Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Michael Weiss looks at lessons Egypt can learn from PM Fayyad. Israel deploys an anti-rocket system. Pres. Abbas meets with Hamas officials in the West Bank. Jackson Diehl says PM Netanyahu is headed for a showdown with Pres. Obama. An Israeli Labor Party leader says the party may have deserved its fate. Israel is wary about getting into another Gaza war. Occupation forces continue to block off the West Bank town of Beit Ummar. Israel again bulldozes the Palestinian “freedom road” in “Area C.” Israel seeks clarifications from Argentina about a bombing in 1994. Impatient Palestinians look towards Arab change. The PLO executive committee pushes for drafting a constitution. Netanyahu seems popular among Israelis. Two Palestinians are killed in another Israeli air raid on Gaza. Akiva Eldar says Israel is missing an opportunity with the Arab Peace Initiative. Israel is attempting to quash Palestinian popular protests. Carlo Strenger says Israel’s problem is settlements, not J Street. The Israeli right continues to push legislation aimed at left-wing NGOs. A settler is jailed for assaulting a Palestinian minor. Hamas men attack women journalists. Jonathan Schachter and Yoram Schweitzer say the Jerusalem bus attack may not be directly connected to Gaza border violence. Jeff Barak says the last thing Israel needs is another Gaza war. Congress is divided over how to support Israel. Many Gazans think rocket attacks on Israel are way out for Hamas from pressure for national unity with Fatah. A Gaza family finds itself caught between Hamas and Israeli attacks. The Arab News says the plight of the Palestinians remains central to Arab consciousness. Uri Avnery says the Knesset has adopted two obnoxious and racist laws. European diplomats press for a new Middle East peace plan.

What Egypt Can Learn from Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Slate
by Michael Weiss - (Opinion) March 25, 2011 - 12:00am

A persistent theme of the recent Arab revolutions has been a fear of Islamists coming to power via democratic means. For Middle East analysts based in the West, all eyes are on Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and its likely fortunes in the parliamentary elections scheduled for June. Statements made by senior representatives of the Brotherhood about the impossibility of women or Coptic Christians holding the presidency, or how Iran is a model for human rights, should give democracy proponents pause, since they seem to confuse the concept with the mere holding of elections.

Israel Rolls Out First Mobile Battery of Antirocket System
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli military deployed the first mobile battery of a new antirocket missile defense system on Sunday on a dusty rise at the outskirts of this southern Israeli city after a week of heightened tensions between Israel and Gaza. Palestinian mourners carried the body of Saber Assalya, an Islamic Jihad militant, during his funeral in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday. Increased tensions between Israel and Gaza have led to fears of an all-out confrontation.

Palestinians Hold Talks on Reconciliation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - March 26, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority met Saturday with officials of Hamas for the first time in a year in an effort to reconcile the two movements whose bitter rivalry has kept the West Bank and Gaza apart and blocked any real hope of Palestinian statehood.

In Obama’s push for Mideast peace, whose side is he on?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jackson Diehl - (Opinion) March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

So far what some are calling the Arab Spring has brought Israel the first terrorist bombing in Jerusalem in seven years and the first significant missile attacks from the Gaza Strip in two years. And that, for the government of Binyamin Netanyahu, is likely to be the easy part. The hard part will be managing Barack Obama.

Israel lawmaker wonders if his Labor Party may deserve its fate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - (Interview) March 28, 2011 - 12:00am

He says the Israeli left is in disarray and its standard-bearer Labor Party has betrayed its values so much, it might be renamed the "Prostitution Party." It's a harsh analysis, and somewhat surprising given that it comes from lawmaker Daniel Ben-Simon, one of the party's leaders. In January, Ben-Simon was so frustrated that he announced plans to leave Labor. But he changed his mind after former Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak quit instead to form his own party, just as other party leaders were threatening to oust Barak.

