Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israel releases withheld Palestinian tax revenues. PA Economy Minister Abu Libdeh resigns amid corruption indictments. Hamas leaders accuse Pres. Abbas of not being serious about national unity. Iceland becomes the first Western European state to recognize Palestine. The Forward profiles the pro-Israel group StandWithUs. The ACLU files suit against a Michigan bus company that refused an advertisement critical of Israel. A bill pending in the US Congress would remove the presidential waiver on moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Asharq Al-Awsat reports on an allegedly major split in the Hamas leadership. The Independent looks at the plight of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem's old city. COMMENTARY: Thomas Friedman says if Israel is concerned about instability in the Arab world, it should move quickly to bolster the position of PM Fayyad. Zvi Bar'el says Israel's hostile reaction to Arab uprisings might undo its peace treaty with Egypt. Bradley Burston says in uniting to attack moderates, the Jewish pro-occupation extreme right and anti-Zionist ultra-left find common cause. Kenneth Bandler says Jewish Americans need to know more about challenges facing Palestinian citizens of Israel. The Jerusalem Post says Palestinians should focus on the unfinished job of state building. Yossi Alpher says both sides are to blame for Israel's shift to the nationalistic right. Bitterlemons Interviews Palestinian MK Haneen Zoubi. The Jordan Times says King Abdullah was right to remind Pres. Peres about the urgency of peace.

Israel releases frozen Palestinian tax funds
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
November 30, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Israel announced on Wednesday it was releasing millions of dollars in tax revenues it owes the Palestinian Authority, lifting a month-old freeze that had threatened to undermine the West Bank government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had come under international pressure to hand over the funds, about $100 million a month that includes import duties Israel collects on behalf of the PA. The money is vital for paying civil servants employed by the PA.

Palestinian minister steps aside to fight charges
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - November 29, 2011 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian economics minister on Tuesday said he was suspending himself from office in order to battle corruption charges. Hassan Abu Libdeh, who holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University, is set to go on trial on Dec. 12, according to chief public prosecutor Ahmed Mughanni. In a statement, Abu Libdeh professed his innocence and vowed to defend himself "before the judiciary against these false accusations."

Palestinian Economy Minister charged with embezzlement, insider trading
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Reuters - November 29, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh has been charged with financial wrongdoing, court sources said on Tuesday, piling pressure on Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's beleaguered government. There was no immediate comment from Abu Libdeh, who has always denied accusations of corruption. Under Palestinian law he will no longer be able to work as a minister and his functions will be frozen pending a verdict.

Gaza official: Palestinian president opposes unity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Associated Press - November 30, 2011 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas is not serious about reconciling with political rival Hamas despite public statements to the contrary, a senior Hamas official said in an interview published Wednesday. The official, Mahmoud Zahar, said Abbas "is not interested in achieving" a deal with Hamas, allegedly because the U.S. and Israel oppose it. "Reconciliation will not be achieved at all," Zahar told the London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat.

Iceland becomes first Western European country to recognize Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
November 29, 2011 - 1:00am

Iceland's parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of recognizing the Palestinian Territories as an independent state, the first Western European country to do so according Iceland's foreign minister. The measure passed symbolically on the United Nation's annual day of solidarity with the Palestinian people. The vote paves the way for formal recognition by the small north Atlantic island, which led the way in recognizing the independence of the three Baltic states after the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991.

StandWithUs Draws Line on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - November 27, 2011 - 1:00am

Washington — A decade ago, during the height of the second intifada, Roz Rothstein, a family therapist and child of Holocaust survivors, watched the news coming from Israel from her home in Los Angeles with growing frustration. Feeling that Israel was not getting the backing it deserved in the United States, she and her husband, Jeremy, set up their own small group, with a stated mission of “supporting people around the world who want to educate others about Israel.”

ACLU sues bus agency over refusal of ‘Boycott Israel’ ad
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
November 29, 2011 - 1:00am

NEW YORK (JTA) -- The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against a Michigan bus agency that refused to post an advertisement calling for a boycott of Israel. The lawsuit was filed Monday in Detroit federal court, the Detroit Free Press reported. The suit claims that the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority is violating the free-speech rights of Blaine Coleman, who attempted to purchase the ads on buses in that city. The agency's board rejected the ad at a Nov. 17 meeting because of a standing policy against ads that ridicule people or groups.

