Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Pres. Obama says the United States may have “tactical disagreements” with Israel. Pres. Abbas reiterates that Palestinians want to resume negotiations, will go to the UN in September and will have a government headed by PM Fayyad. Fayyad says he refuses to continue as prime minister, even though a new poll shows him to be the popular choice. Obama assures Jewish donors he strongly supports Israel. Settlers use tourism to tighten their grip on the occupied territories. Gazans are not feeling much relief from the border opening. Turkey and Israel hold secret talks to repair relations. PM Netanyahu says Israel must separate from the Palestinians. Outgoing Israeli military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi says a Palestinian state is “inevitable” and urges resuming negotiations. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has been stripped of his diplomatic passport after remarks critical of the Israeli government. COMMENTARY: Sefi Rachlevsky says that because of religious fanaticism, the Israeli military is leading Israel to destruction. Daoud Kuttab says Palestinians need a holistic strategy for independence. Gerald Auerbach says Israel was founded amidst a legitimacy crisis and had to fight its own extremists. Gershon Baskin says Palestinians need energy as well as political independence. Khalaf Al Habtoor says more Arab commitment to the Palestinian cause is required. Jeff Halper says even a symbolic show of support for Palestine at the UN will be a significant victory. Yossi Alpher says that rather than trying to resuscitate talks, the international community should turn UN efforts into a win-win situation. Ghassan Khatib says Europe is the key to what happens in September. Roger Hercz says Israel is torn over the Arab Spring.

Obama warns of new US tactical spats with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama warned that new "tactical" disagreements loomed between Israel and Washington, but vowed to leverage his administration's "creative powers" in the cause of peace. Obama, who has had a difficult relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke at length on the stalled peace process at a fundraiser for his 2012 re-election campaign with the Democratic friends of Israel group.

Abbas: UN in place of no other options
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian leadership will continue its pursuit of support for an appeal to the UN for membership and the recognition of statehood, and Salam Fayyad will head the new unity government, President Mahmoud Abbas told the Lebanese satellite channel LBC on Monday night. In the absence of negotiations with Israel, Abbas said, a move at the UN would be the chosen course of action. If the United States, Israel and Europe have objections to a UN appeal, he continued "they must come up with an alternative."

Salam Fayyad 'will refuse PM post'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Salam Fayyad will announce his intention to refuse to head the new unity government if he is offered the post, sources close to the appointed West Bank Prime Minister told Ma'an. Fayyad has publicly said he would accept whatever parties decide in Cairo. Fatah's central committee nominated Fayyad as the party's choice for the position, a party official said following a meeting of the Fatah leadership in Ramallah on June 11. Hamas swiftly rejected the proposal.

Obama tells Jewish donors he strongly backs Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Patricia Zengerle - June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

U.S. President Barack Obama reassured Jewish donors on Monday he strongly supports Israel, stressing close ties between the United States and the Jewish state, but also emphasizing that changes in the Middle East will require a fresh look at the region. "Both the United States and Israel are going to have to look at this new landscape with fresh eyes. It's not going to be sufficient for us just to keep on doing the same things," Obama said at the first of two big-ticket fund-raisers where he was speaking on Monday evening.

Settlers cultivate W.Bank tourism to tighten grip on land
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Maayan Lubell - June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

The bulletproof van is extra. Welcome to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Jewish settlements built on land Palestinians seek for a state are opening their gates to foreign tourists and Israeli visitors. A one-day tour, booked through a regional settler council, costs $50. An additional $80 secures the armoured bus. Palestinians, or "local Arabs" in the words of settlers who spoke to one group of visitors, are not on the itinerary.

In Gaza, border opening brings little relief
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak - June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

The reopening of the Gaza Strip's main border crossing with Egypt brought widespread relief to Palestinians suffering from a four-year blockade. But one month later, some 20,000 people are on a wait list and despair is growing in this crowded territory. Residents still must apply for travel permits, and the first available dates to cross are in late August. Frustrated travelers gather at the crossing each day, clutching medical reports, foreign residency permits and university registration documents in hopes of persuading the authorities to let them through.

Israel and Turkey holding secret direct talks to mend diplomatic rift
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli and Turkish officials have been holding secret direct talks to try to solve the diplomatic crisis between the two countries, a senior official in Jerusalem said. The negotiations are receiving the Americans' support. A source in the Turkish Foreign Ministry and a U.S. official confirmed that talks are being held, though in Israel the prime minister and foreign minister's aides declined to comment.

