Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel becomes a partisan issue in US politics. Almost all Israeli analysts agree PM Netanyahu's US trip was a diplomatic failure, but his poll ratings soar. Egypt is moving to reopen the Gaza border. Israel and the Palestinians are moving farther apart on peace. Fareed Zakaria says Netanyahu failed himself and Israel. The US and Israel urge Europeans not to support a UN state bid, as Palestinians call on the UN to enforce the 1967 borders. Dan Simon says settlements are destructive to Israel's security and prosperity. Ibrahim Sharqieh says Netanyahu's speech set peace back by many years. The head of the PIF announces a $1 billion fund for reconstruction in Gaza. Pres. Abbas says Netanyahu has made peace much more difficult. Senior Israeli officials attend the dedication of new settlement expansions in occupied East Jerusalem. Deep divisions continue to grow within Hamas. AP examines Netanyahu's claim that the 1967 borders are "indefensible." Netanyahu's speech pleases many in Washington but angers Ramallah and settlers. Tony Blair says Obama is concerned for Israel's future. Ari Shavit says Netanyahu is driving Israel into a wall and Gideon Levy says he will be forgotten by history. Israeli officials fear growing boycotts. Haim Saban says US-Israel relations are "good." Larry Derfner questions where Netanyahu is leading Israel. Israel quietly extends emergency laws that date back to the 1940s. The Forward looks at possible land swaps and says Netanyahu should not make Jewish Americans choose between support for their own country or Israel. The National condemns congressional applause for Netanyahu's "lies," and looks at rhetoric about Palestinian state-building at the AIPAC conference. Daoud Kuttab says Obama's speech points the way to Palestinian statehood. The Arab News says Israel will have to be coerced into peace. Hussein Ibish parses Netanyahu's Washington talking points.

Parties See Obama’s Israel Policy as Wedge for 2012
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Jackie Calmes, Helene Cooper - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Few issues in American politics are as bipartisan as support for Israel. Yet the question of whether President Obama is supportive enough is behind some of the most partisan maneuvering since the Middle East ally was born six decades ago, and that angling has potential ramifications for the 2012 elections.

Israelis See Netanyahu Trip as Diplomatic Failure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel returned from Washington on Wednesday to a nearly unanimous assessment among Israelis that despite his forceful defense of Israel’s security interests, hopes were dashed that his visit might advance peace negotiations with the Palestinians. One of the widely articulated goals of his trip, where he met with President Obama and addressed Congress, was to find a way to lure the Palestinians back to direct negotiations, thereby preempting their plan to approach the United Nations in September for recognition of statehood within the pre-1967 lines.

Egypt to reopen Gaza border crossing, raising Israeli concerns
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg, Ernesto Londono - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Egypt will permanently open its border crossing with the Gaza Strip this weekend, the government announced Wednesday, underscoring how dramatically the uprisings that are roiling the Arab world could reshape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Egypt’s interim military leaders, who had been instrumental in implementing the blockade under orders from then-President Hosni Mubarak, appeared to be responding to an increasingly vocal and empowered constituency that wants Egypt to decisively back the Palestinian cause.

Netanyahu visit deepens Israeli-Palestinian impasse
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s tumultuous visit to Washington has left Israeli and Palestinian officials facing each other across a deepening abyss, raising concerns that the impasse in peace efforts could prompt a renewed slide to violence. “When all is said and done, the question remains, where do we go from here?” wrote Sima Kadmon, a columnist in Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s most widely read newspaper.

Where Netanyahu fails himself and Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Fareed Zakaria - (Opinion) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Conventional wisdom is fast congealing in Washington that President Obama was wrong to demarcate a shift in American policy toward Israel last week. In fact, it was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who broke with the past — in one of a series of diversions and obstacles Netanyahu has come up with anytime he is pressed. He wins in the short run, but ultimately, he is turning himself into a version of Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, “Mr. Nyet,” a man who will be bypassed by history.

Obama pushes Europe not to support Palestinians' U.N. statehood bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Christi Parsons, Paul Richter - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

A week after ratcheting up pressure on Israel's government to restart peace talks with Palestinians, President Obama launched a campaign to persuade European leaders not to endorse a separate Palestinian bid for statehood. But his appeal to Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, won only a noncommittal response. After a meeting Wednesday with Obama, Cameron said the time was not yet right for European leaders to decide on the Palestinian bid for United Nations recognition, which the Palestinian Authority leadership is expected to make at the U.N. General Assembly in September.

WEST BANK: Palestinians call on U.N. to implement 1967 borders proposal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
(Blog) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas expressed disappointment with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday and said the Israeli leader's comments had dealt a blow to efforts to resume peace talks.

