Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: DM Barak says Israel and the US disagree on the timetable for dealing with Iran's nuclear program. The PA says it has spent $7 billion on Gaza since the split with Hamas in 2007. PM Fayyad urges donors to fund a desalinization plant to alleviate the water crisis in Gaza. Pres. Abbas and Sec. Clinton discuss the upcoming Quartet meeting. The power crisis in Gaza is exacerbated by tensions with Egypt. Israel finalizes a deal with Germany for a 6th Dolphin submarine. The UK Advertising Standards Authority insists Israeli representations of its borders adhere to the 1967 lines. The Egyptian military is resisting Muslim Brotherhood calls to open the border with Gaza, as Egypt's relations with Hamas remain tense. A new EU report says Israel is “turning a blind eye” to settler violence against Palestinians, particularly farmers. COMMENTARY: Ha'aretz says the settlement project is leading to Israel's self-destruction. Gideon Levy says Israel is not succeeding in playing the eternal victim. Ari Shavit says Israel isn't bluffing about a possible attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Douglas Bloomfield says PM Netanyahu fears that a 2nd-term Pres. Obama might not be “so easily bullied.” Edward Stourton asks if an Israeli attack on Iran is inevitable or preventable. J.J. Goldberg says recent remarks by EU foreign policy chief Ashton have been completely misunderstood and misrepresented. George Hishmeh says Americans are becoming more aware of religious extremism and racism in Israel. The Daily Star says the Toulouse killer is only the latest terrorist to cynically misappropriate the Palestinian cause. Aaron David Miller says it's ridiculous to claim that Israel controls Washington. Hussein Ibish says Jewish Americans and all those interested in peace should boycott settlement goods.

Israeli defense minister says Israel and US disagree on timetable for effective Iran action
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — Israel and the US disagree on what would be a realistic timetable for stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, Israel’s defense minister said Thursday, but stopped short of threatening unilateral Israeli action. Ehud Barak reiterated concerns that Iran is trying to make its suspected nuclear weapons program immune from attack before taking a decision on assembling atomic bombs. Israel “cannot afford” to wait in such a situation, Barak told Israel Radio.

PA 'spent $7 billion' in Gaza since split
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 21, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority has spent over $7 billion in Gaza since 2007, Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf said Wednesday. The Fatah-led government in Ramallah has continued to meet its obligations in Gaza even though Fatah was ousted from the coastal enclave by Hamas in 2007, Assaf said in a statement. The PA spends around $120 million each month on the Gaza Strip, paying the salaries of around 80,000 civil servants, the Fatah official said.

PA says funds needed to reverse water crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 21, 2012 - 12:00am

BRUSSELS (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Wednesday said he hoped donors would fund a desalination plant to ease the water crisis in the Gaza Strip. Speaking from Brussels in a weekly interview to the official Voice of Palestine radio, Fayyad said the plant would cost almost half a billion dollars. Over-pumping of the coastal aquifer has reduced the quality and quantity of water in Gaza, Fayyad said. According to a 2009 World Bank report, between 90 and 95 percent of the water available in Gaza is not fit for human consumption.

PA: Abbas, Clinton discuss upcoming Quartet meet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 21, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton phoned President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday ahead of a meeting of the international Quartet scheduled for next month, state media reported. Clinton's call to Abbas was to follow up on discussions between Abbas and Obama a day earlier, the official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported Wednesday. According to the report, Clinton said a group of US officials will arrive to the region soon. Abbas told Obama on Monday he would return to negotiations if Israel committed to Quartet requirements.

Egypt-Hamas standoff leads to Gaza power crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Karin Laub - March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A dispute between Egypt and Gaza's Hamas government has produced the worst energy crisis here in years: Gazans are enduring 18-hour-a-day blackouts, fuel is running low for hospital backup generators, raw sewage pours into the Mediterranean Sea for lack of treatment pumps and gas stations have shut down. The fuel and electricity shortages, which have escalated over the past two months, are infuriating long-suffering Gazans who say their basic needs, perhaps more than ever, are being sacrificed for politics.

Israel finalizes deal with Germany for sixth submarine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Israel on Wednesday finalized the deal for its sixth German-made submarine, which it believes will boost the capabilities of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), local media reported. Israel purchased the Dolphin-class submarine at 530 million U.S. dollars, while Germany announced that it will subsidize one-third of the total price. The signing of the contract took place in Berlin between Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and German State Secretary at the Ministry of Defense Wolf Rudiger.

Want to promote Israel in the U.K.? Recognize 1967 borders
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) cancelled an advertisement by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism in London which attempted to promote a new book on northern Israel. The reason for the cancellation of the ad, which was first published in British newspapers in November 2011, was the fact that the map that was attached to it did not properly demarcate the 1967 borders in the Golan Heights and the West Bank.

Egypt's rulers resist Muslim Brotherhood's push to open Gaza border
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 21, 2012 - 12:00am

The Muslim Brotherhood aims to open the Egyptian border with Gaza to commerce, a shift that would transform life for Palestinians there but which is hitting resistance from Egyptian authorities reluctant to change a longstanding policy. The biggest party in Egypt's new parliament, the Islamists are not yet in government but have been seeking ways to ease the impact of restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt on what passes in and out of the territory run by Hamas, an ideological offshoot of the Brotherhood.

