Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Pres. Obama telephones Pres. Abbas. Hamas seeks to capitalize on Egyptian unrest. Walter Rogers looks at Israeli anxieties but analysts say they may see benefits as well. Abbas says Palestinian elections must include Gaza. Palestinians say the US has new ideas for peace talks. The US is still expected to veto a UN resolution on settlements, and The National says it will be a test of American rhetoric on the issue. The Israeli Supreme Court rules that Jews cannot reclaim land lost in Hebron after 1948. Gideon Levy says Israeli school trips to Hebron resemble visits to Auschwitz. Israeli-Jordanian relations are seen as solid. Israeli leaders continue to warn against a rapid spread of Arab democracy. An important Picaso painting will be displayed in the West Bank. Mara Rudman and Marc Grossman are named to senior administration posts. Jewish American organizations scramble to react to a changing Arab world. Genocide scholars argue about Israel's conduct in 1948. Matti Steinberg looks at how the Arab Peace Initiative deals with the refugee issue.

WEST BANK: Obama calls Mahmoud Abbas, who calls for urgent leadership meeting
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Maher Abukhater - February 17, 2011 - 1:00am

On the eve of a planned United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution condemning Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, President Obama called his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, on Thursday to discuss the measure. Palestinian sources said Obama tried to dissuade Abbas from proceeding with the resolution, which the U.S. strongly opposes on grounds that it will obstruct efforts to resume Palestinian-Israeli negotiations suspended since September.

Hamas sees opportunity in change in Egypt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - February 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Egypt's revolution brought sudden and unintended freedom to Ayman Nofal. During the chaos in Cairo, the senior Hamas commander broke out of an Egyptian jail with thousands of other prisoners, traversed the Sinai desert in a series of getaway cars, crawled through a smuggling tunnel at the border and emerged back home in the Gaza Strip to a hero's welcome. Now Nofal has one thing on his mind. "I'm anxious to get back to fighting Israel," the 37-year-old Palestinian militant said in his Nuseirat refugee camp home, surrounded by several of his six children and a plastic flower bouquet.

Crusades redux: Will Jerusalem soon be surrounded by hostile Islamists?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Walter Rodgers - February 17, 2011 - 1:00am

The other night I found myself dreaming, drifting simultaneously through two parallel worlds, 800 years apart. In the first vision, I was on the ramparts of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in July 1187. News came in from Galilee that the Crusader Armies had been decimated by the overwhelming Muslim forces of the great Sultan Saladin at the Battle of Hattin. Jerusalem, already an island in an angry, surging Muslim sea, was about to be totally engulfed.

Abbas: National vote must include Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 17, 2011 - 1:00am

Elections must be held simultaneously in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday. It is "not acceptable to hold them in the West Bank only," Abbas said. At a news conference alongside President of East Timor Jose Ramos-Horta, Abbas said efforts would be made to ensure that the vote could go forward by September in all Palestinian areas. Last week, the Palestinian Authority announced it would hold presidential and legislative elections by September. A local election is also scheduled to take place on July 9.

Palestinians say U.S. presents new ideas to revive Mideast peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 18, 2011 - 1:00am

The Palestinian leadership will meet Friday in the West Bank to discuss new U.S. ideas aimed at reviving peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, sources said Thursday. President Mahmoud Abbas asked the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization and the Central Committee of his Fatah movement for an urgent meeting to discuss the ideas, the sources said. The sources said they do not have details about the new ideas, while Palestinian officials contacted by Xinhua refused to comment.

Israel sees benefits from Mideast turmoil
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn, Yuan Zhenyu - February 18, 2011 - 1:00am

After the overthrow of the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, mass anti-government protests erupted across the Middle East. Analysts told Xinhua that the recent turmoil in the region seems to be bad news for Israel at first glance, but in the long term the situation could work to its advantage. NEW REALITY The single most important event from an Israeli point of view over the last month was the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was viewed as a strong ally during his 30-year rule.

UN set to vote on settlement resolution; U.S. set to veto
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya, Barak Ravid - February 18, 2011 - 1:00am

The UN Security Council is expected to vote today on a resolution brought by the Arab states and the Palestinian Authority declaring the Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal and an obstacle to a two-state solution. The United States is expected to veto the resolution, its first such action since President Barack Obama took office two years ago.

