Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: After meeting with US officials, PLO officials say they are still intent on a UN initiative, but add this does not contradict the peace process. A PA report says settler violence against Palestinians increased "dramatically" in June. UNRWA insists its name has not changed. Israeli police deploy to meet a pro-Palestinian "flytilla." The PA eliminates immunity for ministers in a corruption probe. Hamas arrests another male hairdresser. Arabs and Israelis quarrel at an international water conference. Israel and Turkey are reportedly negotiating about a UN report on last year's flotilla. EU officials say the July Quartet meeting will try to develop the framework for new talks. COMMENTARY: Amira Hass says Israel's response to the flotillas is self-defeating. Larry Derfner says that flotillas should be supported despite their flaws, but D. Bloomfield says the whole thing is pointless. Ruqaya Izzidien says flotilla solidarity is more important than aid cargo. Leonard Fein says rather than just opposing Palestinian UN initiatives, the US should craft a compromise resolution. Michael Jansen says Palestinians should push the West to change its peace approach. Tony Karon questions the idea that Israel is the "national home of the Jewish people." Daniel Kurtzer says the role of mediators is crucial. Nizar Farsakh profiles the role of Quartet mediator James Wolfensohn in the Gaza redeployment. Ron Pundak looks at lessons from Oslo mediation. Aaron David Miller says chances of a negotiating breakthrough in the short run are slim.

Erekat in Washington: UN bid continues despite pressure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

PLO official Saeb Erekat said Wednesday that Palestinians would continue the bid for the UN to recognize an independent Palestinian state, after meeting US officials in Washington DC. The former chief negotiator said the US had demanded they withdraw their appeal, Israeli news site Ynet reported. But in a press conference Erekat stressed that the resolution, planned for September, does not contradict renewing currently stalled peace negotiations with Israel.

PA report: Israeli settler attacks on the rise
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli settler violence towards Palestinians increased "dramatically" in June, according to a Palestinian Authority report released Wednesday. The report documented 139 attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank by the Israeli army and settlers as reported to the government during the month, including demolition of 95 buildings and over 3600 olive trees and vines. The release highlighted a fire in the village of Madama on Tuesday, and in Aqraba village on Monday, both in the northern Nablus district, which it attributed to Israeli settlers.

UNRWA: Name has not changed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

An UNRWA spokesperson said Thursday that the Palestinian refugee agency has not changed its name, after reports of a new title sparked protests in Gaza on Tuesday. Adnan Abu Hasnah said the only change was a logo update which actually added the term UNRWA, in English and Arabic, to the image. The organization's 60th anniversary, Hasnah said, and attracting donors and other partners was behind the update. But the no word in the title had been changed, he said.

Israel deploys airport police to screen activists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Amy Teibel - July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel deployed hundreds of extra police at its already heavily guarded international airport Thursday and asked European airlines to bar potential troublemakers from Tel Aviv-bound flights in anticipation of the arrival of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists. In Paris, eight activists were blocked from boarding a Malev Airlines flight Thursday. One of those turned away, Philippe Arnaud, said Malev showed him a list provided by Israeli authorities of nearly 400 people being barred from Israel. German carriers Lufthansa and Air Berlin said they also received lists.

PNA lifts immunity for ministers over corruption inquiry
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) lifted immunity for several ministers in a rare move aimed at investigating charges of corruption, a Palestinian official said Thursday. The PNA commission against corruption presented the names of some ministers to President Mahmoud Abbas who accepted to withdraw their immunity, said Rafiq Al-Natsha, the head of the commission.

Palestinian official: UN vote on statehood won't contradict peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat attended a meeting with U.S. officials at the U.S. State Department Wednesday, at which U.S. officials were expected to push the PA negotiator to accept American terms for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Acting Middle East Envoy David Hale and diplomat Dennis Ross both attended the meeting with Erekat. Following their meeting, Erekat said in a brief press conference that he does not expect the Quartet’s meeting scheduled for July 11 to “invent the wheel.”

Hamas arrests man for styling women's hair
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

The Hamas government in Gaza has arrested a man for violating a recent legislation that prohibits men from styling women's hair, the BBC reported Wednesday. The report said that following the arrest, many male hairstylists could be found loitering at the entrance to their salons, terrified of being detained as well. Last year Hamas officially announced a new law prohibiting men from styling women's hair, as it negates Sharia.

Panel on water solutions in Middle East gets heated
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Sharon Udasin - July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

A panel whose aim was to address “cross-border cooperation in managing water basins” quickly became a political struggle that overpowered participants’ individual ideas toward improving the water situation for the region. During the International Water Symposium on Tuesday, experts from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority discussed the increasingly dangerous situation the region is facing as water sources deplete, a problem they all agreed could only be solved by cooperation between neighbors, despite political differences.

