Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Washington Post asks if the “Arab Spring” will bring about a broad-based peace agreement with Israel. An Italian activist is murdered by extremists in Gaza. Hamas arrests suspects and most Palestinian groups denounce the killing. Aaron David Miller says it would be a “dumb idea” for Palestinians to seek statehood at the UN. David Makovsky says the US has unwisely relegated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the sidelines. The Senate passes a resolution asking the UN to rescind the Goldstone Report. The EU opens its market to Palestinian exports. Turkey tells Israel it’s not responsible for Gaza flotillas. PM Netanyahu will address Congress next month. The Israeli official in charge of negotiating the release of a captured soldier is resigning. Israeli settlers wound a Palestinian in the West Bank. Palestinians inaugurate the first West Bank international soccer stadium. Ha’aretz says FM Lieberman must resign now. Carlo Strenger says that Hamas’ ideology is dooming it to irrelevance. The UK will send an observer to the next Israeli Jerusalem “zoning committee” meeting. Palestinians seek US support for statehood. Former PM Olmert condemns Goldstone’s reconsideration as “too little, too late.” Tensions have not affected Israeli-Turkish trade. A California university withdraws backing from a conference on Palestinian rights. George Hishmeh notes that more Americans than ever think the US isn’t doing enough to solve the conflict. Omar Rahman says Israel should accept the terms of the Arab Peace Initiative, and Yossi Alpher agrees but with “minor interpretations.” Interfaith leaders urge Pres. Obama to lay out the key principles for Middle East peace.

Will the Arab Spring bring a peace agreement with Israel?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
(Editorial) April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

ONE OF THE MOST remarkable aspects of this year’s Arab uprising has been the absence of the Israeli-Palestinian issue from the agenda of protesters. It turns out that the rising generation of Arabs is preoccupied not with Palestinian statehood but with political freedom and economic opportunity in their own countries. It follows that for the United States and other Western democracies, the most critical challenge in the region in the coming years will be guiding Arab states toward liberal democracy and preventing the rise of new authoritarian or extremist Islamic regimes.

Hamas Says It Found Body of Italian Activist
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Fares Akram - April 15, 2011 - 12:00am

An Italian activist found dead here early Friday was strangled with a plastic cord, apparently by abductors from a radical Islamic organization inspired by Al Qaeda that said it had kidnapped him a day earlier, according to a physician who performed an autopsy. Vittorio Arrigoni taking part in March in a protest against gainst an Israeli decision to tighten the border area in Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza strip.

The Palestinians’ mistake in seeking statehood from the U.N.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Aaron David Miller - (Opinion) April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

In almost two decades of working on Arab-Israeli negotiations as a State Department adviser and negotiator, I’ve come up with more than my fair share of dumb ideas. But the notion Palestinians are cooking up, for U.N. action on Palestinian statehood this fall, takes dumb to a new level.

Crossing thresholds for peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by David Makovsky - (Opinion) April 15, 2011 - 12:00am

As the Obama administration grapples with the many implications of the Arab spring in the Mideast, the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been relegated to the sidelines. But history has shown that it does not stay dormant for long — as demonstrated in the latest uptick of violence. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reflected this Tuesday in her a speech about Arab democratic reform. She suggested that Washington would soon be making a new push for peace.

GAZA STRIP: Kidnapped Italian activist found dead; Hamas condemns rival radical group
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Ahmed al-Dabba - (Blog) April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Hours after an Islamist extremist group announced it had kidnapped an Italian peace activist in the Gaza Strip, the man's body was discovered in the restive seaside territory. It was the first kidnapping of a Westerner in four years and one of the few times such an abduction has ended fatally.

Palestinian factions denounce murder of Italian activist
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 15, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian factions have condemned the murder of Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni found dead in Gaza early Friday morning. Salafist extremists in Gaza were suspected of kidnapping Arrigoni, an activist for the International Solidarity Movement, last seen alive in a video posted online Thursday. In the video, the kidnappers threatened to kill Arrigoni unless Hamas released Salafist prisoners by Friday evening. Before the deadline passed, however, Hamas said his body was found hanged in a home northwest of Gaza City.

