Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Another aid flotilla has left Turkey for Gaza. Armenians in Jerusalem face an uncertain future. Israeli Amb. Oren denounces the Palestinian national unity deal. Most Israeli leaders continue to support Pres. Assad remaining in power in Syria. Pres. Obama is likely to give a major speech on the Middle East next week, but one focusing mainly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will probably be delayed until August. Sources say Pres. Abbas may become PM as well, possibly with acting-PM Fayyad and a Hamas leader as his deputies. Other accounts see a push for Fayyad to remain PM. Settlers stone cars near Nablus. Israel is accused of exploiting Jordan Valley water supplies. Israeli sources speculate Netanyahu will not make any major concessions in an upcoming US speech, but Ari Shavit says he must acknowledge the 1967 borders. Fayyad urges Arab aid to the PA. Hamas is skeptical about planned PLO moves in the UN in September. A Fatah official says without negotiations the PA might not be able to stop another intifada. Larry Derfner says because of the occupation, there is no analogy between Israeli actions and the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The UK ambassador to Israel says the international community should be ready to take advantage of any opening from the Palestinian unity agreement. Gideon Levy says Israel continues to be guided by the spirit of ethnic cleansing. Amira Hass looks at arbitrary arrests of Palestinians by occupation forces. The Forward looks at Fayyad’s future. George Hishmeh looks at obstacles facing Obama from Netanyahu. Daoud Kuttab says Abbas’ consistency should be acknowledged.

A Year After Israeli Raid, 2nd Flotilla to Set Sail for Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Susanne Gusten - May 11, 2011 - 12:00am

Riding the ripples of the Golden Horn, the Mavi Marmara tugs at its moorings in the shipyard where it is being readied to head back into troubled waters. A flotilla of 15 ships carrying humanitarian aid and activists from 100 countries will sail for Gaza next month, in a second attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory, organizers announced this week.

For Jerusalem’s Armenians, 1,600 years of history and an uncertain future
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

One of the four quarters of old Jerusalem belongs to the Armenians, keepers of an ancient monastery and library, heirs to a tragic history and to a stubborn 1,600-year presence that some fear is now in doubt.

Middle East peace: The wrong pact
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Michael B. Oren - (Opinion) May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

The world shared the American people's gratitude for the special forces who rid us of Osama bin Laden, but there was one flagrant exception. "We condemn the assassination of an Arab holy warrior," declared Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Hamas regime in Gaza, who also deplored "the continuing American policy … of shedding Muslim blood."

Amid Syria's turmoil, Israel sees Assad as the lesser evil
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - May 6, 2011 - 12:00am

As Syria's Assad regime buckles under mass protests for reform and democracy, neighboring Israel is watching with unease. True, the downfall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would ostensibly remove a key player in the Iranian-led alliance threatening the Jewish state on several fronts. But Syria under Mr. Assad has been a stable neighbor and maintained a regional balance that officials and analysts fear could crumble – providing an opening for hard-line Islamist groups.

Obama plans address on Middle East after Arab spring, death of bin Laden
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Yahoo News
by Laura Rozen - May 11, 2011 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama plans to give a major speech on the dramatic shifts underway in the Middle East and North Africa, White House officials said today.

Fayyad could yet survive as Palestinian PM
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Tom Perry - May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Salam Fayyad could survive as prime minister of a new Palestinian government to be agreed by Fatah and Hamas if the rival groups continue to show the flexibility that brought about their surprise unity deal. While the Islamist Hamas has expressed opposition to his leadership, at least one senior Hamas official, Izaat al-Rishq, has been quoted as saying that the idea of him remaining prime minister in the new government would be studied. Removing the internationally respected former World Bank economist from office now makes no sense to his supporters.

Source: Abbas new PM, Fayyad, Haniyeh deputies
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas will hold the post of prime minister in the coming technocrat transitional government, sources close to the matter have told Ma'an. Current caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh - or an alternate Hamas figure chosen by the party - will both act as deputies to Abbas, the source revealed Wednesday night, adding that Fayyad will also assume the role of Minister of Finance.

Nablus checkpoint closed as settler stone cars
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli forces closed the Nablus-area Huwwara military checkpoint Thursday afternoon, following incidents of rock-throwing that hit Palestinian cars, that local officials said was done by local settlers. Ghassan Doughlas, the Fatah official charged with monitoring settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said dozens of settlers from the nearby Yitzhar settlement threw rocks at Palestinian cars causing damages, but no injuries.

Israel 'exploiting Jordan Valley resources'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel has systematically exploited the resources of the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, favoring settlers over Palestinians, an Israeli rights group said on Thursday. A report by B'Tselem said Israel dominated the land, water resources and even tourist sites along the strip of land which runs along the eastern flank of the West Bank, in what appeared to be a prelude to a de facto annexation of territory.

Netanyahu's US speech raises speculations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Attila Somfalvi - May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Likud sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu estimated Thursday that he will not announce Israeli concessions or a withdrawal from West Bank territories during his speech in Congress later this month. The sources, nevertheless said that should Netanyahu receive significant strategic guarantees from US President Barack Obama he may tone down his Congress address.

