Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: UN officials say settlement building is a primary obstacle to peace. Some Israelis are planning to boycott businesses that work with Palestinians. A new law making it easier to sue journalists for defamation passes 1st reading in the Knesset and is supported by PM Netanyahu. Netanyahu intervenes to resolve the feud between Israeli intelligence and the Foreign Ministry. A prominent rabbi faces criminal investigation for anti-Arab remarks. A new study says that because of Israeli restrictions, Palestinians invest twice as much in Israel as in the occupied territories. Jordan confirms that it maintains relations with the PA, but not Hamas, but the visit of its King to the West Bank fuels rumors of Pres. Abbas resigning. Israel says it will seek to eliminate UNRWA. COMMENTARY: The Washington Post says it is shocking that Israel would contemplate measures against NGOs reminiscent of authoritarian states. Nasser Lahham says Hamas and Fatah can and should unite, but Maher Abukhater doubts this is possible in practice. Merav Michaeli says a self-victimizing right is misleading Israelis. UK Amb. Gould Says Britain and Israel need to work more closely together. The Jerusalem Post says the new defamation bill will stifle free speech. David Newman says the attack on Israeli democracy is a real and severe. Sami Moubayed says Hamas is benefiting greatly from the Arab uprisings. The Jordan Times says Israel must respect international law. Keith Ellison says the US should not forfeit its influence in the UN by defunding agencies over Palestine.

UN envoy singles out Israel over talks deadlock
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

The UN Middle East peace envoy on Monday singled out Israel's settlement building for criticism as he highlighted deadlocked efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians into direct talks. "Provocations continue to damage confidence," special envoy Robert Serry told a UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East. "In particular, Israel continues to engage in settlement activity, including in highly sensitive areas, and demolitions of Palestinian structures are ongoing."

'Hebrew Labor' aims to stop public buying from Arabs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 21, 2011 - 1:00am

A group of young settlers is working on a project to "warn the public" against buying from businesses that employ Arabs, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Monday. Around 20 people, many of whom are from the notorious Yitzhar settlement in the northern West Bank, have been touring Jerusalem neighborhoods and making a list of businesses with Arab employees, Haaretz reported. Meir Ettinger, 19, told police he was working for "Hebrew Labor" after a merchant reported his suspicious behavior. Police have since questioned four other men working on the same project, the report said.

Israel's 'defamation bill' passes 1st reading
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel's parliament has passed the first reading of a bill that critics say could muzzle the country's media if it becomes law. The "defamation bill" passed 42-31 late Monday after a heated debate in parliament. It would need to pass another two readings to become law. The bill would make it much easier for journalists to be sued. It significantly increases the amount that reporters can be demanded to pay in fines, without proof of damages. Supporters of the bill say it encourages accountability in the media.

Netanyahu backing controversial libel law amendment
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come out in support of a libel law amendment a day after Israeli journalists gathered to protest the bill. The libel law amendment has passed a first reading in the Knesset, and was scheduled for its second and third readings Monday night. The measure relaxes the criteria for slander and libel, and more than triples the maximum damages for such infractions.

Netanyahu intervenes to resolve feud between Israel's spy agency, foreign ministry
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday stepped in to resolve a dispute between Israel's Mossad intelligence agency and the Foreign Ministry that in recent weeks brought cooperation between the organizations to a grinding halt. Netanyahu on Sunday summoned Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Mossad chief Tamir Pardo for a meeting at the end of which both men agreed to put their disagreements behind them, Army Radio reported.

Prominent Israeli rabbi faces criminal probe over anti-Arab remarks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Tomer Zarchin - November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided Tuesday to open a criminal investigation against Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, for alleged incitement to racism. The decision to investigate Eliyahu came after he was quoted making several anti-Arab comments in interviews with the media. Eliyahu was one of 18 rabbis who signed a petition in October 2010, urging Jews to refrain from renting or selling apartments to non-Jews – a move seen as being directed against Arab students enrolled in Safed’s college. Some 50 rabbis eventually endorsed the so-called "rabbis' letter."

Study: Palestinians invest twice as much in Israel as they do in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Private Palestinian investment in Israel, as of 2010, amounted to $2.5 billion in a conservative estimate, and according to a more optimistic estimate this investment possibly even amounts to $5.8 billion. For purposes of comparison, private Palestinian investment within the West Bank, as of 2011, was only $1.5 billion.

