Middle East News: World Press Roundup

A Gaza engineer says Israel has kidnapped him from the Ukraine, and the Palestinian ambassador urges intervention. Hamas says he is not a member of the organization. Uri Dromi says there's no need for Israel to outlaw commemorations of the Nakba. Shibley Telhami says he's hopeful for Israeli-Palestinian progress. Pres. Abbas reportedly helps free Al Jazeera journalists captured in Libya. Israel will allow more exports from Gaza. Abbas calls for a settlement freeze to allow for resumed negotiations. Israel repeats its threats to take unilateral actions in the event of UN or EU recognition of Palestine. Israel pressures Russia to help thwart European recognition of Palestine. Carlo Strenger says Israel's youth no longer values peace and freedom. Israel's Defense Ministry is ordered to release documents on its Gaza policies. A New York court says it has jurisdiction in cases filed against the PLO. Palestinians yearn for national unity. The Jerusalem Post says Israel is not a fascist state. The Israeli military prepares for multi-front conflicts. A poll suggests that 43% of Jewish Israelis are satisfied with PM Netanyahu's performance. Pres. Peres says Israel welcomes Arab uprisings. Gaza journalists accuse Hamas of harassment. Donald Rumsfeld opposes clemency for Jonathan Pollard. Yossi Alpher says the “Arab Spring” is a source of uncertainty. The National says Israel's new citizenship revocation law is a slide towards fascism. George Hishmeh says Netanyahu is digging his own political grave.

Gaza Man Says Israel Kidnapped Him
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Dirar Abu Sisi, a Gaza engineer who disappeared in Ukraine in mid-February and surfaced in an Israeli prison, spoke to reporters for the first time while attending an Israeli court hearing to extend his detention. He said he had been kidnapped by Israel “for no reason.” Most details of the case are subject to a court-imposed rule of silence, but Israeli leaders say Mr. Abu Sisi, 42, is a member of Hamas who holds valuable information.

For Israelis, Palestinians, the past matters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Miami Herald
by Uri Dromi - (Opinion) March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Last week, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed a law allowing the state of Israel to cut its funding for institutions that celebrate the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe). Nakba, for the Palestinians, marks the 1948 disaster, when hundreds of thousands of them fled Palestine and became refugees. So in May, when Israeli Jews celebrate their Independence Day, Israeli Palestinians, on the same day, mourn their great loss. In my opinion, this legislation is a mistake. But before you become red in the face and call me a leftist and an Arab-lover, keep reading.

Telhami Hopeful For Israeli-Palestinian Progress
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from National Public Radio (NPR)
(Interview) March 30, 2011 - 12:00am

NEAL CONAN, host: While much of the world attention focuses on anti-government uprisings across the Middle East, new violence has broken out across the Israeli-Gaza border. And Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank remains a flashpoint.

Source: Al-Jazeera journalists freed, with help from Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

A diplomatic source told Ma'an Thursday night that four Al-Jazeera journalists captured in Libya on 7 March were released this afternoon, following intervention from President Mahmoud Abbas. The journalists will leave the Libyan city of Tripoli for Tunis in the coming hours, the official said, adding the journalists had met with the Palestinian ambassadors to Mauritania and Tunis at Libya's Ministry of the Interior offices.

Committee: Israel to allow more Gaza exports
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel has opened registration for manufacturers in Gaza to export goods to Europe, officials said Thursday. Registration is open for clothing and furniture merchants prepared to export, an official from the goods coordination committee said. Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas seized control of the coastal enclave. The state has defied calls that it lift the siege to allow for rebuilding structures destroyed in a three-week assault that began in late 2008, citing Hamas' continued detention of an Israeli soldier.

Envoy urges Ukraine to act over disappeared Palestinian
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian ambassador in Ukraine on Thursday denied that a Palestinian man who went missing in Ukraine and is now being held in an Israeli jail was a member of Hamas. The family of engineer Dirar Abu Sisi, who managed the main power plant in Hamas-ruled Gaza, says he was abducted by Israeli agents on board a train last month and spirited away to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Abu Sisi was a Hamas member who had given "valuable information". [ID:nLDE72T29J]

Gazan abducted in Ukraine not Hamas member: spokesman
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 1, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas on Thursday said the Palestinian engineer kidnapped by Israel in Ukraine in February was not a member of the Islamic movement which controls the Gaza Strip. Dirar Abu Sisi, who appeared in an Israeli court, "has no relation with Hamas," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman. Israel said that Abu Sisi, the operating manager of Gaza's only power plant, had information about Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas near Gaza in 2006.

Palestinian president calls for settlement freeze to resume talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 1, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday called on Israel to stop Jewish settlement construction in order to resume peace talks. In a meeting with visiting Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, Abbas added that he was hopeful that "the independent Palestinian statehood with its capital in East Jerusalem would be created "very soon." The peace talks have stalled since September due to a dispute on the resumption of Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank.

Israel Warns Against Recognition of Independent Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mel Frykber - March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli government has warned the U.N. Security Council and the EU that it will resort to unilateral countermeasures if the international community recognises Palestine as an independent state at the U.N. General Assembly session next September. The warning is in response to what the Israeli government perceives as attempts by critics, local and international, to "de-legitimise" the Jewish state.

