Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Hamas leader MIshaal makes his 1st official visit to Jordan since 1999. A hard-line settler is challenging PM Netanyahu for the leadership of the Likud party. Netanyahu may be moving towards early national elections in Israel. After an outcry of opposition, the PA is suspending tax hikes. The PLO executive committee is meeting today to discuss the impasse in negotiations with Israel, for which both sides are blaming each other. Turkey denies reports it has provided funding to Hamas. A new report says Palestinian citizens of Israel are increasingly attending higher education institutions in PA-controlled areas. 70 West Bank settlements are on the new Israeli “national priorities” list for special benefits. The New York Times profiles Gingrich benefactor Sheldon Adelson. COMMENTARY: Ha'aretz says Israel's curriculum is hiding the occupation from students. Barry Rubin dismisses the idea that Israel might attack Iran. Mohammed Najib says Mishaal maybe trying to carve out a new role for himself. Paul Harris says Adelson isn't running for office but his money could have a big impact on the Florida primary. Robert Fisk says when it comes to Middle East peace, the past trumps the present. Salman Masalha says Israeli society is permeated with discrimination. Khaled Elgindy says the Middle East Quartet has outlived its usefulness. Jackie Spinner says the dramatic reduction in US aid to the PA is a significant threat to Palestinian economic recovery in cities like Hebron.

Hamas Leader Takes Rare Trip to Jordan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Stephen Farrell - January 29, 2012 - 1:00am

AMMAN, Jordan — Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas, made a rare and pointedly low-key visit to Jordan on Sunday, days after Hamas officials signaled that he had effectively abandoned the group’s base in Damascus, the Syrian capital. Mr. Meshal and a delegation from Hamas’s political bureau, including his deputy, Mousa Abu Marzook, arrived in Amman with the crown prince of Qatar, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and met with the king of Jordan, Abdullah II.

Meshaal's cordial visit to Jordan helps open 'new page' in relations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - January 30, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM // The leaders of Hamas have never been known for globetrotting or an appetite for diplomatic fanfare. They were confined to the Gaza Strip, unable to leave because of the Israeli blockade of the coastal enclave. Or, if they were among the clutch of senior Hamas officials based in Damascus, they maintained a low profile to avoid testing the patience and straining the hospitality of their Syrian hosts. Those days are gone.

Hard-line Israeli settler challenges Netanyahu for ruling Likud Party leadership
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 30, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — A hard-line Jewish settler who wants to pay Palestinians to leave the West Bank and Gaza is running against Israel’s prime minister in Tuesday’s ruling party primary election. Moshe Feiglin has little chance of defeating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but he could deliver an embarrassing blow to the country’s leader in his fourth try for leadership of the Likud, none of which have had a realistic shot at success.

Election fever grips Israel as Netanyahu maneuver expected
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - January 29, 2012 - 1:00am

Reporting from Jerusalem— Israel's current coalition government is one of its most stable in decades, and the next scheduled national poll is nearly two years off. Yet election fever has gripped the country and some believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quietly preparing to call for an early vote, perhaps in the middle of this year. The two biggest political parties — Netanyahu's conservative Likud and its main rival, the centrist Kadima — recently announced that they would hold primaries to select leaders whose names would be on the next election ballot.

Palestinian Authority suspends plans to raise taxes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
January 30, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -- The Palestinian Authority announced on Sunday it was suspending plans to raise income tax that have sparked widespread protests but said it was still seeking ways to cut costs in 2012 to plug a gap resulting from lower-than-expected foreign aid revenues. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said earlier this month that the Palestinian Authority was planning to double the income tax rate to 30 percent as part of efforts to cut the budget deficit to $750 million in 2012, from $1.1 billion a year earlier.

PLO cabinet to meet Monday over failed talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 29, 2012 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee will meet Monday in the West Bank to discuss failed talks with Israeli envoys this month, committee members said on Saturday. Wasil Abu Yousif, who is also secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Front, said the cabinet meeting would prepare for a Feb. 4 summit with the Arab League follow-up committee, after a deadline set by the international Quartet for resuming negotiations passed without agreement.

Palestinian President Abbas says Israel spoiled latest round of talks on border, security
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 29, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Sunday blamed each other for the impasse in newly launched peace efforts, raising doubts about whether the dialogue would continue just weeks after it began. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of spoiling the low-level talks, saying it failed to present detailed proposals for borders and security requested by international mediators. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Palestinians “refused to even discuss” Israeli security needs.

Turkey denies providing financial aid to Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 30, 2012 - 1:00am

ANKARA, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Turkish foreign ministry officials on Sunday denied the claims that the country has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to the Islamic movement Hamas that controls Gaza, local media reports said. Officials from Turkey's foreign ministry approached by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman said such allegations were "made up and did not reflect the truth." Western media have reported that Turkey would provide some 300 million U.S. dollars to Hamas following Gazan leader Ismail Haniyeh's visit to Ankara earlier this month, according to Today's Zaman.