US Senate asks UN to rescind Gaza War report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
April 15, 2011 - 12:00am

The US Senate asked the United Nations to rescind a report on the Gaza War after its lead author expressed doubt over his conclusion that Israel targeted civilians during the 2008-2009 offensive. The Senate resolution calls on UN Human Rights Council members "to reflect the author's repudiation of the Goldstone report's central findings, rescind the report and reconsider further Council actions with respect to the report's findings." The text was adopted by unanimous consent.

EU opens market to Palestinian exports
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

On the sidelines of this week's Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting in Belgium , EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced the signing of a deal that would open West Bank and Gaza markets to Europe. The agreement gives - effective immediately - all agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products originating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip duty free access to the EU market.

Turkey tells Israel: Gaza flotilla not up to us
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Turkey said on Thursday it had received a request from Israel to help stop activists sailing to Gaza on the first anniversary of an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship, but it said the flotilla plan was not Ankara's concern. Turkey, a Muslim former ally of the Jewish state, has scaled back ties, demanding Israel apologise and pay damages for last year's raid, which caused an international outcry.

Israeli PM to address U.S. congress next month
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 15, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Thursday that he has been invited to speak before U.S. congress next month, a speech widely expected to reveal Israel's new initiative for the peace process with the Palestinians. Netanyahu said at a Likud Party Passover holiday toast that he sees the invitation as "a great opportunity." Earlier in the day, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner announced his intention to invite the Israeli prime minister to address a joint meeting of U.S. congress when the latter visits Washington next month.

Israeli chief negotiator for releasing of Shalit to step down
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Haggai Hadas, the Israeli negotiator heading talks with the Palestinian Hamas movement over the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, announced Wednesday to leave his post. Hadas dismissed an earlier report by Channel 2 television that he was resigning out of frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the affair, believing that not all means have been exhausted in a national endeavor to bring Shalit home.

Israeli settlers wound one Palestinian in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

A Palestinian was wounded Thursday after Israeli settlers hit him on the head with an ax near Ramallah city in the West Bank, a Palestinian official said. Mohammed Ibrahim, head of Turmoseya's council, where the incident happened, said settlers attacked a number of people working on their lands and beat a youth with an ax, causing head injury to him. The injured was taken to hospital and in stable condition, he added. There has been no comment from Israel on the incident.

Palestinians inaugurate first West Bank international soccer stadium
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
April 15, 2011 - 12:00am

The first international soccer stadium in the West Bank was inaugurated yesterday, with French international star Lilian Thuram making the first kick. The French- and German-funded stadium in al-Birah, a suburb of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, has 9,000 seats and cost more than 1.1 million euros, said a statement. Ex-Barcelona and Juventus defender Thuram - who was on the French national team when it won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 - participated in the inauguration on his first ever visit to the West Bank.

Lieberman must not wait to resign
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) April 15, 2011 - 12:00am

Yehuda Weinstein was chosen as attorney general thanks to his varied experience, including some as a prosecutor in the 1970s and much as a defense attorney for public figures. Weinstein indeed brought to his lofty position, and few are loftier, the viewpoint of the defense attorney. He may not be expected to sign indictments lightly.

Hamas is Missing the Train of History
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Blog) April 15, 2011 - 12:00am

The extremist Islamist ‘Monotheism and Holy War Group’ has gruesomely murdered an Italian peace activist, Vittorio Arrigoni briefly after kidnapping him. This seems to have been retaliation against Hamas’ detention of two of its leaders a few days ago, even though it was first presented as an attempt to force Hamas to release the organization’s leaders. This shows, more than ever, that Hamas is running into insoluble problems.

