Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Pres. Abbas urges continuation US aid and says Hamas will not have a role in the West Bank. The push for unity highlights divisions in Palestinian society. The New York Times says the US should not cut off aid to the PA. The Washington Post interviews the new Egyptian FM. Richard North Patterson says the US and Israel need a Palestinian state. A Palestinian man is wounded in a shooting in the West Bank. Reuters interviews Hamas leader Misha’al. Hamas pledges to coordinate all decisions regarding Israel with Fatah, may be considering recognizing Israel, and may agree to Egyptian terms for releasing a captured Israeli soldier. Abbas reportedly wants PM Fayyad to continue in his post, and says national unity is crucial for peacemaking. Israeli officials think Hamas signed the unity deal from a position of weakness. Zvi Bar'el says the agreement has cast PM Netanyahu adrift. Abbas meets representatives of J Street. Kadima leader Livni says that a settlement freeze would have prevented the Palestinian unity deal. Pres. Peres says Abbas is still Israel’s partner. Egypt will grant citizenship to children of Palestinian fathers and Egyptian mothers. World leaders urge Israel to release Palestinian tax revenues. Hamas’ militia may be trying to seize power. Magid Shihade looks at the balance of forces between Fatah and Hamas. Rami Khouri says Palestinians have given up on the US and Israel. Refugees in Lebanon support the agreement. Khairallah Khairallah says Israel hopes that Hamas will continue the bin Laden tradition. Hussein Ibish looks at political obstacles to implementing Palestinian state-building.

Abbas Urges Continuation of U.S. Aid Despite Agreement With Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority beseeched a group of visiting American Jews on Sunday to urge Congress not to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid as a result of his recent unity agreement with Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza.

Drive for Palestinian Unity Exposes Fractured Society
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Louai Faisal, 27, a Palestinian resident of this West Bank city long considered a Hamas stronghold, has spent three periods in Israeli prisons, starting in 2003 when he was sentenced to two and a half years as a would-be suicide bomber for Hamas. More recently, he has spent three terms in Palestinian Authority prisons in the West Bank, arrested each time by a different security apparatus, he said, and interrogated because he was suspected of belonging to Hamas. The latest detention lasted six weeks and ended in March.

A Fatah-Hamas Deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

Ultimately, a successful Palestinian state will need to have all its people, from both the West Bank and Gaza, working together to build a stable and prosperous future. The recent agreement between the two main factions — Fatah, which leads the Palestinian Authority and has committed to peace with Israel, and Hamas, which has committed to Israel’s destruction — is not the answer.

Egypt’s foreign minister on the way forward after Mubarak
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Lally Weymouth - (Interview) May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement this past week in Cairo that was seen as a first step toward unifying rival governments in Gaza and the West Bank. U.S. and Israeli officials are wary that the reconciliation, brokered by Egypt, could undermine any peace efforts, since both countries consider Hamas a terrorist organization. Prior to the ceremony, Washington Post senior associate editor Lally Weymouth interviewed Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby on the accord and other changes since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. Excerpts follow.

Israel's obstacles to peace hurt U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The San Francisco Chronicle
by Richard North Patterson - (Opinion) May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

Once again, we read, the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are dead. So it is imperative that, at last, Americans and Israelis alike face some very hard truths about this impasse - including the fact that the current policies of Israel damage the national interests and moral stature of both countries.

1 killed in Jerusalem gunfight
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

Four armed men opened fire on an East Jerusalem resident near a restaurant in the town Al-Eizariya on Sunday, witnesses said. The target, Samir Muheisen, sustained 10 gunshot wounds to the torso and medics said he was declared dead in hospital. Clashes erupted in an area east of the incident, in Abu Dis near the campus of Al-Quds University. Students were evacuated from the campus by security until calm was restored, officials said. PA security forces and medical teams were called into the area to disperse the clashes, reporting several injuries from clubs and fire arms.

