Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: PM Fayyad says the PA will cut spending and raise taxes to try to address a financial crisis. Israeli authorities charge 5 settlers in connection with an attack on a military base in the occupied territories. FM Lieberman repeats that he would like to remove some Arab villages from Israel in any peace deal. Jordan reportedly seizes the assets of Muhammad Dahlan and his brother. Palestinian reconciliation talks appear to be faltering as Fatah and Hamas exchange bitter accusations. The Palestinian version of "Sesame Street" loses funding for its next season due to a cut off in US aid. Israeli experts say they expect a large cyber attack sometime in the future. Palestinians are skeptical about prospects for renewed negotiations with Israel. Israel arrests four Palestinian men allegedly carrying weapons. COMMENTARY: Dennis Ross says the only way forward is for Israel to change realities on the ground to strengthen Palestinian leaders like Pres. Abbas and Fayyad who believe in peace and nonviolence. Phyllis Bennis says Pres. Obama's real problem with Israel is its policies towards the Palestinians. Carlo Strenger says secular Israelis and Palestinians should find enclaves from religious fanatics. Jeff Barak says Israel is probably headed for an early election. Susan Hattis Rolef looks at four possible scenarios between Israel and the Palestinians. Harriet Sherwood says splits in Hamas are becoming more obvious. Uri Avnery says Hamas' recent moves are making another war in Gaza less likely. Yossi Alpher says Israelis and Palestinians are too far apart for meaningful negotiations. Shaul Arieli says Israel desperately needs new leadership that believes in a two-state solution. The Chicago Tribune looks at the effects of the Arab uprisings on Hamas' policies and prospects.

Fayyad: Govt raises tax, cutting costs to plug deficit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 9, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is cutting spending and raising taxes in an attempt to plug the $1.1 billion deficit in the public budget, he told reporters in Ramallah on Sunday evening. Fayyad's government aims to knock $350 million off the budget deficit through new measures to cut costs and increase revenues, including an income tax increase now in effect, the premier said. The global financial crisis and a failure of donor countries to honor their aid pledges has caused a sharp increase in the budget shortfall in 2011.

Israel Charges 5 Settlers in West Bank Army Base Clash
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - January 8, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Israeli prosecutors on Sunday charged five radical Jewish settlers with tracking troop movements in the West Bank and organizing a raid on an Israeli Army base there last month. The indictment was the first sign of a promised crackdown on settlers whose increasingly provocative actions have been described by some Israeli officials as homegrown terrorism.

Israeli minister says peace deal should put some Israeli Arabs under Palestinian sovereignty
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 9, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Israel’s foreign minister said Monday that some Israeli Arabs should be stripped of their citizenship and placed under Palestinian sovereignty as part of any final peace deal. Avigdor Lieberman made the comments before a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators later Monday in Jordan — their second session in a week after a 15-month breakdown in talks.

Report: Jordan seizes assets of expelled Fatah leader
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 9, 2012 - 1:00am

AMMAN (Ma'an) -- The assets of Muhammad Dahlan and his brother were seized by Jordanian authorities to allow Palestinian officials to pursue corruption allegations against the ousted Fatah strongman, Jordanian media reported on Monday. The head of Public Prosecutions in the Jordanian capital ordered the Central Bank of Jordan to foreclose the real estate and financial holdings of Dahlan, his brother and another unnamed individual, Jordanian daily Al-Rai reported.

Palestinian reconciliation deal faltering
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - January 8, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement said on Sunday it would have to re-evaluate its reconciliation pact with the Islamist Hamas group following the rejection of a Fatah visit to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip last week. In a statement, Fatah's Central Committee said Hamas's behaviour showed it was not interested in the implementation of the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo last year, which included the formation of a unity government and the holding of a parliamentary election on May 4.

Palestinians' Hamas, Fatah hurl recriminations weeks after shaking hands
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Saud Abu Ramadan - January 8, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party and its rival Islamic movement Hamas recriminated each other on Saturday over Hamas' bar against a Fatah delegation from entering the Gaza Strip. Fatah Party said in an email to reporters that the security forces of Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave, prevented a high- ranking Fatah delegation from entering Gaza on Friday, adding that Hamas behaved like gangs and don't want the reconciliation deal to work.

Palestinian Sesame Street ails without US funds
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Daniella Cheslow - January 7, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — It's quiet time on Palestinian Sesame Street. The iconic children's program, known as "Sharaa Simsim" in Arabic, has been put on hold for the 2012 season because of a funding freeze by the U.S. Congress. Sharaa Simsim is one of many U.S.-funded Palestinian programs suffering after Congress froze the transfer of nearly $200 million to the U.S. Agency for International Development in October. The suspension aimed to punish the Palestinians for appealing to the United Nations for statehood.

Big Hack Attack on Israel Inevitable, Say Experts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by David Rosenberg - January 8, 2012 - 1:00am

The hacker attack that exposed the credit card numbers and other personal information of thousands of Israelis last week shows every sign of being an unsophisticated break-in that exploited the weaknesses of a poorly secured website. But experts warn that for Israel, like other highly networked economies, the worst is yet to come.

Palestinian peace hopes low as talks resume
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - January 9, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM // Expectations of progress in the peace process could not be lower as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators prepare to meet in the Jordanian capital today. It will be their second meeting in a week but these are rare encounters since direct negotiations collapsed more than a year ago, when Israel refused to stop building Jewish settlements. Still, the Palestinians' ageing leadership has continued with a two decades-old strategy of trying to end their conflict with Israel through negotiations.

