Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israel's leadership is outraged by a settler attack on military bases.The second phase of the Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange is underway. A senior Hamas leader says he very much doubts elections can be held in May. Rights groups say Israel and settlers are destroying more Palestinian homes and wells than ever. Thousands in Gaza attend a Hamas anniversary rally. Israeli extremists clash with police after attacking a historically significant mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. DM Barak says Israeli extremists need to be treated like terrorist groups. Israeli rights groups say a record number of Palestinians have been displaced by home demolitions in the past year.Israeli and Palestinian officials meet to discuss water issues. PM Netanyahu is moving to consolidate his domestic power. COMMENTARY: Thomas Friedman says Newt Gingrich hit a new low in pandering to Israel by suggesting Palestinians are “an invented people.” Haaretz says that Israel must impose its law on settlers. Bradley Burston says Newt Gingrich needs to do a lot of homework. Carlo Strenger says the Middle East is ready to accept Israel if PM Netanyahu will let it. Donniel Hartman says Israel doesn't need would-be American “friends” denying Palestinian peoplehood. Danny Danon says Israel did not mean to offend Jewish Americans with ads warning against life in the United States, but Liora Halperin says it did. Aeyal Gross says it's easy to imagine how Israel would have reacted to rock throwing Palestinians as opposed to settlers. Yossi Alpher says the current peace process paradigm is dead and needs an alternative urgently, and Ghassan Khatib says Israeli extremism is the reason why.

Israeli leadership outraged at Jewish extremists' raid on army site
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Batsheva Sobelman - December 13, 2011 - 1:00am

REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- Throwing rocks, burning tires and carrying out other assaults on the Israeli military are not unheard of in the West Bank. But the incident Monday night registered loudly with Israeli authorities: The attackers were Jewish extremists. Dozens of right-wing militants who support the settlement movement infiltrated an army regional division headquarters in the West Bank, set tires on fire, vandalized vehicles and scattered nails on the road. Senior officers also were attacked with rocks.

Second phase of prisoner swap underway
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – The Palestinian Prisoners' Society said Wednesday that the Israeli prison service has notified the detainees who will be released in the second phase of the prisoner swap deal. The society has released a list naming detainees it says will be freed. Israel released 477 prisoners on Oct. 18 and agreed to free an additional 550 detainees within two months in a captive exchange deal with Hamas to secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Zahhar: No elections in May
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar said Tuesday it was unlikely that elections would be held in May as scheduled. In an interview with Egyptian media, Zahhar said a unity government and security committee needed to be formed to ensure a transparent vote, Cairo-based Al-Ahram reported. He questioned on what basis elections could be held as neither of these prerequisites had been met, according to the newspaper report citing the Middle East News Agency.

Israel razing more Palestinian homes, wells-monitors
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Allyn Fisher-Ilan - December 13, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Israel has stepped up its demolitions of Palestinian property in occupied land this year, razing double the number of homes and water wells from 2010, human rights groups said on Tuesday. The statement endorsed by 20 organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch further said Jewish settler violence against Palestinians had risen in 2011 and that Israel had sped up its expansion of settler enclaves.

Hamas' Gaza anniversary draws tens of thousands
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Tens of thousands of Gazans turned out Wednesday for an anniversary rally of the ruling Hamas, a demonstration of strength for the Islamic militant movement ahead of Palestinian general elections tentatively set for the spring. The annual rally has become an increasingly elaborate exercise in stagecraft since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 following internal fighting with forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel right-wing activists clash with Jerusalem police following price tag attack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Oz Rosenberg - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Dozens of right-wing activists clashed with police officers in Jerusalem on Wednesday, amid attempts to arrest suspects linked to recent so-called price tag attacks. The rioters, some of whom reside in the capital's Kiryat Moshe neighborhood after being forced to leave the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, slashed the tires and smashed the windows of several police cars. Six rioters were arrested and taken under custody.

Barak: Israel must treat Jewish extremists like a terror group
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Tomer Zarchin - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel needs to see if the actions of right-wing extremist could be legally defined as terror, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday, as Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman weighed emergency measures in the wake of recent price tag attacks and assaults on IDF troops.

'Record number of Palestinians being displaced'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Ben Hartman - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

An all-time high number of Palestinians have been displaced from their homes as a result of house demolitions east of the Green Line, a consortium of left-wing groups said on Tuesday. “Israeli authorities have stepped up unlawful demolitions in the West Bank including east Jerusalem over the past year, displacing a record number of Palestinian families from their homes,” the statement released by over 20 groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam International said.