Hamas mulling recognition of Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from United Press International (UPI)
May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

Only after a Palestinian state is established will Hamas decide whether to recognize Israel, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said. "No one has the right to demand from the Palestinians … or from Hamas or any other Palestinian organization what will happen after that (the establishment of a Palestinian state.) When we achieve Palestinian statehood we will be free and without occupation … then the country will decide its policy," Israel Radio quoted Mashaal saying.

INTERVIEW-Hamas's Meshaal urges West to back Palestinian deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Yasmine Saleh - May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal urged the United States and the European Union on Sunday to support a reconciliation deal that ended a four-year rift with Fatah, saying the accord was the Palestinian people's choice. Meshaal told Reuters in an interview that the issue of Palestinian recognition of Israel could only be addressed after an independent state was set up in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "The international position, especially that of the Europeans and the Americans, is still unclear but we hope they respect our will and decision," Meshaal said.

Abbas: national unity best way to peacemaking
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that national unity is the best way to make comprehensive peace and achieve the two-state solution. "We are ready to resume peace negotiations if the Israeli government accepts the peace references and halts settlement construction," Palestinian official WAFA news agency quoted Abbas as saying. Abbas statements came during his meeting in Ramallah with the members of the Jewish-American J Street pro-peace advocacy group.

Hamas chief: We will coordinate all decisions regarding Israel with Fatah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
May 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said Saturday that his movement will make all decisions regarding the struggle against Israel, including if and when to use violence, in coordination with the West Bank leading faction Fatah, The Wall Street Journal reported. Speaking from Cairo, just days after the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement was signed, Meshal said that the best way to achieve their goals was through agreement with the Palestinian Authority lead by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas agrees to new Egyptian draft for Shalit deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jack Khoury - May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

The militant Palestinian group Hamas has agreed to a new draft agreement drawn up by Egypt for a prisoner swap with Israel that would see the release of an Israeli soldier held captive by the group for almost five years, Al Jazeera reported Sunday. Following Hamas' recent reconciliation with rival Palestinian faction Fatah, Egypt has reportedly stepped up efforts to mediate the deal, which would secure the release of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian jailed in Israel.

Palestinian unity has cast Netanyahu adrift
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel - (Opinion) May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

As though he were a bereaved father, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making the rounds around the world trying to wrest condolences. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he laments, is now lost to him. Actually, Bibi is not really emitting a feeling of mourning; instead, it's more like the anger of someone who has been betrayed by a partner he always claimed never to have, a cunning partner who had seemed weak and dependent, as though his life had been controlled by Netanyahu.

Report: Abbas wants Fayyad to head unity gov't
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Elior Levy - May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is interested in keeping Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as the head of the Hamas- Fatah unity government despite recent reports to the contrary, the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported Sunday. It was recently said that Abbas, like Hamas leaders, is not among Fayyad's supporters. The relationship between the two has been strained for years; loyalists of the president accuse the prime minister of stealing the spotlight by gaining international popularity.

'Hamas signed unity pact from position of weakness'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ilana Curiel - May 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon commented Saturday on an interview published by the Wall Street Journal, in which Hamas politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal said his organization will determine the nature of the resistance against Israel – including the use of violence – in coordination with the Fatah. "I've heard plenty of statements like this; particularly those said in English and addressed to western audiences," Ya'alon said.

Abbas meets J Street reps in Ramallah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Elior Levy - May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with a J Street delegation in Ramallah on Sunday and addressed various political issues. Abbas said that the two-state solution can not be achieved without first securing Palestinian national unity. The Palestinian president stressed that the Palestinian Authority is willing to immediately resume peace talks with Israel as long as Israel freezes settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Livni: Settlement freeze could have stopped PA deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Hoffman - May 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Fatah and Hamas would not have reached a reconciliation agreement had Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu immediately agreed to a Palestinian request to extend the 10-month settlement housing start freeze that ended in September 2010, opposition leader Tzipi Livni said on Saturday. Speaking on the Channel 2 program Meet the Press, Livni said Israel needed a prime minister who could persuade the world not to allow a Palestinian state to be declared unilaterally at the UN General Assembly in September, but that Netanyahu did not fit the bill.

