Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Palestinian officials are rethinking their UN plans. Six Palestinians are injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza. Palestinians plan municipal elections in October. UNRWA says it is facing severe shortages due to the blockade of Gaza. Former US UN Amb. John Bolton says Palestinian efforts at the UN “mean nothing.” The PLO objects to UNESCO listing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Palestinians in Nablus say another intifada is unlikely. A new poll shows Palestinians disenchanted with Hamas, Iran and the peace process. US officials say Arab support for a Palestinian UN initiative won’t help it succeed. The UN says settler violence against Palestinians is increasing. COMMENTARY: Roger Cohen says all parties have squandered the past year, especially Israel’s refusal to recognize the achievements of PM Fayyad. Ha’aretz says it’s appropriate that Israelis and Palestinians march together for peace. An international “Friends of Israel Initiative” warns Palestinians against seeking statehood at the UN. Patrick Seale says PM Netanyahu does not seek peace. Jeffrey Goldberg says it may be time for Jewish Americans to boycott Netanyahu. Ami Brand says the boycott law may boomerang. Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff say both Israelis and Palestinians are worried about a return to violence. Dan Ephron says Palestinian divisions could impede a statehood bid. The Forward slams the new Israeli anti-boycott law and suggests boycotting settlement goods “can be a legitimate use of nonviolent protest to achieve a worthy goal.”

Palestinians' gambit for UN recognition wobbles
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - July 14, 2011 - 12:00am

After 20 years of negotiations with Israel and no lasting peace, Palestinians are pursuing a more unorthodox route: getting the United Nations to recognize Palestine as an independent state – and, ideally, welcome it as a new UN member. Two-thirds of Palestinians support the UN bid, which has lifted their expectations of sovereignty.

Air strikes across Gaza Strip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 15, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warplanes raided south and central Gaza late Thursday, targeting sites belonging to Hamas, witnesses said. “Four residents were injured, including two children, as a result of the Israeli air strike in an empty plot in An-Naser neighborhood in Gaza city and all were transferred to Ash-Shefa hospital,” Hamas spokesman Adham Abu Selmeiyah from the ministry of health said. Two other residents were injured in an air strike in the south of Gaza and were transferred to the Al-Aqsa hospital, he added.

PLO official: Local elections to take place in October
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 15, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian government in Ramallah is set to approve plans to hold municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in October 2011. PLO executive committee member Ghassan Shaka told Ma'an Thursday that consultations about the elections were held during a recent PLO Committee meeting and October 22 is understood to be the prescribed date for the elections to take place. "We hope that the elections will be held in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in order to translate national reconciliation into real action on the ground," Shaka said.

UNRWA facing shortages due to Israel blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 15, 2011 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Figures released by UNRWA on Thursday reveal that the organization is facing severe shortages in construction materials needed for ongoing projects in the Gaza Strip. "We been allowed to take in to Gaza a tiny fraction of the construction materials needed," UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said. Around 3,291 trucks have been allowed into the Gaza Strip, accounting for under four percent of the overall $660 million UNRWA construction plan to take place over the next three years.

Former US official derides Palestinian UN effort
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Matti Friedman - July 15, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian attempt to gain U.N. recognition without a peace agreement with Israel means "next to nothing" even if it succeeds, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said Friday. John Bolton, who served as a U.N. envoy for the Bush administration, said the General Assembly is certain to support the current Palestinian effort to win backing for a unilateral declaration of a state in September. But he said it will be meaningless without approval in the Security Council, where it almost certainly faces a U.S. veto.

PLO condemns UNESCO for listing Jerusalem as Israel's capital
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
July 14, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Thursday condemned listing Jerusalem as Israel's capital on the website of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Identifying Jerusalem as Israel's unified capital "is a procedure against humanitarian and international legitimacy and the Security Council's resolutions that consider East Jerusalem as an occupied city," said the PLO in a statement.

In Nablus, Palestinians play down possibility of September Intifada
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - July 15, 2011 - 12:00am

NABLUS - Abu-Imad's restaurant, facing the entrance to the Nasr mosque in the casbah of Nablus, has for years been one of the city's leading restaurants, but it is also a particularly well-known social institution in town. Abu-Imad, who is now 75, remembers how here, from the square between the restaurant and the mosque, demonstrations departed every Friday during the first intifada in the late 1980s. It was also here that members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade met during the second intifada, which began in 2000.

Poll Finds Palestinians Disenchanted with Hamas, Iran and the Peace Process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Time
by Karl Vick - July 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinians are trudging down the same long road as Israelis. Yes, they want peace. No, they don't think the other side will play ball. So for now their priority is private life: Getting food on the table and keeping the kids safe. That, at least, is the picture painted by a new survey of 1,010 Palestinians interviewed face to face in both the West Bank and Gaza over the last two weeks. It was conducted by a Palestinian firm working for Stan Greenberg, famed as Bill Clinton's pollster but who did this work for The Israel Project, a well-funded private U.S.

