Middle East News: World Press Roundup

PM Netanyahu finds himself on the defensive, and is facing challenges from FM Lieberman. FM Al-Maliki says Lieberman is playing catch-up with Palestinian diplomacy. Israel arrests staff from the British consulate. Pres. Abbas says he is 'always ready' for talks after a settlement freeze resumes. US peace efforts revive after the holiday break. Labor MKs says they may leave the cabinet if there is no progress on peace. Israel arrests three Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza. Abbas' brother passes away in Syria. Ha'aretz says Israel must let Palestinians peacefully protest. Mohammed Dahlan denies a plot to overthrow Abbas. DM Barak says Israel should focus on the Palestinian track. An Asian aid convoy reaches Gaza. Palestinians are pursuing their own Plan B for peace. Hassan Barari says the US must change its approach. Joschka Fischer says its time for final status talks. Ziad Asali and Hussein Ibish say Arabs and Arab Americans must take responsibility for combating extremism.

Israel's Netanyahu goes on the defensive
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - January 3, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to deflect rising criticism at home over stalled peace talks Monday by telling Israeli lawmakers that it was the US, not Israel, that rejected a settlement freeze extension this past fall. "There was an American decision not to follow the track,'' said a government official who confirmed the remarks but was not authorized to speak for attribution. "The reporting out there that Israel rejected the American package is simply erroneous.''

Israel's Lieberman tweaks Turkey. Is he flanking Netanyahu?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - December 27, 2010 - 1:00am

A recent attempt to mend Israel-Turkey ties appears to be on the rocks, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman lobbying against apologizing to Ankara for the killing of nine Turkish citizens on the Gaza aid flotilla when they challenged Israel's naval blockade of the territory in May.

Al-Maliki: Lieberman takes defense
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli foreign ministry officials are working defense on the international stage, PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki told Ma'an, saying his Israeli counterpart had taken to visiting the same nations he visits and working to undo advances in Palestinian foreign relations. Traveling with President Mahmoud Abbas on his recent trip to South America, Senegal and Tunis, Al-Maliki spoke of the West Bank government's efforts to push Palestinian statehood on the international stage, and anticipating Israeli diplomatic moves that could seek to quash successful initiatives.

Israel arrests staff from British consulate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli authorities have arrested two locally hired workers at the British consulate general in Jerusalem who were reportedly linked to a plot to attack a stadium, the Foreign Office in London said. "I can confirm that two members of the local staff at the consulate general in Jerusalem have been arrested by Israeli authorities," a Foreign Office spokesman said. "We understand from reports that they have been charged with the illegal sale of weapons and we are seeking confirmation of these charges. It is an ongoing legal process."

Abbas 'always ready' for talks after settlement freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that he was "always ready" to continue peace talks with Israel as soon as it freezes settlement building. "We are always ready to continue negotiations in the event that Israel comes to accept the stopping of its settlement plans," Abbas said in Tunis after talks with Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. "The United States has not succeeded in resolving this problem," Abbas said, adding that he was undertaking a "broad diplomatic campaign" in a bid to restart the peace talks and freeze settlement building.

Israeli forces demolish East Jerusalem home
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli authorities on Monday demolished part of a Palestinian home in occupied East Jerusalem. Forces bulldozed nearly 90 square meters of Nasser Yousif Seyam's home in Lafta village north of Sheikh Jarrah, leaving around 35 square meters standing, witnesses said. The family of nine must now live in one bedroom, one lounge and a corridor.

U.S. renews Mideast peace bid after holiday break
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Maayan Lubell - January 3, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday senior U.S. officials will return to the Middle East this week to renew peacemaking efforts with Israel and the Palestinians. Direct peace talks collapsed late last year in a dispute over Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank, part of the land Palestinians seek for a state. Netanyahu said White House Middle East aide Dennis Ross and other U.S. officials would arrive later in the week. On Thursday, Netanyahu plans to hold talks in Egypt with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Israel's Labor: We'll quit if no progress to peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mark Lavie - January 3, 2011 - 1:00am

A top leader of Israel's Labor Party threatened Monday to pull out of the government if there is no progress in peace talks, reflecting growing impatience with the stalemate in negotiations with the Palestinians. An exit by Labor, a moderate party sitting uncomfortably alongside hawks in the ruling coalition, could undermine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's parliamentary majority and force an election. That would sideline Mideast peace efforts for months. The pullout threat came from Labor Party stalwart Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.