Egypt and Hamas: The honeymoon that wasn't
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Mohammed Najib - March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

The high hopes Gaza’s Hamas leaders had in the Egyptian revolution and the ouster of their old nemesis, Hosni Mubarak, have been swallowed up by growing acrimony and traditional distrust. Tensions were on display during the fighting between Israel and Gaza-based militant groups last week, when Egypt’s efforts to broker a truce were subject to repeated delays and violations. The ceasefire gradually went into affect, and now the two sides are back to sniping over who is responsible for the fuel shortage in Gaza that has been behind weeks of brownouts and blackouts.

Israel 'turning blind eye' to West Bank settlers' attacks on Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ian Traynor - March 21, 2012 - 12:00am

Jewish settlers in the West Bank are conducting a systematic and expanding campaign of violence against Palestinian farmers, families and children with the Israeli authorities turning a blind eye, according to confidential reports from senior European Union officials. In two reports to Brussels from EU heads of mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah, obtained by the Guardian, the officials found that settler violence against Palestinians has more than tripled in three years to total hundreds of incidents.

Settlement policy will cause Israel to self-destruct
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has devoted a great deal of effort to moving the Iranian nuclear program to the top of the international agenda. His emphasis on Tehran's threat to destroy the "Zionist entity" has contributed to increased pressure on Iran by the United States and Europe and the tightening of economic sanctions against it.

Guilt-tripping the world is dangerous for Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

As if the horror in Toulouse wasn't enough, as if the suspicion that Al-Qaida was involved in the attack wasn't enough, and as if the constant criticism of Israel wasn't enough, we've invented another imaginary enemy: Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief.

Washington and Jerusalem differ on Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

A week ago, a senior Israeli official had an American guest over for a late-night chat. Because the guest is intelligent and influential, the official, after offering whiskey and serving coffee, cut straight to the chase.

Setting back the war clock
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Douglas Bloomfield - (Opinion) March 21, 2012 - 12:00am

The question of whether US or Israeli forces will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in this volatile election year became murkier in the wake of this month’s AIPAC policy conference and some serious saber rattling coming from the Washington Convention Center, as well as from Jerusalem. Some factors on the international game board suggest the likelihood of a US attack has diminished, but political factors may be driving the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to ratchet up Israeli plans for possible military action.

Does America and Iran's mutual mistrust mean war is inevitable?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Edward Stourton - (Opinion) March 19, 2012 - 12:00am

n late 2004, in an atmosphere of frenzied speculation about war with Iran, Jack Straw - then Britain's Foreign Secretary - told the BBC that military action was "inconceivable." "If I'd not done so, in my view we would have been involved in a firestorm inside the Labour government." For the United States and Britain had recently invaded Iraq. "It was impossible for any British government, but particularly a Labour government given what had happened in Iraq, to contemplate or have any dalliance with the idea of military action in Iran," he now recalls.

Ashton's False Equivalency That Wasn't
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - (Opinion) March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

What could possibly explain the logic of the European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who stunned the Jewish world on March 19 by lumping together the murdered Jewish children of Toulouse in the same sentence with Arab civilian war victims in Gaza? What conceivable morality could combine them in one thought? As near as I can figure, there are three ways of understanding her comment. Let’s take them one at a time.

Calling Israel's bluff
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu, the arrogant Israeli prime minister, is always tempted to repeat — erroneously — to foreign audiences that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. All he has to do is look around his country and see how some Israeli citizens, Jews and non-Jews, including women face discrimination in their communities.

Hijacked cause
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
(Editorial) March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

The Toulouse killer’s claim that the Palestinian struggle was the motive behind his recent murdering spree is just the latest example of terrorists’ misappropriation of the cause for their own selfish reasons. After shooting dead three soldiers, three Jewish children and one teacher over the last 10 days, Mohamed Merah was Wednesday cornered in his apartment by police. The Frenchman, of Algerian descent, has allegedly declared allegiance to Al-Qaeda, and said that the killings were designed to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children.

Six Big Lies about How Jerusalem Runs Washington
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Aaron David Miller - (Opinion) March 21, 2012 - 12:00am

Several years after leaving government, I wrote a piece in the Washington Post titled "Israel's Lawyer." The article was an honest effort to explain how several senior officials in U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration (myself included) had a strong inclination to see the Arab-Israeli negotiations through a pro-Israel lens. That filter played a role -- though hardly the primary one -- in the failure of endgame diplomacy, particularly at the ill-fated Camp David summit in July 2000.

Three Cheers for a Settlement Boycott
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) March 21, 2012 - 12:00am

The backlash against Peter Beinart's principled call for Jewish Americans to boycott Israeli settlement goods mirrors a debate that has been raging within the pro-Palestinian community. While many Jewish Americans, including those who are highly critical of the settlements, have reacted angrily to Beinart's idea and reject the notion of any boycott of any Israelis whatsoever, in pro-Palestinian circles the debate has been whether or not to boycott all of Israel or to focus on the occupation and the settlements.

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