Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Hamas arrests a protester and two cameramen at a national unity rally, and another group of protesters sought refuge at a UN compound and are now on a hunger strike. PM Netanyahu condemns Palestinian national unity moves. Arrangements are being made for Pres. Abbas to visit Gaza, including seeking passage through Israel. Analysts look at the split between Fatah and Hamas. Israeli and Palestinian leaders will visit Moscow next week. Akiva Eldar says the Israeli right sees all Arabs as terrorists. Bradley Burston says the occupation means Israelis face a grim future. A Palestinian man attacked by settlers recounts his ordeal. Projectiles fired from Gaza hit western Israel. Eitan Haber says no matter how angry Israelis are, they have no choice but to seek peace. US Senators say Hamas should stay on the terrorism list. GLBT groups face controversy over pro-Palestinian sentiments. Marwan Muasher and Javier Solana say regional upheaval in the Middle East may help the peace process. PM Fayyad calls on Hamas to accept Abbas' unity overture. Naomi Chazan decries attacks on civil society in Israel.

Gaza: Police Detain Protester and 2 Cameramen
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
March 17, 2011 - 12:00am

The Hamas police in Gaza detained a Palestinian protester and two Palestinian cameramen on Thursday while breaking up a rally calling for political reconciliation. About 40 activists had gathered in front of a United Nations school, waving flags and chanting slogans for unity between the rival Hamas and Fatah factions.

Netanyahu slams Palestinian unity efforts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has slammed Palestinian unity efforts, saying national Palestinian reconciliation would be the end of the peace process with Israel. In a CNN interview broadcast Thursday, Netanyahu compared Hamas to Al-Qaeda, and said the Palestinian Authority could not be "for peace with Israel and peace with Hamas that calls for our destruction." In the midst of mass youth protests demanding national unity in the West Bank and Gaza, President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday he would accept an invitation from Hamas leaders to go to Gaza and hold talks.

Gaza protesters leave UN compound
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
March 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Sixteen protesters who took refuge in a UN compound in Gaza on Thursday to flee from Hamas police left the premises and called off a planned hunger strike, a UN official said. "They all left. The authorities in Gaza gave assurances that they will be safe," said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). Two hours earlier, one of the demonstrators said the groups planned to stage an indefinite hunger strike to demand an end to Palestinian divisions and reconciliation between rival factions.

Practical arrangements underway for Abbas visit to Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 18, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday instructed Civil Affairs chairman Hussein Al-Sheikh to make logistical arrangements for his visit to Gaza as quickly as possible. Abbas also asked Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh to make arrangements to receive him at Erez border crossing in the coming days. The president said Wednesday that he was ready to hold unity talks with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the midst of massive youth protests across the West Bank and Gaza demanding an end to the division.

Abbas asks for Israeli permission to head for Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday asked for an urgent Israeli permission to head for the Gaza Strip for the first time in more than three years, the PNA presidency office said. The Palestinian presidency said that Abbas ordered the Palestinian Civil Affairs Ministry, which oversees daily coordination with Israel, to prepare for his visit to Gaza as soon as possible.

News Analysis: Hamas-Fatah disputes obstruct Abbas' initiative to visit Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Saud Abu Ramadan, Emad Drimly - March 17, 2011 - 12:00am

The positive atmosphere, created by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' initiative to Gaza and the welcome from the Islamic Hamas movement, was not enough to achieve its goal and end the current division. Hamas said in a press statement that it welcomes Abbas declaration to visit Gaza, however, it did not show any positive position concerning Abbas' goal of forming a transitional independent government that prepares for holding general elections within six months.

Palestinian, Israeli leaders to visit Moscow next week
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ria Novosti
by Sergei Piatakov - March 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will visit Russia between March 22 and 24, the Kremlin said on Friday. Abbas will meet with President Dmitry Medvedev on March 22, the presidential press service said. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's office announced on Thursday that the premier will visit Russia on March 24. It is unclear, however, if the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will meet in Moscow.

Israel's right sees Arab essence in terrorists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) March 18, 2011 - 12:00am

The recent murders in Itamar reminded me of the story of the SS soldier, the postwoman's "good boy" in Hans Fallada's novel "Alone in Berlin," who boasts of a photo in which he is seen banging the head of a 3-year-old Jewish child against the bumper of a car. I was reminded of it once again the next day, when I read in the newspaper that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had accepted German Chancellor Angela Merkel's invitation for a "reconciliation visit" to Berlin next month.

