Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Fatah and Hamas announced the outlines of a possible national reconciliation agreement. The US may be reconsidering aid to Palestinians as a consequence, key members of Congress warn. The White House says any new Palestinian government must renounce terrorism and recognize Israel. Jackson Diehl says if the agreement is implemented it will mean the Palestinians are walking away from the peace process. Pres. Abbas' office dismisses criticism from PM Netanyahu. FM Lieberman says Israel will not negotiate with a unity government, and a Hamas leader says negotiations will not be conducted by a new government. Israel launches a nationwide war drill. Israel worries about the future of security cooperation with the PA. Ha'aretz says the agreement may work to PM Netanyahu's advantage. Aluf Benn concludes Hamas has taken over the Palestinian movement. Israel prepares to block the next Gaza flotilla. Israel anticipates and plans for political changes in Syria. Hamas disperses a pro-unity rally in Gaza. Abbas reiterates conditions for resuming negotiations with Israel. Israeli forces arrest settlers trying to enter a holy site in the occupied territories which was the scene of a recent shooting. Larry Derfner criticizes Israel's treatment of Arab air travelers. Daoud Kuttab says chances for the birth of a Palestinian state this fall are about 50-50.

Fatah and Hamas Announce Outline of Deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner, Isabel Kershner - April 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, announced Wednesday that they were putting aside years of bitter rivalry to create an interim unity government and hold elections within a year, a surprise move that promised to reshape the diplomatic landscape of the Middle East. "It is time for the Palestinian people to reject the corrupt and useless leaders who have used violence and strife to insure their positions. It is also time for Israel to reject the extreme factions of their government."

Reconciliation Deal by Rival Factions Forces U.S. to Reconsider Aid to Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Steven Lee Myers - April 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The announced reconciliation on Wednesday between Fatah and Hamas, the estranged Palestinian movements, puts the Obama administration in the uncomfortable position of having to reconsider its financial support for the Palestinian Authority, including millions of dollars the United States has spent to train and equip Palestinian security forces, officials and members of Congress said.

Palestinians launch their revolution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jackson Diehl - (Opinion) April 27, 2011 - 12:00am

It’s not yet certain that a political deal announced Wednesday by the long-divided Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions will stick--similar pacts have been proclaimed and then discarded several times in the last four years. But one thing is sure: If Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas moves forward with the reconciliation with the Islamic Hamas movement, it will mean he has written off the Obama administration and the peace process it has tried to broker, once and for all.

Fatah, Hamas in unity govt 'understanding'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah reached an "understanding" in Cairo on Wednesday to set up a transitional unity government and hold elections, Hamas and Fatah sources said. Hamas leader Izzat Ar-Rishiq confirmed the initial agreement. Ar-Rishiq said Cairo will call all factions to sign the final reconciliation within the week with the presence of Mahmoud Abbas and Khalid Mash'al.

President's office dismisses Netanyahu warning
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Adnkronosinternational
April 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Wednesday that an agreement between Fatah and Hamas “is an internal affair that has nothing to do with Israel, which is not a party to it.” "The agreement strengthens Palestinian unity and its just struggle to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital," he said in response to remarks by the Israeli prime minister in Jerusalem. Benjamin Netanyahu had demanded that President Abbas "choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas," saying such an agreement paved the way for Hamas to take control of the West Bank too.

Israel signals will block planned flotilla to Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jeffrey Heller - April 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel signalled on Wednesday it would intercept a flotilla pro-Palestinian activists plan to send to Gaza for the anniversary of an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship that tried to breach its naval blockade. The Free Gaza Movement has said 15 vessels with international passengers, including Europeans and Americans, were expected to set sail in late May for the territory, run by Hamas Islamists opposed to peace with Israel.

Israel rejects Palestinian government with Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Aron Heller - April 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's foreign minister warned on Thursday that Israel will not negotiate with a new Palestinian unity government that includes the Hamas militant group. Avigdor Lieberman spoke a day after rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reached a unity deal in Cairo to end their five year long dispute. For the Palestinians, the Egyptian-brokered deal revived hopes of ending their bitter infighting that weakened them politically and caused the deaths of hundreds in violent clashes and crackdowns.

Israel anticipates change in Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Matti Friedman - April 27, 2011 - 12:00am

With upheaval in Syria spreading and the crackdown by President Bashar Assad growing more violent, Israel has begun bracing for change in an authoritarian regime that has been a potent yet familiar enemy for four decades. A shake-up in Syria would have implications beyond the border the two countries share. While Syria has not fought a direct war with Israel since 1973, it has cultivated relations with Israel's most bitter foes. A staunch Iranian ally, it backs Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas disperses pro-unity rally in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas forces dispersed dozens of people who gathered in a Gaza City square to celebrate the progress made on the national reconciliation issue, witnesses and demonstrators said Wednesday. The rally was organized late Wednesday following the news that Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and the Islamic Hamas movement reached an initial agreement on ending split and restoring unity in Cairo.

