Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: A new poll suggests that most Palestinians prefer continuing negotiations with Israel rather than a UN initiative. The “green line” between Israel and the occupied territories remains an opaque but important boundary. A Palestinian militant is killed by an Israeli helicopter attack in Gaza. US officials urge Palestinians to abandon a UN initiative. Peace Now says settlement activity has doubled since the end of the partial, temporary moratorium. Palestinians are quoting Pres. Obama in language for their draft UN declarations, and in radio advertisements. The PA again cuts wages in half for September. Settlers attack Israeli military vehicles in a “price tag” vigilante action. Jewish-American groups think a UN initiative is inevitable, but the language is not yet determined. COMMENTARY: Amira Hass says Hamas needs the blockade of Gaza to stay in power. Zvi Bar'el says the Gaza siege is choking Israel diplomatically. Galia Golan questions whether the Israeli government really wants peace with the Palestinians. Daniel Nisman says Egypt is trying to restore order in Sinai. Herb Keinon says former Defense Secretary Gates' negative comments about PM Netanyahu are only extraordinary in that they have been made public. Osama Al Sharif says Israel's international position is suffering because it will not adapt to changing circumstances. Issandr El Amrani says Egypt should be tough but fair in Sinai. The LA Times interviews Saeb Erekat about Palestinian plans at the UN. Der Spiegel interviews Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby about Syria and Palestine.

A new poll suggests that most Palestinians prefer continuing negotiations with Israel rather than a UN initiative
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Palestinian Center for Public Opinion
by Nabil Kukali - September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Poll No. 179 Sept. 06, 2011 The most recent poll prepared by Dr. Nabil Kukali reveals that: (83.6%) of the Palestinians evaluate the US efforts on recognizing the Palestinian state as negative. (59.3%) prefer to resume the negotiations with Israel. (45.2%) expect Palestine to become a new UN member (48.8%) oppose holding peaceful demonstrations after proclaiming the recognition of the State of Palestine at the UN. (49.2%) believe that the PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, should exert more effort to obtain international support for the recognition of the Palestinian state.

Elusive Line Defines Lives in Israel and the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

BARTAA, West Bank — For decades Israel has tried to erase from public consciousness the Green Line, the pre-1967 boundary with the West Bank at the heart of stalled negotiations for a Palestinian state. Israel has built on either side of the Green Line and deleted it from textbooks and weather maps. Israeli drivers plying the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway crisscross the unmarked line at the Latrun Interchange every second of the day, slicing through half a mile of West Bank territory and several more miles of no man’s land, oblivious to the area’s fraught history.

Gaza: Israelis Kill Militant
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Fares Akram - September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

A Palestinian militant in Gaza was killed Tuesday by an attack helicopter after Israeli forces carried out an incursion into Gaza near the southern city of Khan Yunis and clashed with members of a small militant group, shooting at them and receiving mortar fire back, according to the Israeli military and officials of the group, the Popular Resistance Committees. The militant was identified by his group as Khaled Sahmoud, 23. Israeli forces said members of that group carried out the terrorist attack from the Sinai region of Egypt on southern Israel last month that killed eight Israelis.

U.S. envoys press Palestinians to drop U.N. statehood bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — Two senior White House envoys arrived Tuesday for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a last-ditch effort to head off a Palestinian bid for recognition of statehood at the United Nations this month. David Hale, the Obama administration’s acting special envoy to the Middle East, and Dennis Ross, the president’s Middle East adviser on the National Security Council, are pressing for a resumption of peace negotiations that were broken off a year ago.

Peace Now: Settlement building doubles since freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 7, 2011 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Reuters) -- According to Peace Now's latest report released Wednesday, construction in West Bank settlements has doubled since the end of a building freeze which ended US brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians last year. Peace Now's Settlement Watch Director of Projects Hagit Ofran told Reuters that the settlement construction rate over the past year has allowed settlers to bridge the gap created during a 10-month moratorium that ended last year.

Palestinians deploy Obama speech in UN campaign
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
by Tom Perry - September 7, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Reuters) - US President Barack Obama is an unlikely participant in a Palestinian campaign to drum up support for a bid to win UN recognition of their statehood -- a diplomatic move opposed by both his administration and Israel. But as part of an official media campaign begun this week, Palestinians have pulled from the archive some words spoken by Obama during the 2010 UN General Assembly, in which he alluded to the prospect of a Palestinian state joining the world body.

Obama 'star' of Palestinian ad
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Mackenzie Weinger - September 7, 2011 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama is the unlikely star of a new Palestinian media campaign. Part of a speech Obama gave in 2010 to the United Nations General Assembly is featured in an ad aimed to rally support for the Palestinians upcoming bid for statehood at the United Nations on Sept. 20, Reuters reported on Wednesday. “When we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that can lead to a new member of the United Nations, an independent, sovereign state of Palestine living in peace with Israel,” Obama said in the 2010 speech in the clip that is played in the radio ad.

