Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: At least 8 Palestinian children are killed in a bus crash in the occupied West Bank. Israel again accuses Iran of being responsible for attacks, and attempted attacks, against its diplomats. Thai officials agree that Iran was trying to target Israeli diplomats. In a reversal, PM Netanyahu says sanctions against Iran are proving ineffective. Netanyahu visits Cyprus. Gaza's only power plant is shut down due to a shortage of smuggled fuel from Egypt. A Palestinian citizen of Israel journalist says she won't fly El Al again after the way she was searched on her last flight. The Obama administration is seeking a waiver on the prohibition of US funding of UNESCO following Palestine's admittance as a member. Significant rifts are developing between American and European umbrella Jewish organizations. A leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad held prisoner by Israel is reportedly near death due to a hunger strike. COMMENTARY: Fareed Zakaria says the idea that Israel and the United States have to act against a potentially nuclear Iran is wrong because deterrence works, but Benny Morris says they face a stark choice. George Hishmeh says troubling though the Syrian crisis is, the Israeli-Iranian imbroglio is potentially more dangerous to Middle Eastern stability. Osama Al Sharif says if Israel attacks Iran, it will be intentionally triggering a regional war, and may wish to do so. Ari Shavit says that recent developments mean that peace will be the result of a slow and grinding end to the occupation rather than diplomatic breakthroughs. Gideon Levy says both Israel and Iran are using terrorism, including against each other. The National says no one should jump to conclusions in the exchange of Iranian-Israeli accusations. Carlo Strenger says there are interesting parallels in the radicalization of both the Israeli and the American political right. Tamar Hermann says Israeli society is fragmented but not tribalist. Houriya Ahmed says the Hamas-Fatah deal might sideline PM Fayyad.

8 Palestinian Children, Teacher Killed in Crash
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (AP) — A truck lost control in slick, rainy weather and barreled into a Palestinian school bus on Thursday, killing at least seven children and a teacher and drawing hundreds of people to a West Bank hospital in an outpouring of grief, police said. The bus left the city of Ramallah on a school excursion but returned due to heavy rains and stormy weather, according to Palestinian police spokesman Yousif Osrael. On the way back, a truck careened into the school bus, causing it to flip and catch fire, Osrael said. The children killed were aged four to six.

Israel says Thai bombs similar to those in India, Georgia
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - February 15, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Israeli officials said Wednesday that magnetic explosive devices found after a series of explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday were similar to bombs used a day earlier to target Israeli diplomats in New Delhi and in Tbilisi, Georgia. The officials, citing findings of local investigations, said the forensic evidence buttressed earlier Israeli assertions that Iran was behind the attacks. Iran, which had threatened to retaliate for the killings of several of its nuclear scientists in similar bombings, has denied any involvement in the explosions, calling them Israeli provocations.

Thailand: Iranians planned to attack Israelis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Thanrayat Doksone - February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

BANGKOK — Three Iranians detained after accidentally setting off explosives in Bangkok were planning to attack Israeli diplomats, Thailand's top policeman said Thursday in the first confirmation by local officials that the group was plotting attacks in Thailand. The allegation came after days of strong accusations by Israel that Iran was behind the botched plot as well as two others in India and the former Soviet republic of Georgia this week. Iran has denied the charges.

Israel PM: Iran sanctions are not working
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Daniel Estrin - February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says sanctions imposed on Iran are important but so far haven't been effective. Netanyahu said Thursday that the Iranian president's guided tour of centrifuges at Tehran research reactor on Wednesday was proof that sanctions have not properly crippled Iran's efforts to develop nuclear capabilities. The Israeli leader was speaking to reporters in Cyprus, where he was meeting officials on a brief visit to discuss cooperation on energy and other matters.

Israeli leader pays historic visit to Cyprus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Menelaos Hadjicostis - February 15, 2012 - 1:00am

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a historic visit to Cyprus on Thursday, declaring the two countries' warming ties a "natural relationship" in a reflection of the rapidly shifting alliances in this turbulent part of the world. The visit — the first ever by an Israeli leader to the nearby island nation — was also a testimony to warming ties that have emerged from political and economic turmoil, as well as new economic prospects. It followed a succession of reciprocal visits by senior officials from both countries and several low-level agreements.

Gaza power plant stops due to smuggled fuel shortage
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - February 14, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The Gaza Strip's only power station, which supplies the Palestinian enclave with up to two-thirds of its energy needs, was shut down on Tuesday because of a shortage of fuel smuggled in from neighbouring Egypt. The closure led to widespread blackouts for Gaza's 1.7 million inhabitants. The local power company warned that households would receive only six hours of electricity a day until the problem was resolved.

Israeli Arab journalist switches airline after 'humiliating' El Al security check
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jack Khoury - February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

An Arab journalist says she was so profoundly insulted by El Al security staff at a Milan airport that she changed her itinerary and may sue the Israeli national carrier. Yara Mashour is the editor of the Nazareth-based women's magazine Lilac and the daughter of the late Lutfi Mashour, the editor and publisher of the Arabic weekly Al-Sinara. Yesterday she related what she said happened to her, her brother-in-law and another relative when they arrived at Milan's Malpensa Airport on Monday for their return flight to Israel, and reached the El Al security checkpoint.

