Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Europe is assuming a larger role in peace talks. Refugees across the Middle East experience deep frustration. Pres. Abbas says UN initiatives should not affect negotiations with Israel. A shelter for abused women is opened in Gaza. The Knesset rejects a bill to investigate NGOs and human rights groups. Analysts say Israel’s handling of the latest flotilla reflects a learning curve. Despite the blockade, a new mall opens in Gaza. Israel’s attorney general has reportedly told PM Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey over last year’s flotilla. Several countries ask Israel to stop forging their passports. Israel’s cost-of-living crisis may be the consequence of funding the occupation. Palestinians are also facing a growing economic crisis. COMMENTARY: Ha’aretz says the high command must stop the spread of religious extremism in the Israeli military. Gideon Levy says MK Danny Danon is acting like Joe McCarthy. D. Bloomfield says Netanyahu was wrong to support an antidemocratic boycott law. Noam Sheizaf says the law is about forcing Israelis to support the occupation. The National says Israel is afraid of nonviolent protests. Salon interviews the founder of J Street. Hagit Ofran and Jennifer Kaplan say settlement activity is a lucrative business. Bernard Avishai looks at why Israelis are nervous about September. Didier Jacobs says the international community, especially the EU, must play a stronger role in peace talks. Robert Baer says he does not actually have any information about Israel planning to bomb Iran. Trudy Rubin looks at the prospects for Israeli-Turkish rapprochement.

As U.S. Steps Back, Europe Takes Bigger Role in Mideast Peace Push
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mark Landler - July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON — It is a truism of Middle East peacemaking that the United States is the pivotal player — the most credible broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But with talks at a standstill, the Obama administration now finds itself on the sidelines, and Europe is emerging as the key diplomatic actor.

For Refugees, a Frustrating Feeling of Permanence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Rana F. Sweis - July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

AMMAN — When Iraqi militias threatened Ghasswan Al Taee, 36, in 2006, he fled to Jordan. Five years later and with three children born here, his state of limbo has become a constant. Since 2003 an estimated four million Iraqis have fled their homes, the largest exodus since Israel’s creation in 1948. Deepening violence and sectarian strife have led to the internal displacement of many Iraqis and have driven others out of the country, largely to Syria and Jordan, but also to Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and the Gulf.

Abbas: UN bid will not affect peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

BARCELONA (AFP) -- Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said his efforts to seek UN membership for the Palestinians would not affect negotiations "that we want to continue to have" with Israel. Abbas is in Spain as part of a foreign tour aimed at drumming up support for United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state amid a long stalemate in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

FEATURE-Wife battering, sexual abuse get attention in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA, July 20 (Reuters) - Most safe-houses in the Gaza Strip are meant to provide protection for armed militants on Israel's target list. Now Gaza is offering protected shelter to battered Palestinian women. Its lone women's safe-house, opened two months ago, has had eight clients, all guarded by police from the Islamist Hamas movement that runs the enclave and enforces a conservative though not radical Muslim religious code.

Israeli lawmakers kill bill to probe dovish groups
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — Israel's parliament has voted down a bill that would have established an inquiry commission to investigate foreign funding of dovish activist groups. The vote followed approval this week of a bill targeting Israelis who promote boycotts against Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Dovish lawmakers denounced both laws as antidemocratic attempts to stifle free expression. Laws of the type defeated Wednesday show growing polarization in Israeli society.

Israel deals with Gaza-bound flotilla with lessons learnt: analysts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Israeli naval commandos boarded the only ship participating in the second Gaza flotilla Tuesday without any violent resistance from the passengers and crew. The takeover was in stark contrast to last year's events when nine pro-Palestinian activists, mainly Turkish, in the "Mavi Marmara" ship were killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers as Israel intercepted the first flotilla. The death of the Turkish participants led to the deepening of an already deteriorated relationship between Israel and Turkey.

New Gaza mall opens despite Israeli blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Fares Akram - July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Dozens of people entered the Al- Andalusya mall in Gaza City after the automatic sliding door opened, looking up at the ceiling where cool air came from and then down at their feet trying carefully to stand on the escalator. The people fanned out across the supermarket and the clothes store in the first and second floors of the shopping center. The third story is designated to have a restaurant, cafe shop, children cinema and a video games corner, but it is not yet ready.

AG to Netanyahu: Apologize to Turkey or face indictments for IDF troops
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has advised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel should apologize for the deadly takeover of the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship last year, in which nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed, sources in Jerusalem said Thursday. According to the sources, Weinstein believes the UN investigation into the 2010 flotilla incident might prompt lawsuits against IDF soldiers. Therefore, he recommends reaching an understanding with Turkey, even if that means issuing an apology. The Justice Department declined to comment on these details.

Israel urged to stop faking foreign passports
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Itamar Eichner - July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Various countries have sent secret messages to Israel informing Jerusalem that they are aware that Mossad agents are using their passports in overseas operations, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday. The countries, all friends of Israel, demanded to halt all use of such passports in messages to Israeli embassies and as part of the consular discourse. The protest had caused considerable embarrassment to Israel in several cases. In other cases, Israel could not respond to the claims as they did not include names and details of the alleged Mossad agents.

Israelis pay price of persecuting Palestinians with soaring cost of living
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Danny Tavory regularly shows up at Tel Aviv's biggest marketplace just before it closes for the night, when vendors sell fruit, vegetables and other products at large discounts or give them away. Mr Tavory, 21, a university mathematics student, says he can barely afford to buy food as most of his monthly income of 2,500 shekels (Dh2,670) from giving private lessons and counselling troubled youth goes toward his rent.

