Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: PM Fayyad says he will not lead a national unity government. Concern is growing in Israel over what could happen if it continues to refuse to submit a peace proposal to the Quartet. Israel is completing its barrier along the border with Egypt. The PA says it will now be able to meet payroll since Israel has released tax funds. Hamas fires 120 employees. Israel is constructing news roads between West Bank settlements and occupied East Jerusalem. PLO officials say they are going to push forward with efforts to gain UN membership.Hamas leaders affirm that Jordan is not Palestine. Israel's practice of not allowing Palestinians to travel out of Gaza to pursue claims against occupation forces is being challenged in court. Israel may lose $250 million in US aid due to American budget constraints.

COMMENTARY: Rep. Steve Chabot says the US gave clear warnings in advance it would defund UNESCO over Palestine's membership. Yoel Marcus says renewing peace talks with the Palestinians is the key to repairing Israel's relationship with Egypt. Ha'aretz says PM Netanyahu should stop undermining Israeli democracy. Uri Savir says 64 years after the UN partition resolution, the conflict is more or less back to where it was then. Ghassan Rubeiz says it's going to be difficult for Palestinian leaders to reconcile. Nader Mousavizadeh says the Arab uprisings have strengthened the hand of the Israeli right. Andrew Sullivan challenges allegations of Israeli “pinkwashing.” Jeffrey Goldberg complains that the Israeli government has created ads suggesting it is impossible to remain Jewish in the United States. Ephraim Sneh says Israel cannot allow its relations with Jordan to deteriorate.

Fayyad to Haaretz: I will not lead a Palestinian unity government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Thursday that he would not serve as the prime minister of a Fatah-Hamas unity government, nor would he run for president. "I don't intend to run for the presidency or anything else for that matter," Fayyad said in an interview to Haaretz. "I cannot accept being an obstacle, never was and never will be ... I made a very explicit call on the factions ... to go ahead and agree on a new prime minister. That's my position and nothing has happened since then to change my mind ... So the short answer is no."

Diplomacy: Treading water in a raging river
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - December 1, 2011 - 1:00am

The end of January is now the new September. Remember September, that month of our collective fears; that month when the Palestinian Authority was taking its statehood bid to the United Nations? September was the month Defense Minister Ehud Barak predicted would unleash a diplomatic tsunami and the month during which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Palestinians were planning “the worst violence and spilling of blood that we have ever seen.” Yet September came and went and the tsunami didn’t materialize; the third intifada didn’t break out.

On Israel’s uneasy border with Egypt, a fence rises
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

EILAT, Israel — A short drive north from this Red Sea resort town, a new reality is taking shape along Israel’s desert border with Egypt. A lonely frontier road flanked by a low rusting fence is buzzing with earth-moving equipment and workmen erecting an imposing steel barrier encased in razor wire that is gradually snaking across the desolate landscape.

Official: Govt salaries on track after Israel unblocks funds
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Government salaries for November will be paid on time after Israel released frozen tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, a PA spokesman said Friday. Government media center head Ghassan Khatib confirmed that the government has received the balance of October and Novembers funds, which include customs duties collected by Israel and delivered to the PA. Israel froze the transfers on Nov. 1, a day after the UN cultural agency UNESCO voted to admit Palestine, a move criticized by Israel and the US.

Gaza Interior Ministry fires 120 employees
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The Interior Ministry in Gaza has fired 120 employees suspected of abusing their positions, a ministry spokesman said. Islam Shahwan told the Hamas-affiliated news site al-Risala that the employees were fired after several warnings for multiple offenses. The dismissed staff had been given many chances to correct their behavior and so all decisions were final, he added. Shahwan said the ministry had formed a committee of security officers to investigate allegations before finalizing the dismissals. No senior staff were among those sacked, he said.

Israel paving road to link East Jerusalem neighborhoods to city center
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

The city of Jerusalem began works two weeks ago on a road that will connect the capital's northeastern neighborhoods to Jerusalem's main traffic artery, Menachem Begin Boulevard, as part of a policy to stregthen bonds between neighborhoods across the Green Line and the rest of the city. The neighborhoods to be connected by the new route are Pisgat Ze'ev, Neve Yaakov, Anatot, Shoafat, and Beit Hanina; the route 20 project will also link Jerusalem's northern neighborhoods with route 443, which in some places crosses through the West Bank.

'PA won't 'back down' from UN statehood bid'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority "will not back down" from their efforts to become a member of the United Nations, even though the PA has acknowledged that they would not succeed were the Security Council to vote today, senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat told Ma'an News Agency Thursday. Erekat said the PA would persist even if the request fails to pass in the Security Council, adding that the PA leadership knew from the outset that United States would use its veto on the initiative.

Hamas: Palestine is Palestine, Jordan is Jordan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

The Jordanian government understands that Hamas does not consider the possibility of Jordan as an alternative "homeland" for the Palestinian people, a member of Hamas's political bureau told pan-Arab daily Al Hayat in an interview published Friday. "[Our] brothers in Jordan know very well that we reject the idea of a surrogate homeland, an option still carried by some Israeli leaders," Izzt Al-Rishq told Al Hayat. "We do not accept any substitute for Palestine despite our appreciation and pride for Jordan." "Palestine is Palestine, and Jordan is Jordan," Rishq clarified.