US rejects Arab League support for PA statehood bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh, Hilary Leila Krieger, Tovah Lazaroff - July 15, 2011 - 12:00am

An Arab League decision to ask the UN to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines would not serve the peace process, the US said on Thursday. “We’ve been clear in our conviction that unilateral approaches to try to seek statehood via the United Nations will not lead to a comprehensive settlement,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told The Jerusalem Post in a statement. “That will only come via the hard give and take of negotiations and mutual agreement, and we are committed to working with the parties to pursue it that way.”

Settler violence against Palestinians up 57 percent in the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Tom Perry - July 15, 2011 - 12:00am

HUWARA, Occupied West Bank: Scorched hillsides and charred olive groves near Nablus pinpoint the latest acts of arson by hard-line Jewish settlers against Palestinians who say they are ever more the victims of such attacks in the West Bank. “The olive tree is the only source of income for farmers,” said Mohammad Zeban, a Palestinian farmer, lamenting the damage inflicted on hundreds of olive trees by a recent fire near the village of Huwara. “They want to annihilate us.”

A Year of Waste
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Roger Cohen - (Opinion) July 14, 2011 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON — Almost a year ago, President Obama declared to the United Nations General Assembly: “When we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations — an independent sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.”

The other Jerusalem march
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) July 15, 2011 - 12:00am

On Jerusalem Day last month, tens of thousands of youngsters active in the religious Zionist movement marched from the city's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to the Western Wall Plaza in what is known as the Flag Parade. Some turned the march into a frightening demonstration of nationalism, racism and violence. Today, this route will be followed in reverse by another march that is the opposite of the rightists' march. Instead of calling for death (to the Arabs ), it will raise a joint cry for life - for an end to the occupation and recognition of Palestinian independence.

How not to have a Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Members of the Friends of Israel Initiative - (Opinion) July 13, 2011 - 12:00am

The unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, and its international recognition, would be a huge mistake. A peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is essential, but can be achieved only through honest negotiations – not by one party imposing a unilateral decision.

Netanyahu does not seek peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Patrick Seale - (Opinion) July 15, 2011 - 12:00am

Yigal Amir has good reason for quiet satisfaction. Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin knows that the three shots he fired on the night of November 4, 1995, slammed shut the door on peace and changed the course of Israeli history.

Maybe It's Time for American Jews to Boycott Netanyahu (UPDATED)
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Atlantic
by Jeffrey Goldberg - (Opinion) July 14, 2011 - 12:00am

This is what the prime minister of the "Middle East's only democracy," Benjamin Netanyahu, said about the free-speech suppression bill that passed in the Knesset earlier this week: He said, unbelievably, that the new law doesn't taint Israeli democracy. "What stains (Israel's) image are those savage and irresponsible attacks on a democracy's attempt to draw a line between what is acceptable and what is not." Yikes.

Boycott boomerang?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Globes
by Ami Brand - (Opinion) July 14, 2011 - 12:00am

The Boycott Law, which it seems will have to overcome the hurdle of the High Court of Justice, has had one unexpected result. After a dormant decade, the moderate Israeli left is suddenly showing signs of revival. On the evening of the vote, following calls on Twitter and Facebook for a protest against the infringement of the right of free speech, several hundred demonstrators gathered in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. Compared with the average attendance at similar events, this was an impressive achievement.

Regards from Khaled Meshal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - (Opinion) July 15, 2011 - 12:00am

The baklava almost got stuck in the officers’ throats. A week ago, Munib al-Masri, the world’s richest Palestinian, hosted a group of Israeli officers from the West Bank coordination unit at his Nablus home. At one point he mentioned that he had received the pastry from Damascus, from his friend Khaled Meshal, head of the Hamas politburo. “Khaled sends regards,” he said.

Palestine’s Split Over Statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Dan Ephron - (Opinion) July 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinians have been talking for months about petitioning the United Nations in September for a vote that would push them closer to statehood. Now, as the deadline for a decision nears, the top policy-makers in Ramallah are divided over precisely what course to take, according to Palestinian and western officials familiar with internal discussions on the matter.

We Can’t Say This
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
(Editorial) July 13, 2011 - 12:00am

We could get in trouble for this. Not in New York City, where this editorial is being written, because legitimate comment is protected under the First Amendment. But our editorials, along with many other stories and columns in the Forward, also appear every Sunday in the English edition of the Haaretz newspaper in Israel. And now, with a new anti-boycott law approved by the Knesset and due to take effect in less than 90 days, the boundaries of free speech and legitimate expression have grown unpredictably and suffocatingly tight.

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