Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Pres. Medvedev visits the West Bank, reaffirms Russian commitment to Palestinian statehood, and demands an end to Israeli settlement activity. An Israeli citizen has been arrested in connection with the Srebrenica massacre.The Arab League praises Palestinian diplomatic efforts for more recognition. A Palestinian man is killed by Israeli forces in Gaza. PM Fayyad says Palestinian tax revenues must increase to offset dependence on foreign aid. The Middle East Quartet will meet in Munich in February. The Israeli military is digging in for future conflicts. Aluf Benn says Israel cannot stop Palestinian independence. Recognition of Palestine by Spain and Caribbean islands may be in the offing. The Palestinian flag is raised at the PLO Mission in Washington for the first time. Hammas announces a rebuilding program in Gaza. A strike by Israeli Foreign Ministry workers is severely hampering Israel's diplomacy. Pres. Abbas urges the Quartet to pressure Israel. PM Netanyahu will attend the AIPAC conference in Washington in May. Arab states have formally submitted a draft resolution on settlements to the UN Security Council. Daniel Levy says the Labor Party and its political traditions are finally dead. Hussein Ibish says the Hariri assassination Tribunal report may give Hezbollah a similar experience Israel had with the Goldstone Report.

Medvedev Visits West Bank, Lifting Palestinian Spirits
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia met on Tuesday with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank oasis town of Jericho and reaffirmed his country’s support for a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem. Palestinian leaders hailed the visit as historic, noting that this was the first time such a high-profile international figure had gone to Palestinian territory independently of a visit to Israel.

ISRAEL: Israeli citizen suspected of involvement in Bosnia war crimes arrested
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Batsheva Sobelman - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

An Israeli citizen was arrested Tuesday in connection with a 1995 massacre in Bosnia, and Israel’s Justice Ministry launched extradition proceedings against him. A Sarajevo court issued a warrant for Alexandar Cvetkovic's arrest in April, stating that he was wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity. In August, Bosnia-Herzegovina filed a formal request to Israel for his extradition to stand trial at a war-crimes tribunal.

Arab League praises PA's diplomatic efforts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 19, 2011 - 1:00am

Arab League chief Amr Mussa on Tuesday praised the Palestinian Authority's diplomatic efforts to secure international recognition of a Palestinian state. PA Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Al-Malki updated Arab foreign ministers on diplomatic developments in Egypt's Sharm El-Sheikh, where leaders gathered ahead of an Arab League summit on Wednesday. Foreign ministers praised Palestinian diplomatic achievements, and promised to support President Mahmoud Abbas' political strategy.

1 killed as Israeli troops raid Gaza Strip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 19, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli forces killed one Palestinian and injured two others on Tuesday in the northern Gaza Strip. Medics and witnesses said the three men were civilians, and that soldiers in an Israeli military post launched five shells towards the mainly agricultural area. Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya identified the slain as Amjad Sami Az-Za’aneen, 20, and said two others were moderately injured and transported to the Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City for treatment. An Israeli military spokeswoman said forces opened fire at a group of men who were handling a detonation device.

Fayyad: Taxes must rise to reduce aid dependency
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 19, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Sunday that taxes must rise to reduce dependence on donors. Fayyad, a former World Bank economist, faced a barrage of questions on the state of the economy during a meeting with journalists in Ramallah. Reporters asked Fayyad what support his government would offer to assist struggling families and the unemployed, and whether taxes would rise. The PA premier said in order to provide support for citizens, Palestinians faced a choice between aid dependency and increased taxes.

Mideast quartet to hold Munich talks in Feb-Germany
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
January 14, 2011 - 1:00am

The quartet of Middle East mediators will meet at the annual Munich Security conference next month to mull how to resuscitate peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, a German government official said on Friday. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Germany hoped an "urgently needed boost" could be given to the talks when representatives from the European Union, the United Nations, Russia and the United States come together in Munich.

Palestinian, Russian leaders urge settlement freeze to resume negotiations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Fares Akram - January 19, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday called on Israel to stop building settlements in order to resume stalled peace talks. "There are two options: negotiations and peace, or violence and terrorism," Abbas told a news conference after his talks with Medvedev in the West Bank city of Jericho, "The Palestinian side will never choose the second option."

Israeli army digging in to protect wartime assets
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Monday it plans to implement comprehensive measures in order to better protect missiles, munitions and other crucial military hardware from rocket attacks in any future conflict, according to The Jerusalem Post. In addition, the Home Front Command has shortened the estimated time civilians would have to take cover from incoming missiles. The army will not have the medium-range "Iron Dome" anti- missile system, which is said to protect areas in a 70-km radius, up and running until 2013.

