Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Bedouins and Israel struggle over a patch of land in the Negev desert. George Will yet again denounces the concept of peace. An anti-negotiation protest in Ramallah is broken up. Palestinians warn negotiations could be quickly derailed. Settlers clash with Palestinian residents in Silwan. Palestinians say a freeze on Israeli settlements must include Jerusalem. The Israeli cabinet is hotly debating the issue. Ha'aretz says the PLO is again climbing out on a long limb. Pres. Abbas calls the negotiations “a historic opportunity.” D. Bloomfield says neither Abbas nor PM Netanyahu seem to want the talks. Israel refuses a request by Tony Blair to increase electricity to Gaza. The Independent profiles a Palestinian nonviolent protest leader convicted of “incitement.” A lawsuit accuses the IRS of hindering right wing pro-Israel organizations. Netanyahu's former Chief of Staff is a leader in the fight to expand settlements. Abdel Monem Said asks whether Arabs want the talks to succeed. Daoud Kuttab says the international community must help the parties. George Hishmeh says the Palestinian position isn't as weak as it appears. Hussein Ibish says extremists on both sides are trying to sabotage the negotiations before they begin.

A Test of Wills Over a Patch of Desert
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

The two women crouched on the floor of a tent in this windblown Bedouin encampment in the Negev Desert, hurriedly preparing the evening meal as dusk approached. They had been fasting since sunrise in observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Now they were cooking furiously, spicing okra in tomato sauce and stuffing hollowed-out zucchini, against a backdrop of piles of rubble, the remains of their homes recently demolished by the Israeli authorities.

In the Mideast, the peace process is only a mirage
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by George F. Will - August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Immersion in this region's politics can convince those immersed that history is cyclical rather than linear -- that it is not one thing after another but the same thing over and over. This passes for good news because things that do change, such as weapons, often make matters worse.

WEST BANK: Anti-negotiations conference broken up
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Maher Abukhater - (Blog) August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Crowds started to arrive at the Protestant church hall in downtown Ramallah in the West Bank shortly after midday Wednesday to attend an anti-negotiations conference. They were responding to a call by local Palestinian leaders opposed to plans by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to start direct negotiations with Israel before the latter halts all settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Palestinians warn Israel peace talks could be quickly derailed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

For more than a year, the Palestinians insisted on an Israeli settlement freeze as a precondition to entering direct talks with Israel. But recently they dropped their demand, paving the way for the first direct peace talks with the Israelis since early 2009. Or did they?

Silwan residents say settlers provoked clash
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood said settlers attempted to enter the Al-Ein Mosque early Thursday morning, sparking skirmishes that lasted until after sunrise. Israeli forces arrived as locals said they were attempting to drive the settlers out of the mosque area. Two settler cars were torched, and several windshields smashed in the violence. The incoming border police force was described as "massive," and said to have been firing tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets toward Palestinians.

Palestinians to U.S.: Israeli settlement freeze must include East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority has told the U.S. administration that an Israeli commitment to continuing the freeze on settlement construction must include East Jerusalem. During preparatory talks ahead of the summit due in Washington next week, the Palestinians made it clear they refuse to accept any softer formula on the building freeze. They expect that even after the September 26 deadline, when the 10-month moratorium ends, the United States will support their demand to continue the ban on all construction outside the Green Line, including in the settlement blocs.

As Netanyahu prepares for summit, ministers get all heated up over freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

A week before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to depart for the Washington summit during which direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians will be inaugurated, Israeli ministers and MKs are engaging in intense debate over the possibility of continuing the 10-month settlement construction freeze, which expires in late September.

MESS Report / PLO must cease climbing trees too high to climb down
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - (Blog) August 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to resume direct negotiations with Israel on September 2 in Washington without any of his preconditions being met. Israel has not promised to end construction in the settlements, and the Quartet's statement does not even mention this issue. Contrary to the demand that the Quartet's announcement would constitute the framework for the talks, U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell was quick to make it clear this is not the way things will be.

