Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Palestinian reconciliation accord brings a new sense of urgency to the issue. The CUNY trustee who blocked an award for playwright Tony Kushner implies Palestinians are “not human.” PM Netanyahu says Israel could accept Palestinian statehood by September under certain conditions and that France will insist on Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Israeli troops arrest five Palestinians in Jenin. Hamas leader Misha’al criticizes the killing and burial of Osama bin Laden. Hamas says it will maintain the de facto truce with Israel. Settlers are using tourism to draw other Israelis to the West Bank. Netanyahu says only negotiations can achieve peace. Analysts say international pressure is likely to force Israel to keep transferring Palestinian taxes to the PA, but Israel’s finance minister ridicules the idea. The UN stages Gaza’s first marathon. Nehemia Shtrasler says Netanyahu doesn’t seem to understand time is not on Israel’s side. Another Israeli cabinet minister calls for annexing occupied territories in the event of Palestinian statehood recognition. Sec. Clinton reiterates that Hamas must accept the Quartet conditions to become an interlocutor. J Street says a new Palestinian government should be given a trial period. The “Arab Spring” poses new problems or Israel. The unity deal meets with guarded praise in the Middle East press. PM Cameron says Hamas must recognize Israel. David Makovsky asks if the unity agreement will threaten Palestinian commitments. Palestinian parties begin the process of forming a new government. Hassan Haidar says the unity agreement will make it harder to exploit the Palestinian cause. Ahmad Majdoubeh says Palestinians should declare statehood. Abdel Monem Said Aly says the Arab-Israeli conflict will now be judged on democratic principles. Hamid Alkifaey says a democratic Arab world will embrace peace with Israel.

Accord Brings New Sense of Urgency to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner, Steven Lee Myers - May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

A day after Palestinian leaders signed what many called a landmark reconciliation accord, the antagonists in the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their international mediators in Europe staked out positions in a rapidly shifting political and diplomatic landscape on Thursday. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, travelling to Rome for a meeting focused on Libya, refused to slam the door on negotiations that could include Hamas as part of a larger Palestinian authority, even as Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshal, said he was fully committed to working for a two-state solution.

A University Trustee Expands on His View of What Is Offensive
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Jim Dwyer - May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

“I want to say something,” Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld said. “The question is offensive. Before you even finish.” Mr. Wiesenfeld is the City University of New York trustee who rose this week at a board meeting to block an honorary degree to the playwright Tony Kushner, declaring him an “extremist” opponent and critic of Israel. It was a startling development for a board that appeared to be on the verge of rubber-stamping a bundle of honorary degrees proposed by the colleges within the university, including one for Mr. Kushner from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Netanyahu: France says PA must OK Jewish state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy that France wants the new Palestinian government to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. "What I heard from President Sarkozy is that they must recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people," Netanyahu said outside the Elysee Palace in Paris, after a meeting he described as "good, far-ranging and friendly".

5 Palestinians arrested in Jenin operation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's army arrested five Palestinians from the northern West Bank early Friday, residents said. An undercover unit raided Jenin refugee camp and seized Islamic Jihad leader Bassam As-Saadi, who had recently been released from Israeli prison after completing an eight-year jail term. Soldiers forced family members into one room while they searched the house and eventually departed with As-Saadi, who was bound before being taken to an unknown location, his wife told Ma'an.

Hamas chief criticizes way bin Laden killed, buried
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Khalid Mash'al, head of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, on Thursday criticized the method used by US special forces to kill Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his "burial at sea." Mash'al called on the West to "recognize the atrocity of the American raid and the burial of (bin Laden's body) at sea," in remarks to AFP in the Egyptian capital. "Arabs and Muslims are human beings and the West should treat them as such, regardless of whether they are partisans or opponents of Osama bin Laden."

