Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Pres. Abbas calls on the UN to create a Palestinian state. PM Netanyahu outlines his positions before his US trip, especially criticism of Hamas, but expectations have fizzled. The Washington Post says Syria is responsible for Israeli forces killing Palestinian protesters, and the CSM says both sides were at fault. David Makovsky asks how far Netanyahu will go for peace. Palestinians say they are making progress in forming a new government, which Netanyahu already says will not be a peace partner. Italy is the latest country to upgrade the status of the Palestinian mission. The UN says 149 Palestinian children have been displaced by Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes so far this year. Unity agreements and protests are giving some Palestinians a sense of empowerment. Reuters says the Nakba Day protests were the Palestinian version of the “Arab Spring,” and analysts say they may have found a new tactic. Refugees in Syria and Lebanon bury those killed in the protests. Likud members demand annexation of West Bank settlements. Israeli officials exchange accusations about intelligence failures. Ha’aretz says the protests were not a threat to Israel. Amir Oren says Netanyahu’s failings as a leader have been exposed. Palestinians say peace is possible “within days” but Israel isn’t interested. Pres. Obama is expected to endorse Palestinian statehood along 1967 lines but not a UN statehood bid. Gershon Baskin says Palestinians are feeling a new wave of confidence. Aluf Benn says more conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is likely.

Israel Leader Outlines Points Before U.S. Trip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet with President Obama, he laid out his principles Monday for accepting a Palestinian state, showing greater flexibility on territory but still pursuing a far more hawkish approach than any Palestinian leader is likely to accept. He also made clear that if the recent reconciliation accord between Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian parties, led to Hamas becoming part of a Palestinian government, no peace would be negotiated.

The Long Overdue Palestinian State
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mahmoud Abbas - (Opinion) May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

SIXTY-THREE years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria. He took up shelter in a canvas tent provided to all the arriving refugees. Though he and his family wished for decades to return to their home and homeland, they were denied that most basic of human rights. That child’s story, like that of so many other Palestinians, is mine.

Israel’s border bloodshed: Will Syria be held accountable?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
(Editorial) May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

THE SYRIAN regime of Bashar al-Assad on Sunday made a desperate effort to distract attention from its continuing, bloody assaults on its own people. Hundreds of Palestinians were bused from refu­gee camps near Damascus to the de facto border with Israel in the Golan Heights, where they broke through a fence and invaded a nearby town. Surprised and badly outnumbered, Israeli troops eventually opened fire, killing at least one person.

What would Netanyahu do for peace?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by David Makovsky - (Opinion) May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Just a few weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Washington had the makings of a confrontation amid U.S. dissatisfaction over peace policy. Then Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed a power-sharing arrangement with Hamas. Although Washington cannot easily demand that Netanyahu make major concessions on peace as Abbas joins forces with a group sworn to Israel’s destruction, the Israeli prime minister should still arrive this week with a plan for renewed peace talks.

Israeli leader's upcoming U.S. trip loses steam
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Paul Richter, Edmund Sanders - May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to embark on a U.S. trip his aides once said would include a "historic" announcement designed to jump-start the Middle East peace process, there's a growing consensus that neither Israel nor Washington is ready to make any bold moves after all. Some of the pressure Israel was facing from the U.S. and Europe has been at least temporarily lifted by the international unease over a May 4 reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, officials and analysts say.

Nakba Day protests: Palestinians, Israelis must heed Arab Spring principles
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
(Editorial) May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

The world, especially Israel, has once again been surprised by the latest expression of the Arab Spring. On Sunday, thousands of unarmed Palestinian refugees living in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan tried to cross the military borders of Israel. They were attempting to enter land that earlier Palestinians had been forced to flee, either during the 1948 creation of modern Israel or during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Report: Hamas, Fatah say progress in Cairo
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 17, 2011 - 12:00am

Fatah and Hamas officials say talks in Cairo to work out the details of reconciliation have so far been positive, Egyptian media reported Tuesday. Officials did not say who was being considered for posts in the new technocrat government being created, but said the new administration would be in place "soon," the Cairo-based newspaper Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.

Italy upgrades Palestine's diplomatic status
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said Monday that Rome would upgrade Palestine's representation to a full diplomatic mission. During a visit to Bethlehem, Napolitano said the head of the mission would have the status of an ambassador. At a joint press conference, President Mahmoud Abbas thanked his Italian counterpart for upgrading Palestinian diplomatic status and for Rome's commitment to a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. France, Portugal, Norway, Greece, Spain and Ireland have all elevated Palestine's diplomatic representation in their capitals.

UN: Israel displaced 149 Palestinian children in 2011
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's policy of demolishing Palestinian homes has displaced 149 children in the West Bank so far this year, figures from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees show. Between January and April, Israel destroyed at least 193 Palestinian structures, including 78 residential units, forcibly displacing 333 Palestinians, UNRWA said. The figures show a sharp rise from with the same period in 2010, when 142 Palestinians -- including 61 children -- were forcibly displaced.

Netanyahu: Palestinian unity govt not a peace partner
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jeffrey Heller - May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, setting the stage for a high-profile U.S. visit, said on Monday a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas Islamists could not be Israel's peace partner. But in what could be a departure from long-held positions, the right-wing leader appeared to hold out the prospect of future territorial compromise if his peace terms -- which have drawn Palestinian rejection in the past -- are met.

