Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: US officials reaffirm a commitment to Israel’s security. Settlers attack international observers. Israel is considering an attenuated apology to Turkey for last year’s flotilla incident. The PLO Central Committee backs a UN statehood bid, but international concerns are growing. The atmosphere in Gaza for Ramadan is colored by the financial crisis. Pres. Peres has reportedly been holding intensive but secret talks with Palestinians. Israel is planning new military intelligence collection systems. Palestinian workers remain central to Israel’s economy. Palestinians continue to press for Canadian support. COMMENTARY: Larry Derfner looks at Israeli reactions to the Norway massacre. Hussein Ibish and Michael Weiss look at the activities of Alastair Crooke and Conflicts Forum. Gal Beckerman says Deputy FM Ayalon’s YouTube video is a remake of a settler video, and Dan Murphy looks at the fallout. Tablet follows a twitter debate between Ayalon and Jeffrey Goldberg about the video. Frédéric Burnand says a UN bid is a last roll of the dice for Palestinians. Ali Younes explains what Palestinians hope to achieve at the UN. Michael Walzer confronts at the situation facing Palestinians in Hebron. Wasseem El Sarraj looks at the economic crisis in Gaza. Alon Ben-Meir says Pres. Obama needs to seek a creative solution to a confrontation with Palestinians at the UN.

US voices commitment to Israel in defense talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 29, 2011 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (AFP) -- The United States on Thursday reiterated its support for a strong military in Israel as Defense Minister Ehud Barak held talks with top leaders in Washington. Barak met separately with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and newly installed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Both meetings were closed to the press, with officials offering general statements. Panetta stressed his "strong commitment" to defense relations with Israel and to "ensuring that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge," Pentagon spokesman George Little said.

Peace group: Settlers attack international observers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 29, 2011 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers from the illegal outpost of Havat Maon, south of Hebron, attacked two international observers on Wednesday, hitting one on the head with an iron bar, the Christian Peacemaker Teams said. "At approximately 9:15 AM on July 27, 2011, masked settlers from the Havat Maon outpost armed with stones and an iron bar harassed three Palestinian shepherds and attacked two international observers. The settlers threw stones at the internationals, and hit one of them in the head with an iron bar," a CPT statement said.

Israel sees diluted apology to Turkey on ship raid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Dan Williams - July 29, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, July 29 (Reuters) - Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak floated a watered-down apology to Turkey on Friday for the killing of nine of its citizens aboard a pro-Palestinian activist ship that tried to run the Gaza Strip blockade. Barak's public proposal appeared aimed at testing the depth of Israel's 13-month impasse with Ankara, and winning over more hawkish members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition who say the onus should be on Turkey to make amends.

PLO central council backs Abbas' determination to approach UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, July 28 (Xinhua) -- The Central Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) announced on Thursday that it backs Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' attitude to approach the United Nations in September to gain a full membership of the state of Palestine. The central council, which marked the end of a two-day meeting chaired by Abbas in Ramallah is the semi-parliament of the Palestinians in exile and consists of 120 members.

Worries Grow Over Palestinian U.N. Bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from National Public Radio (NPR)
by Michele Kelemen - July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Negotiating Palestinian statehood was an early priority for President Obama's administration. But these days, U.S. diplomats are spending much of their time trying to stop the Palestinians from going to the United Nations to try to win diplomatic recognition. Palestinians say they have no other choice, since negotiations are deadlocked. Some former Israeli officials came to Washington this week to urge the U.S. to help. Retired Maj. Gen. Shlomo Gazit says he understands that Washington has other priorities these days. And he says most Israelis are just fine with that.

Gov't financial crisis influences Ramadan's atmosphere in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Emad Drimly - July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Although markets in the Gaza Strip have been full of goods three days before Ramadan, the fasting month, prosperity still seems absent in the coastal enclave as the goods prices are relatively lower than the previous years, merchants said Thursday. The limit purchasing in the markets comes as both the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) government in the West Bank and the deposed government of Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, are going through a severe financial crisis, which led them to delay the payment for their employees' salaries.

Peres holds secret talks with Palestinians in bid to restart negotiations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - July 29, 2011 - 12:00am

President Shimon Peres has been holding intensive talks with Ramallah in an effort to resume negotiations and head off a unilateral Palestinian statehood bid at the UN in September. The meetings are being held in complete coordination with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Army seeking major intelligence collection boost
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz - July 29, 2011 - 12:00am

The IDF plans to dramatically boost its intelligence collection capabilities with a new multi-year plan aimed at upgrading its technological capabilities and the procurement of new systems. The plan is an integral part of Halamish – the new IDF multi-year plan that is currently under review and expected to go into effect in the beginning of 2012.

Palestinian 'ghosts' keep the Israeli economy moving
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Mona Issa - July 29, 2011 - 12:00am

"We built Israel," says Abbas, a young migrant worker from Salem. A decade ago, he began travelling illegally from the northern West Bank to Tel Aviv to work in construction. "We have no jobs, so the only option is to work in Israel."

