Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israel accuses foreign countries of “meddling” in its internal affairs. Hamas is showing signs of adjusting its positions and alignments in the wake of the Arab uprisings, and has agreed in principle to join the PLO. Israel and the PA are competing for tourist dollars. Hamas denies that Khalid Mashaal criticized Yousif al-Qaradawi's statements on Syria. The PA is planning a major desalinization plant for the Dead Sea. Israeli extremists say former PM Sharon's stroke was caused by the unilateral redeployment in Gaza. The State Department says statements at the UN aren't advancing the cause of peace. Israel issues a statement supporting resumed US aid to the PA. PM Netanyahu's office says it is “shocked” to find Pres. Abbas meeting in Turkey with some former Palestinian prisoners. American Charities for Palestine delivers $10,000 to support the work of the Four Homes of Mercy in Palestine. COMMENTARY: Amir Oren says Netanyahu is failing in his stated mission to “save Israel.” Natasha Mozgovaya looks at the political dynamics in the Jewish Reform movement. The Media Line says Palestinian patients are being treated by Israeli doctors, breaking down suspicions. Maura Judkis looks at the controversy over a pro-Palestinian art exhibit in Switzerland and Artinfo interviews Larissa Sansour, the artist in question. Jonathan Schanzer looks at how Hamas is responding to regional pressures. Barak Ravid says Netanyahu's links to Republican candidates and the US Christian far-right are intensifying. Roula Khalaf says everything about Egypt's foreign policy, including its relations with Israel, has been thrown into question. Ahmad Tibi says the world is beginning to understand the Palestinian need for statehood.

Israel Accuses 4 Countries of Meddling in Its Affairs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - December 21, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — In a highly unusual response to criticism from European nations on the Security Council, the Israeli Foreign Ministry bluntly accused the countries of “interfering with Israel’s domestic affairs” and warned that they risked making themselves “irrelevant.”

Hamas adjusts to Arab Spring
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - December 21, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Buoyed by the success of Islamist movements in countries swept by the Arab Spring, Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, is showing signs of pragmatism as its sense of isolation fades. The organization is jockeying to reposition itself amid shifting terrain in the Arab world. It is reported to be scaling down its presence in Syria, where its long-time patron, President Bashar al-Assad, is facing a popular uprising. At the same time, it is seeking to strengthen ties with Arab countries where moderate Islamists have made political gains.

Militant Hamas agrees to join PLO umbrella in key step toward unifying Palestinian leadership
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

CAIRO — Rival Palestinian factions reached a key agreement in Cairo Thursday to admit the Hamas militant group into the Palestine Liberation Organization — the umbrella organization of the Palestinian independence movement that has overseen two decades of on-and-off peace talks with Israel, both sides said.

This Holy Land battle focuses on tourists' wallets
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - December 20, 2011 - 1:00am

Reporting from Bethlehem, West Bank— A 45-foot-high artificial Christmas tree towers over Manger Square, and downtown Bethlehem is festooned with sparkling decorations. There's even a picture of a saxophone-playing Santa Claus. But Nabil Giacaman, co-owner of a souvenir shop called Christmas House, isn't feeling the holiday spirit. The third-generation woodcarver, who sells handmade likenesses of baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary, sees as many as 200 tour buses arrive every day from Israel to visit the Church of the Nativity, just a few steps from his store.

Hamas denies Syrian report about Mashaal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

DAMASCUS (Ma’an) – Hamas on Tuesday denied reports disseminated by official Syrian news that its chief in exile Khalid Mashaal has criticized Islamic cleric Yousif al-Qaradawi over his remarks about the situation in Syria. In a statement, the movement said “the alleged remarks were made up and baseless.” The website of Syria’s General Organization of Radio and TV on Tuesday quoted Mashaal expressing disappointment at al-Qaradawi urging the Syrian people to revolt against the Syrian regime.

Officials plan water plant to end crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Water Authority is working to establish a major desalination plant by the Dead Sea, its chief has revealed. The plan is designed to help ease the water crisis in the West Bank and Gaza by providing an extra 100 million cubic meters of water, Shaddad al-Attili said. However it will stand or fall on the approval of a joint Israeli-Palestinian committee, he told Ma'an after attending a water conference in Israel organized by Friends of the Earth Middle East.

Israeli campaign: Ariel Sharon's stroke was 'curse of Gaza disengagement'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ophir Bar-Zohar - December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke in January 2006 came about because of his role in disengagement from Gaza, according to a campaign to be launched on December 31 by an extreme right-wing religious party, Eretz Yisrael Shelanu.

US: 'Shouting from UN rooftops' won't help peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

The United States on Wednesday addressed the near-complete condemnation of Israeli settlement policy by UN Security Council members the day before and its own vetoes of UNSC resolutions critical of Israel. "Shouting from the rooftops of the Security Council is not going to change the situation on the ground," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at the State Department Wednesday. Israelis and Palestinians, she explained, must "get back to the table and settle these issues together, and that's the way we are going to have a lasting, stable peace."

