Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: The Catholic Church asks Israel to help end attacks on churches in Israel and the occupied territories. Egypt will supply more power to Gaza, but local authorities say it's not enough. Pres. Abbas accuses Israel of conducting “ethnic cleansing” in Jerusalem, which PM Netanyahu angrily denies. Qatar's Emir agrees Arab identity in Jerusalem is at risk. Most other Palestinian parties are blaming Hamas for the impasse in national reconciliation talks. Hamas leaders say they now openly support the Syrian uprising, and analysts say it marks a historic shift in Hamas' regional alignments. Israel is threatening to demolish Palestinian solar energy installations in the occupied territories because they were built “without permission.” Qatar reportedly pledges $250 million for reconstruction in Gaza. Israel is planning a huge railway network for the occupied territories. Israeli officials fear the outbreak of another Palestinian intifada, but not in the coming year. COMMENTARY: AP interviews Hamas leader Abu Marzouk about the group's relocation from Syria. Akiva Eldar says Netanyahu was peddling a swindle during the last round of negotiations. Anshel Pfeffer says Israeli officials are skeptical about a planned pro-Palestinian mass march on Jerusalem next month. The Jerusalem Post interviews former Mossad Chief Halevy, who says it makes no sense to ask Palestinians to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” Leonard Fein says Israel needs to face up to its own nuclear arsenal. Shlomo Gazit says there is no apartheid in Israel, but there is discrimination against Palestinian citizens. Samah Jabr says life in the occupied territories is very much like apartheid. Matt Duss looks at the politics and economics of smuggling in Gaza. U Penn student Joshua Goldman says his “Birthright Israel” experience was hardly apolitical, but in fact tendentious propaganda.

Catholic Church asks Israel’s president to help end attacks on Christian places of worship
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
February 27, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — A top Roman Catholic official has taken the rare step of asking Israel’s president to help put an end to attacks on Christian holy sites. The custodian of holy places in the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, recalled in his letter sent Sunday to President Shimon Peres that vandals spray-painted “Death to Christians” and “We’ll crucify you” on the Baptist Church in Jerusalem and similar hate graffiti on a Greek Orthodox monastery in the city.

Egypt increases power supply to Gaza Strip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 27, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Egypt increased its energy supply to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, director of the Hamas-run energy authority told Ma'an, adding that more is required to solve the crisis. "In light of the serious power shortage in the Gaza Strip, the additional five Megawatts have not resulted in a major improvement, and so further steps from Egypt would be necessary," Abu al-Amreen said on Monday. Egypt increased its power supply to the Gaza Strip from 17 to 22 megawatts in the first stage of an agreement reached last Thursday with Gaza's energy authority.

Israeli PM slams Palestinian leader's speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ian Deitch - February 26, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for making an "inflammatory speech" about Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site on Sunday, saying his words undermine peace efforts. Speaking during a visit to Qatar, Abbas charged that Israel was intending to destroy Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits atop the remains of the two biblical Jewish temples. It is the most sacred site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. The site is a very sensitive and emotional issue for Israelis and Palestinians.

Qatar emir: Arab identity in Jerusalem at risk
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
February 26, 2012 - 1:00am

DOHA, Qatar — Qatar's ruler says the Arab identity in Jerusalem is threatened by Israeli expansion around the city claimed as capital by both Israel and Palestinians. Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani urged a U.N-backed investigation into Israeli settlements as well as Israeli actions in predominantly Arab districts in Jerusalem and surrounding areas captured by the Jewish state in 1967. His remarks Sunday opened a conference in the Gulf emirate's capital Doha on Jerusalem.

Abbas: Israel carrying out 'ethnic cleansing' in Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
February 27, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel on Sunday of trying to erase any Arabic identity from Jerusalem, drawing a strong response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Abbas, speaking at a conference in Qatar, said that for the past few years Israel has been waging a "final battle" aimed at erasing the Arab, Muslim and Christian character of East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan during the 1967 Middle East war.

Faction leaders blame Hamas for impasse in unity govt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 27, 2012 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Several Palestinian faction leaders on Sunday blamed internal disagreement within Hamas for the failure to announce a unity government. "Hamas says a trend within the movement is reluctant about Abbas heading the new government for constitutional rather than political reasons," Palestinian Popular Struggle Front member Ahmad Majdalani said. This internal division, which cites a constitutional excuse, is a major obstacle, he added.

Gaza's Hamas PM voices support for Syria protests
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

CAIRO — The Hamas prime minister of Gaza on Friday expressed support for Syrian protesters seeking to overthrow President Bashar Assad, the first time a senior Hamas leader has publicly rebuked the group's longtime patron. Ismail Haniyeh said after Friday prayers at Egypt's Al-Azhar Mosque that Hamas commends "the brave Syrian people that are moving toward democracy and reform."

Cairo speech a symbol of Hamas's split with Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Bradley Hope, Hugh Naylor - February 26, 2012 - 1:00am

Hamas's Gaza prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, symbolically chose Cairo's Al Azhar Mosque, a spiritual and intellectual centre for global Islam, to declare Hamas had formally split with Syria, a former ally and once home to the Palestinian group's headquarters in exile. Friday's declaration by Mr Haniyeh to thousands of Islamist supporters in the Egyptian capital, condemning Syria's bloody bid to quash an uprising against President Bashar Al Assad is perhaps the strongest indication of the group's realignment in a revolutionary Middle East.

Israel nixes solar energy for Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Karin Laub - February 25, 2012 - 1:00am

AL-THALA, West Bank — Electricity from solar panels and wind turbines has revolutionized life in rural Palestinian herding communities: Machines, instead of hands, churn goat milk into butter, refrigerators store food that used to spoil and children no longer have to hurry to get their homework done before dark.

