Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: The PA’s financial crisis is causing controversy in the West Bank. Spain reportedly says it backs Palestinian statehood initiatives. PM Fayyad praises Palestinians in Hebron for defying segregation and siege. Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti calls on Palestinians to march in support of UN statehood initiatives. Violence may increase between Israel and Gaza-based militants. The EU says it’s disappointed by new settlement construction. A senior PLO official says Palestinians should delay their proposed UN statehood initiative. An extremist religious book divides Jews in Israel. Pro-Israel groups worry the Murdoch scandal may weaken a strong pro-Israel voice. There is little optimism at a UN-sponsored meeting between Israelis and Palestinians. Gaza smuggling spurs a construction boom. COMMENTARY: Carlo Strenger says PM Netanyahu’s cabinet is united by hatred of liberal values. Michael Felson says if the refugee issue can be resolved, other issues will fall into place quickly. Ray Hanania says Christians must be encouraged by governments to stay in Israel, Palestine and the Arab states. Americans for Peace Now says it’s responding to the boycott law by boycotting settlement goods. Tariq Alhomayed asks why the Syrian regime would choose this moment to recognize a Palestinian state. The Gulf News says the suspension of MK Zoabi is further evidence of Israeli racism. Rami Khouri says Israel’s policies look and smell like apartheid. Henry Siegman says Elliott Abrams is wrong to oppose a letter on peace by prominent Americans. Akiva Eldar says responsibility for says the failure of the peace process will lie with the Quartet.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Financial crisis causing public concern
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Maher Abukhater - July 19, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority has until July 26 to come up with a plan on how it intends to pay salaries, without interruption, to more than 150,000 of its civil and military personnel. Otherwise, the employees may go on an open-ended general strike. This was the warning the Union of Public Employees conveyed to the Palestinian Authority on Monday following a meeting of its board members to discuss the authority's financial crisis and its claim that it may not be able to pay salaries anymore.

Spain tells Abbas it backs efforts for Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

MADRID (AFP) -- Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez told visiting President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday that Madrid backs efforts to create an independent Palestinian state, the government said. Abbas met with Jimenez and Spain's King Juan Carlos at the start of a two-day visit to the country aimed at drumming up support for United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state.

Fayyad: Hebron defies segregation and siege
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

HEBRON (Ma’an) – Palestinian Authority premier Salam Fayyad said Tuesday that Hebron's old city sets an "example for human civilization in all ages, and an ideal for steadfastness and defiance." Residents reject seggregation, 'judaisation,' and siege, and it "is time its people enjoy freedom and independence,” Fayyad said while inaugurating an international conference on historic cities. The conference is part of the celebrations of the 15th anniversary of the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee. It is held in association with Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron.

Barghouti urges Palestinian march to back U.N. bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Tom Perry - July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank, July 20 (Reuters) - Jailed leader Marwan Barghouti has called on Palestinians to stage mass rallies in September in support of a diplomatic bid to gain U.N. membership for a state of Palestine. Barghouti, a figure widely respected among many Palestinians, said taking the statehood quest to the United Nations was part of a new strategy that would open the door to "peaceful, popular resistance".

News Analysis: Gaza Strip may witness more violence between Israel, militant groups: analysts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Emad Drimly, Osama Radi - July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian observers believe that the Gaza Strip may witness more escalation of violence soon between Israel and Gaza militant groups following around one week of tit-for-tat escalation that the coastal enclave had witnessed between the two sides. During this week, Israeli F-16 war jets carried out a series of intensive airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, which targeted smuggling tunnels underneath the borders between the enclave and Egypt, where three Palestinians were killed and 25 others, most of them civilians, were wounded.

EU 'disappointed' in settlement construction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

The European Union on Tuesday expressed "great disappointment" in a tender issued by the Construction and Housing Ministry this week for the construction of 6,900 housing units, including some 300 units in the settlements of Beitar Illit and Karnei Shomron. Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for the EU's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, said that such acts go against the international community's ongoing efforts to form a peaceful solution which will maintain Israel's safety and the Palestinians' right for an independent state.

PA should delay UN statehood bid, says PLO official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh, Herb Keinon - July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Nabil Amr calls on Palestinian leadership to delay statehood plan by a year out of fear it will harm relations with US and EU. The Palestinian Authority leadership has climbed a very high tree with its plan to ask the UN to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines in September, Nabil Amr, member of the PLO Central Council and a former PA minister, said on Tuesday. “The leadership does not have any guarantees that it would be able to climb down safely from the tree,” he cautioned, advising the PA to delay the statehood by another year.

King's Torah splits Israel's religious and secular Jews
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Yolande Knell - July 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Recent protests in Israel highlight the differences between the country's religious and secular Jewish communities. Hundreds of right-wing Jews have taken part in demonstrations outside Israel's Supreme Court over the brief detention of two prominent rabbis in the last few weeks. There were clashes with police on horseback on the nearby Jerusalem streets and several arrests were made.

