Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Bilal Saab says the upheaval in Egypt should set the stage for Israeli-Syrian negotiations. Hamas calls the PA cabinet reshuffle "superficial." Israel announces more settler housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. The UN says the Gaza unemployment rate is now at 45%. Xinhua looks at prospects for Palestinian elections. Israel's defense ministry is keeping settlement construction laws secret. Susan Lourenco says removing checkpoints does not remove the occupation. Avirama Golan says the rule of law in Israel is threatened by recent legislation. The Israeli military plans a training complex in a Palestinian neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. Israel's PM and FM spar over diplomatic appointments. The Knesset passes the "Bishara Bill." Gershon Baskin says Palestinian nonviolent protests are the key to peace. Yasser Abed Rabbo says Pres. Abbas may not stand in planned elections. A new play highlights the 1994 massacre in Hebron. Israeli forces continue to demolish a Bedouin village. Dennis Ross will address the upcoming J St. convention. PM Fayyad is reappointed to his position. ATFP President Ziad Asali looks at the successes of Palestinian Authority state and institution building. Hussein Ibish says the Palestinian leadership must follow through on election plans.

Revolution in Egypt should prompt peace talks between Syria and Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Bilal Y. Saab - (Opinion) February 14, 2011 - 1:00am

The resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the ensuing political transition in Cairo has created a wave of uncertainty over the strategic politics of the Middle East, carrying both risks and opportunities for US interests and allies in the region. One potential and less-than-obvious opportunity is to relaunch peace talks between Syria and Israel.

Hamas: PA cabinet shuffle 'superficial'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 15, 2011 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority cabinet shuffle is a "superficial change with no hint of reform," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Monday. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad handed his cabinet's resignation letter to President Mahmoud Abbas following an early morning cabinet meeting Monday. Barhoum said the move was a weak attempt to legitimize upcoming elections in the West Bank.

Israel to build more East Jerusalem homes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 15, 2011 - 1:00am

Jerusalem's municipal council on Monday approved the construction of 120 new homes in the Jewish settlement neighborhood of Ramot in annexed East Jerusalem, a councilor told AFP. "It's not good news," Pepe Alalu of the opposition Meretz party said. "They approved 120 housing units in Ramot... there were two permits authorized, one for 56 housing units and another for 64."

UN says Gaza unemployment rate at 45%
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 11, 2011 - 1:00am

The unemployment rate in Gaza has continued to climb in 2011, reaching 45.4%, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told reporters in Gaza City on Wednesday. At a news conference for the UN Relief and Works Agency, Gunness warned that the increasing unemployment was a sign of a hugely fragile Gaza economy, which he described as on the "brink of collapse." Israel's continued siege on the coastal enclave, Gunness warned, would push the economy over the edge.

News Analysis: Palestinian elections a thorny issue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - February 15, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinians will head for the polls by September for presidential and legislative elections, according to an announcement by an aide to Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah member Yasser Abed Rabbo called on parties to put aside all of their differences and to focus on conducting the elections in September at the latest. However, Hamas, who controls the Gaza Strip, has already rejected the idea and claimed that Abbas does not have the authority to decide when to hold elections, since his four-year term as president ended in 2009.

'Defense Ministry keeping lawmakers in the dark about West Bank construction laws'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - February 15, 2011 - 1:00am

The Defense Ministry is withholding information from the Knesset in violation of the law and preventing oversight of its operations, Knesset members and staff from the Knesset's Research and Information Center contend.

Machsom Watch activist: Removing checkpoints doesn't remove the occupation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jack Khoury - February 15, 2011 - 1:00am

Susan Lourenco has volunteered for the Machsom Watch organization for seven years, so she is familiar with virtually every Israeli army checkpoint in the West Bank. She is extremely well-acquainted with the Hawara crossing near Nablus - one of the symbols of the occupation and its control over the Palestinian civilian population - having spent many long hours there together with other women active in the organization.

Protecting Israel from its citizens
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avirama Golan - February 14, 2011 - 1:00am

On Tuesday, a Knesset committee is due to approve on second and third readings the bill combating boycotts against Israel - another hysterical proposal by the right wing and Kadima MK Dalia Itzik designed to protect our weak and tiny country, which is being attacked from within and without.