Israel can't stop Palestinian independence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - January 19, 2011 - 1:00am

They will go out into Jerusalem's summer heat and march down Saladin Street toward the Old City walls. Fifty Palestinians, then 100, then 200 and 1,000 and 10,000. Marching and shouting "Istiqlal," independence. Not because they support Ehud Barak's new party, Atzmaut (the Hebrew word for independence ), but to get Israel out of the territories beyond the Green Line and establish a Palestinian state there. Just like the demonstrators in Tunisia got rid of Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali.

Who will be the next to recognize an independent Palestinian state?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Shlomo Shamir - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Who will be the next country to recognize an independent Palestinian state? The guessing game continued on Tuesday, after Russia's president said Moscow recognizes an independent Palestine. Diplomatic sources in New York speculate that the first country in Western Europe to recognize Palestinian independence will be Spain. The significance of this potential recognition cannot be understated, as it could potentially influence other countries in Europe to make the same decision.

Palestinian U.S. mission raises flag in Washington for first time
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

In a symbolic gesture, the Palestinians raised their flag over their diplomatic mission in Washington for the first time on Tuesday, as they continue in their quest for recognition by the international community. At a brief ceremony, the Palestinians' chief envoy to the United States, Maen Rashid Areikat, hoisted the red, green, white and black banner outside the PLO General Delegation office. "This is a historic day," Areikat said, adding that it brought him "much pride" to raise his flag. "I will remember this moment for the rest of my life."

Hamas launches Gaza rebuilding program
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Hamas launched a program on Tuesday to rebuild 1,000 homes in the Gaza Strip destroyed during an Israeli offensive two years ago, a project that could boost the Islamist group's standing in the enclave it controls. Hamas, shunned by the West for refusing to renounce violence, declined to disclose the project's cost or the source of its funding. International donations towards reconstruction in Gaza have been held up by Hamas' split with the Palestinian Authority controlling the West Bank.

Foreign Ministry talks break down; sanctions to intensify
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - January 19, 2011 - 1:00am

Talks between the Finance Ministry representatives and Foreign Ministry workers broke down in a late night session Tuesday. The Foreign Ministry workers were expected to announce an intensification of sanctions as part of the labor dispute, Channel 10 reported. The meeting convened Tuesday night focused on trying to put an end to the workers sanctions that claimed another victim – cancellation of a large UN meeting planned for Israel in March. Representatives of the ministry’s workers were meeting for the third time in as many days with Ilan Levin, the Treasury’s wages director.

Abbas urges Quartet to put pressure on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday urged the Quartet members, who are scheduled to meet in Munich next month, to issue decisions that would oblige Israel to return to the negotiating table with the Palestinians. Abbas, who was speaking during a joint press conference in Jericho with visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said there were only two options: Negotiations or violence and terrorism.

Netanyahu to attend AIPAC conference in DC this May
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Hilary Leila Krieger - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will attend this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in May, his office confirmed on Tuesday. Netanyahu conveyed his acceptance of the annual invitation to the Israeli premier during a meeting he had with the organization in Israel on Monday, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. He will be making his second straight in-person appearance at the AIPAC policy conference, set to take place in Washington from May 22 through 24.

Palestinians raise flag at Washington diplomatic mission
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

The Palestine Liberation Organization for the first time hoisted its flag above its Washington mission Tuesday, saying the symbolic step shows progress in the US-Palestinian relationship. “It’s about time that this flag that symbolizes the struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and statehood be raised in the United States,” said PLO chief of mission Maen Areikat. “I think it indicates the willingness of the American administration to deal with the realities on the ground.”

Arabs submit settlement resolution to Security Council
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Arab nations have formally submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank. They did so despite objections from the US, which many expect would veto the resolution if it was brought to a vote. The Palestinians say they are turning to the Security Council because US attempts to get a settlement building freeze have so far failed. They pulled out of direct talks with Israel over the issue in October.

Palestinian bid to take Israeli settlement row to UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Barbara Plett - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Arab nations have formally submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council that condemns Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the United States will almost certainly veto if it is brought to a vote. The initiative starkly illustrates not only the failure of America's Mid-East policy, but the Palestinian dilemma over which strategy to pursue in the quest for statehood.

A requiem for Israel’s Labor Party
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Daniel Levy - (Opinion) January 17, 2011 - 1:00am

The parliamentary faction representing the party that founded and built the state of Israel and that dominated its governments for decades was today reduced to mere single digits -- Israel's Labor Party now has eight members in the Knesset. This latest dilution resulted from a move that took everyone by surprise, enacted by its now-erstwhile leader, still the country's defense minister, Ehud Barak.

Hariri Tribunal will be Hezbollah's Goldstone Report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Despite the understandable anxiety about the collapse of the Lebanese government—and the reaction of Hezbollah to the increasing likelihood that some of its operatives may be indicted by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri—the most probable scenario is that, for now, things in Lebanon will stay much as they have been.

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