Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Aid agencies say little has changed with the easing of the Gaza blockade. Fatah blames Hamas for failed reconciliation talks. The US denounces a Palestinian report challenging the history of the Western Wall, and Palestinians remove it from the Internet although the author defends the report. Pres. Abbas says Palestinians have “other options” if peace talks fail. Hamas denies Al Qaeda is operating in Gaza. In spite of security successes in the West Bank, Palestinians remain uneasy. Israel arrests a Hamas official in the West Bank. Yehuda Ben Meir says the lack of a settlement freeze extension is due to political cowardice in Israel and the United States. An Israeli court rules an interrogation of Palestinian minors illegal. A Palestinian citizen of Israel is indicted for working for Hamas. New poll numbers suggest half of Jewish Israelis object to having Arab neighbors and a majority want Palestinian citizens to be encouraged to leave. PM Fayyad says Palestinians will be ready for independence by August and that they will rebuild a road they constructed in Area C that was destroyed by occupation forces. Murad Bustani says Palestinians should reject violence.

Israel: Easing of Gaza Blockade Did Little, Report Says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

A group of 22 international human-rights and aid groups issued a report on Tuesday asserting that Israel’s easing of its blockade of Gaza five months ago had made little difference to the people living there. The groups, including Amnesty International and Save the Children, said that construction material was still trickling in and that exports remained banned, meaning that the Palestinian coastal strip could not recover from Israel’s three-week war there two years ago. Israel responded that the report was distorted.

Fatah blames Hamas for stalled unity talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Rival Palestinian political factions have not agreed where or when they will hold the next round of reconciliation talks, and Fatah is blaming Hamas for obstructing the deal. The head of Fatah's reconciliation team, Azzam Al-Ahmad, told Ma’an radio that the next round of talks had not been agreed on yet, while Executive Committee member Nabil Sha’ath said Friday the teams were considering the Gaza Strip. “If we want dialogue, why shouldn’t we meet in the Gaza Strip,” said Nimir Hammad, an aide to President Mahmoud Abbas, in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

US denounces Palestinian claims on Western Wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

The United States Tuesday denounced a Palestinian report from last week that denied Jewish connections to Jerusalem's Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites. "We strongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive, and highly provocative," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told a briefing. "We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of delegitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land."

Abbas: Palestinians have 'other options' if peace talks fail
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

The PLO will explore alternative ways to gain international recognition if US efforts to advance peace talks with Israel fail, President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday. "We will spare no effort in pursuing this process and we have no choice but the choice of peace, we will continue with the peace process and we hope that US efforts will succeed," Abbas said at a news conference with German President Christian Wulff.

Hamas PM denies al-Qaida presence in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Karin Laub - December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

BANI HASSAN, West Bank (AP) — Palestinians will be ready for statehood by August, as promised in a two-year action plan, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in an interview Tuesday, dismissing a host of steep obstacles to independence. The former World Bank economist visited rural West Bank road destroyed by Israel to demonstrate his belief that independence is inevitable as long as Palestinians don't lose faith.

Amid security successes, Palestinians feel unease
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

A senior Israeli commander in the West Bank recalled that he used to carry a thick notebook full of names of wanted militants. Today, the list is so thin it "almost doesn't exist," he said. And when Israel's military chief recently visited a famous church in Palestinian territory, he had some unlikely escorts: Palestinian security forces. Such sights were inconceivable just a few years ago, reflecting the startling progress made by U.S.-trained Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.

Palestinians remove Western Wall report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinian government has removed a report claiming that Jerusalem's Western Wall isn't holy to Jews from an official website, after it provoked furious reaction. The five-page report has been condemned by the U.S. and Israel as incorrect and provocative. Palestinian officials would not comment on the report Wednesday. But its author, Al-Mutawakil Taha, a civil servant in the Information Ministry, says he stands by it.