Why Israel is wary of getting into another Gaza war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - March 24, 2011 - 12:00am

Fighting along the Israeli-Gaza border that has killed at least 11 people continued Thursday for the sixth-straight day, despite parallel pledges by Israel and Hamas to restore calm amid the worst violence since the 2009 Gaza war. Israeli aircraft on Thursday fired on low-profile targets such as border smuggling tunnels, while Gaza militants launched mortars and homemade rockets into southern Israel. One rocket even struck within 16 miles of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

Arrest raid targets Beit Ummar, 14 detained
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli forces detained 14 Palestinians overnight from the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar, as construction of military road blocks and a fence surrounding one side of the residential area continue. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad estimated that 150 Israeli soldiers entered the town during the campaign, which began at 2:30 a.m., as soldiers entered homes with sniffer dogs and took residents. Twelve of the 14 taken were identified, seven of them under the age of 18, one of whom was only 15 years old.

Israel bulldozes Fayyad's Freedom Road, again
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli authorities bulldozed "Freedom Road" in the northern West Bank district of Salfit for the second time on Thursday. Freedom Road was funded by the Palestinian Authority, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The project was part of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's plan to build institutions and infrastructure for a future Palestinian state. The road allowed Palestinian families to access their homes, schools, land and health clinics. Fayyad inaugurated the road in September 2010, but Israel's military destroyed it in November, while the prime minister was abroad.

Israel seeks Argentine clarifications over attacks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Ian Deitch - March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel wants clarifications from Argentina over a report it offered Iran a deal: It would stop investigating bombings on Jewish centers there in the 1990s in exchange for better trade ties, an Israeli foreign ministry official said Sunday. The Argentine paper Perfil quoted a leaked Iranian cable on Saturday detailing the offer. Eighty-five people were killed and 200 were injured when a bomb exploded in a van outside the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association on July 18, 1994 — that country's bloodiest terrorist attack.

Impatient Palestinians eye Arab world in flux
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - March 26, 2011 - 12:00am

With the peace process going nowhere, the threat of new violence increasing and the Palestinians badly divided, people in the West Bank and Gaza are surveying the rapid changes in the rest of the Arab world — and growing impatient with stagnation at home. In Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, officials are quietly working on a plan: Going for statehood without agreement with Israel, bypassing the moribund peace process. First mooted last fall, the notion precedes the Arab revolts but has been lent even greater urgency by them.

PLO urges to draft Palestinian constitution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Sunday pushed for activating a committee to draw up a constitution for a future Palestinian state. The executive committee of the PLO, which met in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, said in a statement that the constitution should be ready during the coming six months. "This is in order to put the draft constitutions before the Palestinian legislative sides in the suitable time," the statement added.

News Analysis: Israeli public views Netanyahu doing well halfway through his term
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

A new poll published in the Israel daily Ha'aretz over the weekend says that Israelis are lukewarm about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's performance as he approaches the halfway mark of his second term. However, while the United States and the international community might be looking for progress in the peace talks with the Palestinians as a metric of Netanyahu's success, Israelis have other priorities. Analysts told Xinhua that Israelis feel the most important factors are security and the economic situation, both of which are relatively good at the moment.

Two Palestinians killed in Israeli strike in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Another Palestinian died on Sunday hours after being wounded in an Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza Strip, which had killed one of his colleagues and injured two others, witnesses and medical sources said. The 26-year-old Palestinian had spent half an hour at the hospital's morgue before people found he was still breathing and took him back to the operation room. He died shortly afterwards. Israeli pilotless drones had fired a missile at a car carrying activists, killing one on the spot, wounding one seriously and two others moderately.

Arab peace initiative is another missed opportunity for Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) March 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Once again, Jerusalem is "closely monitoring" the squabble at the neighbors' - this time, in the form of the bloody clashes in Syria. Is the fall of President Bashar Assad good for the Jews? Could religious extremists replace the minority Alawite regime? What will happen to the separation of forces agreement on the Golan Heights? What will be the new regime's policy concerning a negotiated end to the Arab-Israeli conflict? How will the political furor affect Syria's intimate relations with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah?

Mighty Israel and its quest to quash Palestinian popular protest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Opinion) March 28, 2011 - 12:00am

"Now that Abdullah Abu Rahma has been released from jail, the Israeli soldiers and the honorable military tribunal judges will have time for Bassem Tamimi." Thus Tamimi, the coordinator of Nabi Saleh's Popular Committee, was introduced to guests who came to congratulate Bil'in resident Abu Rahma on his release after serving 16 months on charges of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations. Twenty-four hours later, late Thursday morning, Tamimi was arrested.

