Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Unknown hackers attack key Israeli corporate websites. FM Lieberman faces a pre-indictment hearing on corruption charges. A human rights advocate in Gaza is stabbed by unknown assailants. PM Netanyahu may present proposals on borders and security at a meeting with Pres. Abbas in March. Israel reportedly strips Abbas of his VIP status and issues him a two-month travel permit. Shiites in Gaza say they're being persecuted by Hamas. UNRWA launches a $300 million appeal. Reports suggest Khaled Meshal may step down as Hamas leader soon. A French Parliament report accuses Israel of “water apartheid.” The UK Deputy PM calls Israeli settlement activity “vandalism.” The PA financial crisis is starting to significantly damage West Bank businesses. COMMENTARY: ATFP Pres. Ziad Asali says Arabs deserve a party of the citizen. Roger Cohen says Israel would be making a big mistake to attack Iran. Barak Ravid says Israel is downplaying its negative campaign against the Palestinians for the meanwhile. Yitzhak Laor says Arabs never been equal before the law in Israel. Gerson Baskin says PM Fayyad is committed to building a Palestinian state. Catrina Stewart wonders if corruption charges might stop the rise of Lieberman. Sid Schwarz says Jews should care about the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel. The Forward says events from last September may still prove game changers in the Israeli-Palestinian equation. The National says Palestinians urgently need Arab financial help. Stuart Reigeluth and Dimitris Bouris say Gaza is still occupied by Israel.

2 Israeli Web Sites Crippled as Cyberwar Escalates
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - January 16, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Israel faced an escalating cyberwar on Monday as unknown attackers disrupted access to the symbolically strategic Web sites of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and El Al, the national airline. A hacker identifying himself as oxOmar, already notorious for posting the details of more than 20,000 Israeli credit cards, sent an overnight warning to Israel’s Ynet news outlet that a group of pro-Palestinian cyberattackers called Nightmare planned to bring down the sites in the morning.

Israeli foreign minister Lieberman to face pre-indictment hearing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Batsheva Sobelman - January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- Israel's top justice authorities began a two-day hearing Monday for one of the government's top officials, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The proceedings move a years-long legal case closer to the end and signal what could also be the end of the current chapter in Lieberman's political career.

Netanyahu to unveil political plan in March?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Attila Somfalvi - January 15, 2012 - 1:00am

Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to hold a fourth meeting, scheduled to be held on January 25, a day before the Quartet's deadline. On Saturday, Israeli envoy Attorney Yitzhak Molcho and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat met for the third time in Amman. State officials said prior to the meeting that Israel wants to arrange a summit meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and hold an ongoing dialogue until March. It is expected that Netanyahu will present his plan on borders and security at this time.

Palestinian leader loses VIP status with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israel has stripped Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of VIP status and given him a watered-down travel permit that is valid for just two months, Palestinian officials charged Sunday. The officials said that Abbas complained about the permit at an internal meeting of his Fatah Party last week.

Human rights advocate stabbed in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A human rights advocate was stabbed by unknown assailants in Gaza City after receiving threats over his authorship of an article critical of Palestinian resistance movements. Mahmoud Abu Rahma, international relations director at Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, was attacked by masked men and stabbed multiple times while walking back from his brother's house on Friday night, he told Ma'an on Tuesday. He received 12 stitches in a Gaza hospital and is recovering from his wounds.

Gaza Shiites claim Hamas persecution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak - January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Masked Hamas police beat and detained members of the Gaza Strip's tiny Shiite community during a religious commemoration last week, a follower and local rights groups said Tuesday, accusing their Islamist rulers of religious intolerance. It was the first claim of harassment by a group of Shiite worshippers against the territory's mainstream rulers, who are Sunni Muslims. Hamas officials, who have close ties with Shiite Iran, denied the allegations.

UNRWA launches 300 million appeal for Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) launched Tuesday an emergency appeal for Gaza and the West Bank worth over 300 million U.S. dollars. The appeal came on the third anniversary of Israel's three-week military offensive in the Gaza Strip and as the Jewish state kept economic restrictions on the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.

French parliament report accuses Israel of water 'apartheid' in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

The French parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee published an unprecedented report two weeks ago accusing Israel of implementing "apartheid" policies in its allocation of water resources in the West Bank. The Israeli Embassy in Paris had no foreknowledge of the report and thus did not refute it or work to moderate it. Foreign Ministry officials called the incident "a serious diplomatic mishap." The report said that water has become "a weapon serving the new apartheid" and gave examples and statistics that ostensibly back this claim.

UK deputy prime minister accuses Israel of 'vandalism'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by David Sapsted - January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

LONDON // Israel's insistence on continued settlement building in Jerusalem and the West Bank amounted to "an act of deliberate vandalism", Britain's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said yesterday. In a stinging attack on Israel, Mr Clegg said that its policies were doing "immense damage" to hopes of reaching a Middle East peace settlement. Mr Clegg made his remarks after meeting with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who embarked on a new diplomatic offensive in Europe yesterday aimed at putting pressure on Israel to halt settlement building.

