Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Former PM Olmert is indicted on bribery charges. Israeli officials say they are rethinking their policy on prisoner swaps. The PA is transferring funds to Gaza to offset a financial crisis. Hamas leader Hanniyeh arrives in Tunis as his tour continues. Last year the PA prosecuted 517 merchants for violating the settlement goods ban. Israeli authorities say they are struggling to contain Jewish extremists in the occupied territories. The Israeli military rabbis distribute an image of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock erased. Hamas is adapting its positions, but not enough to join the peace process, experts say. Renewed negotiations with Israel may strengthen the hand of Pres. Abbas. COMMENTARY: Gideon Levy says Israel must salvage its relations with Turkey. Nahum Barnea says it's ridiculous to describe Jewish Americans critical of Israeli policy as “anti-Semites.” The Economist says the PLO has little choice but to seek a rapprochement with Hamas. Glenn Kessler says Rick Santorum is profoundly mistaken to claim that “no Palestinians live in the West Bank.” Aaron David Miller says admitting Palestine as a full member of the UN under current circumstances is a terrible idea, but Mustafa Barghouthi says it is essential. Hillel Neuer claims that Gaza is no longer under Israeli occupation. Michael Luongo looks at accusations of “pinkwashing" by Israel. Ronald Lauder says Israel should concentrate on upgrading its submarine forces to create more deterrence. Barak Ravid describes the background of the Jordanian-brokered Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Former Israeli Leader Indicted on Bribery Charge
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Ehud Olmert, who resigned as prime minister of Israel in 2008 amid corruption charges, was indicted on Thursday for allegedly taking bribes in the construction of a huge residential complex while he was mayor of Jerusalem.

Israel rethinking position on prisoner swaps
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Israel is rethinking its policy on prisoner swaps to avoid the kind of lopsided deals that saw Israel recently trade more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for a lone Israeli soldier. A government-appointed panel submitted its recommendations in a secret report Thursday and details were not divulged. But Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel has "no choice but to overhaul the rules" now that Sgt. Gilad Schalit has been freed after five years in captivity in Gaza. Barak told Israel Radio, "We have to get off the slippery slope we ventured on 25 years ago."

PA allots tax revenues to Gaza to ease cash crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel amounting to 150 million shekels ($39 million) will be transferred to Gaza upon their release in the next 24 hours, the head of the Palestinian Monetary Authority said on Thursday. The cash injection is intended to solve a critical shortage of currency in the blockaded Gaza Strip, PMA Governor Jihad al-Wazir said at an address to business students at the Islamic University in Gaza City.

Gaza PM arrives in Tunisia
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Tunisia on Thursday, as part of his first international tour since Israel tightened the siege on the coastal strip. The Hamas premier will spend two days in the country whose revolution sparked the Arab Spring, before returning to the Gaza Strip, Foreign Minister in Haniyeh's government Muhammad Awad told Ma'an. Haniyeh left Gaza last Sunday for the first time since Hamas seized power of the coastal enclave in 2007 and Israel tightened a land and sea blockade on the 1.7 million-strong population.

PA seized 517 merchants for barred goods in 2011
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 3, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH (Maan) -- The consumer protection department of the Palestinian Authority referred 517 merchants to the general prosecution during 2011 for breaking laws regulating goods in the West Bank, officials said in a statement Tuesday. The unit confiscated 3 million shekels ($787,857) worth of products during the year, undersecretary in the ministry of national economy Abdul-Hafizh Nofal said. Officials are tasked with blocking products not fit for consumption, and those smuggled from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, as well as regulating prices of basic food items.

Israel Police struggling to suppress Jewish extremists in West Bank, says senior officer
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson, Jonathan Lis - January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

Israel Police has been unsuccessful in running its agents in the West Bank, a senior police officer said Thursday, adding that officers have been struggling to gather evidence on crimes committed by right-wing activists. Haim Rahamim, head of the investigations and intelligence wing of the Judea and Samaria District in the West Bank, made the statement during a discussion at the Knesset's Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee on law enforcement in the territories.

IDF rabbinate edits out Dome of the Rock from picture of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gili Cohen - January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

Israel’s military rabbinate released an educational document ahead of the holiday of Hanukkah last month, featuring a photo of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount without the Dome of the Rock, Haaretz learned on Thursday. The photo was featured in a packet prepared by the Military Rabbinate issued to Israel Defense Forces bases ahead of Hanukkah, under the section titled “The Festival of Jewish Heroism,” which included an article and a quiz on the Jewish struggle against Hellenistic rule.

Hamas witnesses fundamental changes, but not enough to join peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Emad Drimly, Osama Radi - January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Analysts said the discourse and approach of the Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, recently witnessed fundamental changes and seemed to be more moderate and pragmatic than what it used to be. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has recently accepted the principle of adopting popular resistance against Israel instead of armed struggle that the movement was always sticking to.

