Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: EU foreign policy chief Ashton says Israel and the Palestinians should keep talking. Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti says Palestinian strategy should be based on national unity, non-violent resistance and negotiations with Israel. Pres. Abbas says the Amman talks are not yielding progress and Palestinians say they may end the talks after the next round. The last session was reportedly contentious. The Palestinian election commission opens offices in Gaza. The US announces a 3-year extension of loan guarantees for Israel. Reports in the Arab media suggest Jordan may be considering sanctions against Israel. Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood officials say they will not meet with Israeli representatives. PA tax hikes meet with vocal Palestinian opposition. COMMENTARY: Zvi Bar'el says Israel's highest court mustn't be a plaything in the service of the settler movement. Bradley Burston says Jewish Americans, including those in Hollywood, need to see Israelis as normal people. Moshe Ronen says Israel would be wrong to silence outspoken Palestinian MK Zoabi. Uriel Heilman asks why some Jewish Americans dislike Pres. Obama so much. Stuart Reigeluth and Dimitris Bouris say Europe should be much more assertive in opposing Israeli settlements. Ibrahim Sharqieh says the US should abandon its policy of seeking Palestinian statehood only through negotiations. Linda Heard says the international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to Israel's discriminatory practices. Michael Sharnoff says the Arab Peace Initiative should be the basis for new diplomatic progress. The Oman Tribune says Palestinians would be justified in walking out of the current round of negotiations. Wayne Barrett asks if massive donations from a pro-settler billionaire explain the apparently sudden transformation of Newt Gingrich's attitudes on Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinian Leader Says Low-Level Talks With Israel Have Ended, But Doesn’t Rule Out Extension
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian president says exploratory talks with Israel on resuming full-fledged peace negotiations have run their course. Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that he’ll consult with the Arab League next week on whether to extend them. He spoke in Jordan after meeting King Abdullah II. The Palestinians face mounting international pressure not to walk away. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is talking to Abbas and Israel’s prime minister about this in the next two days.

Barghouti: Conflict Ends After Israeli Withdrawal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian-Israeli conflict will come to an end only when the occupation comes to an end and Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 borders, jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti said Wednesday. Barghouti, former secretary-general of Fatah in the West Bank, on Wednesday testified in court in Jerusalem in a case filed by Israeli Kleinman family against the Palestinian Authority. Asked by reporters whether he intends to run for a parliamentary seat in the upcoming elections, Barghouti said: "The PA has yet to set a date ... Once they do, we'll see what happens."

Abbas Wants Jordan Meeting to be Last
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

AMMAN, Jordan (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority officials asserted Wednesday that President Mahmoud Abbas "refused and will continue to refuse” holding more meetings between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Jordan. Palestinian and Israeli negotiators are scheduled to hold a fifth meeting in Amman on Wednesday in an attempt to resume face-to-face peace negotiations and sort out unresolved issues.

Palestinians To Declare End of Exploratory Talks With Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinians will declare the end of exploratory discussions with Israel after their sixth meeting in the Jordanian capital of Amman ends Wednesday, sources said. On Tuesday night, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators held their fifth meeting in Amman, but failed to make any progress in reviving stalled peace talks between the two sides, an official at the negotiation affairs department of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Israeli, Palestinian Negotiators Clash at Jordan Meeting
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jack Khoury, Barak Ravid - January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

A bitter confrontation broke out between the head of the Israeli negotiating team Yitzhak Molcho and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat during their meeting In Jordan on Saturday, after Erekat refused to let a senior Israeli officer present the Israeli position on security arrangements.

Elections Office Opens in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza headquarters of the Central Elections Commission reopened Tuesday and will start work Wednesday, officials said. CEC director Jamil Khalidi received keys for the Gaza City office a day after the commission's chairman Hanna Nasir lamented its closure. Nasir said Monday that the Hamas-led government had failed to reopen the elections offices despite pledging to do so two weeks earlier.

U.S. to Grant Three-Year Extension of Loan Guarantees to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - January 24, 2012 - 1:00am

The U.S. government has informed Israel that it will recommend that Congress approve a three-year extension of loan guarantees to Israel, worth $3.8 billion. The announcement came after several months of worry in Israel that the loan guarantees would not be extended, despite Israel's request.

“Jordan Mulling Sanctions Against Israel”
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Israel News
by Roi Kais, Elior Levy - January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

Jordan's King Abdullah alluded to a possible deterioration in Amman's relationship with Jerusalem if unless Israel will "demonstrate it is willing to make considerable moves" to reignite the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported Wednesday. According to the London-based Arab publication, Abdullah expected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to "make significant concessions which will allow the Palestinian leadership to justify their return to the negotiating table."

Brotherhood Vows to Shun Israeli Officials
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Masry Al-Youm
January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

The Muslim Brotherhood will not speak or meet with Israeli officials and its stance on Israel is not up for discussion, group spokesperson Mahmoud Ghezlan told London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. “It’s illogical to have dialogue, any dialogue, in light of the Israeli practices against the Arab peoples,” the paper quoted him as saying in an article published Wednesday. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor told Israeli radio that Israel has not ruled out talks. “We will be happy to hold dialogues with whoever wants to have dialogue with us,” Palmor said.