An invitation to Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Star
by Harry Sterling - July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Will Foreign Minister John Baird visit Palestine at the very moment Palestinian authorities seek a controversial vote at the United Nations recognizing Palestine as an independent state? That is what many are wondering following a meeting July 26 in Ottawa between Baird and Palestinian representative Hanan Ashrawi. Ashrawi is no ordinary envoy. She is a big hitter within the PLO, a Christian legislator, the first woman elected to the Palestine National Council, and highly respected as a moderate and pragmatic negotiator by the Americans.

Rattling the Cage: The Breivik effect in Israel and abroad
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - (Opinion) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Jews that support multiculturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism (Israeli nationalism) as they are to us. So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multi-culturalists.

The ex-spy who stepped into the cold
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Hussein Ibish, Michael Weiss - (Opinion) July 29, 2011 - 12:00am

In 2007, an organization called Conflicts Forum, which at the time was being funded by the European Union, issued a report intended to promote a “positive assertion of Islamist values and thinking” in the West. It laid out a public relations campaign for rebranding “resistance movements” in the eyes of Westerners in terms of “social justice,” specifically promoting “Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s values, philosophy and wider political and social programmes.”

Israel's Foreign Ministry Borrows From the Settlers for Its Propaganda
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Gal Beckerman - (Blog) July 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel’s deputy foreign minister and Twitter warrior, Danny Ayalon, recently released a video over YouTube that is doing quite well — posted on July 11, it now has nearly 180,000 hits. In it, Ayalon tries to explain why he thinks the West Bank should not be referred to as “occupied” and that settlements are not in effect settlements.

To jazz soundtrack, Israeli official insists settlements are legal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Dan Murphy - (Opinion) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister from the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu Party, has kicked up an Internet storm with a slickly produced video that argues Israel is within its rights to hold on to the West Bank in perpetuity. Accompanied by a bouncy jazz soundtrack, Mr. Ayalon – a former ambassador to the US – stands in front of a simple white background while he makes his case in avuncular tones, illustrated by cartoons behind him. For instance, a sheesha-smoking character in a fez is run over by a tank to illustrate the Ottoman Turkish defeat in World War I.

Ayalon vs. Goldberg, on Twitter
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Tablet Magazine
by Marc Tracy - (Opinion) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

In one corner, in gray suit, we have former ambassador to the United States and current Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon, purveyor of a recent viral YouTube video (nearly 200,000 hits) that, shall we say, elides much of the complexity surrounding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. In the opposing corner, in khaki slacks, we have contributing editor Jeff Goldberg, who noted (via the Forward) that the video is an almost word-for-word copy of a video made by a settlers’ organization, and concluded, “The Israeli Foreign Ministry Is Now Part of the Settlement Movement.”

Last roll of the dice for Palestinians at the UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from swissinfo.ch
by Frédéric Burnand - (Opinion) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

The Swiss government has yet to publicly state its position on formal recognition of a Palestinian state. “We are going to the Security Council to obtain full membership of the United Nations and the recognition of Palestine according to the 1967 borders,” affirmed Abbas during a meeting of the central council of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Ramallah on Wednesday. But such a move goes against the wishes of supporters of a Palestinian state such as the United States, which argues that peace negotiations are the correct format for such debates.

The Palestinian Statehood Strategy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Arabiya
by Ali Younes - (Opinion) July 29, 2011 - 12:00am

From the Palestinian perspective, the absence of any meaningful effort to restart the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations that will eventually lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders is the driving force behind the current efforts to submit an application to the UN to recognize Palestine as a state.

Hebron (Walzer)
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Utopian
by Michael Walzer - (Blog) July 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Last week, with a few friends, I visited Hebron, taken there by one of the leaders of Breaking the Silence, the organization of ex-soldiers that aims to educate Israelis about the meaning and character of the Occupation. (Its collection of “testimonies” about IDF conduct in the territories has recently been published.) Toward the end of the visit, while my friends took a quick look at the Tomb of the Patriarchs—I have an aversion to religious shrines—I sat with our guide, drinking coffee in an Arab shop. Settler kids warned us not to sit there; the owner wasn’t a Jew.

Gaza’s economic mirage
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Wasseem El Sarraj - (Opinion) July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY — A predominant, if misguided, narrative holds Gaza to be a Mediterranean secret, where food is plentiful and joy is unabated. Such statements are not exactly false. As a Gazan, I can say I have laughed, dined out (not just falafel), and been able to embrace my proclivity for consumption -- recently purchasing a 37" flat-screen TV. But this has been a product of the stubbornness and creativity of capitalism under an enforced closure (where goods flow into Gaza, but what goes out is very limited).

The Palestinians’ treacherous path to the UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Alon Ben-meir - (Opinion) July 29, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinians’ plans to seek UN recognition are a bad omen for both themselves and Israel. Instead, US President Barack Obama should seek a UN resolution that reflects his own conviction of a two-state solution.

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