A Jerusalem embassy creeps closer toward becoming law
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - November 29, 2011 - 1:00am

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), appointed to his job when his predecessor John Ensign resigned in scandal, faces a tough election battle next year against Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.). His is one of only two likely Dem pickups (the other is Massachusetts). Now he's got a Jerusalem bill that, barely noticed, just might become law. One of Berkley's fortes is her uncompromising pro-Israelism. Which may help explain (I've asked Heller's office for an interview) his decision in September to introduce a bill that would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Hamas's Al-Zahar in hot water
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Ali El-saleh - November 29, 2011 - 1:00am

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Informed Palestinian sources have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Hamas Movement has been imposing severe disciplinary measures on Mahmud al-Zahar, member of the movement's Political Bureau, over remarks he made criticizing Khalid Mishal, head of Hamas Political Bureau. Al-Zahar has been critical of Mishal over his acceptance of a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders, and giving another time-limit period for the negotiations with Israel in his address to the ceremony of signing the reconciliation agreement in Cairo on 4 May 2011.

Stories from the Old City: 'We are not living like human beings'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Catrina Stewart - November 30, 2011 - 1:00am

At the top of a steep and ramshackle street in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, a rusty, battered gate opens into an unremarkable house. Less than a quarter mile away, though, stand the Al Aqsa mosque and the Wailing Wall, two of Jerusalem's most venerated holy sites, making it a very attractive piece of real estate indeed.

The Arab Awakening and Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Thomas L. Friedman - (Opinion) November 29, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel is facing the biggest erosion of its strategic environment since its founding. It is alienated from its longtime ally Turkey. Its archenemy Iran is suspected of developing a nuclear bomb. The two strongest states on its border — Syria and Egypt — are being convulsed by revolutions. The two weakest states on its border — Gaza and Lebanon — are controlled by Hamas and Hezbollah.

Israel's take on Arab Spring may undo peace with Egypt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel - (Opinion) November 30, 2011 - 1:00am

Who's the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? What is the exact name of the head of Tunisia's Al-Nahda party? And who heads the Islamic Movement in Morocco? One could expect these names to be common knowledge in a country anxious about the "Islamist take-over" of the Middle East and concerned that the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt will collapse.

At last, ‘Occupation Zionists’ and Israel-loathing U.S. Jews can agree
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Bradley Burston - (Blog) November 29, 2011 - 1:00am

We're a people that can appreciate nasty, us Jews. Chalk it up to survivor guilt or oppressor guilt, put it down to a legacy of Talmudic and tribal disputation, to a legacy of abuse, or to a tradition of stand-up, the evidence is clear: Two Jews, Three Zingers – barbed, caustic, and intentionally so.

A Jewish role model
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
(Editorial) November 30, 2011 - 1:00am

On November 29, 1947, when the UN General Assembly, in a 33-13 vote, supported the creation of a Jewish and an Arab state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, Israel was already a fait accompli. Resolution 181 essentially gave international recognition to what was already a fully operating Jewish sovereign entity.

Both sides are to blame
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) November 28, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli politics are becoming increasingly right-wing and nationalist. Israel's Arab citizens, along with its human rights community and democratic society in general, are the victims of the resultant legislation.

The rules of the game are being changed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Haneen Zoubi - (Interview) November 28, 2011 - 1:00am

bitterlemons: What is driving the push for right-wing legislation in Israel? Zoubi: Israel is engaging in a struggle between the Jewishness of the state and democracy. She perceives that she is in a position to choose between "Jewish values" and "democratic values". She is making a very clear statement that she intends to defend the Jewishness of this country and to place obstacles in the path of the true struggle for democracy.

Reiterating need for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Opinion) November 30, 2011 - 1:00am

Just as His Majesty King Abdullah was discussing with visiting Israeli President Shimon Peres the need to stop unilateral actions which “pose a major and real obstacle to peace efforts”, Israel declared that 100 more housing units will be constructed in the West Bank settlement of Shilo. To say the least, settlements - which are illegal under international law - on occupied Palestinian lands remain a major hurdle to achieving progress in the already stalled peace process.

On My Mind: Employing Israeli Arabs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Kenneth Bandler - (Opinion) November 29, 2011 - 1:00am

American Jews rightly marvel at Israel’s remarkable economic success, achieved despite the conflict with her neighbors, most of whom continue to deny Israel’s right to exist. But part of Israel’s labor pool, Arab Israeli citizens, do not participate as fully as they should in the nation’s workforce. Increasing the rate of Arab employment over the next 20 years “is the top economic issue for Israel’s survival,” says Eytan Biderman, chairman of the Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development in Israel (CJAED).

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