Hamas, Qatar to sign 250 million USD deal to rebuild Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 26, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Gaza's Hamas leaders will sign a deal with the Qatari government to get more than 250 million U.S. dollars for reconstruction projects in the Gaza Strip, a Hamas minister said on Sunday. The deal is being finalized and will be signed in a week, said Yousef al-Mansi, Hamas minister of housing and public work. Under the agreement, 5,000 houses will be built and 55,000 would be repaired, he told Xinhua, explaining that these houses were damaged during Israel's major military offensive more than three years ago.

Israel draws plan for 475-kilometer rail network in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - February 27, 2012 - 1:00am

Israel Railways has prepared a major plan for providing train service throughout the West Bank to serve both Israelis and Palestinians. The plan, prepared at the request of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, calls for establishing 11 new rail lines, according to a map that Haaretz has obtained. Katz has on several occasions expressed his intention to build a railway network in the West Bank.

Israel report: West Bank Palestinians may turn to violence if peace talks freeze persists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - February 27, 2012 - 1:00am

The stalled peace process and instability in the Middle East are liable to push the Palestinians in the West Bank to turn increasingly violent toward Israel, the Foreign Ministry said in its annual intelligence assessment. The assessment also states that a potential Israeli military operation in Gaza would generate a severe response from Egypt.

AP Interview: Hamas out of Syria, leader says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - (Interview) February 26, 2012 - 1:00am

CAIRO — The Hamas leadership has left its longtime base in Syria because of the regime's crackdown on opponents there, the No. 2 in the Islamic militant movement said in an interview Sunday at his new home on the outskirts of Cairo. Moussa Abu Marzouk also told The Associated Press that a unity deal between Hamas and its political rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, faces steep obstacles despite optimistic assessments made by both sides in public.

Netanyahu's latest Mideast peace push was nothing more than a swindle
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) February 27, 2012 - 1:00am

The Natan Eshel affair, in which the head of the Prime Minister's Bureau resigned and admitted to harassing a female subordinate, turned the three senior aides who blew the whistle on him into the heroes of a Greek tragedy. The three - Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser, Military Secretary Yohanan Locker and chief media adviser Yoaz Hendel, who has since resigned - must have known what they were getting into for ratting on a darling of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara. Nevertheless, they put themselves in harm's way and reported Eshel's misdeeds to the attorney general.

Palestinian activists plan massive march on Israel's borders next month
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anshel Pfeffer - (Opinion) February 26, 2012 - 1:00am

You probably have not yet heard about the Global March to Jerusalem (GM2J) planned in less than five weeks for March 30, but its organizers believe that it will focus the world's attention on Israel's oppression of the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

'Israel doesn't need recognition as Jewish state'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Greer Fay Cashman - (Opinion) February 27, 2012 - 1:00am

Former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy doesn't think that Israel needs to insist on having the Palestinians or anyone else for that matter recognize Israel as a Jewish state or approve its right to exist. Halevy who was speaking at Jerusalem's Kehilat Moreshet Avraham on Sunday night noted that Israel is a Jewish State and that any treaty or agreement signed with Israel by any other state or entity is tantamount to recognition. It doesn't have to be spelled out.

What About Israel's Atomic Weapons?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Leonard Fein - (Opinion) February 26, 2012 - 1:00am

What About Israel's Atomic Weapons? Israel’s best kept secret is not of the “maybe yes, maybe no” variety. In fact it is a “yes” so definitive that it has 162 million Google entries. Honest. That’s what Google’s response is when you type in “Israel’s nuclear policy” — books, articles, essays, arguments, all blithely recognizing that Israel has nuclear arms.

Many instances of discrimination
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Shlomo Gazit - (Opinion) February 23, 2012 - 1:00am

Apartheid policy was a set of principles of racial separation between whites, blacks, Indians and coloreds in pre-1994 South Africa and the attributing of privileges there to the white minority. Its principal characteristic in South Africa does not apply to Israel, which does not discriminate between black and white citizens and, indeed, has even adopted policies of encouraging immigration and reverse discrimination regarding black Jews from Cochin and Ethiopia.

Apartheid has a face
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Samah Jaber - (Opinion) February 23, 2012 - 1:00am

Last month, in the early evening, as I drove on Jerusalem's Route 1 in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, I was attacked by several Israeli boys. They were about 12 or 13 years old, in religious orthodox dress. They threw a ball of burning gas into my car while I was stopped at a traffic light on my way to attend class at the Israeli Institute of Psychoanalysis.

Smugglers’ tunnels are Hamas’ lifeblood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Salon.com
by Matthew Duss - (Opinion) February 27, 2012 - 1:00am

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — The first things you notice are the trucks, entering Rafah’s dusty main thoroughfare from small side streets, flatbeds fully loaded and covered. Then there are the young boys packed three to a motorbike, darting heedlessly in between the rumbling behemoths, clutching shovels. As you get closer, you see the enormous mounds of earth and rubble, some 10 feet high and more, set amid acres of makeshift canopies, tents and metal garages, which serve as loading docks for Rafah’s booming tunnel trade.

My ‘Birthwrong’ experience
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Pennsylvanian
by Joshua Goldman - (Opinion) February 27, 2012 - 1:00am

I was compelled to write this as a result of Glenn Shrum’s mischaracterization of Taglit-Birthright in his article on the free trip to Israel offered to Jewish youth (“Taglit-Birthright Israel gaining popularity” 02/23/2012). The article makes the assertion that the trip is apolitical and that it avoids certain areas in the country — the allegedly dangerous ones that make neurotic Jewish mothers queasy — for mere practical reasons. As a former participant of the trip and someone who was raised Jewish in a decidedly pro-Israel household, I do not believe this is true.

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