Middle East News: World Press Roundup

In his memoirs former PM Olmert says he was close to a deal with the Palestinians. Israel warily views unrest in Egypt. Khaled Elgindy says the Palestinian domestic constituency must be taken into consideration in peace talks. Palestinians say settlers have shot another protester. Al Jazeera's correspondent in Ramallah resigns. There is little recourse for victims of gender-based violence in the occupied territories. Israeli leaders "war-game" a Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence. Leaked alleged documents deepen Palestinian political divides, but Aluf Benn says they show a surprisingly serious process. Israel says Hezbollah is sending agents to Gaza. Yoel Marcus says Israel should focus on peace with the Palestinians, not Iran's nuclear program. Gadi Taub says as long as the occupation continues, Israel will not shed its apartheid image. Bill Clinton says Israel has never had a better peace partner. A British filmmaker looks at the conflict. Students stage a sit-in at the PLO mission in London. Palestinians say they may release documents embarrassing to Qatar.

Olmert Memoir Cites Near Deal for Mideast Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - January 27, 2011 - 1:00am

Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister of Israel, says in new memoirs that he and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, were very close to a peace deal two years ago, but Mr. Abbas’s hesitation, Mr. Olmert’s own legal troubles and the Israeli war in Gaza caused their talks to end. Shortly afterward, a right-wing Israeli government came to power.

Warily Eyeing Egypt, Israelis Feel Like Spectators
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - January 26, 2011 - 1:00am

After the Tunisian revolution and the emergence of a Hezbollah-backed government in Lebanon, Israelis are confronting another jolt to the system as mass protests rock Egypt, the partner in Israel’s oldest and most important Middle East relationship. While the recent upheavals have not been about Israel, they could have a potentially momentous impact on its future. Yet Israel, often a major player, now finds itself in the less familiar, and somewhat unnerving, role of spectator.

Papering over the problem in Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Khaled Elgindy - January 26, 2011 - 1:00am

As the Palestinian leadership struggles to contain the damage caused by Al Jazeera's release of leaked documents detailing years of their negotiations with Israel, there is one lesson that risks being buried in all of the current hype. The Palestine Papers, and much of the response to them, demonstrate the increasingly narrow line the Palestinian leadership must walk between satisfying its U.S. and Western benefactors, as well as Israel, and maintaining credibility in the eyes of its own people.

2nd Palestinian shot by settlers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 28, 2011 - 1:00am

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinians were injured Thursday, by a group of religious Jews locals described as settlers from a nearby area. One man was beaten and the second shot, and said to be "clinically dead." The shooting is the second in as many days. Spokesman for the village Mohammad Awad said that more than 150 settlers from Bat Ayin had descended from the illegal hilltop community and entered the village of Safa early in the morning.

Al-Jazeera correspondent in Ramallah resigns
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 27, 2011 - 1:00am

The Ramallah correspondent for Al-Jazeera International resigned Wednesday, Ma'an has learned. Nour Odeh was the English-language network's first reporter in the occupied Palestinian territories. She joined in 2006. Odeh declined to comment on her departure. Al-Jazeera International did not return calls.

Little recourse for victims of gender-based violence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 28, 2011 - 1:00am

Gender-based violence in the occupied Palestinian territory remains at epidemic levels, according to UN agencies, local NGOs and women, while victims lack legal recourse and often face a family backlash for reporting crimes. The number of sexual assault cases reported from 2006 to 2009 increased more than seven times, while the number of attempted murder cases [of women] increased five times, according to the Palestinian Authority women's affairs ministry. The figures do not including numerous cases of drowning and falling in which a family member was responsible for the incident.

Israelis act out Palestinian independence push
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Dan Williams - January 27, 2011 - 1:00am

An Israeli simulation of reactions to the Palestinian push to declare independence concluded on Thursday that it would isolate and divide Israel but that big powers would not rush to recognise a state declared unilaterally. The gathering of academics and ex-officials, playing key political roles, saw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scrambling to calm rightists in his government while Washington urged accelerated peace talks as an alternative to U.N. approval of "Palestine" within 1967 borders.

