Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Human Rights Watch accuses Palestinian security forces of intimidating journalists. Jessica Montell says Judge Goldstone has not absolved Israel of civilian deaths; Goldstone will visit Israel but won’t seek the nullification of his report; Shlomo Avineri says Israel was wrong to boycott his investigation; Ron Kampeas and Marcy Oster ask what comes next; the Guardian looks at remaining unanswered questions. Café culture is booming in Ramallah. Four Palestinians are wounded in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. The IMF says Palestinian institutions are ready for independence. Jenin is in shock over the murder of a theater director. Pres. Obama says Mideast unrest emphasizes the need for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and Pres. Peres urges him to stick with peace efforts. Israelis rally to the defense of a Palestinian bookseller threatened with deportation from Jerusalem. Israel is lobbying Germany not to recognize Palestine. The EU denounces Israeli settlement expansion in occupied East Jerusalem. A new poll shows large majorities of Palestinians oppose the murder of settlers, support nonviolent protests. The first Palestinian venture fund is up and running. The Media Line looks at tensions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. The BBC asks if Syrian unrest could spread to Israel. Fatah is investigating reports that Mohammed Dahlan was involved in arms shipments to Qaddafi’s forces in Libya.

Palestinian Security Forces Abused Journalists, Report Says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian journalists have been subjected to detention and abuse at the hands of Palestinian security agencies, a pattern that has led many to self-censor and produced a chilling effect on the free exchange of information and ideas, a human rights group said in a new report.

Beyond Goldstone: A truer discussion about Israel, Hamas and the Gaza conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jessica Montell - (Opinion) April 5, 2011 - 12:00am

The word Goldstone has entered the modern Hebrew lexicon as shorthand for anti-Israel bias and the deterioration of Israel’s international position. When the fact-finding U.N. mission headed by Judge Richard Goldstone released its report into Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip 18 months ago, it seemed as if the world divided into two camps. There was the pro-Goldstone camp, arguing that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza and must be held accountable; and there was the anti-Goldstone camp, which insisted that the report was nothing less than a blood libel against the Jewish state.

Cafe culture blooms in West Bank's Ramallah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Mohammed Assadi - April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

While Paris's Left Bank is famous for its fine restaurants and bustling cafes, Palestine's West Bank is not. But that might be about to change. The hilly city of Ramallah, which lies just to the north of Jerusalem, has undergone a massive boom in recent years on the back of Western donor support, with new smart eateries and bars mushrooming alongside a plethora of pristine office blocks. Latest data says Ramallah and the adjacent town of Al-Bireh that it has utterly engulfed have more than 120 coffee shops and some 300 restaurants, with 50 new diners opening in 2010 alone.

Medics: 4 wounded in Israeli strikes on Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli aircraft attacked two targets in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, wounding four people, Palestinian medics and witnesses said. They said the targets were a group of militants and a plastics factory, both east of Gaza City. All of the wounded were at the factory, they added. A Ma'an correspondent said two of those injured were women, and that one of them was pregnant. An Israeli military spokeswoman told AFP that aircraft hit "two terror tunnels," a phrase the army uses to refer to tunnels being prepared by Gaza militants to launch cross-border raids.

IMF: Palestinian institutions ready for state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian financial institutions are ready for statehood, an International Monetary Fund report praising Palestinian fiscal reform said Tuesday. "The PA is now able to conduct the sound economic policies expected of a future well-functioning Palestinian state,'' the report said. Acting Prime Minister in Ramallah, Salam Fayyad, has embarked on a program of institutional reform since his appointment in 2007, building the confidence of the international community and preparing for the establishment of a Palestinian state, to be announced in September 2011, according to his latest plan.

Shock in Jenin after theater director's murder
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Jenin refugee camp was in shock on Tuesday after the brutal murder of its theater director, with co-workers refusing to believe he was killed for his work. Juliano Mer-Khamis, a well-known actor and theater director born of Jewish and Palestinian parents, died on Monday when a gunman opened fire on his car as he was driving home with his infant son and the babysitter.

IMF gives thumbs up to Palestinian financial policy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Mohammed Assadi - April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

The International Monetary Fund has given the Palestinian Authority a strong vote of confidence, saying it is capable of running a national economy just as it pushes for U.N. recognition. The Washington-based body said the Western-backed PA, which governs in the occupied West Bank, had a solid track record of financial reforms enabling it to be less dependent on donor aid. "(It) is now able to conduct the sound economic policies expected of a future well-functioning Palestinian state," said the IMF staff report released this week.

Obama: Mideast peace bid needed amid region's unrest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Matt Spetalnick - April 5, 2011 - 12:00am

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday it was more urgent than ever to seize the opportunity to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts even as unrest swept the broader Middle East. Speaking after White House talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Obama pressed Israel and the Palestinians to capitalize on the wave of political change in the Arab world and seek to advance their long-stalled peace process. But Obama, whose attempts to broker a peace deal have yielded little since he took office, stopped short of unveiling any new initiative to bring the two sides together.

Israelis defend threatened Palestinian bookseller
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Maayan Lubell - April 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Leading Israeli authors have joined a campaign against the deportation of a Palestinian book shop owner, whose business in east Jerusalem has become a hub for diplomats, artists and academics from across the world. Jerusalem-born Munther Fahmi's residency was voided by Israel after he left in 1973 to study in the United States, where he acquired citizenship. For 18 years he has been living in Jerusalem intermittently, entering Israel on a tourist visa.

Israel to lobby Germany against Palestinian plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Josef Federman - April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask Germany's leader to drop her support for a proposal endorsing a Palestinian state in virtually all of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem when he meets with her this week, Israeli officials said Wednesday.

