Middle East News: World Press Roundup

PM Netanyahu makes no concessions in a speech before Congress, and Ha’aretz says he wasted a golden opportunity. Israeli experts say these represent “starting positions,” while Palestinians call it “an obstacle to peace.” AP and Ha’aretz both fact check the speech. Both Thomas Friedman and Jeffrey Goldberg warn that if Israel does not change course it will become an “apartheid state.” Jackson Diehl says Netanyahu was speaking to Congress but Obama was speaking to the Europeans. The Palestinian leadership reiterates its determination to approach the UN in September. Palestinian officials describe Congress’s reaction to the Netanyahu speech as “pathetic.” A Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, says national unity doesn’t mean adopting Fatah’s positions, and challenges the authority of Politburo chief Khaled Mashaal. US skepticism about the Palestinian unity deal poses new challenges. Pres. Abbas says solutions cannot come before negotiations. Israeli MKs are divided on Netanyahu’s speech. Ron Ben-Tovim says Menachem Begin outlined the logic for Palestinian statehood. Settlers say they will never live in a Palestinian state. Obama says both sides must make “wrenching concessions.” David Horovitz explains how he thinks Palestinians will be able to use a UN vote in September to advance statehood. Jane Eisner says lots of Jewish Americans don’t agree with Netanyahu. Israel has again become a partisan issue between Democrats and Republicans. Tariq Alhomayed says that Netanyahu’s speech betrayed signs of panic. Rami Khouri says Obama understands the implications on Palestine of the “Arab Spring,” but Netanyahu doesn’t. Osama Al Sharif says the US and Israeli positions are now clearly at odds.

Netanyahu Gives No Ground in Congress Speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner, Helene Cooper - May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, broadly laying out the Israeli response to President Obama’s peace proposals, called on the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Tuesday to accept what Mr. Netanyahu framed as a tenet: that Palestinians will not get a right of return to Israel. In so doing, he made clear that he was giving no ground on the major stumbling blocks to a peace agreement.

Lessons From Tahrir Sq.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Thomas L. Friedman - (Opinion) May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

Being back in Cairo reminds me that there are two parties in this region that have been untouched by the Arab Spring: the Israelis and the Palestinians. Too bad, because when it comes to ossified, unimaginative, oxygen-deprived governments, the Israelis and Palestinians are right up there with pre-revolutionary Egypt and Tunisia. I mean, is there anything less relevant than the prime minister of Israel going to the U.S. Congress for applause and the leader of the Palestinians going to the U.N. — instead of to each other?

Goldberg: Why Palestinians Have Time on Their Side
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bloomberg
by Jeffrey Goldberg - (Opinion) May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

If I were a Palestinian (and, should there be any confusion on this point, I am not), and if I were the sort of Palestinian who believed that Israel should be wiped off the map, then I would be quite pleased with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s performance before Congress this morning. I would applaud Netanyahu for including no bold initiatives that would have suggested to the world that Israel is alive to the threat posed by its seemingly eternal occupation of the West Bank.

In speech to Congress, Israel's Netanyahu offers few concessions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Paul Richter - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a joint session of Congress he was prepared to make "painful compromises" for peace but he offered few of the concessions that President Obama has sought as a way to revive moribund Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Ending a tumultuous five-day visit to Washington, Netanyahu said Tuesday he was willing to give up "parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland" in negotiations to create a separate Palestinian state. But he set requirements that varied only slightly from his previous views, and he did not address many specific Palestinian demands.

Obama and Netanyahu: The scorecard
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jackson Diehl - (Opinion) May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu have now spent six days lecturing each other about the “realities” of the Middle East, either face-to-face or with Congress, the State Department or the AIPAC lobbying group as an audience. They have managed to focus the attention of Washington and much of the world on their differences over Palestinian statehood, and their evident animosity toward each other. So it’s worth asking: Did either of them accomplish anything positive?