Jordan: Our relations are with PA, not Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said Tuesday that Jordan has no intention of establishing bilateral relations with Hamas, and that any upcoming visit by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal's to Amman would be "a quick one," according to Dubai-based news website Al Moheet. Judeh's comments came after the Jordanian officials said Monday the Foreign Ministry had set no date for Mashaal to visit Jordan in the near future.

King Abdullah's visit fuels rumour that Abbas will step down
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Jordan's King Abdullah made a surprise visit to the Palestinian Authority's president yesterday amid rumours that Mahmoud Abbas may soon step down.

Israel to seek closure of UN refugee aid agency
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Israel Hayom
November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel intends to ask the U.N. to close down the aid agency that assists Palestinian refugees living in Judea and Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem, saying the organization poses an obstacle to any future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians because of its distorted definition of the term "refugee."

Israel’s effort to muffle speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
(Editorial) November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

For years repressive governments in the Middle East have sought to curb scrutiny of their human rights records and prevent the development of organized opposition by banning civil society groups from receiving funding from foreign governments. As the Arab Spring spreads across the region, some of those controls are easing. So it is shocking to see Israel’s democratic government propose measures that could silence its own critics.

Abbas and Mashaal can unite
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
by Nasser Laham - (Analysis) November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

All the elements of success are in place for the upcoming meeting between Fatah leader and President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief in exile Khalid Mashaal. Both leaders have realized after five years of bloody infighting and rivalry that unity and reconciliation are inevitable, while sailing further into disagreement would be a mistake.

Is it possible to have a unity government with zero risks?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Maher Abukhater - (Opinion) November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Concerning the peace process, Palestinians in general would say: "what peace process?" No one seems worried about impacting a peace process that is obviously long gone. As for the Palestinian people, the issue is more serious. On the one hand, a unity government would lead to reunification of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which means strengthening the home front in light of a bleak and uncertain future. In general, there is strong support for this move. But, on the other, there is apprehension concerning its ramifications on Palestinian daily life.

Israel's self-victimizing right is misleading the people
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Merav Michaeli - (Opinion) November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

"Finally, the right is beginning to rule," said MK Uri Ariel (National Union ) after the vote to change the composition of the Judicial Appointments Committee.

The science of diplomacy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Matthew Gould - (Opinion) November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Ben Gurion University Beersheba will this week host one of the most important events that I have been involved in since coming to Israel last year as Britain’s ambassador. It is a huge scientific conference between the UK and Israel in regenerative medicine. Sixty leading British academics will visit Israel for the conference, joining 200 academics from across Israel. And the conference will launch a major, five-year program of UK-Israel collaboration.

The new libel bill
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
(Editorial) November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Dozens of concerned journalists gathered at Tel Aviv’s Cinematheque Sunday to protest what they perceive to be an ominously widespread antagonism against the media. Some of the issues discussed included the government’s declining willingness to come to the aid of the financially-strapped Channel 10, the abrupt shutdown of the joint Palestinian- Israeli Kol Hashalom radio station, policy changes at IBA News – including the firing of Keren Neubach from the investigative news program “Mabat Sheni” and attempts to interfere with radio presenter Yaron Dekel’s “Hakol Diburim.”

Speaking out against the threat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by David Newman - (Opinion) November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

It is not a superficial slogan. Neither is it cheap demagoguery.

Arab Spring blessing in disguise for Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Sami Moubayed - (Opinion) November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

On November 11, entire neighbourhoods in the Palestinian camps of Damascus were decorated with photos of Yasser Arafat, marking the 7th anniversary of the Palestinian leader's death. That, of course, was no coincidence, since it struck a raw nerve with Damascus-based Hamas leaders, who detested the late PLO Chairman. Paying homage to Arafat, it must be remembered, is uncommon in Syria, given a historic feud between him and the Baathists in Damascus.

ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Editorial) November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel came last week under the scrutiny of the UN body mandated to monitor the application of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The last time Israel appeared before this rights body was in 2003.

US shouldn’t forfeit influence within UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Hill
by Keith Ellison - (Opinion) November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

As American businesses seek to protect their patents abroad, famine ravages the Horn of Africa and the Arab Awakening unfolds, we need more U.S. engagement at the United Nations, not less. Laws that restrict American participation in U.N. Specialized Agencies are bad for U.S. interests and national security. Congress must act immediately to fix this problem.

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