Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: The prisoner swap with Israel boosts Hamas' popularity but also reveals weaknesses. Analysts say it does benefit the group. The Jerusalem Post outlines how the deal was made. The transfer of prisoners will begin on Tuesday. The Red Cross has offered to play a role in the exchange. PM Fayyad says the PA will not collapse without foreign aid. Hamas sentences three Palestinians to death. Another senior Israeli commander warns against cutting funds to the PA. Pres. Abbas will meet with French Pres. Sarkozy in Paris. Israel is planning more settlement homes in occupied East Jerusalem. COMMENTARY: Israeli Amb. Michael Oren says Israel is not isolated. Akiva Eldar says Hamas did not win a victory but Fatah did suffer a defeat in the prisoner exchange. Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff say Israel crossed some of its red lines in the agreement. Zeev Sternhell says settlers are taking control of Israeli politics. Herb Keinon says Hamas desperately needed a victory. The National says nonviolence is the Palestinians' strongest weapon. Patrick Seale asks if Israel might attack Iran without notifying the US. The Jordan Times says Israel's legal claims against Palestinian statehood are spurious. Aaron David Miller says the prisoner swap was just that, and has no broader significance. Alon Ben-Meir and Amr Yossef say Israel and Egypt can and should improve their relations.

Gilad Shalit deal boosts Hamas, but also reveals group's weaknesses
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - (Analysis) October 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas is hoping for a boost in domestic popularity after securing the freedom of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for returning Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, but many also see the historic deal as a sign of the Islamic militant group’s recent vulnerability.

Prisoner swap deal with Israel serves Hamas interests
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Emad Drimly, Osama Radi - (Analysis) October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Five years after the indirect talks with Israel to reach a prisoner swap deal, observers believe that the timing of hammering out the deal to release 1,027 prisoners for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is apparently calculated by the Hamas movement to serve its interests. As the deal to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners was declared on Tuesday, the leaders of the Islamic movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, described the deal "a great victory."

Behind the scenes: How the Schalit deal came about
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz - (Analysis) October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

The main breakthrough came in July. After five years of negotiations, Hamas forwarded a letter to Israel in which, for the first time, it outlined its final terms for a prisoner swap for Gilad Schalit. Three months earlier, David Meidan, a former senior Mossad operative, had been appointed chief mediator to the Schalit talks by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Upon receiving the letter, he immediately got to work.

Transfer of freed Palestinian prisoners 'begins Tuesday'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

One of the groups involved in the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit said Thursday that the transfer of some 450 Palestinian prisoners will begin Tuesday. Spokesman Abu Mujahed of the Popular Resistance Committees said Thursday that as soon as the detainees are released, officials will check each one to make sure they are among those listed in the deal. Once the prisoners are checked, the factions holding Shalit will release him too.

Red Cross discussing role in Shalit exchange with Hamas, Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Stephanie Nebehay - October 13, 2011 - 12:00am

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has offered to play a neutral intermediary role in the exchange of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for Palestinian prisoners and is in talks with both Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers, an ICRC spokesman said on Thursday. "We are talking to both sides about our offer. We have offered our services as a neutral intermediary to both sides," ICRC spokesman Marcal Izard told Reuters in response to an inquiry.

Fayyad: PA won't collapse without donor aid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Monday downplayed fears his government would collapse without donor aid. The Ramallah premier said the PA's efforts to build state institutions over the last three years had contributed to significantly reducing the government's dependence on foreign aid. "We have become a state that is capable of providing services to citizens with higher and and more advanced quality than independent states do. This has been admitted by all," Fayyad said at a ceremony to honor staff of the Ministry of Public Works.

Hamas court issues death sentence to three Gazans: rights group
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Zhang Xiang - October 13, 2011 - 12:00am

A Hamas military court in the Gaza Strip sentenced to death three residents of the enclave after they were convicted of betrayal and terrorism, a Gaza-based rights group said Thursday. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said in a press release that the Hamas court made the ruling two days ago against two Palestinians convicted of terrorism and the other one convicted of betrayal.

IDF commander opposes cutting PA funds
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - October 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brigadier-General Nitzan Alon, cautioned it would be a mistake to cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Authority over its push for statehood, in an interview to the New York Times on Wednesday. Alon believes the United States Congress' decision to halt all funding to the PA due to their bid for recognition at the United Nations will lead to regional instability.

