Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israel reportedly is reserving 10 percent of the occupied West Bank for more settlement expansion. Pres. Abas reportedly drops a threat to dismantle the PA from a draft letter to PM Netanyahu. Israeli authorities close off the West Bank ahead of Land Day. Israeli police arrest 16 accused hooligans for an anti-Arab soccer riot. Settlers in Hebron seize a Palestinian home, and the Israeli military says this poses a security threat. New Kadima leader Mofaz faces many challenges. A hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner agrees to end her fast in exchange for release to Gaza for three years. Israeli officials accuse Hamas of responsibility for attacks against Israel. An arts center in a Palestinian refugee camp celebrates Palestinian culture and history. COMMENTARY: Ha’aretz says Israelis should listen to Marwan Barghouti. Sam Bahour and Fida Jiryis say Land Day is still important. Harriet Sherwood says more Israeli fences might be a sign of weakness. Raphael Magarik and Elisheva Goldberg say the pro-israel Jewish left was much weaker in the past. Joel Braunold says Israelis and Palestinians must reach out to each other. Isam al Khafaji looks at changes in Hamas. Hanni Manor looks at contested water issues in the occupied Palestinian territories. Talal Okal says Sinai has been out of control for some time. Yoram Meital says events in Sinai offer both challenges and opportunities for Israel. Tony Karon says Palestinian protests challenge both Israeli and the Palestinian leadership. Peter Beinart responds to Bret Stephens' critique of his new book.

Israel Defense Ministry plan earmarks 10 percent of West Bank for Settlement Expansion
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - March 30, 2012 - 12:00am

For years Israel’s Civil Administration has been covertly locating and mapping available land in the West Bank and naming the parcels after existing Jewish settlements, presumably with an eye toward expanding these communities. The Civil Administration, part of the Defense Ministry, released its maps only in response to a request from anti-settlement activist Dror Etkes under the Freedom of Information Law. In some places the boundaries of the parcels outlined in the maps coincide with the route of the West Bank separation barrier.

Palestinian Leader Drops Key Threat to Dismantle Government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
March 29, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Foreign diplomats say President Mahmoud Abbas has dropped a planned threat to dismantle his autonomy government to protest the deadlock in peace efforts with Israel. Abbas had been planning to deliver the threat in a letter to Israel. But, according to a copy of the letter obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, the language has been dropped from the text. The diplomats who provided the letter said Abbas scrapped the threat at the urging of President Barack Obama. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the letter has not yet been sent.

Israel Girds for Regional Anti-Israel Protests
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Diaa Hadid - March 30, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — Israeli security forces in riot gear prepared Friday for Palestinian and Arab demonstrations, deploying at traditional flashpoints and along Israel's frontiers and confining West Bank Palestinians to their territory. By midday, minor skirmishes had broken out between protesters and security forces in the Jerusalem area. Palestinians threw rocks and Israeli troops responded with stun grenades. No casualties were reported. Elsewhere things were calm.

Israel Police Detains 16 Soccer Fans Over Attack of Arab Workers in Jerusalem Mall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Oz Rosenberg - March 29, 2012 - 12:00am

The Jerusalem Police detained 16 fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer franchise for questioning on Thursday on suspicion of taking part in an attack on Arab employees in Jerusalem’s Malha mall last week. Ten of the fans were released under restrictive conditions, while the remaining six, one of whom is a minor, are being brought in front of a judge for a remand hearing later on Thursday. Beitar fans captured on security camera at the Malha shopping mall. Beitar fans captured on security camera at the Malha shopping mall.

Dozens of Hebron Settlers Stake Claim on House in Palestinian Neighborhood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Oz Rosenberg - March 29, 2012 - 12:00am

Dozens of residents from the Jewish settlement in Hebron occupied a three story house in a Palestinian neighborhood in the city overnight Wednesday, about one hundred meters south of the Cave of the Patriarchs. The group, which entered the house around 1 A.M. on Thursday, includes entire families, women and children. Representatives of the group claim that the house was purchased nearly four months ago after lengthy negotiations with its previous Palestinian owner. The group states that it holds documents validating its claim on the building.