Jordan talks may help Palestinian leader
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - January 4, 2012 - 1:00am

(AP) JERUSALEM -- After this week's attempt to restart Mideast peace talks, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is now caught between undesirable choices. Despite Abbas' deep misgivings, a Jordanian offer to salvage the peace process may be his best hope.

Israel must salvage its last refuge in the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

ISTANBUL - The conveyor belt at Istanbul Ataturk Airport spit out only two bags. The Turkish Airlines flight from Tel Aviv was packed full, but only two people got out. The Turkish airline is still used by Israelis, but almost exclusively for connecting flights. They've been boycotting Turkey - a preferred destination until recently - and fearing it.

Israel vs. the NY Times
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Nahum Barnea - (Opinion) December 29, 2011 - 1:00am

Don Quixote devoted himself to tilting at windmills: In his imagination he viewed them as a menacing, monstrous enemy that must be destroyed. He is considered a romantic figure, a hero willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of his love and ideas. Yet with all this romance, people sometimes forget that Don Quixote did not fight real monsters, but rather, figments of his imagination. He was a hero, but a pathetic one.

Rivals who may need each other
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Economist
(Analysis) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

FIVE years after Western governments sought to turn the West Bank into a model of statehood for peace-minded Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority (PA) that runs it is being cast adrift—possibly with dramatic consequences. The cafés of Ramallah, the Palestinians’ fledgling seat of government near Jerusalem, have been bereft of chattering aid workers from the West since the American administration withdrew its support in the wake of President Mahmoud Abbas’s controversial bid for full statehood at the UN in late 2011.

Rick Santorum’s claim that ‘no Palestinian’ lives in the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Glenn Kessler - (Blog) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

“All the people that live in the West Bank are Israelis. They are not Palestinians. There is no Palestinian. This is Israeli land.” — Former senator Rick Santorum, Nov. 21. 2011 A blog on The Jewish Week Web site highlighted this statement on Monday, which was also captured on tape and posted on YouTube. (See clip at the end of the column.) The statement is somewhat reminiscent of former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s comment that the Palestinians are an “invented people.”

The Granddaddy of Dumb Ideas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Slate
by Aaron David Miller - (Opinion) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

It can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t happen. Such are the sad prospects of the Palestinian plan to achieve statehood through membership in the U.N.

The U.N. Should Accept Palestine as a Full Member State
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Slate
by Katy Waldman - (Opinion) January 4, 2012 - 1:00am

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi is gentle and soft-spoken, as befits a Palestinian leader known for his commitment to nonviolence. Currently Barghouthi, a medical doctor, serves as the general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, a political party based in the West Bank that seeks to provide moderate Palestinians with an alternative to what many consider Fatah’s corruption and Hamas’ extremism. “Politics can drive you to wrong decisions and wrong feelings, sometimes,” he told me during our phone conversation last week.

Hillel Neuer: The UN must recognize that Gaza is no longer an occupied territory
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from National Post
by Hillel Neuer - (Opinion) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

GENEVA — The UN’s continued labelling of the Gaza Strip as an “occupied” territory — even after a Hamas leader stated that it’s not — is no longer tenable. Mahmoud Zahhar, the co-founder of Hamas, confirmed that Gaza is not under Israeli occupation, in comments reported Tuesday by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an. Zahhar was casting doubt on whether Hamas would organize anti-Israel marches in Gaza, in conjunction with similar protests that the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority are organizing in the West Bank.

Pinkwashing’s Complicated Context
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gay City News
by Michael Luongo - (Opinion) January 4, 2012 - 1:00am

Israel is known as the most advanced country in the Middle East on LGBT rights issues. It has openly gay politicians, a parade and bars in Tel Aviv, open service in the military, and a burgeoning queer film and arts scene. This positive atmosphere, however, is largely useful only if you happen to be Jewish and are living on a certain side of the West Bank separation wall.

How subs could save Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from New York Post
by Ronald Lauder - (Opinion) January 4, 2012 - 1:00am

It’s time the Israelis “went deep.” That is, it’s time they took their submarine force and reinvented it as a strategic deterrent against a potentially nuclear-armed Iran and its terrorist surrogates seeking to literally wipe Israel off the map.

Jordan King Abdullah's Christmas Eve initiative
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - (Blog) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

Last week, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh arrived in Bethlehem for the traditional Christmas Eve mass in the Church of the Nativity. Just before services began, Judeh met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and updated him on the recent push by Jordan and the Quartet on the Middle East – which includes the United States, Russia, the EU, and the UN – to organize a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian representatives in Amman.

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