Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Egypt says it never considered withdrawing its ambassador to Israel. The US is investigating possible ties of Al-Qaeda sympathizers to recent attacks in Israel. Glenn Beck's Israel tour raises questions about the Christian right and its agenda. Israel's anti-missile system may have helped stop an escalation with Gaza militants. Pres. Abbas postpones planned municipal elections in the West Bank. The UN report on last year's flotilla incident is again delayed. Israeli courts reject an appeal by Palestinians against the separation barrier. PM Netanyahu reportedly tells his cabinet why a large-scale assault on Gaza is not in Israel's interests. Resentment against Hamas is growing within Gaza's middle class. Gaza tunnel operators are focusing on moving people. Egypt bans the export of palm leaves to Israel. The Arab League chief reportedly suggests Palestinians reconsider any UN initiative. COMMENTARY: Rachel Tabachnick says Israel should shun Glenn Beck. Noam Sheizaf says Beck's tour could be disastrous. Eitan Haber says it makes sense for Israel to apologize to Egypt over the death of its soldiers. Sami Abdel-Shafi says the EU should aid Gaza. George Semaan says Israel faces a strategic crisis. Mohammad Salah says the incident over the flag at the Israeli embassy in Cairo is a symptom of Egypt's loss of influence. The Jordan Times says recent attacks in Israel only undermine the Palestinian cause. Uri Avnery says violence is being driven by extremists, including those in power.

Egypt Disavows Threat to Recall Envoy to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Stephen Farrell, Isabel Kershner - August 22, 2011 - 12:00am

CAIRO — Egypt’s foreign minister, Mohammed Amr, said Monday that the plan to recall the nation’s ambassador to Israel “was never on the table,” confirming the government’s decision to disavow a threat that generated widespread popular support at home but brought the government under intense diplomatic pressure to back off.

Al Qaeda linked to Israeli bus ambush
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Times
by Eli Lake - August 22, 2011 - 12:00am

U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating reports that al Qaeda-aligned groups played a key role in the deadly commando-style attack near the Israeli resort town of Eilat last week. A U.S. government assessment of the incident Thursday concludes that either the Palestinian group Popular Resistance Committees or the Gaza-based Army of Islam (or Jaish al Islam), a Palestinian group sympathetic to al Qaeda, carried out the commando assault and bombing raid that emanated from the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula.

Glenn Beck's Israel tour raises eyebrows
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - August 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Reporting from Jerusalem Perhaps it was only a matter of time before conservative American commentator Glenn Beck, viewed by many supporters as a modern-day prophet, brought his messianic message to Jerusalem. But even in an ancient city that has seen its share of religious enthusiasts, Beck's high-profile Holy Land tour this week, culminating Wednesday in a rally just a stone's throw from the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock mosque, is raising eyebrows.

Israel's Iron Dome system reassures nation on Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - August 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Ashkelon, Israel A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas took hold on Monday, ending four days of rocket attacks and air strikes across the Gaza border that brought the sides to the brink of a major military conflict for the second time in five months. A key factor supporting the cease-fire was a new weapons system that allows Israel to protect its citizens and thereby lessen public pressure for swift retaliatory strikes on Gaza.

Abbas postpones local elections in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 23, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree on Monday postponing local West Bank elections scheduled for October 22. The presidential decree postpones elections "until appropriate circumstances" exist, the statement said, and gives time "to provide the Central Elections Commission with the opportunity to continue preparations for holding elections in all Palestinian districts." The postponement will also provide the "appropriate environment" for efforts to end "division and reaching reconciliation and national unity," the decree said.

UN report on Israel's flotilla raid delayed again
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Louis Charbonneau - August 22, 2011 - 12:00am

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 22 (Reuters) - The handover of a long-postponed U.N. inquiry report on an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound ship in 2010 that killed nine Turks has been delayed again, a U.N. spokesman said on Monday. The U.N. announcement came as Israel and Turkey traded blame for the delay in the delivery of the final report to the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "At this stage, the report is not complete," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.

Israel rejects challenge to West Bank barrier path
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Daniel Estrin - August 23, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected a Palestinian village's appeal to reroute a section of Israel's West Bank separation barrier straddling the Jerusalem municipal border, saying the petitioners didn't prove the barrier would smother the village. Residents of Walajeh village had claimed the path of the section under construction would cut them off from their farmlands, cemetery and water source. Israel says the barrier, which at multiple points dips inside the West Bank, is crucial to keep out Palestinian attackers.

Netanyahu tells cabinet: Israel lacks legitimacy for major Gaza operation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 23, 2011 - 12:00am

The cabinet voted Monday to refrain from any action that could lead to an escalation in the south and to cooperate indirectly with the truce Hamas declared on Sunday. So far, the truce has largely held, although three rockets did hit southern Israel from the Gaza Strip on Monday. The cabinet meeting began at about 11 P.M. Sunday and adjourned at about 3 A.M. Monday morning. The ministers were briefed by senior defense officials, but were not asked to approve any further military action. Instead, the meeting focused on ways to contain the situation and prevent an escalation.

Resentment toward Hamas grows among Gaza's budding middle class
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
August 23, 2011 - 12:00am

A budding middle class in the impoverished Gaza Strip is flaunting its wealth, sipping coffee at gleaming new cafes, shopping for shoes at the new tiny shopping malls, and fueling perhaps the most acrimonious grass roots resentment yet toward the ruling Hamas movement.