Palestinian Authority's cash crisis bites deep
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - January 16, 2012 - 1:00am

TEL AVIV // In the wake of the biggest financial crisis faced by the Palestinian Authority, Ibrahim Barham has grown worried about the future of his computer wholesale business. After all, the companies to which Mr Barham's firm, Safad, distributes products such as laptops and desktop computers have not been paid in months by a major client - the West Bank-based government.

Arabs deserve a party of the citizen
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Ziad Asali - (Opinion) January 16, 2012 - 1:00am

As the Arab uprisings enter their second year, a new political movement based on the concept and values of citizenship is needed. A lacuna now exists on the Arab political scene. The Arab uprisings shattered the old order but have yet to coalesce into a clear model for the future. A movement of citizens, expressed in organized political parties with clearly articulated programs, would tap into the patriotic and ecumenical grassroots protest movements and ensure that a historic opportunity for progress is not squandered.

Don't do it, Bibi
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Roger Cohen - (Opinion) January 16, 2012 - 1:00am

PARIS — A U.S. ambassador in Europe was recently asked by an Israeli ambassador what could be done to improve the lousy relations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama. He replied: “Every once in a while, say thank you.” The American ambassador added a couple of other thoughts. “Maybe, once in a while, ask the president if there’s anything you can do for him. And above all stay out of our election-year politics.”

Israel's negative campaign against Palestinians is on the backburner, for now
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - (Opinion) January 16, 2012 - 1:00am

The Prime Minister’s Office, as well as senior officials in the Palestinian Authority have been reporting, rather laconically, on the positive atmosphere and the in-depth and serious discussions taking place in Jordan, despite the hidden bitterness and anger on the side of the Israelis. When the talks started, both sides committed to Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh that they would avoid leaking information, and make sure that the contents of the talks would remain within his office's hands.

Israeli Arabs have never been equal before the law
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yitzhak Laor - (Opinion) January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

Last week's decision by the High Court of Justice to uphold the amendment to the Citizenship Law that keeps Palestinians apart from their Israeli spouses has closed a chapter in the life of Israeli democracy. The Supreme Court no longer wants to protect Israel's Arab citizens.

Encountering Peace: Fayyad's dream
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) January 16, 2012 - 1:00am

The victims of Israeli-Palestinian violence over the past 10 years were the victims of the absence of peace. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was interviewed in the UK-based Jewish Chronicle this week (“PA shares Israel’s nuclear Iran fears” by Stephen Pollard, January 12, 2012). “We are greatly harmed by [Iranian] President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad projecting himself as a spokesman for the Palestinians,” said Fayyad. “He seeks the destruction of Israel. We do not. We are deeply troubled by Iran’s interventions and we suffer from them.”

Could corruption trial stop the rise of the black sheep of Israeli politics?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Catrina Stewart - January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

Described once by an American magazine editor as a "neo-fascist" and a "certified gangster", Israel's firebrand Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is no stranger to controversy. It has not stopped him from building up a devoted following that has propelled his party to the forefront of Israeli politics. But as a more than decade-long corruption probe nears its conclusion, even this canny political survivor may find that this is one controversy he cannot so easily dodge.

Op-Ed: Why Jews should care about the rights of Israeli Arabs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Sidney Schwarz - (Opinion) January 13, 2012 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- About a year and half ago, I participated in a fact-finding mission to Israel sponsored by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arabs (IATF). Established in 2006 as a consortium of some of the major organizations in American Jewish life -- including the Joint Distribution Committee, the Conference of Presidents, Jewish Federations of North America, the ADL and the American Jewish Committee -- the IATF is committed to raising awareness of the circumstances of the 20 percent of Israel’s citizens who are Arab.

The Quieter Upheavals
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
(Editorial) January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

The narrative of last September from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide is strikingly similar. The high point in Israel came September 3, when nearly half a million people took to the streets in peaceful protest against an economic system that they argued betrayed the Zionist dream. A few weeks later, the Palestinian Authority president delivered his historic request for statehood to the United Nations.

Palestinians need Arab help urgently
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

The economic situation of the Palestinian Authority has grown so serious that it is affecting the basic needs of Palestinians. Help from the more prosperous Arab countries seems the most likely way to avert serious damage to the social structure of the already-stressed Occupied Territories. The PA raises little of its own revenue, and now Israel and foreign donors are strangling it, mainly through suspension of the remittance of US$100 million (Dh367mn) in taxes that Israel collects on behalf of the PA.

Israel Still Occupies and Isolates Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Dimitris Bouris, Stuart Reigeluth - (Opinion) January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

A kidnapped soldier has been returned for over a 1,000 Palestinians but Tel Aviv continues to fall back on the fact that Hamas is still in power. Three years ago, Israel was carrying out Operation Cast Lead that took the lives of over 1.500 Palestinians in Gaza. The official reason for the Israeli invasion was to recover a soldier; the intended purpose was to remove Hamas; the result was wanton destruction that "this time we went too far", according to Israeli columnist Gideon Levy.

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