Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: The PLO says Israel has given it no reason to continue with talks and dismisses Israel's proposals on borders. The continued diplomatic impasse is throwing the viability of a two-state solution into doubt. Pres. Abbas meets with EU foreign policy chief Ashton. The Palestinian election commission says it's ready and able to hold elections in May if so instructed. Hamas has effectively abandoned its headquarters in Damascus. In spite of having resigned, Dennis Ross is reportedly still providing regular advice to the Obama administration. Israel agrees to the construction of an access road for the first planned Palestinian city in the West Bank. An Israeli cabinet minister takes journalists on a tour of a West Bank settlement. In a conversation with Pres. Peres at the Davos forum, PM Fayyad says building a Palestinian state will require Israeli cooperation and Peres says a Palestinian state has in effect already been established. Pro-Palestinian hackers apologize for a cyber attack on the Ha'aretz website. COMMENTARY: David Ignatius memorializes the late Palestinian journalist Tewfik Mishlawi. Yossi Sarid says PM Netanyahu may face an angered and reelected Pres. Obama next year. Guy Bechor says Hamas is in real trouble. Herb Keinon says low-level Israeli-Palestinian talks are likely to continue. The National says the peace process is a fig leaf for the Quartet. George Hishmeh says the suggestion by a newspaper editor that Israel might assassinate Obama met with a shocking silence, except from the Jewish-American community.

PLO: Israel gave no reason to restart talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- PLO meetings with Israeli envoys have not been able to restart negotiations, a Palestinian presidential spokesman said Friday, after Israel said it had fulfilled its obligation to the Quartet-sponsored talks. Israel did not provide anything to build upon, while the issue of borders and security is still pending, Nabil Abu Rudeineh told Ma'an. PLO officials held five exploratory meetings with Israeli negotiators in the Jordanian capital during January. The diplomatic Quartet had called for the sides to give their positions on borders and security by Jan. 26.

PA officials: Israeli border proposal a non-starter
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

Palestinian officials said Friday that Israel's presentation of its ideas for border and security arrangements of a future Palestinian state at a meeting in Amman on Wednesday was a non-starter, envisaging a fenced-off territory of cantons that would preserve most Jewish settlements.

As Israeli-Palestinian talks sink, fringe ideas gain traction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

As another round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks faltered on Wednesday, a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians say that the status quo is rapidly approaching a point at which establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel is impossible or unrealistic.

Abbas meets Ashton in Amman
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday met EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Amman as the Quartet's latest deadline passed. The Quartet of peace mediators -- the EU, US, UN and Russia -- set a Jan. 26 deadline for the resumption of direct talks. Despite five meetings between Israeli and Palestinian envoys in Amman in January, the parties failed to agree on a starting point for negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called for more talks.

CEC 'ready for elections'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

Elections can go ahead as planned on May 4 if President Mahmoud Abbas issues a decree in the coming days, a Central Elections Commission official said Thursday. Jamil Khalidi, who heads the commission's office in Gaza, told Ma'an the elections register in Gaza could be updated within six weeks. The Gaza office reopened on Tuesday after a two-year closure. Hamas shut down the office in November 2009 saying fair elections could not be held while political activists were threatened by the infighting.

Hamas quietly quits Syria as violence continues
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

The leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, has effectively abandoned his headquarters in the Syrian capital, Damascus, diplomatic and intelligence sources said on Friday. "Meshaal is not staying in Syria as he used to do. He is almost out all the time," said a diplomat in the region who spoke on condition on anonymity. A regional intelligence source, who also did not wish to be identified, said: "He's not going back to Syria. That's the decision he's made. There's still a Hamas presence there, but it's insignificant."

Dennis Ross still advising Obama on regular basis, despite stepping down
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

Despite the fact that he resigned from his post in the Obama administration, longtime American diplomat Dennis Ross just cannot quit. Haaretz has learned that Ross still advises President Barak Obama on a regular basis, and maintains an open channel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Big step" for new Palestinian city
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Tani Goldstein - January 26, 2012 - 1:00am

After a four-year wait, the planners of Rawabi received Israel's permit to pave an access road to the new Palestinian town of and will embark on the work Sunday. The announcement was made Wednesday by Palestinian millionaire Bashar al-Masri, who owns the construction company tasked with building the new West Bank city.

