Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The UN praises Palestinian progress toward statehood and says they are ready for independence on six key criteria. Sec. Clinton says US plans new initiative on Israeli-Palestinian peace. Four Palestinians die in a Gaza tunnel collapse as the territory’s only commercial crossing is reopened. PM Fayyad meets with donors in Brussels, requesting $5 billion over three years. An Israeli official says the US would veto a Security Council resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood, but others think the US will have a hard time being isolated. Palestinians urge the US to take a clear position on peace. Pres. Abbas says Israel should cease settlement activity so talks can restart. Israel says Hamas leaders are split on continuing a de facto truce. Ha’aretz says a partial West Bank pullout won’t prevent Palestinian statehood, and Aluf Benn says the idea “reeks of irrational desperation.” PM Netanyahu does not meet with a Canadian teenage pop star after all. Quartet Envoy Tony Blair says Palestinians are ready for statehood. Israel may allow a new flotilla to dock in Gaza. Herb Keinon says a UN General Assembly recognition of Palestine might not be very meaningful in practice. The Independent looks at the struggle of the Palestinian businessman to rebuild his home in Beit Jala. Hamad Al-Majed denounces Iranian support for Hamas. Bruce Riedel reviews Jordan’s King Abdullah’s new book on Arab-Israeli peace which warns that time is running out quickly.

U.N. Praises Palestinians’ Progress Toward a State
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - April 12, 2011 - 12:00am

The United Nations praised Palestinian Authority efforts at strengthening its institutions in a report on Tuesday, describing aspects of its administration as sufficient for an independent state. The endorsement came at a crucial time for the Palestinian Authority, which has set a September deadline for the completion of its state-building program and is working toward international recognition of Palestinian statehood in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem that month.

4 Die in Smuggling Tunnel Under Gaza-Egypt Border
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Fares Akram - April 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Four Palestinians died Tuesday in a smuggling tunnel beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, according to medics in Gaza. Authorities with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said the men suffocated while repairing the tunnel, which they said had been hit by an Israeli missile several days ago during a recent wave of violence. Some people have died in the tunnels in the past after being overcome by fumes while smuggling fuel to Gaza.

U.N. report: Palestinian Authority ready for statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - April 12, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority is ready for statehood, according to six key criteria, although urgent action is needed to bolster its progress in state-building, the United Nations said Tuesday. The declaration, contained in a report prepared for a meeting Wednesday in Brussels of donors to the authority, is an important boost to Palestinian efforts to obtain international recognition of a Palestinian state in September.

US plans new push on Arab-Israeli peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Arshad Mohammed - April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

The United States plans a new push to promote comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday, suggesting a stronger U.S. hand in trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. President Barack Obama will lay out U.S. policy toward the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks, Clinton told Arab and U.S. policy makers in a speech that placed particular emphasis on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Ashton, Blair meet Fayyad at Brussels donor meeting
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 13, 2011 - 1:00am

The annual spring meeting of Palestine's donor coordination group kicked off in Brussels Wednesday, the day after UN officials came out in support of an independently functioning Palestinian state. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is hosting the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting, also attended by caretaker West Bank Prime Minister Fayyad, and Quartet Envoy Tony Blair.

Israel minister: US will veto Palestine declaration
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

An Israeli official said Tuesday that the US will use its veto if the UN Security Council decides to vote on approving an independent Palestinian state. The US supports negotiations rather than unilateral steps, Israeli minister Uzi Landau said in an Israel radio report. Israel should announce the annexation of several huge settlement outposts and the Jordan Valley if the Palestinians announce statehood at the UN, he continued. Israel must put also an end to the "war of attrition" that Hamas is waging against Israel, according to Landau.

Israel keeps Gaza goods crossing shut despite truce
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - April 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel kept a commercial crossing with Hamas-ruled Gaza shut for a seventh day on Tuesday although a truce had stopped cross-border fighting, and a UN official said he was "extremely worried" essential supplies may run out. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which provides aid to more than two thirds of Gaza's population of 1.5 million, said 172 truckloads of oil, sugar and flour were waiting to cross into the impoverished coastal territory.

Palestinians urge U.S. to take clear positions on Mideast peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

The United States shout take clear attitudes when it resumes efforts that aim at reviving stalled peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel, a Palestinian official said Wednesday. America's position regarding Jewish settlement constructions in the occupied Palestinian territories should be more resolute, said Nabil Abu Rdineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian leadership.

Israel reopens Gaza's only commercial crossing after week-long closure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel on Wednesday reopened the only commercial crossing point with the Gaza Strip after a week of closure, a Palestinian official said. About 250 trucks carrying cooking gas, diesel and aid for commercial and agricultural sectors will enter Gaza Wednesday and two truckloads of flowers would be exported through the Kerem Shalom crossing, said Ra'ed Fattouh, a Palestinian coordination official. Israel cited security concerns when it closed the crossing last week.