Israel arrests Hamas lawmaker in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli army arrested eight Palestinians in the West Bank on Wednesday, including a Hamas lawmaker, witnesses and security sources said. The lawmaker, Nayef al-Rojoub, was arrested from his house in the southern city of Hebron, said the witnesses, the other seven were detained in other cities in the West Bank. In addition to his position at the disabled Hamas-dominated parliament, al-Rojoub had served as the religious affairs minister in 2006.

Settlement freeze failures have exposed gutless leaders in both Israel and the U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yehuda Ben Meir - (Opinion) December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

The total ineptitude that has characterized moves in recent weeks to extend the moratorium on construction in the settlements has done great damage to Israel's image abroad. It has also done nothing to improve relations with the United States. To be fair, the U.S. administration is as much to blame for all the incompetency shown - the blatant lack of skill and endless mistakes - as is the Israeli government.

Interrogation of Palestinian teens was illegal, court rules
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yanir Yagna - December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Police illegally questioned two Palestinian minors late at night, even though there was no lawyer or adult family member present, their lawyer told the Kfar Sava Magistrate's Court this week. The minors, both 16-year-olds from Qalqilyah, are suspected of being accessories to the theft of three bicycles and two helmets that were found three weeks ago in the possession of two adults from Qalqilyah. These men were carrying the identity cards of the teens, which led police and military personnel to raid the minors' homes in Qalqilyah at 2 A.M. Monday.

Israeli-Arab indicted on terror charges
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ahiya Raved - December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Amsalem Amin Meri, 26, of the Arab town of Fureidis, attempted to recruit for Hamas and gather information for the purpose of carrying out terror attacks in Israel, according to an indictment filed with the Haifa District Court on Wednesday Hamas politburo chief slams Palestinian Authority blaming it of selling off Palestinian people's rights. 'Peace talks became a process of daily humiliation,' he says. Meanwhile, Palestinian negotiator Erekat blames Israel of writing off agreements Full Story

Survey: Half of Israeli Jews oppose having Arab neighbors
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Aviad Glickman - December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Almost half of Israeli Jews – 46% – wouldn't want to have Arabs as neighbors, a survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute indicated Tuesday. Meanwhile, 39% of the participants said they would not want to live near migrant workers and mental patients in rehabilitation, while 23% said that the ultra-Orthodox would make the most difficult neighbors. A quarter of the participants consider gay neighbors the least desirable. The survey also suggests that 86% of Israeli Jews believe that critical decisions regarding the future of Israel must be decided by a Jewish majority.

A ‘self-hating’ Palestinian?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Murad Bustami - (Opinion) December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Several months ago, I took part in a symposium organized by the Palestinian Academic Society for International Affairs, entitled “Hamas’s Political Agenda 2010.” It took place at a venue a few meters from the burial site of Yasser Arafat and the office of current PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Independent figures from different academic backgrounds spoke on the podium in an attempt to analyze the political discourse of the Hamas movement, as well as to highlight the growing rift between the Palestinian liberation movement and the peace process.

Palestinian Author Defends His Widely Challenged Report on Western Wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Jeffay - December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

The author of a controversial new Palestinian Authority report says his claim that the Western Wall is not a Jewish historic site does not constitute Palestinian propaganda but is rather an attempt to educate world Jewry. “I want to speak to all Jews and say — this wall is not for you; it’s for the Muslims,” Al-Mutawakel Taha, the PA’s Deputy Minister of Information, told the Forward. “I want to tell this to all Jews in all of the world.”

Palestinian PM defiant over Israeli control
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - December 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority prime minister, defiantly toured Israeli-controlled land in the West Bank yesterday, vowing to rebuild a road that Israel recently destroyed in the area. Near the northern village of Bani Hassan, the two-kilometre, PA-built road falls on a swath of land that the represents roughly 60 per cent of the West Bank. Although under Israel's exclusive authority, the Palestinian leader's pledge to rebuild the motorway is part of his effort to defy Israel's control over the area that he has called necessary for building an independent Palestinian state.

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