Abbas calls peace talks 'historic opportunity'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

After being forced to resume direct talks, Palestinians President Mahmoud Abbas called negotiations with Israel "a historic opportunity" to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians. At a reception for diplomats held in Ramallah Wednesday evening, Abbas urged the Israeli government "not to miss this historic opportunity." He stressed that the demand to maintain the settlement construction freeze comes from the entire international community, possibly hinting that the resumption of construction on September 26 could lead to the PA's withdrawal from talks.

Washington Watch: An inauspicious beginning
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by D. Bloomfield - (Opinion) August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

No sooner had Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the resumption of Mideast peace talks “without preconditions” than the Palestinians threatened to walk out, nearly two weeks before they were even scheduled to begin, unless their conditions were met. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who constantly kvetched that everyone in the world, particularly his Arab brethren, was pressuring him to sit down with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, demanded all Jewish construction in territories he wants for a Palestinian state be frozen before he’d talk.

Israel Refuses Blair Request to Up Electricity to Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by David Miller - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel has balked at a request to boost the amount of electricity it supplies to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on grounds that it didn’t want to cooperate with “a terror organization.” Quartet Representative Tony Blair made the request Monday to Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, Blaire’s spokesman confirmed to The Media Line.

Facing jail, the unarmed activist who dared to take on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Donald MacIntyre - August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Baroness Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, yesterday issued an unusually sharp rebuke to Israel over a military court's conviction of a Palestinian activist prominent in unarmed protests against the West Bank separation barrier. Lady Ashton said she was "deeply concerned" that Abdallah Abu Rahma was facing a possible jail sentence "to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the separation barriers in a non-violent manner".

Lawsuit Accuses IRS of Screening Israel-Related Charities
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Josh Nathan-Kazis - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

A hawkish pro-Israel activist group has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Internal Revenue Service is impeding or denying applications for tax-exempt status from nonprofit organizations that oppose the Obama administration’s Israel policies. But experts in nonprofit tax law say that the allegations seem far-fetched.

Losing a Mentor, Gaining an Opponent
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Jeffay - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

Three years ago, Naftali Bennett was celebrating with Benjamin Netanyahu. Bennett had just managed Netanyahu’s successful campaign in the Likud primaries, in which the former prime minister won a decisive victory over far-right challenger Moshe Feiglin, cementing his control over the party and paving the way for his return to the premiership. But today, Netanyahu and Bennett, his chief of staff from 2006 to 2008, are at loggerheads.

Do We Want the Direct Negotiations to Succeed?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Abdel-Moneim Said - (Opinion) August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

The parties involved in the Palestinian-Israeli issue have finally settled on starting direct negotiations between the Palestinian National Authority [PA] and the Israeli government to reach a final solution to the conflict between the two sides under the supervision of the United States. And in order to give a strong impetus to the negotiations, a kind of ceremony will be held in the US capital attended by several sides involved in the negotiations, such as the members of the Quartet and the Arab countries that have signed peace treaties with Israel.

Can peace be still reached?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Under much pressure, Palestinian leaders buckled and accepted to hold direct talks, but most Palestinians believe that the intended talks are nothing but a photo opportunity that aims to create the impression of a peace process while avoiding making any substantive commitments.

Abbas' position isn't as weak as it may first appear
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinians will begin heading home a year from now to reclaim property in their homeland, which they have not seen for 62 years since the state of Israel was established there. They will be welcomed at the border by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and thousands of cheering Israelis.

Israeli and Palestinian extremists are attempting to sabotage negotiations before they begin
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - (Blog) August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

I suppose it was to be expected, but the brazenness with which extremists on both sides are trying to sabotage upcoming Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is simply breathtaking. The far more serious effort is on the Israeli side, in which activists, and even members of the government, to the right of PM Netanyahu are trying to destroy the key to the talks, which was a private understanding between Netanyahu and Pres.

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