Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Despite Israeli objections, Egypt will open its border with Gaza. The New York Times says bold ideas are required to salvage the peace process. Charles Krauthammer claims Pres. Obama has abandoned Israel, but William Quant says both sides lost out. Hussein Ibish looks at the demand for Palestinians to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state." Robert Satloff explains Israel's objections to Obama's positions. Tony Blair warns extremists could exploit the lack of a peace process. Israel focuses on weapon smuggling by sea. Analysts say PM Netanyahu has strengthened his right-wing coalition. The former head of Mossad says Israeli attempts to block a Palestinian statehood bid at the UN would backfire. The latest G8 statement does not mention 1967 borders. Yoel Marcus says Israel cannot survive more "victories" like Netanyahu's Washington trip, and Yossi Verter says any sense of triumph will be short-lived. Alon Ben-Meir says Netanyahu's positions jeopardize Israel's security. A new study estimates the value of Israeli settlements at $18.8 billion. Former PM Olmert says bold moves, not speeches, are required for peace. Orly Azoulay says Netanyahu missed an opportunity, D. Bloomfield also criticizes his performance, and Matt Duss says it made the Palestinian case. A new poll shows only 12% of Jewish Israelis think Obama is pro-Israel. The BBC profiles the West Bank economy. Israeli military paramedics help Palestinians. Netanyahu and his supporters appear pleased with his US trip. Patrick Seale says Obama shows no signs of acting on peace. George Hishmeh says Pres. Abbas should be invited to address Congress. Uri Avnery says Palestinians should go ahead with their UN plans. Raghida Dergham says the Arab response should focus on the API. ATFP Executive Director Ghaith al-Omari and WINEP's David Makovsky promote respectful dialogue at UCLA.

Egypt to Open Border With Gaza, in the Face of Israeli Objections
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by David Kirkpatrick - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Egypt will permanently open its border with the Gaza Strip on Saturday despite Israeli protests, Egypt’s transitional government confirmed Wednesday, upending the dynamics of regional politics in a bid to shake up the deadlocked peace process and better respond to Egyptian public opinion. The opening of the border will be the latest geopolitical aftershock of the Egyptian revolution, and it is likely to strengthen the militant group Hamas, while easing life for 1.6 million residents.

The Mideast Peace Process: No Plan for Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

This is the time for bold ideas to salvage Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel did not seize it. In his address to Congress, he showed — once again — that he has no serious appetite for the kind of compromises that are the only way to forge a two-state solution and guarantee both Palestinians their long-denied state and Israel’s long-term security.

What Obama did to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Charles Krauthammer - (Opinion) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Every Arab-Israeli negotiation contains a fundamental asymmetry: Israel gives up land, which is tangible; the Arabs make promises, which are ephemeral. The long-standing American solution has been to nonetheless urge Israel to take risks for peace while America balances things by giving assurances of U.S. support for Israel’s security and diplomatic needs.

Should the Palestinians Recognize Israel as a Jewish State?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Most observers expected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to target his harshest criticisms of the Palestinians during his U.S. trip on the Hamas-Fatah agreement. Surprisingly, his most important talking point turned out to be his demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state." To be sure, Netanyahu took every opportunity to denounce the Palestinian unity deal, compare Hamas to al Qaeda, and point out that some of its leaders had praised Osama bin Laden.

Words vs. reality in Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by William Quandt - May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

The week of speechifying about the Middle East has blessedly come to an end. The refrain from “My Fair Lady’s” Eliza Doolittle keeps popping into my head: “words, words, words, I’m so sick of words.” But sometimes words reveal important changes in views. So let’s take a closer look. President Barack Obama seemed intent upon doing several things in his two speeches — one at the State Department last Thursday and one before the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday.

Obama Walking a Fine Line on Borders Issue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
by Robert Satloff - May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

One week ago, on May 19, President Barack Obama delivered powerful remarks on democracy and reform in the Middle East. He not only raised these normally hortatory ideals to top-tier U.S. interests, but he put the dictator of America's most dangerous Arab antagonist -- Syria's Bashar Assad -- on personal notice that he may soon find himself joining the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia in forced retirement. All this was welcome news.

Extremists could step into Mideast peace vacuum-Blair
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Adrian Croft - May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Extremists will gain the upper hand unless Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are revived, Middle East envoy Tony Blair said on Thursday, warning that time was running out to get the peace process moving. Talks brokered by Washington collapsed last year when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a moratorium on new building in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Netanyahu told U.S. President Barack Obama last week that his vision of how to achieve Middle East peace was unrealistic, exposing a divide that could doom any U.S. bid to restart the talks.

