Middle East News: World Press Roundup

A Hamas leader says it will accept the results of a Palestinian referendum on peace. Leaked cables suggest Syrian support for Hamas may be negotiable. Pres. Abbas is still waiting for an American response on settlements and appears frustrated. Two Palestinians are killed at the Gaza border. Palestinians under 40 are blocked from the al-Aqsa mosque. A PA cabinet reshuffle may have been postponed. Palestinians blame Israel for the failure of talks. Israel announces yet another settlement expansion project, angering Palestinians. Israel unveils new anti-rocket technology. Palestinians ask Israel to drop opposition to WTO membership. The Palestinian ambassador in Washington says Congress shouldn't interfere in the peace process. Libyan leader Qaddafi proposes a binational state at the UN. An Israeli rabbi says houses should not be rented to Palestinians. Leonard Fein says the ZOA is deliberately distorting Palestinian poll results. There may have been a falling out between Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan. Michael Jansen says George Mitchell may be preparing to step down as Middle East envoy. The Arab News says Washington needs to take more responsibility for Israeli policies.

Hamas Leader in Gaza Softens on Vote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Fares Akram - December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

The leader of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said Wednesday for the first time that any resolution of the Palestinian dispute with Israel should be put to a referendum of all Palestinians around the world, and that if one were held, Hamas would accept the results no matter what they were. In the past, when President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority discussed holding such a referendum, Hamas had been critical, saying that principles like the return of refugees and the borders of the state could not be subject to a vote.

Syria's Assad seems to suggest backing for Hamas negotiable, leaked cables say
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

Syrian President Bashar Assad described Hamas as an "uninvited guest" in his country in confidential conversations with American lawmakers, and appeared to suggest he would be willing to give up the alliance in exchange for incentives, according to several documents contained in the trove of leaked diplomatic cables posted online by the website WikiLeaks.

WEST BANK: Abbas still waiting for U.S. answers on Israeli settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Maher Abukhater - December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday took the opportunity of laying the cornerstone for the new presidential headquarters just north of the West Bank city of Ramallah to tell the world that he was still waiting for U.S. answers regarding an Israeli settlement freeze that would pave the way for resuming direct negotiations. However, he said, the answer may come as early as Thursday. “We did not yet receive the official U.S. answers on stopping settlements,” Abbas said. “Maybe we will hear something official tomorrow."

2 Islamic Jihad men killed on Gaza border
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces as they reportedly tried to infiltrate an Israeli kibbutz east of the Gaza Strip, military radio reported on Thursday. The Israeli military said the bodies of two members of Islamic Jihad were found in the area. Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, also announced that the two were members of the organization.

Israel restricts Al-Aqsa access
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

Israeli forces closed most gates leading into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Thursday morning, leaving only two open. All worshipers under 40 years old were barred by Israeli police from entering the compound, and prayed together in the streets adjacent to the Haram Ash-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) which houses the mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The action came following the entry of an estimated 55 religious Jews into the mosque compound shortly after 8 a.m., witnesses said. The group was accompanied by more than a dozen Israeli guards.

Was PA cabinet reshuffle postponed?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

Fatah Revolutionary Council Secretary-General Amin Maqboul denied Thursday that a reported PA cabinet reshuffle was postponed until the new year, saying discussions were ongoing between President Mahmoud Abbas and his appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. "Abbas gave a clear decision about the cabinet reshuffle," Maqboul told Ma’an, adding that the president is the only person in power who can make the call.

UPDATE 1-Israel to blame for "collapse" of talks-Abbas aide
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Tom Perry - December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

The United States should openly blame Israel for the "collapse" of the peace process, a senior Palestinian official said on Thursday, in one of the bleakest assessments yet on Middle East peace efforts. New Israeli plans to build near East Jerusalem show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want to resume peace talks, Palestinian officials said.

Israel unveils new residential plan near E.Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ori Lewis - December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel on Wednesday revealed plans to build new homes on West Bank land it has annexed as part of its Jerusalem boundaries, a move likely to further hamper any resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians. The plan to build 625 homes in the urban area of Pisgat Zeev adjacent to Arab East Jerusalem was approved by an Israeli Interior Ministry committee last week, some two years after it was originally proposed, Israel Radio said.

Palestinians angry over new Israeli building plans
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Matti Friedman - December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinians criticized an Israeli decision to push forward plans for 625 new homes in east Jerusalem, saying Thursday the project shows Israel has chosen "settlements and not peace." Israel's Interior Ministry confirmed Thursday that the new housing project in Pisgat Zeev, a sprawling area of 50,000 residents, was permitted to proceed by a district planning committee late last month. Further approval is required at the district and national levels, and actual construction would not begin for at least two years.