A funeral for the State of Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Bradley Burston - (Blog) March 17, 2011 - 12:00am

All this week I've resisted putting something terrible into words. All this week I've been wondering why the Jerusalem burial ceremony for Ruth and Udi Fogel, their infant daughter Hadas and their two small sons Yoav and Elad, seemed so much like a funeral for the State of Israel itself.

Palestinian 'price tag' victim recounts attack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Elior Levy - March 17, 2011 - 12:00am

"I was walking to work as usual when eight young, masked settlers armed with clubs began hitting me in the head and legs," Palestinian construction worker Sami Snobar recalled from his hospital bed Thursday. Snobar was one of two Palestinians who were attacked in the West Bank settlement of Shiloh Thursday morning, in what police suspect was a "price tag" act carried out to avenge the massacre in Itamar. "They sprayed my face with pepper spray – it burned and my face turned red," he said. "Then one of them picked up a brick and struck (my head) with it."

Peace with our enemies
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Eitan Haber - (Opinion) March 17, 2011 - 12:00am

The instinctive reaction of almost every Israeli citizen following the shocking murder of the Fogel family was along the lines of “so you want to sign an agreement with the Palestinians? You want to make peace with these people?” After all, even Israelis who usually avoid swearwords must have hurled curses at our neighbors the other day.

4 mortar shells fired from Gaza hit western Negev
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
March 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Four mortar shells fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the western Negev early Friday afternoon. The projectiles landed in open areas, causing no casualties or damage.

US Senators urge EU to keep Hamas on terror list
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Hilary Leila Krieger - March 17, 2011 - 12:00am

US Senators sent a letter to the EU Thursday urging that Hamas not be taken off its terror list following The Jerusalem Post’s report that the PA was lobbying for such a change. “We urge you to encourage the Palestinian Authority to put more pressure on Hamas to renounce violence, recognize the Jewish State of Israel and accept all prior agreements, rather than pursuing diplomatic schemes that undermine the peace process,” stated the letter. It was co-authored by Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) and Bill Nelson (D-Florida), and signed by 14 other colleagues from both sides of the aisle.

Gay Community Faces Rift Over Cancellation of a Pro-Palestinian Fundraiser
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - March 17, 2011 - 12:00am

They’ve long faced off on college campuses and in the media, and now Israel’s supporters and detractors are in a pitched battle for the hearts and minds of the gay and lesbian community. This fight bubbled over earlier in March when New York’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center canceled a pro-Palestinian group’s event for which the center had rented its space. The cancellation followed complaints from supporters of Israel within the gay community.

Regional upheaval may facilitate peace now for Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Marwan Muasher, Javier Solana - (Opinion) March 18, 2011 - 12:00am

As revolutionary change sweeps across the Arab world, it is easy to think that now is not the time to push for peace between Israel and Palestine. Until the dust settles on the new Middle East, the old road maps seem dated, and conventional wisdom holds that to expect that progress toward a peace agreement can take place in the context of regional upheavals is an example of wishful thinking. But the opposite is true. Even with so many failed efforts in the past, there is a clear window of opportunity for the United States and Israel to urgently push for a lasting settlement.

Fayyad calls on Hamas to accept Abbas' initiative
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
March 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad Thursday urged Hamas to accept President Mahmoud Abbas’ initiative for reconciliation, Palestinian media reported. Abbas said Wednesday he was “ready to go to Gaza tomorrow” to end the division between Fatah and Hamas, after the Islamist group’s prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, urged “immediate” talks. Abbas also said he wanted to “form a government of independent national figures to start preparing for … polls within six months.”

Israeli civil society, democracy and political change
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Naomi Chazan - (Opinion) March 17, 2011 - 12:00am

At precisely the same time that civil society has emerged as the catalyst in democratically-driven upheavals in the Arab world, Israel's civil society is increasingly threatened. There is a direct correlation between the rising centrality of civil society as the locus of opposition to government policies and the intensified efforts of neo-nationalist groups to curtail its activities.

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