Hamas leader calls to keep truce with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

The Hamas leader in Gaza urged militant groups on Thursday to stick with a de facto truce with Israel, announced after fighting last month, so as to give a Palestinian reconciliation deal with Fatah rivals a chance. "I call for giving the coming government a chance by maintaining" the ceasefire deal, Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech, a day after Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement signed a unity pact in Cairo. "We do not fear threats. We do not fear the occupation," he added, referring to Israel.

Settlers use tourism to draw Israelis to West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Tia Goldenberg - May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Perched atop a West Bank hill, the Binyamin region visitors center invites travelers to look past the military jeeps patrolling the surrounding area and enjoy nature, archaeological sites and bucolic vineyards. Jewish settlers are promoting tourism to draw Israelis who might otherwise never set foot in the West Bank, an occupied area Palestinians want as part of a future state. Proponents hope that drawing visitors will help increase support for retaining the territory, while critics say the tourism campaign, like Jewish settlements, is a foothold that stands in the way of making peace.

Netanyahu says only negotiation can achieve peace with Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel won't accept UN diktat to resolve disputes with Palestine, but believed only negotiations can achieve regional peace, Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday after meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace. "A serious quest for peace can only happen through negotiations, through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and not through a UN diktat," he told reporters.

News Analysis: Israel to continue transferring funds to PNA under international pressure: analysts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli government is facing international pressure as it suspends the transfer of some 89 million U.S. dollars of taxes that it has collected on behalf of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), in the wake of Hamas and Fatah signing the Egypt-sponsored reconciliation deal. Local analysts speaking to Xinhua on Thursday estimate that the money will be transferred soon, and that the EU is likely to continue providing aid to the Palestinians at least for now, though there is a strong possibility that the U.S. will end its aid. ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES

UN agency stages Gaza's first-ever marathon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

About 1,500 professional and amateur runners have participated in the first-ever Gaza Marathon Thursday, which aims to raise funds for a United Nation's agency that helps Palestinian refugees. School children participating in the marathon run in relays along the route from the northern Gaza Strip to its southern end, while adults and the professional athletes run the full marathon, half marathon or 10 kilometers at the end. The sun rise was the zero hour for the marathon which took the entrance of the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun as a start line.

Finance Minister: Ridiculous to give PA money days before signing deal with Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Moti Bassok - May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz yesterday defended his decision to freeze the transfer of tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority, saying it was meant to act as a warning to the PA against moving closer to Hamas.

Netanyahu: Israel could support Palestinian state before September under right conditions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Danna Harman - May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel could support a Palestinian state before September under the right conditions, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Thursday. Addressing a Palestinian plan to bring the issue of an independent Palestinian state forward at the United Nations General Assembly in September, Netanyahu said many things could be passed by the UN.

Netanyahu's Israel is fleeing the peace it once pursued
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nehemia Shtrasler - (Opinion) May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

The ceremony at Mount Herzl that concludes Memorial Day and opens Independence Day is quintessentially Israeli - a special mix of grief and joy, of mourning for the fallen while also celebrating the fact of the state's existence. But even in this ceremony, changes are occurring.

Katz: Palestinian state will be an Iranian foothold
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz spoke out on Friday against a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. "The unilateral establishment of a Palestinian state with Hamas will strengthen Iran's foothold in the region," Katz said, while visiting the Itamar home of the Fogel family, who were murdered by Palestinians in March. "Hamas and its leaders are the only ones in the world that criticized the killing of Osama bin Laden, and we do not need to be in contact with an organization," that partners with Hamas, he added.

'Hamas must reform if US to talk with Palestinian gov’t'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Hilary Leila Krieger - May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

The US won’t deal with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless the Islamist group reforms, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared on Thursday. In the wake of the unity deal signed between Hamas and Fatah on Wednesday, Clinton said Hamas must adopt the Quartet principles of recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing violence and respecting treaties previously signed by the Palestinians.

