Middle East News: World Press Roundup

ATFP President Ziad Asali says Arab protests are about government accountability. Kadima leader Livni urges a democratic code for the Middle East. Fareed Zakaria says that Middle East protests represent a seismic shift in the region. Hamas claims Israel is more receptive to a prisoner exchange. Israel bombs Gaza. PM Fayyad tours a refugee camp. A projectile fired from Gaza hits an Israeli city, and Israel anticipates more. Israel allows 300 Palestinians to return to the West Bank from Libya. Hamas may be gaining strength. A judge dismisses a defamation lawsuit against AIPAC by a former employee. Umberto Eco criticizes cultural boycotts of Israel. Palestinians say any unity government will be headed by Fayyad, and Hamas must renounce terrorism. Four Israeli teenagers are suspected of stabbing two Palestinian men. Larry Derfner says Palestinian "people power" will end the occupation. Douglas Bloomfield says neither side seems to want to negotiate. Dr. Asali joins others in praising Dan Shapiro’s appointment as new US ambassador to Israel. George Hishmeh says the US veto at the UN shows nothing has changed. Michael Jansen says Palestinian unity is important.

Accountability Beyond Rhetoric
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Ziad Asali - (Blog) February 23, 2011 - 1:00am

The recent uprisings in the Arab world, including some regime changes, call for a meaningful reassessment of current policy. One would expect the usual demands for democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and regularly scheduled elections as well as a heightened commitment to the people of the region, that their rights and aspirations will be reflected in this new vision. Furthermore, it would not be surprising if all these were packaged as part of an initiative to address the Palestine/Israel conflict and a commitment to the establishment of a state of Palestine.

For the Mideast, a code for rising democracies
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Tzipi Livni - (Editorial) February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

These are days of momentous change in the Middle East. Courageous thousands have flooded the streets demanding their rights as citizens and as human beings. Calls for democracy - as a system of values that seeks to protect these rights - stem not from some foreign dictate but from an inner hunger for freedom. Much has been said in recent years about the "clash of civilizations," about the conflict between extremists and moderates, between coercion and freedom. And yet today, this battle is being waged at least as much within societies as between them.

In the Middle East protests, a seismic shift
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Fareed Zakaria - (Editorial) February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

We are in the midst of a revolution in the Middle East, one that has unleashed long-suppressed forces that will continue to send shock waves across an arc of countries from Morocco to Iran. We are all looking at each crisis individually as it breaks out. But if we step back we can see that this is really a seismic shift and that it will in time reverberate throughout the region.

Hamas: Post-Mubarak, Israel up for Shalit deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

Hamas officials have decided to hold confidential discussions with Israel, reviving negotiations for a prisoner swap, Hamas spokesman Usama Al-Maziani said Wednesday. In the wake of the ouster of now former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the official said, Hamas leaders in Gaza believe Israel has become "more responsive" to a prisoner swap deal. According to Al-Maziani, Israeli officials had shown some "limited" responses to Hamas overtures seeking to secure the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel in return for the release of a captured Israeli soldier.

Israeli strikes hit Gaza overnight
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes on multiple locations in the Gaza Strip overnight, injuring two in the first round of bombings near Gaza City shortly after 11 p.m. Injuries were reported in the first strike, which hit the Az-Zaytoun neighborhood east of Gaza City, while the Abu Jarad neighborhood to the south was pummeled with four strikes. Local officials called the series of strikes an "escalation," saying that Israeli forces have operated with increased aggression since an attack on a patrol which entered Gaza Wednesday morning, in the same area the second strike hit.

Fayyad tours Ramallah refugee camps
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

Salam Fayyad continued Tuesday his consultations to form a new government; meeting with representatives of the refugee camp popular committees and representatives of the private sector. Fayyad affirmed in a statement that the PA exerts tremendous efforts to develop the services and standard of living of the residents in the camps in a manner that meets with their natural right in a dignified life without exempting UNRWA from its political and legal responsibilities to care for the Palestinian refugees.

Rocket from Gaza Strip strikes Israeli city
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ori Lewis - February 23, 2011 - 1:00am

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed in a residential street in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on Wednesday, causing serious damage to houses and cars but no casualties, the city's mayor said. "One rocket fell, there are no casualties and security forces are in control of the situation," Beersheba mayor Rubik Danilovich told Channel 1 television. Earlier reports said the rocket had struck a house. Residents said they sought shelter in secure rooms after air raid sirens sounded in the area.

Israel to let 300 Palestinians in Libya into WBank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ori Lewis - February 23, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel will allow 300 Palestinians living and working in Libya to enter the West Bank in the coming days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday. "Because of the current violence in Libya I received a personal request from (Palestinian) President (Mahmoud) Abbas ... that Israel allow a number of Palestinians to leave Libya and to enter the Palestinian territories ... so Israel will enable 300 Palestinians to enter the Palestinian areas," Netanyahu said.