Palestinians feel stronger through unity, protests
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Tom Perry - May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinians have declared Sunday's protests on Israel's borders a historic moment in the Middle East conflict, a turning point inspired by Arab revolts that could set the tone for more activism to come. Coming three weeks after rival Palestinian groups agreed to end four years of internal conflict, leading Palestinians say the protests have injected new hope into their national struggle as the U.S.-led peace process has ground to a complete halt.

Palestinian "Arab Spring" confronts Israel on borders
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Dan Williams - (Analysis) May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Founded as a Jewish homeland and post-Holocaust haven, forged in border wars with Arab forces, Israel now confronts a redefinition of the conflict after Palestinian refugees massed fearlessly on its frontiers. The thousands of protesters who surged from Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday, flattening some buffer-zone fences and drawing deadly Israeli gunfire, reminded many in the country of the image-corroding consequences of pitting the region's mightiest military against stone-throwing demonstrators.

Israel's Netanyahu takes aim at Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ian Deitch - May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday took a tough line toward an emerging Palestinian government ahead of a high-profile trip to Washington, saying "those that want to destroy us are not partners in peace." Netanyahu reiterated a willingness to agree to a Palestinian state under certain conditions but made clear he did not believe it was possible if the Islamic militant group Hamas, which is set to join a Palestinian unity government with the Western-leaning Fatah movement, does not recognize Israel.

Palestinians test tactic of unarmed mass marches
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Karin Laub - May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian activists are calling it a preview of new tactics to pressure Israel and win world support for statehood: Masses of marchers, galvanized by the Arab Spring and brought together by Facebook, descending on borders and military posts — and daring Israeli soldiers to shoot. It could prove more problematic for Israel than the suicide bombings and other deadly violence of the past — which the current Palestinian Authority leadership feels only tainted their cause.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria bury dead
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Albert Aji - May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria carried coffins through the streets of their refugee camps Monday as they buried those killed when protesters marched on Israel's border. Israeli forces opened fire on thousands of Arab protesters who marched toward Israel's borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday in an unprecedented wave of demonstrations, killing at least 15 people, including 10 in Lebanon. The Palestinians were marking a Palestinian day of mourning for their displacement in the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948.

Israel's Likud demanding West Bank settlement annexation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 17, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's Likud party on Monday asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex areas of the West Bank containing Israeli settlements, ahead of a possible United Nations General Assembly resolution in September recognizing a Palestinian state. The call comes after Likud Knesset member Danny Danon announced findings of a party-sponsored poll that showed more than half of the respondents supporting annexation of West Bank settlement areas, the Ynet news site reported on Monday.

Israeli army northern command, intelligence trade accusations over border breach
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 17, 2011 - 12:00am

In the wake of violent clashes on Israel's northern frontiers on Sunday, in which around 10 Palestinian demonstrators were killed at two locations, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Military Intelligence (MI) division said a warning it issued well ahead of the confrontations was ignored. All eyes were turned to the West Bank early on Sunday, as thousand of Palestinians took to the streets to commemorate Nakba, an annual ritual that marks the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation in 1948.

Not all Palestinian demands are a threat to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) May 17, 2011 - 12:00am

The defense minister was right to say he refuses to get excited over the fact that "a few dozen" Palestinians succeeded in entering Israel from Syria and thereby "violated Israel's sovereignty." Ehud Barak was also right to say that the Israel Defense Forces cannot station thousands of soldiers along the border to prevent such a "violation of sovereignty."

Netanyahu's Hollywood show is over
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amir Oren - (Opinion) May 17, 2011 - 12:00am

"The problem is this," said Yitzhak Rabin. "The starting point is that we cannot be Nazi-like in terms of the drastic measures we take as an occupying power."

Palestinian official: Peace possible in days, but Israel isn't interested
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority on Monday rejected statements Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made at a parliament session, which he described as pre-conditions for peace. Netanyahu said that the Palestinians have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, solve the refugee problem outside Israel and accept a permanent Israeli army presence in a demilitarized Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank that does not include Jerusalem.

Obama's draft speech to urge '67 borders, negate PA's state bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - May 17, 2011 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama is set to give his next political speech at 6pm Thursday, just hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves for Washington and according to a draft of the speech, obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth, the American president's Middle East policy, though unwavering, may not be as discordant as some have feared. Obama is expected to urge Israel to return to the 1967 lines while negating the Palestinian Authority's planned unilateral bid for statehood in September.

Encountering Peace: The Palestinian Spring of May 2011
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) May 16, 2011 - 12:00am

I was quite surprised at the rallying of Israeli troops and the high-alert calls of the army and the police beginning Friday morning and lasting throughout May 15 – Nakba Day. I was interviewed repeatedly by local and international media regarding what was expected to happen here. Is this the beginning of the third intifada? Will the Palestinian territories now erupt in violent or non-violent marches to the Israeli borders and checkpoints until September?

Netanyahu and Obama: is this the final showdown?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) May 17, 2011 - 12:00am

This week the Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu will fly to Washington on a diplomatic mission. His goal is formidable: pre-empting the "diplomatic tsunami" threatening Israel in September, the Palestinians' target date for declaring their internationally sanctioned statehood within the pre-1967 borders. Netanyahu wants to keep the US at his side while preserving the territorial status quo in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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