PA: UN still goal for September
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian leadership reaffirmed its goal to take the issue of statehood to the United Nations after a speech by the Israeli premier which failed to offer any new incentive to talk peace. In a 45-minute address to the US Congress, Benjamin Netanyahu laid out his vision of peace in a speech which pundits said contained nothing to deter the Palestinians from plans to seek UN recognition for their state later this year or to revive the moribund peace process.

Congress applause of Netanyahu 'pathetic'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

The warm reception of the Israeli prime Minister at the US Congress was "pathetic," President Abbas' secretary-general At-Tayyib Abdul-Rahim said Wednesday. Benjamin Netanyahu entered Congress to applause the day before, and received more than 25 standing ovations during a speech in which he ruled out international demands to return to the 1967 borders or share Jerusalem, and called on Mahmoud Abbas to "tear up" the reconciliation agreement his Fatah party signed two weeks ago with rival faction Hamas.

Hamas: Unity does not mean we take on Fatah's platform
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

In an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar set out the compromises the party was willing to make for a unity deal with Fatah, and made clear that unity would not change the party's platform. "Reconciliation does not mean Hamas has changed its agenda," the leader was quoted as saying in the Tuesday report, adding that nor was Fatah bending its own goals to those of Hamas when it signed the document.

Hamas' top leader challenged by Gaza strongman
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

Gaza's Hamas strongman on Tuesday was quoted as challenging the Islamic militant movement's top leader because of his tacit backing of Palestinian negotiations with Israel. The comments by Mahmoud Zahar were carried by the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar on Tuesday and signaled a rare public dispute among Hamas leaders. A Hamas statement in Gaza claimed the comments were fabricated, but did not explain.

Palestinians say Netanyahu speech obstacle to peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's vision for ending conflict with Palestinians put "more obstacles" in front of the Middle East peace process, the spokesman for the Palestinian president said. "There was nothing new in Netanyahu's speech other than more obstacles in front of the peace process," Nabil Abu Rdainah, the spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters following Israeli leader's address to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.

FACT CHECK: Netanyahu speech ignores rival claims
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Josef Federman - May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave an impassioned defense of his approach to peace during a speech to Congress on Tuesday. But the address reflected the world view of Israel's nationalistic right wing, one of several conflicting narratives that divide Israelis and Palestinians. Here is a sampling of Netanyahu's claims along with what he did not mention. ___ NETANYAHU: "You don't need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves." THE FACTS: Israel is a leading recipient of American foreign aid, including more than $1 billion in military assistance each year.

US criticism of Palestinian reconciliation pact shadows Middle East peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Omer Othmani, Osama Radi - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

The Egyptian-drafted inter- reconciliation agreement, which was signed in Cairo on May 4 between Fatah and the Islamic Hamas movement, is facing difficulties following U.S. President Barack Obama's criticism of the agreement. Obama, who demanded Hamas to accept the requirements of the International Quartet Committee for peace in the Middle East, said in a speech on Monday that the deal between Abbas and Hamas "is a big obstacle for achieving peace."

Abbas refuses to offer solutions without peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday he will not "put solutions before restarting peace talks" as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his speech to the U.S. Congress Tuesday, in which the prime minister announced Israel cannot go back to the 1967 borders. Abbas' remarks came before a meeting of the Palestinians leadership to review the recent speeches of U.S. President Barack Obama and Netanyahu. The prime minister announced Israel cannot go back to the 1967 borders.

Israeli lawmakers react differently to Netanyahu's Congress speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

Some members of Israeli Knesset parliament on Tuesday evening praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, while others condemned it as "nothing new." Gidon Sa'ar, a lawmaker from Netanyahu's Likud faction, hailed the address. "There's no statesmen in Israel or the world who could present the case for Israel as strongly as Netanyahu could," he was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying.

