Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Martin Indyk says there are four reasons for optimism on negotiations. Ben Smith decodes peace process rhetoric. Palestinians say settlers assault a nine-year-old child. Pres. Abbas says the PLO will negotiate in spite of Palestinian opposition. The Israeli military continues a crackdown on soldiers posing with Palestinian prisoners. A Palestinian human rights group says Hamas is preparing to close its operations in Gaza. PM Netanyahu proposes biweekly meetings with Abbas during negotiations, and is maintaining a careful ambiguity on settlements. Israel's negotiating team will be led by Yitzak Molcho and include only four people. Aluf Benn says Netanyahu may prove to be Israel's Gorbachev. The US is reportedly proposing signing an agreement within one year to be implemented over 10. An Israeli Cabinet minister says any settlement freeze should also apply to Palestinian construction. Ahmed Moor says Lebanon's new rules for Palestinian refugees don't go far enough. A book advocating the killing of non-Jews test the limits of free speech in Israel. Palestinian artists and advertisers use the separation barrier as a blank canvas. Ahmad Majdoubeh says Abbas needs more Arab backing.

For Once, Hope in the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Martin Indyk - (Opinion) August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

NOW that President Obama has finally succeeded in bringing the Israelis and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, the commentariat is already dismissing his chances of reaching a peace agreement. But there are four factors that distinguish the direct talks that will get under way on Sept. 2 in Washington from previous attempts — factors that offer some reason for optimism.

Decoding the Mideast peace rhetoric
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Ben Smith - (Opinion) August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week announced a new round of peace talks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (known as Abu Mazen) accepted her invitation to Washington for the talks beginning September 2.

Jerusalem settlers assault 9 year old, parents say
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

A nine-year-old boy said he was beaten by Israelis affiliated with the Atarot Kohanim settler group in Jerusalem's Old City on Wednesday evening. Anas Sa’ad Ash-Shaloudi said he was on his way to his uncle’s house for the fast-breaking iftar meal at sunset, and was assaulted by five men standing outside his uncle's home. "They hit me on my head and I fell on the ground. They took off my shoes and started beating me on my back. I yelled for help," Anas told Ma'an.

Abbas: Negotiations despite opposition
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas said he would go to negotiations in Washington next week despite heavy opposition to the resumption of peace talks with Israel. Speaking at an iftar meal honoring religious figures and diplomatic officials in Palestine, Abbas said he hoped Israeli negotiators would grasp what he termed the "current opportunity to achieve peace."

Israeli army cracks down on soldiers' controversial photos
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military prosecution Thursday asked to extend the remand of three soldiers after their photos of posing with a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian were found saved on their mobile phones last week. The photos, in which the soldiers are seen pointing a gun at a suspected Hamas member, were apparently taken eight months ago in the West Bank town of Jenin.

Palestinian rights watchdog accuses Hamas of preparing to close it
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

A Palestinian national human rights watchdog on Thursday accused Islamic Hamas movement of trying to block its activities in the Gaza Strip. The accusation came after Hamas lawmakers approved a law and said it aims at regulating the work of the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) in the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave. Officials from the ICHR said that the law targets the commission, which has been operating since the creation of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), and is a prelude to restricting its work before shutting it.

Netanyahu proposes bi-weekly meetings with Abbas during direct peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed to the U.S. administration On Thursday that he hold a face-to-face meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas every two weeks to try to forge covert understandings and set principles to solve every issue. After the principles are determined, small negotiation teams would hammer out the details and put the understandings into writing. Netanyahu said in a meeting to prepare for the Washington summit that "serious negotiations in the Middle East mean only direct, quiet and consecutive talks between the two leaders on the key issues."

When it comes to the settlement freeze, Netanyahu maintaining poker face
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Some political crises come as a surprise and overcoming them involves a high price. Others are expected and can be prepared for without causing damage. The first kind includes events like the building plan in East Jerusalem that was published during U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Jerusalem and infuriated President Barack Obama. Or the flotilla to Gaza, which was expected, but its interception turned into an unforeseen entanglement. In both cases, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was lambasted abroad.

