Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel says it may end tax revenue transfers to the PA, prompting calls from the US for clarification and from PM Fayyad for international intervention. Hamas’ leadership denies it is leaving Syria. Palestinian leaders are making their way to Cairo for a national unity agreement signing ceremony. The deal may be partly the result of new Egyptian foreign policy, which Rami Khouri says marks Egypt’s return to the Arab fold. Hamas says the next prime minister must be from Gaza, but Fatah officials say Fayyad may remain in office. Aaron David Miller says the deal creates the illusion of unity. Israel feels increased tension and pressure. Egypt calls on the US to recognize a Palestinian state. Likud hardliners call for annexing the West Bank. The planned opening of the Gaza-Egypt border may cause new problems for Israel. The PA welcomes the death of Osama bin Laden, but Hamas condemns it and calls him a “holy warrior.” Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim will perform a “peace concert” in Gaza. Akiva Eldar and the Daily Star both welcome the Palestinian unity agreement and Amira Hass says it may serve Israeli policies. Tzachi Hanegbi says PM Netanyahu should announce plans for Israeli national unity. The Arab News says Pres. Obama has capitulated to Israeli intransigence.

Israel suspends tax transfers to Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - May 1, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel moved against the reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas on Sunday, with the country’s finance minister saying he would delay the transfer of tax funds collected for the Palestinian Authority until it proves the money will not reach Hamas. The minister, Yuval Steinitz, said that he had postponed meetings between his staff and Palestinian officials and that the tax transfers, which constitute most of the authority’s revenue, would be put on hold until the destination of the money is clarified.

GAZA STRIP: Hamas leadership says it will remain in Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Ahmed al-Dabba - April 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas officials on Saturday denied reports that its top leaders are planning to move from Syria and relocate to Qatar or another Arab country. “The leadership will remain there," said Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan. "As far as I know, we were not told to move to any other country.” The London-based Alhayat newspaper reported Saturday that the Syrian government demanded Hamas leaders, who have been based in Damascus for about a decade, leave. The newspaper said that Qatar had agreed to receive the movement’s politburo leader, Khaled Mashaal.

Hamas-Fatah Hug Gives Illusion of Unity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bloomberg
by Aaron David Miller - (Opinion) May 1, 2011 - 12:00am

As spring breaks out for Palestinian unity, winter arrives for the Middle East peace process. The prospective Hamas-Fatah unity agreement was driven primarily by domestic politics: Both of these long-term rivals are seeking to energize their bases, preempt discontent on the streets and dangle the always-attractive illusion of Arab unity before their constituents.

New Tension Roils Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Matt Bradley, Joshua Mitnick, Jay Solomon - May 1, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel froze $88 million in Palestinian funds Sunday, elevating tensions over an Egyptian initiative to broker a power-sharing agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and raising new concerns about the prospects for peace in the region.

Faction leaders leave for Cairo
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Delegates from Palestinian factions in Gaza left the coastal enclave Monday through the Rafah crossing en route to Cairo for meetings ahead of the signing of a reconciliation agreement. The delegates are expected in Cairo on Monday afternoon, where they will join Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader in exile Khalid Mash'al, who arrived earlier in the week. Egyptian authorities at the Rafah crossing told Ma'an early Monday that they were prepared to receive and welcome the delegations from Gaza to Egypt.

Mash'al arrives in Cairo for Abbas meet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas leader in exile Khalid Mash'al arrived in Cairo Sunday night as head of a delegation from his Islamist party, Al-Jazeera reported, ahead of a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas who arrived in the Egyptian capital earlier in the week. The two are expected to sign a historic unity document and set of guiding implementation principals that will reunify the governments of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Abbas and Mash'al, along with their respective delegations, will meet Monday for a series of talks ahead of the signing.

Egypt calls on US to recognize Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi on Sunday called on the United States to recognize a Palestinian state, as rival Palestinian factions prepare to sign a reconciliation accord in Cairo. Arabi urged visiting US Congressman Steve Chabot to "press Congress and the American administration to recognise a Palestinian state." Recognition "would correspond with previous statements by the American administration supporting peace based on two states," the official MENA news agency quoted him as saying.

Barenboim to conduct Gaza 'peace concert'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Renowned Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim will lead a "peace concert" by an orchestra of European musicians on Tuesday in the Gaza Strip, a United Nations agency said on Monday. The rare concert was announced in a statement by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, and will take place on Tuesday afternoon at Al-Mathaf Cultural House in Gaza City. Barenboim, an outspoken proponent of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, said he was delighted to be going to Gaza for the concert. "We are very happy to come to Gaza," he said in the UN statement.

Hamas leader: We will maintain security in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

A Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip says the Islamic militant group has no plans to dismantle its security forces or end its struggle against Israel after a new Palestinian unity government is formed this week. Hamas and the rival Fatah movement are set to sign a unity deal in Cairo on Wednesday. The plan seeks to end a 4-year-old rift that has left the Palestinians divided between a Western-leaning government in the West Bank and the Hamas regime in Gaza. The plan calls for elections next year but is vague about the future of rival security forces or using violence against Israel.

No "final decision" yet on Palestinian tax freeze: Israeli officials
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli officials remained close- mouthed Monday after Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz announced a day earlier a decision to freeze the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) following the reconciliation accord between Fatah and Hamas. Steinitz, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and many other senior Israeli officials, have slammed the interim unity government deal reached between Hamas and the Fatah-ruled PNA last week in Cairo, and vowed not to negotiate with Hamas, which Israel maintains is a terrorist organization.

