Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Tensions grow in the Middle East in advance of Pres. Obama's speech tonight. Mustafa Barghouthi says the world should welcome Palestinian unity. A Likud MK says if Palestinians move toward statehood, Israel should annex large chunks of the occupied territories. Jackson Diehl accuses Pres. Abbas of “setting the stage for another conflict.” Abbas is taking major risks for Palestinian national unity. DM Barak says PM Netanyahu must take bold steps towards peace. The LA Times says the US must persist in trying to achieve a peace agreement. Netanyahu has reportedly abandoned the idea of presenting new peace initiatives. Israel plans more settler housing units in a key and hotly-contested area of occupied East Jerusalem. A Fatah official says his party is ready for elections. Analysts say Netanyahu’s US trip is not likely to accomplish much. Palestinians blame Israel for the impasse. Israel arrests six Palestinians in the West Bank. PM Fayyad will reportedly not be retaining his position in a new government. Ari Shavit Says Netanyahu must clearly accept the 1967 borders. Gideon Levy says Israel must own up to Palestinian suffering. The Israeli government will host a discussion on settlement expansion while settlers announce plans for more outposts. Israeli officials warn European recognition of Palestine would lead to violence. Yariv Oppenheimer says Israel’s mainstream must unite against the extreme left and right. Larry Derfner says the status quo keeps getting worse. Daniel Barenboim writes about his peace concert outreach in Gaza. D. Bloomfield says Israel is no longer a high priority issue in Washington. Karma Nabulsi says more refugee protests are likely. Elliot Jager recalls how David Ben-Gurion dealt with US leaders. Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid says there are no prospects of conflict between Egypt and Israel. George Hishmeh says US diplomacy has failed. Michael Jansen says Palestinian nonviolent resistance won’t work with Israel. Raymond Helmick and Nazir Khaja say Israeli Palestinian peace is essential for Middle East democracy.





Focus Is on Obama as Tensions Soar Across Mideast
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner, Helene Cooper - May 17, 2011 - 11:00pm


Few game-changing proposals are emerging to defuse tensions in the Middle East as a busy week of diplomacy unfolds with President Obama’s address to the region and his meeting with Israel’s prime minister. Against the backdrop of Middle East uprisings that have intensified animus toward Israel and growing momentum for global recognition of a Palestinian state, American and Israeli officials are struggling to balance national security interests against the need to adapt to a transformative movement in the Arab world.


Welcome Palestinian Unity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mustafa Barghouthi - (Opinion) May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


The Israeli government regrettably does not seem to realize what a unique opportunity the Palestinian unity agreement provides. This agreement presents, for the first time in decades, a unified, moderate Palestinian consensus, which includes Fatah, Hamas and the democratic camp. From a Palestinian perspective, this fruit of the Arab Spring and a post-Mubarak Egypt is a vital development as we seek to move beyond internecine strife and focus on the need to end the Israeli occupation and secure our freedom.


Making the Land of Israel Whole
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Danny Danon - (Opinion) May 17, 2011 - 11:00pm


OVER the past few months, analysts in Israel and abroad have warned that Israel will face what Defense Minister Ehud Barak has termed a “diplomatic tsunami.” In September, the Palestinian Authority plans to bring the recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 boundary to the United Nations General Assembly for a vote. The Palestinians’ request will almost certainly be approved.


Mahmoud Abbas’s formula for war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jackson Diehl - (Opinion) May 17, 2011 - 11:00pm


Middle East diplomacy is settling into a familiar pattern. Desperate to jump-start an Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Obama administration and its European allies are piling pressure on Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu, demanding that he offer a plan, concessions — something — that will provide the basis for starting negotiations with Palestinians.


Israel's Barak says Netanyahu must take 'daring' steps toward peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that a "daring" peace initiative by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vital to his country's security and international standing, and that without one, Israel could face increased isolation and mass popular protests. His comments came as Netanyahu embarks on a diplomatic mission Thursday to the United States, though American and Israeli officials alike have sought to lower expectations that the visit would lead to a breakthrough restarting of U.S.-brokered peace talks.


Abbas taking greater risks as he tries again to unify Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - May 17, 2011 - 11:00pm


The last time he tried a high-stakes balancing act with rival Hamas, he famously plunged off the wire. After the militant group won parliamentary elections in 2006 and was promptly boycotted by Israel, the U.S. and Europe, an attempt at a unity government unraveled into open warfare between the rival Palestinian factions.


