Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israel confirms approval for more than 1,000 new settler housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. The US, EU, PA and many others condemn the move. Palestinians say Nigeria has committed to voting in the Security Council for Palestinian UN membership. The US hopes to avoid using its veto in the event of a vote. Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launch a hunger strike over worsening conditions. Palestinians say that to facilitate economic development they need to revise some terms of the 1994 Paris Agreement. Israel's cabinet cannot agree on a response to the new Quartet statement. Pres. Obama's popularity is surging in Israel according to a new poll, and former New York Mayor Koch re-endorses him for president. Israel's internal security forces recommends government defunding of an extremist settler religious school. The Jerusalem Post interviews PM Netanyahu. COMMENTARY: Tom Friedman says both sides are acting as if they want two states for one people, not two states for two peoples. Sefi Rachlevsky says the messianism PM Netanyahu indulges in could lead to an attack on Iran. Uri Savir is the status quo is untenable and things will either get better or worse depending on what the parties do Josh Mintz says some Israeli lawyers argue that recognizing a Palestinian state could help Israel legally defend the blockade of Gaza.Lawrence Grossman says that the US Jewish vote is in play for 2012, in part because of perceptions about Obama's policies towards Israel. Rami Khouri says at the UN Palestinians shed their mantle of victimhood and asserted their agency. Osama Al Sharif says Pres. Abbas' UN move is not a "gambit"but the right thing to do. Hani al-Masri says a new Abbas and the old Netanyahu addressed the UN. John Judis says the US should support Palestinian statehood.

Israel approves new housing despite pleas for delay
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - (Analysis) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Reporting from Jerusalem— Israel gave preliminary approval Tuesday to the construction of about 1,100 new housing units in East Jerusalem, brushing aside pleas from U.S. and European diplomats to delay the controversial project as they attempt to restart peace talks. The Interior Ministry's green light will clear the way for a significant expansion of the Jewish development of Gilo, on land seized by Israel during the 1967 Middle East War.

US, EU condemn Israeli plan to expand settlement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Allyn Fisher-Ilan - (Analysis) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Israel approved on Tuesday the construction of 1,100 settlement homes on annexed land in the West Bank, complicating global efforts to renew peace talks and defuse a crisis over a Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations. The plan was met with a chorus of Western criticism. Britain and the European Union called on Israel to reverse the decision, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said new settlement building would be "counter-productive" to the efforts to revive peace talks.

PA slams Israeli settlement plans
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
(Analysis) September 26, 2011 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday slammed Israel's approval of construction plans to build 1,100 new housing units in a settlement in East Jerusalem. Israel's regional planning and construction committee on Tuesday approved the plans, described by one committee member as "a nice gift for Rosh Hashanah," the Israeli news site Ynet reported. Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and illegally annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community. All settlements built on occupied territory are illegal under international law.

U.S. hopes to not use veto to aid Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Times
by Ben Birnbaum - (Analysis) September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinians have yet to lock down a nine-vote majority in the U.N. Security Council for their statehood bid, raising U.S. hopes that it could be spared the embarrassment of using its veto power in defense of an increasingly isolated Israel. Amid indications that Colombia and the Security Council’s four EU member states will abstain from any vote, attention has focused on Nigeria, Gabon and Bosnia, which have offered few signals about how they will vote.

PA: Nigeria to support Palestine statehood bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
(Analysis) September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Nigeria will vote in favor of the application for full UN membership in the Security Council, foreign minister Riyad Malki said Tuesday after meeting with his Nigerian counterpart. Olugbenga Ashiru stressed Nigeria’s support for the application for a state on the 1967 borders as well as his hopes for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict, the official Palestinian Authority news agency said.

Palestinian prisoners to start hunger strike against worsening condition in Israeli jails
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Mu Xuequan - (Analysis) September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Palestinians jailed in Israeli prisons are going to start a hunger strike Wednesday to protest against what they call "an escalating series of punitive measures by the Israel Prison Service (IPS)." Beginning this week, the prisoners will go on a hunger strike every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, together with other forms of disobedience, including refusal to wear prison uniforms or cooperate with any other IPS demands, according to a press release from Addameer, a non-governmental organization working to promote Palestinian prisoners' rights.

Palestinians look for modifying Paris agreement signed with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Emad Drimly, Osama Radi - (Analysis) September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian officials and analysts said Tuesday that substantial modifications of Paris agreement, signed in 1994 and aimed at coordinating the economical ties with Israel, would be essential to strengthen the characteristics of the Palestinian state. Mohamed Ishteya, director general of the Palestinian Economical Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDR), said the Paris agreement depended on the basis of free movement of trade, workers and goods in both directions.

Israel's cabinet fails to reach consensus on Quartet plan for talks with Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nir Hasson, Avi Issacharoff, Jonathan Lis, Natasha Mozgovaya, Shlomo Shamir - (Analysis) September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the eight senior cabinet members were unable to reach an agreement regarding the Quartet's initiative for renewed talks between Israel and the Palestinians, despite prolonged discussions lasting until 2:00 A.M. on Wednesday. Netanyahu was expected to support the Quartet's proposal; however, due to a lack of consensus with the senior cabinet members, no decision was reached.