Palestinian Tax Hike Riles Business, Unions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh, Karin Laub - January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank—Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has sparked a furor with a push to get Palestinians to pay more taxes and reduce reliance on the massive foreign aid that has kept their self-rule government afloat for a generation. Long accustomed to minimal taxes, the most powerful groups in the West Bank -- private business, the civil servants' union and the main political party, Fatah -- are fighting back, including with threats of labor strikes.

No compromise on Migron outpost
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel - (Opinion) January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

Strong, choking nausea wells up in face of the "compromise proposal" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered the trespassers in Migron. It is hard to identify exactly what is causing this. Is it the fact that the prime minister has once again surrendered to the settlers? Is it the realization of the weakness of the Israel Defense Forces - the army that apparently can attack Iran but can't manage to impose its sovereignty over a handful of settlers? Or could it be that the nausea is a symptom of a fatal disease that has been going on for decades and has been treated only with aspirin?

Hollywood's Jews need to see Israel's "Footnote," Oscar or no
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Bradley Burston - (Analysis) January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

In an age of films imagining all, baring all, demolishing all, in this decade of cinematic Holocaust and Jewish-Arab confrontation and IDF agonistes, in this season of obsession with Iran, why should Hollywood's Jews go to see a picture about an abrasively dysfunctional relationship between professors of Talmud strait-jacketed in thick sweaters and inhibition? Because they need to.

Let Hanin Zoabi speak
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Moshe Ronen - (Opinion) January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

French philosopher Voltaire is attributed with the famous quote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This is democracy’s ultimate test – the ability to listen to views we do not agree with and that may appear despicable to us.

Obama assassination column raises question: Why do some Jews see Obama as so sinister?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Uriel Heilman - (Analysis) January 24, 2012 - 1:00am

NEW YORK (JTA) – When news outlets began reporting last Friday that the owner of the Atlanta Jewish Times had published an opinion column seemingly suggesting that Israel might be wise to assassinate President Obama, the response from prominent American Jews was fast and furious. Here was a Jewish newspaper publisher providing fodder for something the Anti-Defamation League regularly deplores as a pernicious anti-Semitic canard: that Jews are more loyal to Israel than the United States.

Europe should call Israel's bluff
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Dimitris Bouris, Stuart Reigeluth - (Opinion) January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

The figures say it all. Over 1,200 Jewish colonists occupied outposts in the West Bank in 1972; in 2012, over 300,000 live in fortress-like colonies on hilltops overlooking the Jordan Valley, excluding the illegal colonies and gradual annexation of occupied east Jerusalem. This exponential growth of Jewish colonies has taken place mostly in Area C of the West Bank. There are now twice as many illegal colonists in Area C as there are Palestinians, who have diminished in number due to lack of access to water, building permits, and the occupation itself.

Palestine is nearly here, deal with it
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Ibrahim Sharqieh - (Opinion) January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

Jan. 26 will mark the three-month deadline for Palestinians and Israelis to submit their opening positions on mutual borders and security. The deadline was set by the international Quartet – the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia. It followed the decision last September of a frustrated Palestinian Authority to pursue independent statehood through the United Nations, after 18 years of futile negotiations with Israel.

Israel should be the last to practice racism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Linda Heard - (Opinion) January 24, 2012 - 1:00am

A large chunk of my childhood and early youth was spent in a predominantly Jewish area of London called Stamford Hill. It was pure chance that upon relocating to the English capital, my parents found a small apartment to their liking in that part of town. Our landlord and neighbors were Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe. My school friends came from European and Indian Jewish stock. My mother bought seed-encrusted loaves from a Jewish bakery Grodzinky's and salt beef sandwiches from our local Jewish deli.

Reexamining the Arab Peace Initiative
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Michael Sharnoff - (Opinion) January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

The series of direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians which began in Amman on January 3 are scheduled to end on January 26. While the Middle East Quartet may extend this deadline to continue negotiations, it appears this would have little effect in formulating any comprehensive agreement. Neither side genuinely believes a breakthrough will occur. The PLO has threatened that if Israel does not halt all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, it would not only abandon diplomacy, but it would pursue "harsh" unilateral measures to gain statehood and recognition.

Walkout is Justified
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Oman Tribune
(Editorial) January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

Palestinians have threatened to cut off exploratory talks with Israel as construction of settlements on their occupied lands continues unabated. Walking away from the dialogue table by January 26 in Amman will be a forced move by Palestinians who don’t see these talks, being held in the presence of the Peace Quartet (United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia), going anywhere. The main hurdle in this direction, as the Palestinian negotiators have repeated time and again, is Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement activity in areas under occupation.

Is Gingrich’s Hard Line on Palestine Paid for by Sheldon Adelson?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Wayne Barrett - (Analysis) January 25, 2012 - 1:00am

The linkage between campaign contributions and compromised candidates has grown so familiar that it no longer shocks, and indeed rarely even interests, most of us. But in the super-PAC era, when a single, $5 million, donation can resuscitate a broken Newt Gingrich, the search for a quid pro quo explanation expands with the enlarged dimensions of the donation. In the case of Las Vegas casino king Sheldon Adelson, Gingrich’s Daddy Warbucks, the size of the subsidy can literally shape a candidate’s views on matters of war and peace, and I’m not talking about a battle for gaming rights.

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