Israel's Likud hard-liners calls for annexing West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 1, 2011 - 12:00am

Amid ongoing Palestinian efforts to unilaterally obtain recognition of statehood in the United Nations in September, members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-led cabinet are reiterating calls for Israel to respond with a unilateral annexation of the West Bank. "If they take steps, we will take steps. I think that we need to immediately annex all of the territories on the same day (the UN declares the establishment of Palestine)," Welfare and Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon told an audience at a meeting of the Likud's young leadership forum on April 28.

Opening of Rafah crossing offers Israel challenges
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - May 1, 2011 - 12:00am

The Egyptian government's recent decision to open the Rafah border crossing point, the only land route into the Gaza Strip that doesn't pass through the Israeli territory, has left Israel scrambling for a response. Following the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007, Israel has imposed a land and maritime blockade on the enclave.

Palestinians: Bin Laden's death is good for the cause of peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority said on Monday the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces was "good for the cause of peace," "Getting rid of Bin Laden is good for the cause of peace worldwide but what counts is to overcome the discourse and the methods -- the violent methods -- that were created and encouraged by Bin Laden and others in the world," PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib said.

Fayyad urges international intervention over Israeli freeze on Palestinian taxes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority Prime Minster Salam Fayyad on Sunday urged foreign powers to intervene after Israel froze the transfer of tens of millions of dollars in Palestinian tax money following the formation of a Hamas-Fatah unity government. "Threats ... will not deter us from concluding our reconciliation process. It is our policy and we must work harder to end our divisions as soon as possible," added Fayyad.

Palestinian reconciliation is good news for Mideast peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

What do they have in common - the hawks of Iz al-Din al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; his bodyguard, Defense Minister Ehud Barak; and Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Shimon Peres ? They all threw a fit over the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas.

Palestinian reconciliation may lead to Israel's Palestinian separation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Opinion) May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

As someone who considers herself to be a conservative journalist, I make an effort to refrain from reporting about what will happen in the future. Too many headlines, in my opinion, are about what so-and-so will say and what the fate of so-and-so will be. In the face of competition from the Internet and television, the printed press, afraid of becoming irrelevant, is often forced into making predictions. "I forgot my crystal ball at home" - is how I respond to the question "What will be?" I prefer to focus on what has been done and been said today and yesterday.

Hamas mourns bin Laden's death
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas on Monday condemned the killing by US forces of Osama bin Laden and mourned him as an "Arab holy warrior" while Iran condemned "Zionist terror" and a US national security official told Reuters the mission of the special forces team that hunted down the terrorist had been to kill him. "This was a kill operation," the official said, making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive in Pakistan.

Fatah denies Fayyad will not continue as PM
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
April 29, 2011 - 12:00am

The chief of a Fatah delegation to truce talks with Hamas, Azzam al-Ahmed, denied in an interview the New York Times that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad would not be continuing in office. He said the Cairo talks regarding the truce agreement had not focused at all on members of the transition government.

The prime minister’s speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Tzachi Hanegbi - (Opinion) May 1, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority’s announcement that a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas had been signed in Cairo prompted an immediate response from the government. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued the following statement: “The Palestinian Authority must choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas. There cannot be peace with both since Hamas aims to destroy Israel and says so openly.”

Egypt's revolution brings new players to move Palestinian pieces into place
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Jack Shenker - May 28, 2011 - 12:00am

After years of unsuccessful lobbying by the Egyptian authorities for a reconciliation of the warring Palestinian factions, the post-Mubarak government has achieved a breakthrough. As Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas politburo, said on Thursday, a new page has been turned. The emergence of a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah on Wednesday took most observers by surprise, but behind the scenes a new cast of players had been moving the relevant pieces into place ever since a popular revolution ousted the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Agreement increases pressure on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - April 29, 2011 - 12:00am

The accord struck between Fatah and Hamas that could end a bitter four-year feud will please a Palestinian public longing for a united leadership. Thousands in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Fatah-dominated West Bank rallied last month to demand that their leaders act, "with one hand". Their protests appear to have succeeded. The factions, after mediation by Egypt's transitional government, agreed on Wednesday to form an interim authority until elections are held within a year. Then, many hope, the Palestinians will once again fall under one government.

Sanity returns Egypt to the Arab fold
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) April 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Sometimes you can almost physically feel the political earth shifting beneath your feet. One of those moments occurred in Cairo a few days ago, when the main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, signed an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement to reconstitute a single Palestinian government.

Palestine united
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
(Editorial) April 30, 2011 - 12:00am

The nascent Palestinian reconciliation, to be consummated next Wednesday in Cairo, is a welcome step that should result in a unified and stronger push for statehood led by the right group – a united Palestinian people.

Editorial: Arabs and Uncle Sam
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

They in the West have a thing for opinion polls. In the latest of its opinion polls, the US-based Pew Research Center reports that views about the US in the Arab world remain as negative as ever despite the arrival of President Barack Obama and all the impossible dreams and sweet promises he offered before and after his election. Interestingly, the Pew researchers note with dismay, even after the recent apocalyptic events in the Middle East, there has been no remarkable change in people’s perceptions about Uncle Sam.

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