Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israel blocks air travel to a Palestinian conference. The Middle East Quartet will meet Monday to try to fend off a looming diplomatic crisis. Pres. Abbas says the PA may not be able to meet payroll next month. PM Fayyad says the PA is committed to protecting Palestine from settlers. Testimony ends in the Rachel Corrie trial. Israelis are pressing legislation criminalizing boycotting settlements. The Ma’an office in Gaza is firebombed. Palestinians await the outcome of the Quartet meeting. Israel sees the “flytilla” as a rare media and diplomatic victory. UNRWA changes its name to “the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees,” but promises no change of mission. COMMENTARY: Ephraim Sneh, former Israeli Minister of Defense, calls on Israel to embrace American proposals and become an active member of the peace process in the Middle East.Akiva Eldar says PM Netanyahu has turned all critics into Israel-haters. Ha’aretz says growing tensions between Palestinians and settlers recall the early days of the second intifada. Cindy Corrie says the US is complicit in the Gaza blockade. Charles Glass says South Sudan shows Palestinians gaining independence is the easy part. The National says settlements and settler violence are a timebomb. Mostafa Zein says French supporters of Israel are exploiting the Syrian opposition. The Gulf News asks why Israel is so terrified of foreign activists. The Arab News says it’s time to end the Gaza blockade. Uri Avnery says Israel is only the latest society to succumb to complete paranoia.

Israel Blocks Air Travelers to Palestinian Conference
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - July 8, 2011 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Israel prevented a gathering of foreigners here on Friday by blocking, deterring or deporting hundreds of air travelers who had been invited by Palestinian activists to fly into Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport and then travel to the West Bank for a week of “fellowship and actions.”

Mideast Quartet meets to avoid looming crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 11, 2011 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (AFP) -- Envoys from the Middle East diplomatic Quartet meet on Monday in Washington in one of the final attempts to avoid a major confrontation at the United Nations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Monday's meeting sees the senior diplomats -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov -- "compare notes about where we are and plot a course forward" on the peace process, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Friday.

Abbas: PA may not pay salaries next month
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 11, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas revealed on Saturday that the PA is encountering a serious financial crisis and might not be able to pay civil servant salaries next month. Abbas had warned of the measures in a meeting with leaders of Palestinian popular organizations Friday night. “We might pay a half salary depending on the money our treasury receives.” Abbas warned against any negative reactions such as strikes or protests, especially by trade unions, stating that such protests would only harm what the PA has accomplished.

Fayyad: PA committed to protecting homeland
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 11, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Prime Minister in Ramallah Salam Fayyad said Sunday the Palestinian Authority aimed to protect the Palestinian homeland from Israel's settlement project. Speaking at an event welcoming a Jordanian parliamentary delegation in Ramallah, Fayyad praised a Jordanian initiative to visit Palestine and learn more about life under occupation. Fayyad briefed the delegation on the PA's efforts to achieve statehood and thanked the visitors for their cooperation and coordination between Amman and the Palestinian government.

Testimony ends in Israel case over killed American
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Associated Press - July 10, 2011 - 12:00am

An Israeli court heard its final witness Sunday in a trial surrounding the death of American activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003. Israel's commanding officer in Gaza at the time, Col. Pinhas Zuaretz, testified Sunday. Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist from Olympia, Washington, who was 23 at the time, was killed when she stood before the bulldozer on the Gaza-Egypt border. She and other activists believed the military was about to demolish nearby Palestinian homes.

Vote set on Israeli settlement boycott bill
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Aron Heller - July 10, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli backers of a bill that would punish people for boycotting West Bank settlements said Sunday they will push forward with the proposal, despite accusations that it's an undemocractic slap at freedom of speech. In recent years, settlement opponents in Israel have joined boycotts of products made in the settlements. The Palestinians and most of the international community say settlements are illegal because they are built on war-won land. The Palestinians want the West Bank for their future state. The local initiatives have angered settlers and their powerful political patrons.

Firebomb hurled at Palestinian news agency in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak - July 10, 2011 - 12:00am

A Palestinian news agency said that a firebomb was hurled at its Gaza City newsroom, setting off a small fire Sunday morning. No one claimed responsibility for the fire at the Maan news agency, which damaged the front door of the office but did not spread beyond. Maan editor-in-chief Nasser Laham decried the firebombing as an assault on "freedom of the press in Palestine." The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate called it "an attempt to silence the free press" and urged authorities to investigate.

News Analysis: Palestinians awaiting eagerly outcomes of Quartet, AL meetings
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Emad Drimly, Osama Radi - July 11, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinians are eagerly waiting for the outcomes of two decisive meetings, the international Quartet meeting due to be held soon in Washington and the meeting of the Arab League Committee to follow up the Middle East peace process.

Israel Scores Rare Victory in Media, Diplomatic War
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by David Rosenberg - July 10, 2011 - 12:00am

Pro-Palestinians activists fail in efforts to break Gaza blockade, reach Ben-Gurion Israel has scored a rare victory over the past several days in its media battle with pro-Palestinian activists, but experts said it was less the result of a savvy media strategy and more a function of a changing Middle East.

