Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Rockets fired from Gaza hit southern Israel. Four Palestinian civilians and four militants are killed in Israeli airstrikes. PM Fayyad’s five-week period form a cabinet has expired, but he says the process is on hold pending a potential unity government. Hamas calls for a day of mourning and Pres. Abbas calls for a cease-fire. The UN and the Arab League condemn the killing of civilians in Gaza, and PM Netanyahu says he regrets the deaths. Ma'an provides a summary of Gaza border violence in March. Israel passes a law banning mourning its founding. Critics call the new law racist. Sefi Rachlevsky says Israel’s anti-democratic racism must end. Amira Hass says those firing rockets are playing with the lives of Palestinian children. Ha’aretz says a small war is already brewing in Gaza. Palestinians are pushing for new negotiations with Israel. Abbas urges Russia to help restrain Israel. The French FM says that a Palestinian state must be created in 2011. Aluf Benn says Israel is oblivious to the implications of Arab uprisings. The State Department praises the performance of Palestinian security services. Ghassan Khatib says the murder of a settler family was totally unacceptable but does not justify Israel’s policies. Yossi Alpher says the world’s attention is elsewhere and the peace process is even more unlikely to move forward.

Rockets From Gaza Hit Deep Into Southern Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Fares Akram - March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian militants fired rockets far into southern Israel late Tuesday and early Wednesday and Israel responded with airstrikes in Gaza. Tensions were running high after a stray Israeli mortar shell killed three Palestinian youths and a 60-year-old man as Israel responded to a rocket attack a day earlier. In a separate attack on Tuesday night, the Israeli Air Force killed four militants in a car, all members of Islamic Jihad, the organization and the Israeli military said. The army said the men were preparing to launch rockets at Israel.

4 Palestinian civilians and 4 militants killed by Israeli fire in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Janine Zacharia - March 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Eight Palestinians, including four civilians and four militants, were killed Tuesday in two separate Israeli military strikes in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian spokesmen said. Israeli officials said the strikes were a response to the most serious escalation in rocket and mortar fire from the coastal territory since the 2009 Israeli offensive that sought to end such attacks.

WEST BANK: Fayyad’s five-week period to form government expires
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
March 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Five weeks after Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad dissolved his Cabinet, saying he needed to better prepare for upcoming elections and eventual statehood, he has yet to form a new government. Fayyad tendered his government resignation to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Feb. 14. According to Palestinian law, Fayyad had three weeks to form a government. The three weeks passed and Fayyad had not formed one. So he asked for two more weeks and he got them. So far everything is legal.

Hamas calls day of mourning; Abbas demands end to fire
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Gaza government officials declared Wednesday a day of mourning, with a collective funeral in central Gaza City at midday, for the four civilians and four militants killed by Israeli fire a day earlier. Officials called on residents of Gaza to join the funeral procession. In Moscow, President Mahmoud Abbas asked the Russian foreign minister to exert pressure on Israel, and demand a halt to what he described as an "escalation" against Gaza.

UN's Serry condemns killing of civilians in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

The UN's envoy to the Middle East Robert Serry on Tuesday condemned Israel's killing of civilians in Gaza. On Tuesday afternoon, an Israeli tank fired at a family playing football outside their home in the eastern part of the Ash-Shaja’iya neighborhood in Gaza City. The Israeli military said it regretted harm to innocent civilians, but blamed Hamas, who it said operated in civilian areas. In a statement issued by his spokesman, Serry condemned the attack and expressed concern at the escalating situation in Gaza and southern Israel.

Gaza border violence in March
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

The following is a summary of reports on projectile fire, gunfights, air strikes and artillery fire in the Gaza border area since the beginning of March. 1 March Armed wings of Hamas and PFLP claim fire at Israeli forces in northern Strip. Witnesses say Israeli fire injures 22-year-old Gaza man in southern Strip. Israeli military says soldiers did not fire back at factions operating in south, AFP reports force used new "antitank" interception system. 2 March Witnesses say Israeli force enters southern Gaza under gunfire. No injuries reported. Israeli military denies fire.

Israel passes law against mourning its existence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's parliament passed a measure on Tuesday enabling the denial of state funding to institutions that question the country's existence as a Jewish state, in a move criticised as targetting an Arab minority. The so-called Nakba Law, using the Arabic word for "catastrophe" which is how many Palestinians regard the founding of Israel, passed by a vote of 37 to 25 after an angry debate among right and left-wing lawmakers.

Israel passes laws that critics say are anti-Arab
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Aron Heller - March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli parliament approved a pair of laws Wednesday that critics said were discriminatory and aimed against the country's Arab minority. The first law denies state funding to any municipality that commemorates Israel's 1948 creation as the "nakba," or "catastrophe." Palestinians use the term to describe their defeat and exile in the war that surrounded Israel's founding. The second law grants small communities the authority to reject admission to applicants that are perceived as not fitting into their social fabric.