Abbas sticks to demands for resuming peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said he sticks to what he called the requirements of resuming peace talks with Israel. "The resumption of negotiations requires full suspension of all settlement activities and defining a clear reference to the peace process," Abbas was quoted by the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, as saying. Abbas made his comments when he received the U.S. Consul General, Daniel Rubinstein, at his office in Ramallah.

Israel to launch nationwide war drill
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is gearing to hold a nationwide drill, scheduled to take place in two months, in a bid to prepare the populace for the possibility of war. The exercise, called "Turning Point 5," will begin on June 19 and end four days later. An IDF spokesman confirmed to Xinhua that preparations for the drill are underway, but would not provide further details. National daily Yedioth Aharonot, however, claimed Wednesday that the drill will be the largest-ever to be held in Israel, encompassing 70 percent of civilians residing in more than 80 local councils.

Senior Hamas leader: Interim Palestinian government not able to work on peace with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
April 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader who participated in the reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas, said on Wednesday that the interim Palestinian government would not be able to work on peace negotiations with Israel. The rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas came to a historic agreement on Wednesday, when they announced a decision to reconcile and form an interim government ahead of elections, after a four-year feud. Both sides hailed the agreement as a chance to start a fresh page in their national history.

Palestinian reconciliation could work to Israel's advantage
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - April 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Fatah and Hamas announced in Cairo on Wednesday that they had agreed to a reconciliation agreement, ending four years of feuding between the Palestinian factions. The historic deal was greeted cooly in Jerusalem. In an about-face, Hamas said that it would sign the agreement, which was drafted by the Egyptians and signed by Fatah in October 2009. The agreement calls for a setting up a caretaker government of technocrats, and for holding presidential, parliamentary and National Palestinian Council elections within a year.

Hamas has taken over the Palestinian nationalist movement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - April 28, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian reconciliation deal, if realized, heralds the takeover of the Palestinian national movement by Hamas, providing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with an escape from the rut he has fallen into because of the deadlock in the peace process. This is just what Netanyahu needed to unite the Israeli public behind him and thwart international pressure to withdraw from the West Bank.

Israel wary of change in security arrangements with PA
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Hanan Greenberg - April 28, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian factions' reconciliations has Israel concerned for many reasons, but one of the major ones is the now-questionable continuation of the collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. "The work vis-à-vis Palestinian security forces is very effective, and serves both parties well," military sources told Ynet Thursday. "Any change to this delicate relationship would lead to a significant change in the West Bank and will mandate the IDF change its deployment in the area."

13 settlers arrested on way to Joseph's Tomb
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yair Altman - April 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Attempts to enter Joseph's Tomb continue despite the death of Ben-Yosef Livnat. Some 40 members of the Hilltop Youth entered the Balata refugee camp in Nablus via agricultural Palestinian land after bypassing police and army checkpoints. Nightly Infiltrations The IDF fired lighting bombs and launched a search with police assistance. Thus far, at least 13 settlers have been detained.

US lawmakers say Hamas-Fatah unity gov't threatens aid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
April 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Lawmakers in the US responded overnight Wednesday to news that Hamas and Fatah have formed a unity government by threatening to withhold aid to Gaza. US Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), the top Democrat serving on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, released a statement saying that the deal, which does not require Hamas to recognize Israel, "is a recipe for failure, mixed with violence, leading to disaster." "It is a ghastly mistake that I fear will be paid for in the lives of innocent Israelis," Ackerman said.

Rattling the Cage: Beware of flying Arabs!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - (Opinion) April 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Do you know that Israeli Arabs are getting on crowded buses every day, sitting among Jews, and no one is checking to see if they’re terrorists? Hundreds of thousands of Israeli Arabs are riding these mixed buses every day, many of them carrying bags and wearing coats, and nobody’s checking their ID, making them go through a metal detector or asking them a single question. If this isn’t an existential threat, I don’t know what is.

White House: Palestinian unity gov’t must renounce terror, accept Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
April 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Reacting to news that rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas had agreed to a reconciliation deal, the Obama government said any Palestinian unity government must accept Israel's right to exist and renounce terrorism -- conditions that Hamas does not meet. The surprise deal to form an interim government and hold general elections within a year was reached Wednesday in secret negotiations in Cairo between the two sides, according to reports. A formal announcement of the reconciliation reportedly will be made next week.

Will Palestine be born this fall?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) April 28, 2011 - 12:00am

The chances for the birth of a Palestinian state this fall appear to be 50-50. The world community, including the US, seems to favour the idea, but there is clearly a lack of political will and muscle that would push Israel to seriously negotiate the emergence of Palestine. At the same time, major countries, especially the US, do not show enthusiasm for a unilateral declaration coupled with a UN birth certificate.

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