Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Palestinians say public employees cannot be paid if Israel withholds tax revenues. Some see the Fatah-Hamas deal as a new chance for peace. Jimmy Carter says the US should support the agreement. Fatah plans to review its strategies. France increases aid to the PA to offset Israel’s actions, the UN asks Israel to release the funds, and the US calls the Israeli move “premature.” PM Fayyad calls the fiscal situation “impossible.” The head of J Street says Israel must act now on peace. Pres. Abbas says Palestinians are determined to win UN recognition in September. Pres. Peres says Israel might negotiate with Hamas. The Globe and Mail profiles a Palestinian billionaire. Ha’aretz says Israel is evading reality. Pres. Obama sends Israel Independence Day greetings. Amr Mousa says Hamas is not a terrorist organization. Issa Bourshieh says Israel must embrace its Arab citizens. A powerful film about Palestinian nonviolent protests against occupation is released on DVD. CUNY reverses its decision not to honor Tony Kushner. The daughter of a right-wing Israeli Rabbi talks about meeting Abbas. Palestinian citizens of Israel feel disenfranchised. Attention is on the effect of the Palestinian unity deal on Hamas’ policies, and Asharq Al-Awsat interviews one of its leading figures. Ghassan Khatib says Palestinian dialogue may foster Hamas moderation, and Mkhaimar Abusada says the international community can help, but Yossi Alpher says Hamas has not changed yet.

West Bank: Tax Withholding by Israel Will Delay Paychecks for Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, left, said Monday that the Palestinian Authority could not pay the salaries of its employees on time this month because of Israel’s decision to withhold the transfer of tax revenue it collects on behalf of the Palestinians. Israel delayed the transfer of almost $90 million after the reconciliation last week between Fatah, the party that dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza.

Fatah-Hamas pact called new chance for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The reconciliation pact signed last week by the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas was denounced by Israel and has left Washington weighing its response, but Palestinian mediators who helped broker the deal say it opens new opportunities for a resumption of peace talks. The accord, which provides for the formation of a transitional government of technocrats to prepare for elections in a year, also sets a goal that Fatah and Hamas say they share: a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with a capital in Jerusalem, next to Israel.

Pro & Con: Should the U.S. support the Hamas-Fatah unity agreement?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Atlanta Journal Constitution
by Jimmy Carter - (Opinion) May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

This is a decisive moment. Palestine’s two major political movements — Fatah and Hamas — have signed a reconciliation agreement that will permit both to contest elections for the presidency and legislature within a year. If the U.S. and the international community support this effort, they can help Palestinian democracy and establish the basis for a unified Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza that can make a secure peace with Israel. If they remain aloof or undermine the agreement, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory may deteriorate with new violence against Israel.

Fatah to discuss September deadlines
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 10, 2011 - 12:00am

Fatah's governing body will evaluate party support and possible strategies including the September deadline for statehood and a possible bid at the UN, an official said Monday night. The party's Revolutionary Council began meetings late Monday evening, headed by president and party leader Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah, officials told the government news agency WAFA.

France ups PA aid as Israel holds tax funds
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

France on Monday announced it would donate 10 million euros ($14.3 million) to the Palestinian Authority after Israel froze tax revenue transfers following a Palestinian unity agreement. The aid infusion came as Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told reporters his government was unable to pay employees because of Israel's decision to halt revenue transfers after Fatah and Hamas inked a unity deal. "The Palestinian Authority cannot pay the salaries for the month until the Israeli government transfers the money," he said.

Palestinians miss salaries for first time since '07
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ali Sawafta - May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority said on Monday it had not been able to pay public sector salaries for the first time since 2007 because of Israel's decision to halt the transfer of tax funds. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Israel's decision, taken in protest at a Palestinian unity deal involving the Islamist group Hamas -- had put the Ramallah-based government in an impossible financial position.

