Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: As expected, Palestine's UN membership application will be referred by the Security Council to the Membership Committee. Hamas prohibits any celebration in Gaza of the UN process. Events at the UN last week create a critical moment for the peace process. A Palestinian official says nonviolence is the key to their strategy. Both Pres. Abbas and PM Netanyahu are enjoying a surge of popularity. Israeli extremists demand the annexation of the West Bank. Israel announces more than 1,000 new settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. Members of Congress repeat threats to cut funding to the PA. The US says it opposes “preconditions” for resumed negotiations. COMMENTARY: Akiva Eldar says peace is the answer to Israel's long-term security needs. David Newman says if Israel took real steps towards peace, its call for negotiations would be taken more seriously. Gershon Baskin says both Abbas and Netanyahu should take unilateral steps to make renewed negotiations possible. Robert Fisk says even many Israelis open to a Palestinian state draw the line at compromising on Jerusalem. Nathan Guttman says Pres. Obama may be deliberately stepping back from a prominent Mideast peace role for election purposes. Joschka Fischer says the only rational Israeli response to the Arab uprisings is to quickly move towards peace with the Palestinians. Yossi Alpher says the three main UN speeches on the Middle East offered no progress. Ghassan Khatib says Palestinians now face a difficult quandary over whether to accept insufficient Quartet terms or enter a confrontation with world powers. Elliott Abrams says Abbas gained politically but achieved nothing to advance Palestinian independence. Hussein Ibish says Abbas gave a moving, historic speech, one Yasser Arafat was never able to produce.

Palestinians’ Security Council Application Goes to a Committee
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Neil MacFarquhar - September 26, 2011 - 12:00am

The Security Council decided to meet on Wednesday morning to refer the Palestinian membership application to the Council’s membership committee. All 15 Council members have a representative on the committee. Given the sensitivity and interest of the issue, it will be heavy with ambassadors this time around, diplomats said. Even as the review is proceeding, both the United States and the Palestinians have been lobbying over the eventual vote in the Council, which is still weeks if not months away.

One Gaza family celebrates Palestinian statehood bid despite Hamas ban
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Kristen Chick - September 25, 2011 - 12:00am

When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas went to the United Nations to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state Friday, Gaza residents weren’t allowed to celebrate in the streets like Palestinians in the West Bank.

UN Showdown Ushers in Critical a Period for U.S. Middle East Peace Efforts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bloomberg
by Indira A.R. Lakshmanan - (Analysis) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinians’ bid for statehood at the United Nations has shaken up Mideast peace efforts, fueling a sense of crisis among Israeli and Palestinian allies that the U.S. says can drive a return to direct peace talks. “We know that there’s a trust deficit that needs to be overcome,” Michael Hammer, acting assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said yesterday. The two sides “have an opportunity here that we hope they will seize.”

Fatah official: Non-violence key to Palestinian struggle
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
(Analysis) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas' adviser said Tuesday that non-violent resistance was crucial to the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation and that violent confrontation was not an option. Sabri Saydam told Ma'an that the Palestinians must take "the path of non-violent popular resistance to highlight Palestinian suffering" and avoid giving Israel any pretexts to export their "internal crisis."

UN speech gives Abbas a stronger hand
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Karin Laub - (Analysis) September 26, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP — President Mahmoud Abbas' surge of popularity following his bid for U.N. recognition for a Palestinian state is bound to give him a stronger hand against the rival Hamas group as they prepare to resume talks on a stalled power-sharing deal next week.

Netanyahu's popularity rises locally after UN speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Mu Xuequan - September 26, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, Sep. 26 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's popularity got a boost after his speech at the United Nations last Friday, a poll showed on Monday, following his ratings plunged in the wake of social protests across the country during the summer. The survey showed that Netanyahu's approval spiked upwards when he rejected the Palestinians' statehood bid on the grounds that such a state could only come through negotiations with Israel, and not as a unilateral step.

Israel must annex West Bank settlements, right-wing MKs tell Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - (Analysis) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel should legally annex West Bank settlements in response to the Palestinians' recent bid for recognition in the United Nations, the leaders of several right-wing Knesset factions said in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. The letter was signed by Likud chairman Ze'ev Elkin, Shas chairman Avraham Michaeli, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Uri Orbach, and the leader of the National Union faction Yaakov Katz.

U.S. lawmaker: Palestinians must return to peace talks or suffer possible divestment
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - (Analysis) September 26, 2011 - 12:00am

A U.S. Congressmen said Monday that the Palestinians should think twice about their bid to gain recognition at the United Nations,urging the Palestinian Authority to "reverse course" and get back to the negotiation table.

