Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Palestinian officials say they are sticking to the original negotiating deadlines in spite of US requests for an extension. Pres. Abbas says Israel is offering “nothing new” in the latest negotiations. The parties will meet again on Saturday. Pres. Obama and PM Netanyahu discuss the talks in a phone call. Abbas is going on a European tour next week. Israeli forces injure two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The head of the Palestinian Elections Commission says elections in May are now “impossible” to organize. Israeli-Palestinian couples are facing increasing difficulties. Palestinian women form what may be the Middle East's first all-female car racing team. Hamas says it wants to base its officials in many Arab states, including Jordan. Critics say Israel's plans for several parks in occupied East Jerusalem are designed to deny construction in Palestinian neighborhoods. COMMENTARY: Jane Eisner interviews PM Fayyad and says he is still determined to build a state. Ha'aretz says Israel's Supreme Court is headed down the path of apartheid. Salman Masalha says Israelis and Palestinians alike must set aside fantasies about “justice” on their own terms and face the stark realities. The Jerusalem Post says Israel is right to exclude Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens and expel African migrants. Jordana Horn looks at a new film about Israeli identity. Patrick Seale says Israel's hardliners see a chance to consolidate a "greater Israel." Nirit Anderman looks at a new Israeli film about the occupation. Lara Friedman says already built-up Israeli settlements are a very small part of West Bank territory but about half of the entire territory is under settler control.

Palestinians Insist on Israel Talks Deadline
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Tia Goldenberg - January 12, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Palestinian negotiators are sticking to an end of January deadline in talks with Israel despite U.S. calls for flexibility, a Palestinian official said Friday. The Palestinians say they want to hold Israel to a schedule that might pressure it to come forward with proposals, but the tight time frame could prevent the nascent talks from getting off the ground. Palestinian and Israeli negotiators met last week for the first time in more than a year, kicking off low-level contacts aimed at reviving formal peace negotiations.

West Bank: ‘Nothing New’ Offered by Israelis in Talks, Abbas Says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 12, 2012 - 1:00am

Israel has made no new proposals in meetings with Palestinians about the possibility of resuming formal peace talks, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said Thursday. The sides have met twice in Jordan, and plan two more meetings. Mr. Abbas has said he will not resume negotiations unless Israel freezes settlement construction in the West Bank, a demand Israel rejects. He said Thursday that the low-level exploratory talks had not broken that impasse. “There is nothing new in the dialogue that is going on in Amman,” he said, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Israel, Palestinians to Hold Further Talks Saturday
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
January 13, 2012 - 1:00am

* Will be third round of exploratory face-to-face talks * Negotiations frozen 15 months ago over Jewish settlements JERUSALEM, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Israelis and Palestinians will hold their third round of face-to-face meetings this year on Saturday in what diplomats hope might lead to the resumption of full peace talks, sources on each side said on Friday. The exploratory discussions began on Jan. 3 and followed a long break in negotiations after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended talks 15 months ago over Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Obama, Netayahu Talk After Peace Contacts Resume
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
January 12, 2012 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed recent Israeli-Palestinian talks on Thursday as U.S. officials signaled that a January 26 target date for the two sides to exchange proposals could slide. Obama and Netanyahu, who have at times appeared out of sync on Middle East peace efforts, spoke after two rounds of diplomatic contacts between Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jordan's capital in recent weeks.

Abbas on Diplomacy Tour of Europe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 13, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas will travel to Britain, Germany and Russia next week, presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said on Thursday. Abbas will meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during the tour, Rdainah told official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa. Rdainah emphasized that the three countries are members of the UN Security Council, indicating that diplomacy around the stalled bid for UN membership may be ongoing.

Medics: Israeli Fire Injures 2 in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 13, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces fired on the central Gaza Strip early Friday injuring two people, medics said. Medical services spokesman in Gaza Adham Abu Salmiya told Ma'an that two people were moderately injured after forces shelled east of al-Bureij refugee camp shortly after midnight. The injured were transferred to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, he said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said forces opened fire after they "saw a number of suspects approach the security fence and tamper with the ground suspiciously."

Interview: Holding Palestinian Elections on May “Impossible”: Official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 12, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Holding the Palestinian presidential and legislative elections on May, as it was agreed upon in the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation pact signed in Cairo last year, "is practically impossible," the executive director of the Palestinian Central Elections said Thursday. There is a bunch of obstacles that made the agreed principle to hold the general elections in the Palestinian territories on May 2012 "practically impossible," Hisham Keheil said in an interview with Xinhua.

A Glimpse into the Life of an Israeli-Palestinian Couple
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - January 13, 2012 - 1:00am

The occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 united, for the first time since 1948, the Palestinian community that remained within Israel. Families that were divided with the founding of the state came together, friends saw each other after 19 years, refugees in the West Bank and Gaza hastened to revisit their birthplaces (now destroyed, or resettled by Jews). Palestinians from both sides of the Green Line met at work, school and places of entertainment. This reunification naturally resulted in a number of marriages.