Israel’s problem is the settlements, not J Street
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Opinion) March 25, 2011 - 12:00am

The Netanyahu government’s refusal to meet with the leadership of J Street during its visit this week reflects a deep and truly worrying process, in which Israel’s government and the Knesset are progressively locked into a deep bunker with no communication with the outside world. The assumption is that J Street creates a problem for Israel, and that if Israel delegitimizes J Street, the problem will go away.

New bill takes aim at leftist groups
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - March 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Right-wing MKs launched a new attack against leftist organizations Monday with a bill limiting their right to petition the High Court of Justice. MKs Danny Danon and Yariv Levin from the Likud Party explain that the bill, which is aimed at preventing court rulings from exacting influence in the name of organizations that have no direct connection to the matters at hand, government policy, or the Knesset.

Settler jailed for assaulting Palestinian teen
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Aviad Glickman - March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The Jerusalem District Court sentenced Zvi Struck, a 28-year-old resident of the Shilo settlement, to 18 months in prison for kidnapping and abusing a 15-year-old Palestinian boy. Struck was convicted on the charges of aggravated battery, kidnapping with intention to injure, causing damage and three counts of assault. In addition to the prison term, the court sentenced him to one year of probation, and ordered him to pay the victim NIS 50,000 ($14,100) in compensation.

Gaza cops use ‘beatings, stun guns’ on women reporters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - March 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas policemen used force to disperse the protesters, who were calling for an end to the dispute between the Islamist movement and Fatah. The rallies were part of a Facebook campaign organized by Palestinian youth on March 15. At least eight journalists were beaten by the Hamas police officers during the rallies. Some had their cameras and laptops confiscated, while others were taken into custody and made to sign a document pledging to refrain from covering such events in the future.

Terrorism in Jerusalem: Escalation or independent action?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Jonathan Schachter, Yoram Schweitzer - (Opinion) March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The scene is unfortunately familiar – ambulance crews rushing toward a shattered bus, police officers establishing a safe perimeter, TV crews capturing it all and sending their reports around the country and the world.

Reality Check: Last thing we need is a 2nd round in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Jeff Barak - (Opinion) March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Let’s say Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decides to unleash Operation Cast Lead 2 following the recent wave of rocket attacks from Gaza.

Amid violence, pen pals in Congress focus on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
December 31, 1969 - 8:00pm

It happens almost like clockwork: Something happens in the Middle East, and it reverberates across the Atlantic with new letters from the U.S. Congress. With so many relatively new members looking to establish their pro-Israel credentials, the reaction in Congress to the recent violence in Israel was particularly swift.

In Gaza, rocket attacks seen as a smokescreen
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - March 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Yousef Mohammed, 61, is not ready to die by what he and many others in this besieged Palestinian territory cynically regard as little more than a ploy by Hamas. Militants here have recently been allowed to fire a flurry of rockets deep inside Israel, undermining more than two years of relative calm since the country's three-week military assault on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, killed as many 1,400 Palestinians. Thirteen Israelis died in the fighting that also obliterated much of Gaza's infrastructure.

The Shama family, stuck between the anvil of Hamas and the hammer of Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

It has now become a foregone conclusion for the Shama family. Every time a rocket or mortar is fired into Israel, the land at the back of their house in the Twam area of the Gaza strip will be attacked in retaliation.

Israel’s obduracy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) March 26, 2011 - 12:00am

IN the wake of increased violence and heightened tension along the Gaza border, Palestinians continue to sound a willingness to renew efforts toward peace with Israel. Israeli politicians are also calling for action — for stronger military reaction to the latest spike in Mideast attacks and reprisals.

Who is annexing whom?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) March 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Both are clearly directed against Arab citizens, a fifth of the population. The first makes it possible to annul the citizenship of persons found guilty of offenses against the security of the state, though annulling citizenship on such grounds is contrary to international law and conventions. The second allows communities of less than 400 families to appoint "admission committees" which can prevent unsuitable persons from living there.

Diplomats: New European proposal on Mideast peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Edith M. Lederer - March 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Britain, France and Germany want the United Nations and the European Union to propose the outlines of a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, U.N. diplomats said.

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