Israel set to approve 1,100 new Jerusalem homes beyond the Green Line
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nir Hasson - (Analysis) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The Jerusalem District Planning Committee is set to approve 1,100 new housing units in Jerusalem's contested Gilo neighborhood on Tuesday, despite past U.S. objections concerning any construction that expanded Gilo further across the Green Line. The plan was submitted by a subsidiary to the Jewish National Fund, and must pass 60 days in which the public may oppose it before being finally approved by Jerusalem's planning authorities.

Shapiro: US opposes preconditions to peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
(Analysis) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Washington does not agree that a settlement building freeze should be a precondition to the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, United States Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said Tuesday morning in an interview with Army Radio. He said that "the US has had the same policy for the past 40 years - against building settlements in the West Bank." However, he stressed that the US believes that direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, without preconditions, are the only way to resolve the conflict.

Border Control / Mideast peace can provide all the security Israel needs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The main, if not the only, innovation in the prime minister's address at the UN General Assembly was the demand that the Palestinians house military bases inside their new state. This, of course, in addition to the need for "defensible borders," that is a result of Israel's narrow middle. In order to illustrate the sensitivity of this shape, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "disclosed" to the world that a fighter jet could cross the width of the country in just three seconds.

Actions, not slogans, for the New Year
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by David Newman - (Opinion) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Unlike most other countries’ New Years, Rosh Hashana is not simply about festivities and parties. It is, for most of us, a period of introspection, personal and collective, a period when we sit down with ourselves, weigh up our deeds and actions of the past year and, hopefully, resolve to do some things differently in the coming year.

Reciprocity, mutuality – key to Mid-East peacemaking
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) September 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Dear President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu, welcome home to both of you. You both did a fine job at the UN and made your peoples feel proud. You represented the cause of your peoples’ struggle for existence and peace with great honor. You can both claim victory and come home to a hero’s welcome.

Palestine, yes, but Israelis draw the line at Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Robert Fisk - (Opinion) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

They wear their wounds well, the buildings of the old "green line". Forget the new Jerusalem hotels across the road, the state-of-the-art tramway that glistens down the highway; just take a look at the bullet holes on the walls to the left, the shell gashes in the preserved façade of what was once an Israeli army bunker and is now Raphie Etgar's little art gallery. You can still peer between the rusting iron shutters, across the road. A hundred metres away was the Arab Legion. Just 300ft from here was the Jordanian frontier.

After U.N. Drama, Little Hope for Peace Breakthrough
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Forward
by Nathan Guttman - (Opinion) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

An intense week of high-profile speeches and backroom diplomacy, which reached its climax with an official Palestinian bid for statehood, has reshaped the Middle East peace process, eroding the American position as lead player — which may, in fact, be President Obama’s strategy.

Dynamics of Arab Spring
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Joschka Fischer - (Opinion) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Regardless of whether democratisation in the ‘new Middle East' succeeds or authoritarian forms of government prevail once again, one fundamental change has already become clear: no one will be able to govern without taking into account domestic public opinion.

Three speeches, no progress
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Last week, we heard three dramatic speeches at the United Nations General Assembly that were ostensibly intended to offer new ideas for dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. They did not. United States President Barack Obama made an unusually pro-Israel speech that was obviously motivated by domestic American political considerations. Obama made clear that he was abdicating a leadership role regarding Israel-Palestine for the coming US election year. It's doubtful the rest of the Quartet, meaning essentially Europe, can fill the gap.

Price to be paid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

This past week witnessed the culmination of the Palestinian political move to the United Nations. We have seen key speeches by US President Barack Obama, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in addition to the submission of the Palestinian application for state membership to the United Nations and, finally, a statement by the Middle East Quartet.

Abbas Strikes Out
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National Review
by Elliott Abrams - (Opinion) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The rapturous applause that greeted Mahmoud Abbas, appearing before the U.N. General Assembly in his role as chairman of the PLO, was deceiving. The collection of states that swooned when he mentioned Yasser Arafat’s 1974 appearance in the same hall will never give him a state — nor even the foreign-aid money to pay his delegation’s hotel bills.

The speech Yasser Arafat never gave
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ moving speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Friday was certainly the high point of his career. His address will be forever remembered because Abbas was able to do what no Palestinian leader has ever done in the past: make the moral case for Palestinian independence in a clear, coherent, reasonable manner at the highest international forum.

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