Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Pres. Obama says Israel must make “hard choices.” Palestinians see prospects of a peace agreement dwindling. Roger Cohen says Obama got it right that peace requires Palestinian independence and Israeli security. Aides to PM Netanyahu play down the dispute with the United States, although he was highly critical of Obama’s speech. Israeli analysts say the mutual mistrust is evident. The CSM praises Obama’s emphasis on the 1967 borders. The Quartet and the EU back Obama’s stance. Hamas says it will not heed Obama’s call to recognize Israel. UK officials say they are “deeply disappointed” by Israeli settlement plans. Ramallah is flourishing because of the state-building program. Palestinians are uncomfortable with Obama’s reference to Israel as a “Jewish state.” Obama’s AIPAC speech seems to mollify some Israelis. Palestinian officials say Obama’s speeches lay the basis for a new peace process. Ha’aretz doubts there will be a third intifada. Merav Michaeli says it’s no wonder that Obama can’t understand why Israel will not act in its own interests. Ahmad Tibi says when addressing Congress Netanyahu will have to defend his policy of "doing nothing." David Halperin and Peter Joseph defend Obama’s positions against criticism from other Jewish Americans. Israel announces more settlement plans in extremely sensitive areas around occupied East Jerusalem. The BBC interviews Obama. Palestinians plan more border protests for June 5. Jewish students in California seek legal action against pro-Palestinian campus activists. The National says Palestinians have a chance to seize the initiative. Tariq Alhomayed says Hamas needs to stop being an obstacle to negotiations.

Obama Presses Israel to Make ‘Hard Choices’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Helene Cooper - May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

President Obama struck back at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in a speech to a pro-Israel lobbying group on Sunday, defending his stance that talks over a Palestinian state should be focused on Israel’s pre-1967 borders, along with negotiated land swaps, and challenging Israel to “make the hard choices” necessary to bring about a stable peace.

Palestinian Sees Prospects of Deal Receding
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

After President Obama’s high-profile speech on Thursday in which he laid out broad principles for reaching an Israeli-Palestinian deal, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, called an emergency meeting at his headquarters in Ramallah in the West Bank. He advised his associates not to comment on the speech, according to a senior Palestinian official who attended the meeting, but to wait instead for Mr. Obama’s meeting with the prime minister of Israel in the White House “and see if there are any positive signs.”

Obama Draws the Line
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Roger Cohen - (Opinion) May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

On the eve of an election year, with Jewish donors and fund-raisers already restive over his approach to Israel, President Obama made a brave speech telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation” and urging him to accept Israeli borders at or close to the 1967 lines.

Netanyahu aides play down differences with Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

After a bruising confrontation with President Obama over his call for a peace deal based on Israel’s 1967 boundaries, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his aides are playing down the dispute, calling reports of a crisis overblown. Their comments came as Obama gave a reassuring speech to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC on Sunday, and Israeli commentators noted that the boundaries in question have long been considered the baseline for any future agreement with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu pushes back on Obama's peace plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Christi Parsons, Paul Richter, Edmund Sanders - May 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly lectured President Obama on the shortcomings of his plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks during a tense Oval Office appearance that laid bare the strained relations between the leaders. Admonishing a president of the United States on international television, Netanyahu rejected the plan outlined by Obama that would use the borders in effect before the 1967 Middle East War as the starting point for negotiations, saying that doing so would risk Israel's security and force it to negotiate with "a Palestinian version of Al Qaeda."

Obama's AIPAC comments can't conceal mutual mistrust, say Israeli analysts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday sought to tone down a fresh crisis after the two clashed in public at the White House two days earlier over Mr. Obama's call for a border between Israel and a Palestinian state to be based on the 1967 line demarcating the West Bank.

Obama's bold move on 1967 borders for Israeli-Palestinian talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
(Editorial) May 20, 2011 - 12:00am

It takes uncommon grit for a US president to tell Israelis and Palestinians how to solve their differences rather than merely mediate between them. But in his speech Thursday, President Obama started down that risky path. He spelled out a few starting points for a peace deal, such as land borders and a nonmilitarized Palestine.

Quartet, EU back Obama plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Members of the Middle East Quartet and the EU's foreign policy chief came out in full support of statements made by US President Barack Obama this week, urging Israel and Palestine back into direct talks. The Quartet members, including the US, EU, UN and Russia, issued a statement saying all were "in full agreement about the urgent need to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians." The body "expressed its strong support" for the vision laid out by Obama.

Hamas: Obama will not force Israel recognition
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri on Sunday slammed Barack Obama's speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, saying the US president's call on the party to recognize Israel would go unanswered. In Washington, Obama addressed the powerful pro-Israel lobby group and elaborated on statements made Thursday in his Mideast policy speech, urging calls to democracy and reform across the region.

UK minister 'deeply disappointed' in settlements call
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

UK foreign office minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt on Friday urged Israel to "cease unhelpful and destabilising activity" of settlement construction, in the wake of a decision to build 1,500 new Jewish-only homes in occupied East Jerusalem. "I am deeply disappointed with Israel’s announcement on 19 May to build up to 1500 settlement units in the East Jerusalem settlements of Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev," the minister said in a statement.

Ramallah is peacefully flourishing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Seattle Times
by Kristin R. Jackson - May 21, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH ISN'T your typical tourist spot. The Palestinian town of 25,000 lies within the Israeli-held West Bank, an epicenter of volatile Mideast politics that has endured centuries of occupiers and uprisings. Yet Ramallah has peacefully flourished in the past few years, growing into the de facto political and cultural capital of the mostly Muslim West Bank.

