Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Palestinian villagers say they are interested in the realities of life on the ground, not votes at the UN. The US is still scrambling to avert a showdown at the UN. Palestinians say they're being pressured by both Arab and European states to go to the UN General Assembly rather than the Security Council. Palestinians say it is the failure of 18 years of the Oslo process that is leading them to the UN. FM Lieberman again warns of “harsh consequences” from Israel. A senior PLO official questions the wisdom of a UN initiative.Some Jewish-American groups are supporting continued funding for the PA no matter what happens in September. Gazans express mixed feelings about the initiative. Palestinians are still asking the US for reasons not to go forward. A key member of Congress is trying to defund Palestinian and international institutions in the event of an initiative. Palestinians reiterate their conditions for resuming negotiations with Israel. Israeli authorities are worried about the rising Jewish extremism, particularly among settlers. COMMENTARY: David Ignatius says Israel will be more secure in a world of Arab democracies, but will have to make more compromises. Chuck Freilich says Egypt has an important role to play in shaping a compromise at the UN. Bradley Burston lists 10 reasons why Palestinians are right to approach the UN. Jonathan Freedland says both Britain and Israel should support Palestinian statehood. Tony Karon says the PA may lose control after a UN vote. Husam Itani says Israel is being influenced by the “Arab Spring” both internationally and at home. Jameel Theyab says he can understand why Hezbollah continues to support the Assad regime, but not Hamas' silence about its brutality. Mohammad Salah says that the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was part of a generalized culture of vengeance Egypt must move beyond. Rebecca Vilkomerson says many US liberals are progressive on everything except Israel. Marwan Muasher answers questions about Middle East peace and the Palestinian UN initiative.

Palestinians on statehood: 'We want action, not votes at the UN'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Mohammed Hassan al-Atrash, a man whose life story is a microcosm of all that has befallen the Palestinian people over the past 63 years, smiles ruefully at the prospect of a Palestinian state winning the support of most countries in the world at the United Nations next week. "I am a simple man," he says, leaning on his sturdy walking stick. "I don't know about politics. But from my life experience, I don't think we will gain anything. What is left, after the settlements, the military zones, the wall, the bypass roads? You think you can build a state on a few scattered villages?

U.S. Scrambles to Avert Palestinian Vote at U.N.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by David Kirkpatrick - September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

The United States faced increasing pressure on Tuesday as the Palestinian quest for statehood gained support from Turkey and other countries, even as the Obama administration sought an 11th-hour compromise that would avoid a confrontation at the United Nations next week. With only days to go before world leaders gather in New York, the maneuvering became an exercise in brinkmanship as the administration wrestles with roiling tensions in the region, including a sharp deterioration of relations between three of its closest allies in the region: Egypt, Israel and Turkey.

Palestinians Pressured to Seek General Assembly Vote on Statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by David Kirkpatrick - September 13, 2011 - 12:00am

A top negotiator for the Palestinian Authority said Tuesday night that its leadership was weighing the strong urging of both the Arab states and the Europeans to turn to the General Assembly of the United Nations — and not its Security Council — in a bid to win international recognition as a state.

18 years after Oslo, Palestinians try a new tack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Maher Abukhater - (Blog) September 13, 2011 - 12:00am

On Sept. 13, 1993, current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and current Israeli President Shimon Peres signed at the While House the so-called Oslo Accords, ushering in a new era and hopes of peace in the decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The agreement was signed in the presence of President Bill Clinton, former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Israel warns of 'harsh' consequences of Palestinian UN bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Hardline Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Wednesday there will be "harsh and grave consequences" if the Palestinians persist with their plan to seek UN membership as a state. Speaking shortly before a scheduled meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Lieberman did not elaborate on the possible consequences. "The moment has not yet come to give details of what will happen," he said. In the past he has called for Israel to sever all relations with the administration of President Mahmoud Abbas should it press on with its UN bid.

PLO official voices criticism of UN membership plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

PLO central council member Nabil Amr said Tuesday that the Palestinian request for full UN membership is not a "bid" but rather a diplomatic activity. The former ambassador to Egypt expressed reservations over the plan to seek state membership of the United Nations at the annual General Assembly meeting in New York, which opens on Monday. Speaking at a seminar in Hebron, Amr said vows by the US President Barack Obama and the Middle East Quartet to establish a Palestinian state were nothing more than promises.

Pro-Israel groups defend US aid to Palestinian Authority
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Worried about possible US aid cuts to the Palestinian Authority, some American Jewish groups find themselves in the peculiar position of defending the funding, particularly money that supports PA security forces. The US Congress has threatened to review the roughly $500 million in annual aid to the PA if the Palestinians seek full membership at the United Nations, a step opposed by Israel and the United States.

Gazans have mixed feelings over Abbas U.N bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas's bid to seek U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state is not generating much enthusiasm in the isolated Gaza Strip, where internal political divisions run deep. The Islamist Hamas movement, which seized the territory from forces loyal to Abbas's Fatah group in 2007, sees the move as an exercise in futility in a quest for statehood.

