Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: As Palestinians seek UNESCO recognition for heritage sites in the occupied territories, Israel also lays claim to them. Jordan's King Abdullah visits Pres. Abbas in Ramallah. Senior US officials will meet with Palestinian and Israeli leaders this week. The Israeli government delays a bill that would restrict foreign funding to liberal NGOs. Israel's ambassador returns to Egypt. PM Fayyad says he's ready to leave office if a new prime minister is selected. Ha'aretz describes the procedure through which Palestinians are arrested by occupation authorities. Israeli officials say they will continue to withhold Palestinian tax revenues. Unemployment continues to grow in the occupied territories. Experts say Abbas is performing a delicate political balancing act. COMMENTARY: ATFP President Ziad Asali says Israel must do more to curb “price tag” settler violence. Shlomo Avineri says the “Jewish identity” bill in Israel would cause chaos. Amos Harel says strong ultra-Orthodox participation is changing the nature of the Israeli military. David Michaels says it's shameful that Christians in Jerusalem are abused by some Jewish extremists. Leonard Fein says the world should thank Pres. Sarkozy for giving a frank opinion of PM Netanyahu. The National says Israel is isolating itself internationally. Fahed Fanek says Jordan should promote more trade with Palestine. Brigitte Herremans says the EU needs to do much more to invest in peace. Yossi Alpher looks at best and worst case scenarios for a Palestinian unity government. Ghassan Khatib doubts that Hamas is in a hurry to complete an agreement with the PLO.

In the West Bank, a contested heritage
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - November 20, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — At a museum just off the desert road from Jerusalem to Jericho in the West Bank, the artifacts of a contested heritage are on display. Colorful mosaic floors from Byzantine-era churches and synagogues, inscriptions, Roman capitals and stone burial boxes — all dug up by Israeli archaeologists in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — are shown at the site, developed by Israel’s West Bank military administration with the Israeli antiquities authority.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II pays rare visit to West Bank, in nod to Palestinian president
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Jordan’s King Abdullah II paid a rare visit to the West Bank on Monday to show support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as the two moderate leaders try to engage with previously shunned Islamists now on the rise in the region.

Report: US envoy to meet Abbas over unity govt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A top US diplomat is to hold emergency talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders over the next two days regarding plans for a Palestinian unity government, the Israeli newspaper Maariv said Sunday. A spokesman for the US consulate in Jerusalem confirmed that Deputy Secretary of State William Burns would meet President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. He was unable to provide any other details about the agenda for the talks.

Israel delays foreign funding bill -gov't source
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Maayan Lubell - November 20, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put on hold on Sunday legislation to limit foreign funding of non-governmental organisations, a government source said, after critics denounced the bill as a bid to mute left-wing groups. A ministerial panel last week gave preliminary approval to the proposal. Supporters of the bill said it would help to prevent intervention by foreign states in Israeli politics.

Israel envoy in Egypt for first time since embassy storming
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
November 20, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Israel's ambassador to Cairo has travelled to Egypt for the first time since he and his staff were evacuated from the country in September after protesters stormed the Israeli embassy, a Foreign Ministry official said on Sunday. Playing down the significance of Yitzhak Levanon's trip, the official, who asked not to be identified, said the ambassador went to Egypt on Saturday for farewell meetings with foreign and Egyptian diplomats before his retirement.

Palestinian PM: Ready to leave post once new premier is chosen
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Saud Abu Ramadan - November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Saturday that he will quit his post as soon as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party and the Islamic Hamas movement agree on the nomination of a new premier. Fayyad said on his page on the social website of Facebook that he awaits the instructions to leave his post as the prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), adding that "I have never imposed myself on the Palestinians in any of the governments I had chaired."

The banality of a Palestinian's arrest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

1. A Palestinian is arrested - a routine matter (the routine in question took place on October 21, 2011). 2. The usual charges: "Throwing an object, including a stone, with the intention of harming a person or property," and organizing an illegal demonstration in which he participated.

Israel to continue freeze on Palestinian tax money, says senior official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his forum of eight senior ministers decided Sunday to continue Israel's freeze on the transfer of the Palestinian Authority's tax money, a senior Israeli official said, due to the latest moves by Fatah and Hamas aimed at establishing a unity government. Israel has been withholding $100 million of the PA's money, which Israel collects for it under the Oslo Accords.

PCBS: Unemployment Up to 26.8% in Third Quarter
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from WAFA
November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, November 21, 2011 (WAFA) - Unemployment rate in the Palestinian Territory increased from 24.0% in second quarter of 2011 to 26.8% in the third quarter, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said Monday. The PCBS labor force survey showed that the highest unemployment rate in the West Bank was in Tulkarm, while the highest in Gaza was in Rafah. It said that labor force participation rate of people aged 15 years and above was 43.6%.