Obama administration to seek waiver on UNESCO funding ban
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - February 15, 2012 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The Obama administration formally announced its intention to ask Congress to waive a ban on funding UNESCO over its recognition of Palestinian statehood. "The Department of State intends to work with Congress to seek legislation that would provide authority to waive restrictions on paying the U.S. assessed contributions to UNESCO," says a footnote in the budget that the White House submitted to Congress this month.

Transatlantic Jewish Meeting Triggers Row
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - February 15, 2012 - 1:00am

Washington — A recent meeting between American Jewry’s primary umbrella group for Israel and other foreign affairs, and a controversial new European group has sparked heated exchanges among European and American Jewish leaders. In the days leading up to the meeting, communal officials on both continents warned the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations against its plans for an official exchange involving the American umbrella group and the European Jewish Union.

Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan 'near death' in Israeli detention
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

A Palestinian prisoner on his 61st day of hunger strike while shackled to a bed in an Israeli hospital is in immediate danger of death, according to a medical report submitted to the supreme court in an effort to secure his release. Khader Adnan, 33, a baker from a village near Jenin, is being held without charge by the Israeli authorities under a four-month term of "administrative detention". He began his hunger strike on 18 December, the day after being arrested.

How history lessons could deter Iranian aggression
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Fareed Zakaria - (Opinion) February 15, 2012 - 1:00am

We are hearing a new concept these days in discussions about Iran — the zone of immunity. The idea, often explained by Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, is that soon Iran will have enough nuclear capability that Israel would not be able to inflict a crippling blow to its program.

On Iran, a stark choice
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Benny Morris - (Opinion) February 14, 2012 - 1:00am

Most people in the Arab world, according to opinion polls, believe that the Holocaust never happened, that it's a Jewish invention and trick to win the world's sympathy and support. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is similarly minded; he has said so countless times.

Israel a bigger concern
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf Times
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

The carnage under way in Syria, particularly in Homs, is reprehensible. The bloody conflict, which has so far cost the lives of some 7,000 people, threatens to precipitate a civil war in this key Arab state adjoining several other prominent countries in the Middle East. What it will take to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Syria is the 64,000-dollar question, as Americans would say. Despite the pleas of besieged Syrians, all attempts to end the crackdown on protesters have failed.

Israel’s other reasons to bomb Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Osama Al-Sharif - (Opinion) February 15, 2012 - 1:00am

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta predicts that Israel will direct a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities “in April, May or June”, according to David Ignatius, the widely-circulated Washington Post columnist. In the view of many Western analysts, Israel has taken the decision to bomb Iran and is only waiting for an opportune time to direct its blow.

Milestones along the road to a new Mideast peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

The first basic assumption of the new peace is that, in the coming years, no Israeli-Palestinian peace deal will be signed. Of course, we must keep trying. Some secret diplomatic team must always be maintained to conduct hushed-up negotiations to check whether it is possible. But the working assumption is that, in the current strategic environment, there's no chance of resolving the problems of Jerusalem, the refugees or Hamas. Someday there will be peace, perhaps, but not in this decade.

Iran uses terror to target civilians, and so does Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

A great miracle happened in Tbilisi, New Delhi and Bangkok, and alongside that miracle there was ineptitude that flies in the face of Iranian pretentions and ambitions. But the intentions were clear and grave: to take Israeli lives, especially diplomats and other official representatives of the state. That is terror.

Do not jump to conclusions in Iran-Israel row
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

Israeli diplomats and Iranian nuclear scientists now have something in common: the danger of being killed by a magnetic car bomb. The technique has now been used against members of both groups. Israel denies involvement in such murders, the most recent one last month, of Iranian scientists. Iran denies responsibility for car-bombings this week against Israeli envoys in Tbilisi and Delhi. Men reportedly carrying Iranian identity papers were arrested after a botched magnet-bomb attack in Bangkok on Tuesday; Thai officials say Israeli diplomats were the intended targets.

Israel's severe right wing syndrome
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Opinion) February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

Nobel laureate economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has recently published a column entitled Severely Conservative Syndrome, based on Mitt Romney’s recent pronouncement that he had been a "severely conservative governor." As Krugman points out, the term "severely" is generally used within the context of illnesses; and while Romney certainly did not consciously want to imply that conservatism was an illness, he certainly makes it sound that way.

Israeli tribalism?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Tamar Hermann - (Opinion) February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

No doubt, Israeli society is highly fragmented. Here we have a new society composed of a Jewish majority, mostly first, second or--at best--third generation immigrants from numerous countries. Alongside it is a native Arab-Palestinian minority belonging to the national collective dispossessed by Israel's independence and perceived by the Jewish majority as its arch enemy. Together, they can hardly be expected to become a harmonious human fabric.

Moving backward in Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Houriya Ahmed - (Opinion) February 16, 2012 - 1:00am

After a year in which Arabs have fought and died for democracy, the Palestinian Territories seem to be the one place in the region where autocracy is on the ascendancy.

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