Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Roger Cohen looks at the Jewish debate on Israeli policies. The US debates its role in the peace process. The UN says the Gaza blockade is not over. A call by top Israeli rabbis not to rent to Arabs continues to provoke controversy. Two Gaza teens are killed by abandoned Israeli ordnance. Senior Palestinian officials are coming to Washington. Palestinians are weighing their options, including seeking UN membership. Hanan Ashrawi says more talks are futile without a change in the US approach. Israel draws heavy international criticism on settlements. There is no clear successor to Pres. Abbas. The US may be working to resuscitate indirect talks. Latin American recognition of Palestine is partly based on anti-corruption efforts. Saeb Erekat says Israel must recognize refugee rights. Hassan Haidar says Palestinian officials shouldn't bother going to Washington. The Arab News calls the US reversal on a settlement freeze “capitulation.” Hussein Ibish says it's not the end of the world or the peace process.

U.S. debates role in Mideast peace effort
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Paul Richter - December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

The Obama administration's abandonment of a failed strategy for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking has sparked a debate within the White House about what kind of approach — and how much energy — America's overbooked national security team should put into the Middle East effort. The focus of that debate sharpened Thursday as top officials jockeyed to shape a highly anticipated policy speech that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will make Friday night.

Gaza blockade over? Not according to the UN.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Kristen Chick - December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

More than two months after Israel approved the entry of construction materials for humanitarian projects in Gaza as part of the loosening of its blockade of the coastal enclave, only a tiny fraction of the needed materials have arrived. In Gaza, electric cars offer a way around Israel’s blockade Gaza busts out of its blockade Israel-Hamas standoff deepens water woes

Rabbis tell Israeli Jews not to rent to Arabs; even Holocaust museum frowns
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Hundreds of prominent Israeli rabbis have signed a religious opinion calling on Jews not to rent or sell real estate to Arabs, sparking public uproar and debate over the essence of Judaism and its place in Israel's democracy. For Israeli Arab teens, a way to serve the country – without joining the army Israeli documentary captures citizen reconciliation – and encourages more

Medics: 2 teens killed by old Israeli shell
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Two Palestinian teenagers was killed when an artillery shell left behind by Israeli forces exploded in Gaza Friday morning, medics said. Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya said 16-year-old Victor Batniji was dead when he arrived at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital. Moumin Helles, also 16, died shortly after arriving at the hospital, after being wounded in the same incident in the Shujaiyya area. An Israeli military spokesman said the army was aware of an explosion in the area but "nothing IDF [Israel Defense Forces] related."

Top PA officials head to Washington
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian premier Salam Fayyad and chief negotiator Saeb Erakat were on Thursday flying to Washington to hold talks with top US officials over the crisis in peace talks. Fayyad was to hold talks with Hillary Clinton early on Friday ahead of a conference at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at which the secretary of state was to give a keynote address outlining a new strategy for advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Palestinians weigh options as talks freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Paralysis in U.S.-backed peace talks is prompting debate among Palestinians on alternatives to the two-decade old diplomatic process. The chances of another Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, similar to that which erupted when peace talks with Israel hit a dead-end a decade ago, are seen as remote.

More Mideast talks futile without US shift
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Tom Perry - December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

More Middle East peace talks will be "an exercise in futility" unless the United States "curbs Israeli violations," a leading Palestinian said. Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran of the 20-year-old peace process, faulted the U.S. approach for giving Israel time to expand settlements and deepen its control over the land where the Palestinians aim to found a sovereign state. "I've had enough," said Ashrawi, a member of the delegation which negotiated with Israel for two years from 1991.

Top Israeli rabbi slams anti-Arab edict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

A top Israeli rabbi has condemned a controversial ruling forbidding renting or selling property to non-Jews. That ruling, which won the support of three dozen rabbis this week, has drawn vocal criticism in Israel. Israel's attorney general is weighing possible charges against the rabbis. Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv — considered the top rabbinic authority for many ultra-Orthodox Jews — weighed in against those rabbis on Thursday.

Israel draws international rebuke over settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Karin Laub - December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

The European Union, the United Nations and the Arab League have rebuked Israel after its refusal to halt settlement construction forced Washington to drop efforts to relaunch Mideast peace talks. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday stuck to his position that he won't negotiate without a freeze of Jewish settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — lands captured by Israel and sought by the Palestinians for their state. He spoke after meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

No clear successor should Abbas leave the stage
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

Washington's Mideast peace efforts are in trouble as it is, but an additional complication is often overlooked: Should 76-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a heavy smoker prone to threats of resignation, leave office, there's no designated successor and no agreement on how to choose one. Having a Palestinian leader opposed to violence is key to U.S. policy in the region, and Abbas has filled that role for the past six years. A turbulent transition could seriously weaken any new leader.

U.S. working to resuscitate Israeli-Palestinian indirect talks: source
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Israeli officials close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expressing satisfaction over the fact that the issue of a building freeze in the West Bank is off the agenda between Israel and the United States. "The Americans understood that it's not the right way," one official said, a source close to the government told Xinhua on Thursday. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will fly to Washington soon to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in order to discuss ways of getting the peace process moving again, according to the source.

Palestinians Win Backing for Independence by Crackdown on Corruption
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by David Miller - December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Cleaner government in Ramallah and law and order on the streets of Jenin may be doing more to bring Palestine into the community of nation states than peace talks with Israel, officials and analysts said after Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil moved to recognize Palestine as an independent state.

The returning issue of Palestine's refugees
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Saeb Erakat - (Opinion) December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Before his murder in 1948, Lord Folke Bernadotte, the first UN mediator to the Arab-Israeli conflict, stated: "It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent [Palestinian] victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine." Lord Bernadotte paid for his candour with his life as Jewish militants assassinated him under the direction of Yitzhak Shamir, the man who would later become prime minister of Israel.

Palestinians weigh up option of seeking UN membership
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by James Reinl - December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

An application for UN membership and a request for the recognition of a sovereign state is one of several options on the table for the Palestinian leadership that will be decided upon during an Arab League meeting next week, a Palestinian envoy to the UN said yesterday. Palestinian officials hope to eventually win support from the 192-member UN General Assembly, said the envoy, who asked to remain anonymous. "We would try to have everyone on board because the question of Palestine is legally very clear under international law," the envoy said.

Abbas Don’t Go
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Hassan Haidar - (Opinion) December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Shifts in US foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, prove that it is the making of amateurs, who do not hesitate to back down every time they are confronted with a problem, and who do not refrain from 180 degrees turnarounds every time difficulties appear before the ideas they have put forward to resolve any issue or crisis. Such frivolity was revealed by the WikiLeaks documents, which showed that most US diplomats all over the world were like eavesdropping workers who report what they hear here and there superficially and without any analysis, mixing up rumors and facts.

Abject surrender
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Washington’s decision that it will no longer attempt to persuade the Israelis to impose a new moratorium on settlement construction in order to restart peace negotiations is an abject and shocking admission of failure. Everyone knew that that the Americans had serious difficulties trying to persuade the Israelis to concede on this vital issue. But there was wide belief that an ingenious diplomatic formula could be devised to enable talks to go ahead. No one imagined that President Barack Obama would simply capitulate to the Israelis. That is what has happened.

The end of the settlement freeze gimmick is not the end of the world, or the possibility of peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

For many months now I have been predicting that the US would probably be able to secure a three or four-month settlement freeze extension, allowing for the resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. And, indeed, the Obama administration moved heaven and earth to do so, but now it would appear they have accepted that the present Israeli cabinet simply will not agree to any such thing.

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