Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: The US Supreme Court postpones a ruling on whether Americans born in Jerusalem can list Israel as their birthplace on their passports. Israel suspends cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council. The PA institution-building program is gravely imperiled by a financial crisis. The PA will ask the UN to demand an end to Israel's policy of “administrative detentions.” Marwan Barghouti calls for ending all cooperation with Israel and a new wave of Palestinian civil disobedience against the occupation. Fatah says Hamas has detained its spokesman in Gaza. Hamas arrests dozens of drivers for “spreading rumors” about the fuel shortage, as an online campaign blames the organization for the crisis. The PA is set to ratify a budget with a more than $1 billion shortfall for this year. Former PM Olmert insists Pres. Abbas is indeed “a partner for peace.” COMMENTARY: Nehemia Shtrasler says the deal on the Migron "unauthorized" settlement outpost is a judicial mockery. Chemi Shalev says J Street is like "the 'Bizarro World' of AIPAC.” Nimrod Asulin says Israel has lost some traditional allies in the Middle East, but has found new ones elsewhere. Sarah Colborne says Jerusalem is at the heart of the Palestinian struggle. Marc Schneier and Shamsi Ali say Jews and Muslims should strengthen their ties in the face of terrorist attacks. Yossi Alpher says it would be a disaster for both Israelis and Palestinians if the PA collapsed, and Ghassan Khatib says that without international action it could happen. Gershom Gorenberg says the blurring of the line between Israel and the occupied territories is a dangerous fiction. Barbara Slavin says Israelis fear being blamed for a US-Iran war. Hussein Ibish says a settlement goods boycott is indeed possible.

Justices Decline to Say if Jerusalem-Born Americans Can Claim Israeli Birthplace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by John H. Cushman - March 26, 2012 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a lower court to decide whether Congress has the authority to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to claim Israel as their birthplace on their passports. The decision postpones resolution of a long-running dispute between Congress and the executive branch over the power to set foreign policy, in this case the highly fraught issue of whether to formally recognize Israel’s claim that Jerusalem is its capital.

Israel: Ties to U.N. Rights Council Cut
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

Israel suspended its working relations with the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday and will prevent a United Nations team from entering Israel or the West Bank for a planned investigation of Jewish settlements, the Foreign Ministry said. Israel accuses the council of having an anti-Israel bias. Israeli leaders were angered by the council’s adoption of a resolution last week that condemned settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and by its plans for a fact-finding mission to investigate the settlements.

Palestinian Authority faces economic woes, public anger as statehood efforts lag
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Karin Brulliard - March 26, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Even as attempts to end the Israeli occupation have idled in recent years, Palestinians and their international backers have hailed the West Bank’s expanding economy as one critical step on the path to statehood. Now the Palestinian Authority is mired in financial crisis, and there is a growing sentiment here that economic development efforts intended to lay the groundwork for independence have backfired.

PA will ask UN summit to end Israeli administrative detention
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- After the UN Human Rights Council voted to launch an international investigation into Israeli settlements last week, the PA prisoners ministry is preparing to ask a UN meeting to force an end to Israel's detention of Palestinians without charge. Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said Monday the PA is launching a legal campaign for the a UN meeting on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in Geneva starting next Monday.

Jailed Fatah leader calls to end ties with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Noah Browning - March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -- From his cell in an Israeli prison, one of the most revered figures in Palestinian politics called on Monday for a new wave of civil resistance in the decades-long quest for statehood, and for severing all ties with Israel. Marwan Barghouti is a leading figure in the Fatah movement. His leadership and charisma were seen as a driving force behind the last intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation launched in late 2000.

Fatah: Hamas detained spokesman
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Fatah on Tuesday accused Hamas of detaining its spokesman in Gaza a day earlier. Hamas forces detained Fayez Abu Eita on Monday, Fatah spokesman Usama al-Qawasmi said in a statement. The detention is a "dangerous escalation" and threatens efforts to reconcile the rival factions, al-Qawasmi said. It is a disappointment for the Palestinian leadership and Egyptian mediators, he added. On Tuesday, Hamas accused the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority of detaining eight of its members across the West Bank.

Hamas holds dozens of drivers in Gaza power crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak - March 26, 2012 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Police in Hamas-ruled Gaza have detained dozens of taxi drivers for allegedly spreading "rumors" about the territory's worst power crisis in years, officials said Monday, The detentions, which began over the weekend, signaled that the Islamic militant Hamas is increasingly concerned about the political fallout from crippling shortages of fuel and electricity. Authorities did not explain what got the drivers in trouble, beyond saying the "rumors" had to do with the energy crisis.

Gazans blame Hamas for energy crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Elior Levy - March 26, 2012 - 12:00am

Social justice? The recent energy crisis in Gaza has enraged many of the Strip's residents, who are now launching a new campaign on Facebook, calling to hold a general strike on Thursday. The campaign organizers are calling on all drivers, business owners, schools and universities to strike as an act of protest in the face of a growing rift between Gaza and the West Bank, and the deepening electricity and fuel crisis.