Israel faces legal challenge over block on Palestinians exiting Gaza to sue state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - December 1, 2011 - 1:00am

An Israeli human rights organisation has launched a legal challenge to the state's policy of denying Palestinians permission to leave Gaza to pursue claims for damages resulting from military action, which has led to dozens of cases being dismissed by the Israeli courts. The petition follows a supreme court ruling in 2006 that Palestinians were entitled to sue the state of Israel for compensation for damages caused to civilians by the military outside of "acts of war". Lawsuits were filed for death, injury, house demolitions, torture and cruel or inhumane treatment.

Israel Faces $250 Million Slash in Aid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

Washington — The failure of the supercommittee appointed by Congress to reach a deficit-reduction deal on the federal budget could cost Israel a cool $250 million a year. For the first time in decades, Israel could be facing a reduction in United States aid, due to automatic across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2013 as a result of the supercommittee’s failure.

Chabot: U.S. Warned That It Would Defund UNESCO
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Roll Call
by Representative Steve Chabot - (Opinion) December 1, 2011 - 1:00am

On Oct. 31, the United States announced that it would be withholding its contribution to UNESCO in response to that body’s decision to grant full membership to a state of Palestine. This decision was neither rash nor surprising; on the contrary, it was mandated by provisions of two U.S. laws, one of which has been on the books for more than a decade.

Israel needs a peace process to connect with a new Egypt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoel Marcus - (Opinion) December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

When I watched the long lines of Egyptian voters on television this week, the names of two historical figures came to mind: Mao Zedong and Shraga Netzer. One was the legendary leader of China, and the other was the leader of the “bloc” in Mapai (the predecessor of the Labor Party), who was involved in everything related to preserving the veteran leadership.

Netanyahu should end the anti-democratic witch hunt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a conference of jurists earlier this week raised hopes that perhaps the prime minister had decided to repel the recent wave of bills proposed by his right-wing coalition colleagues. Netanyahu used the occasion to make clear what should have been self-evident: “Democracy is not just majority votes and majority rule. There is no way to run a democracy without checks and balances among the different branches of government.”

The 29th of November
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Uri Savir - (Opinion) December 1, 2011 - 1:00am

November 29, 1947, was a watershed date in modern Jewish history. The family of nations, through the United Nations, decided in Resolution 181 to split Palestine, which was to be vacated by the British Mandate between an independent Jewish state and an independent Arab one. The Jewish state was thus to become the national homeland of the Jewish people. The Jewish side, through the Jewish Agency, accepted the UN resolution with joy and realism. The Arab side, through the Arab League, refused with grim shortsightedness.

Is Palestinian reconciliation on track?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Ghassan Rubeiz - (Opinion) December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal met recently in Cairo to try to resolve their differences. The outcome is not entirely clear yet. Mr. Abbas is president of the Palestinian Authority and chief of Fatah, the mainstream political party. He administers a designated area in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Meshaal is chief of the Islamic resistance party, Hamas. After winning the first Palestinian elections in 2006, Hamas forced its way in 2007 to run Gaza. For security reasons, Meshaal is based in Syria, and not in Gaza.

Peril and paranoia in the New Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Arabiya
by Nader Mousavizadeh - (Opinion) December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

The year of the Arab Awakening is drawing to a close with an ominous air of peril and paranoia hanging over the Middle East. A movement of genuine promise for more legitimate and accountable government for the peoples of the Arab world is in danger of being overwhelmed by the forces of tyranny, corruption, fundamentalism and conflict. From Syria to Egypt to Libya, Palestine, Israel and Iran, resistance to peaceful change is manifesting itself in ways new and old – and all in the context of a global re-alignment of power that few in the region yet recognize.

Does Israel "Pinkwash?"
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Andrew Sullivan - (Blog) November 30, 2011 - 1:00am

Sarah Schulman claims [NYT] that Israel uses its record on gay rights to obscure the violence of the occupation. Jamie Kirchick is apoplectic:

Netanyahu Government Suggests Israelis Avoid Marrying American Jews
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Atlantic
by Jeffrey Goldberg - (Opinion) November 30, 2011 - 1:00am

The Netanyahu government's Ministry of Immigrant Absorption is sponsoring advertisements in at least five American communities that warn Israeli expatriates that they will lose their identities if they don't return home.

Too much to lose
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ephraim Sneh - (Opinion) December 2, 2011 - 1:00am

During my visit to Jordan this week, I spoke to several people who said King Abdullah's comments about Syrian President Bashar Assad - "If I were in his shoes, I would step down" - were a reflection of the Jordanian ruler's style of governing. King Abdullah, according to the Jordanians with whom I conversed, does not belong to the culture of former Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Assad: He would never order his soldiers to open fire on his people. If the disquiet in his kingdom turned into violent rioting, he would simply get up and leave.

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