Racing in Ramallah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Julia Niemann - January 13, 2012 - 1:00am

"Be careful, you're a female driver," says the Israeli soldier at the checkpoint. His warning smacks of irony, considering the fact that the car is headed to Ramallah to meet Noor Daoud, one of the most successful female racers in the Palestinian territories.

‘Hamas Can Have Officials in all Arab Capitals’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
January 12, 2012 - 1:00am

Hamas has the right to have political representatives in all Arab capitals, Hamas-affiliated news outlet Al Resalah reported a senior Hamas official as saying, after Jordanian Prime Minister Awn Al-Khasawneh said Jordan is planning to allow Hamas leaders to reside in his country but not practice politics. "One cannot prevent the Hamas leadership from practicing politics because its aim is to protect the rights of the Palestinian people," Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said.

East Jerusalem Parks Plan ‘Fences in Palestinians’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - January 12, 2012 - 1:00am

It is littered with rubbish thrown there by the residents of the two Palestinian neighbourhoods that bookend the 75-hectare slope, and it is besieged by the din of cars and lorries rumbling down the nearby road that connects central Jerusalem with the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim.

Fayyad Still Trying to Create State
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Jane Eisner - (Opinion) January 13, 2012 - 1:00am

I was last in Ramallah a year and a half ago, and the change since then is striking. The headquarters of the once-feared Palestine Liberation Organization had been on the second floor of a nondescript office building above a furniture store; now it is in a gleaming office tower adjacent to the sprawling compound of the Palestinian Authority’s president. I’m not sure there is reason to fear the PLO anymore, but the organization certainly has a better address.

Supreme Court Thrusts Israel Down the Slope of Apartheid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) January 13, 2012 - 1:00am

The High Court of Justice's ruling Wednesday on the legality of the Citizenship Law proves the erosion of this institution's role as Israel's guardian of civil rights. Let's look at how the justices voted at the moment of truth on the law, which bans Palestinians from living in Israel with spouses who are Israeli citizens.

Israel, Palestinians Must Let Go of Justice and Join Reality
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Salman Masalha - (Opinion) January 13, 2012 - 1:00am

The poet Taha Muhammad Ali, who recently passed away, revealed to us in one of his poems that it took him 60 years to realize that "water is the best of drinks / And bread is the tastiest of foods." Someone who takes so much time to understand reality can be tolerated. He's allowed to be backward and learn slowly; he'll write poems about that. But it's different when we're talking about the backwardness of a nation, and how much more so, its elected leadership.

Protecting Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
(Editorial) January 12, 2012 - 1:00am

Critics were quick to attack the High Court of Justice’s decision Wednesday to uphold the Citizenship and Entry Law, which severely restricts the right of Palestinians married to Israelis to receive Israeli citizenship. Before rushing to accuse our highest court of discrimination, racism or worse, it would be instructive to recall how the Citizenship and Entry Law came about in the first place.

Two Israelis’ Identity Struggles
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Jordana Horn - (Film Review) January 12, 2012 - 1:00am

The word “Israel” has been interpreted to mean “a struggle with God,” but 60 years of Israel as a Jewish nation has shown a country in perpetual struggle. As well as wars with its neighbors, Israel has grappled with its history and identity, and the implications of each for the other. Though not explicitly addressed, these issues are deeply felt by the subjects of two quite different biographical documentaries offered by the New York Jewish Film Festival: the leader of the legendary 1976 raid on Entebbe, and an Ethiopian Jewish immigrant on a personal odyssey.

Hardliners See Opportunity to Create a ‘Greater Israel’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Patrick Seale - (Opinion) January 13, 2012 - 1:00am

This past year has dealt a heavy blow — perhaps even a terminal one — to the project, long supported by the international community, of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of two states. When the United States itself proved unable to halt Israel’s relentless land grab, it seemed that nothing and nobody could rein in Israel’s iron-willed ambition to expand its borders towards a ‘Greater Israel.’

A Sad Basis in Fact
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nirit Anderman - (Film Review) January 13, 2012 - 1:00am

One by one, the actors face the camera. Each is filmed in a different place, against a different landscape. The landscapes are simultaneously threatening and stunning. Though each actor tells a different story, each delivers it looking directly at the camera - directly at the viewer. And each recounts, in a precise and matter-of-fact way, a difficult incident experienced by the character he or she is portraying. Shlomi Elkabetz - David Adika - January 2012

Settlements Not an Obstacle to Peace? Get Serious
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Lara Friedman - (Opinion) January 11, 2012 - 1:00am

Today, Peace Now released a new report entitled "Torpedoing the Two State Solution -- The Strategy of the Netanyahu Government," detailing a number of trends in settlement expansion that directly, and it seems, deliberately, undermine the viability of the two-state solution.

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