Gaza’s Underground Economy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Omar Ghraieb - August 21, 2011 - 12:00am

RAFAH, Gaza – Just a few months ago, Abu Ola, a 60-year-old Gazan, thought the future of his tunnel business was bleak. Israel had eased its blockade on the Gaza Strip in the spring of 2010, allowing everything from concrete to confections into the Hamas-ruled enclave and putting and a damper on the smuggling trade. Then, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing last May, making it easier for people to get in and out. With business drying up, Ola dismissed half of his 13-man workforce.

Egyptian government bans export of palm leaves to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Masry Al-Youm
August 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Egypt’s Agriculture Ministry has announced a ban on the export of palm leaves to Israel starting this year and for the coming two years, a decision that some news reports have linked with recent violence along the Egyptian border with Israel in the past week. Tensions have been high between the Israeli and Egyptian governments this past week after Israeli military units crossed into Egyptian territory while pursuing alleged terrorists along the border. Six Egyptian police and army personnel were killed by Israeli fire.

Arab League: Palestinian statehood bid could be 'dangerous'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Israel Hayom
by Daniel Siryoti - August 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby on Sunday suggested Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reconsider his appeal to the U.N. to recognize an independent Palestinian state in September. "The unilateral appeal to the U.N. Security Council and U.N. General Assembly could be a very dangerous move for the Palestinians during this period and I propose that Abbas reconsider the handling of the matter," Elaraby said.

With friends like Glenn Beck...
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Rachel Tabachnick - (Opinion) August 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's international standing and relationship with Jewish-Americans is threatened as Israel is increasingly linked to right-wing political agendas in the United States. This situation has been exacerbated as controversial American broadcaster Glenn Beck has tried to remake himself into Israel's champion. Beck, who is currently in Israel to lead his "Restoring Courage" rally in Jerusalem, has become a marginal and toxic figure in the United States. So much so that Fox News ended his daily show earlier this year.

Glenn Beck Brings Firebreathing Rhetoric Back to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Noam Sheizaf - (Opinion) August 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Glenn Beck is in Israel, again. In July, the talk radio host and former Fox News star was invited to the Kensset, where he met “a room full of admirers” — in the words of a Channel 1 report — led by Likud MK Danny Danon. Beck urged Israelis to stand strong; among those shaking his hand was Baruch Marzel, former chairman of the outlawed Kach movement. Yet it seems that this honor wasn’t enough for Beck, who is back for a couple of Israeli rallies this week under the name of “Restoring Courage.”

Yes, apologize to Egypt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Eitan Haber - (Opinion) August 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Some of the people reading this column, and possibly very many of them, are infuriated and fuming at this very moment: Apologize? To the Egyptians? Why should we? What for? And what about our “national honor”? Well, they can relax, take a tranquillizer and get some rest. The undersigned cares about national honor no less than they do, and possibly even more so. However, peace – as long as it’s alive – is more important. We have nothing that is more important.

The EU must give Gazan hope a hand
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Sami Abdel-shafi - (Opinion) August 22, 2011 - 12:00am

It is no longer fitting to wonder whether Gaza is a problem: of course it is, and will continue to be for as long as its residents are forced to survive on aid for lack of economic opportunity and are denied the simple freedoms to pursue a decent and peaceful life. Whenever violence breaks out in or around the Gaza Strip, whether Gazans are responsible or not, we end up bearing the brunt.

New Strategic Flaw Affects Israel?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by George Semaan - (Opinion) August 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The Arab action has started to cast its shadows over Israel, while the security repercussions of the Eilat operation on the Gaza Strip and the killing of the Egyptian soldiers with the bullets of the Israeli army on the border between the two countries might lead to political repercussions that could make the Hebrew state come face to face with a blunt strategic flaw. In the meantime, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is standing before challenges for which it is not envied.

“The Embassy… in the Building”
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Mohammad Salah - (Opinion) August 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Very innocent, pure and chaste are the feelings of pride that erupted among Egyptians when a young man was able to climb the tall building, the last floor of which is occupied by the Israeli embassy, bringing down the flag of the Hebrew state and raising the Egyptian flag in its stead. For more than quarter of a century, walking alongside the building or near it remained an endeavor rife with danger (the embassy was located in Iran Street in the Dokki district, before it moved to a building overlooking the Nile in Giza).

Convenient occurrences
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Opinion) August 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Tension is flaring up again between Israel and Gaza, after the recent attacks by unknown assailants against Israeli vehicles along the Israeli border with Sinai, which killed and wounded a number of Israelis, both military and civilians, and between Israel and Egypt. Israel’s knee-jerk response was to immediately send its military planes to strike Palestinian targets in Gaza Strip, killing and wounding a number of civilians, including children. Before that, Israeli forces killed five Egyptian soldiers on its border with Sinai, while allegedly in pursuit of attackers.

The return of the generals
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) August 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Since the beginning of the conflict, the extremists of both sides have always played into each other's hands. The cooperation between them was always much more effective than the ties between the corresponding peace activists. This was proved again this week. At the beginning of the week, Binyamin Netanyahu was desperately looking for a way out of an escalating internal crisis. The social protest movement was gathering momentum and posing a growing danger to his government. The whole content of the public discourse had changed beyond recognition.

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