Israel struggles to stop weapons smuggling at sea
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Aron Heller - May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's navy is casting its net wider and deeper in an effort to stop Gaza militants from receiving weapons by sea, a difficult mission made harder, Israel says, by political turmoil in Egypt and the Egyptian decision to fully reopen its border crossing with Gaza. In recent weeks, Palestinian militants in Hamas-ruled Gaza have aimed rockets at Israeli cities, far enough away that Israel is convinced the projectiles came from abroad, probably Iran.

Netanyahu's U.S. trip helps strengthen hardline coalition in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from a weeklong trip to the United States, he did so as a winner, both in his own eyes and the Israeli public's. "We found wide American support for Israel's basic demands," Netanyahu said Wednesday at a press conference after landing in Israel. According to a Dialog institute poll released on Thursday, 47 percent of the Israeli public believes Netanyahu's U.S. trip was a success, while only 10 percent viewed it as a failure.

Former Mossad chief: Attempts to thwart PNA's statehood bid to backfire
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel should cease its efforts to prevent a possible United Nations General Assembly resolution in September recognizing a Palestinian state, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has said. "Israel will be mistaken to attempt to block 'the September move' and the UN's expected recognition of a Palestinian state," local daily Ma'ariv on Thursday quoted Dagan as saying during a closed forum at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.

G8 leaders omit mention of 1967 borders in Middle East statement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Group of Eight leaders had to soften a statement urging Israel and the Palestinians to return to negotiations because Canada objected to a specific mention of 1967 borders, diplomats said on Friday. Canada's right-leaning Conservative government has adopted a staunchly pro-Israel position in international negotiations since coming to power in 2006, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying Canada will back Israel whatever the cost.

One more victory like that and Israel is done for
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoel Marcus - (Opinion) May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could have read the phone book at the Congress podium and received the same standing ovation. His speech used the advice Moshe Sneh gave to himself. The late MK wrote on the draft of one of his speeches "weak argument, raise voice."

Short-term capital gains?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yossi Verter - May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

On May 24, 2006, an eager new prime minister, Ehud Olmert, delivered an extraordinary speech to both Houses of the U.S. Congress. The applause, support and warmth extended to him spilled over like an exploding fountain. Olmert took Washington by storm, and returned to Israel full of self-confidence, and resolved to display the leadership skills that had won international recognition in the American capital.

Study: Settlements worth $18.8 billion
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Shosh Mula - May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

A new study by the Macro Center for Political Economics has revealed that West Bank settlements are currently worth $18.8 billion, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday. The formerly state-funded center, for which the Netanyahu government cut off funding, filed a first report on the monetary worth of West Bank settlements three years ago in order to assess the amount the state may have to pay settlers in the event they are evacuated as part of a peace accord with the Palestinians.

A speech isn’t enough
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ehud Olmert - (Opinion) May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appearance at congress was impressive and stirred a sense of justified pride among many Israelis who are not subjugated to political rivalries and hatreds. Netanyahu is a talented orator and is particularly lucid in English. He knows how to speak to the Americans in heart-warming “American” they can understand. It was no coincidence that he received a very warm, sympathetic welcome in Congress. It was no wonder that his speech, which was aired live in Israel, elicited a similar response among the Israeli public.

Saying ‘no’ to the world
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Orly Azoulay - (Opinion) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

He did not say it provocatively or crudely. It was a superb speech, with all the shticks that the Americans like: He joked in American, he mentioned his killed brother, and he recounted how he himself almost died near the Suez Canal during the war. Yet he said “no!” At the end of the day, Netanyahu left the world with nothing they could hold on to and with a big “no” to Obama, to Europe and to everyone. He gave them nothing to cling to or to work with.

Washington Watch: Paging Dale Carnegie
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by D. Bloomfield - (Opinion) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

US-Israel strategic relations may be stronger than ever, but politically the alliance took an unnecessary body blow over the past week as the prime minister of Israel sat in the Oval Office on live TV lecturing the US president in a tone Atlantic blogger Jeffrey Goldberg said “suggested he was speaking to an ignoramus.”

