Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: A classified US wargame reportedly suggests an Israeli attack on Iran could draw the United States into a wider regional conflict, possibly including hundreds of American deaths. Another hunger striking Palestinian prisoner is said to be in mortal danger. PLO officials say they are ready to resume talks with Israel. Israel says it is making several improvements to the quality of life for Palestinians living under occupation. Fatah officials denounce Israel's policy of assassinations. Palestinians are to ask for a UN investigation of settler abuses. The EU pledges €35 million for a Palestinian infrastructure project. Israeli officials are set to claim that the Palestinian economy is not ready for independence. Pres. Obama has a telephone conversation with Pres. Abbas. Israel continues to deny Palestinians access to their own water. Israel's military is accused of abusing Palestinian children. COMMENTARY: ATFP President Ziad Asali suggests practical steps that can be taken by all sides during the political interregnum on Israeli-Palestinian peace. Richard Cohen says Israel needs to buy time on Iran. Sefi Rachlevsky says Iran has started a Cold War between the United States and Israel. Yakir Elkariv says an Israeli attack on Iran would reveal a death wish. Navi Pillay says indiscriminate shooting of rockets between Israel and Gaza is illegal and unjustifiable. Gershon Baskin says Israel must not cut off electricity to the Palestinians. Donald Macintyre says Einstein considered the problem of how Jews and Arabs could live together in Palestine and could not find a solution. Yossi Alpher says violence has not only failed, it has undermined a two-state solution. Ghassan Khatib says violence is only increasing the Palestinian determination to end the occupation. Ephraim Sneh says the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has no military solution. Bernard Avishai says informed Chinese are predicting that the occupation will ultimately turn global opinion against Israel.

U.S. War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mark Mazzetti, Tom Shanker - March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON — A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials. The officials said the so-called war game was not designed as a rehearsal for American military action — and they emphasized that the exercise’s results were not the only possible outcome of a real-world conflict.

Physicians of female Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike say her life is in danger
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
March 20, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian woman who has refused food for the past month to protest her imprisonment by Israel without formal charges is in grave danger of dying, a medical rights group said Tuesday. Hana Shalabi lost 14 kilograms (31 pounds), her muscles are wasting and she is in excruciating pain, said Ran Cohen of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which has provided her a doctor. She has taken only water since her arrest on Feb. 16.

Abbas to Obama: PLO ready for talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 20, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- PLO official Saeb Erekat said Tuesday that President Mahmoud Abbas insisted Palestinians are ready to return to negotiations if Israel commits to Quartet requirements, in a conversation with US President Barack Obama. Obama called Abbas on Monday to assure him of the US commitment to Middle East peace, the White House said, in their first conversation since meeting in New York as the US vetoed Abbas' bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN six months ago.

Israel says improved crossing procedures for Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 20, 2012 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli military department in charge of civil affairs in the Palestinian territories said on Tuesday it has made a number of improvements to Palestinians' quality of life, Israeli media reported. The Israeli Civil Administration told Voice of Israel radio it had improved procedures at a number of military checkpoints in the West Bank. A Palestinian official, speaking to Ma'an on condition of anonymity, said there was nothing new in the announced improvements.

Fatah official: Assassinations kill 2-state solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 20, 2012 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The head of Fatah in the Gaza Strip hit out at Israel's assassination policy on Monday, a week after factions in Gaza said a truce to halt recent violence would stop targeted killings by Israel. Abdullah Abu Samhadanah told reporters the killings had "assassinated the possibility of reaching a political compromise, leaving no room for the two-state solution."

Palestinians ask for U.N. human rights investigation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

GENEVA, March 19 (Reuters) - The Palestinian Authority has asked the United Nations Human Rights Council to conduct a formal inquiry into the impact of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki said on Monday. The probe should look into "attempts to confiscate land and settler violence along with the impact of settlement expansion on Palestinian life and basic human rights," he said, adding that the proposal for an inquiry was formally tabled on Friday.

EU pledges 35 million euros for Palestinian infrastructure project
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
by DPA - March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

The European Union on Monday pledged 35 million euros (46.3 million dollars) for two Palestinian infrastructure projects. "We have signed two important agreements for a total amount of 35 million euros... one for a water treatment plant in northern West Bank ... another is for the crossings in Gaza," the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Salam Fayyad said. The money comes from the 300 million euros in Palestinian aid that the EU has earmarked for 2012 - the same figure that had been committed in 2011 - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters.

Israel: Palestinian economy not stable enough for independent state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - March 18, 2012 - 12:00am

Israel is expected to present a report Wednesday at a donor meeting on Palestinian aid in Brussels claiming that the Palestinian Authority is not sufficiently stable to meet the standards of a well-functioning state.

Obama calls Abbas to discuss Middle East peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 20, 2012 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama spoke to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time in six months on Monday to discuss the long-stalled Middle East peace process, the White House said. White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement that Obama called Abbas and told him the United States was committed to Middle East peace. He told Abbas both sides need to reinforce the efforts that have brought an end to recent fighting and to avoid provocative actions.

In the West Bank, Springs of Contention
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Arieh O'Sullivan - March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

Ein Ariq, West Bank -- A convoy of white United Nations jeeps pulls into the olive-tree laden valley below the Jewish community of Eli. They are greeted by Jamal Deragmeh, the mayor of the nearby Palestinian town of Lubban Al-Sharkiya, who points out the cement pool around the spring and complains. “If you weren’t here,” he says to the representative of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “The [Jewish] settlers would come and put a bullet in my head.”

