Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israelis seem satisfied with their own lives but gloomy about peace. Tensions are rising in the occupied West Bank. As expected, the UNSC refers the Palestinian membership application to its standing committee on new members. Sec. Clinton and Egyptian FM Amr both call for resumed negotiations. Clinton calls Israels settlement plans in occupied East Jerusalem "counterproductive." Palestinian FM Malki says Gabon and Nigeria have both promised to support Palestinian UN membership in a possible UNSC vote, leaving only one more required for a majority. Palestinian deny reports they are asking for Quartet Envoy Tony Blair to be replaced. The Prosector of the ICC reaffirms that a Palestinian non-member observer state could join the ICC. House Republicans continue to push for a cutoff of US aid to the PA. Under Pres. Obama, the US has sold bunker-buster technology to Israel. COMMENTARY: Saliba Sarsar and Hussein Ibish say both Abbas and Netanyahu have strengthened their political hands and should now work on positive moves on the ground. Moshe Arens says Israel did not face a "diplomatic tsunami" after all. Sarah Kreimer says Israel has placed ancient sites in the hands of fanatics. The National says Israel's stalling over the Quartet statement and settlement expansion plans show its real intentions. Abdullah Iskandar says Hamas has missed a historic opportunity by denouncing the Palestinian UN initiative. John Whitbeck thinks the US is playing a dangerous game at the UN. The Arab News says even a Palestinian defeat at the UN would be a moral victory. Asharq Al-Awsat and Raghida Dergham both interview Pres. Abbas.

Israelis Happy at Home but Glum About Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

With the start of the Jewish New Year at sunset on Wednesday, a traditional time for stock-taking in Israel, the public mood seemed paradoxical: a growing disillusionment with the prospect of Middle East peace yet a marked sense of satisfaction with life here. That gap, reflected and discussed in news media commentaries, was evident in a survey of Israeli Jews published on Wednesday in the newspaper Yediot Aharonot. Two-thirds of the respondents said there was no chance — ever — of achieving peace with the Palestinians. But asked if Israel was a good place to live, 88 percent said yes.

Palestinian statehood bid stokes tensions in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

In this village tucked among the rocky hills of the northern West Bank, flags are flying to celebrate the bid for membership of a Palestinian state in the United Nations. A poster in the village center carries a picture of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is riding a wave of popularity after defying U.S. pressure and submitting the membership application last week.

UN refers Palestine bid to review panel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

The UN Security Council on Wednesday pushed back a decision on a Palestinian bid to join the United Nations in a move that will give more time to international efforts to revive direct talks. But UN envoys for the two foes wrangled over who is to blame for the latest year-old negotiations deadlock, with diplomats warning both sides are hardening their positions. The 15-member Security Council sent the bid made by President Mahmoud Abbas last Friday to a special membership committee to give its verdict.

Clinton, Egypt FM call for negotiations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

The Egyptian foreign minister and his US counterpart called on Israelis and Palestinians to resume talks in a joint press conference on Wednesday. "Negotiations should resume as soon as possible between Israelis and Palestinians with clear terms of reference and with a clearly defined time-line," Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr told reporters after a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington. "Israeli illegal settlement activities continue to be an impediment in the road for peace, and we would like to see them stop," he added.

Clinton: Israeli settlement move counter-productive
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
September 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's decision to build 1,100 settlement homes on West Bank land is counter-productive to reviving peace talks with the Palestinians, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday. The decision appears to make it even less likely that the two sides will answer a call on Friday by the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, collectively known as the Quartet, to resume peace talks within a month.

PA: We are one vote shy of a majority in Security Council
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said Thursday that the Palestinians have received approval from eight members of the UN Security Council in support of their bid for full membership to the United Nations. If nine members of the Security Council vote in favor of the Palestinian state bid, the the resolution will pass, unless one of the council's five permanent members uses a veto. While the US, one of those five, has said before that it would veto the Palestinian resolution, it has also stated that it would rather not be forced to use the veto.

Palestinians deny bid to remove Tony Blair from Quartet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
by Jon Donnison - September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

Mr Blair, a former UK prime minister, has held the position of special envoy for four years. Palestinians see him as biased towards the Israelis. The Quartet, made up of the US, Russia, the EU and UN, was established in 2002 to help mediate peace in the region. There have been no direct Israeli-Palestinian talks for more than a year. A spokesman for the PA said that while there was great unhappiness with Mr Blair's role as envoy, his removal was not a priority. He said there were no plans to formally ask for Mr Blair to be replaced. 'Suspicion'

Palestinians could pursue war crimes charges without full statehood: ICC prosecutor
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Star
by Olivia Ward - September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

In the fierce debate over the Palestinian bid for UN membership, one unseen presence has cast a long shadow. It’s that of Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court — the body Israel has long feared would take up Palestinian allegations of war crimes if its statehood bid is successful. A few blocks away from the UN this week, the man at the centre of the controversy said if Palestine becomes a member state, or a lower-ranked non-member observer state, it could be eligible to pursue claims against Israel.

