Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israel completes the second phase of the prisoner swap. Israel plans more than 1000 new settler housing units. The CSM profiles still-jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti. A new Israeli law funding museums in the occupied territories may be another sign of creeping annexation. At least one person is killed in clashes at a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. Hamas and Fatah leaders will meet again in Cairo on Thursday to discuss reconciliation. An Israeli court rules against evicting two Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem. Pres. Abbas says some Hamas leaders have committed to nonviolent resistance and a state based on the 1967 borders, and other Hamas officials confirm this to the Guardian but say it will not recognize Israel. AP says it cannot find any evidence for Newt Gingrich's claims about Palestinian textbooks. COMMENTARY: Former Sen. John E. Sununu says Gingrich has revealed his bigotry. Jeremy Ben-Ami says it's time to redefine what “pro-Israel” means. Victor Batarseh says the people of Bethlehem are celebrating hope this year. Akiva Eldar says Israel can be Jewish without being racist. Susan Hattis Rolef says young Israelis don't seem to understand the concepts behind democracy. Jeff Barak says Israeli democracy is under increasing attack from religious and settler extremists. Adel Safty says Gingrich has demonstrated extreme historical ignorance. Uri Avnery says with "friends" like some Republican presidential candidates, Israel doesn't need any enemies. Mkhaimar Abusada says a third party must intervene to break the diplomatic deadlock. Juliette Kayyem says Gingrich should pay attention to Israeli silence on some of his comments.

Israel Frees Palestinians in 2nd Stage of Exchange
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - December 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel released about 550 Palestinian prisoners on Sunday night in the second half of a swap that freed one of its soldiers, Gilad Shalit, who had been held by Hamas in Gaza for more than five years. The prisoners left Ofer Prison in Israel by bus shortly after 10 p.m., with a dozen buses going to the West Bank and one to Gaza. Some prisoners were also going to East Jerusalem and Jordan.

Israel plans for more than 1,000 new housing units on disputed land
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - December 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel's Housing Ministry announced Sunday that it would construct more than 1,000 housing units in the West Bank and Jerusalem area on land it seized during the 1967 Mideast war. The expansion includes 500 units in Har Homa, 348 in Beitar Ilit and 180 in Givat Zeev. “Some countries around the world may not be happy about this but they shouldn’t be surprised,” Housing Minister Ariel Atia told the Israeli news site Ynet. He said the move would lower home prices and increase supply, assisting young Israeli couples looking for affordable housing.

The man Israel didn't release from prison: Marwan Barghouti
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Rebecca Collard - December 18, 2011 - 1:00am

There were rumors and Palestinians hopes that the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap this fall would result in the release of Marwan Barghouti, the man who many see as a possible successor to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Related stories Under the Shalit deal, more than 1,000 Palestinians were to be released over several months in exchange for the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas in 2006. But as Israel announced the names of the remaining 550 prisoners to be released today, Mr. Barghouti was not among them.

Israeli lawmakers move to annex West Bank, one museum at a time
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ben Lynfield - December 16, 2011 - 1:00am

As Rachel Slonim shows a visitor around the modest, unheated archeological museum in this West Bank settlement, she becomes animated when she reaches a display case with artifacts from the biblical Israelite period. ''The Israelite period was the most beautiful period in the history of Samaria,'' says Ms. Slonim, referring to the 600-year era that she says climaxed with the reign of King Omri, who built his capital near the area where she lives today. ''Settlement is very important in our eyes and the eyes of the Holy One Blessed Be He, who gave us this land.''

Clashes in Lebanon refugee camp, one killed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
December 18, 2011 - 1:00am

AIN EL-HILWEH, Lebanon, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Sporadic clashes broke out between armed factions in Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp on Sunday after the bodyguard of an official there was killed, a witness and security officials said. Fighters supporting the mainstream Fatah party clashed with gunmen suspected of belonging to extremist Islamist parties, shooting at each other and firing rocket propelled grenades in Ain el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon. Armed clashes are common in the camp, which houses 50,000 refugees, and militant Islamists are known to operate there.

Fatah and Hamas resume talks on Palestinian reconciliation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - December 19, 2011 - 1:00am

Hamas and Fatah officials met in Cairo on Sunday in order to renew talks on Palestinian reconciliation. The two sides are due to meet on Tuesday to sign a reconciliation agreement, although its implementation is expected to be postponed since the parties decided to delay the discussion on the formation of a Fatah-Hamas unity government until after January 26. Until now, the two sides have only been discussing the makeup of the Palestinian election committee.

Israel court rules against evicting two East Jerusalem Palestinian families
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nir Hasson - December 19, 2011 - 1:00am

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court has rejected two separate lawsuits seeking the eviction of two Palestinian families from homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. In both cases, the plaintiff said the homes had been sold to new owners who wanted the Palestinian families out. Two judges rejected those claims Thursday. The lawsuits were filed by two groups closely linked to Elad, an organization supporting Jewish settlement in the area, and to Elad chairman David Be'eri, who is also the Israel representative of one of the groups seeking the eviction.

'Mashaal agreed to non-violence, pre-67 borders'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
December 17, 2011 - 1:00am

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal agreed in the context of reconciliation with Fatah that resistance to Israel must be non-violent and a Palestinian state should be based on the1967 borders, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with the Euronews international television network. Speaking in the interview aired Friday, Abbas said that Mashaal agreed to those two points, as well as to elections in May 2012 when the two met last month.