Palestinians carrying bombs held in West Bank: Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
January 8, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Four Palestinian men were detained on Sunday after Israeli troops at a West Bank checkpoint discovered 12 pipe bombs, a knife and a gun in their possession, an Israeli police spokesman said. "Four Palestinians were arrested at the Salem checkpoint. They had a commando knife, a pistol and 12 explosives. They were arrested and taken for questioning and the investigation is continuing," spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. Salem checkpoint is near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

How to break a Middle East stalemate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Dennis Ross - (Opinion) January 6, 2012 - 1:00am

Dan Meridor, one of Israel’s four deputy prime ministers, said to me years ago that “the peace process is like riding a bicycle: When you stop pedaling, you fall off.” And currently, the Israelis and Palestinians have stopped pedaling. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is convinced that this Israeli government cannot make a peace deal — or at least one he can live with — so he imposes conditions on negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees these conditions as harsh and unprecedented, and doesn’t want to pay a steep political price just to enter talks.

Obama's real Israel problem -- and it isn't Bibi
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Phyllis Bennis - (Opinion) January 9, 2012 - 1:00am

Aaron David Miller is right: President Obama does have an Israel problem. But Miller is wrong about the roots of the problem. The problem isn't Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or his Likud Party, or even Israel's current extreme right-wing government. Israel's fundamental policy toward the Palestinians is the problem, and that policy has hardly changed, despite the seemingly diverse sequence of left, right and center parties that have been in power.

Give Israel's secular liberals their own state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Opinion) January 9, 2012 - 1:00am

The two-state solution is history, and I was both sad and happy to see that A.B. Yehoshua has come to the same conclusion. Now we need to think ahead: How will the piece of land west of the Jordan River become a place that enables its population to live decent lives?

Reality Check: All signs point to early elections
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Jeff Barak - (Opinion) January 8, 2012 - 1:00am

Despite his proud boast that the current government is the most stable in Israel’s history, there’s no avoiding the impression that Prime Minister Netanyahu is starting to gear up for early elections. The first hint came with his surprise decision to move up the date for the Likud leadership elections to the end of this month. With general elections not scheduled until October 2013, why the hurry for new leadership elections, which traditionally are held during the six months or so before polling day?

How will it all end?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Susan Hattis Rolef - (Opinion) January 8, 2012 - 1:00am

In recent months the press has been flooded with articles by left-wing writers, including former Knesset Speaker Avrum Burg and author A.B. Yehoshua, who have argued that long-=standing Israeli settlement policy in the Territories has rendered a two-state solution irrelevant. The only remaining option, they say, is a single state west of the Jordan River.

Arab spring uprisings reveal rift in Hamas over conflict tactics
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - (Opinion) January 6, 2012 - 1:00am

Tensions are mounting between the Hamas leadership based in Gaza and its exiled chief over the organisation's future strategy in the wake of the popular – and largely non-violent – Arab spring revolutions and the success of Islamist parties in elections. Khaled Meshaal, the Islamist party's leader in Damascus, has indicated in recent weeks that Hamas is making a strategic turn away from armed struggle to popular non-violent resistance.

How Hamas steals a war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) January 8, 2012 - 1:00am

There seems to be no limit to the villainy of the Palestinian resistance movement. This week, they did something quite unforgivable. They stole a war. For some weeks now, our almost new Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has been announcing at every possible opportunity that a new war against the Gaza Strip is inevitable. Several commanders of the troops around the Strip have been repeating this dire forecast, as have their camp-followers, a.k.a. military commentators.

Why They Aren't at the 'Damn Table'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) January 9, 2012 - 1:00am

The past 18 years of failed attempts to guide Israelis and Palestinians to a two-state solution have produced memorable clichés and even curses on the part of frustrated third-party officials. One of my favorites is, “The outlines of an agreement are known to all,” which I usually attribute to Tony Blair, though there are other contenders. Another is, “Sign, you dog,” — Hosni Mubarak, through clenched teeth, trying to get Yasser Arafat to sign the second Oslo agreement. And there is Yitzhak Rabin’s “There are no sacred deadlines.”

If the extremists get their way
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Shaul Arieli - (Opinion) January 9, 2012 - 1:00am

One recent high-profile solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the establishment of a binational state instead of two states. Its logic is comparable to an effort to put two people who couldn't agree on the placement of their two separate beds into one bed. The idea has been put forth by people who see no hope for peace. It has also been advocated by proponents of a "state of all its citizens," but particularly by those who subscribe to the concept that they must "possess the land which the Lord your God giveth you."

Springtime for Hamas?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Chicago Tribune
(Analysis) January 8, 2012 - 1:00am

Three items for the "Potentially Important if True" file: • A few weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that Hamas leaders are quietly fleeing their home base of Syria for the more moderate climes of Qatar and Egypt. Why? Syrian leaders and their terror-supporting allies in Iran funnel money and weapons to Hamas. But the slaughter of thousands of protesters by Syrian President Bashar Assad's military thugs — and pressure on Hamas from Egypt, Turkey and Qatar to leave his rogue state — finally persuaded Hamas to bolt Damascus, the paper reported.

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