The Middle East mess
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
(Editorial) May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is really not so far out of reach. The outlines of a reasonable two-state compromise have long been known, and a couple of reasonable people could work out the remaining details tomorrow. But for stubbornness, cynicism, fear and violence, it probably would have happened years ago.


Arab Spring Spurs Israel to Ice Peace Plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bloomberg
by Jonathan Ferziger - May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been preparing to greet President Barack Obama at the White House tomorrow with a proposal to resurrect Middle East peace talks, advisers said. That was until Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this month signed a reconciliation accord with Hamas -- classified as a terrorist group by Israel and the U.S. -- and dozens of Palestinians from Syria breached a border May 15, with similar efforts on three other fronts. Netanyahu decided, his advisers said, that peace talks can wait.


Settlement Row May Steal Obama's Thunder
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from SkyNews
by Dominic Waghorn - May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


A new settlement row threatens to overshadow a key speech on the Middle East by US President Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to America. Har Homa The settlement of Har Homa on the outskirts of east Jerusalem Controversial plans to approve 1,608 new homes in east Jerusalem will be discussed as Mr Netanyahu boards a plane to fly to Washington DC. One plan involves carving into a picturesque hillside overlooking the West Bank town of Bethlehem to create 1,000 new homes for Jewish settlers near to the settlement of Har Homa.


Report: 1,500 new settler homes ready for approval
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


The Planning and Building Committee for the Jerusalem municipality will discuss Thursday plans to build 1,500 new Jewish-only housing units in illegal settlements of Har Homa and Pisgat Ze'ev. Both settlements are built on lands occupied by Israel in 1967, and are at least partially constructed on privately owned Palestinian property.


Fatah official says party ready for elections
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 17, 2011 - 11:00pm


Fatah leader Muhammad Al-Madani said Wednesday that the party was ready for local, presidential and legislative elections whenever Palestinian factions agree to hold them. Al-Madani said in a statement that Fatah members met and discussed the elections and whether they are ready for this step. The members agreed on some essential points during their meeting, he said. The caretaker Palestinian Authority decided Tuesday to delay municipal elections until October 22. The elections had been planned for July, but were postponed on the recommendation of the Central Elections Committee.


PREVIEW-Peace prospects bleak for Netanyahu U.S. visit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jeffrey Heller - May 17, 2011 - 11:00pm


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes to Washington on Friday to rally opposition to a Palestinian bid for U.N. recognition of statehood. There is little indication the right-wing leader will, or can, offer new peacemaking ideas to persuade Palestinians not to take a detour at the U.N. General Assembly in September around the brick wall that the U.S. peace efforts have run into.


Palestinian leadership urges U.S. to blame Israel on peace talks' failure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


The Palestinian leadership on Thursday called on the United States to blame Israel on the failure of peace talks in the Middle East. "It is the time for the U.S. administration to announce that the Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, thwarted the U. S. efforts to make peace," said Saeb Erekat, a PLO official. Later Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver a speech on the Middle East. Also on Thursday, Netanyahu will arrive in Washington and will meet Obama Friday.


Israeli army arrests six Palestinians in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


The Israeli army arrested Thursday six Palestinians during raids in the West bank, Palestinian security sources and the Israeli military said. The Israeli army conducted its operations in various areas in the West Bank, which included raiding and searching a number of houses, Palestinian sources said. Israel Radio reported that the arrests are the wanted people on Israel's list. The Israeli army launch operations on daily bases in the West Bank, insisting that its operations target wanted Palestinians, while the Palestinians say that they sometimes arrest civilians.


Fayyad loses bid for head of Palestinian unity government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ahram Online
by Saleh Al-Naami - May 17, 2011 - 11:00pm


Ahram Online has discovered through informed sources that Salam Fayyad, the head of the Palestinian government in Ramallah, is no longer being put forward as a candidate for the premiership in the forthcoming transitional government. Informed sources affirmed that Fayyad was in fact among the four names Fatah suggested for the post, while Hamas had also put forth four suggestions. Soon afterwards, however, the number of candidates shrank at both ends as Fatah no longer recommended Fayyad for the position.


Netanyahu must move forward and accept 1967 borders
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Knesset speech on Monday was a good one. He told the truth. He described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it is. He set down six principles for Israel as it seeks peace: recognition of Israel as the Jewish national home, a demilitarized Palestine that does not control the Jordan Valley, a solution outside Israel to the refugee problem, retention of settlement blocs, a united Jerusalem and a declaration of an end to the conflict with no further demands.


For Mideast peace, Israel needs to own up to Palestinian pain
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Opinion) May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


Look what a few hundred demonstrators can do in a day: 1948 is on the agenda. The breach of the fence in the Golan Heights was enough to breach a far older and more complex fence, bringing 1948 to center stage in the political discussion.


