Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israeli vehicles are attacked near the Egyptian border, with at least five killed. Israeli and Palestinian authorities are preparing to deal with possible massive demonstrations in September in the West Bank, but Reuters says there is no sign of them. Hamas bans 8 Gaza students from traveling to study in the United States for “cultural and social reasons.” Hamas denies it's moving its headquarters to Egypt. Turkey is likely to retaliate diplomatically for Israel's refusal to apologize for last year's flotilla incident. Prisoner swap talks between Israel and Hamas are reportedly deadlocked. Palestinians may be working with the EU to find an effective UN strategy. Hamas and other Palestinian factions find themselves in a difficult position over Syrian government attacks on Palestinian refugees. A Palestinian man faces a lonely struggle against a key settlement. Ousted former PLO official Muhammad Dahlan is struggling for his political survival. Pres. Abbas opens the Palestinian embassy in Beirut. COMMENTARY: Ha'aretz says the attacks on the border show Egypt is losing control of Sinai. D. Bloomfield wonders if PM Netanyahu is bluffing on the border issue. Hussein Shobokshi says Pres. Assad has become more dangerous to the region than Israel. George Hishmeh says the US is still not evenhanded. Israel's consul general in New England says Palestinians won't benefit from a UN initiative. Daoud Kuttab says Palestinians can still negotiate with Israel no matter what happens in September. Eva Bartlett looks at the dangers of swimming in Gaza. Josh Rubner says Congress should hold Israel responsible for use of US weapons. Oded Eran says secret talks have been useful between Arabs and Israelis.

7 Dead in Attacks on Israelis Near Egypt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by J. David Goodman, Isabel Kershner - August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Attackers mounted at least three separate strikes on Israeli civilians and soldiers around the popular Red Sea resort of Eilat on Thursday, in what the country’s defense minister called a “grave terrorist incident.” Seven Israelis were reported killed and 20 wounded, and the military said seven attackers were killed.

Israelis, Palestinians brace for massive statehood protests
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - August 17, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinians say it will trigger the biggest West Bank demonstrations in years. Israelis are bracing for another intifada. A month before a potentially historic United Nations showdown over Palestinian statehood, the two sides are mobilizing for the possibility of mass street protests that some fear could spiral into a violent uprising.

Palestinians talk of protest, little sign of action
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
(Analysis) August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Calls for Palestinian protests to back a diplomatic push for statehood at the United Nations next month have put Israel on guard; the peace process in deep crisis, some see a violent September, inspired by the Arab Spring. Yet to many, a sustained Intifada, or uprising, appears unlikely, at least for now. To ordinary Palestinians, the significance of U.N. manouvres in New York is hard to fathom, their leaders in the West Bank are wary of violence with Israel and their national movement remains weakened by a deep schism.

Rights group: Hamas ban on study abroad students 'illegal'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights denounced Wednesday the decision by Hamas to ban Gaza scholarship students from studying in the United States. "PCHR believes that this decision contradicts basic human rights standards, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," a statement said. The rights group said that the students were banned from traveling for "social and cultural reasons" by the Ministry of Education in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas official: Party not moving headquarters to Cairo
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 17, 2011 - 12:00am

A senior Hamas leader said Wednesday that the party has no intention of moving its headquarters in exile from Damascus to Cairo. Salah Bardaweil rubbished reports that the recent visit to Egypt by exiled Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal was to discuss moving the party's offices to Cairo. “Hamas has not discussed moving its office from Syria, neither was this the goal of Mashaal’s visit to Cairo,” Bardaweil told Ma'an. The Cairo trip was not a surprise visit, he added, and had been previously scheduled.

Turkey plans diplomatic assault on Israel after its refusal to apologize for Gaza flotilla raid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Turkey plans to launch a diplomatic and legal assault on Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused on Wednesday to issue an apology to Turkey for the raid on the Gaza aid flotilla last year in which nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed. Sources in the Foreign Ministry said Turkey now intends to implement "Plan B", which will include an anti-Israel campaign in UN institutions, with an emphasis on the International Court of Justice. Turkey also plans to encourage the families of the raid's victims to file suits against senior Israeli figures in European courts.

Cairo talks between Israel, Hamas deadlock
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Elior Levy - August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

A senior Egyptian source said Thursday that the third round of indirect talks between Israel and Hamas, meant to facilitate a prisoner exchange deal which would secure the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, have deadlocked. The source, quoted by the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat, said both sides were "digging in their heels," and that as of Thursday, no date has been set to renew the talks. "Each party is interested in getting the best deal they can. We are still far from the point of saying that the talks have matured into a deal," the source said.

PA to soften UN statehood bid?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Attila Somfalvi - August 17, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority has spent the past few days trying to advance a move to soften its bid for recognition at the UN in order to gain wider support among European nations, Ynet has learned. Europe's major powers have yet to decide whether to support the Palestinians' membership bid, to which the US is opposed. Palestinian sources close to negotiations with Europe told Ynet that the PA is conducting secret talks with the European Union and the Arab League aimed at revising their proposed resolution ahead of the General Assembly meeting in September.

Assad puts Hamas in corner over Syrian assault
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
August 17, 2011 - 12:00am

Syria's crackdown on government opponents has deeply embarrassed the Palestinian group Hamas, which is anxious not to anger its backers in Damascus while at the same time hoping not to alienate its supporters at home. President Bashar Assad's five-month purge of protesters has gathered pace since the start of August, causing thousands of Palestinians to flee a refugee camp in the city of Latakia this week as Syrian security forces attacked the area.

