Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Palestinians say they intend to continue to pursue full UN membership in spite of Pres. Obama's admonitions. Pres. Abbas is now the center of global attention. Palestinian leaders say they will give the Security Council “some time” to consider their application before asking them to act, and are studying a fresh proposal for a UNGA resolution and renewed negotiations with Israel. Abbas' defiance seems to have intensified. Jewish-American groups are split on Obama's UN speech. The EU is still divided on the issue of Palestine at the UN. Israeli leaders welcome Obama's speech, but Palestinian leaders criticize it. COMMENTARY: Norwegian FM and chairman of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for assistance to the Palestinian Authority Jonas Gahr Store says Palestine is ready for statehood.Hussein Ibish says Obama's speech was good politics but did not serve US policy goals. Former Israeli PM Olmert says this is the last chance for a two-state solution. Saree Makdisi says the UN bid could backfire. Gideon Levy says Palestinians are "the new Jews" and their leaders are remarkably like old-time Zionists. Frances Raday says a Palestinian state is in Israel's interests.Robert Wexler says Obama is indeed pro-Israel. Douglas Bloomfield says US Republicans are trying to turn Israel into a wedge issue. Taufiq Rahim says time is running out to salvage a two-state solution. Randa Takieddine says Abbas is taking the Arab spring to New York. The Daily Star says Obama is right negotiations are the only solution, but he must practice what he preaches. John Whitbeck says Palestinians can make use of divisions within the EU. House Majority Leader Cantor and Minority Whip Hoyer say the US must oppose the Palestinian UN initiative.

Obama Rebuffed as Palestinians Pursue U.N. Seat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Helene Cooper, Steven Lee Myers - September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

A last-ditch American effort to head off a Palestinian bid for membership in the United Nations faltered. President Obama tried to qualify his own call, just a year ago, for a Palestinian state. And President Nicolas Sarkozy of France stepped forcefully into the void, with a proposal that pointedly repudiated Mr. Obama’s approach. The extraordinary tableau Wednesday at the United Nations underscored a stark new reality: the United States is facing the prospect of having to share, or even cede, its decades-long role as the architect of Middle East peacemaking.

Taking a Stand, and Shedding Arafat’s Shadow
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner, Neil MacFarquhar - September 21, 2011 - 12:00am

At the baronial Morgan Library in Midtown Manhattan the other night, President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, stood quietly along the edge of a diplomatic reception, avoiding the animated gossip and flowing Champagne. Only when the host noted that Mr. Abbas was in the room, and expressed hope that his quest for Palestinian membership in the United Nations would produce real sovereignty, did the crowd take notice.

PLO to give UN council time to mull bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian leadership -- despite firm US and Israeli opposition -- will give the UN Security Council "some time" to study their application for full membership in the United Nations, a senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday. He also said the Palestinian delegation would politely reject US President Barack Obama's demand in his UN General Assembly speech on Wednesday that the Palestinians drop their bid for membership in the United Nations, a plan that is doomed to failure if Washington keeps its promise to veto it.

Palestinian leadership considering French proposals on peace process: official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian leadership is studying ideas proposed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to revive peace talks with Israel, a senior official said Thursday. Sarkozy's ideas, revealed Wednesday in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly, aim at defusing an increasing tension between the United States and the Palestinian National Authority ( PNA) over the latter's plan to request a full UN membership.

Abbas presses Palestinian case with new defiance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas looks certain to fail in his bid to win United Nations membership for a Palestinian state, but his move has rekindled admiration for him back home, revealing the defiant side of an often understated man. The initiative is fiercely opposed by the United States and his decision to forge ahead has thrust the Palestinian issue to the top of the U.N. agenda, challenging the view of critics who accuse him of yielding too swiftly to foreign pressure.

U.S. Jews give Obama mixed reviews for 'pro-Israel' UN speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

It was quite clear that U.S. President Barack Obama's speech, which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he "would sign with both hands," would draw mixed reactions. Its failure to go into details about the Israeli-Palestinian issue was assumed to be due to a combination of re-election concerns and those of slipping Jewish support. But the U.S. Jewish organizations provided varying - in some cases even polar - responses to the speech.

Europe's diluted solution to Palestinian aspirations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
by Matthew Price - September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinians' drive to achieve statehood has had diplomats around the world scrambling to decide their positions - not least within the EU, where it is testing the limits of a common foreign policy. The battle started several months ago, and the battleground was Europe. Cables were sent out across the continent's EU member states. Orders were given: lobby high officials, gather the backing of local supporters, flood the media with sympathetic articles.

Netanyahu, Lieberman praise Obama’s U.N. speech, but Palestinians pan it
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked President Obama for his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, but the Palestinians criticized the address. Netanyahu met with Obama at the United Nations on Wednesday afternoon after the president’s speech and reportedly expressed his appreciation for the address. The speech was praised as well by Israel’s hawkish foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman. “I congratulate President Obama, and I am ready to sign on this speech with both hands,” Lieberman said at a news conference.

Ready for Statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from International Herald Tribune
by Jonas Gahr Store - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The main issue before the United Nations General Assembly this week is the Palestinian quest for recognition. Less attention is being paid to a related, and no less important question: Are the Palestinians capable and ready to run a state?