PM's Office okays Har Homa debate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yair Altman - May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


Settlers are planning to erect three new outposts in the West Bank on the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before the US Congress, Ynet learned on Thursday. In addition, the Interior Ministry's planning and construction committee has approved a discussion on large-scale construction plans in Jerusalem's Har Homa neighborhood on the eve of Netanyahu's departure Hundreds of members of the Hilltop Youth have completed preparations for constructing the new outposts on the night between Monday and Tuesday, during Netanyahu's scheduled speech before AIPAC.


Don’t let the radicals win
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yariv Oppenheimer - (Opinion) May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


In one sense, Israel’s leadership should be grateful to the hundreds of protestors who invaded the Golan and illustrated to all of us what Israel faces ahead of the Palestinian UN move in September. In the face of settler insistence to cling to the Greater Israel vision and Palestinian demands (endorsed by small parts of Israel’s Left) to turn the territories and Israel into one state, lacking a Jewish majority, the mainstream of Israel’s society must unite and earnestly promote the two-state vision.


Mofaz: EU support for Palestinian state will lead to violence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Attila Somfalvi - May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


The chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Shaul Mofaz, met with ambassadors of the European Union in Israel and told them that the EU's function is "to break the freeze" and encourage direct negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians. Mofaz added that the EU should not back a Palestinian unilateral declaration of state as this would only engender "another round of violence"


Rattling the Cage: Two cheers for Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - (Opinion) May 17, 2011 - 11:00pm


There’s a way out of this frogmarch to pariahhood. If Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to pick up the negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas where they left off under Ehud Olmert, the Palestinians wouldn’t have us on the run like they do now. If Netanyahu agreed to give up the equivalent of the land we colonized in 1967, the world would cheer, and the wind would go out of the sails of the Palestinian demand to return to the land we rightly fought for in 1948.


Washington Watch: Is Israel drifting out of focus?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by D. Bloomfield - (Opinion) May 17, 2011 - 11:00pm


When AIPAC convenes what it boasts will be another record-setting gathering of the faithful next week at the Washington Convention Center, some of the lobby’s most valuable assets will be locked out. The usual sources will again proclaim the lobby’s power, but none so convincingly as its adversaries. The seemingly endless parade of AIPAC-haters who bloat the blogosphere are invaluable to enhancing the lobby’s aura – and stimulate AIPAC’s donors and delegates.


Nakba day: we waited 63 years for this
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Karma Nabulsi - May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


It was the moment for which we had all been holding our breath for decades – for 63 years to be precise. Palestinians everywhere watched the unfolding scene transfixed and awed. The camera followed the movements of a small group of people advancing from the mass of protesters. They were carefully making their way down a hill towards the high fence that closed off the mined field separating Syria from its own occupied territory of the Golan that borders historic Palestine, now Israel.


What Would Ben-Gurion Do?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Ideas Daily
by Elliot Jager - (Opinion) May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


How would David Ben-Gurion handle himself if he were the one scheduled to meet Barack Obama on May 20 and address a joint session of the U.S. Congress a few days later? That hypothetical question has been aired frequently by Israelis in the run-up to Benjamin Netanyahu's pending appointments in Washington. It was exactly 50 years ago that Ben-Gurion (1886-1973), a founding father of Israel and its first prime minister, met with President John F. Kennedy. The encounter provides some useful background on the limits of personal charisma and the constraints on Israel's freedom of action.


Egypt, Israel and the prospects of war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed - (Opinion) May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


Last week, Egyptian armed forces stopped demonstrators demanding the liberation of Jerusalem and trying to cross the Sinai desert from continuing their advance to the border with Israel, while also preventing the demonstrators from advancing toward the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.


Missing the boat to Palestine peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


There is no doubt that US President Barack Obama and, certainly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have to date missed the boat launched during the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa with promises of more glorious days for the Arab world. How long will American and Israeli leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand without appreciating the golden opportunities roaring above, now that democracy and freedom are being slowly and hopefully firmly established in some of these Arab countries?


'Non-violent resistance does not work with the Israelis'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - (Opinion) May 18, 2011 - 11:00pm


Protests commemorating Nakbeh in the Palestinian territories and the countries surrounding Israel demonstrated, once again, that the phony “status quo” is untenable. The “status quo” is false because Israel has long relied on its military superiority to impose stasis on the Arabs while it carries on with its drive to colonise territory slated for the Palestinian state and to ethnically cleanse Palestinians living there.





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