Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Jeffrey Goldberg and Hussein Ibish look at practical steps that could be taken to improve the atmosphere for peace. Leaked documents suggest the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships may have taken different public and private positions, and PBS looks at the background. Aaron David Miller says everything important in the documents has been in the public record since at least 2000. Hamas says it no longer recognizes Pres. Abbas’ right to negotiate with Israel. PLO officials say US credibility is at stake in a possible UN vote on settlements. Ireland upgrades the PLO mission and Israel expresses concerns about European recognition of Palestine. Carlo Strenger says Israel needs peace. The demolition of Palestinian homes in “Area C” tripled in 2010. Palestinians insist Israeli excavations under holy sites are dangerous. Israel arrests 13 Palestinians in Jerusalem accused of murdering two people and other crimes. Abbas expresses condolences to Pres. Peres on the death of his wife. Nathan Jeffay says DM Barak left the Labor Party to preserve his career. Rami Khouri says Israel’s positions are unreasonable. Ghassan Khatib says peace should be based on international legitimacy, and not referenda.

Good News From the Middle East (Really)
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Jeffrey Goldberg, Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) January 25, 2011 - 1:00am

IT has lately become the accepted wisdom that the Middle East peace process is dead, finished, kaput. This belief has been reinforced by Al Jazeera’s release this week of some 1,600 documents that are said to describe the inside workings of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in 2008.

Death by a thousand leaks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Aaron David Miller - (Opinion) January 26, 2011 - 1:00am

Somebody up there must really hate the Arab-Israeli peace process. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, that the odds against serious negotiations couldn't get any longer and the hope for a two-state solution couldn't be more forlorn, we now have the Palestinian version of WikiLeaks.

What should we take away from the ‘Palestine Papers’?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from PBS
by Sal Gentile - (Opinion) January 25, 2011 - 1:00am

In recent months, peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have been fitful, to say the least. There was reason for hope when President Obama took office two years ago promising a recalculation of American foreign policy. By the time his administration restarted the negotiations in September, however, veterans of the peace process were skeptical that progress could be made. Now, just four months later, even the most optimistic observers have reason to be despondent.

Hamas withdraws authorization of Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 26, 2011 - 1:00am

Hamas on Tuesday withdrew its authorization of President Mahmoud Abbas as the head of negotiations. Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya said Abbas' mandate was not valid without the party's recognition. He also dismissed the PA's claim that it negotiated on behalf of Palestinians. Hamas does not participate in talks with Israel. The move follows the release of secret PLO documents covering a decade of negotiations with Israel, leaked to the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera.

PLO: US credibility at stake in UN settlement vote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
by Abdullah Rebhi - January 26, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha'ath warned that Washington risks losing "any credibility as a peace broker" if it vetoes a UN Security Council resolution calling for a halt to Israeli settlement building. The Palestinians will address the 15-member Security Council "whether or not the United States wants it," Sha'ath told reporters late on Monday in Doha, where he was speaking to Al-Jazeera TV, and confirming the authenticity of the leaked "Palestine Papers" on peace talks with Israel.

Israel worries over possible EU states' recognition of Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Dave Bender - January 25, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel's efforts to stem a rising tide of recognition of a Palestinian state received a blow Tuesday afternoon, with Ireland's decision to upgrade the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Dublin to that of an embassy. The announcement, broadcast by Israel Army Radio, followed a symbolic gesture of recognition by Peru on Monday. Sources at Israel's foreign ministry said officials had been discussing the possibility, and foresaw even more states following suit.

Israel's first step to Mideast peace: Opening the door, Obama style
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Opinion) January 21, 2011 - 1:00am

In the last few weeks an important event was largely missed by the Israeli media, which was busy covering the Moshe Katsav ruling, among other issues. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas presented his offer for a final status agreement with Israel to the United States, and is now awaiting an Israeli response. It has been reported that Yitzhak Molcho, on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, refused to receive this document from the Americans. His justification: making this document public would immediately destroy Netanyahu's coalition.