Israel and Turkey row delays UN flotilla report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Catrina Stewart - July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli and Turkish officials are working feverishly behind the scenes to agree on a reconciliation document which would draw a line under Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last May, which left nine Turkish activists dead and chilled relations with its closest ally in the region.

Ashton: Quartet meeting aim to set framework for talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday said that the goal at a Quartet meeting in Washington scheduled for Monday will be "to try and adopt a statement that will help the Israelis and Palestinians to bridge the gap, and allow for a return to the negotiating table." The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- are scheduled to meet on July 11, a senior UN diplomat said last week.

In dealing with flotilla, Israel is anything but smart
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Opinion) July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Like an anti-Semitic caricature, Israel has extended its long tentacles around the globe in an effort to stop 10 decades-old ships from sailing to Gaza. Many Israelis interpreted this as a great victory.

Support flotilla, with all its faults
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - (Opinion) July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

For political reasons, I wouldn’t go on the flotilla that’s trying to sail from Greece to Gaza, nor would I board the planned “air flotilla” to Ben-Gurion Airport on Friday. But for weightier political reasons, I hope the people on the boats make it to Gaza and those on the planes get through to the West Bank (even though it’s understood Israel won’t let them). As a Zionist, I don’t identify with these activists. But as a hater of the occupation, I support what they’re doing now. My heart isn’t really with them - but my head is.

Washington Watch: Ships of fools
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Douglas Bloomfield - (Opinion) July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

There’s more to the story of this year’s would-be Gaza flotilla than friends of Hamas going for another Mediterranean cruise just to poke their fingers in Israel’s eye. As this is being written, the ships remain bottled up in Greek harbors, stopped not by Israeli commandos rappelling from helicopters, but by something even more intimidating: squads of Jewish lawyers and diplomats. Israel also had help from international leaders who didn’t want to appear to be backing an international terrorist organization.

Gaza flotilla: 'Solidarity more important than aid'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ruqaya Izzidien - (Opinion) July 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Support for the aid flotilla is universal in Gaza, partly because of the aid it aims to deliver, but more popularly because of the symbolism it holds. Khalil Shaheen, head of economic and social rights at the Palestinian centre for Human Rights, believes the most important message carried by the Gaza aid flotilla, which is attempting to leave Athens, is solidarity.

Colonisation, occupation - core problems
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - (Opinion) July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinians, Arabs and foreign regional players have to admit that all strategies adopted so far have failed to resolve the Palestinian/Arab-Israeli conflict. Armed struggle, the 1988 Palestinian declaration of independence and negotiations have not brought the Palestinian people nearer to liberation.

Is Israel the 'National Home of the Jewish People'?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Time
by Tony Karon - (Opinion) July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

In a scathing commentary on the folly of the Obama Administration relying on Dennis Ross to resuscitate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar notes that Ross has been at the center of just about every failed initiative on that front over the past two decades -- and that now, as ever, he is running interference for the Israelis, sustaining what he says is an illusion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's willingness to make major concessions while restraining the U.S. from putting any significant pressure on him.

Mediators matter, and good mediators can broker agreements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Daniel Kurtzer - (Blog) July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Mediators matter, especially in the Arab-Israel conflict, where all parties have looked to the United States to play the role of third party helper. During the more than 30 years of active American mediation, the parties have sometimes defined what they wanted the US to do or to avoid doing, but they have not defined clearly the structure or functioning of the mediator's role.

What makes for an effective mediator: The case of James Wolfensohn
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Nizar Farsakh - (Blog) July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

In 2005, the Quartet appointed James Wolfensohn, former head of the World Bank, as special envoy for the Gaza disengagement. His job was to get the parties to cooperate in the withdrawal process, as well as to revive the Palestinian economy post-withdrawal by harnessing the Quartet's resources, both financial and political. In my opinion, his case is illustrative of the conditions for effective mediation and their demise.

What do we do with our accumulated experience?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ron Pundak - (Opinion) July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

When I think back and analyze the Oslo negotiations with regard to the task of the mediator, I recall three episodes that best describe the mission the Norwegians took upon themselves. The first took place on the first day of our meetings. Following an official event that provided cover for the Israelis and Palestinians to come to Oslo, the Norwegians left us in the room and our host Terje Roed-Larsen said, "We'll return only if you summon us or if we hear you quarreling . . ."

For America, An Arab Winter
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
by Aaron David Miller - (Opinion) July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Mark Twain once observed that history doesn’t repeat; it rhymes. As America reacts to the dramatic changes sweeping the Arab world, it would be wise to keep Twain’s insight in mind. These aren’t quite secular revolutions like those of 1789 and 1917, and they certainly aren’t Islamic ones, like Iran’s in 1979, at least not yet. They more resemble popular uprisings like those in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991.

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