Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israeli forces kill two Palestinians in Gaza. Hamas leaders are evacuating their families from Syria. A gaming exercise suggests Israel could live with a nuclear Iran. Shiite worshipers say they were violently attacked by Hamas forces in Gaza over the weekend. DM Barak says Israel is preparing for “a period of uncertainty” in the occupied West Bank. MK Tibi is suspended from the Knesset for a week for reciting a risqué limerick about another MK who was suspended for a month for throwing water on a third MK. Hamas bans a TV singing contest as “indecent.” Pres. Obama thanks Jordan for facilitating peace talks. Hamas officials call reports that Khaled Meshaal will be giving up his leadership position “pure speculation.” The pro-Israel lobby is increasingly reaching out to African American students. COMMENTARY: Zvi Bar'el says political change in the Arab world is an opportunity Israel seems set to squander. Both The Independent and Carlo Strenger say Europe needs to make its objections to Israel's policies more clear. Amira Hass says Israel's mistreatment of Palestinian leaders like Pres. Abbas undermines public support for negotiations. Ray Hanania says the Assad regime is no friend to the Palestinians. Mark LeVine says it would be “national suicide” for Israel not to protect the rights of all people under its rule. Yossi Alpher says Israel has both a stake in, and legitimate concerns about, Palestinian reconciliation. Shlomo Brom says Israel should take a more positive attitude towards Palestinian reconciliation. Ghassan Khatib says Palestinians don't understand what bothers Israel about reconciliation under present conditions. Nathan Brown says Hamas is not "mellowing" its policies yet.

Israeli Strike Kills 2 in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak - January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli forces on Wednesday attacked a group of suspected Palestinian militants believed to have been planting a bomb along Gaza's border with the Jewish state, the Israeli military said. Palestinian officials said two people were killed and two wounded. Gaza's militant Hamas rulers said the victims were all civilians and said it held Israel responsible, raising the prospect of a new exchange of attacks across the volatile border.

Hamas Leaders Evacuating Families From Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak - January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hamas officials say senior members of their exiled leadership will evacuate their families from the group's headquarters in Syria. Hamas, a militant Islamist Palestinian group, rules the Gaza Strip. The officials, speaking from Damascus, said Tuesday that the evacuations are in response to the deteriorating security situation in Syria, where President Bashar Assad has been resisting a 10-month uprising.

Could Israel Live With A Nuclear Iran? A Gaming Exercise Suggests Yes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

Three months before the recent upsurge in tension with Tehran over its nuclear program, an Israeli think tank simulated fallout from what many here consider the unthinkable: an Iranian nuclear explosive test. The results of the simulation, published this week, are not the Middle East doomsday that some here have warned of. Rather than use the weapon to attack the Jewish state – as many Israeli leaders fear – the experts playing Iran leveraged the newly unveiled military power as a bargaining chip with the US and Europe. Those representing Israel played down the new threat.

Shia Group ‘Attacked by Police’ in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A group of Shiite worshipers say masked police violently raided a religious service in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, prompting furious denials by the Hamas-dominated government in the territory. Around 20 followers of the Shia branch of Islam were performing a ceremony for Ashura, the commemoration of the death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, when masked police stormed the private home in Beit Lahiya, they told Palestinian human rights groups.

Israeli Defense Minister Says West Bank Faces “Period of Uncertainty”
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday that though the West Bank has been stable in recent years, Israel's security establishment is gearing up for a "period of uncertainty" in the region. Speaking during a visit to the Israeli army's West Bank Division, Barak said that the military's most important mission is to protect the lives of Israeli settlers in the area.

Tibi’s Limerick on MK Michaeli’s ‘Plumbing’ Earns Him Suspension
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Moran Azulay - January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

The Knesset's Ethics Committee on Tuesday suspended Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi from the plenum and from participating in committee meetings for a period of one week over a limerick he read out during a plenum sitting called "Anasstasia's plumbing was damaged." Tibi wrote the limerick following the incident in which MK Anasstasia Michaeli threw a glass of water in MK Raleb Majadele's face. The suspension will come into force on Sunday.

‘Hamas Bans Reality TV Singing Competition in Gaza’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

A Gazan version of "X-Factor" is prohibited as Hamas says it "contradicts the customs and traditions of Gaza community." Hamas banned Gaza residents from taking part in a national reality X-Factor style show called New Star, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported Monday. Hamas's reason for prohibiting the television show - produced by Ma'an TV- was that the program was "indecent," Ma'an reported.

Obama Commends Abdullah For Promoting Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

US President Barack Obama expressed appreciation for Jordanian King Abdullah's efforts in encouraging "peace and prosperity" in the Middle East, after the two held talks on Tuesday. Noting Abdullah's role in decrying the Syrian government's violent crackdown on protesters, Obama said of the Jordanian leader, "I want to thank him for his willingness to stand up. As a consequence, Jordan has been part of an overall Arab League effort to encourage this sort of peaceful transition inside of Syria that is needed."