INTERVIEW-Israel must move on peace or lose out -lobbyist
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Allyn Fisher-Ilan - (Interview) May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must present a concrete plan for a two-state solution of the Palestinian conflict to the U.S. Congress this month or face the prospect of fresh violence, a U.S. lobbyist said. Jeremy Ben-Ami, director of J Street, touted as a left-wing version of the powerful pro-Israel AIPAC lobby group, said he was "trying to build a momentum" to stall a Palestinian plan to seek United Nations backing for statehood in September.

Abbas says Palestinians determined to get UN recognition
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 10, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians are determined to seek recognition of a Palestinian state from the United Nations in September, a Ramallah-based newspaper reported Tuesday. "The issue of going to the UN is decisive and it doesn't endure any play or maneuvering," Abbas said during a meeting of the Revolutionary Council of his Fatah movement here on Monday night, according to the report. However, Abbas stressed that the negotiations with Israel remain the preferable choice for the Palestinians and that the Palestinians will continue efforts to resume the talks.

Talks with Hamas not impossible: Israeli president
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
May 10, 2011 - 12:00am

The possibility of talks between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas should not be entirely ruled out, Israeli President Shimon Peres told Ynet news in an interview published Tuesday. Peres said it was important to remember that Palestinian former president Yasser Arafat was regarded with suspicion and even hatred by many Israelis when he was engaged in the negotiations that yielded the Oslo Accords. "Even when I began negotiation with Arafat, they said: 'There's no chance'," Peres told the Israeli website in an interview published on the Jewish state's Independence Day.

An improbable leader’s unrelenting quest for a state of Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Globe and Mail
by Patrick Martin - (Opinion) May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

He is an unlikely man in a most unlikely setting, but Munib Rashid Masri, who, 10 years ago in the middle of a violent intifada, built a palatial mansion on the top of Mount Gerizim overlooking this Palestinian city, deserves much of the credit for the historic reconciliation between the antagonistic Hamas and Fatah organizations.

U.S.: Israel's decision to withhold PA funds 'premature'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The United States slammed Monday Israel’s decision to withhold Palestinian Authority funds saying "any decision following the Hamas-Fatah agreement is premature.” U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner admitted that the Israelis “have their concerns,” but stressed that that the U.S. government's position is that “we believe that we need to wait and see. We believe it's premature to make any decisions. What's important now is that the Palestinians ensure implementation in a way that advances the prospects of peace."

Israel is a country evading reality
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

On the eve of the 63rd anniversary of its independence, more than ever Israel ostensibly appears like the "villa in the jungle" that Defense Minister Ehud Barak referred to. It enjoys stable governance, strong democracy, economic power and relative quiet on the security front.

Obama sends Israel Independence Day greetings
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - May 10, 2011 - 12:00am

United States President Barack Obama sent his greetings Tuesday to the people of Israel as they celebrate their 63rd Independence Day. Obama congratulated the State of Israel on its "remarkable achievements over the past six decades." "Our two nations share a unique and unbreakable bond of friendship that is anchored in common interests and shared values, and the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security," he reaffirmed the American support of Israel.

Arab League chief: Hamas not a terror group
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - May 10, 2011 - 12:00am

Arab League Secretary-General and one of Egypt's leading presidential candidates Amr Moussa does not believe Hamas is a terrorist organization. In an interview with the Washington Post, Moussa said: "The view that Hamas is a terrorist organization is a view that pertains to a minority of countries, not a majority. Being a terrorist is not a stigma forever."

Independence Day and the ‘Nakba Law’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Issa Boursheh - (Opinion) May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

‘We appeal – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the state on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.” This is what the founders of the State of Israel guaranteed to the family of nations and its own people. Full and equal citizenship; and this is what I, as a Palestinian-Israeli, am anticipating, with fairly low expectations.

Budrus: A West Bank village's emblematic struggle for its land
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - (Blog) May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

I'm finally back in Jerusalem after almost two months away, much of it in Tripoli, which was weird and fascinating. But it's great to be back, and I intend to resume regular blogposts from this week, getting out and seeing what's happening on the ground in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Today sees the DVD release of Budrus, a documentary film about a Palestinian village's struggle against the route of Israel's separation barrier. Budrus has deservedly won many awards and if you didn't get a chance to see it at the cinema, now's your chance to catch up.