UNRWA changes spark fear refugees will be abandoned
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - July 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees has officially changed its logo and name, omitting the words “relief” and “works.” Palestinians fear the decision is an indication the UN agency is planning to stop providing refugees with many services. A spokesman for the agency denied the change had any significance, and it was just updating its website on the occasion of its 60th anniversary. Changing the agency’s mandate can be done only through a UN resolution, the spokesman explained.

Bad Borders, Good Neighbors
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ephraim Sneh - (Opinion) July 10, 2011 - 12:00am

TODAY, as American, European, Russian and United Nations officials meet in Washington to discuss the future of the Middle East peace process, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, remains adamant that a peace deal premised on returning to Israel’s pre-1967 borders poses an unacceptable risk to its security.

Israel 1967 Borders Are Central in Mideast Talks Restart Effort
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bloomberg
by Nicole Gaouette, Bill Varner - July 11, 2011 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama’s proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by starting with the 1967 borders will likely be adopted by the international group trying to find a peace agreement. The meeting today in Washington by the “Quartet” -- the U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia -- has taken on added urgency as Palestinians plan to ask the UN to recognize their state in a September vote. Israel and the U.S. oppose the move, which would raise political and legal questions.

Netanyahu, the purveyor of hatred
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) July 11, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is nobody's fool. He certainly knows that photos of policemen dragging away civilians who have come to protest the occupation and the siege do not enhance Israel's standing as "the only democracy in the Middle East." He undoubtedly understands that horse-trading over terrorists' dry bones does not help rebuild the shattered remnants of trust between Israel and the Palestinians.

West Bank escalation reminiscent of years before second intifada
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - (Blog) July 10, 2011 - 12:00am

Recent events in the northern West Bank recall the sad picture at the start of the previous decade. The March murder of the Fogel family in Itamar, by two Palestinians, once again drove up tensions between settlers and nearby villagers. Particularly in the vicinity of Yitzhar, settlers are engaged in a violent struggle to restore the "balance of deterrence" through attacks on their neighbors. The result is an expansion of the defensive ring around each settlement; Palestinian farmers know they risk injury if they breach it, and that the security forces are unlikely to respond quickly.

US collusion in the Gaza blockade is an affront to human rights
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Cindy Corrie - (Opinion) July 8, 2011 - 12:00am

When Greek authorities prevented the US ship the Audacity of Hope leaving its port in Athens this week, they dealt a blow to a group of brave and principled Americans who were trying to carry thousands of letters from US citizens to those who wait on Gaza's shores.

A new state of affairs as UN nears a vote on Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Charles Glass - (Opinion) July 11, 2011 - 12:00am

On Saturday, the world welcomed a new country into the community of nations. South Sudan has achieved independence from the northern half of the country, as Sudan itself did in 1956 when Egypt surrendered control of what had been known as Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. However, "independence" is not synonymous with "freedom", as the presence of the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe at the independence celebrations in the capital, Juba, should remind South Sudan's eight million new citizens. The hard part is just beginning.

Settlers' campaign forces the question
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) July 11, 2011 - 12:00am

As the clock ticks down towards an expected United Nations vote on an independent Palestinian state, Israeli settlers are intent on changing the facts on the ground.

The “Syrian Spring” an Israeli Spring
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Mostafa Zein - (Opinion) July 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The band of the Likud and its philosophers were the stars of the carnival staged by part of the Syrian opposition in Paris. Calling for the festivities was Bernard-Henri Lévy, who is – for those who do not know him – one of those who used to be called the “New Philosophers” in France, a group that also include his colleague André Glucksmann. Both abandoned philosophy a long time ago.

Israel is out to thwart foreign Gaza activists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
(Editorial) July 11, 2011 - 12:00am

There is no end to the arrogance of Israel. Authorities in the Jewish state have arrested more than 100 citizens of foreign countries at its airport simply because those foreigners hold beliefs which are contrary to those prevailing in Israel. Some 124 foreign citizens holding passports from France, the United States, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Spain were arrested as they tried to land at Tel Aviv airport off different flights. All are ready to participate, the Israelis believe, in pro-Palestinian campaigns coinciding with the second international flotilla to Gaza.

End Gaza blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) July 10, 2011 - 12:00am

THE collective punishment Israel is inflicting on Palestinian citizens continues. Tel Aviv is currently preventing a gathering of foreigners invited by Palestinian activists to fly into Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport and then travel to the West Bank for a week in a “Welcome to Palestine” initiative. It is doing so by blocking, deterring and preventing mainly European activists from boarding flights to Israel on foreign airlines.

Israeli-instilled memory replaces the real
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) July 10, 2011 - 12:00am

For several weeks now, our army and navy have been in a state of high alert, bravely facing a deadly threat to our very existence: 10 little boats trying to reach Gaza. These vessels are carrying a dangerous gang of vicious terrorists, in the form of elderly veterans of peace campaigns. Benjamin Netanyahu has affirmed our unshakable determination to defend our country: We shall not let anyone break the blockade to smuggle rockets to the terrorists in Gaza, who will then launch them to kill our innocent children.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017