Poll: 12% of Israeli Jews consider Obama to be pro-Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Hoffman - May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama’s attempt to portray himself as pro-Israel in a high-profile speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday did not succeed, according to a Smith Research poll sponsored by The Jerusalem Post. The speech was intended to correct impressions that he was hostile toward Israel, which may have been reinforced by a landmark address about the Middle East that he delivered at the State Department last Thursday, and by a tense press conference at the White House on Friday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Above the Fray: PM's stance jeopardized Israel's security
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Alon Ben-meir - (Opinion) May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The supposed controversy over President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East, manufactured by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and enabled by the media, has been disgraceful and dishonest. Obama said nothing new about borders, just the facts – no border will ever be acceptable to the Palestinians that does not carve out a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, the two territories carved out of the “1967 lines.” And no border will ever be acceptable to Israel that does not include the major settlement blocs.

Fragile stability of aid-dependent Palestinian economy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Jon Donnison - May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

"I've done nothing wrong," pleads the young offender, in a suspiciously hammed up fashion, as he is handcuffed and patted down. As he is bundled into the back of a police car, the would-be criminal flashes me a wink and a toothy smile. This is a training exercise. "I used to be an actor," he laughs, "before I joined the police." These are Palestinian police receiving training by officers from the European Union. The project was originally set up five years ago by the British government and has since been taken over by the EU.

In helping Palestinians, IDF paramedics defy stereotypes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Linda Gradstein - May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Yana Kisluk tosses her long ponytail over one shoulder and adjusts her M-16 over the other. The pretty 21-year-old, who wears diamond stud earrings and perfect eye makeup, looks like any other young Israeli doing her compulsory military service. As a paramedic in the Israel Defense Forces, however, Kisluk belongs to a small group of Israeli soldiers whose job is to provide care for Palestinians rather than simply defend against them.

Israel's PM and his US supporters engage in mutual back-slapping
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

As the first of what would be five protesters heckling the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at a banquet in Washington on Monday night was summarily ejected from the Walter E Washington Convention Centre into a balmy night, the chant erupted in a deep baritone, echoing through the massive hall. "Bibi, Bibi, Bibi", the crowd bayed.

US wilts under Israel pressure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Patrick Seale - (Opinion) May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama's failure to stand up to Israel's land-hungry Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has bitterly disappointed opinion in the Arab and Muslim world. It has confirmed the belief that Washington has sold out to Israeli interests. Heralded as an attempt to extend a hand of friendship to the democratic wave in the Arab world, Obama's speech on May 19 was met in the region with indifference or derision. The Arab-Israeli peace process is now thought to be all but dead.

Obama’s half step
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Why is Benjamin Netanyahu, the right-wing Israeli prime minister, so ungracious to the United Nations, which helped create the state of Israel, and to Barack Obama, the American president who is eager to end the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and who declared that time may not be on the side of Israel, especially when the Arab Spring is still sweeping the Middle East?

Netanyahu and the US congressional yo-yos
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

It was all rather disgusting. There they were, the members of the highest legislative bodies of the world's only superpower, flying up and down like so many yo-yos, applauding wildly, every few minutes or seconds, the most outrageous lies and distortions of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Congress Makes the Case for Palestinians’ UN Approach
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Progress
by Matthew Duss - (Opinion) May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Just in case you were unclear on why the Palestinians have chosen to effectively withdraw from the U.S.-led peace process and try their luck at the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech Tuesday, and the rapturous reception given it by a joint meeting of Congress, should have fixed that.

The Required Arab Response to Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Raghida Dergham - (Opinion) May 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The preconditions put forward by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his speech before the joint session of the Senate and the U.S. House this week, are his and Israel’s onus alone. The most appropriate Arab response to the strategic framework proposed by Netanyahu for the peace process is to ignore it and act on the basis that this affair does not concern the Arabs. Each of the Arab and Israeli sides has its own visions and strategic frameworks, and within each camp, there are disagreements on both essence and implementation.

David Makovsky and Ghaith al-Omari debate the Israel-Palestine conflict and discuss creating mutual respect and dialogue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Daily Bruin
by Loic Hostetter - May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Political analysts David Makovsky and Ghaith al-Omari had a simple message when they spoke to a room of about 172 people about the Israel-Palestine conflict. “If Jews and Arabs can talk to each other in the (Middle) East, why can’t they talk to each other in the Midwest?” Makovsky said during their debate Wednesday night. The event, organized by the Olive Tree Initiative in coordination with the Campus Events Commission, aimed to foster cooperation between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine student groups.

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