Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Pres. Obama insists that the 1967 borders must be the starting point of any negotiations. PM Netanyahu calls the borders “indefensible.” New York Times says that the US and its allies need to put a map on the table. Jackson Diehl calls Obama’s Speech a "gaffe". ABC says there has been a subtle but significant shift in the US position on the ‘67 borders. Pres. Abbas calls Palestinian leadership meeting to discuss the speech. The PA is cracking down on “honor killing” mitigation defenses. Israel’s military attaché in Russia is expelled on espionage charges. Palestinians condemn new Israeli settlement plans. Abbas welcomes Obama’s call for renewed negotiations. Hamas condemns Obama’s speech. Abbas says UN support for statehood is essential. Ha’aretz says there may not be a third intifada. Huge files of Haganah reconnaissance on Arab villages in the 1940s are released. Zeev Sternhell warns that Israel is on course to becoming a pariah state. Israeli sources say tensions between Obama and Netanyahu have reached a new high, their meeting is likely to be tense, and opposition leader Livni says Netanyahu is risking the relationship with the United States. An Israeli official admits that the timing of the announcement of new and highly controversial settlements near occupied East Jerusalem is “not coincidental” and intended to send the message that “Jerusalem is not up for negotiations.” State Department statements continue to distinguish between Jerusalem and Israel. Herb Keinon says the Obama speech portends a confrontation and Robert Satloff says there has been a subtle US shift towards the Palestinian position. The ZOA urges AIPAC to withdraw its invitation to Obama. The National says Obama missed an opportunity to lead on peace. Even some of his allies are pushing Netanyahu to negotiate on the basis of 1967 lines. The Arab News says to win Arab trust Obama must deliver on Middle East peace. Hussein Ibish argues that Israelis and Palestinians need to recognize the legitimacy of each other's national narratives and embody them in two states.

Obama Sees ’67 Borders as Starting Point for Peace Deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Stefanie Marsh, Steven Lee Myers - May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

President Obama, seeking to capture a moment of epochal change in the Arab world, began a new effort on Thursday to break the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, setting out a new starting point for negotiations on the region’s most intractable problem.

Netanyahu Responds Icily to Obama Remarks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

President Obama’s endorsement on Thursday of using the 1967 boundaries as the baseline for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute — the first by an American president — prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to push back testily and the Palestinian leadership to call an urgent meeting.

Peace and Change
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

We have been waiting for President Obama to lay out his vision of the promises and challenges of the upheaval in the Arab world. His speech on Thursday did not go far enough — there was no game-changing proposal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — but he did promise strong support to those yearning for freedom and goaded American allies, including Israel, to take the political risks that are essential for peaceful change and the only way to build a lasting peace.

Obama’s Mideast peace gaffe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jackson Diehl - (Opinion) May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

President Obama’s State Department speech Thursday has prompted a fevered debate among Middle East policy wonks about whether he has changed past U.S. policy on the terms for Palestinian statehood — not to mention a wave of inflated and mostly erroneous rhetoric from Republican presidential candidates. The basic question is this: By saying that a division of territory between Israel and Palestine should be “based on” the “1967 lines” between Israel and the West Bank, with agreed “swaps” of land, did Obama move beyond the previous U.S. position on the subject?

The U.S. Policy Shift on 1967 Borders Explained
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from ABC News
by Terry Moran, Kirit Radia - (Blog) May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

In what was billed as a major address on recent developments in the Middle East, President Obama today backed pre-1967 borders as the basis for negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians on the contours of an eventual peace deal. How does this shift U.S. policy?

Obama makes a blunt push for Middle East peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Christi Parsons, Paul Richter, Edmund Sanders - May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

President Obama plunged back into efforts to restart Middle East peace talks, pressuring both sides with a set of U.S. principles that appeared to catch Israeli leaders off guard and is likely to set up a tense meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday.

Abbas calls meeting to discuss Obama speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas has called an urgent meeting following US President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East on Thursday, a PLO official said. Saeb Erekat said Abbas appreciated Obama's efforts to reach a comprehensive solution to the conflict and his remarks on the right to self-determination and dignity. Erekat said the Palestinians remained committed to all previous agreements with Israel, "hoping that the Israeli government will do the same, to give the peace process the chance it deserves."

Israel's Netanyahu: 1967 borders can't be defended
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Josef Federman - May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's prime minister on Thursday gave a cool reception to President Barack Obama's Mideast policy speech, warning a withdrawal from the West Bank wold leave Israel vulnerable to attack and setting up what could be a tense meeting at the White House. In his speech, Obama endorsed the Palestinian position on the borders of their future state, saying it should be based on Israel's lines before the 1967 Mideast war. Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the fighting, and the Palestinians claim those areas for their state.