Hamas Leader Stepping Down in ‘Pure Speculation’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY // Khaled Meshaal has no plans to step down as the head of Hamas, a spokesman for the Islamist group said yesterday, denying reports the Damascus-based leader would resign. Fawzi Barhoum described as "pure speculation" a flurry of news articles in the Arabic media yesterday saying Mr Meshaal, 55, would relinquish his position soon. "For anything like this to be true, there would have to be a formal announcement by either the movement or Mr Meshaal himself," said Mr Barhoum, a spokesman in the Gaza Strip, which Hamas controls.

The Israel Lobby Finds a New Face: Black College Students
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Color Lines
by Seth Freed Wessler - January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

When Vincent Evans arrived as a bright-eyed first-year at Florida A&M, the country’s largest historically black university, he knew he wanted to get involved in politics. So when an older student leader approached him one afternoon after a student government meeting to ask if he wanted an all expenses paid trip to D.C., Evans jumped at the opportunity.

Israel suffers from political alzheimer's disease
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel - (Opinion) January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

The leader of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, dropped a bombshell this week when, asked in an interview if he was in favor of Arab nations intervening in Syria, he said, "For such a situation to stop the killing ... some troops should go to stop the killing." It was the first time an Arab leader has proposed sending soldiers to another Arab state to come to the aid of that country's citizens. And considering an Arab military alternative to a Western military operation would be a first for the Arab League.

Israel must understand that Europe is indeed relevant
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Opinion) January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

First Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s adage ‘what matters is not what the goyim say, but what the Jews do," may have been charming when Israel was a young state, but does not befit a mature country. Nevertheless, current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has made this adage into a whole worldview.

Leading Article: Mere words will not secure peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
(Editorial) January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

Nick Clegg's description this week of Israeli settlements as "deliberate vandalism" of the basic premise of peace negotiations drew a sharp response from Israel. Yet it was only exceptional in making public what every sentient minister across Europe knows to be true, but seldom dares to say. There is ample justification for his remarks in two recent internal EU reports covered in this newspaper.

The VIPs' hush money
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Opinion) January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

Two people signed the entry permit into Israel that Mahmoud Abbas received from Israel's Civil Administration on January 1 (and which will be in force until March 1 ): 1st Lt. Noy Mitzrafi, commander of the permits office, and Lt. Col. Wissam Hamed, a department head in the Israel Defense Forces' operations directorate. It is this limited permit that Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and PLO chairman, complained of receiving instead of his normal VIP permit during a closed meeting of his Fatah faction.

Yalla Peace: Falafel, fences and Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Ray Hanania - (Opinion) January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

A day never passes without an Arab complaining about Israel. Of course, a day never passes without an Israeli complaining about the Arabs, either. The complaints vary widely, covering everything from food to violence. A common complaint is that Israel “stole” the falafel. Well, Israel has stolen Palestinian land, but can you really steal a food? I recently read an Israeli official’s counter to this claim: has Israel also “stolen” Italian food? To be fair, Israelis don’t go around bragging about their “Israeli spaghetti” the way they promote “Israeli falafel.”

Israel's "national suicide"
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
by Mark Levine - (Opinion) January 16, 2012 - 1:00am

Irvine, California - Say what you will about Israel's High Court of Justice, it knows how to name a decision. In titling last Wednesday's legal decision, upholding the controversial Citizenship Law that prevents Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens from living in Israel "Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide", the court's majority well summed up the existential predicament Israel faces today - indeed, has always faced - as it attempts to be both Jewish and democratic.

Playing for time
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) January 16, 2012 - 1:00am

Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is currently managing two very different and in many ways contradictory negotiating tracks. Neither has produced any sort of substantive success thus far. If one does produce a breakthrough, the other will probably collapse. Meanwhile, the counterpoint between them is instructive.

Israel Needs a Positive Approach to Hamas-Fatah Reconciliation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Shlomo Brom - (Opinion) January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

The conventional wisdom in Israel holds that Hamas-Fateh reconciliation is detrimental to the peace process. The main argument is that Hamas is a spoiler of the negotiations process because it is a radical Islamic movement guided by a virulent anti-Israel ideology that preaches elimination of the state of Israel. Successful reconciliation would endow Hamas with veto power to block any attempt to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel Plays a Role
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Analysis) January 16, 2012 - 1:00am

There has always been a very strong correlation between internal Palestinian issues and Palestinian-Israeli relations. This is true because Israel is a key player in all aspects of Palestinian life. Israel's troops are on the ground in the West Bank, and occupy the Gaza Strip by air and sea. But Israel's occupation was never an issue of military or security control alone; it has interfered with Palestinian economic and political development for the four decades of its existence.

Is Hamas Mellowing?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
by Nathan J. Brown - (Analysis) January 17, 2012 - 1:00am

Over the past few weeks, as Palestinian reconciliation efforts have inched forward, some of Hamas’s leaders have provoked interest by apparently staking out new positions. They have not only agreed to enter the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), thus participating in a body that signed the Oslo Accords with Israel, a pact the group has long opposed, but also committed themselves to “popular resistance,” an alternative to the armed activity through which the group gained international notoriety.

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