Israeli navy arrests three fishermen off Gaza coast
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

The Israeli navy arrested three Palestinian fishermen off Gaza's shore on Tuesday, Palestinians sources said. An Israeli navy ship intercepted and sank a small fishing boat, forcing the three people onboard to climb to the gunboat, a source from the Hamas' interior ministry told Xinhua. Nizar Ayesh, head of the Palestinian Fishermen Union, said the Palestinians were working within the area that Israel allows fishermen to work in.

Palestinian President's brother dies in Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' elder brother Atta Rida Shehada Abbas passed away in Syria, the local Al-Thawra daily reported on Tuesday. Atta Abbas, among the first generation of Fatah movement, died of a heart attack here on Monday and was buried in Martyrs Graveyard in the Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees near Damascus, Mahmoud al-Khalidi, the Palestinian ambassador to Damascus was quoted as saying. President Abbas, 76, will receive mourners in his Ramallah office on Wednesday, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Israel must allow Palestinians to protest in peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

Jawaher Abu Rahmah, a 36-year-old kindergarten teacher, was killed over the weekend after she choked on tear gas while watching the weekly demonstration at her village. Residents and human rights activists from at home and abroad demonstrate against the separation fence that was built on village land. Abu Rahmah died less than two years after her brother Bassem was killed by a tear-gas canister fired directly at his chest at a similar protest. A third brother, Ashraf, was caught on camera as he was shot by Israeli soldiers while he was handcuffed.

Fatah strongman Dahlan denies plot to overthrow Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan has denied accusation that he had been plotting a military coup to unseat Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Al-Hayat daily reported on Tuesday. Palestinian Authority security forces questioned the Fatah Central Committee member on Sunday over a recent spat with Abbas and requested that he leave for Amman. Dahlan denied allegations that he attempted to overthrow Abbas or that he had been harboring weapons and told Al-Hayat that the investigation was essentially a "non-story".

Barak: No progress on Syrian track, focus on Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Hanan Greenberg - January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel must do everything in its power to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday. During a visit to the Tze'elim army base in south Israel, Barak said there was no progress on the Syrian track and that Israel should focus its efforts on jumpstarting the negotiations with the Palestinians. The defense minister said that in Israel's "complex" reality, the government has a responsibility to seek every possible way to reignite the peace process with the Palestinians and pursue peace on a regional level.

Gaza blockade: Asia 1 aid convoy reaches Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
January 3, 2011 - 1:00am

Some 100 pro-Palestinian activists, part of an Asian aid convoy, have crossed into the Gaza Strip from Egypt. The convoy's $1m (760,000 euros) worth of cargo was due to arrive separately by boat later, organisers said. Egypt refused visas to some Iranians and Jordanians travelling with the convoy, which left India on 2 December. Activists had planned to reach the Hamas-run Gaza Strip by 27 December, the second anniversary of Israel's 22-day Cast Lead offensive on Gaza. More than 1,400 Gazans and 13 Israelis died during the 2008-2009 Gaza war.

Palestinians pursue 'Plan B' after failed talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
December 31, 2010 - 1:00am

Peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis have reached an impasse over the thorny issue of Jewish settlements. As Washington searches for a way forward, the Palestinians are taking things into their own hands by pursuing a "Plan B", asking countries to recognise an independent Palestinian state. The BBC's Yolande Knell reports from Jerusalem. As the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas laid the symbolic cornerstone for a new embassy in Brazil on Friday, he hoped the greater significance of the act would be noted.

Barak deceives Barack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Hassan Barari - (Opinion) January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

The American administration seems to have got cold feet about the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Since the advent of the Obama administration, there has been a lot of talk and much hope, but the American administration has yet to deliver on its promises. If anything, its failure to convince Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze settlement building has exposed the impotence of American diplomacy vis-à-vis Israel.

Barack Obama must move ahead to final-status talks over Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Joschka Fischer - (Opinion) January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

Two years have passed since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. Much to his credit – and in contrast to his predecessor – Obama tried, from his first day in office, to work toward a resolution of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Honesty and Hypocrisy in Facing Terrorism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Ziad Asali, Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) January 3, 2011 - 1:00am

The murderous bomb attacks against Christian communities in Egypt and Iraq have been roundly condemned by most political and religious leaders, commentators and public opinion in the Arab world. They have also been met with an outpouring of passionate condemnation by ordinary people who have taken to the streets to express anger and demand justice. People have sensed the danger to their whole society inherent in such atrocities.

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