Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: House Republicans are developing a growing bond with PM Netanyahu. A compromise may be brewing in the UN whereby Palestinians apply for full membership but do not press for a vote. Sources say it is all an effort to “buy time.” Hamas is staying on the sidelines of the issue. Thousands of Palestinians rally in support. Pres. Abbas will meet with Pres. Obama in New York. Israel's finance minister Steinitz again threatens to withhold Palestinian tax revenues. A new poll suggests 70% of Israelis say they should accept whatever the UN decides. Abbas rejects allegations of corruption. A former aide to the late Pres. Arafat says Abbas is making a big mistake. COMMENTARY: Michael Weiss says the Palestinian UN gambit is misguided, but no one should cut off funds to the PA.Zvi Bar'el says the US should recognize Palestine. Issacharoff and Harel say both parties hope to keep the confrontation in New York, and not on the ground. Daniel Levy says “leading from behind” won't work for the US in this case. Gareth Evans says the US and Israel are on the wrong side of history.Claude Salhani says the Palestinians cannot afford to lose the fight at the Security Council. Tony Karon says the Palestinians are looking for a way out. Rami Khouri says this week, the Israeli and American stranglehold on the process may finally end. David Rothkopf says Israel and the Palestinians really need changes of leadership. Hussein Ibish contrasts the virtual "state" Palestinians are trying to achieve at the UN with the really existing but largely unrecognized Kosovar state, and says a compromise at the UN must be found.

.House G.O.P. Tightens Its Bond With Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Steven Lee Myers - September 20, 2011 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON — When the Obama administration wanted to be certain that Congress would not block $50 million in new aid to the Palestinian Authority last month, it turned to a singularly influential lobbyist: Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestine progress seen up in air with U.N. bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from USA Today
by Oren Dorell - September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

In the past two years, Palestinians who live in the West Bank have seen economic growth that would be the envy of other nations. The Israeli checkpoints that aim to stop terrorists but make travel difficult have been reduced by half. And there is an explosion of construction projects ranging from industrial parks to the first planned city in modern history in a territory that fails to treat much of its sewage.

Quartet powers trying to 'buy time' ahead of UN confrontation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
by Tanqi Quemener - September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) -- The PLO was coming under mounting pressure to drop a bid for UN membership of a Palestinian state as diplomats worked frantically behind the scenes to head off a looming clash. Both the United States and the Europeans appeared to be working to buy more time, with President Mahmoud Abbas determined to press ahead with plans to submit a formal application to UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday. US President Barack Obama was to meet Abbas on Wednesday, just hours after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a US official said.

Thousands rally in Ramallah to back Palestinian statehood bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Thousands of Palestinians flocked to Yasser Arafat Square in central Ramallah on Wednesday for a rally in support of the Palestinian bid for full United Nations membership. The square was dominated by a huge sign with the words "UN 194" on it, in reference to the Palestinian attempt to become the 194th member state of the international body. The sign was flanked by portraits of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, and his successor Mahmoud Abbas, who will on Friday formally submit the Palestinian request to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Palestinian statehood bid: Why Hamas has stayed on sidelines
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ahmed al-Dabba - September 20, 2011 - 12:00am

As the Palestinian bid for statehood comes to a head this week at the United Nations, Hamas remains split on whether to support the controversial move. The Islamist movement has long sought a Palestinian state, and its backing would be crucial for any such state to function. But amid a four-year rift with the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas appears to be hedging its bets. A failure for Mr. Abbas could pave the way for Hamas to expand its influence in the West Bank, where it has long been suppressed by Israeli and PA security forces.

Abbas to meet Obama on sidelines of UN summit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- US President Barack Obama will hold talks with President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly at 6 p.m. Wednesday, White House official Ben Rhodes said Tuesday. Abbas is also willing to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he told Fox News Monday. "I will meet any Israeli official any time," the president said. "But there is no use if there is nothing tangible." The Israeli news site Ynet reported Tuesday that Netanyahu was also willing to meet Abbas.

Israel May Hold Palestinian Taxes on UN Vote Move, Steinitz Says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from SFGate
by Flavia Krause-Jackson - September 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Israel may withhold as much as 40 percent of Palestinians' financial revenue should they persist in pushing for a vote on statehood at the United Nations, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said. "It will be very difficult for us to continue to collaborate with a hostile Palestinian entity," Steinitz, 53, said in an interview yesterday at Bloomberg's headquarters in New York. "Maybe we will tell the Palestinians 'Okay, collect your own tax. Why should we do it for you?'"

Palestinians Back Statehood Bid With West Bank Rallies as Israel Resists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bloomberg
by Bili Varner - September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Tens of thousands of Palestinians rallied in Ramallah’s Yasser Arafat Square and other cities across the West Bank to support their campaign for statehood at the United Nations. The festive crowds waved Palestinian flags and chanted independence slogans as speakers pledged backing for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas two days before he speaks at the UN General Assembly and is expected to ask for membership. A masked youth set fire to a U.S. flag after the speeches and was detained by police.

Poll: 70% of Israelis say Israel should accept UN decision
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel should accept the decision if the UN recognizes a Palestinian state, about 70 percent of Israelis answered in a recent Hebrew University poll.

