Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: PM Netanyahu says Israel may subject violent settlers to military trials, but says he does not consider them “terrorists.” Israeli experts say the new “crackdown” is a "bluff,” and unlikely to change the status quo in the occupied territories. Extremist settlers torch another mosque in the occupied West Bank. Pres. Abbas says Israeli-Palestinian peace is the key to Middle East stability. Analysts think Israel is unlikely to launch a major offensive in Gaza in the immediate future. Sec. Clinton says Newt Gingrich's recent verbal attacks on Palestinians were “unhelpful.” At a Gaza rally, Hamas leaders again call for the elimination of Israel. A New York-based charity is accused of helping fund settler violence. COMMENTARY: Tom Perry says both Fatah and Hamas are facing a crisis of legitimacy. Ari Shavit says Israel's political realities have never been so ugly, but it's not too late to salvage them. Yossi Sarid says Israeli politicians who denounce settler violence are really responsible for it. Yakir Elkariv says extremist rabbis are most responsible. Hanoch Daum says violent religious extremists are an existential threat to Israel. Nahum Barnea says that in Washington, “Netanyahu” is the new “N-word.” Andrew Friedman says the Arab uprisings provide new opportunities for Israel to build stronger ties to Arab societies.Hussein Shobokshi says Gingrich “isn't fit to run a bath” let alone a state. James Lindsay says the discussion about Palestine at the last Republican debate was a sorry spectacle indeed. Hussein Ibish looks at the actual history of the formation of contemporary Israeli and Palestinian identities.

Israel Leader Sets Curbs on Settlers for Violence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — After two days of settler violence that shocked much of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday that some radical Israelis would be treated the same way as suspected Palestinian militants — detained for long periods without charge and tried in military courts.

Netanyahu: Violent Jewish extremists are not terrorists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he would not define violent Jewish extremists as terrorists after a string of attacks on mosques and Israeli army bases. Israeli ministers formed a list of recommendations for the prime minister, including defining the ultra-nationalist attackers as terrorists.

'Measures against rightist rioters a bluff'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yoav Zitun - December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

Bluffing? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted the recommendations put forth by Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman regarding the treatment of extremist Right-wing activists who riot in the West Bank. However, those familiar with the law enforcement system in the West Bank claim that these measures are nothing more than a big bluff.

Netanyahu's crackdown on Jewish extremists unlikely to change West Bank status quo, IDF officials say
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

IDF officials said Wednesday that there is only a small chance that the steps taken by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to crack down on Jewish extremists responsible for recent violent attacks on IDF soldiers and other targets would change law enforcement in the West Bank. Netanyahu approved measures on Wednesday including issuing administrative detention orders for the Jewish extremists, as is usually done with Palestinians suspected of being a security risk.

Suspected Jewish extremists torch second Palestinian mosque, deface it with Hebrew graffiti
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Vandals set fire to a mosque in the West Bank on Thursday and defaced it with Hebrew graffiti a day after a similar arson attack on a Jerusalem mosque. Suspicion fell on Jewish extremists widely assumed to be behind stepped-up violence against Palestinians and the Israeli military. The governor of the Palestinian city of Ramallah, Laila Ghanam, said arsonists doused the mosque in the village of Burqa with gasoline, then set it on fire.

Abbas: Palestine peace key to stability
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday a key component of peace and stability in the Middle East was an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Such a scenario requires a deal between the two sides, and after that ties between Israel and the rest of the Arab and Islamic world, Abbas was quoted as saying by Palestinian Authority media. At a joint news conference with the president of the European Council in Brussels, Abbas said that "yesterday we raised the Palestinian flag at UNESCO, and I hope in the future we will raise it at the UN."

Israel's Gaza foray warnings not immediate precursor to offensive
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - (Analysis) December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

Jerusalem Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- With a renewed upsurge in rocket fire into southern Israeli cities and towns in recent weeks by Gazan Palestinian militants, Israeli government officials and analysts are raising the possibility of a ground invasion along the lines of Operation Cast Lead in 2008. "I think we can't avoid another confrontation. There's a lot of weapons in the Gaza Strip, a lot of terror groups," Southern Command Deputy Division commander Col. Jonathan Bransky told reporters during a tour of the border area between Israel and Gaza on Monday.

Clinton: Gingrich's comments on Palestinians 'unhelpful'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Newt Gingrich's comment that the Palestinians are an "invented people" was unhelpful, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday, saying the Republican presidential candidate had realized this. Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, stirred controversy on Friday when told the Jewish Channel cable television broadcaster he saw the Palestinians as an invented people who want to destroy Israel. "Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire" until the early 20th century, Gingrich said in the interview.

