Middle East News: World Press Roundup

News: A top US general is visiting Israel to discuss Iran. Israeli forces arrest another Hamas-affiliated Palestinian MP in the West Bank, and the organization calls for an end to negotiations and security cooperation in response. The PLO says it's under “huge pressure” to extend negotiating deadlines. Hamas promises to investigate stabbing attack against a human rights activist in Gaza after he wrote an article critical of their policies. Fatah appears ill-prepared for any upcoming election. Thailand formally recognizes Palestine. Palestinian students say they were arrested by Israeli authorities for urging a boycott of a speech by Pres. Peres. 10 members of “an Islamic jihad cell” are arrested in the West Bank. Recent attacks on Shiites in Gaza by Hamas may be a symptom of its political shifts. Palestinian officials say they may renew their UN campaign or turn to intensified nonviolent protests because diplomacy with Israel appears fruitless. COMMENTARY: Khaled Diab looks at the increasing number of cyber attacks between Israel and Arabs. Jordan Michael Smith says the American conversation on Israel is changing, though that has yet to reach the political highest levels. Bruce Riedel says a nuclear Iran is not an existential threat to Israel. J.J. Goldberg says Israeli hardliners are looking at old documents to justify claims to occupied territory. Trita Parsi looks at the complex US-Israel-Iran triangle. Naava Mashiah says Arab Jews should insist on maintaining their identity. The Economist says Palestinians and Israelis have begun talking again, but can't agree about what. Ali Younes looks at GOP candidate Rick Santorum's views on Israel and the Palestinians. Joe Klein says attempts to cast critics of Israeli policies as "anti-Semites" are a symptom of paranoia.

U.S. General Visits Israel for Discussions on Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - January 19, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Israel on Thursday for a 24-hour visit with the country’s top leaders that is expected to focus on Iran’s nuclear program as well as the challenges posed by the past year’s regional upheavals and the American military exit from Iraq.

Israeli Forces Detain Another MP in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained a Palestinian parliamentarian in Bethlehem early Friday, hours after seizing the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council Aziz Dweik at a checkpoint near Ramallah. Soldiers raided the home of Khaled Ibrahim Tafesh, 50, a member of the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform Bloc, and detained him after confiscating his computer and mobile phone. On Thursday, Israeli soldiers seized Palestinian Legislative Council head Aziz Dweik at a military checkpoint, witnesses said.

Hamas Calls For End to Peace Feelers After Arrests
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

* Hamas leader forecasts "black days" for Israel * Hamas says exploratory peace talks must stop * Calls for end to security cooperation with Israel (Adds Haniyeh quotes) GAZA, Jan 20 (Reuters) - The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas urged President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday to suspend exploratory peace talks with Israel following Israel's arrest of two Hamas legislators, and to stop his cooperation on West Bank security with the Israelis.

PLO Under ‘Huge Pressure’ to Extend Negotiations Deadline
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The PLO is under intense international pressure to extend a Jan. 26 deadline set by the Quartet for the exchange of proposals by Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators, a PLO executive committee member said Thursday. In October, the Quartet of international peace mediators -- the US, Russia, the EU and the UN -- set the Jan. 26 deadline for both sides to state their positions on the borders and security arrangements of a future two-state solution.

Hamas to Investigate Attack on Human Rights Activist
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza government on Thursday vowed to find the perpetrators of an attack on a human rights activist who was stabbed in Gaza City. Mahmoud Abu Rahma was attacked by masked men and stabbed multiple times while walking back from his brother's house on Friday night, he told Ma'an.

Palestinian Fatah Looks Ill-Prepared For Election
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

HEBRON, West Bank — Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian national movement whose survival is key to hopes for a peace deal with Israel, appears ill-prepared for a promised electoral showdown with the Islamic militant Hamas.

Thailand Officially Recognizes Palestinian Statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

Thailand says it has recognized Palestine as an independent state. Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Friday that Thailand has informed the Palestinian delegation and all member states at the United Nations in New York that it “has given recognition to the state of Palestine.” The move comes as Palestine pushes for full membership at the UN, a bid Washington opposes because it says a political settlement with Israel must be reached first. Thailand has friendly ties with Israel and is a major tourist destination for Israeli travelers.

Arab Students Arrested Over Call to Avoid Peres Lecture
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Hassan Shaalan - January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

Three Arab students from the Jerusalem College of Engineering (JCE) claimed Thursday that they were arrested after urging other JCE student to boycott a recent lecture by President Shimon Peres. The police said that the three were threatening other students and inciting racism, stressing that the students were detained only after a complaint was filed in the matter. The three were interrogated by officers of the Jerusalem District Police and were later remanded to one week's house arrest.

Islamic Jihad Cell Arrested in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
January 19, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Ten members of an Islamic Jihad terror cell were arrested near Jenin in the West Bank. The cell was planning attacks against Israeli soldiers and the abductions of Israelis, according to reports Thursday after the Shin Bet security services lifted a gag order on the case. It also had been in contact with Islamic Jihad in Gaza and accepted significant amounts of money from Islamic Jihad in Syria to buy weapons.