Israeli military accused of mistreating children
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Donald MacIntyre - March 20, 2012 - 12:00am

The Israeli military is accused of a "pattern of systematic ill treatment" of children and teenagers detained in the West Bank in a report by an international non-government organisation published today. It alleges that minors between the ages of 12 and 17 have been arrested at night, bound and blindfolded, and interrogated without their parents or lawyers present. The arrest and transfer are "often accompanied by verbal abuse and humiliation, threats as well as physical violence", the Defence for Children International [DCI] adds.

Decisions in the Interregnum in Palestine and Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Ziad Asali - (Blog) March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

The year 2011 will go down in history as the year when the two-state solution went into deep freeze. Yet even during this hibernation there is much that can, and indeed must, be done to prevent an even graver crisis.

Playing for time through a strike on Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Richard Cohen - (Opinion) March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

Nations have doctrines. The Soviet Union had the Brezh­nev Doctrine and the United States had the Monroe Doctrine, among others. Even little Israel has one. I call it the Maybe the Dog Will Talk Doctrine, and it is based on a folk tale of the rabbi who makes a preposterous deal with a tyrant: If the tyrant spares the lives of local Jews, the rabbi will teach the tyrant’s dog to talk. When the rabbi tells his wife what he has done, she calls him a fool. But, he says, “A year is a long time.

Iran already started a war, a cold one between Israel, U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Sefi Rachlevsky - (Opinion) March 20, 2012 - 12:00am

Who said the home front isn't protected? People who have spoken in recent years with Defense Minister Ehud Barak know he's well aware of the suggestion that he take care of two things before a war with Iran: The return of Gilad Shalit and the sale of his home in the luxury Akirov Towers.

Iran strike a death wish
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yakir Elkariv - (Opinion) March 20, 2012 - 12:00am

The sanctions against Iran may accelerate the Ayatollah regime’s end. Once the economic pressure grows heavier, social unrest would grow and may develop into a popular uprising. However, such processes take time, and it’s uncertain whether officials around here would have the patience to wait. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – with the encouragement of loyal journalists – is determined to enter the annals of history as the leader who saw farther than anyone else and saved Israel from the Iranian nuclear threat. However, his eagerness may turn out to be fateful.

Protecting civilians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Navi Pillay - (Opinion) March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

My visit to Israel and Palestine a year ago left me with a profound sense of the difficult human rights situation faced by many Palestinians and Israelis. Still, the openness of representatives on all sides to engage seriously on the human rights challenges I identified was encouraging. Taking this spirit of constructive engagement as our point of departure, I and my staff have been watching closely for progress on the issues I raised with Israeli and Palestinian authorities in Gaza, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv.

Don't Shut the Switch
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

One of the items not transferred to the Palestinian Authority with its creation in 1994 was electricity generation. With the exception of the Jericho area, the PA is not permitted to generate any of its own electricity. In fact, even the PA’s creation of distribution companies in the West Bank is not in accord with the agreement. In terms of electricity for the Palestinians, the Israeli Civil Administration is fully in charge.

Even Einstein couldn't think of a peace plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Donald MacIntyre - (Opinion) March 20, 2012 - 12:00am

Given that she had had a two-year affair with the married Albert Einstein when she was 23 and he was 44, and that she was a Jew desperate to escape an Austria overrun by the Nazis, what resounds down the years about the letter Betty Neumann sent to Einstein in America is its restraint and delicacy. Writing to the already world famous scientist in German two months after Hitler's tanks had rolled into Vienna, Miss Neumann, by now in her mid-thirties, formally addresses her former lover – now installed at Princeton University – as "Highly Esteemed Herr Professor".

Not only violence has failed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

In reviewing more than six decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a cost/benefit analysis of the two sides' reliance on violence produces a very mixed record. Whereas Israel has generally triumphed in its conventional wars against neighboring Arab states, success in fighting non-state actors--primarily the Palestinians but also Hizballah--has been much more difficult to achieve. The Palestinian record against Israel is no better.

Learning the lessons
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

Violence has been always a prominent characteristic of how Israel handles its relationships in the neighborhood. The state was created through violence wielded against the indigenous Palestinian population, resulting in the exile of 800,000 Palestinian refugees to surrounding countries. Afterwards, the use of force became a doctrine in Israel, used to intimidate its neighbors and impress its friends.

This conflict has no military solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ephraim Sneh - (Opinion) March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

We are in a period of loss of confidence in the peace process, when the chances of reaching a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appear distant. Now, again, we hear Palestinian voices calling for a return to violent struggle. This seems like an appropriate time to review the history of violent clashes between the two sides--and their outcome.

The West Bank Through Chinese Eyes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Bernard Avishai - (Opinion) March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

Three weeks ago—just while Benjamin Netanyahu was preparing for his Palestineless AIPAC speech—I accompanied a team of about thirty Chinese businesspeople on a visit to the West Bank, led by a former Duke colleague, Liu Kang, now also the dean of the Institute of Arts and Humanities Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University. It was kind of tour d’horizon for uninitiated but intrigued foreign investors—“some billionaires,” Kang assured me—shoe and leather manufacturers, toy exporters, equity-fund managers, people by now accustomed to seeing the world as their market, if not their oyster.

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