Obama's 'Jewish state' reference jars Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Josef Federman - May 23, 2011 - 12:00am

U.S.-Israel tension over Barack Obama's endorsement of Israel's pre-1967 borders is obscuring a flip side of the Middle East coin: The past days' speeches by the U.S. president contained difficult challenges for the Palestinians as well.

Mideast peace talks would face huge obstacles
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Dan Perry - May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama wants Israelis and Palestinians to return to the bargaining table, and he repeated the call Sunday in a speech to Israel supporters. But it seems unlikely this will happen anytime soon — and even if it did, the sides would find a formidable array of obstacles to agreement. Obama is clearly aware of this, telling the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that "no matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under the current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option."

Palestinians more skeptical about Mideast talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Karin Laub - May 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian officials said Saturday that Israel's dismissive response to President Barack Obama's new Mideast peace proposal proves there's not enough common ground for meaningful negotiations. Despite such skepticism, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seemed in no hurry to announce his next move. He instructed his advisers to avoid public comment, presumably to keep attention focused on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who appears to be set on a collision course with Obama.

Obama eases Israeli anger on Mideast peace vision
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Caren Bohan, Matt Spetalnick - May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama on Sunday eased Israeli anger over his new Middle East peace proposals when he made clear that the Jewish state would likely be able to negotiate keeping some settlements in any final deal with the Palestinians. Obama repeated his view that long-stalled peace talks should start on the basis of Israel's 1967 borders, an assertion that had infuriated Israeli leaders, exposed a rift between the two allies and raised further doubts about peace prospects.

Obama's speeches lay basis for peace process: PLO official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 23, 2011 - 12:00am

U.S. President Barack Obama's recent speeches have laid the basis for starting a serious peace process between the Palestinians and Israel, an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said Monday. Yasser Abed Rabbo of the PLO added that it is possible for the Palestinians to resume negotiations with Israel in line with Obama 's vision that the borders between Israel and the future Palestinian state should be the pre-1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps. However, Abed Rabbo stressed that Israel must accept Obama's calls first.

Netanyahu caught unprepared by Obama's stern message
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried on Sunday to smooth over speculation of a personal falling out with United States President Barack Obama. It was during a televised meeting between the two at the White House on Friday that Netanyahu, in unusually blunt words, criticized Obama for his Middle East policy speech delivered the previous day.

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.

The Israeli reality that Obama doesn't understand
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Merav Michaeli - (Opinion) May 23, 2011 - 12:00am

"President Obama doesn't understand the reality," according to "associates" of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke after the meeting between the two leaders. And when that is the headline of the daily Yisrael Hayom, it is clearly Netanyahu's headline: "President Obama doesn't understand the reality."

Let’s sit and do nothing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ahmad Tibi - (Opinion) May 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished Congress members. Again we meet, while the world remains the same. Israel faces threats of extermination; we are being persecuted and are getting no rest. As your ally, I came here to draw encouragement for the “sit and do nothing” policy I’ve been leading with great skill.

When peace met partisanship
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by David Halperin, Peter Joseph - (Opinion) May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The criticism of President Obama’s speech this week, in particular the reaction to the statement that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps,” underscores the lamentable, polarized discourse in our nation – and in the Jewish community – when it comes to Israel and the pursuit of a lasting two-state solution.

Israel approves 294 new W. Bank homes in Betar Illit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The Defense Ministry has approved the construction of 294 new homes in Betar Illit, the second largest West Bank Jewish city, located near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. Although the approval was granted at the end of April, it was first publicized in the last few days – including by Peace Now on Sunday – as part of an overall report on settlement activity. News of the Betar Illit units came as Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon traveled to another settlement bloc, Ma’aleh Adumim, and called for more building there, particularly in an area known as E-1.

US 'would repeat Bin Laden raid'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
(Interview) May 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Here is the full transcript of the BBC's interview with President Barack Obama. Andrew Marr: could I start by going back to that extraordinary moment a fortnight ago when you know that you had got Bin Laden. This was not simply presumably another difficult decision. As an American, never mind as president, there was something personal about it.

Palestinians plan fresh protests to mark war anniversary
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian refugees are planning a fresh round of marches on Israel next month, amid signs that grassroots protests could gain momentum from deep disillusion over the prospects for peace talks and the impact of the Arab Spring. A committee behind demonstrations last weekend, in which 14 people were killed on the Lebanese and Syrian borders, have called for further protests on 5 June to mark the anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War, during which Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

UC Debates Free Speech Vs. Federal Protection
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Rex Weiner - May 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Shlomo Dubnov, an associate professor at University of California, San Diego, had an unusually busy schedule the first week of May.

Palestinians can take the initiative after Israel balks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) May 22, 2011 - 12:00am

If the White House was trying to fire a warning shot at the United States' "unshakeable" ally in the Middle East, it hit its target. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, at the weekend responded defensively to President Barack Obama's suggestion that peace with the Palestinians depended on a return to pre-1967 borders. "Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace," Mr Netanyahu said in Washington, but "it cannot go back to the 1967 lines. These lines are indefensible".

A Message to Khaled Mishal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq al-Homayed - May 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Khaled Mishal, the leader of the Hamas movement, demonstrated strong political pragmatism after the uprising witnessed by Syria, as the inter-Palestinian reconciliation agreement was completed quickly in Cairo after years of procrastination. The question today is: does Mishal demonstrate as much political intelligence as pragmatism?

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