Hamas Attack on Gaza Shiites May Indicate its Political Shift
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

BEIT LAHIA // When they later recalled the siege by Hamas security forces, it was not its ferocity that astonished the residents of Beit Lahiya. It was the target - Shiite Muslims gathered in the building to commemorate the death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Mohammed's grandson. Up to 100 policemen and masked men in civilian clothes stormed an apartment building in the Gaza enclave late on Saturday. Minutes later, they emerged dragging 15 men, whom they then beat with truncheons and denounced as infidels. Neighbourhood residents drawn to the commotion said they were shocked.

Palestinians to Renew Efforts for Bid to U.N.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Times
by Ben Birnbaum - January 19, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian officials say that they will resume their effort to gain U.N. membership, and that they could launch a nonviolent third intifada because they see no chance of reaching a peace deal with the current Israeli government. The Palestinians had put their U.N. bid on hold to participate in informal Jordanian-sponsored talks with Israel that began at the beginning of the year in Amman.

Hacking away at Arab and Israeli stereotypes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Khaled Diab - (Opinion) January 19, 2012 - 1:00am

Earlier this week, a hacker or group of hackers who claim to be Saudi scaled up their cyber offensive against Israel by paralysing the websites of El Al airline and the Tel Aviv stock exchange. This was the latest in a series of attacks over the past fortnight, which has also seen the credit card details of thousands of Israeli citizens leaked online.

The media consensus on Israel is collapsing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Jordan Michael Smith - (Opinion) January 19, 2012 - 1:00am

With Hamas and Fatah meeting in Cairo, reconciliation between the rival Palestinian political parties is likely only a matter of time. Official US policy holds that Hamas is only a terrorist entity, and any agreement between the two factions jeopardizes continued US aid. There is reason to believe, however, that more flexible, productive positions will be expressed in the US media. Slowly but unmistakably, space is opening up among the commentariat for new, critical ideas about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

Iran is not an existential threat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Bruce Riedel - (Opinion) January 19, 2012 - 1:00am

The danger of war is growing again over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iran is rattling its sabers, the Republican presidential candidates and others are rattling theirs. But even if Iran gets the bomb, Israel will have overwhelming military superiority over Iran, a fact that should not be lost in all the heated rhetoric.

Falling in Love With Dusty Treaties
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - (Analysis) January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

One of the more surprising twists in recent Middle East punditry is a sudden surge of interest among pro-Israel hard-liners in the fine points of international law. The topic isn’t usually popular with hawks; they tend to see it as an infringement on national sovereignty, employed mainly as a club for bludgeoning Israel. Seeing it raised in Israel’s defense is a novelty. It could be a good sign, if it gets Israel’s defenders and critics talking the same language for a change. But maybe I’m being too optimistic.

Obama vs. Netanyahu vs. Ahmadinejad
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from CNN
by Trita Parsi - (Opinion) January 19, 2012 - 1:00am

U.S.-Israeli relations are in a crisis over Iran. It has been in the making for quite some time – arguably since the early 1990s – and edging closer to climax by the minute. The personal chemistry between the leaders is abysmal – Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy recently discussed how they can’t stand Benjamin Netanyahu – and disagreements abound on the Arab uprisings, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on how to deal with Iran.

Are Arab Jews extinct?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily News Egypt
by Naava Mashiah - (Opinion) January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

GENEVA: The growing rift between Israel and the Arab world makes it hard to imagine that Jews and Arabs once coexisted across the Middle East. At one point these identities could be found not only in the same neighborhood, but even in the same person.

Toddling to talks about talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Economist
(Analysis) January 21, 2012 - 1:00am

NO ONE disagreed with the cautious assessment of King Abdullah of Jordan that “little baby steps” had been taken when Israelis and Palestinians met several times in Amman, the king’s capital, in early January to see if there were grounds to resume full-scale peace talks that might one day lead to the peaceful coexistence of two states. Even this tentative diplomatic toe-dipping was fraught. Big grown-up strides still seem a long way off.

Rick Santorum’s Views on the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Arabiya
by Ali Younes - (Opinion) January 19, 2012 - 1:00am

In a town hall meeting during a recent campaign stop in Greenville, South Carolina, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said to me, in response to my questions, that he supports attacking Iran with missiles, rockets and other weapons in order to stop it from developing nuclear weapons. On the issue of the Palestinian–Israeli conflict he added that the issue is an internal Israeli matter and that Israel can do whatever it wants and no one should interfere in its internal affairs.

Likudnik Paranoia
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Time Magazine
by Joe Klein - (Opinion) January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

Uh-oh, there’s another wave of attacks–both here and in Israel–on those of us who support Israel, but not in the mindless, aggressive way that neoconservatives do and not at the expense of America’s national interests. Over there, Bibi Netanyahu has proclaimed the New York Times and Haaretz the “biggest” enemies of Israel.

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