Middle East News: World Press Roundup

News: Reports continue to suggest Hamas is trying to relocate from Damascus. Palestinians promote statehood in Christmas celebrations.Two are killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza. Occupation forces announce more demolitions and land seizures in Hebron. Israel approves yet more settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians ask the UN to intervene to stop settlement construction.Senior PLO officials say that by demanding elections in occupied East Jerusalem, Hamas is trying to torpedo them everywhere. Amb. Shapiro says the US expects direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israel may send a small robot to the moon. Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich forms an alliance with PM Netanyahu's stalwart Sheldon Adelson. In a rare ruling, an Israeli court acquits a Palestinian man on the grounds he was tortured. Commentary: Gideon Levy says the notion of peace has vanished from Israeli discourse. Ari Shavit says Israel is losing its base in the democratic West. Barak Ravid says Israel is hibernating through the “Arab Spring.” Ilan Manor says Netanyahu is in love with the US Republican Party. Irwin Cotler says Jewish refugees from Arab states need to be acknowledged and compensated. Nathan Guttman says frank talk about Israel from administration officials is not seen by many as a deliberate affront. Michael Jansen says most Israelis aren't going to listen to US criticism. Gershon Baskin says Israel needs a "historic leader." Labib Kamhawi says Israel's leadership is reckless. Hassan Barari says Jordan has much to fear from the impasse in the peace process. Akiva Eldar says Israel is probably going to release a large group of petty criminals in the second phase of the prisoner swap.

Hamas uncertainty as Syria slides closer to civil war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Bill Law - December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

The unrest in Syria has raised serious questions over whether the political leadership of the militant Islamist group Hamas can remain in Damascus. However, the group's options are limited. The assumption that Hamas is poised to exit its headquarters in Damascus and sees Cairo as a likely new home may be based more on wishful thinking than fact. Hamas, the largest Palestinian militant Islamist organisation, was formed in 1987 at the beginning of the first intifada, or Palestinian uprising against Israel's occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.

In subtle messages, Palestinians promote statehood bid in Christmas celebrations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — At Christmas time the world looks to Jesus’ traditional birthplace of Bethlehem, and this year the Palestinians hope to use some of that attention to boost their quest for independence. They’re trying to be subtle about it, with just a hint of politics in this year’s Christmas slogan, “Palestine celebrating hope,” a veiled reference to their bid this fall to win U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state.

Medics: 2 killed in Israeli airstrike on Gaza City
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- An Israeli airstrike killed two people in the central Gaza Strip on Thursday, medics and security officials said. Medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya said two people died and two others were wounded after the explosion, which witnesses said hit a car parked near Omar al-Mukhtar street. A Ma'an reporter named those killed as Issam Subhi al-Batsh and Subhi Alaa al-Batsh.

Israel hands confiscation, demolition orders in Hebron
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces handed confiscation orders to ten landowners in villages near Hebron on Thursday, locals told Ma'an. The troops also handed demolition orders for 14 houses in southern Hebron village Susiya, residents said. Israeli authorities told four landowners in Surif village, which neighbors Susiya, that their land would be seized. The lands belong to Ismael Musa Othman Ighnnimat, Atef Atallah Ibrahim Ighnimat, Mohammad Abdullah Ahmad al-Qadi, and Mohammad Ibrahim al-Hour, a Ma'an reporter said.

Israel OKs new settler homes in East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel has approved construction of a new Jewish enclave in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood of annexed East Jerusalem, state-owned Channel One TV reported Wednesday. The channel said the 14-home project, to be named Maale David, was approved late Wednesday by the Jerusalem city council's planning committee and was likely to spark fresh international condemnation of Israel's settlements policy. It is to be sited in the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amud, near an existing Jewish settlement of 1,000 people, the report said.

Palestinian leadership turns to UN to halt Jewish settlement construction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) decided Wednesday to apply to the United Nations to freeze Jewish settlement activities. After a meeting in Ramallah, the PLO executive committee announced that it will go to the UN Security Council and the General Assembly to force Israel to commit to the two-state solution and stop settlement construction.

US expects direct Israeli-Palestinian talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

Both the US and the Quartet expect Israelis and Palestinians to meet in direct talks and exchange comprehensive proposals there on the issue of security and territory, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro said Thursday. Shapiro, at a press conference in Tel Aviv, said that this position has been made clear to both sides. His comments are significant because the Palestinians have said in recent days that while they have presented the Quartet with comprehensive proposals, Israel has refused to do so - casting Israel in the role of peace obstructor.