Amid Murdoch scandal, Israel backers worry about muting of pro-Israel media voice
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - July 19, 2011 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Pro-Israel leaders in the United States, Britain and Australia are warily watching the unfolding of the phone-hacking scandal that is threatening to engulf the media empire of Rupert Murdoch, founder of News Corp.

Israeli and Palestinian Activists Gloomy Over Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - July 17, 2011 - 12:00am

Budapest — On the boat sailing along the Danube River, Israeli and Palestinian peace activists seemed closer than ever. Sipping Hungarian wine on deck and sharing laughs, diplomats, prominent activists and journalists from both sides formed a close pact, joking over their own roles in what is widely known as the peace industry. But while the industry remains vibrant, peace has never seemed further away.

Special from Gaza: Building material smuggling triggers construction boom
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Masry Al-Youm
by Abeer Ayyoub - July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY, Gaza - After marking its inaugural opening on Tuesday, the three-story mall in Gaza City now offers products running the gamut. The supermarket has nearly all possible commodities. Shoe stores with popular brand names, such as Nike, Adidas and Fox, sit next to clothing shops displaying window mannequins with hot miniskirts and vibrantly colored t-shirts.

The glue holding Netanyahu’s coalition: hatred for liberal values
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Blog) July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

The sound and the fury of Israel's anti-boycott law has not yet died down: Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party is reviving its push for a Knesset committee that will investigate ‘leftist organizations’; for the time being, the initiative to give the Knesset a veto right to reject candidates for the Supreme Court on the basis of their political views has been blocked, but it may well resurface.

Peace: So far and yet so close
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Michael Felsen - (Opinion) July 19, 2011 - 12:00am

The Quartet – the US, Russia, the EU, and the U.N. – this week announced that it hasn’t yet found the way to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. And according to Haaretz, Israeli and Palestinian sources concur that intensive US efforts to create an agreed outline for renewed negotiations have failed.

Coalition seeks to discourage Christians from fleeing ME
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Ray Hanania - (Opinion) July 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Not many in the Middle East care about the plight of Christians.They are marginalized on both sides of the Arab-Israeli line. But regardless of the reasons, the numbers of Christians have dwindled over the years, in part because Christians can more easily emigrate to Western - predominantly Christian – nations. In Jordan, one of the Arab countries where Christians feel safest, a coalition including Muslim and Christian clergymen, politicians and journalists are launching a campaign to convince Christians to stay.

Americans for Peace Now: We’ll boycott the anti-boycott law by boycotting settlement products
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ami Eden - (Blog) July 19, 2011 - 12:00am

If the goal of the new Israeli law banning boycotts was actually to prevent boycotts... things aren't exactly going according to plan. The board of Americans for Peace Now has unanimously endorsed a boycott of products made in the settlements. Why? Well, it has nothing to do with the settlements. The group says it's boycotting settlement products in order to protest the anti-boycott law. Here's the statement from APN's president and CEO Debra DeLee:

The Syrian-Israeli courtship
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq al-Homayed - (Opinion) July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Confirming what was exclusively reported by Asharq al-Awsat last Friday, the Syrian regime announced the day before yesterday its formal recognition of the Palestinian state. It comes as one of the last Arab states to grant this recognition, and state number 118 internationally. So why has the Syrian regime recognized the Palestinian state now?

More evidence of Israeli racism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
(Editorial) July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

No one should be surprised by the Israeli Knesset's decision to suspend Palestinian Member of Parliament Haneen Zoabi due to her participation in last year's bloody Gaza Flotilla. The Knesset Ethics Committee, which investigated her flotilla participation, is punishing Zoabi for exercising her legitimate right of political activism. Essentially, it is silencing an Arab member for representing her constituency. The bigger picture reveals that it is trying to wipe out any Arab presence in the Israeli government.

It sure looks and smells like apartheid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli parliament’s vote last week making it a crime to support any boycott of Israel, including products from Israeli settlements in occupied Arab lands, has rightly generated considerable debate about what this means for Israel, Zionism and Israelis.

Elliott Abrams' Complaint
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Henry Siegman - (Editorial) July 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Following President Barack Obama's May 19 speech on the Middle East at the Department of State, The New York Review of Books (NYRB) published a letter that had been presented to the president this past January by a number of prominent, former, senior, U.S. government officials. The signatories to the letter urged the president to present to the parties in the Israel-Palestine conflict clear parameters to frame negotiations for a two-state peace agreement, and it suggested six key components for such a framework.

AN ISRAELI VIEW Responsibility will rest with the Quartet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) July 18, 2011 - 12:00am

The creation of the Quartet by US President George W. Bush was a unique and interesting attempt to develop an effective international mechanism that is not subject to the problematic rules of the game of the United Nations. The new forum was supposed to expand America's wingspan without the burden of the Security Council and the nearly-200 members of the General Assembly.

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