Goldstone won't seek Gaza report nullification
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Steven R. Hurst - April 5, 2011 - 12:00am

South African jurist Richard Goldstone said Tuesday that he did not plan to seek nullification of his highly critical U.N. report on Israel's 2008-2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip and asserted that claims to the contrary by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai were false.

EU: Approval of East Jerusalem settlement expansion is deeply disappointing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said on Wednesday that she was "deeply disappointed" by Israel's approval of new settlement building in East Jerusalem. "The actions taken by the Israeli Government contravene repeated and urgent calls by the international community, including the Quartet, and run counter to achieving a peaceful solution that will preserve Israel’s security and realize the Palestinians’ right to statehood," Ashton said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Israel was wrong to boycott Goldstone probe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Shlomo Avineri - (Opinion) April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Even after Richard Goldstone retracted his statement that Israel deliberately targeted civilians in Gaza, the diplomatic and moral damage to Israel caused by the Goldstone report will not disappear, just as the Supreme Court's acquittal of Israel Kastner back in the 1950s didn't erase the terrible things said by Judge Benjamin Halevy in the district court ruling. ("He sold his soul to the devil." ) That's the power of metaphors as opposed to dry facts. As far as Israel is concerned, the lesson is simple: It shouldn't boycott international forums, even if they are clearly biased against it.

Poll: One-third of Palestinians support Itamar attack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

One-third of Palestinians support the attack in Itamar in March, in which an Israeli family of five was murdered while 63 percent opposed it, according to a Hebrew University poll released on Wednesday. The survey was conducted by Prof. Yaacov Shamir of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University, and Prof. Khalil Shikaki, Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).

The bookseller of Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by B. Wasserstein - (Opinion) April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

It’s often the small injustices that stab us in the heart, even in a world of monstrous tsunamis, nuclear emergencies and despotic repression. Last week, Munther Fahmi told me he is in imminent danger of deportation. Fahmi, a friend for the past 15 years, is a bookseller in Jerusalem. One might better say he is the bookseller there, since his shop is almost the only serious foreign-language one left in a city that once boasted many.

First Palestinian Venture Fund Bets on West Bank's Tech Potential
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by David Rosenberg - April 5, 2011 - 12:00am

The first-ever venture capital fund to invest in Palestinian high technology opened for business on Tuesday with almost $29 million in capital and the backing of some of the world's leading technology companies. Sadara Ventures/The Middle East Venture Capital Fund will invest in Palestinian companies developing innovative, new technology in mobile, Internet content and technologies, social networks and software outsourcing, Yadin Kauffman and Saed Nashef, the fund's two managers, told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Sadara's investors include Google and Cisco.

In Sheikh Jarrah, Israelis and Palestinians Are Neighbors in Name Only
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by David Miller - April 4, 2011 - 12:00am

Sheikh Raed Salah stood up, wiping his hands from the earth that stuck to them after planting an olive sapling in the backyard of the Al-Kurd family in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Head of the Northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Salah had come to the neighborhood to show solidarity with the Al-Kurds, who have been forced to share their home with a group of eight Israeli Jews.

Israel uneasy over Syrian unrest in Golan Heights
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Bethany Bell - April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel is watching the unrest in its northern neighbour Syria with concern. Syria has fought several wars with Israel and has close ties with Iran, and the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas. The occupied Golan Heights are now seeing ripples from the protest wave sweeping the Arab world and many people are wondering what the uprising could mean for Israel. Recently around 1,000 Syrian Druze, who live under Israeli occupation, took to the streets in the village of Boqata. But they were not calling for change in Syria. They were out to back the Syrian president.

Goldstone report: the unanswered questions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
(Editorial) April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

It is difficult, in this digital world of instant claim and rebuttal, to say that you were wrong. But Richard Goldstone's retraction of one of the claims of the report that he chaired – that Israel targeted civilians in the war on Gaza as a matter of policy – is one such instance. Mr Goldstone deserves credit for honesty. It is another matter altogether to decide whether all the other claims of a 575-page report are now invalidated. The Goldstone report was a fact-finding mission, not a judicial inquiry. It was not a document of verdict, but put forward evidence for further investigation.

UN jurist to review Gaza war criticism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
April 6, 2011 - 12:00am

South African jurist Richard Goldstone has accepted an invitation to visit Israel and work to nullify his UN report accusing Israel of targeting civilians during its offensive in the Gaza Strip two years ago, Israel's interior minister said yesterday. The Israeli invitation follows Goldstone's comments that he no longer believes Israel intentionally fired at civilians. Israel had shunned the Jewish jurist since his 2009 report, ordered by the UN Human Rights Commission into the actions of Israel and Hamas in the three-week war of 2008-09.

Peres urges Obama to stay with peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
April 5, 2011 - 12:00am

It is critical for the United States to remain committed to the peace process, Israeli President Shimon Peres told President Obama. “I told him we would not want the Middle East peace process to continue without the United States,” Peres told reporters after his lunchtime meeting with Obama. A Peres aide later told reporters that this was the “critical message” Peres came to Washington to convey to the White House, suggesting that there is an impression in the Israeli government that the Obama administration is washing its hands of the peace process.

Now that Goldstone has changed his mind, what’s next?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas, Marcy Oster - April 5, 2011 - 12:00am

What happens now with the Goldstone Report may well be up to Goldstone. Richard Goldstone’s April 2 Op-Ed in the Washington Post disavowing his earlier assumption that Israel had committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity during the 2009 Gaza war has left pro-Israel activists wondering: What next? Moves already are afoot to get the United Nations to retract the U.N. Human Rights Council’s endorsement of the Goldstone report on the monthlong 2008-09 Gaza war. The Israeli government and an array of Jewish groups have issued such calls.

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