Abbas calls on Israel to stop settlement activities to resume peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday called on Israel to cease settlement constructions in the occupied territories to resume peace talks. He also said that Israel should commit itself to the references of the peace process, including the recognition of the goal that the negotiations should lead to a Palestinian statehood on the lands that Israel has occupied in 1967. Abbas made the remarks as he received Spain's Crown Prince Philip, his wife and Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Hamas split on resuming Gaza fire against Israel, top IDF officer says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas' diplomatic leadership is interested in maintaining relative calm along the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, a top Israel Defense Forces officer said on Wednesday, while the group's military commanders are bent on resuming attacks. The remarks by GOC Southern Command Tal Russo come as international mediators brokered a respite to the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas. The cross border conflict escalated dramatically last week, becoming the most intense confrontation between the two since Israel's war in the Palestinian territory in late December 2008.

Partial West Bank pullout can't stop Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is assimilating too slowly the possibility - he calls it a danger - that come September, the world will recognize an independent Palestinian state.

Netanyahu's West Bank plan reeks of irrational desperation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

When Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu led the opposition to the Oslo Accords, he had a stroke of media brilliance. Speechwriter Netanyahu called the dynamic of the negotiations not "give and take," but "give and give," ridiculing the leaders of the left and promising that he would insist upon reciprocity. The Palestinians would have to pay through concessions for every dunam they receive in the territories. If they give, they'll get, he said on assuming office as prime minister, and if they don't give, they won't get.

Palestinians seek $5 billion for state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will brief Western representatives in Brussels on Wednesday on his bid for nearly $5 billion in investment to launch a Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority's three-year development plan, obtained by Reuters, requires $1.467 billion this year, $1.754 billion in 2012 and $1.596 billion for 2013. "We have distributed the plan to the donors and they have welcomed it," Palestinian Planning Minister Ali al-Jarbawi said. The plan will be presented formally to donor countries at a pledging conference in June, he said.

Bieber: Netanyahu meeting never scheduled
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Raz Shechnik - April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Justin Bieber never intended to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his manager told Yedioth Ahronoth Tuesday in response to reports that the teen idol had refused to hold such a meeting after discovering that children from the Gaza vicinity would also be in attendance. "We never asked to meet with (Netanyahu) nor has anyone connected with us asked to meet him," Scooter Braun told the paper.

'US will have hard time standing alone in UN'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Attila Somfalvi - April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli state officials estimated Wednesday that the US decision to postpone a European initiative to set parameters for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will involve a price to be paid by Benjamin Netanyahu. "The prime minister will be forced to outline his plans in a clear manner," one state official said. Israel has been working to prevent UN support in a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, however efforts to block endorsement have thus far failed. State officials now believe such efforts are futile, particularly in regards to the General Assembly.

'Blair to endorse Palestinian state at Brussels parley'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Quartet envoy Tony Blair was set to present a report in Brussels on Wednesday endorsing a future Palestinian state, the London Times reported.

Government mulls allowing flotillas to reach Gaza Strip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

The government is considering allowing flotillas bound for Gaza to dock in the Strip so long as they undergo a thorough search by an international authority, Channel 2 news reported Tuesday evening. According to the TV report, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was examining the idea of letting ships dock in the Strip as long as Israel and a third, international party, such as Greece, were to check any incoming vessel for illegal weapons or illicit materials.

Analysis: Putting the UN in perspective
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - (Analysis) April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

For years, the Likud and the Right have been accused of fear-mongering, of playing upon the country’s real security concerns to turn their backs on peace.

The ravaged palace that symbolises the hope of peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Matthew Kalman - April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

The first remodelling of Albert Abu Zgheibreh's impressive home in Beit Jala on the outskirts of Bethlehem was free of charge, but not to his taste. Hellfire missiles fired from Israeli Apache helicopter gunships left gaping holes in the walls, tank shells smashed through the supporting pillars of the verandas and the stonework was raked with heavy-calibre machine-gun fire.

Hamas and the Iranian life-line
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Dr. Hamad Al-Majid - April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Has Iran begun to reap the fruits of its support for Hamas? Some observers believe that the recent conversion of several Gazans to Shiism represents one of these fruits. The Al-Arabiya website, citing a report published by the Arsiran website – which is affiliated to a number of conservative groups in Iran – published a story claiming that the Shiite doctrine is beginning to spread in Gaza and that the number [of converts] reaches into the hundreds. Abdul Raheem Hamad, a Gazan convert, also expressed the same point [in this report].

King Abdullah: Time is Running Out for Arab-Israeli Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National Interest
by Bruce Riedel - (Book Review) April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

King Abdullah II of Jordan, like the rest of us, was apparently surprised by this winter’s eruption of political dissent in the Arab world. His just published autobiography, Our Last Best Chance: the Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril, warns that upheaval and war is coming to the Middle East if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved by a just and fair peace, but does not prepare the reader for the revolutions that swept Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and the rest of the Arab world this winter and spring. That is not a criticism—no one else saw it coming either.

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