Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Gazans welcome Egypt’s opening of the border. 1,600 settlers infiltrate Nablus without coordinating with the PA, and clash with Israeli forces. Officials say the new PA government will be announced on June 6. Israeli soldiers reportedly severely beat a Palestinian at a checkpoint near Hebron. Reuters asks if Palestine can become a member state of the UN, and says Israeli rhetoric about “indefensible borders” is a demand for more land. Pres. Abbas says he is determined to approach the UN in September, and the Arab League says it backs the move. Israel prepares for additional possible border protests. Israeli troops arrest eight Palestinians in the West Bank. An Israeli newspaper claims Abbas met with Pres. Peres secretly for “serious” negotiations. PM Netanyahu warns Egypt is loosing control of the Sinai. Zvi Bar'el says Hamas plays into Netanyahu’s “no partner” strategy. Akiva Eldar says Pres. Obama must confront Netanyahu on peace. Netanyahu presents a controversial plan to divide the Negev. Jeff Barak says Netanyahu’s speeches and poll numbers don’t change reality. Israelis say they’re not sure Obama made progress convincing Europeans to oppose a Palestinian UN bid. JJ Goldberg says Israel is not prepared for possible diplomatic developments in September. Mouin Rabbani says Egypt may open the border but will not take primary responsibility for Gaza. The Arab News says Palestinians have no choice but to go to the UN.

Egypt Lifts Blockade, Along With the Gazans’ Hopes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by David Kirkpatrick - (Analysis) May 28, 2011 - 12:00am

RAFAH BORDER CROSSING, Egypt — Hundreds of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip arrived here by the busload on Saturday to pass through the reopened border into Egypt, taking the first tangible steps out of a four-year Israeli blockade. “I feel this is the start of freedom,” said Hasna el-Ryes, 45, a Gaza resident waiting to cross into Egypt so she could travel to visit sons studying in Britain. “You can’t imagine how much we have suffered.”

Over 1,600 Israelis enter Nablus overnight
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 1, 2011 - 12:00am

NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Israeli soldiers escorted 1,600 Jewish settlers into the northern West Bank city of Nablus overnight Sunday to visit a shrine in the area, known to many Jews as Joseph's Tomb. While accompaniment by Israeli forces remains mandatory according to laws governing settlers, an additional 200 Jewish worshipers entered Palestinian neighborhoods without coordinating with Israeli authorities, an Israeli military spokesman said.

New government to be announced June 6
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 29, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The composition of the new Palestinian Authority's technocrat government will be announced on June 6 by delegates from formerly rival parties Fatah and Hamas as a major step to the implementation of a unity agreement, an official said Sunday.

Medics: Palestinian beaten by Israeli soldiers at checkpoint
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
May 29, 2011 - 12:00am

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli soldiers brutally attacked a Palestinian man at an army checkpoint near Hebron on Saturday evening, medics said. Israeli soldiers stopped Mahmoud Al-Battat, 19, at around 7 p.m. at a checkpoint near Ad-Dhahiriya in the southern West Bank as he returned from work in Israel, medical officials told Ma'an. Soldiers beat him until he fainted, director of operations at the Palestinian Red Crescent Nasser Al-Qabaja said. Al-Battat recovered consciousness at around 11 p.m. and phoned his family.

Can Palestine become a United Nations member state?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alternet
by Louis Charbonneau - (Interview) May 30, 2011 - 12:00am

UNITED NATIONS, May 30 (Reuters) - The Arab League has said it will seek full U.N. membership for a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital, ignoring opposition from Washington and Israel. However, although such a move would carry symbolic force, there appears to be little chance it could succeed at present. WHAT STATUS DO THE PALESTINIANS CURRENTLY HAVE AT THE U.N.? The Palestinians are U.N. observers without voting rights. The Vatican and European Union have the same status. WHAT DO THE PALESTINIANS, ISRAELIS AND OTHERS WANT?

For Israelis, "defensible" border means more land
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Dan Williams - (Analysis) May 29, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, May 29 (Reuters) - To ask Israeli officials how the border with a future Palestine should look is to invite a deluge of data -- from the regional military balance, to topographical surveys, to intelligence projections on Hamas strength. But no one will map it out. For while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused any return to the "indefensible" lines held before the West Bank's occupation in the 1967 war, the Israelis themselves have no ready alternative to hand.

Abbas sees no hope for talks, firm on U.N. path
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Ali Sawafta - May 28, 2011 - 12:00am

DOHA, May 28 (Reuters) - The Palestinian president said on Saturday there were "no shared foundations" for peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seeking U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood was his only option. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, addressing an Arab League meeting in Doha, expressed concern that taking the diplomatic step opposed by the United States and Israel could result in financial sanctions and urged Arab states to fill any gap.

Israel braces for border clashes in coming days
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Josef Federman - May 29, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli military is preparing for the possibility of violent protests along its borders in the coming days, aiming to avoid a repeat of deadly unrest that erupted earlier this month, a senior military official told The Associated Press on Sunday. Facebook-organized activists have called for demonstrations next weekend in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan to mark the anniversary of the 1967 Mideast war, in which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip east Jerusalem and Golan Heights.