Israel's settlement liability
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Dan Simon - (Opinion) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected President Obama's recent contention that the dream of a democratic Jewish state is incompatible with permanent occupation of the West Bank. Obama suggested in two recent speeches that peace negotiations should aim for a sovereign and non-militarized Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders, with mutually agreed swaps.

Netanyahu's Congress speech could set Middle East peace back another 18 years
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ibrahim Sharqieh - (Opinion) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Taking advantage of his New York accent while addressing Congress on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered an eloquent speech offering only more obstacles to a lasting and just peace in the Middle East. He not only failed to provide a vision for the peace process in a changing Middle East, but also introduced new terms and phrases that will probably hamper any peace efforts in the future.

$1 billion Gaza investment fund unveiled
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Muhammad Mustafa, the Palestine Investment Fund president, announced Thursday the establishment of a $1 billion investment fund for the reconstruction of Gaza. The rumored top candidate for the role of prime minister in the new technocrat government arrived in Gaza on Wednesday, to coordinate reconstruction efforts and meet with prominent contractors and businesspeople.

Abbas: Netanyahu pushing back peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of pushing the peace process back further than ever, the official Palestinian news agency reported. Speaking at the opening of a meeting for the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, Abbas said Netanyahu “has shown us, in addition to the many mistakes and distortions, that he moved very far from the peace process.” He added: “There was nothing that we could build positively on. We look at his speech negatively.”

MKs attend controversial settlement announcement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

The speaker of Israel's parliament and two ministers attended the dedication on Wednesday of new Jewish settler homes in East Jerusalem in what an Israeli NGO called "a dangerous provocation." Among the first of the VIPs to arrive at the site in the city's annexed eastern sector were speaker Reuven Rivlin, Environment Minister Gilad Erdan and Education Minister Gideon Saar, all of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party.

Palestinian unity deal exposes divisions in Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Divisions in Hamas have been brought to the surface by a reconciliation agreement with rival group Fatah, exposing splits in the Palestinian Islamist movement that could complicate implementation of the deal. It is the first time differences between Hamas leaders in Gaza and the movement's exiled politburo in Damascus have been aired so openly in public, supporting a view that the group is far from united.

Poll: Israelis back Netanyahu's tough stance in US
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

An Israeli poll indicates that support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has surged following his contentious visit to the United States. Netanyahu had a a tense meeting in Washington with President Barack Obama over the nature of a future Palestinian state. In an address before Congress, he insisted Israel would not return to its pre-1967 war borders. The survey has 51 percent of those polled supporting Netanyahu — a 13 percent increase from the Dialog Institute's previous poll published five weeks ago. The latest poll results were published Thursday in the Haaretz daily.

Are pre-1967 borders indefensible for Israel?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Aron Heller - May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

During a swing through Washington this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly said his country's pre-1967 lines are "indefensible." A total withdrawal from the West Bank, a strategic highland looming over central Israel, would certainly leave the Israeli heartland more vulnerable to attack or invasion. But some experts say that long-range missiles, weapons of mass destruction and cyber-warfare mean that in the modern world the greater risks lie elsewhere — especially if a future Palestine is demilitarized.

Netanyahu's congressional speech appeases Washington, disappoints Ramallah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday spoke before the United States Congress, it was his third major policy speech in less than two weeks. Netanyahu was to have presented a plan to reinvigorate the direct peace negotiations with the Palestinians. The result, however, according to some analysts, was something very different.

Israeli settlers, rightists, slam Netanyahu over U.S. Congressional speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli settlers living in the West Bank expressed their disappointment on Wednesday regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's U.S. Congressional address, where he suggested Israel would be willing to swap land with Palestinians in exchange for peace. "His discourse was ambivalent," Danny Dayan, Head of the Council of Jewish Communities in the West Bank told Xinhua.

Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair: Obama anxious about Israel's fate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Middle East envoy Tony Blair says United States President Barack Obama launched his peace initiative because he's concerned about what might happen to Israel if Palestinians unilaterally declare statehood. Blair told an audience of business leaders gathered in central London on Thursday that Obama is "frankly worried about the position that Israel is in."

Netanyahu's peace stance is running Israel into a wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

When Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister, he had to formulate a peace strategy. He had to decide whether he aspired to reach an interim agreement or a final-status one with the Palestinians. He opted to go for a final-status agreement.

Netanyahu relegated himself to the footnotes of history
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

The "speech of his life" must now quickly become the speech of Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu's political demise. The hour is pressing, there is no time and nothing is going to come of Netanyahu any more.

