Middle East News: World Press Roundup

News: In a suspected “price tag” attack, a mosque in northern Israel is burned down. Defense Secretary Panetta says Israel is becoming increasingly isolated, and that Congress is making a big mistake withholding aid from the PA. Palestinian leaders say the cut in aid could be devastating. The Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership have both accepted the Quartet statement, but with reservations. Israeli ministers say they will demand changes to the document. The EU reportedly says it will not cut aid to the PA. Pres. Abbas will visit Colombia to discuss its position on the UN initiative. Abbas' aides say he's planning to propose early presidential and parliamentary elections. The West Bank is enjoying boom in construction in spite of Israeli restrictions. US Republicans have become almost entirely and unconditionally pro-Israel. The Syrian regime angrily accuses Hamas of funding the opposition. Commentary: ATFP President Ziad Asali explains the raison d'être of the American Task Force on Palestine. Raghida Dergham interviews Abbas, and says a new regional order is emerging in the UN. Akiva Eldar says Israel and the Palestinians must accept each other's legitimacy. Bradley Burston says the U.S. Congress could kill the two-state solution by cutting funds to the PA. Avi Yesawich says extremist rabbis are using religion as a cover for radical politics. Renee Ghert-Zand looks at the relationship between Palestinian identity and their national cuisine. Former Australian PM Fraser says it's time for the West to recognize Palestine. Sari Nusseibeh explains Palestinian objections to recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state.” Hussein Ibish looks at five options Palestinians have now that they've submitted their UN membership application.

Mosque Set on Fire in Northern Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - October 3, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — A mosque in an Arab village in the Galilee, northern Israel, was set on fire in the early hours of Monday morning in what police said was an arson attack, and its walls were defaced with Hebrew graffiti. The perpetrators were widely suspected of being Jewish extremists. The fire caused “serious damage” to the mosque in the village of Tuba-Zangariya, according to Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman.

Panetta Says Israel Is Risking Isolation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
October 3, 2011 - 12:00am

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned on Sunday that Israel was becoming increasingly isolated in the Middle East, and said Israeli leaders must restart negotiations with the Palestinians and work to restore relations with Egypt and Turkey.

Panetta: Congress decision to freeze PA aid a mistake
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yoav Zitun - October 3, 2011 - 12:00am

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday that Congress's decision to freeze $200 million in aid to the Palestinians was a mistake. Panetta, who is visiting Israel for the first time since he assumed the role of US defense secretary, also noted that any Israeli strike on Iran must be coordinated with countries in the region.

Palestinian Authority risks funding squeeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - October 2, 2011 - 12:00am

TEL AVIV // The Palestinian Authority faces possible financial ruin for defying Israeli and American opposition to its quest to seek statehood recognition from the United Nations. Israel's finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, has repeatedly threatened in recent weeks that Israel would stop transferring the customs and tax revenue that it collects on the Palestinian Authority's behalf. That US$1.3 billion (Dh4.8bn) in annual fees is critical to the Palestinian Authority, accounting for about two thirds of its revenue.

Israelis and Palestinians embrace only parts of peace initiative
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - October 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Reporting from Jerusalem— Israelis and Palestinians are struggling to respond to the latest international peace initiative, with each side embracing parts they liked and dismissing those they didn't. More than a week after the group known as the Mideast quartet launched its effort to get the two sides back to the bargaining table, neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority has formally accepted or rejected the initiative as a whole, reflecting an apparent desire to avoid alienating the body, which is composed of the U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia.

Israel to demand adjustment of Quartet Mideast peace plan, official says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - October 3, 2011 - 12:00am

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Sunday that he welcomed "the Quartet's call for direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions," the premier intends to present a list of qualifications to the Quartet's statement on a resumption of Mideast talks that in effect enfeeble that statement.

Report: Ashton tells Abbas no cut in EU aid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 3, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told President Mahmoud Abbas that the EU would not cut aid to the Palestinian Authority after Palestine's bid for UN membership, media reports said on Monday. The Ramallah-based government is facing a financial shortfall after the US Congress declined to transfer $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority. The EU will not block aid payments, Ramallah-based daily al-Quds reported, quoting European sources.

Abbas to visit Colombia for UN bid talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 2, 2011 - 12:00am

BOGOTA (AFP) -- President Mahmoud Abbas will visit UN Security Council member Colombia on October 11 to discuss his bid for UN member state status, President Juan Manuel Santos said. "The Palestinian leader had planned to come to Central America and he proposed a visit. We said he would be welcome and he will be here on October 11," Santos said in a statement. Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin had announced the visit on Friday, but said the date was still under discussion.

Palestinian leader Abbas to propose early presidential, parliamentary elections: official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
October 2, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- President Mahmoud Abbas will soon propose to the Islamic Hamas Movement to hold early presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories, a senior Palestinian official said Sunday. Jamal Mheisen, member of Abbas' Fatah Party's Central Committee, told the "Voice of Palestine" radio that the idea of holding early elections "aims to get the Palestinian people out of the crisis of internal division."

Palestinian Building Boom in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Arieh O'Sullivan - October 2, 2011 - 12:00am

There is a Palestinian building boom going on in the West Bank that has increased the number of dwellings in the past four years by over 25%, according to the latest figures released by the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Sunday.