The Other Side of Itamar
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Arieh O'Sullivan - January 24, 2012 - 1:00am

Small huts and houses on windswept hilltops. Men wearing kippas and sporting beards. Women with their heads covered surrounded by children. These are what we found in the Itamar, an Israeli community in the heartland of the disputed West Bank. But the residents of Itamar and the other Israeli towns that have taken root in the area since 1967 are just as much associated in the minds of many Israelis and much of the world as extremists dead set against peace between Israel and the Palestinians and determined to expand their presence by violence, if necessary.

Fayyad: Building Palestinian state requires cooperation from Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Frank Kane - January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND // A lasting peace deal between Israel and Palestine "might happen very quickly," Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "We are sorry it has taken so long but we are nearer, at the final stage," Mr Peres said during a debate with Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, at Davos, the Swiss town hosting the annual gathering of the world's leading decision-makers. Mr Fayyad said: "There must be a hope for peace but it has to be a product of conscious decision-making."

Peres in Davos: Palestinian state already established
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yoav Zitun - January 26, 2012 - 1:00am

The Palestinians had effectively established a state while peace negotiations were still ongoing, President Shimon Peres told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday. During a discussion on the chances for peace in the Middle East, Peres praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad for their state-building efforts, including the establishment of an independent military force. State-building is possible without negotiations, the president told the panel, which included Fayyad.

Pro-Palestinian hackers apologise for cyber attack on Haaretz newspaper website
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM // Pro-Palestinian hackers apologised on Twitter yesterday for disrupting the website of Israel's Haaretz newspaper. Haaretz announced on Wednesday that its Hebrew-language website had been temporarily disabled by hackers, identifying themselves on Twitter as @AnonPS, or Anonymous Palestine.

A Special Journalist
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by David Ignatius - (Opinion) January 26, 2012 - 1:00am

DAVOS, Switzerland It was 30 years ago that Tewfik Mishlawi confessed what might sound like a mundane ambition but which contained the sublime spark that has swept across the Middle East over the past year: He said that he wanted to create the first independent Arab news service.

Gingrich Won’t Win, and Bibi Will Be in a Lose-Lose Situation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yossi Sarid - (Opinion) January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

Newt Gingrich won in South Carolina and that's good, very good. What's so good about the victory of an egomaniac who has compared himself to Churchill, de Gaulle and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? It's good because it's bad for the Republican Party, which is drunk not on wine but on tea. That's how the wild party will continue until the summer, and they'll all swallow each other alive.

Hamas in Deep Trouble
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Guy Bechor - (Opinion) January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

Nothing stopped Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, from making Ahmadinejad-style declarations that Israel’s days are numbered and calling for the establishment of an Arab Jihad army for Palestine’s liberation. Yet behind the pretentious slogans lies a grim reality for Hamas that can no longer be hidden.

Low-Level Talks Likely to Continue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - (Analysis) January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

January 26, that is yesterday, came and went pretty much like the month of September – namely, with a whimper. Remember September, the month when the Palestinians made their much-trumpeted and widely-feared play for statehood recognition at the United Nations. Defense Minister Ehud Barak prophesied a diplomatic tsunami; Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned of the worst Palestinian violence Israel had ever faced; and Haaretz continuously cautioned about a third intifada. Yet none of that materialized.

'Peace process' is a fig leaf for Quartet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

Nobody should be surprised that the "deadline" to resume peace talks expired yesterday with hardly a whimper. The Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, rightly, refused to resume talks in Amman unless Israel made some commitment on borders for a two state-solution. He asked for a commitment that talks would actually be meaningful. Israel, as was to be expected, declined.

Shocking Silence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

It is unbelievable, actually bewildering, that an American newspaperman should suggest that one of three options facing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the conflict with Iran over its nuclear policies is to assassinate the American president. Although he did not mention Barack Obama by name, all those who read the column felt this American president was the target. Equally appalling has been the failure of the American media, by and large, to cover this shocking issue that surfaced two weeks ago on a website.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017