Omar H. Rahman: Economic crisis looms as Palestine nears UN push in September
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Arabiya
by Omar Rahman - July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian territories may soon be experiencing an economic crisis that is, at least in part, directly tied to their diplomatic initiative scheduled for the United Nations in September. The cash-strapped Palestinian Authority is facing a massive budget shortfall and has reached a ceiling in its borrowing from local banks and the private sector, with the situation becoming increasingly acute.

IDF must fight its growing religious extremism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir, the outgoing head of the Israel Defense Forces' Personnel Directorate, is urging that the IDF's drift toward religious extremism be stopped. In a document he sent to the chief of staff and all the major generals, whose content was reported by Amos Harel in yesterday's Haaretz, Zamir called for a reorganization of secular-religious relations in the army.

MK Danny Danon is the new McCarthy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

A bit less of a Kahanist than National Union MK Michael Ben Ari, a bit less of a garbler than Likud MK Yariv Levin and a bit less pompous than Likud MK Ofir Akunis, Likud MK Danny Danon will go far. He's a member of the ruling party and is definitely going to show all those leftists and Arabs. He has already threatened them once: The party is over. Yesterday he acted once again to implement his threat.

Washington Watch: Threatening Israeli democracy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Douglas Bloomfield - (Opinion) July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

If Bibi Netanyahu had been a young, white Jew growing up in Mississippi in the 1960s instead of the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he might take a different view of boycotts. He would understand that political protests strengthen democracy, and that laws restricting free speech and association weaken the fiber of a nation.

The Forgotten Incentive of Settlement Businesses
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Hagit Ofran - (Opinion) July 19, 2011 - 12:00am

There is a sense of outrage within the Israeli public following the passing of "the boycott law" in the Knesset last week. The law allows any individual or institution who faces possible damage as a result of any person's call for boycott settlement products to sue that person. Evidence of actual damage will not be required. Organizations calling for such boycott could lose their legal standing as non profit organization.

Noam Sheizaf: Worrying About Israeli Democracy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Forward
by Noam Sheizaf - (Opinion) July 19, 2011 - 12:00am

A few minutes after midnight on July 11, the night the Knesset passed its anti-boycott law, a hundred or so young Israelis gathered at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. Since the square is being renovated, they clustered along one of its edges. Some of them improvised protest signs, facing them towards busy Ibn Gvirol Avenue. Others were chatting. After about an hour, it was all over. Watching from the bustling pubs and coffee shops on the other side of the street, it was impossible to tell that Israeli democracy had just suffered its worst blow in years.

Israel is afraid of peaceful protest for good reason
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Over 63 years, Palestinians have not only had to resist Israel's occupation, but also the propaganda campaign that justifies acts of aggression as the "right of self-defence". Killing non-violent protesters, Palestinian or otherwise, is not self-defence. That obvious truth is staring Israel in the face. New peaceful demonstrations inspired by the Arab spring, as well as the Palestinian Authority's bid for UN recognition as an independent state, have shown that Israel is far more comfortable dealing with Qassam rocket attacks than it is with intelligent, non-violent resistance.

Standing up to the pro-Israel establishment
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Salon.com
by Teresa Cotsirilos - (Interview) July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

In the two years since Jeremy Ben-Ami founded J Street, which bills itself as a "pro-peace, pro-Israel" voice for a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian dispute, his organization has been attacked as "morally deficient" and "appallingly naive" by critics in the American Jewish community and on the right end of the political spectrum. And in Israel, members of the Knesset have even formed a committee to determine whether J Street is "anti-Israel" and should be publicly condemned.

September: Why Israelis Are Anxious
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Talking Points Memo
by Bernard Avishai - (Opinion) July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

This week, the Fatah leadership of the Palestinian Authority announced a full-bore diplomatic effort to gain UN membership for a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders with its capital in Jerusalem. President Mahmud Abbas is touring Europe and Turkey. Emissaries will be traveling to China, India and other rising powers. Saeb Erekat, Abbas's indefatigable chief negotiator, called the campaign for statehood "massive."

Breaking the Israel-Palestine Impasse
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy In Focus
by Didier Jacobs - (Opinion) July 11, 2011 - 12:00am

On a recent trip to Israel, I visited a school in Sderot featuring bunkers in the playground. I asked the principal what she thought about her government: “Things are quiet now, so the policy is working”, she replied. And when rockets rain down, it’s time to retaliate. Hawks take political advantage of violence, and doves can’t convey the urgency of peace in good times.

Former CIA Man: Don't Bet on Israel Bombing Iran on My Speculation!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Time
by Robert Baer - (Opinion) July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I wonder what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had first discussed them on talk radio. Having found myself at the center of a bizarre series of stories claiming that Israel is planning to attack Iran in September as a result of some speculative answers to a talk-show host's questions, I think I now know.

Worldview: Can once-friendly Israel and Turkey mend frayed ties?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Inquirer Digital
by Trudy Rubin - (Opinion) July 21, 2011 - 12:00am

As blood flows in Libya, Yemen, and Syria, and the region continues its meltdown, the only two Mideast democracies out there are Israel and Turkey. Ideally, these two would be working together, especially as Syria, which is sandwiched between them, shows signs of regime failure. Of course, the times are far from ideal. Israeli-Turkish relations, once close, are in the deep freeze; they nearly snapped last year after nine Turkish civilians were killed in an Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, an aid ship that tried to run Israel's blockade of Gaza.

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