Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Rabbi Kenneth Chasen says a Palestinian state is emerging in the West Bank. FM Lieberman says the settlement freeze should not be extended and a peace agreement is unlikely. Hamas leaders call negotiations “illegal” and say they will “eliminate” the Palestinian cause. An Israeli court convicts a leader of Palestinian nonviolent protests of “incitement.” Reuters says the question of Gaza will be missing during the talks. Protesters challenge a no-go area in Gaza. US negotiators visit the region and say they expect an agreement within a year. Aluf Benn says this is possible. Akiva Eldar says US pullout from Iraq increases its interests in an agreement. Right-wingers in Likud meet to promote settlement expansion. Bassem Eid accuses the PA of practicing discrimination. Israeli courts allow Palestinians married to Israeli citizens to stay in the country. The younger generation of Palestinian refugees is less interested in return. Carlo Strenger says if talks fail, Palestinians should unilaterally declare independence. The JTA looks at Jewish American responses to the negotiations, including the joint ATFP-JCPA statement. Mamoun Fandy says the US wouldn't be convening the talks if it wasn't 70% sure of success.

A state of Palestine in the making
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Kenneth Chasen - (Opinion) August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

The short drive from Jerusalem to Ramallah begins as you'd expect. The pristine setting of the old-new holy city slowly morphs into a more disordered vista on the outskirts of town — small Arab villages, humbly built of stone, displaying signs of economic decay. The streets are nearly empty.

Israel's foreign minister says no to extending West Bank settlement construction slowdown
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Aron Heller - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel's foreign minister said Wednesday that it would be unacceptable to extend a slowdown on West Bank settlement construction, even as Mideast peace talks get under way next week. Avigdor Lieberman, whose ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party is a major partner in the governing coalition, told Israel Radio he realized that resuming settlement construction would antagonize both the U.S. and the Palestinians. But he said that maintaining tight restrictions on building would "punish" tens of thousands of Israelis living in the settlements.

Mash'al: Talks will eliminate Palestinian cause
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Hamas leader in exile Khaled Mash'al said a return to direct negotiations with Israel was "nationally illegitimate, carried out by force and American summons," on Tuesday. Mash'al, speaking at an iftar dinner held for journalists in Damascus, said the PLO Executive Committee's decision to endorse the talks was "an echo of Washington's orders," adding that consensus was not reached among Palestinian factions, with most of the 11 parties making up the PLO opposing a return to talks with Israel.

Military court convicts anti-wall leader
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

An Israeli military court on Tuesday found the leader of a West Bank protest movement guilty of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations. Abdallah Abu Rahmah of Bil'in, near Ramallah, could face jail time for his leadership in the popular campaign against Israel's wall, which severs the West Bank village for to protect nearby settlements. The verdict was read in a military courtroom packed with friends, supporters, and family members, concluding an eight-month trial. Diplomats from Europe including a representative of the European Union attended.

Gaza will be the ghost at Mideast talks banquet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Douglas Hamilton - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

It's the proverbial elephant in the room, the ghost at the banquet, the spectre no one wants to acknowledge. Even if Israel and the Palestinians can scale a mountain of scepticism and reach a peace treaty in the next 12 months, 40 percent of Palestinians would be part of it in name only, because they live in the Gaza Strip. Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers say they will never give Israel what it most wants from a Middle East deal, which is recognition of the Jewish state and a legitimate place in the Middle East.

Prospects bleak for peace deal- Israel's Lieberman
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jeffrey Heller - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel and the Palestinians have virtually no chance of reaching a peace deal within the one-year target set by the United States, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday. "I think there's room to lower expectations and get real," Lieberman, a far-right member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, told Israel Radio. "There's no magic recipe ... that can bring us within a year to a permanent agreement resulting in the end of the conflict and the solution of all of the complicated issues, such as refugees, Jerusalem and Jewish settlement," he said.

PNA-Israeli direct talks illegal: Syria-based Hamas leader
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Damascus-based Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal said Tuesday that the direct talks between the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Israel are illegal and under U.S. coercion. "The direct negotiations lack for the Palestinian and Arab approval, which means they lack for the legitimacy," Mashaal said during an Iftar (the meal after fast over) on Tuesday. "Palestinian negotiators are isolated as they bet on the United States instead of the Palestinian people," he said.

Demonstrators challenge Israel's Gaza restricted area
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian and international activists on Tuesday removed parts of a security fence the Israeli army has installed along its borders with the Gaza Strip, witnesses said. The incident took place during a demonstration organized by humanitarian and social activists against the enforcement of a 300- meter wide buffer zone along Gaza's northern and eastern borders with Israel. Tens of people, including some international campaigners and farmers, participated in the rally which started from the border town of Beit Hanoun and headed towards the Israeli fence, waving Palestinian flags.

