Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Hamas confirms that its Politburo leader Khaled Mishaal will not seek reelection for the position. The move may reflect new challenges and opportunities facing the group. Pres. Abbas says he's willing to continue talks but calls negotiating documents submitted by Israel “worthless.” Israel condemns a sermon by a leading Palestinian cleric. Settlers reject a request from PM Netanyahu to voluntarily evacuate an "unauthorized" outpost. Jewish groups in the UK cancel a meeting with Abbas, apparently at Netanyahu's request. The Guardian profiles the plight of Palestinian children in Israel's jails. The construction industry is booming as Gaza rebuilds. The owner of an Atlanta Jewish newspaper apologizes for suggesting Israel might assassinate Pres. Obama. COMMENTARY: Oudeh Basharat says Palestinian citizens of Israel face undemocratic discrimination. Susan Hattis Rolef says the basic facts in the controversial French report on Israel's water policies seem accurate and fair. The National says shifts in Hamas policies and leadership place Palestinian reconciliation in doubt. Musa Keilani says Jordan is right to urge renewed emphasis on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Uri Avnery says Israel needs more large-scale protests. Mya Guarnieri says Israeli settlers are continuing to abuse vulnerable Palestinians. Jaimie Levin says Masada should be a grim reminder to Israelis about the importance of compromise. Yossi Alpher says everyone understands that Oslo has reached the end of the road, yet no one is doing anything about it. Ghassan Khatib says political changes are raising questions about the prospects for a two-state solution. Shlomo Avineri says a single state is not a solution but a recipe for institutionalized civil war. Sam Bahour says that years of warning signs show that the two-state solution has collapsed.

Hamas Says That Its Political Leader Does Not Plan to Seek Re-election
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Fares Akram - January 21, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA — The Palestinian militant group Hamas announced Saturday that its political leader, Khaled Meshal, would not seek re-election, opening the door to a possible leadership contest and adding to the uncertainty enveloping Hamas at a time of regional turmoil.

Buoyed by 'Islamic Spring,' Hamas considers new direction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - January 22, 2012 - 1:00am

Hebron, West Bank Hamas’ political chief is stepping down after nearly 16 years, leaving the militant Palestinian group with a potential leadership battle just as Islamist allies elsewhere in the Middle East are enjoying momentum from election victories. Khaled Meshal, who headed Hamas’ headquarters in Damascus, recently informed the group’s leadership council that he won’t stand for reelection, said a Hamas spokesperson in Gaza. It is unclear exactly why Mr. Meshal is choosing to step aside and who is likely to succeed him.

Palestine ready to continue talks with Israel: Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 23, 2012 - 1:00am

MOSCOW, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas said here on Sunday that the Palestinian authorities are ready to continue peace talks with Israel. "We will continue the dialog and we will continue the (peace) talks because we consider this to be the only way to a peaceful resolution," Abbas told reporters after his meeting with Russia's chief Mufti Ravil Gainutdin. Meanwhile, he blamed unconstructive policies adopted by the Israeli authorities, saying they are hindering the peace talks between the two sides.

Abbas: Israel document 'worthless' to talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 23, 2012 - 1:00am

MOSCOW (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that Israel's response to a Palestinian proposal on borders and security as requested by Quartet negotiators was "worthless". Speaking to TV channel Russia Today during his the final leg of his European tour, Abbas said his visit to British, German and Russian leaders was not intended to "isolate or delegitimize Israel," but to look at different routes if current talks between negotiators fail. "We want to live side-by-side with Israel, but we want to isolate Israeli policy on settlements," he told the program.

Israel condemns Palestinian cleric over sermon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Dan Williams - January 22, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Israel condemned the Palestinians' top cleric on Sunday for reciting, at a meeting of the dominant U.S.-backed Fatah faction, a passage from Muslim scripture that called for the killing of Jews. Preaching on Jan. 9 at a rally marking the 47th anniversary of Fatah's founding, Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein read out a Hadith, or traditional text attributed to the Prophet Mohammad.

Israeli settlers reject Netanyahu's request to evacuate largest outpost in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson, Barak Ravid - January 23, 2012 - 1:00am

The ongoing controversy about the evacuation of the Migron outpost hit a new high Sunday, as settlers angrily rejected a compromise proposal offered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

British Jews cancel meeting with Abbas in wake of pressure from Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - January 23, 2012 - 1:00am

Jewish community leaders in Britain canceled a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to London last week after Israel pressured them to do so, according to two senior Israeli officials. The officials said representatives from the Prime Minister's Office and the Israeli Embassy in London had pushed for the meeting to be called off, while the British government sought to convince the Jewish leaders to hold the meeting.

The Palestinian children – alone and bewildered – in Israel's Al Jalame jail
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - January 22, 2012 - 1:00am

The room is barely wider than the thin, dirty mattress that covers the floor. Behind a low concrete wall is a squat toilet, the stench from which has no escape in the windowless room. The rough concrete walls deter idle leaning; the constant overhead light inhibits sleep. The delivery of food through a low slit in the door is the only way of marking time, dividing day from night.

Gaza builders lead economic recovery – with some help from the black market
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - January 21, 2012 - 1:00am

For three years, Wael Arabeed did not do a day's work. He delved deep into his life savings, accrued over 25 years of working on construction projects in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt, to feed his family. He sold his car. He began to believe his working life was over. But now the construction engineer has more work than he can handle. Tossing yet another tender request on to his desk, he says: "I have so many offers, I can't even look at them. I'm too busy."