Emboldened Hamas renews call for the end of Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Donald MacIntyre - December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

Hamas yesterday declared itself bolstered by the Arab Spring and the exchange with Israel of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, as the group mounted a show of strength with tens of thousands attending a lavishly staged rally in the centre of Gaza City. Gaza's ruling Islamic faction bussed in supporters from across the territory for a mass rally to mark its 24th anniversary at which their leaders' rhetoric laid heavy emphasis on continued adherence to armed struggle and the eventual "liberation" of the whole land, including what is now Israel.

New York charity abets Israeli settler violence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Salon.com
by Jared Malsin - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

On the June 18, 2007, a nonprofit organization called the Hebron Fund held a fundraiser on a cruise ship in the Hudson River to support Israel settlers’ occupation of a Palestinian house in the West Bank city of Hebron. Some 250 people paid a minimum of $65 each for the “Cruise ‘n’ Schmooze.” The proceeds went to support the settler who had taken the property from the Rajabi family, who denied the settlers’ claims that they had legally purchased the home.

Palestinian rivals united by drift
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Tom Perry - (Analysis) December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Hamas and Fatah are Palestinian rivals facing the same dilemma: how to justify their role as leaders of the Palestinian people while making little headway in achieving their national goals. With elections overdue, questions over their legitimacy are only likely to increase unless they find a way to galvanise the Palestinians' struggle with Israel.

Israel has never been so ugly
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

We have never been so ugly. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu seeks to silence the call to prayer over the loudspeakers of the country's mosques, and to shut down Channel 10 television. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expresses support for the Russian "democtator" who has just rigged elections. Defense Minister Ehud Barak stands by while Jewish settlers victimize Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox religious nationalists victimize female soldiers.

The Israeli leaders who denounce Jewish terror are responsible for it
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yossi Sarid - (Opinion) December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

The flood of condemnations has not put out the fire. The torch procession is still thundering toward the Temple Mount mosques, to the great conflagration that will rage in all corners of the Temple. The denouncers can prepare their fire extinguishers and fire-and-brimstone preaching.

Blame it on the rabbis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yakir Elkariv - (Opinion) December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

We should keep things in proportion: A bunch of religious nutcases do not threaten Israel’s very existence. After all, if the army really wishes to do so, it can embark on a Cast Lead-style operation against them which they won’t forget for many years to come. However, the army is not a gang. It shows responsibility and restraint – even when these people produce smalltime provocations in order to divert attention away from the evacuation of outposts.

Israel's extremist threat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Hanoch Daum - (Opinion) December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

The lawbreakers from the hills threaten Israeli society, but much before that they threat me and those like me, members of the Religious-Zionist camp. They threaten us, a community that for dozens of years now attempted to passionately argue that there is a way to combine Torah and work, Judaism and culture, nationalism and morality. These lawbreakers from Samaria’s hills are cutting the ground under our feet.

The (other) 'N word'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Nahum Barnea - (Opinion) December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

There is one word, just one word, that no decent American would dare speak out loud unless he happens to be a black stand-up comedian. That forbidden word is "nigger" – a racial slur for African-Americans. The interdiction is so grave that all one needs to say is "The N word" and everyone immediately knows what it's all about. "For top officials in the Obama Administration," a participant of the Saban Forum in Washington told me last week, "Netanyahu is now the 'N word' – the name best not mentions."

Uprisings opportunity for new Israel foreign policy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Andrew Friedman - (Opinion) December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

The explosion of popular protests last December against the ruling order in the Arab world was one of those moments in world history that caused observers to watch with bated breath. As the protests spread from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen and beyond, those of us old enough to remember the 1989 Velvet Revolution could not help but wonder where it all would lead, whether dictators like Hosni Mubarak would use their militaries to quash the protests and what true democracy in the Arab world would mean for the West in general, and for Israel in particular.

A sorry state of affairs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Hussein Shobokshi - (Opinion) December 15, 2011 - 1:00am

The race to find US Republican Party presidential nominee has recently turned into a cheap circus, full of farce and ridicule. The candidates are bending over backwards to please the influential Christian neo-conservative trend, personal firearms manufacturers, anti-abortion groups, and of course the supporters of the state of Israel in all their forms, whether Jewish pressure lobbies or Zionist-Christian extremist blocs.

The GOP on the Palestinians as an "invented people"
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from CNN
by James Lindsay - (Opinion) December 12, 2011 - 1:00am

Apparently 7.6 million people like me had nothing better to do Saturday night than watch the twelfth GOP presidential debate. That’s the biggest audience by far to watch the Republicans to spar over who should lead the party against Barack Obama.

No, Newt and JPost, there is no Santa Claus: how national identities are really formed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - (Blog) December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

What's most interesting about the brouhaha regarding Newt Gingrich's outrageous comments about Palestinians being “an invented people” -- which he then augmented by describing them in general as “terrorists" -- isn't the rebuttals or defenses of these comments. Almost every responsible, sane and rational actor has dismissed Gingrich's remarks as preposterous, not because the Palestinians are not in some sense “invented” but because all modern national identities plainly are, in the same ways.

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