Israel begins forming negotiations team for direct peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening began forming Israel's negotiating team for the direct peace negotiations set to commence next week in Washington, the Prime Minister's Office announced. Netanyahu will assemble a small negotiating team that will be under his direct supervision, in order to allow for thorough, serious and speedy talks.

Netanyahu may be a latter-day Gorbachev
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

The opening of the direct talks with the Palestinians again raises the question: Who is Benjamin Netanyahu? Is he our Gorbachev, a great reformer who will end Israeli rule in the territories? A "Nixon who went to China" - a right-winger who disavowed his former approach and changed the balance of power with a brilliant diplomatic stroke? Or is he the "old Bibi" depicted by his rivals, the illusionist who is afraid of daddy Benzion and wife Sara, the uptight leader who flinches from making decisions and passes time by dribbling the ball?

US wants agreement now, peace later
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Shimon Shiffer - August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

The Obama administration plans to present Israel and the Palestinian Authority with a new outline aimed at ending the Middle East conflict. The Yedioth Ahronoth daily has learned that the Americans will pressure the parties to sign a framework agreement for a permanent settlement within one year, but that the agreement itself woulbe implemented within 10 years.

PM forms small negotiation team to prevent leaks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Atilla Somfalvi - August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Ahead of next week's direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has formed a small team of advisors to lead the negotiations, under his supervision. The PM opted for a small negotiating team in an effort to prevent leaks during the talks with the Palestinians, which are due to kick off in Washington September 2. On Thursday, Netanyahu was expected to meet with the advisors, including Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, Ron Dermer, Military Secretary Maj.- Gen. Yohanan Locker and National Security Council Director Uzi Arad.

Edelstein: Palestinians should halt building as well
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Hoffman - August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

If the Palestinians demand the continuation of the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria beyond the 10-month moratorium, Israel should insist that the freeze be reciprocated, Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Thursday. Edelstein, a Neveh Daniel resident who is the only Likud minister who lives in the West Bank, intends to tell Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Sunday’s Likud ministerial meeting that he should demand a Palestinian construction freeze in his negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that are set to begin in Washington next week.

Lebanon's law on Palestinian workers does not go far enough
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ahmed Moor - (Opinion) August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Beirut pulses with expatriate lives. Foreign nationals come from everywhere for lots of different reasons. Some of them are here to teach, others come to learn Arabic, and still others come to write. Few of them stay for 62 years.

A Grim Teaching
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Ideas Daily
by Yehudah Mirsky - August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Every first-year law student knows that hard cases make bad law. In Israel, a particularly hard case lies in the ongoing controversy around an inflammatory Hebrew-language volume of Jewish religious law (halakhah) that offers justifications for violent treatment of non-Jews in general and of Israel's foes in particular. The debate has highlighted longstanding divisions within Israeli society; now that the courts and the police have gotten into the act, it has also highlighted the difficulties of drawing meaningful lines between free speech and incitement.

West Bank Security Barrier Draws Artists and Advertisers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Daniel Estrin - August 25, 2010 - 12:00am

What many Israelis see as a security barrier, and many Palestinians see as a prison wall, Majd Abdel Hamid sees as a blank canvas. “It’s really tempting as an artist,” said Abdel Hamid, a 22-year-old Ramallah-based painter. Back in 2007, Abdel Hamid and two assistants spent two 10-hour days painting a 130-foot-long portion of the barrier that separates Israel from the West Bank. On the concrete slabs, they stenciled a jumble of Arabic letters. Unscrambled, the letters spell out the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, written in 1988 by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

Abbas needs to be backed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Ahmad Majdoubeh - (Opinion) August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

In the Arab world, most people who talk or write about the envisaged involvement of Palestinians in direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions or a clear roadmap express either much fear or much scepticism. While these are justified to a degree, they should not prevent the Arabs from backing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fully, since go he will.

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