Hamas moves away from violence in deal with Palestinian Authority
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Phoebe Greenwood - December 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Hamas has confirmed that it will shift tactics away from violent attacks on Israel as part of a rapprochement with the Palestinian Authority. A spokesman for the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya, told the Guardian that the Islamic party, which has controlled Gaza for the past five years, was shifting its emphasis from armed struggle to non-violent resistance.

Palestinian textbooks debate reaches US campaign
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh, Karin Laub - December 17, 2011 - 1:00am

Do Palestinian school textbooks "teach terrorism," as Newt Gingrich claimed in a recent debate among U.S. Republican presidential hopefuls? His example - that Palestinians "have text books that say, `If there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?'" - is not in any of the texts, researchers say. As for Gingrich's broader claim, the textbooks don't directly encourage anti-Israeli violence, but they also don't really teach peace, studies say.

Gingrich’s lie reveals his bigotry
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Boston Globe
by John. E. Sununu - (Opinion) December 16, 2011 - 1:00am

When bigots speak, their words have purpose. They intentionally choose phrases that inflame, denigrate, and marginalize other races, religions, or nationalities. They employ distortions and stereotypes to bolster false arguments. Which brings us to Newt Gingrich, who in an interview last week derided “an invented Palestinian people.’’ His comments were a calculated — but demonstrably false — slander, designed to curry favor with a constituency for which he cares by insulting one for which he does not.

What ‘pro-Israel’ should mean
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jeremy Benami - (Opinion) December 16, 2011 - 1:00am

Jeremy Ben-Ami is president of J Street, a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates a diplomatic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the author of “A New Voice for Israel.” Advocates of strong U.S.-Israel relations have aimed for decades to keep Israel from being a divisive issue in American politics. Yet Israel is one of very few foreign policy issues already rating attention in the 2012 presidential election.

Why we're celebrating hope this Christmas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
by Victor Batarseh - (Opinion) December 18, 2011 - 1:00am

It all started in Bethlehem. From here, the Christmas message was revealed to mankind; a message of joy, love and peace. And here we are today, after more than 2,000 years, reviving this eternal remembrance in faith and love, happily cheering and singing songs of joy and triumph. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." This verse spreads joy in our hearts and proves for us that nothing is impossible for God, not even realizing peace.

Israel can be Jewish without being racist
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) December 19, 2011 - 1:00am

What's easier for a secular person to hate than an ultra-Orthodox Jew who sets fire to an Israeli flag on the holiday of Lag Ba'omer? The answer is a religious West Bank Jewish settler who torches a mosque on any old day. The shared revulsion of those thugs who have acquired the nickname "hilltop youth" and whose hate crimes have euphemistically come to be called "price tag" attacks assuages the consciences of those who consider themselves secular liberals.

Only words
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Susan Hattis Rolef - (Opinion) December 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Last Wednesday, as part of my Knesset in the Democratic Regime of Israel course, I told my students about some of the ceremonial aspects of the Knesset’s work, placing an emphasis on a section from the Declaration of Independence that is read alout at the ceremonial Knesset session when a new government is sworn in.

Coy euphemisms, tragic implications
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Jeff Barak - (Opinion) December 19, 2011 - 1:00am

Even I thought Hillary Clinton was overstepping the mark earlier this month when the US secretary of state said the treatment of women in Israel was reminiscent of the situation in Iran. That was until my health fund, Kupat Holim Meuhedet, sent a booklet round to my house.

Gingrich's words show his ignorance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Adel Safty - (Opinion) December 19, 2011 - 1:00am

When the Republican presidential hopeful and former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently affirmed that the Palestinian people were an invention, he had one thing in mind: scoring cheap points against his rivals. The truth of the matter did not interest him; nor did he show any regard for the impact of such a fantastic proclamation on the suspended peace process, or indeed on his own country’s longstanding policy on the conflict.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) December 18, 2011 - 1:00am

My God, what a bizarre lot these Republican aspirants for the US presidency are! What a sorry bunch of ignoramuses and downright crazies. Or, at best, what a bunch of cheats and cynics! (With the possible exception of the good doctor Ron Paul).

More involvement is required
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Mkhaimer Abu Sada - (Opinion) December 12, 2011 - 1:00am

The stalemate in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process has prompted the Quartet (made up of the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia) to ask both sides to present their positions on borders and security. There have been no direct peace negotiations between the Palestinian and Israelis since the Israeli war on Gaza in December 2008 and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's entry into office in March 2009, except for three weeks in September 2010 when direct negotiations collapsed at the end of a ten-month settlement freeze announced by Netanyahu a year earlier.

Will an Obama tactic work for Gingrich?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Boston Globe
by Juliette Kayyem - (Opinion) December 19, 2011 - 1:00am

NEWT GINGRICH’S Palestinian-bashing is more than sheer pandering to the Jewish vote, a vote that is sophisticated enough to recognize the pandering of any politician. Though Gingrich may be getting flak for his claims that the Palestinians are an invented people, his desire to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a divided city whose control is a core dispute in the ongoing peace process — is equally controversial. Indeed, Gingrich’s policies that claim such fidelity to Israel can’t be validated by history tomes or some searching analysis of the Torah.

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