Arab League backs Palestinian statehood bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
May 29, 2011 - 12:00am

CAIRO — The Arab League has endorsed a Palestinian bid to seek recognition at the United Nations of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. The League says it will prepare documents to support the bid at the next General Assembly meeting in September in New York. Egypt's official MENA news agency says the announcement came after an Arab ministerial meeting in Qatar late on Saturday. The move pits the League against the United States and Israel, which oppose the Palestinian bid. The idea for the Palestinian push came after the collapse of the latest Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Israel arrests eight in West Bank prior to clashes between Palestinians, settlers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 30, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli army arrested eight Palestinians in the West Bank before clashes erupted between dozens of youths and Jewish settlers, witnesses and security sources said Monday. The Israeli forces demolished a store selling construction materials in Qalqilya city and leveled agricultural lands near the holy city of Bethlehem, which the Palestinians said was to expand roads leading to a Jewish settlement in the area. Israel Radio reported that the wanted Palestinians were arrested in several cities in the West Bank.

Israeli, Palestinian presidents secretly meet to resume peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
May 29, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas allegedly held secret talks meant to reach a formula that would enable the stalled peace process to resume, and the Palestinians to abort efforts to unilaterally seek United Nations recognition of statehood in September. The negotiations between Peres and Abbas were "real, prolonged and confidential," Israeli daily Ma'ariv reported on Sunday.

Netanyahu warns Egypt losing control of growing terror groups in Sinai
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jack Khoury, Jonathan Lis - May 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday that Egypt's new military government was having a "hard time" controlling the rise of international terror organizations in the Sinai Peninsula. "Egypt is having a hard time realizing its sovereignty in Sinai," Netanyahu said during a meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "International terror organizations are stirring in Sinai and their presence is increasing due to Sinai's connection to Gaza."

Hamas is good for Netanyahu's 'no-partner' strategy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel - (Opinion) May 29, 2011 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama was deeply understanding of Israel's resistance to negotiating with Hamas. So much so that in the blaze of fiery words he unleashed on Benjanim Netanyahu, AIPAC and the Israeli public, Obama gave Hamas the status it always wanted: the tripwire for any and all negotiations with Israel. This status is now approved and sanctioned by the United States.

Obama is letting Netanyahu off the hook
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) May 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Who said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hasn't changed? Who would have believed that the dear son of that combative family would utter indecent words like "Palestinian state" without spitting immediately after? Who would have dreamt that the prince of the right would even hint at the possibility that settlements would be evacuated? A veritable revolution. Instead of brandishing a thorn-filled club, Netanyahu is waving a fresh olive branch; he has learned that there is no better way to perpetuate the frozen peace process, expand settlements and increase his political longevity.

Netanyahu's controversial plan to divide the Negev
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Attila Somfalvi - May 29, 2011 - 12:00am

The government will discuss a wide-scale reform in Bedouin lands in the Negev next Sunday, Ynet learned. If the plan goes through, Bedouins will get extensive lands which will be recognized by the State. Ministers are slated to vote on the plan, which was first exposed by Ynet, before a special committee decides on the extent of lands the Bedouins will receive.

The limits of rhetoric
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Jeff Barak - (Opinion) May 29, 2011 - 12:00am

It’s a sad commentary on the state of Israel’s opposition, but the best response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech last week came not from opposition leader Tzipi Livni or from anybody on the Left, but from former prime minister Ehud Olmert.

J'lem unsure Obama moved EU against Palestinian UN bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - May 30, 2011 - 12:00am

In Jerusalem’s post mortem evaluations of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s stormy visit to Washington, questions were raised about the wisdom of the US trying to prevent European support of a Palestinian state at the UN by first setting a return to the 1967 lines, with mutual land swaps, as the negotiation baseline. White House officials have said that one of the reasons why President Barack Obama unveiled this as the new US position in his May 19 speech on the Middle East was to better be able to convince the Europeans that there was no need to support a Palestinian state.

As Bibi Slouches Toward September
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - (Opinion) May 25, 2011 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu had ample reason to congratulate himself on a job well done as he headed home from his five-day visit to Washington, D.C. He received thunderous hero’s welcomes from Congress and the pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which greeted him with its biggest-ever display of muscle. All this will serve him well at home. True, he had an ugly head-butt with President Obama at the White House, but this just reinforces his street cred, solidifies his coalition and dispirits his critics.

A window opens, but Egypt refuses responsibility for Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Mouin Rabbani - (Opinion) May 30, 2011 - 12:00am

The Egyptian decision to permanently reopen the Rafah border crossing does not end the blockade of the Gaza Strip, but is nevertheless a highly significant development. According to the new regulations, Rafah will operate for 12 hours, six days a week as a passenger terminal only. Men aged 18 to 40 will require permits to use the crossing and trade - the passage of goods and materials in commercial quantities - continues to be prohibited.

Move to the UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) May 29, 2011 - 12:00am

In deciding to seek full UN membership for a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital, the Arab League is announcing that the current wave of self-determination in the region needs to translate into a more independent Arab foreign policy.

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