Israel Supreme Court rules Hebron Jews can't reclaim lands lost after 1948
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - February 18, 2011 - 1:00am

The Jewish community in Hebron celebrated this week the decision of Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar to fund Jewish heritage trips for students to the city’s Tomb of the Patriarchs. But last week, the community suffered a setback when the Supreme Court ruled that Jews could not be given property which belonged to them in the city before 1948, and that they are also not entitled to be given any compensation for it.

'Jordanian-Israeli ties solid despite inflammatory words'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by David Miller - February 17, 2011 - 1:00am

A call by Jordan’s justice minister to free the jailed killer of seven Israeli girls has soured the Hashemite Kingdom’s relations with Israel, but experts said they expect the ties to weather the diplomatic storm. The minister, Hussein Mjali, a well known oppositionist, was appointed to the post just last week and immediately began making inflammatory remarks. On Wednesday he called Israel a “terrorist state” and an “enemy of the kingdom.”

Israel to World: Don’t Be So Fast to Push Democracy on Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Arieh O'Sullivan - February 17, 2011 - 1:00am

While touting its own democratic credentials, Israel has been warning the world not to let experiments in democracy spread across the Middle East, lest Islamic fundamentalists are voted in. “We don’t want to stay the only democracy in the Middle East. We would love to live in a neighborhood where all countries are democratic. But is it feasible now?” Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said in an interview with The Media Line.

Dutch museum to lend Picasso for display in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
February 17, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian art lovers are to get a rare chance to view a Picasso when the painting goes on display in April, on loan from a Dutch museum. Eindhoven's Van Abbe Museum is lending the 1943 canvas Buste de Femme to the Ramallah international art academy, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports. A film is due to be made of the painting's journey, including the Israeli border and other checkpoints. A special, temperature-controlled room is being prepared to house it. It is believed to be the first time a Picasso masterpiece will go on display in the Palestinian territories.

Obama taps Rudman, Grossman for key diplomatic spots
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
February 17, 2011 - 1:00am

The Obama administration has tapped veteran Jewish diplomats Mara Rudman and Marc Grossman for senior posts. President Obama said Wednesday that he is nominating Rudman to the top State Department post administering assistance to the Middle East through the U.S. Agency for International Development. Rudman, who has served in senior posts on both the Clinton and Obama National Security Councils, has been involved in a number of groups promoting peace talks in the Middle East and was a senior official with the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims.

Jewish Groups Scramble To Adjust to New Mideast Reality
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - February 16, 2011 - 1:00am

The Egyptian revolution has kicked open the door to a vast Arab population that, for the first time, is poised to influence the course of its country’s policies directly. For Israel’s supporters, this could mean a new frontier for public diplomacy and a chance to reach out to Arab masses.

Top Genocide Scholars Battle Over How To Characterize Israel’s Actions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Gal Beckerman - February 16, 2011 - 1:00am

Did Jews commit genocide in 1948? The question is provocative, and the answer for most people is an unequivocal no. But a debate over this idea has formed the crux of a heated argument among the most eminent genocide scholars in the world, and led recently to the censure of an Israeli professor by the field’s leading academic association. It’s also one more reminder of the growing divide between European scholars and their American and Israeli counterparts when it comes to how they view Israel, both historically and in the present moment.

US rhetoric on settlements tested at the UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
February 18, 2011 - 1:00am

A good tongue lashing hurts, but it rarely stings. American criticism of Israeli policy offers a case in point. As much of the rest of the world has stood up at the United Nations to ink its displeasure with Israel for decades, one nation has proven the reliable spoiler. All of which makes America’s support for a new Security Council statement condemning Israel’s settlement construction encouraging. The US Ambassador to the UN has reportedly expressed interest in a measure that, in part, “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity”.

The refugee issue in the API: contradictory or complementary
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Mati Steinberg - February 17, 2011 - 1:00am

The Arab Peace Initiative comprises two main references to the Palestinian refugee issue that seem to be mutually contradictory. On the one hand, the API stipulates the need for "a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with United National General Assembly Resolution 194". On the other, it indicates "the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation ["tawtin"] which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries".

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