Obama at the UN on Israel-Palestine: Good Politics, Poor Diplomacy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Atlantic
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

If you'd wanted to gauge how strained relations between the Obama administration and the Palestinian leadership have become, all you'd need do is watch the shaking heads of the Palestinian representatives at the United Nations General Assembly during the U.S. President's speech there on Wednesday. Obama reiterated the American commitment to a two-state solution and the creation of an independent Palestine, both established U.S. policy. Rhetorically, however, his speech recognized most of the core elements of the Israeli narrative but virtually none of the Palestinian one.

Peace Now, or Never
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ehud Olmert - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

AS the United Nations General Assembly opens this year, I feel uneasy. An unnecessary diplomatic clash between Israel and the Palestinians is taking shape in New York, and it will be harmful to Israel and to the future of the Middle East. I know that things could and should have been different. I truly believe that a two-state solution is the only way to ensure a more stable Middle East and to grant Israel the security and well-being it desires. As tensions grow, I cannot but feel that we in the region are on the verge of missing an opportunity — one that we cannot afford to miss.

Palestinians' U.N. gamble could backfire
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Saree Makdisi - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

It goes without saying that Palestinians and Arabs are outraged by the idea that the United States is threatening to block recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations. What is less obvious, perhaps, is that some of the most vociferous critics of the Palestinian bid for upgraded U.N. recognition are Palestinians themselves. How could it be that advocates of Palestinian rights could be suspicious of, if not altogether opposed to, the U.N. gambit? Isn't the creation of an internationally recognized independent state the goal shared by all Palestinians?

The Palestinians are the new Jews
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Look at the Palestinians and look at us. Look at their leaders and recall ours. Not, of course, those we have today, but those we once had, the ones who established the state for us. The Palestinians are the new Jews and their leaders are amazingly similar to the former Zionist leaders.

Palestine an Israeli interest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Frances Raday - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli government has brought us to absurdity, using all its powers of diplomatic persuasion to preempt UN recognition of a Palestinian state, when it is in Israel’s strategic interest that Palestine should be recognized as a state. A march of folly has brought us to this point: the settlement policy of this and previous governments and Netanyahu’s failure to promote genuine negotiations with the moderate leadership of Abbas and Fayyad, to make concessions, which are in any case foregone conclusions, or to freeze building in occupied areas.

Defending Obama’s pro-Israel credentials
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Robert Wexler - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

It is ironic that Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, as well as numerous other Republican groups and individuals, have chosen this month to escalate their smear campaign against President Obama’s pro- Israel record. While President Obama has consistently acted to protect Israel’s safety and interests over his entire time in office, the events of this month in particular – both in the US and in the Middle East – serve as a sharp rebuttal to these partisan efforts to spread misrepresentations and falsities.

For love or money?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Douglas Bloomfield - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

It is easy to get the impression the GOP-led House of Representatives is trying to out-Likud the Likud. The reaction on Capitol Hill to Palestinian plans to seek UN membership may be more strident than that of the Israeli government. But it’s hard to tell because the Israelis are delivering a very mixed message.

Time is running out for Israel to salvage a two-state solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Taufiq Rahim - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

In the fall of 2002, Prof Sari Nusseibeh, now the president of Al Quds University in Jerusalem, argued that Palestinians needed to adjust to practical realities on the ground, and should avoid living in the dream of a greater Palestine. It was a comment that went to the heart of the right of return for Palestinians to modern-day Israel, which continues to be a contentious point.

The "Abu Mazen Spring" in the Security Council
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Randa Takieddine - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Salam Fayyad has been the prime minister of the Palestinian government since 2009, and tasked with the seeming "mission impossible" of building all of the institutions needed to prepare for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Fayyad has succeeded, despite the huge difficulties resulting from Israeli occupation, settlement and other policies.

Show, don’t tell
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
(Editorial) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

U.S. President Barack Obama couldn’t have said it any better when he told the United Nations General Assembly that there was “no shortcut” to peace in the Middle East. Obama was responding to the drive by the Palestinians to secure official U.N. recognition for their independent state. The U.S. president probably thought he was being statesmanlike and realistic by solemnly declaring that “statements and resolutions” at the U.N. will not bring such a state into existence. Obama is resoundingly and definitively correct when he says there is no short-cut to a durable peace.

Why Palestinian leadership should remain firm
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by John V. Whitbeck - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Let us think out loud as Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas plans to give UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a letter tomorrow seeking full membership for his state: The normal, orthodox road map to UN membership comprises two steps: (1) a recommendation to the General Assembly by the Security Council (requiring nine affirmative votes and NO negative vote — “veto” — by one of the five permanent members) followed by (2) approval by the General Assembly (requiring a two-thirds majority of those voting — i.e., ignoring abstentions and no-shows).

Stand up against Palestinians' UN statehood bid: It's dangerous to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from New York Daily News
by Steny Hoyer - (Opinion) September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Last Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced he would ignore international warnings and take his bid for recognition of a Palestinian state to the UN Security Council. The decision facing Abbas was a simple one: return to direct peace negotiations with Israel or rebuff the U.S. and renew diplomatic warfare against Israel. In choosing the latter, Abbas has put at risk not only the Palestinian Authority's relationship with the U.S., but the aspirations of his own people.

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