Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The settlement issue looms as an early obstacle in direct talks. Tensions are running high as negotiations approach. Gadi Taub says settlements threaten the Zionist project. Several commentaries note Pres. Obama is taking a significant risk for peace. The Detroit Free Press says Obama can earn his Nobel Peace Prize by securing an end to the conflict. Pres. Abbas says talks must be serious, cannot proceed alongside settlement activity, and Israel will be to blame if they fail. Palestinian merchants clear shelves of settlement products. PM Netanyahu says he never agreed to limit settlement activity after Sept. 26. The US condemns, and Netanyahu distances himself from, statements by a leading Israeli rabbi calling for death to Abbas and all the Palestinians. Tony Karon speculates that the US may be positioning to impose its own formula after talks fail. Relations between Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza are deteriorating, and Abdullah Iskandar says Hamas has shown it will brook no opposition.

Early Obstacle, and Test, at Start of Mideast Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Helene Cooper - August 29, 2010 - 12:00am

President Obama will begin his one-year effort to achieve Middle East peace on Wednesday, joining a long list of his predecessors who have tried to achieve a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians. But unlike the presidents before him, Mr. Obama will know within three weeks whether the two sides are serious this time about reaching a deal.

Actors’ Protest and Rabbi’s Sermon Stoke Tensions in Israel Ahead of Peace Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - August 29, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel was in an uproar on Sunday over a refusal by Israeli theater artists to perform in West Bank Jewish settlements, and Palestinians were outraged by a virulently anti-Palestinian sermon by a Jerusalem rabbi, further fueling the atmosphere days before the expected resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington.

In Israel, Settling for Less
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Gadi Taub - (Opinion) August 29, 2010 - 12:00am

WILL Israel remain a Zionist state? If so, what kind? These are the important questions in Israeli politics today, and will be looming over the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority scheduled to begin Thursday in Washington.

Obama goes out on a limb for Middle East peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Christi Parsons, Paul Richter - August 30, 2010 - 12:00am

After 18 months of faltering efforts to launch Middle East peace negotiations, President Obama is dramatically increasing his personal stake and his own political risk by hosting direct talks this week. Obama personally helped coax Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to come to Washington to meet with him Wednesday and resume talks the next day.

Once more into the breach
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Freep
(Editorial) August 30, 2010 - 12:00am

"When you're dealing with the Middle East, 2,000 years is the normal wait for something to happen." So said Marlin Fitzwater, White House spokesman under the first President George Bush, more than 20 years ago. And, indeed, it seems as though in the generations-long quest for Middle East peace, Israel and the Palestinians have been in an endless cycle of negotiations punctuated by violence and hope destroyed by hatred.

Abbas: Negotiations must be serious
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 30, 2010 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel would be fully responsible if negotiations fail as a result of settlement expansion, as he gave a speech in Ramallah before heading to Washington to relaunch talks. Talks, which are set to begin on 2 September, will address final status issues including Jerusalem, refugees, prisoners and security among others but that "security must not continue to be a security for the continuation of the occupation and settlements," Abbas said.

Palestinian traders clear shops of settlement goods
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian traders have submitted 25,000 applications for a Dignity medal to certify their compliance with the government ban on trading in settlement produce, an official said Sunday. National Dignity Fund director Omer Qabaha said 8,000 traders have already received the medal, following inspections to check their stores are free of settlement goods. Qababa praised merchants for their keenness to commit to the new policy, noting that they voluntarily requested checks on their shops. He urged traders who have not applied yet to do so promptly.

Obama's Mideast push is foreign policy gamble
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Matt Spetalnick - (Analysis) August 30, 2010 - 12:00am

When President Barack Obama finally brings Israeli and Palestinian leaders back to the negotiating table this week, it will mark not only his deepest foray into Middle East peacemaking but also his riskiest. In a congressional election year, Obama is putting his presidential prestige on the line with a hands-on push for Middle East peace despite broad skepticism about his chances for success where so many of his predecessors have failed.

Netanyahu: I never promised to extend West Bank settlement construction freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Likud ministers on Sunday that he had not made any promises to U.S. President Barack Obama or any other American government official regarding an extension of the settlement construction freeze in the West Bank. "We made no proposals to the Americans on extending the freeze," Netanyahu said. "We said that the future of the communities will be discussed as one of the elements of a final-status settlement, along with the other issues. We promised nothing on this issue to the Americans."

Mahmoud Abbas: If talks fail over settlements, only Israel will be to blame
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - August 29, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the upcoming resumption of direct peace talks with Israel in a televised speech on Sunday, saying that "Israel will be held accountable for the failure of the talks if settlement construction should continue." "The negotiations need to bring about serious action that will be able to bring liberation from the occupation and independence," Abbas said.

U.S.: Rabbi's 'offensive' remarks harm peace efforts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - August 30, 2010 - 12:00am

The United States on Sunday condemned remarks by the spiritual leader of Israel's leading ultra-Orthodox party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who said the Palestinians should "perish". "We regret and condemn the inflammatory statements by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef," U.S. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley. "These remarks are not only deeply offensive, but incitement such as this hurts the cause of peace." "As we move forward to relaunch peace negotiations, it is important that actions by people on all sides help to advance our effort, not hinder it."

PM pulls back from Yosef’s words
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh, Herb Keinon - August 29, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rushed on Sunday evening to distance himself and his government from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s death wish for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian people, after the flood of angry Palestinian reactions to the comments. “These words do not reflect the approach of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, nor the position of the government of Israel,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Influential Israeli Rabbi calls for Palestinians to 'perish from the world' ahead of crunch peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Daily Mail
August 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has distanced himself from an influential rabbi after he said Palestinians and their President Mahmoud Abbas should 'perish from the world'. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual head of the religious Shas party in Israel's government, gave a fiery sermon as Middle East peace talks were set to begin next week. The 89-year-old rabbi - founder of the ultra-orthodox Shas Party - said: 'Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from this earth.

Direct talks will fail – is that what the US is planning on?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Tony Karon - (Opinion) August 30, 2010 - 12:00am

There is more chance of Saddam Hussein’s elusive weapons of mass destruction suddenly turning up in Iraq than there is of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas agreeing on the terms for a two-state solution in Washington this week. That does not mean the direct talks being orchestrated by President Barack Obama are pointless. On the contrary, they represent a moment of truth, not for the Israelis or the Palestinians, but for Mr Obama, who is creating a crisis by forcing irreconcilable differences between the two sides onto the table.

Hamas-Islamic Jihad Relations Deteriorating
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Kifah Zaboun - August 29, 2010 - 12:00am

Sources within the Islamic Jihad Movement have described relations with the Hamas movement as "tense" to the degree that interaction between the two movements' officials on a political level have ceased. Another high-level source told Asharq Al-Awsat, "They went beyond all limits ... They are acting like a government that owns Gaza, and now nothing is left between us except the media." The sources accused Hamas of escalation against elements of the Islamic Jihad on a daily basis through arrests, attacks, and raiding of the movement's offices.

The Strip Under Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Abdullah Iskandar - August 29, 2010 - 12:00am

The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has been escalating its political discourse against the Palestinian Authority, on the occasion of the latter answering Washington’s call for direct negotiations with Israel. The debate over taking such a step will thus prevail over other issues with the nearing of the date for starting these negotiations on the 2nd of next month.

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