Netanyahu: Israel needs to separate from the Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprised many of the participants in the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday when he embarked on a monologue praising the idea of parting from the Palestinians and in relinquishing portions of the West Bank. Netanyahu said the number of Palestinians and Jews between the Jordan River and the sea "is irrelevant" and that it's more important to "preserve a solid Jewish majority inside the State of Israel."

Opinion poll shows Fayyad favored for PM
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found the majority of Palestinians would prefer Salam Fayyad as prime minister and Mahmoud Abbas as president. The results of the poll, released Monday, also showed that reconciliation talks had improved the public perception of Hamas more than Fatah.

Ashkenazi: Palestine is inevitable, UN state bid is not
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Former IDF chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said that a Palestinian state is "inevitable," and that Israel must take an active stance in seeking to reengage the Palestinian leadership in order to avoid a unilaterally declared Palestine in the UN this September, Army Radio reported Monday. Speaking at an event in Toronto, Ashkenazi said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government could still avoid the UN Palestinian state bid if Israel opened up negotiations again with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Meir Dagan required to return diplomatic passport
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
June 19, 2011 - 12:00am

The government demanded that former Mossad chief Meir Dagan turn in his diplomatic passport, an unusual request that follows controversial remarks by Dagan in which he criticized the country's leadership for its treatment of the Iranian threat, Channel 2 reported. Dagan had requested to keep the passport because of a slate of upcoming trips he had planned outside of the country, but his request was denied, according to the report. The diplomatic passport offers, among other benefits, diplomatic immunity.

The IDF is leading Israel to destruction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Sefi Rachlevsky - (Opinion) June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Imagine if hundreds of 18-year-olds were to inform the government and the chief of staff this summer that they will not enlist in the Israel Defense Forces.

The morning after the UN vote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian strategy to attain statehood is making significant progress in certain international political circles, but still lacks the necessary coordination and cohesion to bear the desired results. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have succeeded in unleashing the usual anti-Palestinian arsenal that Israeli hasbara has been using on Palestinian aspirations.

Remembering the ‘Altalena’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Jerold S. Auerbach - (Opinion) June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel is confronting increasingly virulent worldwide challenges to its legitimacy. An expanding chorus of politicians, journalists and academics relentlessly denounces the Jewish state as a racist, apartheid abomination. The resemblance between their shrill diatribes and the rhetoric of anti-Semitism during the past 2,000 years is not coincidental.

The greening of Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestine may soon become the newest nation on the planet.

Middle East peace needs fresh thinking
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Khalaf Al Habtoor - (Opinion) June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion tried to reassure Israelis that Palestinians would never return to their homes. "We must do everything to ensure they never do return… The old will die and the young will forget," he said. He was wrong; the word ‘forget' isn't in the Palestinians' lexicon. For 63 long years, they've borne hardships, suffered humiliation and fought for freedom with nothing but stones and bare hands. But, sadly, they not only face a cruel adversary, their own leaders have let them down.

The UN bid: A historic opportunity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Jeff Halper - (Opinion) June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

No one knows the precise plans of the Palestinian Authority (PA) vis-a-vis September: Will President 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. Now political leaders often make decisions alone or in consultation with a small group of advisers. As in so many matters political, however, the Palestinian leadership finds itself in a unique situation.

Why more pathetic attempts to revive a dead process?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Blog) June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

For nearly three years now, since the demise of negotiations between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas, there have been no serious Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The reasons center on the apparent recognition by both Abbas and Olmert's successor, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, that the gaps separating them on issues of substance are too wide to justify the political risks entailed in rejoining a serious negotiations effort.

The European position is key
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Blog) June 20, 2011 - 12:00am

The period from now until September is going to be crowded with ideas and proposals aimed at achieving two objectives. First, these will seek to head off the Palestinian plan to take the conflict to the United Nations for discussion and ask for recognition of the Palestinian state and membership at the world body. Second, these proposals will try to ensure a resumption of the bilateral negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

Special from Israel: A country torn over projected impact of Arab Spring
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Masry Al-Youm
by Roger Hercz - (Opinion) June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Facing US lawmakers on Capitol Hill in late May, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu did not even attempt to wrap an elegant coating around his undiplomatic mocking of the uprisings sweeping the Arab World. Comparing the current situation in many Arab states to Israel, he left nothing to the imagination. “My friends, you don‘t need to do nation building in Israel. We have already built,” Netanyahu said, as the lawmakers joined him in laughter. “You don’t need to export democracy to Israel. We’ve already got it.”

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