Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Palestine joins UNESCO as full member. After a deadly exchange of rocket fire, there are efforts to restore the cease-fire between Israel and militant groups in Gaza, but tensions continue to run high. The death toll in Gaza reaches 12. Both sides are using new technology. The attacks suggest Islamic Jihad may becoming a threat to Hamas. Pres. Abbas says the Arab rejection of the UN partition plan in 1947 was “a mistake.” The Arab League says it will look into alternatives to the bid for full UN membership for Palestine. A former Israeli soldier is jailed for leaking secret documents to Ha'aretz. UN officials say Israel should take the idea Palestinians might dismantle the PA seriously, as outlined in Asharq Al-Awsat. Palestinians say they will ask for full UNESCO membership in a vote later today, despite US threats to cut off funding to the agency. COMMENTARY: Robert Blackwill and Walter Slocombe say Israel is a true ally to the United States. Ha'aretz says Israel must end the Gaza blockade. Sefi Rachlevsky warns Israel's “radical leadership” might drag the country into war with Iran. Daniel Friedmann says a decision to strike Iran should be by the West, not Israel. JJ Goldberg notes that prominent Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea has suggested that PM Netanyahu and PM Barak are pushing for an attack on Iran. The Jordan Times says the US is blackmailing the UN over Palestine's UNESCO membership. Newsweek interviews Moshe Dayan's widow, who says the current government cannot think in terms of peace. ATFP releases a full transcript of PM Fayyad's address to its Sixth Annual Gala.

Palestine joins UNESCO as full member
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The UN's cultural agency voted to admit Palestine as a full member on Monday, weeks before the Security Council is due to report on Palestine's bid for full membership of the United Nations. Palestine overcame US and Israeli opposition to join the cultural body, with UNESCO saying that 107 member states voted in favor, 14 states voted against, with 52 abstentions. The resolution needed 81 votes to pass, as abstentions are not counted, UNESCO said.

After Attacks, Efforts to Restore Truce Between Israel and Groups in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - October 30, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — Cross-border tensions between Israel and Gaza simmered on Sunday as Egyptian efforts to restore an informal cease-fire began to take effect after a deadly round of Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rocket attacks on Saturday. The Israeli military fired on what it said was a terrorist squad in southern Gaza preparing to fire rockets at Israel on Sunday afternoon. Gaza security officials said one Palestinian militant was killed and another was seriously wounded. Both, it said, were members of the armed wing of the leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Tensions high a day after Gaza violence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Batsheva Sobelman - October 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Reporting from Jerusalem— The day after a series of Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes killed nine militants in the Gaza Strip and an Israeli civilian in southern Israel, strikes Sunday appeared to thin out, though tensions remained high. After an early-morning barrage was launched at southern Israel on Sunday, Islamic Jihad announced it would accept an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire and hold its rocket fire while reserving the right to respond to any attacks from Israel.

Overnight airstrike brings Gaza deaths to 12
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Two militants were killed overnight Sunday as Israeli forces targeted the Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll in the coastal enclave to 12 since Saturday. Palestinian medical sources identified the victims as Yousif Rawhi Mahmoud Abu Abdu and Ali Abdullah al-Aqad, both from Khan Younis, south Gaza. Both victims were transferred to Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. The Al-Ansar brigades, a military wing of the Al-Ahrar movement, said in a statement that the victims were fighters in the group. They vowed to retaliate for the deaths.

Israelis, Palestinians Deploy New Technology in Fighting
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by David Rosenberg - October 30, 2011 - 12:00am

The flare-up in fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza that left 10 dead before a ceasefire gradually took hold on Sunday was as much a showcase for military technology as it was a forceful statement of the two sides’ political agenda. Islamic Jihad, the biggest of the Gaza-based Palestinian movements responsible for the three-day barrage, showed off a multi-barreled rocket launcher mounted on a light truck, a weapon platform not seen to date in Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel put its Iron Dome anti-rocket network into use for the third time since it was unveiled in April.

Analysis: How Islamic Jihad is becoming a threat to Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Once Hamas was the second- largest armed group in the Gaza Strip, after the Palestinian Authority. With the help of Iran and Syria, Hamas became so strong that one day, in June 2007, its men managed to seize control over the entire Strip. In recent years, however, Hamas has found itself in the same position as the PA was back then. Now it’s the Islamic Jihad organization that has replaced Hamas as the second- largest armed group in the Gaza Strip. Today, it poses a serious challenge to the Hamas government.

Arab Rejection of ’47 Partition Plan Was Error, Palestinian Leader Says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
October 28, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian president said Friday that the Arab world had erred in rejecting the United Nations’ 1947 plan to partition Palestine into a Palestinian and a Jewish state. The Palestinian and Arab refusal set off widespread fighting, then Arab militaries attacked Israel after it declared independence the following year, a war the Arab states lost. “It was our mistake,” the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, above, said in a rare interview on Israeli television. “It was an Arab mistake as a whole.” Referring to Israel, he added, “But do they punish us for this mistake for 64 years?”

Arab League says will look at UN bid alternatives
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

DOHA (AFP) -- Arab League foreign ministers said Sunday they would look into alternative action if their efforts fail to secure full Palestinian membership of the United Nations. "We support the Palestinian demand for full UN membership," ministers said in a statement after talks in Doha. But the Arab League agreed to form a "committee of experts to study legal and political alternatives."