Top U.S. negotiators in Israel to soothe tensions ahead of Washington peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Two top U.S. officials were scheduled to arrive in Israel Wednesday to begin preliminary negotiations ahead of next week's diplomatic summit in Washington, the first direct Israeli-Palestinian talks in 20 months. The two officials are Daniel Shapiro, a top National Security Council staffer handling Israel and neighboring countries, and David Hale, deputy to special Mideast envoy George Mitchell. Each official will meet separately with Isaac Molho - an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and head of the Israeli negotiating team - and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

August 2011
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

The immediate result of the announced resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks was the setting of a new target date on the Middle Eastern calendar: August 2011. That is when talks on all permanent-status issues, as well as Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's project of building a Palestinian state-in-the-making, are both due to conclude.

Iraq pullout makes Israeli-Palestinian peace crucial for U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Despite the fact that they occurred almost simultaneously, any connection between the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq and Washington's invitation of the leaders of Jordan and Egypt to a summit inaugurating direct Israel-Palestinian talks might appear to be entirely coincidental.

U.S. warns Israel, Palestinians: Refrain from harming peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

The Obama administration expects Israel to refrain from making any move that could potentially damage peace talks with the Palestinians once they begin, United States Middle East envoy George Mitchell has told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mitchell conveyed the same message to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In recent days, Abbas has made clear that if Israel renews building in West Bank settlements, after a 10-month freeze on settlement construction on September 27, the Palestinian Authority will abandon the direct peace talks.

Likud hawks convene against freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Atilla Somfalvi - August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

With the Washington peace summit a mere week away, Likud members who are right off the party's political line are gearing for several protests meant to ensure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows his party will not abide the continuous suspension of settlement activity. Members of the Likud's "right wing" have decided to hold a protest rally while Netanyahu is in Washington. Several senior Likud and Knesset members are expected to take part in it.

US official: We want full peace deal in 1 year
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

A partial peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, even if achieved within a year, will not satisfy Washington, a US official said Tuesday. The American official told reporters in Jerusalem that the upcoming peace summit in Washington aims to strike a full peace agreement between the parties. The official rejected the possibility of "only" a partial or interim peace deal within the timeframe set for the peace talks.

Discrimination from within and without
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Bassem Eid - (Opinion) August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

Nathan Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, wrote a timely report last month entitled “Are the Palestinians Building A State?” His paper discussed the Palestinian Authority under Salam Fayyad and his claims to be building the institutional apparatus necessary for a Palestinian state. The report acknowledged that he is “unmistakably doing so in an authoritarian context.”

Courts grant Palestinians married to Israelis right to stay
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Dan Izenberg - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Two courts in separate cases rejected the state's refusal to allow Palestinians to continue living in Israel with their spouses and participate in the gradual procedure for obtaining permanent residential status. In the first case, on Tuesday, Deputy Supreme Court President Eliezer Rivlin rejected an appeal by the state to hold another hearing before an expanded court, after a panel of three Supreme Court justices had decided to allow Balal Daka to continue living in the country.

Lure of the homeland fades for Palestinian refugees
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
by Lina Sinjab - August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

The right of return for Palestinian refugees is a major sticking point in the upcoming US-sponsored Middle East peace talks, but some younger Palestinians - having never laid eyes on their ancestral homeland - say they do not actually want to go back. As a third-generation Palestinian growing up in Syria, Bissan al-Sharif says she feels rooted in Damascus. "I don't know if I would leave everything and go and live [in my ancestral village] because I don't know the place," says Ms Sharif.

After the Middle East peace talks fail
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Carlo Strenger - (Opinion) August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Binyamin Netanyahu has scored a diplomatic victory, as many pundits have pointed out, because the US administration has shifted pressure from Israel to the Palestinians and coaxed them into direct talks with Israel. He probably assumes that the talks will fail because the Palestinians will walk out at some point, and then he will have a case for maintaining the status quo. But such a victory would be hollow.

In response to vague talks, Jewish groups deliver vague message
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - August 23, 2010 - 12:00am

Two weeks before their launch, the promised renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks has already engendered a first: a joint statement of welcome by mainstream U.S. Jewish and Palestinian groups. "We congratulate the Obama administration on succeeding in getting direct negotiations back on track," said a statement issued jointly on Friday by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the American Task Force on Palestine. "Both parties must now show courage, flexibility and persistence in order to move towards a negotiated end of conflict agreement."

Six Signs for the Forthcoming Washington Negotiations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Mamoun Fandy - (Opinion) August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

When the US President, through his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, invites the Israelis and the Palestinians to hold direct negotiations under the auspices of the United States, and the International Quartet (of the EU, Russia, the United States, and the United Nations), then this is something that is worthy of interest and analysis of the hidden meanings and messages, for even if this does not benefit our understanding in this round [of negotiations] it could benefit us in future rounds.

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