Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: A growing economic crisis is coloring all Palestinian policies. Pres. Abbas says he’s not deterred by US threats over a UN statehood bid, and calls for Palestinian rallies in support. Palestinian security forces raid the home of former Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan. Palestinian electoral officials say municipal voting will only be held in the West Bank in October because Hamas refuses to cooperate in Gaza. Palestinians say Israel is destroying ancient cisterns in the occupied territories. Israeli-Palestinian commerce is continuing but may be threatened. A US government report recommends ending loan guarantees to Israel. Palestinian citizens of Israel debate National Service. The terrorist outrage in Norway focuses attention on outreach to Israel by extreme right-wing elements in the West. An appropriations bill pending in Congress might shut down the PLO mission in Washington. Gaza filmmakers denounce Hamas censorship. COMMENTARY: D. Bloomfield asks if Abbas’ policies are setting up a third intifada. Tariq Alhomayed says Hezbollah leader Nasrallah has effectively recognized Israel. George Hishmeh says Israel is facing international isolation. Daoud Kuttab says the Palestinian march towards the UN may be unstoppable, although what form it will take remains undecided. Michael Jansen looks at the history of the American Colony Hotel in occupied East Jerusalem. MK Ahmad Tibi says the new Israeli boycott law is antidemocratic. Allison Hoffman says the US budget impasse is reminiscent of the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic deadlock. Natasha Mozgovaya says Israel and the Palestinians are still the focus of great attention in Washington. Olga Gershenson looks at a new film questioning Israel’s legal structures in the occupied territories. Hussein Ibish traces the evolution of Syrian policy towards Palestine and the Palestinians.

Before a Diplomatic Showdown, a Budget Crisis Saps Palestinians’ Confidence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - July 27, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — As the Palestinian Authority faces some of the hardest choices in its history regarding relations with Israel, membership in the United Nations and unity with Hamas, it is mired in a severe economic crisis, leading many here to a sense of foreboding and despair.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Abbas not deterred by U.S. threats regarding Palestinian state recognition
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Maher Abukhater - July 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, does not seem deterred by U.S. threats of financial cuts or political castigation if he proceeds with plans to ask the U.N. for recognition of a Palestinian state in September. Abbas Wednesday summoned his Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Council, a 120-strong legislative body in exile, to ask its blessings for his plans.

Palestinian leader wants rallies to back UN bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - July 27, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Invoking the Arab Spring, the Palestinian president on Wednesday urged his people to take to the streets for massive rallies in support of his government's bid to get the U.N. to recognize an independent Palestinian state. The call by President Mahmoud Abbas for peaceful, "popular resistance" throughout the West Bank was likely to fuel Israeli concerns that the U.N. vote in September and any large demonstrations could spark a new round of violence.

Palestinian security forces seize weapons in Dahlan house raid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian security forces raided the Ramallah house of ousted Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan early Thursday morning, after his appeal against expulsion from the party was rejected on Wednesday. At around 7 a.m. police, preventive security and national security forces encircled the home of the former Gaza security chief. Forces raided the house on motorbikes and gunshots were heard as Dahlan's security guards tried to escape, a Ma'an correspondent said.

Palestinian October elections 'only in the West Bank'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (AFP) -- Palestinian local elections in October will only be held in the West Bank as Hamas is hampering preparations in Gaza, a senior electoral official said on Wednesday. Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, the official said the government had informed the Central Elections Commission (CEC) of a decision taken earlier on Wednesday. "The elections committee was informed today by the government that it had decided to hold municipal elections only in the West Bank on October 22," he said.

Palestinians fear for ancient West Bank water source
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Tom Perry - July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

RASHAYIDA, West Bank, July 28 (Reuters) - Hewn from rock, the cavernous cisterns which dot the desert beyond Bethlehem have for centuries harvested winter rain to provide shepherds and their flocks with water through summer. Under a baking sun, an elderly Bedouin explains how cisterns he remembers from childhood, many of them restored to full working order in the last few years, are once again helping his goat-herding community to survive. That, he concludes, is why the Israeli authorities who control the West Bank have demolished at least three in the area since November.

Israeli-Palestinian commerce works against the clock
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Dave Bender - July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, July 27 (Xinhua) -- On a media tour on Tuesday featuring commercial, health and hi-tech cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, representatives sought to project a " business-as-usual" mien, while, half a world away both sides sparred at the United Nations Security Council over a possible Palestinian National Authority (PNA) bid for statehood at the UN General Assembly in September.

U.S. report recommends ending loan guarantees to Israel at end of 2011
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

An internal report of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State recommends terminating the U.S. loan guarantee program to Israel at the end of 2011. The report, which deals with the performance of the U.S. embassy in Israel, says American diplomats have difficulty mustering support for the Obama administration's policies and implies the embassy failed completely in its PR efforts during the Obama administration.

Israel’s Arabs Debate National Service
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by David Miller - July 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Hanin Zoabi, a member of Israel’s parliament, was in the Galilee village of Musmus last week to address a group of teenagers about the importance of national service. But she wasn’t there to encourage them to take a year or two after high school to serve in schools and hospitals. One of 14 Arab lawmakers in the Knesset, Zoabi is a determined fighter for the national rights of Palestinians who live inside the country’s 1967 borders against those in the West Bank. She was invited by the youth leadership of her Balad Party to urge young people not to volunteer.