Palestinians trying to dodge pre-UN vote face-off with Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Statements made Tuesday by Mohammad Shtayyeh, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, regarding the Palestinian Authority's intention to address the UN Security Council, in addition to its General Assembly, were not surprising. Just three days ago Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself said that the Palestinians will turn to the Security Council, and will not be content to deal with the General Assembly.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen tells Haaretz: We must stop Palestinians' ‘dangerous scheme’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - (Blog) September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Representative for Florida and chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is one of the loudest voices in Congress opposing the Palestinian plan to secure United Nations recognition for statehood. A bill she introduced earlier this month would cut funding to any UN body that supports the Palestinian bid. The initiative was criticized by Obama administration officials and Ros-Lehtinen’s Democratic colleagues in Congress, but the Congresswoman made it clear on Tuesday that she has no intentions of backpedalling on the issue.

Abbas aide: PA will renew talks if 1 of 2 conditions met
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority will agree to return to peace negotiations with Israel if only one of two criteria they had previously set as pre-conditions for talks are reached: an immediate halt to all settlement construction or an Israeli declaration that the borders of the Palestinian state will be based on the pre-1967 lines with mutually agreed upon land swaps, a senior aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas told Army Radio on Wednesday.

Rise in terror activities by Jewish extremists worries Israel's Shin Bet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel is growing concerned about a rise in terror activities by Jewish extremists against Palestinians and Israeli left-wing activists as it anticipates violence ahead of a possible United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Israel’s new problem with the Arab Street
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by David Ignatius - (Opinion) September 13, 2011 - 12:00am

The expanding confrontation between Israel and its neighbors has been described variously as a “train wreck,” a “lose-lose situation” and a “political tsunami.” It’s all those things and likely to get worse, for there’s no quick fix by Israel’s ally, the United States.

Keep the peace between Israel and Egypt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Chuck Freilich - (Opinion) September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

My fingers burned with excitement. It was just weeks after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's dramatic trip to Israel in November 1977 and my boss had just returned from Egypt, the first Israel Defense Forces officer ever to visit that nation. I was a young officer, and the "present" he brought me — a standard tourist postcard — was the most precious one I could imagine. It was something from Egypt, and it was not going to explode. Until Sadat's trip, and the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty that followed, that sort of contact had been as tangible to Israelis as the moon.

Ten reasons Palestine is right to bring its case to the UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Bradley Burston - (Blog) September 13, 2011 - 12:00am

There's a certain implied danger in the idea of playing darts in the dark. Particularly when there are numerous players in a crowded room, and not one has a well-defined target. For Mahmoud Abbas' Palestine, for Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel, and no less, for the Obama administration, the effort to bring Palestinian statehood to the United Nations for endorsement has raised profound fears, prompting internal debates fully as bitter as they have been largely fruitless, with no dependably favorable outcome in sight – for anyone.

Britain should say yes to Palestinian statehood – and so should Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Freedland - (Opinion) September 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Britain doesn't usually count for much in the Middle East, but this time it could make all the difference. As the Palestinians seek United Nations recognition as a state, a quirk of diplomatic algebra leaves Britain with a chance to play the decisive role – and to complete some unfinished business dating back more than 60 years.

A weak Palestinian Authority might lose control after vote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Tony Karon - (Opinion) September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

The Arab Spring may have had little effect on the governance of the Palestinian territories, save for a few demonstrations that sparked a patently insincere unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas, both of which have been preoccupied with avoiding blame. But the Arab Fall may yet bring the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

The “Arab” Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Husam Itani - (Opinion) September 13, 2011 - 12:00am

The Arab revolutions took Israel, and the rest of the region’s countries, by surprise. The reports published in the last few days and that carry advice from the security services to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, indicate that neither the services nor the government have learned anything from the events taking place around Israel.

Hamas’s Silence and Hezbollah’s Voice
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Jameel Theyabi - (Opinion) September 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Many do not trust the movements of political Islam that raise flashy slogans, frighten people with threats of grief and destruction, announce their resistance and rejectionism but at the same time remain silent vis-à-vis the actions of the tyrants and the rifles of the dictators that are pointed toward the heads of the “peaceful” demonstrators. I wanted to go over Hamas’s position in comparison with Hezbollah’s stand. Hamas, its Politburo Chief Khaled Meshaal, and Haniyeh and Al-Zahhar from behind him are all utterly “silent” toward the developments in Syria!

A Secular State with a…“Football” Frame of Reference
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Mohammad Salah - (Opinion) September 12, 2011 - 12:00am

It is not difficult to explain what happened with the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Indeed, despite it being unanimously recognized as unlawful action contrary to Egyptian and international law, as well as to all conventions, and despite the fact that all Egyptian political forces have rejected the attack on the embassy, as well as of course the confrontations with security personnel that followed, we must understand that there is in Egypt a major social issue called “vengeance”, for which the search to find a solution never stops, and which is well entrenched especially in Upper Egypt.

Progressive except on Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Hill
by Rebecca Vilkomerson - (Blog) September 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Tomorrow’s special election for New York’s 9th district to replace Rep. Anthony Weiner is a disturbing example of the limited range of acceptable political discourse on Israel in American politics.

What Peace Process?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
by Marwan Muasher - September 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinians plan to seek recognition as a state later this month at the United Nations, despite last-ditch efforts by the Americans to avoid a showdown. While the Palestinians enjoy broad international support for their statehood bid, some warn that a UN vote could inflame tensions and ignite violence at a time of regional upheaval.

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