Israel discloses technology to deal with rockets
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Daniel Estrin - December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

An Israeli military unit on Wednesday showed off a new system to counter chemical attacks. It quickly measures temperature and wind direction to determine areas to evacuate and then feeds hospitals casualty assessments.

Palestinian minister asks Israel to back WTO membership
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has officially asked Israel to lift its opposition to Palestinian attempt to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). Palestinian minister of economy, Hassan Abu Lebda, told Xinhua that he met Israeli trade and labor minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, in Jerusalem Wednesday and "told him of the Palestinian request as a Palestinian right." Media reports on Thursday quoted Ben-Eliezer as saying that Israel will back the Palestinian request to get observer status at the WTO.

Frustration Behind Abbas' call for unilateralism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has once again raised the possibility of unilaterally declaring a independent Palestinian state without signing a peace agreement with Israel. After a meeting with German President Christian Wulff in Bethlehem on Tuesday, Abbas told reporters that if talks with Israel fail then the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) will look for other options to achieve independence.

Palestinian delegate to U.S.: Congress shouldn't interfere in Mideast peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

While the Jewish community of Washington, D.C. was busy lighting the first Hanukkah candle, the Palestinian mission to the United States held an event at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City marking at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Several weeks before the Republicans are to take command of the U.S. House of Representatives on Capitol Hill, the head of the Palestinian mission to the U.S., Maen Rashid Areikat, sounded quite frustrated with the peace process - and wary of the prospects of the conduct of a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Gaddafi proposes bi-national state at UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Itamar Eichner - December 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Every year on November 29 the United Nations General Assembly holds a discussion on the situation in the Middle East. Usually, the "conclusions" from the event are formulized into a series of condemnations against Israel, but this year Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi managed to confuse everyone and steal the show yet again. Humanitarian Award Erdogan wins Libyan human rights prize / AFP Turkish prime minister to receive Muammar Gaddafi Prize for Human Rights next week Full story

Israeli orthodox rabbi stirs up racism debate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes - November 30, 2010 - 1:00am

From a pine-covered mountaintop in the far north of Israel, the Sea of Galilee is just visible through the mist below. This is the idyllic setting for Tzfat, as it is known in Hebrew, or Safed, as Arabic-speakers call it, a holy place for Jews. It is said to have been founded by a son of Noah after the great flood. In the past few weeks it has also become famous for a decree made by its chief rabbi who instructed residents not to rent rooms or houses to Israeli Arabs.

Parsing a Palestinian Poll on Peace, With Prejudice
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Leonard Fein - (Opinion) December 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Well, if you’re the Zionist Organization of America, what’s in your headline is whatever distortion of the data you’re discussing that you think you can get away with. Related Articles Pro-Israel Group Polls Palestinians on Peace Process From the Right: ZOA Faithful Challenge Israelis on Freeze

Former Fatah star Mohammed Dahlan falls from favour
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - (Analysis) December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM // Where is Mohammed Dahlan? For days rumours have swirled of a falling out between the one-time heir apparent to Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinian Authority officials will not confirm the reports, but what is certain is that Mr Dahlan, 49, Fatah's former security chief in the Gaza Strip, has dropped out of sight. The Palestinian daily Al Quds Al Arabi recently reported that Mr Dahlan had openly criticised the Palestinian president and his family's business dealings.

A ‘tragic and dangerous development’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - (Opinion) December 2, 2010 - 1:00am

Reliable sources report that George Mitchell, a hero of the Good Friday agreement which ended Catholic-Protestant warfare in Northern Ireland, is set to step down from his post as US peace broker. Having tried and failed to relaunch negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis since being appointed by President Barack Obama early in 2009, Mitchell is apparently “to bow out” or “throw in the towel” in despair - as they say. If this report is correct, Mitchell’s departure would be a tragic and dangerous development.

Editorial: US responsibility
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) December 1, 2010 - 1:00am

We hear Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this week warning that the unresolved Jewish settlements issue is a time bomb waiting to blow apart any chance of a peace deal between Palestinians and Israelis. We hear, too, from international aid and human rights organizations that Israel’s claims to have eased the blockade on Gaza is a lie; it has had almost no effect and done nothing to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians there. We hear, as well, that a poll of Israeli Jews finds that they are intolerant and suspicious of Israeli Arab citizens.

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