Palestinian Factions Reconsider Relations with Assad
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by David Miller - August 17, 2011 - 12:00am

A fierce attack by the Syrians on a Palestinian refugee camp has led Palestinian factions, both Islamist and staunchly secular, to reexamine their traditionally close ties with Damascus. Headquartered in the Syrian capital as the Bashar Al-Assad regime falters, Palestinians were cautious not to badmouth the Syrian president personally as they condemned Sunday’s naval bombardment of the Raml Palestinian refugee camp.

One man's stand against an Israeli settlement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Matthew Kalman - August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Said Ayid was born under the British Mandate, grew up in Jordan, raised his eight children under Israeli occupation and now lives on the edge of a sprawling new Israeli neighbourhood under the token protection of the Palestinian Authority. But throughout those 73 years he has not moved an inch. Two weeks ago, the Israeli government announced the addition of 930 new units in Har Homa, the new neighbourhood built in the past decade on the adjacent hillside south of Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967.

Former Palestinian power broker fighting for political survival
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Some view him as a ruthless opportunist, others a convenient scapegoat for his superiors. But one thing is certain: Mohammed Dahlan, once considered the charismatic odds-on-favourite to succeed Yasser Arafat as leader of the Palestinians, is fighting for his political life.

Abbas inaugurates Palestinian Embassy in Beirut
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Van Meguerditchian - August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raised his country’s flag for the first time at an official embassy in Beirut Wednesday, as hundreds of Palestinians looked on and cheered the historic event. For decades, official ties have been carried out by the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Lebanese government. But in a government decision in 2008, Lebanon decided to establish formal diplomatic ties with Palestinians.

As Mubarak falls, terror rises in Sinai
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anshel Pfeffer - (Opinion) August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

The series of terror attacks that took place early Thursday afternoon on the road leading from the Israeli-Egyptian border to Eilat did not come as a surprise to Israel's senior security officials. They had expected it would occur at some stage or another.

Washington Watch: Is Bibi bluffing on borders?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Douglas Bloomfield - (Opinion) August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Leaks from unnamed aides to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claim he has shifted positions on another critical peace process issue – borders – but so far there’s no official confirmation. It appears to be a tactical move to derail the Palestinian strategy for a UN statehood resolution next month, and it could work if the Israeli leader can convince Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that he is serious.

Al-Assad: More dangerous than Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Hussein Shobokshi - (Opinion) August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Among the notable events in the historical records of the Syrian army is the fact that one of its elements, Hosni al-Za'eim, was the orchestrator of the first military coup in the Middle East in 1949. By doing that, he opened the gates of hell in the region in general, and in Syria in particular, for the rise of despotic, hateful and corrupt faces who knew nothing but the language of oppression, autocracy and injustice. Those faces were obsessed with illusions of grandeur and supreme arrogance.

US still lacks evenhandedness
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

There were great expectations when Barack Obama first walked into the White House, both in the US and in the Arab world, if not everywhere. His appearance shortly thereafter in Cairo raised hopes and most Arabs thought he would usher in some genuine evenhandedness, something his predecessors had failed to do. This was certainly true of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and regretfully, the American position has not improved an inch.

Palestinians can still negotiate after the UN declaration
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

In their frantic efforts to stop the Palestinian leadership from going to the UN, Israeli officials and propagandists pose what appears to be a mistaken choice. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Palestinians to have direct talks, and even offered to meet Palestinian officials anywhere if they choose what he called direct talks instead of unilateral action. On the surface of it, this position seems logical, but if one digs just beneath the rhetoric, it becomes obvious that the position is a continuation of Israel’s policy of obfuscation and political manoeuvring.

A Pyrrhic victory for the Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Boston Globe
by Shai Bazak - (Opinion) August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian leadership has made clear its intentions to declare statehood unilaterally and seek admission to the United Nations this fall. While such a move might score the Palestinians a political win by serving to isolate Israel even further in the international arena, any victory will be symbolic at best.

To Save From the Sea, and the Siege
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Eva Bartlett - (Opinion) August 17, 2011 - 12:00am

It's a sunny Gaza morning and although a work day, the beach along Sheik Rajleen has enough people on it to keep Gaza's small number of lifeguards busy and alert. From a simple, raised wooden hut, a team of three monitor the sea, periodically calling out to swimmers below to move to calmer waters. "I've known how to swim since I knew how to walk," says Ahmed el Basha, 42, one of Sheik Rajleen's lifeguards.

Hold Israel accountable with Leahy law
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Hill
by Josh Ruebner - (Opinion) August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Apologists for Israeli occupation and apartheid claim that advocates for holding Israel accountable for its human rights abuses of Palestinians are “singling Israel out for extra scrutiny” or “holding Israel to a higher standard than other countries.”

Secret talks do have a place in diplomacy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Chronicle
by Oded Eran - (Opinion) August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

Israelis love secret meetings with Arab leaders in London. The most famous were held with King Hussein of Jordan in 1963, in the house of his Jewish physician. As a junior diplomat in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I kept the secret file of these meetings, codenamed "Charles". At the time, the talks produced a greater understanding between Jordan and Israel, but King Hussein was reluctant to be the first Arab leader to sign a peace treaty.

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