Hamas growing stronger, without firing a shot
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Crispian Balmer - (Editorial) February 23, 2011 - 1:00am

Hamas is having a good revolution. The unrest that has transformed the Arab world outside the tiny coastal enclave has boosted the standing of the Islamist group within Gaza and strengthened its position against the rival Palestinian Authority, which holds sway in the West Bank. Hamas greeted the downfall of Egyptian former President Hosni Mubarak with euphoria, sensing that his departure would weaken Israel's stranglehold on the impoverished territory that has crippled its economy and confined its inhabitants.

U.S. judge dismisses defamation lawsuit by former AIPAC official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

A Washington D.C. Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit against AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, on Wednesday, for allegedly defaming its former foreign policy boss when they publicly attributed their firing of him to what they described as his sub-standard performance. Judge Erik Christian determined that the comments about Steve Rosen made by an AIPAC spokesperson and published in the New York Times did not constitute grounds for a defamation lawsuit.

Prominent Italian author lashes out at Israel boycott proponents
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Maya Sela - February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

Celebrated Italian novelist Umberto Eco yesterday challenged those who advocate cultural boycotts and said that censuring artists because of actions committed by their governments was akin to racism. Last week, British writers called on prominent British novelist Ian McEwan to reject an Israeli literary prize in protest at Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

Hamas to exchange terror for unity?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Elior Levy - February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian sources told the London-based al-Hayat Thursday that a plan by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to create a unity government with both rival Palestinian factions had already been approved by Fatah, and was currently awaiting the approval of Hamas. According to the plan, both factions will keep their respective authorities in the West Bank and Gaza, including security forces.

4 Jewish teens suspected of killing Arab
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yair Altman - February 23, 2011 - 1:00am

Police reported Wednesday that it has completed its investigation of the stabbing incident that occurred two weeks ago in Jerusalem, during which 24-year-old Hussam Rawidi was killed. Four Jewish teenagers were arrested in connection to the incident, but only one is suspected of stabbing Rawidi, a resident of the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Semiramis. The inquiry revealed that the perpetrator used a razor, and not a knife. Police will recommend he be tried for manslaughter and not murder as the stabbing was preceded by a scuffle.

'Fatah-Hamas unity gov't will be led by Salam Fayyad'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian sources familiar with the details of a unity government deal being discussed by Hamas and Fatah representatives, said that the proposed government would be headed by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and will include members from both factions and independents, Al-Hayat reported Thursday. According to the report, the sources say that the plan has already been accepted by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and a number of Hamas leaders. The unity deal allows Hamas to continue ruling in the Gaza Strip as long as it refrains from violence.

People get ready – there’s a train a-comin’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - February 23, 2011 - 1:00am

I would prefer that the occupation ended in orderly fashion, without chaos, with the settlers living near the Green Line feeling unthreatened and the others having plenty of time to relocate. Unfortunately, this is not happening; I’d hoped the Obama administration would pressure Israel out of the West Bank, but nobody’s pressuring it out of anything. The 43-year status quo becomes more entrenched each day.

Washington Watch: The sound of one hand clapping
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Douglas Bloomfield - February 23, 2011 - 1:00am

There were no winners in last week’s UN vote on the Arab resolution to condemn Israeli settlement policy. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas looked like he wanted an excuse to avoid making peace, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s preference for building settlements over negotiating only further deepened Israel’s international isolation and President Barack Obama showed he had little influence with either side, and few clear ideas about how to advance a peace process he insists is an administration priority.

Dan Shapiro to be named US envoy to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Hilary Leila Krieger - February 23, 2011 - 1:00am

Senior White House adviser Dan Shapiro is set to be nominated as the next US ambassador to Israel, Washington sources said on Tuesday. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made, though one is expected soon. Shapiro, born in 1969, currently serves as the National Security Council’s senior director for the Middle East and North Africa. He has regularly traveled to Israel and worked closely with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell to try to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Israeli Farms and Villages Around Gaza See Tough Times Ahead
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Arieh O'Sullivan - February 23, 2011 - 1:00am

Artist Shosh Segal is busy preparing her art gallery for the expected rush of tourists heading to southern Israel for the annual wild flower blooming in the coming weeks. The hills are already bursting with vibrant colors of anemones and turmoses, but reality has often found a way of spoiling plans, especially since she lives just a mile from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Obama's no different
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

Is Barack Obama, who is marking his mid-term as president, any different from his predecessors, except Dwight Eisenhower, as far as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is concerned? Expectations were high when Obama walked into the White House. After his triumphant trips overseas, especially to Cairo, there was hope that he will usher a new positive era in US relations with the Muslim world and resolve the 63-year-old conflict between Israelis and Arabs.

A major factor for governments
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinians’ and Israelis’ response to the uprisings across the Arab world has been deafening silence at the people’s power level. When I asked Palestinian friends celebrating the dozen or so “revolutions” boiling in this region why Palestinians living under the repressive Israeli occupation are not out in the streets, they shrugged, saying they are “tired”.

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