Gingrich and Adelson Forge Firm Alliance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman, Josh Nathan-Kazis - December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

In the battle for the Republican pro-Israel vote, Newt Gingrich lacks Mitt Romney’s broad base of prominent Jewish donors. But he has something potentially more powerful: the support of one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s most significant American backers, and a relationship with the Israeli prime minister himself that stretches back decades.

Israeli court releases 'tortured' Palestinain
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM // In a rare ruling, an Israeli military court has acquitted a Palestinian man because interrogators were found to have brutally forced his guilty confession. All but one of the 17 charges brought against Ayman Hamida, 37, from east Jerusalem's Azariya neighbourhood, were dropped by the military judges, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported yesterday. He was convicted of firing a weapon at Israeli police officers in 2009. The judges concluded that Mr Hamida was subjected to choking, beating and food deprivation during 40 days of interrogation, the newspaper reported.

How peace vanished from Israeli discourse
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

It happens a lot. A figure once significant in our lives fades away gradually. Not with a slam of the door or a tough fight, but almost imperceptibly, a kind of slow evaporation, until one day we suddenly notice he has completely disappeared.

Israel is losing its 'base' in the democratic West
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

The key term in the prime minister's close circles is "base." This American political term refers to the part of the right-wing population that both set up the Netanyahu government and ensures its survival. The strategy that has guided Benjamin Netanyahu over the past three years is a fundamental strategy of don't lose the base - not to commit any act that will cause the Likud leader to lose the support of the nationalists, the national-religious or the Haredim who got him into the Prime Minister's Office.

The Arab Spring and Israel’s winter hibernation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - (Opinion) December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

Last weekend, a group of Europeans, Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, and Jordanians convened in Europe for discussions regarding the “Arab Spring." The Israelis who participated returned to Israel in a worried state. “Our situation isn't good”, one of them said. The Arabs who participated in the talks told their Israeli counterparts that hostility toward Israel in the Arab world is reaching new heights. According to them, Israel is seen as part of the “old order” in the Middle East, as well as an ally of deposed Arab dictators, such as former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

A match made in heaven?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Ilan Manor - (Opinion) December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in love. Not with a person or an idea, but with a party. The Republican Party. Ever since he took office, Netanyahu has found himself attracted to the GOP. Now, the attraction has blossomed into love. The prime minister has been swept off his feet by the parade of dashing Republican candidates courting him and offering to take care of Iran, an issue he has struggled with for more than two years.It’s like the old song lyrics, “Heaven/ I’m in heaven/ and my heart beats/ so that I can hardly speak...”

Revisionism, rejectionism and Arab-Israeli peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Irwin Cotler - (Opinion) December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

While serving as a Canadian delegate to the annual inter-parliamentary hearing at the United Nations, I came across an exhibit marking the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The central theme of the exhibit is the Nakba – catastrophe – suffered by the Palestinian people, due to the establishment of the State of Israel.

Panetta and Clinton Take Aim at Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - (Opinion) December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

Just as the troubled relationship between the Obama administration and the government of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to be getting on track, remarks by top American officials have made it clear that frustration still runs deep in Washington over Israel’s policies.

Testy relationship
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - (Opinion) December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel has reacted angrily to tough US talk about both its regional and domestic policies, risking a fresh breach with the Obama administration which has always had a testy relationship with Israel’s right-wing regime. The first unwelcome comments came from US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta who said Israel must engage with the Palestinians by returning to the “damn” negotiating table and take steps to halt the country’s growing isolation in the region.

Leadership that makes history
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) November 23, 2011 - 1:00am

Leading is not easy. Leading Israel is certainly not a simple task. It is not surprising that many leaders of Israel, maybe even most of them, have made decisions in office that go against what they preached and believed in before they sat in the prime minister’s seat. As the saying goes, “what you see from here is not what you see from there.” Real leadership is measured when one is faced with real-life situations that place diametrically opposed values and principles on the scales of decision making.

Avoiding the regional ramifications of stalemate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Hassan Barari - (Opinion) December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

For Jordan, the impasse of the Israeli-Palestinian track could not be more threatening. Time and time again, King Abdullah II has stressed that the failure of a two-state solution would be detrimental to the national security of his country. For this reason, Amman has pushed both Palestinians and Israelis to get their act together and hammer out an historic deal to allay the fears of Jordanians.

Abbas should change his locks before next wave of Palestinian prisoners freed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

In the coming days, as the next wave of Palestinian prisoners are released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ought to change the locks on his house and car. Contacts between the Egyptians and Israeli mediator David Meidan, a representative of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have made clear that the vast majority of the 550 soon-to-be-released prisoners are car thieves and petty criminals.

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