Leap in number of Israelis studying in PA
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Tomer Velmer - January 28, 2012 - 1:00am

A new report published by the Knesset Research and Information Center shows a 100% increase in the number of Israeli students, mostly from the Bedouin sector, studying in the Palestinian Authority. According to the report, which will be presented at the Knesset's Education Committee next week, the main reason for the sharp increase is the admission requirements in Israeli colleges, as well as a difficulty with the Hebrew language and psychometric exams.

70 W. Bank settlements on national priority list
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Tovah Lazaroff - January 29, 2012 - 1:00am

Around 70 West Bank settlements were on the list of communities eligible for housing and development grants that the cabinet approved on Sunday. Most of them – 57 – are settlements located outside the boundary of the security barrier’s planned route. Israel has promised the international community that it would not provide special incentives for settlement development and construction. Still, the settlements were included in the list of 557 “national priority” communities published by the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday.

The Man Behind Gingrich’s Money
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Michael Luo, Mike McIntire - January 28, 2012 - 1:00am

The trip to Jordan by a group of United States congressmen was supposed to be a chance for them to meet the newly crowned King Abdullah II. But their tour guide had a more complicated agenda. The guide was Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate who helped underwrite trips to the Middle East to win support for Israel in Congress. On this occasion in 1999, as the lawmakers enjoyed a reception at the Royal Palace in Amman, Mr. Adelson and an aide retreated to a private room with the king.

Students must be exposed to the Israeli occupation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) January 30, 2012 - 1:00am

The eighth-graders of the Hebrew University Secondary School (also known as "Leyada" ) were supposed to tour Hebron yesterday, to meet with local settlers and also with members of Breaking the Silence, a group that collects testimony about the abuse of Palestinians from soldiers who serve in the West Bank. The Education Ministry and the Israel Police approved the initiative to take the students to the occupied territories and to present them a balanced view of what's going on there.

The Region: Israel isn't about to hit Iran: Get used to it!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Barry Rubin - (Opinion) January 29, 2012 - 1:00am

The radio superhero The Shadow had the power to “cloud men’s minds.” But nothing clouds men’s minds like anything that has to do with Jews or Israel. For many centuries, bizarre notions have taken over when the thoughts of others turn toward the Jews. Rationality goes out the window. This process is often associated with anti-Semitism but, more broadly, it is a form of total mystification.

Khaled Mashaal’s Next Career Move
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Mohammed Najib - (Opinion) January 29, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH -- The announcement by Khaled Mashaal, that he plans to quit his job as the powerful chief of Hamas’ political bureau has led to a flurry of speculation about why he acting? Whether the promise to step down if for real? If so, who will replace him?

Secrets of the billionaire backing Gingrich's shot at the White House
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Paul Harris - (Opinion) January 28, 2012 - 1:00am

Abraham Foxman, the amiably chatty director of the Jewish civil rights group, the Anti-Defamation League, has a story to tell about his friend, the 78-year-old multi-billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

Robert Fisk: The present stands no chance against the past
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Robert Fisk - (Opinion) January 28, 2012 - 1:00am

The Palestinians are not only, it seems, an "invented people" – courtesy of Newt Gingrich – but the only Arabs on the Mediterranean not to enjoy a Spring or an Awakening or even a Winter.

Israel needs a few more lessons in apartheid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Salman Masalha - (Opinion) January 30, 2012 - 1:00am

Scholars of the social sciences know how to defend a public opinion survey. In their way of thinking, this is a scientific tool with which it is possible to assess feelings and understand positions and trends at any given time. Together with these "quiz shows" that supply the masses with a glimpse of the mood of the public, we are also able to familiarize ourselves with the personal feelings, points of view and tendencies of those who conduct the polls.

The Middle East Quartet: A Post-Mortem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Brookings
by Khaled Elgindy - (Analysis) February 1, 2012 - 1:00am

It has been ten years since the four most powerful players in the Middle East peace process— the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations—came together under the diplomatic umbrella known as the Quartet. Formed in response to outbreak of the Second Intifada in late 2000 and the collapse of peace negotiations a few months later, the Quartet appeared ideally suited for dealing with the seemingly intractable conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Hard Times in Hebron
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Jackie Spinner - (Opinion) January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

HEBRON, West Bank – This flashpoint city, nestled in the West Bank's Judean Mountains, is rarely noted for its bustling economy, neatly paved roads, or sparkling performance center. It is far better known for the nets shopkeepers have stretched above the market streets to keep Jewish settlers from throwing rocks on Palestinian pedestrians, its "apartheid sidewalks," the disputed Ibrahimi Mosque (both a Muslim and Jewish holy site), and the recurring street clashes between Jewish and Arab residents.

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