IDF colleges in east Jerusalem? 'Dangerous move'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ronen Medzini - February 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Ynet has learned of a Defense Ministry plan to relocate IDF colleges from Glilot to an eight-acre complex in Jerusalem, on land that is partially located beyond the Green Line. According to the plan, the complex will be built between the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus and the Mormon University. Part of the designated land is within the boundaries of the Arab neighborhood Wadi al-Joz and in an area which is not recognized by the UN as being under Israeli sovereignty.

PM, FM at odds over UK envoy post
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - February 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that he has disagreements with the prime minister but that his party has no intention of withdrawing from the coalition. He added that National Security Advisor Uzi Arad would not be appointed ambassador to London as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided. In an Yisrael Beiteinu faction meeting, the foreign minister commented on the appointment of Ron Prosor as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. He said that he was behind the appointment and slammed the prime minister.

Knesset passes 'Bishara bill' following stormy session
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Rebecca Anna Stoil - February 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Despite impassioned opposition by Meretz and the Arab parties, a law that allows the committee to revoke the salary of any MK who fails to report for questioning when summoned by the police sailed easily through its final readings on the Knesset floor Monday evening. The bill, sponsored by Yisrael Hasson (Kadima), Yariv Levin (Likud) and co-sponsored by a number of MKs empowers the House committee to vote to deny the salary, pension payment, and any additional payments paid to a current or former MK.

Encountering Peace: Thank you in advance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) February 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Congratulations to the people of Egypt! They have shown the real power of the people. Their success was, of course, linked to the fact that their feeling of being disenfranchised and without the ability to improve their lives was shared by the army. Tahrir Square was filled with young people who had no job, so their energies and frustrations were poured into the struggle for freedom, human rights, economic justice and democracy. They won also because their cause was just and they clearly held the higher moral ground.

Abbas to Step Aside for Next Generation in PA Elections, Abed Rabbo Says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
(Interview) February 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Yasser Abed Rabbo is a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee and is a senior adviser to Mahmoud Abbas. He was interviewed on February 13, 2011, by The Media Line’s Felice Friedson. The Media Line: The Palestinian Authority has taken a noticeably low-key position during the unrest in Egypt. How should that be viewed?

Reading Hebron – review
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Michael Billington - February 14, 2011 - 1:00am

No one could accuse this theatre of ducking the Arab-Israeli conflict. A year ago it staged an absorbing play, Ben Brown's The Promise, about the Balfour Declaration of 1917 supporting the principle of a Jewish homeland. Now it brings us a 15-year-old play by Toronto-based Jason Sherman about a massacre that took place in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron in 1994. While it would be comforting to say Sherman's play feels like old news, what is shocking is just how urgently relevant it seems.

A JNF Drive To Make the Desert Bloom Means Destruction for a Bedouin Village
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Jeffay - February 9, 2011 - 1:00am

In American Jewish memory, the Jewish National Fund’s historic blue pushkes, or charity boxes, evoke warm images of hard-earned pennies given to the group’s mission of redeeming the Land of Israel through planting trees. But to the Bedouin of Al-Arakib, a village in the Negev, the group’s current forestation plans mean the destruction of their homes and what they say is the theft of land they have owned since the beginning of the 20th century.

Dennis Ross To Speak at J Street Conference
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
February 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Dennis Ross, the senior adviser to President Obama on Middle East issues, will address this year’s J Street conference, the group said. Ross, seen as an administration hard-liner on Iran and as arguing for greater consideration of Israel’s needs in peace negotiations, would be a coup for the group, which consistently has come under fire from the right and from some Democrats for not being sufficiently pro-Israel. The White House did not immediately comment on J Street’s announcement.

Palestinian cabinet quits as Fayyed is reappointed PM
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
February 15, 2011 - 1:00am

The Palestinian cabinet has resigned, months before elections due in the summer, as the leadership sought to reaffirm its legitimacy after the collapse of talks with Israel, and uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. The move, which has been on the cards since last year, was announced at a cabinet meeting in Ramallah and comes after mass public protests in Tunisia and Egypt calling for democratic reforms.

The Successes of Palestinian Authority Institution Building
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Ziad Asali - February 14, 2011 - 1:00am

For decades, the political process simply meant negotiations about the often-repeated final status issues. Hopes were raised and then dashed in extended clusters of negotiations, numerous international conferences, TV appearances and commentaries by politicians and pundits that yielded no meaningful progress toward resolution of the conflict.

More Arab democracy, Palestinian this time
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Hussein Ibish - February 15, 2011 - 1:00am

In what is probably a long-overdue move, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah has called for new local, presidential and parliamentary elections before September.

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