Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: FM Lieberman threatens a tough response to a Palestinian UN initiative. Greece cooperation is the key to Israel thwarting the new Gaza flotilla. The PA cabinet vows to resolve a fiscal crisis. Extremist rabbis are increasingly in conflict with the Israeli state. PM Netanyahu orders the disruption of a pro-Palestinian "fly-in." The UN Security Council will discuss Palestinian UN membership at its July 26 meeting. The UN says Israel used unnecessary force against Nakba Day protesters. The Palestinian prisoner issue sparks heated debate. A new poll shows continuing Jewish American support for Pres. Obama. A new study details the plight of nonregistered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. COMMENTARY: Shaul Arieli says Israel must not let itself become a theocracy. Eitan Haber says Israeli decision-making is in deep trouble. Nahum Barnea says military rabbis are bringing Soviet-style indoctrination to the Israeli army. Adam Shapiro says Gaza flotillas have had an impact. Osama Al Sharif says the "Arab Spring" will transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Reuters says the flotilla dispute foreshadows coming diplomatic tensions. Christopher Hitchens poses pointed questions to flotilla activists. Richard Falk says the flotilla is about the occupation. Bitterlemons interviews PLO official Hanna Amireh about a possible UN initiative.

Israeli FM threatens tough response to planned Palestinian declaration of independence at UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Associated Press - July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel’s hardline foreign minister says there will be a tough response if the Palestinians follow through on a plan to declare independence at the United Nations this fall. Avigdor Lieberman told reporters on Wednesday that “unilateral steps will force us to take unilateral steps.” He says Israel is considering a variety of responses but declined to elaborate. Lieberman has earlier suggested that Israel could annul past peace agreements or annex parts of the West Bank.

Israel's new friend: Why Greece is thwarting Gaza flotilla
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - July 5, 2011 - 12:00am

An unexpected player has come to Israel's aid in thwarting this year's Gaza-bound flotilla: Greece. It's a country Israel has been courting since a raid on last year's flotilla ended in the death of nine Turkish citizens, severely damaging relations between the Jewish state and one of its most important Mediterranean allies. Desperate for new friends in the region, Israel reached out to Greece, offering generous military assistance to the debt-ridden state.

PA: Efforts ongoing to overcome finance crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority cabinet asserted Tuesday that cooperation at a national level would overcome a financial crisis. During their weekly session in Ramallah, cabinet ministers, and premier Salam Fayyad, promised to do their best to overcome the crisis which has threatened the salaries of civil servants. They applauded banks and other institutions for being considerate to civil servants’ conditions.

Israel arrests raise specter of rabbis vs state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
by Marius Schattner - July 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Challenges to Israel's justice system by a small group of ultra-nationalist rabbis have raised the specter of theocracy in Israel, where religion is deeply intertwined with affairs of state. Over the past week, police have detained, questioned and released two very influential rabbis as part of an ongoing investigation into a banned book called "The King's Torah," which justifies killing non-Jews under certain circumstances. The arrests have sparked violent protests and a raging debate about whether rabbis are above the law, and about the limits of religious freedom of expression.

Netanyahu orders block of pro-Palestinian 'fly-in'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Maayan Lubell - July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered authorities on Wednesday to block entry of pro-Palestinian activists planning to travel to Tel Aviv over the weekend in a protest "fly-in". Netanyahu ordered the internal security minister and the immigration authority to "act with determination, while trying to avoid unnecessary friction" with anyone taking part in what he termed a provocation, a statement from his office said. Pro-Palestinian websites have called in recent weeks on activists to fly to Israel on July 8 to protest against its policy toward Palestinians.

Palestine UN membership a debate for Council in July
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Megan Davies - July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

The U.N. Security Council plans to discuss in July the possibility of Palestine becoming a United Nations member state, the Security Council president said on Tuesday. The Arab League has said it would request U.N. membership for a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital at the U.N. General Assembly in September. An open debate on the Middle East has been scheduled for July 26 according to a provisional calendar for the Security Council for July.

UN: Israel used unnecessary force against protesters on Nakba Day
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

A new report of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is highly critical of Israel for its handling of incidents on the border with Lebanon on May 15 - Nakba Day. It concludes that the Israeli soldiers used disproportionate force against Lebanese demonstrators, which resulted in seven deaths. In Israel there is great anger at the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Michael Williams, who authored the report, and the Foreign Affairs Ministry is cutting contact with him until further notice.

Heated debate over Palestinian prisoners in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Yolande Knell - July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

The entrance to the Abu Jihad Museum for the Prisoners' Movement closely resembles a jail. Step inside the revolving steel door topped by barbed wire and you stand behind bars that surround the ticket desk. Exhibits at the site, in the West Bank town of Abu Dis near Jerusalem, tell the stories of Palestinian political prisoners from the British Mandate period to modern-day Israel. Palestinians have come to view their experience of detention, for actions that oppose the occupation of their land, as part of their national identity.