Palestinian UN bid: Israel's battle for Europe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ronen Medzini - May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

The Foreign Ministry is focusing efforts on trying to block the Palestinian plan to win UN recognition for an independent state in September. Israel's chance of winning a majority among the 192 UN members state is miniscule, as the 116 states comprising the Non-Aligned movement tend to vote together and are likely to vote in favor of a Palestinian state. It is estimated that the large majority of non-Western nations among the remaining 76 states will also vote in favor of the Palestinian bid, which leaves Israel with a little over 40 states whose vote is still open.

Officials fear 'Palestine' declaration will bring boycott
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz - May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Concern growing in defense establishment that following unilateral statehood announcement, countries will ban Israeli military products. Concern is growing in Israel over the possibility that following a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians later this year, countries around the world will boycott Israeli military products. The concern, voiced by leading officials in the defense establishment, comes ahead of the Paris Air Show next month, where Israeli hardware will be on display in pursuit of new sales.

Haim Saban: US-Israel relations are 'all good'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli-born billionaire Haim Saban expressed optimism about Israel-American relations in an interview following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress on Tuesday. "I believe we're all good," Saban, Chairman of Univision Spanish Television and one of the Democratic Party's biggest donors, said. However, he added, "the US and Israel need to address points of difference between them in private, not in the UN or in front of cameras. The prime minister of Israel should not be speaking as he has in the Oval Office."

Ratting the Cage: Obama's albatross
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - (Opinion) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

With that Salute to Judea and Samaria he just staged in Washington, our wise and fearless leader just screwed American policy in the Middle East, turned Israel into an albatross around the neck of the president of the United States, made Western Europe ashamed to be associated with us, waved a red flag at the Palestinians and the entire Muslim world, and I don’t know what else. Way to go, Bibi.

Israel’s Emergency Regulations Get Lease on Life
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Arieh O'Sullivan - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

At a time when the Arab regimes are suspending state-of-emergency laws in the face of popular protests, Israeli lawmakers have quietly voted to extend them another year into their seventh decade. A joint meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee this week accepted a government request to extend the state of emergency for 12 months. This wasn’t because there was a looming threat on the Jewish state, but because after more than 60 years parliament hasn’t found the time to regularize the rule in ordinary legislation

‘Land Swaps’: Is There Enough Land To Swap?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Jeffay - (Analysis) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

It is the magic formula that could end the occupation while letting the majority of settlers stay put. But how would an Israeli-Palestinian land swap, the basis of President Obama’s Middle East vision, outlined on May 19, actually work? The main practical problem of an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank is the fact that some 300,000 Israeli settlers live there. Not only would a full evacuation be hazardous for any Israeli government on the domestic political front, but it also would be logistically difficult and exceedingly costly.

Don’t Make Us Choose
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
(Editorial) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint meeting of Congress May 24, 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.

US is complicit in Netanyahu's fiction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Stand up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down. The US Congress, apparently, will rise for an ovation every time the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves his fist at the podium. For what was billed as a new "vision" for the Middle East, Mr Netanyahu's speech on Tuesday night was depressingly, predictably pedantic. This Israeli administration has no plan for peace, only a series of refusals, and as the show in Congress demonstrated, US politicians are only too willing to follow him down the garden path.

Israel's US supporters ignore truths of occupation in West Bank and Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Micah Zenko - (Analysis) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

To an outsider, the title of the panel discussion seemed to sum up all that is wrong and depressing about the views of Palestinians that many Israelis and their American supporters hold. "Israel Improving Palestinian Lives," the conference programme read. The occasion for imparting the self-serving message - occupation is good - was the annual policy conference this week of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the most influential pro-Israel lobbying group in the United States.

Road to Palestine becoming clearer
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

The marathon of speeches that the US capital Washington witnessed last week cleared the view as to what is needed for Palestinians to reach their coveted independent state. Clearing the view, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that getting a state will be easy or attainable in the near future. People wanting to reach statehood need to be united, set clear and realistic goals as to its borders and have a blueprint for how to reach statehood and not just declare it.

Bibi's love-fest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

If you stand on your head, the world around you is bound to look upside down. This is what Israel's leaders have been doing all these years. And this is what Benjamin Netanyahu did in his speeches before a rapturous and almost acquiescent audience at AIPAC conference on Monday and a joint session of US Congress on Tuesday. The thunderous applause that greeted Netanyahu at AIPAC is understandable. But the love-fest in Congress must have come as a rude shock to the rest of the world.

Parsing Netanyahu's Washington talking points
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - (Blog) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli Embassy in Washington helpfully sent their allies in Washington a set of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's talking points in relation to his speech in Congress yesterday and to AIPAC at the weekend, which were published by Ben Smith of Politico. They are the following: Netanyahu's vision of peace: 1) Mutual Recognition of the Jewish state and the Palestinian State 2) A Palestinian state that is independent and viable 3) A Palestinian state that will be fully demilitarized, with an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River.

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