'Demolition of Palestinian homes in West Bank's Area C tripled in 2010'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - January 26, 2011 - 1:00am

The number of Palestinian residences demolished by Israel's Civil Administration in the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control tripled last year compared to 2009, data complied by B'Tselem shows. Attorney Shlomo Lecker, who has represented the Jahalin Bedouin tribe in the West Bank for years, attributed the increase in Area C demolitions directly to the increased pressure applied over the last two years by both settlers and a new organization, Regavim.

New Jerusalem tunnel will damage Temple Mount, Palestinians say
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yair Ettinger, Nir Hasson - January 26, 2011 - 1:00am

The tunnel leading from the City of David in Silwan to beneath the walls of Jerusalem's Old City, excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority and announced to media fanfare Sunday, is drawing fire from Palestinians who claim it will damage the Temple Mount. Parts of the tunnel come within just a few meters of the Western Wall, contrary to Antiquities Authority claims yesterday, but officials stress that the religiously sensitive parts of the tunnel were not dug by the agency. They were dug out many years ago, and were merely reexposed by the project, they say.

Police: Palestinian cell murdered US tourist
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Omri Efraim - January 26, 2011 - 1:00am

Thirteen men suspected of killing two women near Jerusalem, committing rape and robberies. According to police, cell's motives were criminal at first but turned terrorist after Hamas commander's murder Police have uncovered a Palestinian cell responsible for the murder of American tourist Kristine Luken and the attempted murder of tour guide Kaye Susan Wilson in a forest near Jerusalem last month, it was cleared for publication Wednesday. The 13 cell members are also suspected of committing 21 different crimes between 1997 and 2010.

Ireland upgrades PA mission
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ronen Medzini - January 25, 2011 - 1:00am

Ireland becomes first EU member to take such measure; Israel says move detrimental to peace process The Irish government decided Tuesday to upgrade the Palestinian diplomatic mission in the country. Ireland is the first European Union member to announce such a move, which was initiated by the Irish foreign minister. However, the upgrade does not constitute Irish recognition of a Palestinian state.

Abbas to Peres: We must not kill the peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Greer Fay Cashman - January 26, 2011 - 1:00am

PA president calls counterpart to express condolences on wife's passing, says should "stand together" against forces seeking to delegitimize PA. "We must not kill the peace process," Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told President Shimon Peres on Wednesday when he telephoned to express his condolences on the passing of the president's wife, Sonia Peres.

In Abandoning the Labor Party, Barak Solidifies Coalition With Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Forward
by Nathan Jeffay - January 26, 2011 - 1:00am

Most See Barak’s Formation of a New Party, Ha’atzmaut, as a Temporary Move To Ensure His Political Survival Overnight, he went from leader of Israel’s most illustrious left-wing party to an appendage of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. What next for Ehud Barak? Since his January 17 break with Israel’s Labor Party — taking that once mighty, now shriveled faction down yet one more peg by his departure — the retired general and former prime minister is voicing high hopes for the new party he has founded with fellow Labor Party defectors.

The Palestine Papers expose an Israeli-dominated process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) January 26, 2011 - 1:00am

The Palestine Papers being published this week by Al-Jazeera TV and The Guardian newspaper provide many important and, often problematic, insights into several key aspects of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to achieve a comprehensive, permanent peace agreement. Reading through the entire archive of over 1,600 documents, however, as I had a chance to do at the Al-Jazeera offices in Doha, Qatar, this week, provides a useful overview of, and insights into, the three principal actors in the process: the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government, and American officials.

A Palestinian View: International legality is not up for a vote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Blog) January 17, 2011 - 1:00am

The prospect of posing a referendum in the respective societies on any agreement reached between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators is not a new idea. Periodically it has surfaced in the political landscape, arising for different and sometimes contradictory reasons.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017