Abbas ‘absolutely’ still our partner, Peres tells ‘Post’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Greer Fay Cashman, David Horovitz - May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

PA President Mahmoud Abbas is “absolutely” still a peace partner for Israel, despite his signing of a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, President Shimon Peres has told The Jerusalem Post. In an interview conducted to mark Israel’s 63rd Independence Day, the president described the Fatah-Hamas accord signed last week as “a temporary bridge.” Peres said he “criticized” Abbas over it, but “that doesn’t free me of the need to talk with him.... I have no intention of turning my back on the Palestinian peace camp, even if I criticize it.”

Egypt to Grant Citizenship to Children of Palestinian Fathers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Arieh O'Sullivan - May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

Egypt’s decision to grant citizenship to the children of Palestinians married to Egyptian women is being hailed as a victory for women’s rights in Cairo -- and equally welcomed in Israel but for political reasons. “We praise the decision by the minister of interior. This is a victory for human rights and especially for women’s rights because it gives them equality,” Nahed Shehada, the head of programs for the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, told The Media Line.

Give Palestinians their tax cash, Israel told
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

World leaders have opposed Israel's decision to withhold nearly $90 million in tax revenue owed to Palestinian officials, in response to a recent unity deal with Hamas. Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli finance minister, said last week he would suspend payment of customs duties and other taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which amounts to more than $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) in annual revenues for the West Bank's governing body.

Gaza militia 'in grab for power'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

They are supposed to function as Hamas's military: an enigmatic commando force carrying out attacks against Israel and protecting the Islamist group's political leadership. But Palestinian leaders, political analysts and human rights groups in Gaza say the powerful Qassam Brigades have grown unwieldy, increasingly defiant of Hamas political leaders and brutally repressive towards public dissent. Instead of focusing on Israel, they say, the Brigades have been trying to consolidate their power in Gaza.

A fragile balance between forces in Fatah-Hamas deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Magid Shihade - (Opinion) May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The agreement between Fatah and Hamas, following secret talks sponsored by Egypt, has the potential to end years of Palestinian division, infighting and paralysis. The pact promises an interim "unity" government until elections next year. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) will be restructured to incorporate Hamas, creating a common front for the next stage of struggle against Israeli colonisation.

Less of America, now, for Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

Much of the American-Israeli reaction to the reconciliation agreement that the leading Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas signed last week has focused on what this means for the peace process with Israel. Not surprisingly, much of this same American-Israeli reaction to Palestinian issues once again misses the point.

Ain al-Hilweh upbeat on recent Fatah-Hamas reconciliation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Mohammed Zaatari - May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

Lebanon’s Palestinian factions celebrated over the weekend the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas as officials and residents of Ain al-Hilweh underscored the importance of this opportunity to boost the resistance to Israeli occupation. At the southern entrance to the country’s biggest refugee camp, Hamas and Fatah flags were spotted elevated side by side atop of a tent where Palestinian nationalist anthems were played to mark unity among the Palestinian people and enmity to Israel.

Israel has Lost a Strategic Ally, "Sheikh Osama"...
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Elaph
by Khairallah Khairallah - (Opinion) May 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Osama bin Laden met the fate he deserved. It is thought that the Arabs will be amongst the first to congratulate the Barack Obama Administration for this achievement. Primarily they are supposed to try and learn from the experiences they endured as a result of the actions of Osama bin Laden. Difficult questions must be asked about the environment that allowed this phenomenon to survive and cause so much hardship. .

Overcoming political obstacles in implementing the Palestinian state-building program
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - (Blog) May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Presented at the UNITED NATIONS SEMINAR ON ASSISTANCE TO THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE: "Mobilizing international efforts in support of the Palestinian Government’s State-building program" Helsinki, 28 and 29 April 2011     Introduction

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