J-Street urges trial period for Palestinian coalition
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Shefler - May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

The policies of the PA’s prospective Fatah-Hamas government towards Israel should be tested before it is condemned, J Street head Jeremy Ben-Ami said on Thursday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. Adopting a strategy that would avoid any “precipitous” policies could turn out to be beneficial for the peace process, he said.s “Jumping out to say either this is a terrible thing or good thing is in our opinion not the wisest move, and the real question is, what this new alignment really going to stand for and what is it going to do, and that we don’t know,” he said.

Arab Spring challenges Israel leader Benjamin Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
(Editorial) May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

There is a satirical TV show in Israel which portrays Benjamin Netanyahu as an operatic baritone, stretching and bending every note he sings in a desperate effort to play for time as the chorus plagues him with awkward questions. What is to be done about the Palestinians and their plans to ask the UN to recognise their statehood in September they ask; what will the Israeli prime minister say in the speech to Congress in which he will have to ensure that the US at least remains bound to Israel in the face of a rising tide of support for the Palestinians.

Guarded praise for Palestinian deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian and Israeli papers have given a cautious welcome to the unity deal signed by the two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, in Cairo on Wednesday. In the pro-Fatah Palestinian press, there is praise for Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal's call for a Palestinian unity state in the West Bank and Gaza while a paper affiliated to Hamas warns that the success of the agreement depends on its implementation on the ground.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron calls on Hamas to recognize Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

British Prime Minister David Cameron during a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu called on Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist and join peace negotiations. Cameron and Netanyahu met Wednesday night; the Israeli leader traveled to France on Thursday. According to a statement released Wedneday night by Cameron, the two leaders discussed the Fatah-Hamas unity deal.

Will PA-Hamas Reconciliation Threaten Other Palestinian Commitments?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Washington Institute for Near East Policy
by David Makovsky - (Opinion) May 3, 2011 - 12:00am

On May 4, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas is slated to sign a reconciliation agreement with Hamas leaders in Cairo, a development first announced last week. The move will mark an end to the period of estrangement between the two factions, which began in summer 2007 when Hamas expelled PA security services and Fatah officials from Gaza. Given their acrimonious past, the extent to which the parties will work together going forward is questionable. The Agreement

Palestinian factions begin groundwork for political unification
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Now that the unity accord has been signed, Hamas, its new friends in Fatah and a dozen other Palestinian factions must begin laying the groundwork for political reunification. The first test facing the former enemies will be forming an interim government that the agreement says will be run by politically independent "technocrats". They are supposed to govern the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Fatah-run West Bank until there are national elections in a year or less.

The Removal of the Palestinian “Card”
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Hassan Haidar - May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

The official signing of the Palestinian reconciliation agreement in Cairo yesterday put an end to years of costly political – and sometimes even military – conflicts. The event was filled with numerous meanings, the most prominent of which probably being the fact that the Palestinians placed their own interests ahead of the regional factors which played a role in encouraging the widening of the division between the two major organizations, i.e. Fatah and Hamas.

Palestinians should declare their state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Ahmad Majdoubeh - (Opinion) May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

While many are lukewarm about or totally disinterested in the reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas, many have welcomed it warmly, seeing some hope in it for a future Palestinian state. Those who are either lukewarm or disinterested see the reconciliation, at best, as a marriage of convenience - perhaps even inconvenience. Fateh is largely liberal and secular, and Hamas is largely reactionary and theological.

Democracy-based Arab-Israel conflict?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Abdel-Moneim Said - (Opinion) May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Predictions and speculations are the nightmare of scholars and analysts alike. The case is doubly horrifying when events are in motion and nothing seems to stand still for a snapshot. The Middle East is currently going through such a dynamic and there is no indication that the situation will stabilize any time soon.

Democratic Arab world to embrace peace with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Hamid Alkifaey - (Opinion) May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

One could reasonably argue that the golden opportunity for peace in the Middle East was blown away when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995. He was the only Israeli leader capable of making peace with the Palestinians, and was about to do so had it not been for the bullets of Yigal Amir, the rightwing religious zealot who believed in the "winner takes all" principle.

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