Erdan, PA agree: Increase water cooperation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Sharon Udasin - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

While clashing on most issues fundamental to the Israeli-Palestinian water crisis, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and Palestinian Water Minister Dr. Shaddad Attili agreed that today’s operations must change and that cooperation between the two entities must grow stronger, at a conference in Ashdod on Tuesday. Since the Oslo Interim Agreement of 1995, the Joint Water Committee has served as the body responsible for allocating water to the Palestinians and managing the treatment of West Bank sewage.

Amid tensions with allies abroad, Netanyahu shoring up power at home
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Matthew Wagner - December 13, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- He may be a lightning rod for criticism abroad, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is consolidating power at home. On Dec. 5, Netanyahu announced that elections for leadership of his Likud Party would be held Jan. 31. The decision came as something of a surprise; primaries in Israel were expected to be held closer to the next general elections, which are set for October 2013.

Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Thomas L. Friedman - (Opinion) December 13, 2011 - 1:00am

I have a simple motto when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I love both Israelis and Palestinians, but God save me from some of their American friends — those who want to love them to death, literally. That thought came to mind last week when Newt Gingrich took the Republican competition to grovel for Jewish votes — by outloving Israel — to a new low by suggesting that the Palestinians are an “invented” people and not a real nation entitled to a state.

Israel must enforce law on West Bank settlers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

What happened on Monday night merely proves what has long since been obvious: In the West Bank, there is neither law nor judge as far as the settlers are concerned. They can run riot to their heart's content.

Newt Gingrich may be able to occupy Palestine, but Israel can't
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Bradley Burston - (Opinion) December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Speaker Gingrich, if you're serious about becoming president, it's time that you got to know us a bit better. Let's start with the Occupation, our 44-year-long experiment in re-inventing the Palestinian people. This is what you need to know before you bet your political farm on it: We don't have it in us. We can't pull it off.

Mideast can accept Israel if Netanyahu will let it
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Opinion) December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

I have spent two days in Doha, Qatar at the United Nations Alliance of Civilization conference. The real value of such forums is in the informal meetings behind the scenes. You meet people you would never get a chance to talk to otherwise. The great challenge is to open up sufficiently to allow prejudices and preconceptions about nations, ideologies and other groups to be challenged by empirical experience.

I want more than a hug
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Donniel Hartman - (Opinion) December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Newt Gingrich, a true friend of Israel, attempted to prove his friendship by denying the existence of a Palestinian people. This and other similarly “friendly” statements by Republican presidential candidates over the last few weeks is evidence of a perception not merely of friendship but of what these candidates believe the Jewish people want to hear.

Israel intended no offense with ad campaign
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Danny Danon - (Opinion) December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- The State of Israel has always prided itself on being not only a home to its native citizens but a haven for Jews from across the globe. For years the Ministry of Immigration Absorption has successfully focused on attracting Jews from around the world to make aliyah and reconnect with their homeland. This past year alone, more than 19,000 Jewish people chose to leave their countries of residence to start life anew in the Jewish state.

Israel Misses Point With Ad Campaign
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Liora Halperin - (Opinion) December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

The advertising campaign by Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption aimed at inspiring expatriate Israelis to return to Israel so offended American Jews that it eventually was canceled by Prime Minister Netanyahu himself.

Jewish rock-throwers are more equal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Eyal Gross - (Opinion) December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

It is easy to imagine what would have happened had Palestinians invaded an Israeli military base and vandalized vehicles, burned tires, thrown rocks at the brigade commander and injured his deputy. It would have ended in death, injury or arrest for many of them. But the perpetrators of this week's incident were Jews, not Palestinians, and they threw rocks at both soldiers and Palestinians.

Where do we go when these non-negotiations end?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) December 12, 2011 - 1:00am

The Quartet negotiators plan to meet yet again with Israeli and Palestinian officials this week. They have in hand a Palestinian reply to their request for the two sides' positions on territory and security. They do not have an Israeli reply; the Netanyahu government insists that its demands on these two issues be delivered only in the course of direct negotiations. The Palestinians, for their part, insist there will be no direct negotiations until Israel ceases settlement construction.

Israel's extremism is the reason
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) December 12, 2011 - 1:00am

The hard-line and extreme political position of the Israeli government, born from its right-wing composition, is creating immense contradictions between what this Israeli government can "accept" (and stay together) and what the international community seeking to restart the political process between Palestinians and Israelis expects. Israel has been solving this contradiction through evasion, doing whatever it takes to avoid any negotiations or engagement on matters of substance, especially if they involve a third party.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017