The facts and fictions of Netanyahu's address to Congress
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Here is some of what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress on Tuesday - and what he failed to mention: Netanyahu to Congress: "The vast majority of the 650,000 Israelis who live beyond the 1967 lines reside in neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and Greater Tel Aviv." Netanyahu presented a figure to Congress, according to which 650 thousand Israelis live over the Green Line (1967 borders). This is an inflated figure, based on a report published by the Israeli Civil Administration on June 30, 2009, at the height of the settlement freeze.

By Begin's logic, the Palestinians should have a state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ron Ben-Tovim - (Opinion) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

In "The Revolt," his seminal depiction of the Jewish resistance against British rule in Palestine, Irgun chief and future Prime Minister Menachem Begin often returns to his interrogation at the hands of the Soviets. These references apparently are intended to counter a contemporary communist argument raised during these interrogations, that the Zionist movement was a hoax, a "puppet show," meant to divert attention from the Jews' revolutionary role in Europe and turn them into a tool for British imperialism in the Middle East.

Netanyahu wasted his chance to present a vision for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had an outstanding opportunity yesterday to present a vision of a just and sustainable peace for Israel and the Palestinians. Millions watched his speech at the U.S. Congress with bated breath. They anticipated a momentous address that would break the stalemate in the diplomatic discourse over a final peace agreement and lead to the end of the bloody conflict between the two peoples. Many hoped the new winds blowing in recent months in the Middle East would also sweep the prime minister along a new path.

Settlers: We won't live in Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yair Altman - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Jewish settlers living beyond the 1967 lines expressed concern Wednesday after hearing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say Israel "will be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland" during his speech before Congress. The possibility of Jewish settlements becoming a part of a Palestinian state aroused their anger. "It's mass suicide, they'll just destroy us," a settler claimed. "Such talk of abandonment is very grave."

Obama to Palestinians: Seeking statehood in UN a 'mistake'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was "more urgent than ever." And while expressing confidence that a two-state solution was achievable, the US president made it clear that seeking Palestinian statehood in the United Nations would be "a mistake." Speaking alongside UK Prime Minister David Cameron at a press conference in London after the two met privately, Obama stated that the Palestinians must understand "they have obligations as well." RELATED: Cameron, Obama claim unity in support of Israeli security

How Palestinians will use the GA to advance statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by David Horovitz - (Opinion) March 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Early in the Korean War, frustrated that the Soviet Union’s repeated use of its UN Security Council veto was thwarting council action to protect South Korea, the United States initiated what became known as the UN General Assembly’s “Uniting for Peace” resolution.

Don't be fooled by the applause, Binyamin Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Jane Eisner - (Opinion) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, his first audience was the assembly of federal lawmakers and other government dignitaries seated before him. His second audience was President Obama, who was off hobnobbing with the Queen of England, but who, only days earlier, had set out his vision for achieving a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And his third audience was the American Jewish community. People like me.

For Obama, Bibi tensions subside, political problems begin
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - (Analysis) May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

That Israel problem President Obama had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Old news. That Israel problem Obama has with Congress? And with his party? That's just beginning. In two successive speeches -- one to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday and another to a joint meeting of Congress the following day, Netanyahu had nothing but praise for the U.S. president.

The speech of panic
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq al-Homayed - (Opinion) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

There can be no doubt that the Arabs and Palestinians will preoccupy themselves with refuting the speech made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in front of the US Congress, which was full of mistakes and which represents an attempt to frustrate the peace efforts. However the Arabs and Palestinians must pay attention to one important thing in Netanyahu's speech, which is as follows:

What do the Mideast speeches tell us?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

So what can we conclude after the past week’s jamboree of speeches on the Middle East by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama?

Netanyahu's end game
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Osama Al-Sharif - (Opinion) May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

There are now two divergent views/policies on the issue — a settlement based on Israeli withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 armistice borders, with mutually accepted land swaps, allowing for an independent Palestinian state to be created in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and a unilateral arrangement that does not recognize these borders or any of the fundamentals needed to achieve a just and sustainable deal.

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