'Dangerous' balancing act threatening Palestinian Authority leader
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM // Critics say Mahmoud Abbas's reputation as the president of the Palestinian Authority is that of an indecisive leader who has regularly caved in to foreign pressure. But lately, those same commentators have expressed empathy for the 76-year-old, who is grappling with daunting challenges. "All his options are difficult because all would involve some degree of conflict with Israel and the US at the same time," said George Giacaman, a professor in Birzeit University's democracy and human-rights programme.

'Price Tag' Attacks Pose Test for Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Ziad Asali - (Opinion) November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli society has been confronted recently by a troubling new trend: vigilante attacks by some settlers and their supporters against Palestinians in the occupied territories, Arab citizens of Israel and, increasingly, Israeli peace groups. These began as the settlers’ own form of retaliation — exacting a “price” for any Palestinian violence — but have devolved into a campaign of terror. Marauding bands of armed settlers have uprooted olive trees, burned mosques and schools, shot at cars, run over children.

New 'Jewish identity' bill will cause chaos in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Shlomo Avineri - (Opinion) November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

In response to the scathing criticism and pressure within his Kadima party, MK Avi Dichter retreated from his original proposal for a Basic Law on Israel - the Nation-State of the Jewish People. Instead, he proposed what was ostensibly a softened version. But anyone who opposes the first version will oppose the second. In the new version, too, the bill is unnecessary and merely deepens tensions between Jews and Arabs, as well as among various parts of the Jewish population. And it will give Israel a bad name. There is only one remedy for this bill - to shelve it completely.

The ultra-Orthodox are changing the face of the IDF
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - (Opinion) November 18, 2011 - 1:00am

The 19 reservist major generals who signed the letter to Chief of Staff Benny Gantz on Monday, warning of extremist religious trends in the Israel Defense Forces, "were in the army long ago," Rabbi Avichai Rontzki declared this week. Brig. Gen. (res. ) Rontzki, who was chief army rabbi until a year and a half ago, claimed that the veteran officers don't know what the IDF is like anymore. "Things are different nowadays," he explained.

An open letter to Christian leaders in Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by David Michaels - (Opinion) November 19, 2011 - 1:00am

I write with a request: for your forgiveness. As a representative of the oldest Jewish communal organization – B’nai B’rith International, which includes members of many backgrounds in over 50 countries, including Israel, where we have been present in Jerusalem since 1888 – I feel obliged to express my revulsion over new reported incidents of spitting at Christian clergy in certain areas of the Holy City. I feel especially obliged to do so as an Orthodox Jew.

Bibi Is a Liar, So What's the Fuss?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Leonard Fein - (Opinion) November 20, 2011 - 1:00am

Few stories that start out as potential bombshells end up as utterly duddish (from “dud”) as the “hot mic” exchange between Presidents Sarkozy and Obama. Duddish, that is, here in Israel, where I am for a couple of weeks; not so back home, in the States, as we shall see. If I were a rich man, I’d immediately do a survey of Israeli public opinion, a survey with just two questions: (1) Do you believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu is a liar? (2) Do you hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu will stay in power for another term after the next elections?

A consensus that further isolates a repressive Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

The latest international condemnation of Israel will receive the usual denunciation, but it is becoming harder to deny. There is a growing international consensus that Israel is constructing a repressive system governing Palestinians that can be compared to apartheid South Africa. It is a mark of shame, and one that Israel has tried to reject.

Towards more trade with Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Fahed Fanek - (Opinion) November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

Supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinians on their soil is supposed to be a firm and repeatedly confirmed Jordanian policy. Such policy is not subject to reservations or reconsideration at any time. However, the details of the current trade between Jordan and Palestine, as revealed by the Department of Statistics, do not support this claim. Trade with Palestine is running at a very low level. The trend deserves to be corrected, sooner rather than later, if we really want Palestinians to stay in Palestine.

Advocating the two state solution: the best bet?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Open Democracy
by Brigitte Herremans - (Opinion) November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

Nowadays, it is not an easy task to be a staunch advocate of the two state solution. True, there is a near-universal consensus at the international level that a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in a viable and independent State of Palestine living in peace and security alongside the State of Israel.[i] However, far from the ideal solution, it is an imperfect compromise.

The regional Islamist circumstances are changing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

The notion of integrating Hamas, and with it the Gaza Strip, into a Palestinian unity government reflects the primary trend that has thus far defined the Arab revolutionary wave: Arab Islamist movements are entering government. In this sense, Hamas' victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections was very much a harbinger of things to come elsewhere in the Arab world.

The problem is not reconciliation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced last week that he plans to meet the head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, on November 25 to discuss two issues. First, the leaders will discuss the future and challenges facing the Palestinian cause, and second, they will explore the prospects for reconciling the two factions they head and implementing a reconciliation agreement signed in May.

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