Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: The US says it's “disappointed” by new Israeli settlement plans. Another Palestinian militant is killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza. Rockets are fired into southern Israel. Israel closes a ramp leading to holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem. Deputy FM Ayalon calls UNRWA "morally and politically unacceptable." Many Israelis are deeply embarrassed by FM Lieberman's latest controversial statements. The Palestinian flag is raised at UNESCO's Paris headquarters. A Palestinian man is badly wounded by occupation forces during a West Bank protest. Reports continue to suggest Hamas is trying to relocate its headquarters from Damascus. An appellate court has upheld the convictions in the “Holy Land Foundation” case. Gaza continues to face serious shortages of water. COMMENTARY: Yoel Marcus says PM Netanyahu is setting himself up as the only possible leader of Israel. Ha'aretz says hard-line nationalism is isolating Israel. Stuart Weiss says religious extremism is harming Israel and the Jewish people. JJ Goldberg says Amb. Gutman was only telling the truth. Saleh Abdel Jawad says Israel doesn't want to undermine the Jordanian regime. Carlo Strenger says Israel has apparently decided to no longer be a Western state. Muath Al Wari says Palestine remains a central issue for most Arabs. Jeffrey Goldberg says a one-state arrangement will only lead to more conflict and two states are the only real solution. Scott Clement thinks Israel will not be a big factor in the 2012 election.

US 'disappointed' by new Israeli settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Google News
December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON — The United States expressed disappointment Thursday over Israeli settlement activity after the approval of construction of a new Jewish enclave in annexed east Jerusalem. However, the US State Department also said that it opposed a call by the Palestinians to take the issue to the UN Security Council, where Washington vetoed in February a resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

Israeli Planes Attack Gaza Targets
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Israel carried out more airstrikes in Gaza early Friday, killing one Palestinian, as militants fired more rockets into southern Israel. Tensions flared after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Thursday killed two Palestinians whom the military described as terrorists involved in a plot to attack Israelis.

More rockets hit Israel after spike in violence in the Gaza Strip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Palestinian militants fired three rockets into Israel on Friday, the Israeli military said, hours after an airstrike against a Hamas target in Gaza killed a Palestinian civilian. The rockets landed in Israeli territory but caused no casualties, the military said. Air-raid sirens and bomb shelters have helped keep civilian casualties low in southern Israel over years of rocket fire from Gaza. The latest exchange followed several days of violence in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Jerusalem orders ramp to Temple Mount and Al Aqsa Mosque closed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Batsheva Sobelman - December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- Jerusalem officials have ordered a ramp leading from the Western Wall plaza up to Temple Mount and Al Aqsa mosque closed immediately, a controversial move in an area of competing religious and political claims. The Mughrabi Ramp, which is used mostly by tourists and Israeli security personnel, is a temporary structure built after the previous bridge partially collapsed during the stormy winter of 2004.

Israel deputy FM: UNRWA 'morally, politically unacceptable'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- Israel's deputy foreign minister accused the UN agency for Palestinian refugees of perpetuating Palestine's conflict with Israel, in a speech at the UN refugee headquarters in Geneva on Thursday, Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported. Calling UNRWA "morally and politically unacceptable," Danny Ayalon said the UN applied double standards by not resettling Palestinian refugees through its central body for refugees, UNCHR, and creating the separate Palestinian refugee agency.

Israel mortified over Lieberman's latest gaffe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli officials were squirming in embarrassment on Friday over remarks by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman after he described Russia's contested parliamentary elections as "free and democratic." Lieberman's comments, which were reported by Russian news agency Itar-Tass, come as Moscow struggles with a wave of protests over allegations of vote rigging in Sunday's elections. Top world diplomats have also expressed grave concerns over the outcome of the vote, which observers say was marred by widespread irregularities.

UNESCO to raise Palestinian flag
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- UNESCO will raise the Palestinian flag at its Paris headquarters on Tuesday to mark the admission of Palestine as a full member, a press statement said on Wednesday. President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki will preside over the ceremony with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, it said. UNESCO voted to admit Palestine as a member on Oct. 31. which triggered a funding cut by the United States, the largest contributor to the UN cultural agency.

Palestinian seriously wounded at West Bank protest by Israeli forces
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nir Hasson - December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

A Palestinian demonstrator was seriously wounded on Friday when he was apparently hit by a teargas canister fired by Israeli security forces in the West Bank. The incident occurred during the weekly demonstration in the village of Nabi Saleh. Preliminary details indicate that security forces fired teargas at demonstrators who were protesting the alleged takeover of a nearby spring by Israeli settlers. One demonstrator was shot in the head at close range by a teargas canister and began to bleed. He was rushed to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.

