Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Palestinians cancel national unity negotiations in Cairo, as the disagreement over the next PM continues. Israel approves 2,000 new settler housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. Hamas leaders complain about a feud within the organization’s hierarchy. Israel is the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter. Palestinian unemployment figures increase. Pres. Peres says peace with the Palestinians is urgent. Shaul Mofaz says Israel must prevent a Palestinian UN statehood bid. Anti-Palestinian initiatives are circulating in Congress. Young Palestinian children are routinely arrested by Israeli occupation forces in East Jerusalem. COMMENTARY: Thomas Friedman says the UN should update Resolution 181 and welcome Palestine as a member of the General Assembly. Victor Kattan says states, and not the UN as a body, will determine the status of Palestine. Akiva Eldar says Israelis prefer to forget the massacre at Deir Yassin. Carlo Strenger says the Israeli government is as disconnected from reality as mystics. Adel Safty says PM Netanyahu is sabotaging the peace process. Uri Avnery says Netanyahu’s rhetoric about Israel as a “Jewish state” is a trick to avoid Palestinian statehood. Bradley Burston says Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights to a home. Jackson Diehl claims Pres. Obama is “tough” on Israel but “timid” on Syria. Esther Cepeda says Gaza flotilla participants are not against Israel. Jeff Halper says the PA is making a “historic mistake” by not working enough with civil society.

Divided on Premier, Palestinians Cancel Meeting
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - June 19, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA — In a blow to Palestinian unity efforts, a meeting in Cairo planned for this week so that the leaders of the two main factions could announce a new government has been called off for lack of agreement on a prime minister, Palestinian officials said Sunday. The meeting had been set for Tuesday with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Khaled Meshal of Hamas. Mr. Abbas’s Fatah faction announced the cancellation in the West Bank, and Hamas officials here confirmed it.

Israel approves expansion of 2,000 settler homes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's Jerusalem municipality approved the expansion of 2,000 homes in the settlement district of Ramat Shlomo in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday, allowing each Israeli home to add an additional room, a council press statement said. The announcement of new settlement activity came as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told France 24 television that, "there is no real way to announce an end to construction. There's half a million people living there." Palestinian Authority officials were quick to condemn the statement.

Hamas: Mash'al, Zahhar feud 'behind us'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 19, 2011 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A spat between Hamas officials in Gaza and Damascus "is behind our backs," Hamas politburo Osama Hamdan told Ma'an on Thursday. Speaking with Ma'an Radio, the official commented on a slew of comments that went back and forth from Hamas leader in exile Khalid Mash'al and party leader in Gaza Mahmoud Az-Zahhar, over comments the Mash'al made during the signing of a unity accord with Fatah leaders in Egypt on 4 May.

Israeli arms industry a major economic engine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Israeli defense sales in 2010 totaled 7.2 billion U.S. dollars, making the small nation the world's fourth largest exporter. Defense officials released the figure in an official report ahead of the Paris Air Show, which is scheduled to open on June 26. A bevy of Israeli firms hope to garner even more sales at the show, after a string of recent successes. Most of the sales are from four leading companies: Elbit Systems, Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI), Rafael, and Israel Military Industries, a Defense Ministry statement said.

Palestinian economic boom unsustainable without overseas donations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

How nice it would be if statistics and events on the ground would line up in a logical, orderly manner, without any inconsistencies. How easy it would be to report then.

Peres: Need to strike peace with PA 'urgent'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
June 19, 2011 - 12:00am

President Shimon Peres said Sunday that there was an "urgent" need to reignite the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and an even more urgent need to finalize a peace deal – as both sides were "running out of time." "It is very urgent," Peres said in an interview with CNN. "I think neither side has much time. We have to act dynamically."

Mofaz: Israel must prevent UN Palestinian state bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Lahav Harkov - June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Foreign Affairs, Defense C'tee chair says Israel must look like a leader, act wisely with a plan to prevent unilaterally declared Palestine. Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chair MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) warned on Monday that Israel must initiate a plan to combat a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood in the UN this September. "This is a historically significant time, and we must act wisely and responsibly," Mofaz said. "Israel has to look like a leader, like a country that takes initiative and has what to offer."

Congressional initiatives target P.A.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
June 17, 2011 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- A number of initiatives are circulating in Congress targeting the Palestinians in the wake of their diplomatic tensions with Israel.

Continuing disagreement over interim PM delays new Palestinian government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

TEL AVIV //Fatah asked Hamas yesterday to postpone a crucial announcement on the make-up of a unity government amid disagreements over its leadership. The rival Palestinian groups were due to meet tomorrow to publicly announce the formation of the new government, almost two months after they struck a surprising pact aimed at ending their years-long bitter feud. But last week Hamas rejected Fatah's nomination of Salam Fayyad, a respected economist and the current prime minister of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, to serve as the new government's prime minister.

