP) including pollster Stanley Greenberg met in the West Bank with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

College aid for Jews and not Arabs criticised
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - August 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Measures designed to benefit Jewish students applying for places in Israeli universities at the expense of Arabs have been criticised by lawyers and human rights groups. Critics have termed the controversial measures, including a programme to provide financial aid exclusively to students who have served in the Israeli army, a form of “covert discrimination”.

Israel should not keep its history behind lock and key
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - August 16, 2010 - 12:00am

History may be written by the victors, as Winston Churchill is said to have observed, but the opening up of archives can threaten a nation every bit as much as the unearthing of mass graves. That danger explains a decision quietly taken last month by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to extend by an additional 20 years the country’s 50-year rule for the release of sensitive documents.

Darkness ahead for the Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Hussein Ibish - August 17, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinian leadership is still seeking a political formula to reenter direct negotiations with Israel. There is no doubt that the Palestinians will agree to this, largely because the United States is insisting on it. However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues feel very exposed politically because they have almost nothing to show for diplomatic efforts in the proximity talks and are facing considerable domestic opposition to such a move.

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