‘Post’ poll finds surge in Obama popularity in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Hoffman - (Analysis) September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama succeeded in reaching out to Israelis with his speech last Friday to the General Assembly and his efforts to block the UN from unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state, according to a Keevoon Research poll sponsored by The Jerusalem Post this week. When asked about the Obama administration’s policies, 54 percent said they were more favorable toward Israel, 19% said they were more pro- Palestinian, and 27% called them neutral.

Koch on board with Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Ed Koch says he's now on the "Obama Reelection Express." The former New York mayor told supporters in an e-mail Monday that he is backing the president in the wake of his pro-Israel speech last week at the United Nations, among other factors. Koch credited his role in the Democrats' loss of this month's special congressional election in a heavily Jewish Democratic stronghold in New York City. Koch had urged voters to back the Republican candidate to send a message to President Obama, whom he accused of distancing himself from Israel.

Israeli agency urges funding to be cut from extremist settler college
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Donald MacIntyre - (Analysis) September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's domestic intelligence agency is urging the government to stop funding a religious college in a Jewish West Bank settlement after warning that its senior rabbis are encouraging students to attack Palestinians. The intelligence agency, Shin Bet, pressed a month ago for an immediate block on the annual £226,000 grant for the religious college, or yeshiva, in the notoriously extreme settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus. The Education Ministry has reportedly yet to take a decision despite two meetings with Shin Bet.

‘If Palestinians want to live in peace, it can be achieved'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - (Interview) September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

The most striking thing about meeting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his Jerusalem office Monday afternoon – some four hours after he returned from a grueling five-day trip to New York – was the degree to which he didn’t look or act as if he just stepped off a transatlantic flight. He looked relatively fresh and his words were crisp. “Adrenalin,” someone in his office said.

2 for 2, or 2 for 1?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Thomas L. Friedman - September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and President Obama all spoke at the U.N. last week and, honestly, it is hard to decide whose speech was worse. Netanyahu’s read like a pep rally to the Likud Central Committee. Abbas’s read like an address to an Arab League meeting. Obama’s read like an appeal to Jewish voters in Florida. The president meant well, but domestic politics required that he whisper where he once spoke bold truths to both sides.

Netanyahu's messianism could launch attack on Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Sefi Rachlevsky - September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu promised to tell the truth at the United Nations, and the truth was indeed revealed. The prime minister chose in this speech to quote reverently from his meetings with one person only: the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who viewed himself as the messiah.

Savir's Corner: Alone together
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Uri Savir - September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

An Indian poet once wrote: “I am alone, you are alone, let’s be alone together.” This phrase admirably sums up the current positions of Israel and Palestine. Israel’s solitude is glaringly obvious to everyone in the world, except possibly Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Approximately 130 of 193 UN members support a Palestinian bid for statehood. There is a universal consensus for the 1967 lines and against settlements. The United States is a friend and ally, but disagrees with our policies and is irritated to have been forced into isolation by us.

Rhetoric vs. reality: ‘Lawfare’ and the PA statehood bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Josh Mintz - September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

In February 2010, Avichai Mandebilt, the IDF’s chief military advocate-general was quoted in a diplomatic cable as saying that a successful Palestinian Authority attempt to take Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes would be considered an act of war by the IDF.

Op-Ed: Jewish vote in play for 2012
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Lawrence Grossman - September 26, 2011 - 12:00am

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Will the Jewish vote, normally overwhelmingly Democratic, be up for grabs in 2012? That question became a subject of intense debate when a Republican was elected recently to the House of Representatives from New York’s 9th Congressional District for the first time in 90 years. The district, which encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Queens and is about one-third Jewish, had been predictably Democratic and liberal. But in the blink of an eye it gave the non-Jewish Republican candidate an 8-point victory over the Democrat, an Orthodox Jew.

Palestinians finally shed victimhood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian request last Friday for United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state in the land occupied by Israel in 1967 created quite a diplomatic stir. This came after weeks of anticipation and guessing whether the Palestinian leadership would ask the Security Council for full U.N. membership, or take the safer route of asking the General Assembly for non-member observer state status.

Abbas’ move was not a gambit, but the right thing to do
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Osama Al-Sharif - September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

It was described as a gambit, a gamble, a historic bid, a mistake, a unilateral action, a hostile move and a triumph. Regardless of where one stood on the issue of declaring Palestinian statehood; its timing and mode of delivery, its value and outcome and its long-term consequences on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israel’s occupation of Palestine, Abbas’ move signaled a crucial milestone in the decades-old struggle to fulfill Palestinian right to self-determination as a nation.

The new Abbas and the old Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Hani al-Masri - September 26, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas appears to be a new man. What led to this change? Since taking office, he has always said that only negotiations can lead to the establishment of the state. When the talks faltered or faced an obstacle, he often said, "The alternative to negotiations is the negotiations." When President Abbas set conditions for the resumption of negotiations, these quickly became mere demands. Even in recent days, he repeated that negotiations were his first, second, and third choice.

Why the U.S. Should Support Palestinian Statehood at the U.N.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New Republic
by John B. Judis - September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

The Obama administration, after failing to head off a Palestinian request to the Security Council for United Nations membership, is prepared to use its veto against it. In an undistinguished address to the General Assembly on Wednesday, President Barack Obama advised the Palestinians to bypass the UN and to confine their campaign for statehood to negotiations with Israel.

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