Israel holds secret talks with Russia in bid to thwart recognition of Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - April 1, 2011 - 12:00am

Isaac Molho, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s senior adviser and top negotiator on the Palestinian channel, made a secret trip to Moscow on Wednesday and met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The purpose of the visit was to dissuade Russia from supporting the European Union’s intention to present in two weeks’ time a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

As Israel perpetuates occupation, its youth sees little value in peace and freedom
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Blog) April 1, 2011 - 12:00am

A recent survey of the political opinion of Israeli youth shows a significant move to the right. More than sixty percent of 15 to 18 year olds and 21 to 24 year olds define themselves as rightwing; 60 percent of the first group prefers strong leaders to the rule of law; an overwhelming majority of the respondents do not believe that negotiations will lead to peace with Palestinians and prefer the status quo. The picture that emerges is of a profoundly pessimistic group that sees little reason for optimism – a group that prefers power over freedom and whose values are nationalistic.

Defense Ministry ordered to release internal documents on Gaza policies
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - March 30, 2011 - 12:00am

The Tel Aviv District Court last week ordered the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to release internal documents that detail the minimum nutritional requirements and calorie calculations needed to sustain the residents of the Gaza Strip. In addition, the court ordered the agency, also called COGAT and which operates under the auspices of the Defense Ministry, to reveal the names of the officials who helped implement the policy of limiting the entry of goods and foodstuffs into the Gaza Strip.

NY court asserts jurisdiction for PLO bombings lawsuit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
April 1, 2011 - 12:00am

A New York judge has concluded that he has jurisdiction to preside over litigation resulting from a lawsuit filed against the Palestine Liberation Organization by victims of bombings in Israel. Federal Judge George Daniels in Manhattan said in a written order that the PLO had offices in Washington and New York during a three-year period when the bombings occurred.

Love song for Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Shaked - (Opinion) March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Tareq Abu Salama sits at the heart of Bethlehem's Manger Sqaure, strumming the strings of his oud and singing protests songs against the Palestinian division and the Israeli occupation. A khaki-colored tent stands next to him, displaying a Palestinian flag and a sign calling for Palestinian unity. At the tent's entrance stands a mosaic board shaped like a Palestinian map; a large crack extends between Gaza and the West Bank.

Debunking the fascist libel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
(Editorial) March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

The term “fascist” has been bandied about quite freely by parliamentarians and public figures on the Left recently. MK Isaac Herzog, a candidate to lead Labor in the next elections, used the term during a conference organized by Peace Now in Tel Aviv last Friday to describe a series of legislative initiatives promoted primarily by Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu Party. Other prominent left-wing intellectuals, journalists and artists have lamented “reactionary” trends overtaking our society and being given expression in the Knesset.

IDF prepares for multi-front war in war games
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz - April 1, 2011 - 12:00am

In the face of a changing Middle East, the IDF held a set of war games this week aimed at preparing the military for all-out war against Hezbollah, Syria and Hamas. The exercise did not include soldiers or live-fire exercises, but was held to drill commanders and their decisions in the event of a large-scale war on multiple fronts. The exercise was the first overseen by new Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz. It was organized by Maj.-Gen. Gershon Hacohen, head of the IDF Colleges.

’Post’ poll: 43% of Israeli Jews satisfied with Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Hoffman - April 1, 2011 - 12:00am

A significant majority of the Jewish Israeli public is dissatisfied with the performance of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, according to a Smith Research poll sponsored by The Jerusalem Post to coincide with Thursday’s second anniversary of the government’s formation. The poll of 500 adult Jewish Israelis representing a statistical sample of the population was taken Monday and Tuesday and had a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

We in Israel welcome the Arab spring
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Shimon Peres - (Opinion) April 1, 2011 - 12:00am

The Middle East has to make a historic choice: to join the new global age of democratic peace and liberal economy, or to stay clinging to its history of closed societies and autocracy. A great revolt has been initiated by young people and women, to gain freedom, bread and hope. Israel is watching with great expectation. These events are both unprecedented and unplanned.

Gaza journalists accuse Hamas of harassment
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Roy Greenslade - (Blog) April 1, 2011 - 12:00am

Journalists covering protests in Gaza this week have complained that they were obstructed and harassed by Hamas security forces. Four reporters - Wissam Mohamed Yasin of Al-Hurra; Ayyad Talal Taha and Mohamad al-Hassoun of Radio Watan; and Al-Arabiya cameraman Mamdouh al-Sayyid - claim they were physically assaulted. A fifth, Wajih al-Najjar, a reporter for the Palestinian news agency WAFA, said he was beaten by police during his five-hour detention. The New York-based press freedom watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists, has condemned the actions.

Rumsfeld: No Clemency for Pollard
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
March 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Former U.S. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld said Jonathan Pollard should not be granted clemency. Rumsfeld, who served under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, said during an interview on Israel’s Channel 10 that granting Pollard early release would send the wrong message. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) this week became the first Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives to back the latest push for clemency for Jonathan Pollard. Earlier in March, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) became the first active Republican politician to join the recent calls for Pollard’s release.

This ‘Arab Spring,’ Only Uncertainty Blooms
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) March 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Observers are increasingly using the term “Arab spring” to describe the tsunami of revolution, revolt, state collapse and armed intervention that is sweeping the Arab world. The term implies that a better reality, a rebirth, is about to burst forth from the Arab world. Yet it is not obvious or certain that we are actually on the cusp of a better reality.

Citizenship laws in Israel cast its future in doubt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) April 1, 2011 - 12:00am

In recent weeks, Israel's Knesset has passed a series of laws that make it clear there is only one kind of Israeli. Human Rights Watch has gone so far as to term the legislation, driven mainly by the hardline foreign minister Avidgor Leiberman, "race laws".

'Digging his own grave'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) April 1, 2011 - 12:00am

The wind of change that has been blowing in the Arab world, which saw the celebrated downfall of two autocratic Arab regimes, in Tunisia and Egypt, is still blowing hard in other Arab countries, especially Libya where the days of its ruler, Muammar Qadhafi, are believed numbered.

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