Israel backs aid to Palestinian Authority
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Ben Smith - December 21, 2011 - 1:00am

In a dramatic public shift that appears to lower the intensity of the simmering diplomatic conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government is backing a strings-attached compromise that would restore American aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu office 'shocked' as Abbas meets ex-prisoners
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- An official in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office says he found it "shocking" to see President Mahmoud Abbas meet with certain released prisoners Wednesday in Turkey. Abbas met in Ankara with 11 ex-prisoners who were released by Israel in the prisoner swap, but the unnamed official was in particular shocked that Abbas met with Amna Muna, Israel's Ynet news site said. Muna was convicted in an Israeli court of luring a teenager to his death in 2001.

ACP delivers $10,000 to support the work of the Four Homes of Mercy in Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from American Charities for Palestine
December 21, 2011 - 1:00am

ACP is pleased to announce its recently established partnership with The Four Homes of Mercy (FHOM), Al Malj’ Alkhairy Al Orthodoxy Al Araby in Arabic, a clinical residence for severely disabled Palestinian men and women. ACP has facilitated a donation of $10,000 to FHOM to provide permanent residency and clinical care to 78 patients, including 25 children and 53 adult men and women.

Netanyahu is failing in his mission to 'save Israel'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amir Oren - (Opinion) December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu was always first. He was the first to understand the extent of the Carmel fire, only 45 minutes after the flames had consumed the bus carrying the prison service cadets. He was the first to publicize his glory with his very own announcement. And he was the first to understand that the self-aggrandizement had made him look ridiculous. Then he attacked the sycophants who had acted in his spirit.

U.S. Jewish reform movement is keeping faith young
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - (Opinion) December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

An Orthodox Jewish friend, who happened to visit over the weekend of the Union for Reform Judaism biennial in Maryland, observed half-jokingly that Reform Jews don't care much about tradition. "They do not want to work hard with keeping mitzvas, but they have so much Judaica stuff here that it's probably the thing their Jewish identity is based upon: nice crafts with Jewish flavor."

The heart of the matter
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Arieh O'Sullivan - (Analysis) December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Weakly, little Adam stares out from his crib, his dull, three-month-old eyes revealing the rough road life has been for him so far. He struggles to cough. He is a Palestinian infant from the West Bank who was born with a bad heart. But he’s been brought to a hospital in Israel for a life-saving operation – free of charge – by one of a number of humanitarian organizations that specialize in mending hearts.

Lacoste Elysée Prize withdraws sponsorship of prize after Palestine controversy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Maura Judkis - (Analysis) December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Update 2:30 p.m Lacoste has now withdrawn its sponsorship from the prize. In a press release, they announced: “In light of this situation and to avoid any misunderstanding, Lacoste has decided to cancel once and for all its participation in this event and its support to the Elysée Prize.” Read the company’s full statement at the end of the post. Original post:

Artist Larissa Sansour Speaks Out About Her Ejection From the Lacoste Art Prize for Being "Too Pro-Palestinian"
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from ARTINFO
by Arsalan Mohammed - (Analysis) December 21, 2011 - 1:00am

Politically-charged censorship or crisis-management gone horribly wrong? The tale of Palestinian multimedia artist Larissa Sansour's dramatic removal from the shortlist of the 2011 Lacoste Elysée Prize appears to have torpedoed the French luxury-goods brand's association with Lausanne institution Musée de l'Elysée, which on Wednesday evening announced that it was immediatley cancelling its partnership to host the €25,000 photography award, now only in its second year.

Hamas for Sale?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Weekly Standard
by Jonathan Schanzer - (Opinion) December 21, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian news sources reported earlier this month that Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised $300 million to the Gaza-based terrorist organization Hamas. If true, this pledge would cover nearly half of Hamas’s reported $769 million budget next year, and would make Turkey its primary benefactor. Hamas and Turkish officials deny the report, and Hamas probably won’t submit to an external audit any time soon. But let there be no doubt: Hamas is for sale, thanks to the Iranian nuclear program and the Arab Spring.

Netanyahu and the New (Old) Testament
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - (Opinion) December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Some two months ago, the Prime Minister's Office received a request to arrange a conference call with some Jewish and Christian leaders. The proposal was to sponsor an event of a routine kind – Netanyahu gets on the line, gives a short briefing about the "situation," fires off some relevant advocacy points, and then answers questions, making a concerted effort not to supply fodder for headlines.

Foreign relations: Everything has been thrown into question
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Roula Khalaf - (Opinion) December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

A senior Israeli official called in journalists for an unusual briefing this month. Arab societies were simply not mature enough to hold free and fair elections, declared Moshe Yaalon; they needed a long period of “education”. Mr Yaalon, a close aide to Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, did not specifically refer to Egypt. But it could not have been far from his mind, since the country had just voted for Islamist parties in the first round of its staggered parliamentary elections.

Tibi: World beginning to understand Palestinians' hopes for state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Richmond Times Dispatch
by Ahmad Tibi - (Opinion) December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

The arrogance of some American politicians and presidential candidates toward the Palestinians and Palestinian national aspirations is breathtaking. Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor stated, "If the Palestinians want to live in peace in a state of their own, they must demonstrate that they are worthy of a state." He appeared to hold all Palestinians responsible for the violence of a few.

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