Palestinian Children Targeted as Israel Crushes Unrest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mel Frykber - June 16, 2011 - 12:00am

"Father please help me! Don’t let them take me away," screamed 12-year-old Ahmed Siyam as approximately 50 heavily armed Israeli soldiers and police dragged the handcuffed and blindfolded boy away. Last month Ahmed was pulled out of his bed at 4am by Israeli security forces led by Shin Bet agents from Israel’s domestic intelligence agency. He was taken to the Russian Compound police station in West Jerusalem where he was accused of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and police during clashes with Palestinian youth in the volatile neighbourhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem.

What to Do With Lemons
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Thomas L. Friedman - (Opinion) June 18, 2011 - 12:00am

While President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have gotten a lot of things right on foreign policy, they’ve made quite a mess in Israeli-Palestinian relations, where they’ve alienated all sides and generated zero progress. They’ve been inconsistent — demanding a settlements freeze then backing down — unimaginative and politically wimpy.

Palestinian statehood: Individual nations, not the U.N., will have the final say
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
(Editorial) June 17, 2011 - 12:00am

In their Op-Ed articles on Palestinian statehood, Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook and John R. Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, both misunderstood the nature and function of U.N. recognition in international law. Bolton's claim that President Obama is "the most anti-Israel president since 1948" was particularly galling. Was it not the president of the administration in which Bolton served who claimed to have had a "vision" of an Israeli and a Palestinian state "living side by side in peace and security," exactly as Obama wants?

Invite describes Deir Yassin as 'abandoned Arab village'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

In the invitation to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Kfar Shaul psychiatric hospital, set up on the remains of the village of Deir Yassin, the Arab village is described as such: "In the outskirts of Jerusalem, hidden from sight, the abandoned Arab village of Deir Yassin stands in isolation; a veritable treasure for the health and welfare services seeking housing for the hundreds who require physical and mental healing." Deir Yassin was the site where members of the Irgun and Lehi paramilitary organizations massacred about 100 villagers.

Netanyahu and the Mystics of Safed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Opinion) June 17, 2011 - 12:00am

Future historians looking back at Israel in 2011 will shake their heads with disbelief. They will note that there were voices of reason who called for constructive engagement with the Arab world; that these voices included some of the great luminaries of Israel’s defense establishment like former Shin Bet chiefs Yaakov Peri and Ami Ayalon, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, former IDF chief Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and General (Res) Amram Mitzna. They will write about their Israeli Peace Initiative of 2011 that basically endorsed the Arab League Initiative.

US waits for Israel's Godot
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Adel Safty - (Opinion) June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

A few days ago I read an article in the leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz about US President Barack Obama's recent initiative which suggested that Israelis and Palestinians use the 1967 lines as a starting point for a negotiated delineation of borders between Israel and the future Palestinian state. The article pointed out that the Palestinian leadership had accepted the Obama initiative but that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had reacted furiously, and publicly rejected Obama's initiative, was somehow expected to give a formal answer.

Israel as a ‘Jewish state’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) June 19, 2011 - 12:00am

I am fed up with all this nonsense about recognizing Israel as the “Jewish State.” It serves many different purposes, almost all of them malign. Benjamin Netanyahu uses it as a trick to obstruct the establishment of the Palestinian state. This week he declared that the conflict just has no solution. Why? Because the Palestinians do not agree to recognize etc. etc.

Israelis and Palestinians have equal right to a home
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Bradley Burston - (Opinion) June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

I'm going to try to put something into words, something that I've felt with precision for a very long time, but something which, I've found, words tend only to obscure, not to illuminate. Like most attempts at this, it probably won't work. But here goes. People need a home. People need to know where they come from. People need a place where they feel they belong, a place where, for reasons which may elude all understanding, they feel profoundly and uniquely rooted. A part of things, rather than simply and permanently apart.

Why is Obama so tough on Israel and timid on Syria?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jackson Diehl - (Opinion) June 19, 2011 - 12:00am

One of the hallmarks of the Arab Spring has been the emergence of a new and more modest American foreign policy. The Obama administration has insisted on not taking the lead in promoting democratic change; it has declined to act unless not just the French and British but the Arab League go first. It still can’t bring itself to say that Bashar al-Assad, a dictator and implacable U.S. enemy who is using tanks and helicopter gunships to slaughter his people, is not qualified to lead Syria to democracy.

For Gaza, but not against Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Chicago Sun-Times
by Esther Cepeda - (Opinion) June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

In a few days, slightly more than a year since a flotilla of ships attempted to breech Israel’s naval blockade to call attention to the plight of the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 50 passengers, including three from the Chicago area, will sail to the Gaza Strip on a boat named “The Audacity of Hope.” As part of the second international “freedom flotilla,” they’ll attempt the same feat to deliver humanitarian aid in the form of letters of support and friendship.

The PA's historic mistake, and opportunity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
by Jeff Halper - (Opinion) June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

No one knows the precise plans of the Palestinian Authority vis-a-vis September: Will Mahmoud Abbas declare a Palestinian state within recognized borders and ask that it be admitted as a full member of the UN – or not? Perhaps Abbas himself does not know.

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