U.S.: Republican plan would cut aid to Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
(Blog) September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

U.S. House Republican leaders signaled this week that they are serious about cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority if its leaders continue their quest for U.N. recognition as a sovereign state. The Republican leaders of the House Appropriations Committee this week released a preliminary 2012 spending plan that would prohibit aid to the Palestinian Authority unless the State Department certifies that the Palestinians aren’t seeking to gain full membership in the United Nations.

Obama Sold Israel Bunker-Buster Bombs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Eli Lake - September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

While publicly pressuring Israel to make deeper concessions to the Palestinians, President Obama has secretly authorized significant new aid to the Israeli military that includes the sale of 55 deep-penetrating bombs known as bunker busters, Newsweek has learned.

The Palestinian Statehood Bid - What Comes Next?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Hussein Ibish, Saliba Sarsar - (Opinion) September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu all played mainly to their domestic political bases at the United Nations General Assembly meeting last week. Despite the drama, nothing in the basic discourse has changed, no party shifted its bottom-line positions, and none of it brought us any closer to peace or improved the situation on the ground.

There was no political tsunami for Israel after all
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Moshe Arens - (Opinion) September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

The month of September is almost gone and Israel does not lie devastated like north-eastern Japan after the tsunami that hit that region in the wake of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake last March. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application to the United Nations that Palestine be recognized as a state and admitted to the UN. Hamas, as was expected, objected to this move, and President Barack Obama said what any sensible person should have known - that bypassing direct negotiations by applying to the UN was not going to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel Hands Ancient Site to Ideologues
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Sarah Kreimer - (Opinion) September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

Imagine stepping off the ferry to find that the Statue of Liberty monument is not run by the U.S. National Park Service, but that an evangelical Christian group has a special concession to operate this historic site. Also imagine that the film shown at the Ellis Island museum no longer emphasizes America’s multi-cultural history of immigration, but instead focuses almost exclusively on the contribution of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Sounds absurd?

Israeli stalling hints at real agenda
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

On Wednesday, the Israeli cabinet rejected a formula proposed by the Quartet of mediators - the US, UN, EU, and Russia - in a bid to bring Israelis and Palestinian back to the negotiating table. This followed by a day Israel's latest step toward building 1,100 more homes in the Gilo district of East Jerusalem. In grand understatement, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, labelled the settlement expansion "counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties."

Hamas Missed its Chance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Abdullah Iskandar - (Opinion) September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

Let us go through the best case scenario in regard to President Mahmoud Abbas’ request before the Security Council to earn the recognition of the Palestinian state: The Council decides during today’s session to transfer the request to the commission in charge of examining the petitions, which is at the same time composed of the fifteen member states. The committee ratifies the request and transfers it for voting at the Council, where it earns the sufficient number of votes (nine and above) only to be obstructed by the announced American veto and be consequently toppled.

America’s dangerous game at the UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by John V. Whitbeck - (Opinion) September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

The number of UN member states extending diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine has now risen to 131, leaving only 62 UN member states on the wrong side of history and humanity. If one ignores small island states in the Caribbean and the Pacific, almost all of the non-recognisers are Western states, including all five of the settler-colonial states founded on the ethnic cleansing or genocide of indigenous populations and all eight of the former European colonial powers.

Victory in defeat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

Sometimes a defeat can be a great moral victory. For the British, Dunkirk in 1940 was such; a mass retreat before Hitler’s forces was seen as a glorious success against all the odds, shipping the troops across the Channel in an armada of small boats. For Americans, the battle of the Alamo against the Mexican Army in 1836 was a glorious defeat.

Asharq Al-Awsat talks to Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Ali El-saleh - (Interview) September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas looked very pleased hours after he delivered his historic speech at the United Nations General Assembly [UNGA] and submitted the application requesting full membership for the state of Palestine. This pleasure and happiness are justified. President Abbas disappointed those that cast doubts on his seriousness of going to the United Nations prior to presenting the membership allocation to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon and delivering his speech.

Exclusive Interview With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: a Humble Moment in History
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Raghida Dergham - (Interview) September 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had just delivered the most important speech in his life and he is now sitting with his aides, his jacket and neck tie removed, cutting his steak amidst silence after the storm. It is Friday, September 23, and he had just returned from the United Nations General Assembly where he received roaring applause for submitting Palestine's request for full membership in the UN despite American threats to veto the request and punish the Palestinians financially. He is now in a small cluttered living room at his hotel across the UN.

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