Palestinian PM urges Arab donors aid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
May 11, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority appealed to Arab countries on Wednesday to pay the salaries of 155,000 government workers after Israel decided to suspend the transfer of tax funds to the PA. "We say to our Arab brothers: save us. We need your help more than any time before. It is the moment of truth," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told a news briefing in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Public sector workers' April salaries were about a week overdue following Israel's decision, taken in protest at a Palestinian unity deal involving the Islamist group Hamas.

Hamas skeptical of Fatah's statehood bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Elior Levy - May 11, 2011 - 12:00am

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Wednesday that the Islamist movement was somewhat skeptical as to the viability of Fatah's September-bound bid for statehood. Speaking with the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency, al-Zahar said that "all the talk of a Palestinian state is… an attempt to pacify us."

Top Fatah official: 'PA won't be able to stop 3rd intifada'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by David Miller, Arieh O'Sullivan - May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian leadership won’t be able to contain the street protests planned for this weekend marking the 63rd anniversary of the creation of Israel, said a senior member of Central Committee of the Fatah movement. Abbas Zaki, whose tasks include monitoring the Arab Spring revolts, told The Media Line that Palestinians have been encouraged by how Arabs across the Middle East have toppled two leaders and threaten others with mass protests. With no peace talks with Israel on the horizon, Zaki warned, the Palestinian leadership will be hard pressed to contain the rage of demonstrators.

Rattling the Cage: There’s no double standard
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - (Opinion) May 11, 2011 - 12:00am

There’s a consensus here that the assassination of Osama bin Laden revealed the world’s, and especially America’s, double standard toward Israel: When the US targets a terrorist who killed Americans, they’re dancing in the streets, but when Israel targets a terrorist who killed Israelis, they wag their finger at us, if not worse. I disagree. I think the assassination of bin Laden was completely justified, while Israel’s targeted killings of Palestinian terrorists, at least under the current circumstances, are wrong.

Right of Reply: Sensible statecraft
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Matthew Gould - (Opinion) May 11, 2011 - 12:00am

This paper’s recent editorial “Befuddled Britain” (May 6) was based on the understandable fear of many Israelis that the world will go misty-eyed about Hamas and let wishful thinking triumph over judgment. Britain understands that fear, and has been clear that it will not suddenly go soft on Hamas. Britain understands the threat Hamas poses to Israel, and the hate-filled ideology that pervades Hamas’s charter. But while the editorial was right to set out the importance of moral clarity, it was wrong to misrepresent Britain’s position on the issue on the basis of innuendo and falsehoods.

All Netanyahu needs is to say one magic number: 1967
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

The international community is tensely waiting to hear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's words to the U.S. Congress in 12 days' time. Yet it will not be words that determine how the speech is received, but rather a number. If Netanyahu does not specifically mention the number 1967, the world will reject his speech from the outset. Israel's future hangs today on the prime minister's ability to utter the four digits he has not yet uttered - one, nine, six, seven: 1967.

Ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, or, democratic Israel at work
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

It happened on the day after Independence Day, when Israel was immersed in praise of itself and its democracy almost ad nauseam, and on the eve of (virtually outlawed ) Nakba Day, when the Palestinian people mark the "catastrophe" - the anniversary of the creation of Israel. My colleague Akiva Eldar published what we have always known but for which we lacked the shocking figures he revealed: By the time of the Oslo Accords, Israel had revoked the residency of 140,000 Palestinians from the West Bank.

The unbearable Israeli lightness of arresting Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - May 11, 2011 - 12:00am

It began with what dozens of Palestinians experience every month: In the middle of the night, there are kicks on the door or shouts behind it and the house is inundated with soldiers aiming rifles. This time the rifles were aimed at a girl of 14 and her 67-year-old grandmother who are visiting an aunt of 53 and her 22-year-old daughter at their home in El Bireh. Afterwards the young women related that the soldiers “barked” orders, questions and threats.

In Fatah-Hamas Deal, What Role for Salam Fayyad?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Jeffay - (Opinion) May 11, 2011 - 12:00am

It may turn out to be one of the strangest political revivals on record — a comeback without the protagonist having gone anywhere.

Can Obama convince Netanyahu?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced last Monday that Palestinian civil servants, numbering about 150,000, were not paid their salaries "on time". The reason: Israel has failed to transfer some $100 million (Dh367 million) it collects in customs and other taxes on behalf of the Palestinian National Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Acknowledging Abbas’ consistency
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) May 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Say what you may about the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, but supporters and opponents agree on one thing: he is consistent. Abbas might lack of charisma and the ability to drastically change public opinion or the direction of world leaders, but everyone today can attest to the man’s consistency. He is consistently against violence, in favour of the two-state solution and generally a democrat at heart. His word is his honour. What he says he fulfills and his political philosophy and methodology do not include the typical game politicians play: saying one thing and meaning another.

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