Norway attacks spotlight far-right outreach to Jews, Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Uriel Heilman - July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

For decades after World War II, far-right political movements in Europe stirred up for Jews images of skinheads and Nazi storm troopers marching across the continent. But in recent years, as European xenophobia has focused on the exploding growth of Muslims on the continent, right-wing anti-Semitism has been replaced in some corners by outreach to Jews and Israel. It’s part of an effort in far-right movements to gain broader, mainstream support for an anti-Muslim alliance opposed to the notion of a multicultural Europe.

Bill would shut down PLO office for statehood action
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

An appropriations bill would shut down the PLO office in Washington if Palestinians pursue statehood recognition absent talks with Israel and fail to take steps to stop incitement. The bill, referred Wednesday by the foreign operations subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee to the full committee, for the first time restricts the broad presidential waiver that applied to the 1988 law that originally banned setting up a Palestine Liberation Organization office on U.S. soil.

Gaza film-makers decry Hamas censorship
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

It's not just the dearth of funds, equipment and studio facilities that prompts such laments from film-makers in the Gaza Strip. Four years into Islamist Hamas rule, cultural censors are fraying the already threadbare local movie industry. Locked in conflict with Israel and vying against secular Palestinian rivals in the occupied West Bank, Hamas has long invested in television- and Internet-based news, educational shows and even animated clips that advance its political views.

Is Abbas setting the stage for a third intifada?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Douglas Bloomfield - (Opinion) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he doesn’t want to see a third intifada, and I believe him. So why does he persist in laying the groundwork for it? His two-pronged strategy of powersharing with Hamas and making a bid for UN recognition is foundering, increasing the risk that the high expectations he sparked among his people will dissolve into frustration and violence.

Nasrallah recognizes Israel!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq al-Homayed - (Opinion) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Hezbollah chief [Hassan Nasrallah] has called on the Lebanese government not to waste the opportunity to explore for oil and natural gas along its maritime border. Nasrallah said that "the resistance" has no objection to the government reaching an agreement to demarcate Lebanon’s maritime borders.

Israel finds itself isolated
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Believe it or not, the Arab Spring has descended on Tel Aviv. Tens of thousands of young Israelis have camped in tents along the prestigious Rothschild Boulevard in protest against the housing policy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government. Like their counterparts in the Arab world, whom they mimicked, these youth remain hopeful they can achieve revolutionary change within Israel. In their case, the young Israelis want affordable housing in the city.

All systems are on go for Palestine’s march to the UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

If anyone outside Palestine had doubts that the Palestinian Authority was hesitant about going to the UN to request the recognition of Palestine as a full member, a trip to Ramallah would quickly put an end to this scepticism. Ramallah’s hotels are full of members of the Palestine Central Council (the second highest representative body in Palestinian politics after the Palestine National Council). PNC Speaker Salim Zannoun has held meetings in Amman, Hebron, Nablus and Ramallah in preparation for a crucial central council meeting in Ramallah this week.

Memories of the American Colony
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - (Book Review) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

The American Colony, now East Jerusalem’s most luxurious and expensive hotel, has a long, conflicted history that illuminates what has happened in Palestine over the past 130 years. Whenever I go to Jerusalem, I pay a call on the Colony, pause to scan the courtyard where customers sip coffee or dine under sheltering umbrellas, and drop by for a chat with Munther Fahmi, proprietor of the bookshop tucked between the souvenir store and the cafe.

A Strike Against Free Speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ahmad Tibi - (Opinion) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Free speech in Israel was dealt a severe blow this month when the country’s Parliament passed antiboycott legislation that targets individuals or organizations publicly calling for a boycott against Israel or any area under its control. Because I believe in ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, equal rights for Palestinians and Jews, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees forced from their homes and lands in 1948, I support boycotting — and calling on others to boycott — all Israeli companies that help perpetuate these injustices.

Common Ground
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Tablet Magazine
by Allison Hoffman - (Opinion) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

You’ve seen this movie before: Bitter rivals, bound by the interests of shared history and common geography, find themselves unable to resolve a decades-old policy dispute with potentially world-historical implications. A deadline looms, offering an opportunity for both sides to draw lines in the sand. A pro forma bit of bureaucratic maneuvering escalates into a crisis.

Middle East drama on Capitol Hill
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - (Analysis) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

This summer is much busier than usual in Washington, DC, even without taking the debt ceiling drama into account. Here are some updates on what is going on in the U.S. capital: 1. Congressmen press the Obama administration to take a more decisive position on Syria The U.S. administration has pretty much exhausted all the possible ways to put pressure on Assad's regime - sanctions, rebukes, hints that the regime "is not indispensible" – other than explicitly calling for Assad to step down. And that's exactly what members of Congress would like the Administration to do.

In the Occupied Territories, Order Trumps Law
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Forward
by Olga Gershenson - (Opinion) July 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The audience was remarkably quiet during a screening of “The Law in These Parts” at the Jerusalem Film Festival. My fellow Israelis, who usually have no qualms about exchanging opinions during a movie, or even about answering an occasional cell phone call, sat absolutely still. Even after the movie ended, there was a moment of shocked silence before the audience burst into applause and called onstage the director, Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, and the producer, Liran Atzmor. It was very clear which film would win the prize for best documentary.

The evolution of Syrian policy towards Palestine and the Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - (Blog) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

The policies of the Hafez and Bashar Al-Assad regimes in Syria have systematically undermined independent Palestinian national leadership and asserted control over the Palestinian cause and movement. These policies did not arise in a vacuum, but rather are a continuation and intensification of traditional Syrian approaches to the question of Palestine. These Syrian efforts to “own a piece of Palestine" -- if not the whole thing, at least as an issue -- are not unique among the Arab states.

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