UK sends observer to Jerusalem zoning cmte. meeting
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ronen Medzini - April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

The British Embassy sent an observer to a recent meeting held by Jerusalem's District Planning and Building committee, Ynet learned Thursday. The committee holds weekly meetings to discuss and advance various municipal plans, meant to promote the welfare of all Jerusalemites, but while other municipal committees of this nature are purely professional, the capital's zoning committee's activities are perceived as political. Jerusalem's committee has the power to green-light building permits beyond the Green Line. Such moves are often subject to international censure.

PA seeks US support for statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Elior Levy - April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

While Palestinian Authority is taking major steps to prepare for its impending declaration of an independent state, bitterness is evident among West Bank leaders at the US' reluctance to take a strong stance on the issue. The recent reports by the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund all indicate that the PA has established the necessary governmental institutions, and is ready to function independently.

Goldstone’s regrets are too little, too late
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Ehud Olmert - (Opinion) April 15, 2011 - 12:00am

The judge cannot be released from his personal responsibility for a totally wrong and vicious description of what really happened in Gaza. His vague statement is a poor attempt to cleanse his conscience. Recent events in Gaza, where dozens of long-range missiles have been launched at our cities, hit innocent civilians and prevented our citizens from continuing with their routine activities, cannot be tolerated. The State of Israel cannot but take the necessary measures in order to bring this to an immediate end.

Ties Remain Strained, But Turkey and Israel Keep on Trading
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Arieh O'Sullivan - April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Just as diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey appear at rock bottom, bilateral trade between Israel and Turkey have reached an all-time high, indicating that commercial interests can trump political differences. Turkey pulled out its ambassador from Israel almost a year ago and when Israel’s current envoy to Ankara leaves this summer it isn’t planning to fill his slot. That is in order to “spare us the embarrassment of having the Turks reject him,” in the words of one Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Calif. law school draws fire for disavowing Palestinian rights conference
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

A San Francisco Bay Area law school is under fire for withdrawing its support of a Palestinian rights conference on its campus. On Tuesday, officials at the University of California at Hastings College of the Law revealed that they had made a last-minute decision to remove the school's name from “Litigating Palestine,” a conference devoted to using the courts to promote Palestinian rights. At a March 24 meeting, the school’s board of directors also canceled a welcoming speech by the university dean scheduled for the next morning, when the two-day conference opened.

Israel’s next step
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) April 15, 2011 - 12:00am

There has been much good news this week for the Arab world, thanks to the successful uprisings against autocratic regimes ushered in by the glorious Arab Spring and the uplifting responses that followed from various world spots. An “overwhelming majority”, or two thirds (65 per cent) of Americans, more Democrats than Republicans, believe that “greater democracy in the Middle East would be positive for the United States”. And in the long run, more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of Americans say democratisation would be mostly positive for the US.

Save a generation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Omar Rahman - (Opinion) April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Just over one week after the ninth anniversary of the Arab Peace Initiative, some leaders within the Israeli business and security community have found the need to address this monumental peace proposal with a "partner declaration" of their own.

Accept with minor "interpretations"
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) April 13, 2011 - 12:00am

There is a certain formalistic justification in Israel's standoffish attitude toward the Arab Peace Initiative. After all, the API was never seriously "marketed" to Israel. The concluding paragraph of the API asks every relevant institution in the international community to "pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative"--everyone, that is, except Israel itself, the target of the initiative. At one point a few years ago, in response to protest over this lacuna, the Arab League sent the Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers to Jerusalem to present the API.

Religious Leaders Urge Presidential Leadership for Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
April 14, 2011 - 12:00am

In response to the launching of a new Israeli Peace Initiative by former Israeli government, intelligence and security officials, leaders of twenty-five Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious organizations wrote to President Obama saying that they believe “this initiative, the earlier Arab Peace Initiative and the Geneva Accord, taken together, offer key principles and ideas for comprehensive Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace.” (Letter and endorsers attached.)

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