Israeli ex-soldier jailed for leaking secret papers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
October 30, 2011 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, Oct 30 (Reuters) - An Israeli court sentenced a former soldier to four and a half years in prison on Sunday for leaking classified military documents to a newspaper, which later reported allegations of a policy to assassinate Palestinian militants. Anat Kamm, 24, was convicted in February of possessing and distributing secret information, after striking a plea bargain with Tel Aviv District Court, where judges agreed in exchange to drop more serious charges of harming state security.

UN envoy: Israel must take Abbas threats to dismantle PA seriously
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel must take heed of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ threats to resign and dismantle the PA, a UN official who is close to the PA president told Haaretz, adding that the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians could cause violence to erupt in the West Bank, and the rest of the world will not bail out Israel if that happens.

Abbas to dissolve Palestinian Authority
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Ali El-saleh - October 30, 2011 - 12:00am

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Despite a number of denials by members of Fatah Movement regarding Israeli press reports that Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas intends on dissolving the Palestinian Authority [PA], sources have stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that President Abbas intends on reverting the situation in the Palestinian territories to what it had been before the creation of the PA in 1994, which means handing over the management affairs of the West Bank to the administration of the Israeli occupation, which means, in other words, dissolving the PA.

U.N. agency approves full Palestinian membership
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from CNN
by Josh Levs - October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

(CNN) -- The U.N. agency focusing on education and science voted Monday to accept a Palestinian bid for full membership, in the first vote on the matter by a part of the world body. The vote, which required two-thirds approval by UNESCO members, passed with 107 votes in favor, 14 against, and 52 abstentions. The vote is separate from the Palestinian bid for full membership in the United Nations. Representatives of several countries pointed out that currently that bid is being discussed by members of the U.N. Security Council.

Israel: A true ally in the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Robert Blackwill, Walter B. Slocombe - (Opinion) October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

American leaders have traditionally explained the foundations of the U.S.-Israel relationship by citing shared democratic values and the moral responsibility America bears to protect the small nation-state of the Jewish people. Although accurate and essential, this characterization is incomplete because it fails to capture a third, crucial aspect: the many ways in which Israel advances U.S. national interests.

Israel must end the Gaza blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

This weekend the bloody ritual in the south exacted the life of a resident of Ashkelon, interfered with the lives of thousands of citizens and caused extensive damage to property. As in previous rounds, after the inhabitants of the region - on both sides of the border - paid the price of the violence a truce was declared, which was violated in short order. The spokesman of the military arm of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip announced that "the organization reserves the right to react to any aggression from the Israeli side," and boasted that "it is the enemy who will beg for a cease-fire."

Israel's radical leaders tempted to drag us into war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Sefi Rachlevsky - (Opinion) October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Under normal circumstances, the military establishment is to the right of the political establishment. The reason is obvious: The singer wants to sing, the writer wants to write, and the division commander wants to mobilize divisions. When Moshe Dayan said he would rather restrain galloping horses than prod lazy mules, he was not referring only to his generals. It is a common pattern on the world stage. Only rarely are the roles reversed for the military to find itself to be more moderate and circumspect than the political leadership.

Iran strike? Just say no
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Daniel Friedmann - (Opinion) October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

As expected, the terror regime in Gaza continues to constitute an open, bleeding wound for Israel. Yet according to media reports, Defense Minister Barak, who failed in handling the Hamas rule in Gaza, seeks to engage in bigger issues. The Gaza Strip is a minor issue for him. He has his sights set on Iran and the nuclear bomb threat, and Prime Minister Netanyahu is there with him. The situation reached the point where former Mossad Director Meir Dagan felt the need to openly warn against this dangerous move.

Israeli Brass Astir Amid Pressure for Iran Strike
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - (Blog) October 28, 2011 - 12:00am

“Have the prime minister and defense minister sealed a deal between them, one on one, to attack the nuclear reactors in Iran?” So asks Nahum Barnea, commonly described as Israel’s senior and most respected political journalist, in an article leading the top of the front page of today’s Yediot Ahronot. He writes that growing rumors to that effect have created a quiet but urgent buzz within Israel’s political and military elites.

Intimidating and malicious
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Editorial) October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

The US threat to stop supporting UNESCO financially if it votes for the admission of Palestine as a full member amounts, simply, to blackmail. Washington has been taking an actively hostile position on the Palestinian quest for recognition as an independent state by international organisations; now it is UNESCO’s turn to come under direct pressure from the US, acting as a proxy for Israel, of course.

Moshe Dayan's Widow Ruth: Zionist Dream Has Run Its Course
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Rula Jebreal - (Opinion) October 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Elegantly dressed and perfectly made up, Ruth Dayan, 95, receives me with a wide smile in her Tel Aviv home overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The charismatic, alert, and extremely intelligent Dayan is the widow of Moshe Dayan, legendary chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces and a key leader in the war of independence in 1948. Indeed, Moshe Dayan was transformed into a symbol of national strength during the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. The Israelis felt invincible with this imposing figure at the helm.

Remarks by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at the Sixth Annual Gala on October 19, 2011
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from American Task Force on Palestine
October 31, 2011 - 12:00am

Thank you. Thank you so very much. This gives a whole new meaning to what Woody Allen must have had in mind about the importance of showing up. Let me see what I can do with the ten percent.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017