Harsh West Bank 'honor killing' brings tougher law
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Nasser Shiyoukhi - May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

A 20-year-old Palestinian woman who was thrown into a well and left to die in the name of "family honor" has not become just another statistic in one of the Middle East's most shameful practices. The killing of Aya Baradiya — by an uncle who didn't like a potential suitor — sparked such outrage that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas scrapped laws this week that guaranteed sentences of six months or less for such killings.

Israeli military attache to Moscow expelled as spy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
May 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's military has rejected Russian charges that a military attache to Moscow was a spy as "unfounded." The military said in a statement Wednesday that the officer underwent a "thorough investigation" after he returned to Israel. Israeli media identified the officer as Col. Vadim Leiderman. The military statement said the officer "was detained for investigation last week by Russian authorities,on suspicion of spying." Channel 2 TV reported he was taken away by Russian agents during dinner. He was questioned and expelled.

Palestinians condemn latest Israel settlement plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian officials on Friday condemned an Israeli plan to build 1,550 housing units on annexed land around Jerusalem, authorised the day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for talks in Washington. An Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman said a planning committee had approved two building projects in Pisgat Zeev and Har Homa. These urban settlements were built on land that Israel annexed after a 1967 war, in a move not recognised internationally, and that it sees as Jerusalem neighbourhoods. The spokeswoman did not say when construction was expected to start.

Netanyahu in U.S., says Obama misunderstands
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jeffrey Heller, Matt Spetalnick - May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel said the United States "does not understand reality" as its leader arrived in Washington on Friday after President Barack Obama endorsed a longstanding Palestinian demand on borders of a future state. In a policy speech on the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit, Obama laid down his clearest markers yet on the compromises he believes Israel and the Palestinians must make to resolve the decades-old conflict.

Abbas welcomes Obama call to renew peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed on Thursday U.S. President Barak Obama's efforts to renew talks with Israel that collapsed last year, a senior Palestinian official said. "President Abbas expresses his appreciation of the continuous efforts exerted by President Obama with the objective of resuming the permanent status talks in the hope of reaching a final status agreement," said the official, Saeb Erekat.

Hamas says Obama's speech leaning to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Islamic Hamas movement on Thursday rejected U.S. President Barack Obama's speech on the Middle East, accusing him of leaning towards Israel. "Obama adopted Israel's position to boost himself in preparation for an electoral campaign," said Mahmoud Zahar, a Gaza- based leader of Hamas, which does not recognize Israel. Obama delivered a speech Thursday in which he urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks, stalled over a dispute on settlement activities since last year.

Abbas says UN support essential for statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the UN has an essential role to help the Palestinians establish their statehood. "We will go to the UN to get the recognition of our independent state," Abbas said after meeting Tony Blair, the envoy of the Middle East Quartet, in Ramallah. He added that an end to Israel's occupation and the creation of the Palestinian state will enable the Palestinian people to live in peace and stability with their Israeli neighbors.

A third intifada? Not necessarily
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Everyone is heaping praise - with some justification - on the reservists' restrained response to the demonstrators who infiltrated from Syria on Nakba Day, restraint that prevented a mass slaughter. However, it is best not to forget that what a series of previous Arab moves - including army invasions, cross-border infiltrations and terror attacks, airplane hijackings, suicide attacks and rocket barrages - failed to achieve, may be accomplished via mass marches to the borders, the settlements and the Israel Defense Forces roadblocks ahead of September.

It took a village
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Rona Sela - May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

This story begins as a clandestine affair of espionage marked by daring, adventurism, improvisation and imagination as embedded in the official Israeli narrative. In the 1940s, squads of young scouts from the Haganah, the pre-state army and forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces, collected information about the Arab towns and villages in Palestine for intelligence purposes: in preparation for a future conflict and as part of a more general project of creating files of target sites.

Netanyahu's Israel is on course to become a pariah state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zeev Sternhell - May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going to Washington at what may be the last chance to turn the establishment of a Palestinian state from a global anti-Israel campaign into a joint Israeli, American and European project. The establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state is today a necessity, just as Zionism was a necessity. And about half of Israeli society apparently agrees with Western public opinion and Western governments on the principle that Palestinian Arabs have the same right to independence and sovereignty as do Israeli Jews.