How the GOP has learned to love Israel unconditionally
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Republican presidents have been guiding Israel toward the peace table -- sometimes not so gently -- almost since the Jewish state was born more than six decades ago. But in the recent round of debates, the crop of candidates vying for the GOP nomination have been chiding President Obama for forcing Israel’s hand -- usually to great cheers from the audience. "You don’t allow an inch of space to exist between you and your friends and allies," former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said at the most recent debate, Sept. 22 in Orlando, Fla., earning thunderous applause.

Hamas is 'backing protesters' says Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Phil Sands - October 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Damascus // Syria's relationship with Hamas is increasingly strained over the Palestinian group's refusal to openly endorse Damascus and its tactics in suppressing an anti-regime uprising, according to figures close to both sides. Once firm allies, the Syrian authorities, led by President Bashar Al Assad, and the Islamic resistance movement, headed by Khalid Meshaal from his headquarters in Damascus, are now barely on speaking terms, regime officials and an Islamic cleric close to Hamas said.

The raison d'être of the American Task Force on Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from American Task Force on Palestine
by Ziad Asali - September 30, 2011 - 12:00am

The raison d'être of the American Task Force on Palestine

Mahmoud Abbas: 'Of whom should I be afraid?'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Raghida Dergham - (Interview) September 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Raghida Dergham, a columnist for the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, is a contributing correspondent to the Global Viewpoint Network. She met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in New York earlier this week. It was the first interview with Abbas following his historic Sept. 23 speech before the UN General Assembly. Raghida Dergham: Mr. President, how did you feel at the moment you stood before the General Assembly? At that historic moment as you stood there, how did you feel personally?

Two Weeks at the United Nations: a New Regional Order Taking Shape
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Raghida Dergham - (Opinion) September 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Over the past two weeks, the UN General Assembly witnessed a historic event that soon became the focus of diplomats and the media equally. The event was none other than the address by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the international community, demanding full membership for Palestine at the United Nations, in what has proven to be a stand for pride and one that has changed the balance of power at numerous levels, both regionally and internationally. Yet the Palestinian episode did not alone engross the heads of state and ministers.

Israel and Palestinians must accept the other's legitimacy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) October 3, 2011 - 12:00am

The response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his flock of spokesmen to international criticism regarding the approval of construction plans for Gilo recalls the joke about the servant who pinched the king's behind. En route to the gallows, the servant apologized: He thought it was the queen's behind.

Will the U.S. Congress kill the two-state solution?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Bradley Burston - (Opinion) October 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Why would an Israeli prime minister mount the podium of the United Nations General Assembly to rebut a historic address over Palestinian statehood, only to sound like a man running for Congress in a Tea Party district? He opens by attacking the United Nations, calling it a place of darkness and quoting a fundamentalist leader as branding it a "house of many lies."

Say no to rabbis’ racism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Avi Yesawich - (Opinion) October 3, 2011 - 12:00am

It’s difficult for me not to hold a sense of warped admiration for some of the prominent Orthodox rabbis here in Israel. The level of ignorance that many in the rabbinical establishment display in social, political and military affairs never ceases to astonish. Their indissoluble faith in God, Judaism and the Torah grants them the profound audacity to make declarations that surpass any statement that a well-educated, secular individual would have the courage to say even in the privacy of their closest associates, much less to the international media.

Food and Palestinian Identity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Renee Ghert-Zand - (Blog) October 3, 2011 - 12:00am

It all started in 1996, when Liora Gvion first wondered why the food served at a local restaurant in an Arab-Israeli town with a primarily Arab-Israeli clientele was the same as what was on the menu of Arab-owned restaurants that catered to Jewish Israelis. The sociologist of food, who lectures at the Kibbutzim College of Education and the Hebrew University, spent the next ten years, off and on, trying to figure out why this was so.

It's now time for the West to recognise Palestinian statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Sydney Morning Herald
by Malcolm Fraser - (Opinion) October 4, 2011 - 12:00am

The arguments against recognition of a Palestinian state seem to rest on the simple proposition that agreement must be reached through negotiation and that a resolution granting statehood would set that process back. If that argument was valid it would have been true in 1948 when the United Nations recognised Israel as an independent state. People should then have argued the Israelis must negotiate with the Palestinians, the people who were being pushed out, and once they had come to an agreement, we could recognise Israel.

Why Israel can't be a 'Jewish State'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
(Opinion) September 30, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli government's current mantra is that the Palestinians must recognise a "Jewish State". Of course, the Palestinians have clearly and repeatedly recognised the State of Israel as such in the 1993 Oslo Accords (which were based on an Israeli promise to establish a Palestinian state within five years - a promise now shattered) and many times since. Recently, however, Israeli leaders have dramatically and unilaterally moved the goal-posts and are now clamouring that Palestinians must recognise Israel as a "Jewish State".

Where Do We Go from Here?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) September 30, 2011 - 12:00am

In a perfunctory meeting on Wednesday morning, Sept. 28, as expected, and per its usual procedure for dealing with would-be new United Nations members since the late 1960s, the Security Council referred the Palestinian application to one of its standing committees. The committee -- which meets and votes in secret and requires unanimity to refer the matter back to the Security Council -- is scheduled to begin considering the application on Friday morning. The membership process usually takes weeks, but can take only days (as with the most recent U.N.

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