Paper Owner Apologizes for Obama 'Hit' Column
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - January 20, 2012 - 1:00am

The owner of an Atlanta Jewish newspaper has apologized for a column in which he discusses the possibility of Israel ordering the assassination of President Obama. The Secret Service says it is investigating and a parade of Jewish leaders quickly moved to denounce Andrew Adler, publisher and owner of the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Israel's legal 'abuse' of Arab minority is undemocratic
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Oudeh Basharat - (Opinion) January 23, 2012 - 1:00am

It is difficult to compare the democratic State of Israel to a dark dictatorship. Nevertheless, they have one thing in common: People don't sleep well at night under either regime. In dictatorships, they fear a revolution on the part of the majority, and in Israeli democracy they do not stop studying the graphs of the birth rate among Arabs, in case the demographic balance is upset.

The French water report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Susan Hattis Rolef - (Opinion) January 22, 2012 - 1:00am

On December 13 the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly published a monumental, 320-page report on the geopolitics of water, penned by Socialist Member of the National Assembly Jean Glavany. The report dealt with two current international water conflicts: a conflict between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan over the Aral Sea Basin in Central Asia, and the case of the Jordan River Basin, involving Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the West Bank. In the case of the Jordan River Basin, most of the emphasis is on Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Meshaal's move raises doubt on Palestinian unity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) January 23, 2012 - 1:00am

Three months after securing a historic prisoner-exchange deal with Israel, Hamas's political leader Khaled Meshaal has said that he will not stand for re-election this summer. The decision comes at a critical time for Hamas as it re-evaluates its relations with sponsors Syria and Iran. And the single greatest issue is the reconciliation process with Fatah.

Why negotiations are encouraged
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Musa Keilani - (Opinion) January 22, 2012 - 1:00am

His Majesty King Abdullah’s meeting at the White House with US President Barack Obama was one of the warmest summits between the two leaders and reaffirmed their close relationship. The focus of the meeting was largely the quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace, which has been revived with Jordan’s initiative that brought together negotiators from the two sides for three meetings in Amman. While there was no breakthrough following the meetings, the two sides now appear to better understand each other’s position.

Why Israel needs blockbusters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) January 23, 2012 - 1:00am

Israel has no foreign policy, only a domestic policy,” Henry Kissinger once remarked. This has probably been more or less true of every country since the advent of democracy. Yet in Israel, this seems even truer. In order to understand our foreign policy, we have to look in the mirror. Who are we? What is our society like? In every immigrant country, from the United States to Australia, every new wave of immigrants is greeted by the scorn, contempt and even open hostility of those who came before them.

Into an Unsettled New Year
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mya Guarnieri - (Opinion) January 22, 2012 - 1:00am

HEBRON, Jan 22, 2012 (IPS) - An elderly Palestinian woman spent last week on hunger strike to protest violent attacks by Israeli settlers. Hana Abu Heikel went on the hunger strike on behalf of her family after settlers burned the family car during the previous weekend. Since Israeli settlers moved into the houses surrounding the Abu Heikel family home in Hebron in 1984, the Abu Heikels have seen eight cars burned. Six vehicles were also smashed by settlers.

The Masada complex
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Jamie Levin - (Opinion) January 22, 2012 - 1:00am

In 1927, poet Yitzhak Lamdan wrote Masada, a poem glorifying the heroism and self-reliance of the early Zionist movement. The poem helped transform the remote hilltop fortress, largely forgotten since the writings of the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus, into an enduring symbol of the young State of Israel. Lamdan’s most famous line, “never again shall Masada fall,” became a rallying cry for a generation of Israeli soldiers who repeated these words in countless inauguration ceremonies.

A comprehensive solution is not feasible
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) January 23, 2012 - 1:00am

As an agreed outcome to the conflict, the two-state solution has not been a genuine option for very long. The Palestine Liberation Organization could conceivably be said to have accepted it back in the late 1980s, but only about a decade has passed since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President George W. Bush became the first Israeli and American leaders, respectively, to officially embrace it. Older solutions, such as one state and a variety of schemes involving Jordan, actually have much more "seniority".

Nothing to stop it from disappearing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) January 23, 2012 - 1:00am

With the passing of time, discussion over the permanence of the two-state solution is increasing among Palestinians and, to a lesser extent, Israelis and others involved. Although the official line of both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority is that the two-state solution is the path of peace, a lot of changes are introducing serious question marks about its prospects.

The two-state solution will not disappear
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Shlomo Avineri - (Opinion) January 23, 2012 - 1:00am

As the English political theorist Lord Acton is frequently quoted as saying, "It is difficult to prophesy, especially about the future." Yet with meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations currently stymied, it is legitimate to ask if the two-state solution may not become, at some point in the future, irrelevant. My answer, though, is that even as time passes without visible progress towards it, the two-state solution nevertheless may not disappear. It is the only game in town.

The writing has always been on the wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Sam Bahour - (Opinion) January 23, 2012 - 1:00am

The human body is an amazing creation. It's not only the most complex system known to mankind, but it embodies within it signals that tell its owner that something has gone wrong. A similar signaling system exists in political bodies. Those tasked with reading the signals--be they individuals, physicians or politicians--can choose to consciously ignore the warning signs.

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