Abbas rejects US corruption allegations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Ali El-saleh - September 20, 2011 - 12:00am

New York, Asharq Al-Awsat – Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he prepares for the most important battle of his life, namely the battle to convince the UN to recognize the Palestinian State.

Arafat Aide: Stop the U.N. Vote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

A former peace negotiator with Israel who served for years as a top aide to Yasir Arafat says President Mahmoud Abbas’s bid for membership with the United Nations is a mistake that will result in Palestinian suffering. Mohammed Rachid, who left his position with the Palestinian Authority months after Arafat died and rarely gives interviews, told The Daily Beast that, much like the second intifada 11 years ago, the campaign could cost Palestinians their relationship with key allies and their international legitimacy.

The UN bid for Palestinian statehood is irresponsible and counter-productive. But the US must not restrict aid as a punishment
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Telegraph
by Michael Weiss - (Blog) September 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Last Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he’ll be going to the United Nations on September 26 to seek full recognition of Palestinian statehood, based on 1967 borders with Israel, via the UN Security Council. The US is sure to vote “no” to full recognition, and various European countries may abstain or likewise reject the proposal. In that event, Abbas has said he’ll seek “non-member observer” status for Palestine, conveyed via the more flexible General Assembly.

U.S. should recognize Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel - (Opinion) September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Memory is short and forgetfulness is often deliberate, but 23 years ago the UN General Assembly decided to move its session from New York to Switzerland so that Palestine Liberation Organization head Yasser Arafat could deliver a speech. The reason: U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz refused to issue Yasser Arafat an entry visa to the United States.

Political war between Israel and Palestinians enters critical stage
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - (Blog) September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

The political war between Israel and the Palestinians enters its critical phase today, with the start of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Both sides are hoping that the battle will remain there, in New York, rather than moving to the checkpoints and settlements of the West Bank. Violence in Ramallah and in Psagot, in Nablus and Yitzhar, would cast a shadow over the peace process and call into question the extent of the Palestinian Authority's control of the territory - control that is very important for the PA to demonstrate at this time.

Obama and Israel: why 'leading from behind' won't work
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Daniel Levy - (Opinion) September 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Last week, Susan Rice, America's ambassador to the UN, met with Jewish pro-Israel groups to update them on the extensive range of initiatives this Democratic administration is undertaking to block Palestinian aspirations at the United Nations. Two senior US envoys were in the Middle East with the same purpose (leaving America's post Arab Awakening efforts to constructively reset relations with the region in further free-fall).

Israel and America are on the wrong side of history
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Gareth Evans - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Shortly before Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination by a right-wing Jewish extremist in November 1995, I met him in Tel Aviv. I was visiting Israel as Australia's foreign minister to argue the case for rapid implementation of the Oslo peace accords - all the way through to negotiated acceptance of Palestinian statehood. I concluded my pitch by saying, with perhaps a little more cheek than was appropriate, "But of course I'm preaching to the converted." Mr Rabin's response is etched in my memory.

A UN showdown the Palestinians can't afford to lose
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Claude Salhani - (Opinion) September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

The Middle East is going to war again this week - thankfully this time it's only a public relations war as Israelis and Palestinians take their case and their cause before the UN General Assembly. The outcome of this new escalation in the 62-year conflict, however, could lead to a new round of violence as bloody as any of the military conflicts of Arabs and Israelis in the past.

With 'all hell' breaking loose, is Abbas looking for an exit?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Tony Karon - (Opinion) September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

When the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks of being under "unbearable pressure" from foreign partners, that can be a prelude to retreat. That was the phrase he used a year ago to explain why he'd joined a new round of talks with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against his own better judgement. Those talks, demanded by the Obama administration, went nowhere.

The U.S. and Israeli stranglehold ends
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

In the past week in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington my discussions on Mideast issues with a wide range of knowledgeable people confirm the view I have held for some time now: official American attitudes to the Middle East, especially on the Arab-Israeli conflict, are characterized by deep perplexity, contradiction and disarray. No wonder the region is in the midst of a historic transition that has radically shifted the center of gravity of political action and diplomatic control away from American-Israeli dominance, toward a greater role for Arab public opinion.

The votes the Palestinians (and the Israelis) really need
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by David Rothkopf - (Blog) September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

As H.L. Mencken might have observed, no one ever went broke underestimating the abilities of the current Israeli or Palestinian leadership. But in the competition for the region's top cluelessness prize, one has to give Bibi Netanyahu the edge. After all, he has done the near impossible and edged out Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestine between fact and fiction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) September 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement that he intends to seek full United Nations membership from the Security Council raises a wide range of interesting, and in some ways alarming, scenarios for the coming weeks. However, the move is unlikely to ultimately bring Palestinians any closer to actual independence.

How The Palestinian Statehood Bid May Backfire
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) September 20, 2011 - 12:00am

On September 19, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas formally told United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that he would be submitting an application for full UN membership for the state of Palestine after his speech to the General Assembly on September 23. This reiterates the plan outlined by Abbas in a speech to the Palestinian people last week.

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