Arab World: Searching for a new home?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

There, Hamas came out in support of the demonstrators and even urged them to topple their leaders. Hamas was the first Palestinian group to welcome the downfall of Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Muammar Ghaddafi. With Syria, however, Hamas has found itself in a delicate situation. On the one hand, Hamas can’t afford to voice support for those who are seeking to overthrow a regime that has been hosting and backing the movement for more than two decades.

Appeals court upholds convictions in Holy Land Foundation case
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

NEW YORK (JTA) -- A U.S. appeals court upheld the convictions of five Holy Land Foundation organizers on charges of conspiring to send money to Hamas. The ruling was handed down Wednesday by a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Texas. The Texas-based Holy Land Foundation had its assets frozen by the Bush administration in December 2001. The Islamic charity and five defendants were found guilty in 2008 on charges of funneling money to Hamas.

Life Without Water a Growing Threat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Eva Bartlett - December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

"Everything will be affected: drinking and washing water, sewage and sanitation, hospitals, schools and children," says Ahmed al-Amrain, head of power information at the Palestinian Energy and National Resources Authority (PENRA). The Israeli Electric Company provides 60 percent of the Strip's needs, paid by Palestinian customs taxes collected by the Israeli authorities. Gaza buys 5 percent from Egypt and tries to generate the remaining 35 percent at Gaza's sole power plant, maimed by the 2006 Israeli bombing and destruction of its six transformers.

Does Israel have no alternative to Netanyahu?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoel Marcus - (Opinion) December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

The more Israel's image in the world deteriorates, the more Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is flourishing. It's hard not to notice that his hair is groomed daily and perfectly combed. The color ranges from gray to light blue, and every hair is in place. It's no coincidence that they cleared out a room in the Prime Minister's Residence that contained communications equipment and turned it into a hairdressing salon. Not only for Sara, but for Bibi too. This is not the same arrogant Bibi we recall from his first term, but a man who is playing the role of leader.

Nationalism is isolating Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

The growing nationalist and religious extremism in Israel is not just a domestic problem. Over the last week, it has become clear that the efforts of the Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition to suppress freedom of expression, left-wing organizations and the Arab community, combined with growing religious coercion in the public arena and the Israel Defense Forces, are also endangering Israel's relations with its supporters in the West, and especially the American political establishment and Jewish community.

In Plain Language: Halachic terrorism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Stewart Weiss - (Opinion) December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

Halachic terrorists harm three different groups: Their victims, the haredi community, and the Jewish People and the Jewish state in general.

Gutman in Trouble for Diagnosing Disease
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - (Opinion) December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

I think it’s time we faced up to the hard truth about Louis Pasteur. The famed 19th century French scientist was a rank bigot. He’s been getting a free ride for too long, and it’s got to stop.

Signs of Israel's changing neighborhood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Saleh Abdel Jawad - (Opinion) December 8, 2011 - 1:00am

Some saw as surprising Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman's remarks before the Knesset Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security in which he said that Jordan is a sovereign and independent country, and that talk about it being a substitute for Palestine was negative and destabilizing. Lieberman belongs to an ideological camp within the Israeli right that is opposed to Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel’s farewell to the West
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Opinion) December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

A few weeks ago a little noted event occurred. Germany has six political foundations funded by the German foreign ministry. They are identified with all major German parties, including, of course, the CDU, Angela Merkel’s party, that is right of center.

Peter Beinart Is Right—or, a One-State Solution Is Inevitable if Settlements Continue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Atlantic
by Jeffrey Goldberg - (Opinion) December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

A number of Goldblog readers have forwarded me this video of Peter Beinart speaking at the recent General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. These readers are critical of Peter's assertion that Israel is, in essence, forcing a one-state solution on itself by continuing the occupation and settlement of the West Bank. I watched the video, and, alas, I don't find much to dispute with what Peter says. This isn't the easiest thing for me to acknowledge; I disagree with much of Peter's Middle East political analysis, and I disagree with many of his peacemaking suggestions.

Does Israel matter in 2012?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Scott Clement - (Opinion) December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

President Obama and Republicans have repeatedly clashed over policy towards Israel, incited most recently by comments from the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, who argued that some anti-Semitism was rooted in territorial tensions between Israel and its neighbors. On Wednesday, Republican presidential hopefuls looked to court Jewish supporters at a forum held by the Republican Jewish Coalition. The entire hubbub raises a critical question: How important is Israel as a voting issue?

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