Jewish approval of Obama unaffected by Israel tensions, poll shows
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
July 5, 2011 - 12:00am

President Obama's status among American Jews remains unaffected despite recent tensions with Israel's government, according to a Gallup Poll. Obama's approval rating among U.S. Jews was 60 percent in June, the polling company said, consistent both with earlier months. Also, Jews still consistently approved of the president's performance at an average of 14 percentage points above the general public, Gallup said in its release Tuesday. Obama's overall approval rating in June was 46 percent.

Study: Nonregistered Palestinian refugees are impoverished, marginalized and vulnerable
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Simona Sikimic - July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

U.N. service provision to the 17,000 estimated nonregistered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon has improved in recent years but too many of the “most vulnerable of the already vulnerable” continue to suffer from poor and patchy service provision, according to a report released Tuesday. The Danish Refugee Council study, “Incomplete Entitlement,” reveals that despite 80 percent of non-registered refugees reporting access to at least one U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) service, the average adult lives on $2.7 a day.

We must stop Israel from becoming a theocracy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Shaul Arieli - (Opinion) July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Those of us who believe that the internal debate in the Jewish community in Israel is still focused on defense needs or the number of settlements that should be evacuated, were proven wrong by the followers of Kiryat Arba's Rabbi Dov Lior. The real controversy focuses on the image of Israeli society and the nature of the country's governance. The conflict with the Palestinians is only a platform for shaping positions on this issue.

A decision-making fiasco
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Eitan Haber - (Opinion) July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

A normal Israeli citizen, characterized by the media as “the man on the street,” reads newspapers, listens to the radio, watches television and asks himself and those around him: What’s going on up there? If this is how they manage a minor, rather insignificant matter like handing over terrorist bodies, how are truly important issues – matters of life and death – being handled? And here’s the answer: This time, Israel’s leadership is not the only culprit – but…

The rabbis and the army
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Nahum Barnea - (Opinion) July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

"The admission of religion into combat regiments is growing." I did not read this report on a Hezbollah website or in a statement issued by the Iranian military. I read it on the IDF's official website, on a page that features news from the army's magazine, BaMahane. As it turns out, in the framework of a new IDF Rabbinate plan, a regimental rabbi will be appointed for every IDF combat regiment. The appointments will be made next month. The rabbis will be reserve soldiers. They will accompany combatants during training sessions and operational activity.

Gaza flotillas have made a difference
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Adam Shapiro - (Opinion) July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

As ships continue preparing to depart for Gaza from Greece and as the Greek government continues to serve as the Israeli ‘call centre’ for outsourcing the blockade of 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza, the myth continues to perpetuate that ‘established channels’ should be used to reach Gaza.

From standoffs to reforms, Arab Spring faces tests
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Osama Al-Sharif - (Opinion) July 5, 2011 - 12:00am

THE Arab Spring is devolving into a prolonged and sweltering summer with political or military deadlocks perching over Libya, Yemen, Syria and even Egypt and Tunisia where popular uprisings earlier this year have toppled ruling regimes. And even in countries that have managed to avoid public protests the situation is not much better. In fact the region has never looked so engulfed in challenges, and so far only few Arab governments recognize that a major geopolitical shift is taking place.

Analysis: Gaza flotilla a foretaste of future diplomatic furor
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Crispian Balmer - (Analysis) July 5, 2011 - 12:00am

The diplomatic maneuvering that snarled the Gaza initiative pales in comparison with the behind-the-scenes tussles surrounding a unilateral drive by the Palestinians to secure United Nations' recognition of statehood this September. While Israel has won this first round, the stakes will be much higher in the months ahead, with the possibility of chaos in the Palestinian Territories if politicians mess it up.

Boat People
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Slate
by Christopher Hitchens - (Opinion) July 4, 2011 - 12:00am

The tale of the Gaza "flotilla" seems set to become a regular summer feature, bobbing along happily on the inside pages with an occasional update. A nice sidebar for reporters covering the Greek debt crisis: a built-in mild tension of "will they, won't they?"; a cast of not very colorful characters but one we almost begin to feel we know personally. Such cheery and breezy slogans—"the audacity of hope" and "free Gaza"—and such an easy storyline that it practically writes itself.

Sabotaging Freedom Flotilla II
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
by Richard Falk - (Opinion) July 2, 2011 - 12:00am

The reports that two of the foreign flagged ships planning to be part of the ten vessel Freedom Flotilla II experienced similar forms of disabling sabotage creates strong circumstantial evidence of Israeli responsibility.

A Palestinian View: The consensus was positive
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
(Interview) July 4, 2011 - 12:00am

an interview with Hanna Amireh bitterlemons: When the Palestine Liberation Organization decided last week to go ahead with its plan to seek statehood at the United Nations, was there great discussion about the issue? Amireh: The meeting decided on a general direction of seeking recognition of the Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, first at the Security Council and also at the General Assembly. Of course, there was a discussion and different positions presented, but the general consensus was to support the move. bitterlemons: Was there a discussion of the risks involved?

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