UN chief presses Israel to release Palestinian funds
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel is under pressure to release tax revenues belonging to the Palestinian Authority (PA) which it has blocked in response to the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and an umbrella group of countries that make donations to the PA have urged the Israeli government to hand over a sum of around 300m shekels (£53.1m). The income is used to pay the salaries of PA employees and to provide services.

Tony Kushner to receive CUNY honorary degree after all
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
May 10, 2011 - 12:00am

Trustees of the City University of New York approved an honorary degree for playwright Tony Kushner, reversing an earlier decision. The executive committee of the CUNY board of trustees voted Monday night to award Kushner an honorary doctorate during commencement ceremonies next month. The committee can reverse decisions of the full board. CUNY's board on May 2 had struck the playwright's name from a list of those scheduled to receive honorary degrees at CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice after a university trustee, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, attacked Kushner as anti-Israel.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s leftist daughter, Adina Bar Shalom, talks about meeting Mahmoud Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Noam Sheizaf - May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The delegation of Israelis who traveled last week to the West Bank headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, the Mukata in Ramallah, consisted mostly of the usual suspects. There were a few newcomers, such as Israeli tycoon Idan Ofer, but for the most part they were Israeli former officials, academics and activists who often talk about the need to advance the peace process and move toward a two-state solution.

For Israel’s Arabs, sense of disenfranchisement as Israel marks 63rd birthday
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Dina Kraft - May 8, 2011 - 12:00am

In an elegant limestone building in a Jerusalem neighborhood that before 1948 was home to the city’s Palestinian elite, a group of Jewish and Arab Israeli academics recently tried to untangle one of Israel’s most complex and charged questions: the status of its Arab minority.

World watches to see how far Hamas will compromise in peace with Fatah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - May 10, 2011 - 12:00am

The landmark reconciliation deal reached last week by the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas required compromises on both sides, but none more so than by the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip. Reflecting on the deal that brought their four-year rift to an end, Khaled Meshaal, the Damascus-based leader of Hamas, said afterward that his side had conceded autonomy on "how to manage the resistance". The use of violence - along with negotiations with Israel, domestic governance and foreign affairs - will now require Fatah's approval, Mr Meshaal told The Wall Street Journal.

Asharq Al-Awsat talks to Hamas's Izzat al-Rishq
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Sawsan Abu-Husain - (Interview) May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- According to Dr. Izzat al-Rishq, member of the Hamas Movement's Political Bureau, the Palestinian factions that signed the Cairo agreement are in continuous meetings to complete the discussion of all issues as soon as possible. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he added that many meetings were held in Cairo both before and after the signing in order to take practical steps on the ground to show the Palestinian people that the agreement is not just ink on paper but rather a continuous action to restore the legitimate Palestinian rights.

A PALESTINIAN VIEW Dialogue fosters moderation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

While examining the possible consequences of the reconciliation agreement between Fateh and Hamas, it is important to understand that Hamas is like any other political entity: it includes within its ranks different tendencies. These, in turn, can be developed or stunted, creating moderation or radicalization.

A PALESTINIAN VIEW An opportunity for Hamas moderation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Mkhaimar Abu Sada - (Opinion) May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The signing of the reconciliation agreement between Fateh and Hamas can be considered a golden opportunity for the Palestinian people and their cause. Four years have passed since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after violent clashes with its rival Fateh. Four years of political split and two governments, one led by Fateh in the West Bank and the other one led by Hamas in Gaza. Four years of incitement, hatred, imprisonment and torture of political opponents.

AN ISRAELI VIEW Hamas has not turned the corner on Israel and violence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The signing of the Fateh-Hamas reconciliation agreement last week provided us with a host of policy statements by Hamas leaders that could conceivably shed light on the likelihood of the agreement actually reaching fruition. Some may be tempted to see in them an indication of creeping moderation. But overall, the circumstances point to negative prospects.

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