Behind the scenes: Obama snubs Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

The cold relationship between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have noted a new drop in temperature following Obama's Mideast policy speech, and according to the New York Times, tensions between Washington and Jerusalem are at an all-time high. Obama has reportedly told close aides and allies that he does not believe Netanyahu will ever be willing to make the kind of big concessions that will lead to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Construction of 1,550 Jerusalem homes OK'd
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ronen Medzini - May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Next crisis with US underway? The Interior Ministry's district committee for construction and planning approved Thursday evening two major plans for some 1,550 housing units in contentious Jerusalem neighborhoods. The construction plans for Har Homa and Pisgat Ze'ev, both located beyond the Green Line, were given the go-ahead as President Barack Obama was delivering his major Mideast policy speech. Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's departure to Washington Thursday evening, the government secretary ordered the committee to proceed with the touchy session.

Livni: PM is jeopardizing Israel's relationship with US
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday for "harming the relationship" between Israel and the US. "Netanyahu spoke about consensus," Livni said, "and if there is a consensus in Israel, it's that the relationship with the US is essential to Israel, and aprime minister that harms the relationship with the US over something unsubstantial is harming Israel's security and deterrence." Livni added that such a prime minister should resign. "I am saying this loud and clear."

State Department statement separates J’lem from Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

On the eve of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trip to Washington, the State Department issued a bland announcement of a visit to the region by US Deputy Secretary of State, James Steinberg, in which it distinguished between Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank. In a “media note” to the press on Wednesday, the State Department released a two paragraph statement on “Deputy Secretary Steinberg’s visit to Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank.” The wording, however, led some to wonder: Isn’t Jerusalem inside Israel, and does this odd wording presage a subtle change of US policy?

The speech that signals a Washington-J'lem collision
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seemed on a collision course following Obama’s speech Thursday night where the president called for a return to the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed-upon land swaps. Netanyahu’s position, which he highlighted in an unexpectedly negative response to the president’s speech, is that the 1967 lines are indefensible.

A substantial shift toward the Palestinian position
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Robert Satloff - May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

US President Obama did a great service in sketching out a new paradigm for American engagement with the Middle East in his State Department "winds of change" speech this afternoon, in which he raised the goal of reform and democracy to a top-tier US interest. Nevertheless, after critiquing Arab regimes that have used the Arab-Israeli conflict to distract their peoples from the important business of reform, he undermined the potency and effect of his own message by unveiling a new -- and controversial -- set of principles guiding US efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Mid-East: Obama and Netanyahu to hold Washington talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Mr Obama has said a future Palestinian state must be based on the borders that existed prior to the 1967 war. He said "mutually agreed swaps" would help create "a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel". But Mr Netanyahu said the pre-1967 borders were "indefensible". An estimated 500,000 Israelis live in settlements built in the West Bank, which lies outside those borders. The settlements are illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

ZOA to AIPAC: Withdraw Obama invite
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

The Zionist Organization of America urged AIPAC to rescind its invitation to President Obama after he called for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the basis of 1967 lines, saying Obama is the most hostile U.S. president ever to Israel. "We urge AIPAC to rescind the invitation for President Obama to speak and we urge friends of Israel and enemies of Islamist terrorism to contact your Members of Congress to fight against Obama’s anti-Israel policy," said the ZOA's statement Thursday. ZOA President Morton Klein added, "President Obama is the most hostile president to Israel ever.”

Obama misses another chance to lead for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

At times, it seemed that Barack Obama thought that the Middle East did not include Israel or the Occupied Territories. "The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region," the US president said last night. But there was not a word about 17 Palestinians killed earlier this week by Israeli security forces. "We support a set of universal rights," Mr Obama said." Whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus; Sanaa or Tehran." If Gaza or Ramallah had been mentioned, more explanation would have been needed.

Even allies say Netanyahu must put 1967 borders on negotiating table
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, is coming under pressure to agree to the 1967 borders as the basis for negotiating a Palestinian state ahead of his address to the US Congress next week. Critics and even some allies in Mr Netanyahu's right-wing government have strongly suggested he offer the compromise in the hope of reviving Middle East peace talks. That pressure received a significant boost by the US president, Barack Obama, who endorsed yesterday the idea of brokering a two-state solution with the 1967 lines as the starting point.

Editorial: Fine words again
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Two years ago, President Barack Obama reached out to the Muslim world in Cairo, promising a new beginning to America’s relationship with it. The Muslim world responded enthusiastically. It reached back in hope having heard him say that it was his duty to fight negative stereotypes of Islam and declare solemnly that the Israeli settlements had to stop and that the US would not turn its back on legitimate Palestinian aspirations for a state of their own.

Two Narratives for Two Peoples
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) May 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Many Jewish Israelis and their supporters have reacted with outrage to a New York Times Op-Ed on May 17 by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, particularly its invocation of the Palestinian historical narrative. Most troubling to them was Abbas’s description of how his family was “forced” to flee their home in what became Israel in 1948 — a word choice they feel implies that Abbas and his family were evicted by Jewish troops.

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