Cash-strapped Palestinians cut pay in half for September
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Tom Perry - September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Sept 6 (Reuters) - The Palestinian Authority will pay only half wages this month, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Tuesday, the second time in three months it has taken such a step because of a financial crisis it blames on donors failing to provide promised funds. Fayyad announced the half pay measure at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The Palestinian Authority took the same measure in July. Last month it paid full salaries but said its funding crisis had not been solved.

Israeli settlers vandalize IDF base in first 'price tag' act against army
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - September 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli settlers in the West Bank vandalized an Israel Defense Forces base on Wednesday, carrying out a "price tag" operation against the army for the first time since adopting the policy in recent years. Unknown perpetrators infiltrated a base in the Binyamin region and snuck their way to a mechanics workshop on site, where they slashed the tires and cut the cables of 12 army vehicles. The vandals sprayed the word "price tag" on the walls, as well as other graffiti referring to the three illegal homes demolished by the IDF in the outpost of Migron on Monday.

Jewish groups say U.N. resolution is inevitable, but its wording isn’t set
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- All but resigned to the inevitability of a Palestinian push for statehood at the United Nations later this month, Jewish groups are hoping that its effects can be blunted through aggressive diplomacy and the threat of action by the U.S. Congress.

Hamas regime needs the Gaza blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Opinion) September 7, 2011 - 12:00am

How embarrassing. While solidarity activists are planning new protests against the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Hamas government is adding to limitations on Palestinians' freedom of movement. One might justifiably ask: What are a few high school students Hamas refuses to allow to travel to the United States to study as opposed to 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned by Israel in Gaza?

Gaza siege chokes Israel diplomatically
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel - (Opinion) September 7, 2011 - 12:00am

"Gaza envelope" is not just a geographic term or an imaginary border line delimiting the threat zone around a group of communities in the south. It is a political situation in which, for the sake of accuracy, "Israel" should replace "Gaza." It is the Gaza Strip that envelopes Israel, and not the other way around. If a closure or blockade is the index of a smothering "envelope," then it is Israel that is being smothered, largely on its own account and in no small measure on account of Gaza.

Do we really want peace?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Galila Golan - (Opinion) September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

I accuse the government of Israel (several of them) not only of failing to provide its citizens with their socioeconomic rights but also of failing to provide its citizens with security. The government of Israel has failed to provide its citizens with security because it has rejected ending the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some would go all the way back to the 1950s when Prime Minister Ben-Gurion expressed his lack of disappointment that the Egyptians were too demanding, because he believed that time was on our side. Many things, not least of which the 1967 war, proved that wrong.

Hope in the Sinai
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Daniel Nisman - (Opinion) September 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Despite the post-revolution lawlessness currently gripping the Middle East’s most populous nation, the Egyptian government’s actions in Sinai prove that it is still very much in control of the country, even if a transition to real democracy eventually proves to be wishful thinking on the part of the international community.

Analysis: Gates’s negative comments on Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - (Analysis) September 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Anyone who has paid any attention to Israel-US ties since the start of the “Obibi” era in early 2009, when US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took power in their respective countries, knows well that this relationship has been anything but a honeymoon. Anyone who has paid any attention knows there are wide gaps in the way the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government view the world and the swiftly changing region.

Not Israel’s best times
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Osama Al-Sharif - (Opinion) September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

These are not Israel’s best times. A tussle with Turkey over a commando raid on a flotilla of aid-carrying ships heading to Gaza Strip last year in which nine Turkish citizens were killed, has just turned into a full-fledged diplomatic war. Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador this week and vowed to challenge Israel’s blockade of Gaza at the International Court of Justice. Turkey’s main demand, that Israel issues an official apology for the naval attack, has been rejected — again — by Tel Aviv.

In Sinai, Egypt should be tough but fair
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Masry Al-Youm
by Issandr El Amrani - (Opinion) September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

On 29 July, a group of around hundred armed men rode into the town of Arish in northern Sinai on motorbikes. They proceeded to attack the central police station, as well as a hospital morgue where they were reported to have taken a body of one of their own, before disappearing back into the desert.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on statehood moves at U.N.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - (Interview) September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Reporting from Jerusalem— Palestinians have everyone guessing about their next move.

'What's Wrong with the Palestinians Appealing to the UN?'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Speigel International
by Christoph Sydow, Volkhard Windfuhr - (Interview) September 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Pro-democracy uprisings are continuing in the Middle East and the Palestinians could soon declare statehood. SPIEGEL spoke with Arab League General Secretary Nabil Elaraby about the Syrian regime's use of violence against protesters and how the US has failed to force Israel to negotiate in good faith. SPIEGEL: Libya has been liberated from Moammar Gadhafi's autocratic rule. Tensions in Syria, meanwhile, have already claimed more civilian lives than the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia combined, and yet the Arab League is holding back. Why are you going easy on the Syrian regime?

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