Abbas in France to shore up support for Palestinian statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from CNN
(Analysis) October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet his French counterpart Friday to discuss the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations. France is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. His arrival in France comes at the conclusion of a three-country Latin American tour intended to shore up support for the bid. Abbas made the bid for the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state last month, a move Israel says is premature without direct talks that address its longstanding security concerns.

Israel planning thousands of new homes in East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Analysis) October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

For the first time since Har Homa was established, during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first term, in the late 1990s, a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem is slated for building. On Tuesday a reparcelization plan was published for Givat Hamatos, in south Jerusalem. The plan calls for building 2,610 residential units, one third of them as part of an expansion of the Palestinian village of Beit Safafa, on the southern border of the capital.

Israel does not stand alone
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Michael B. Oren - (Opinion) October 13, 2011 - 12:00am

The claim of Israel’s isolation, echoed by Democratic and Republican leaders alike, is gaining status as fact. “Israel finds itself increasingly isolated, beleaguered, and besieged,” John Heilemann wrote recently in New York magazine. The Economist reported that “Israel’s isolation has .?.?. been underlined by the deterioration of its relations with Turkey and Egypt.” New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “isolating his country,” while Thomas Friedman described Israel as “adrift at sea alone.”

The myth of Hamas' victory
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Analysis) October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

In the spring of 1996, on the eve of the face-off between Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu for the premiership, the head of Military Intelligence said the Iranians wanted Netanyahu to win. The MI chief sought to convey that amid the wave of Hamas suicide bombings and Peres' peace talks with the Syrians, Bibi was good for the peace objectors.

In Shalit deal, Israel crossed its own red lines
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - (Analysis) October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

The unofficial list of names of prisoners to be released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, which was posted Thursday on Hamas websites, reveals that Israel indeed crossed red lines in negotiating with Hamas. These are not just prisoners with "blood on their hands." Rather, the list includes some of the founders of the Hamas military wing, such as Zaher Jabarin and Yihya Sanawar, and prisoners involved in some of the most ignoble terror attacks in Israel, including the 1989 attack on bus 405 and the 1994 abduction of Israel Defense Forces soldier Nachshon Wachsman.

Israeli society is standing by as settlers take the reigns
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zeev Sternhell - (Opinion) October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Like every year during the days around Yom Kippur, the big question arises once again: How is it possible that we didn't notice the signs of the approaching war? But not only wars have early-warning signs - destructive social and political events do not come like a bolt from the blue either.

The reasons for Hamas’s ‘flexibility’ on Schalit swap
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - (Opinion) October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

The framework deal for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit that the cabinet approved on Tuesday evening – 1,000 for one – is pretty much the same one the German mediator put on the table two years ago. What changed are some of the key names on the list, and where the Palestinian prisoners will go after their release. Until a couple of months ago, Hamas – according to Israeli officials – was insisting that all the names it put forward be freed.

Non-violence is the Palestinians' strongest force
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

The prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel, which should see the release of 1,027 Palestinians in exchange for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, has been hailed as a victory for both sides. It should not, however, be confused with a major political breakthrough.

Will Israel bomb Iran without notifying the US?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Patrick Seale - (Opinion) October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

In recent weeks, intense discussions have taken place in Israeli military and intelligence circles about whether or not to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Apparently, the key question in the debate was how to ensure that the United States took part in the attack or, at the very least, intervened on Israel’s side if the initial strike triggered a wider war.

Indefensible arguments
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Editorial) October 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel is busy preparing for a legal battle with the Palestinians over their application for full membership as a sovereign state in the UN. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has instructed his ministry to draw up plans to defeat the Palestinian bid on a legal basis. The Israeli legal grounds against the Palestinians, however, are flawed and cannot withstand a fair legal scrutiny.

Sometimes a Deal Is Just a Deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Aaron David Miller - (Opinion) October 13, 2011 - 12:00am

The five-year saga that will likely lead to the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit -- in one of those bizarrely asymmetrical prisoner exchanges that make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so tragic and intriguing -- has all the hallmarks of a John le Carré thriller.

Egypt and Israel: Within the Realm of Possibilities
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Alon Ben-Meir, Amr Yossef - (Opinion) October 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Over the past few weeks, Egypt and Israel have reached the lowest point in their relations in thirty years of peace. The attack in Eilat and Israel's killing of eight Egyptian policemen on the Sinai border led to a diplomatic blame game that was only exacerbated by the Egyptian mob attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo in early September. Top diplomats managed to prevent a disaster at the embassy, but the Israeli and Egyptian concerns over the episodes remains high.

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