Leaks deepen Palestinian split
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Karin Laub - (Analysis) January 28, 2011 - 1:00am

If an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal seemed remote before, it looks downright unattainable after a stormy week of leaks of confidential Mideast protocols by Al-Jazeera TV. The disclosures hurt the credibility of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas among his people, weakening him as a leader. They deepened the chasm between him and Hamas, distancing already faint hopes of restoring Palestinian unity as the Islamic militants burned him in effigy and branded him a traitor.

Hezbollah agents entering Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Josef Federman - January 27, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel's minister of strategic affairs said Thursday the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla group has infiltrated agents into the Gaza Strip to train Palestinian militants. Gaza is ruled by the Hamas militant group, which, like Hezbollah, is sworn to Israel's destruction. The minister, Moshe Yaalon, Israel's former military chief of staff, told reporters that "Hezbollah experts can get into the Gaza Strip, like the Iranian rockets are coming to the Gaza Strip." He said Hezbollah militants can go from Lebanon to Sudan, then to Egypt and on to Gaza.

Israel should focus on Mideast peace, not Iran's nukes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoel Marcus - (Opinion) January 28, 2011 - 1:00am

When in June 1981 the Israel Air Force bombed the nuclear reactor under construction in Iraq, opinions about the operation were divided. This writer thought that Menachem Begin, the prime minister and defense minister at the time, was at his best. Others considered it a mistake because Iraq would neither forgive nor forget, and at the first opportunity would bomb Israel. This “opportunity” really did present itself 10 years later, when the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait led to Operation Desert Storm, led by the United States and its allies. Iraq launched 39 Scud missiles at Israel.

Palestine papers spotlight surprisingly serious Mideast peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - January 28, 2011 - 1:00am

The diplomatic archive made public thanks to Al Jazeera and the Guardian documents talks held between Israel's Kadima government and the Palestinian Authority, and exposes in detail the positions put forward by the two sides before negotiations were aborted by Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and the advent of a new government in Jerusalem. Ma’aleh Adumim

Israel’s apartheid image
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Gadi Taub - (Opinion) January 28, 2011 - 1:00am

Just before going through passport control at Ben-Gurion airport, one sees a stand with small brochures packed with some basic, catchy information about Israel. These booklets are meant to equip Israelis traveling abroad with some flattering anecdotes and fundamental facts to help them improve Israel’s image overseas.

Israel has never had better peace partner
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 27, 2011 - 1:00am

Former US president Bill Clinton on Thursday urged Israel to make peace with the Arabs, saying the Jewish state will never have a better partner than the current Palestinian leadership. Clinton spoke for an hour before an adoring audience of global leaders from business, government and academia at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

A film-maker's eye on the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Peter Kosminsky - January 28, 2011 - 1:00am

It's April 1988, about five in the morning, 40km outside Kabul in Afghanistan. I'm taking shelter in a scrape in the rock, flattening my cheek against the cold surface, semi-automatic gunfire and the concussion of departing mortars beating in my ears. In theory, I'm making a documentary about young Soviet army conscripts in Afghanistan. In reality, I've been marooned on this "zastava", or mountain outpost, for days. The 17-year-old kids, who are the heroes of our documentary, fire back at the attacking mujahideen, in the grip of a kind of hyper-bravado.

Palestinian ambassador to UK's office taken over by protesters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Sam Jones - January 27, 2011 - 1:00am

The offices of the Palestinian ambassador to the UK have been occupied by a group of students who are demanding new Palestinian national council elections. At 1pm today, around a dozen Palestinian students from a number of British universities arrived at the Palestinian general delegation to the UK in Hammersmith, west London. Although they had made an appointment to see the ambassador, Professor Manuel Hassassian, they arrived in large numbers and with computers and banners.

The Palestinian Authority to release documents critical of Qatar
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Saleh Al-Naami, Kifah Zaboun - January 27, 2011 - 1:00am

Senior Palestinian sources have informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the Palestinian Authority is in possession of important documents that condemn Qatar with regards to numerous issues relating to the Palestinian – Israeli negotiations.

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