Arab League condemns Israeli attacks on Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The Arab League (AL) condemned on Tuesday the latest Israeli aggression against the Palestinians, calling international community to intervene to halt the attacks. After an extraordinary meeting of permanent delegates, the pan- Arab body urged in a statement the United Nations and the Quartet to shoulder the responsibility to halt constant aggression. "The Palestinian cause and people's rights are a top priority for all the Arab states and the AL until the declaration of an independent state according to the 1967 borders and Jerusalem as its capital," said the statement.

Fayyad freezes cabinet reshuffle to make way for possible unity gov't
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister- designate Salam Fayyad froze the reshuffle of his West Bank-based government to make way for President Mahmoud Abbas' proposal to form a unity government with the Gaza Strip, an official said Tuesday. "There has been nothing new with Fayyad's authorization to reshuffle the government," the official told Xinhua, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The anti-democratic racism of Israel must end
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Sefi Rachlevsky - (Opinion) March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

If there is one country in the world that should have heeded the commandment 'Thou shall not build nuclear reactors,' it is Japan, and that is not 20-20 hindsight. The traumas of World War II, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with the fact that Japan sits on the seam of tectonic plates, should have kept it away from that path. But Japan became a leader in the construction of reactors after all.

The sanctity of the soaring Qassam
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Opinion) March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

The Hamas authorities once again forgot that the neighbor/occupier to its east is crazy. Fact: Over Shabbat, Hamas' military wing fired more than 50 mortar shells at Israel. Or perhaps it didn't forget: Perhaps it merely thought the Palestinian people in Gaza were ready for another high-tech Israeli onslaught, for another Israel Defense Forces video game in which children playing on a roof are identified as lookouts and sentenced to death.

A small war is starting along Gaza border
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - (Blog) March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

While the headlines are focusing on the Katsav trial, the protests in Syria and the implications of the earthquake in Japan, a small war has been going on for a week now along the Gaza border. Israeli communities near the border are receiving a daily dose of mortars and rockets, and the Israel Air Force has been attacking Gaza. What began as a local escalation is steadily transforming into a broader conflict that the sides will apparently have difficulty stopping, though it's doubtful either side has an interest in reaching that point.

Palestinians push for talks renewal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Elior Levy - March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki pleaded with the Israeli government Tuesday to return to the negotiations table "before it's too late." In a speech given at a peace convention in Tel Aviv University, al-Maliki said that "Abu-Mazen is the most moderate leader and it'll be a shame if we miss this opportunity." However the minister warned that "If we don't reach an agreement by September, Abu-Mazen will resign. If that happens, we'll loose all hope for peace."

Abbas to Russia: Pressure Israel to halt Gaza escalation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

In addition to requesting that the Russians pressure Netanyahu over the escalation of violence in Gaza, he also criticized him for commenting on Palestinian reconciliation efforts. Responding to Netanyahu's speech Tuesday in the Knesset where he said that Abbas could choose between "peace with Israel or Hamas," the Palestinian Authority president retorted, "Israel has no right to object to Palestinian conciliation, it has no stake in Palestinian national unity."

French PM: Palestinian state must be created in 2011
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
March 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process should not be forgotten even while there is unrest taking place in Arab countries and 2011 must be the year that a Palestinian state is created, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Tuesday. The people of the region "are also concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which must not be forgotten while Arab political transition is taking place," he told the National Assembly in a debate on armed intervention in Libya.

Israel is blind to the Arab revolution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) March 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Even in its third month, the Arab revolution fails to resonate positively in Israel. The Israeli news media devote a lot of space to dramatic events in the region, but our self-centered political discourse remains the same. It cannot see beyond the recent escalation across the Gaza border, or the approaching possibility of a Palestinian declaration of statehood in September. Israel's leaders are missing the old order in the Arab world, sensing only trouble in the unfolding and perhaps inevitable change.

Netanyahu says Israel ‘regrets’ hitting Palestinian civilians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
March 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he regretted the accidental killing of four members of a Palestinian family in their Gaza home by Israeli tank fire. Netanyahu in a statement Tuesday from the Prime Minister's Office emphasized that the shooting was in response to fire by Hamas at Israeli citizens.

U.S. praises PA security progress
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
March 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The Obama administration lauded the progress of Palestinian security services. "The program has witnessed increased coordination of activities amongst international donors, and is achieving notable progress on security, justice, corrections, and other new fronts," the U.S. State Department said in a statement issued Sunday. The statement marked last weekend's visit to the region by William Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state who is responsible for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, which runs the training program for Palestinian Authority police.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017