PNA to ratify budget with shortfall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, March 27 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) will ratify its 2012 fiscal year budget at 3 billion U.S. dollars, with a shortfall of 1.3 billion dollars, a Palestinian official said Tuesday. Ghassan Al-Khatib, spokesman for the Palestinian government in the West Bank, blamed "unprecedented lack" of foreign aid for the deficit, warning that the shortfall threatens the PNA's ability to carry out its services, especially in the education and health sectors.

Olmert to J Street: Abbas a partner for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON - "Don’t tell me there is no partner. There is a partner. (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) wants peace with Israel," former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said during a J Street gala dinner on Monday. The former Israeli premier said Abbas was against terror during the Yasser Arafat era and was in favor of peace negotiations during Ariel Sharon's tenure as prime minister, as well as during his own.

Migron deal makes a joke of Israel's judicial system
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nehemia Shtrasler - (Opinion) March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

Here's one thing everyone in Israel agrees about: Benny Begin is a very honest guy. His unusual integrity is manifest in the agreement he forged recently with residents of the illegal Migron outpost, allowing them to stay there for three more years and then move to a new outpost to be built on state land. This is an agreement toward which the Supreme Court displayed disdain; the government winked as it signed the document with the settlers, and the agreement even received the blessing of the Knesset's most extreme right-wing member, Minister Daniel Hershkowitz of Habayit Hayehudi.

J Street is like the 'Bizarro World' of AIPAC
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chemi Shalev - (Opinion) March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

The rhetorical question posed in the Book of Amos “would the two go together unless they have agreed” was answered in Washington on Monday night when former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared as the keynote speaker at the gala dinner of the leftist Jewish lobby J Street. Olmert and J Street, after all, have at least two important common denominators: both strongly support a two-state solution and both desperately seek public legitimacy.

Israel's new friends
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Nimrod Asulin - (Opinion) March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

Following the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel managed to deescalate its decades-long conflict with the Arab world with an earnest effort to forge a peace process with the Palestinians. Over the last decade, however, the peace talks witnessed setbacks, which subsequently led to an escalation in violence. This escalation hampered the Jewish state's diplomatic ties, especially with its one time regional ally, Turkey. Due to the changing realities, Israel has responded by returning to and employing an “old” foreign relation policy in a new way.

Jerusalem is at the heart of the Palestinian struggle
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Sarah Colborne - (Opinion) March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

Jerusalem is a city that embodies the cultural heritage of three religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Yet Palestinians – both Christian and Muslim – are being driven out of Jerusalem. Just one example of this ethnic cleansing is taking place in Silwan, where 1,000 residents are facing imminent eviction as their homes make way for the King David tourist park. In response to the urgency of the situation, an international alliance is mounting a series of peaceful protests worldwide on 30 March to call for an end to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians living in Jerusalem.

Strengthening Muslim-Jewish ties in the face of evil
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Shamsi Ali, Marc Schneier - (Opinion) March 26, 2012 - 12:00am

NEW YORK (JTA) -- As a rabbi and an imam, we deeply mourn the tragic loss of innocent lives in the murderous terrorist attacks in France. We express our heartfelt sympathy and compassion for the bereaved. Amid the wall-to-wall media coverage of the attacks and their aftermath, one piece of the story has received less attention: the inspiring manner in which Muslims and Jews in France have stood side by side in denouncing these heinous acts.

It could happen
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

Two primary actors that are not candidates for dismantling the PA are Israel and the United States. True, Israel knowingly endangers the PA when it withholds monthly tax and excise transfers--as it did several months ago and as several Israeli government ministers are threatening once again. But most Israeli officials understand they need the PA nearly as much as Palestinians do.

Without a remedy, it is possible
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) March 26, 2012 - 12:00am

Despite the many statements and various discussions about the possibility that the Palestinian Authority would dissolve itself, the real chance of this happening is almost nil. What is a serious possibility, however, is that the Palestinian Authority would collapse--not as a desired or planned event, but as the result of difficult economic and political obstacles facing the Palestinian people and their leadership.

Draw the Line: How Israel Erases Itself
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Gershom Gorenberg - (Opinion) March 26, 2012 - 12:00am

One day in the late 1980s, my wife and I visited a staffer at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem for an off-the-record conversation. The walls of his office were decorated with large maps produced, he mentioned, by the CIA. One showed the West Bank, with the border between it and Israel precisely depicted. Our careful journalistic distance from the interviewee evaporated. We shamelessly begged him for a copy, which he politely gave us.

Israelis Fear Blame For US-Iran War
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Monitor
by Barbara Slavin - (Opinion) March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

A thread of anxiety ran through a conference of liberal American Jews and Israelis Sunday [March 25]. The worry: that Israel would bear the blame for any military confrontation between the United States and Iran. Retired brigadier general Shlomo Brom, a former director of strategic planning for the Israeli Defense Forces General Staff, told an audience at the J-Street convention that he had participated in talks with the George W. Bush administration before it attacked Iraq in 2003.

A settlement boycott can work
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

Peter Beinart’s recent call in the New York Times for Jewish Americans to boycott Israeli settlement goods has been met with angry responses from many Jewish Americans. This includes some who are opposed to the settler movement. The most important of these objections hold that a boycott cannot work because Jewish Americans won’t go along with such a program and there isn’t much to boycott anyway. Both arguments hold little water.

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