IDF: Settlers in Hebron Building May Harm Security
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Tovah Lazaroff - March 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Fifteen settler families who moved into a vacant Palestinian apartment building in the West Bank city of Hebron early Thursday morning could create a security risk, the IDF charged. The three-story stone structure is located by a small park near the Cave of the Patriarchs, in a Palestinian neighborhood under Israeli control. Shlomo Levinger, who moved there with his seven children, said that a number of Hebron Jews had bought the building from its Palestinian owner months ago.

Israel’s New Kadima Leader Faces Challenges of Rescuing Party
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - March 28, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — While gliding to a surprisingly easy victory over Kadima party Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, Israel's newly elected opposition leader, Shaul Mofaz, faces an uphill battle in keeping the once-dominant centrist political party from splintering. The Iranian-born Mofaz, 64, comfortably defeated Livni in Tuesday's primary, garnering nearly 62% of the vote in the party election. Speaking Wednesday, he wasted no time in setting his sights on Israel's next national election, which is not scheduled until the end of 2013 but which many believe may be called as early as this fall.

Palestinian Prisoner Ends Hunger Strike After Expulsion Deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 29, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, March 29 (Xinhua) -- A Palestinian prisoner suspended her hunger strike after 43 days upon a deal to be expelled for three years to Gaza, Palestinian sources said Thursday evening. Hana Shalabi, a woman from the West Bank, agreed personally to the Israeli offer of temporary expulsion, the sources added. Palestinian officials and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helped forge the deal, according to the sources.

Defense Official: Hamas Factions Behind Attacks on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - March 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Hamas is continuing to direct terrorist activity at Israeli targets through various means, despite its public declarations that it is committed to maintaining calm. Israeli intelligence sources have acknowledged, however, that the Islamic militant group currently wishes to maintain a low profile in an effort not to anger the Egyptians and not be perceived as violating the current cease-fire.

Arts Center in Ain al-Hilweh Showcases, Exports Palestinian Culture, History
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Mohammed Zaatari - March 30, 2012 - 12:00am

AIN AL-HILWEH, Lebanon: Preparations are in full swing for Land Day, with thousands expected to march toward the country’s border with Israel, but remembering Palestinian history doesn’t always mean marching. A cultural center in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp is working to document Palestinian history through artisan creations.

Listen to Marwan Barghouti
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) March 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Marwan Barghouti, the most prominent Fatah leader imprisoned in Israel, this week released an unusual statement from his cell. He called on his people to start a popular uprising against Israel, to stop negotiations and security coordination and to boycott it. Jerusalem would do well to listen to him.

Why Land Day still matters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Sam Bahour, Fida Jiryis - (Opinion) March 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Every year since 1976, on March 30, Palestinians around the world have commemorated Land Day. Though it may sound like an environmental celebration, Land Day marks a bloody day in Israel when security forces gunned down six Palestinians, as they protested Israeli expropriation of Arab-owned land in the country’s north to build Jewish-only settlements.

Israel extends new border fence but critics say it is a sign of weakness
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - (Opinion) March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

It cuts a steel swath through the stark wilderness where Israel and Egypt meet, glinting in the desert sun as it snakes across barren hills and sandy plateaus. Wielding blowtorches at the base of the five-metre-high (16ft) barrier are some of the very men the border fence is in part designed to keep out: illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, now working as cheap construction labour for Israeli contractors.

The Ghost of Conferences Past
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Elisheva Goldberg, Raphael Magarik - (Opinion) March 29, 2012 - 12:00am

The left of the American Jewish world likes to complain about how hard it is to be pro-peace and pro-Israel. At the J Street conference this weekend, I ran into an older rabbi who reminded me that, well, it could be a whole lot worse. Before U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis embraced Zionism and legitimized the American call for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, it was tough to be a Zionist in America, AP Photo

Terrified of Each Other
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Joel Braunold - (Opinion) March 29, 2012 - 12:00am

With a new month comes a new poll of Israelis and Palestinians on a variety of issues. All the usual suspects dominate the executive summary: whether Israelis believe in the viability of two states, what they think about an attack Iran or a settlement freeze. The poll tells the story that many of us expect from the populations caught in the depression and pessimism of the present. But the really frightening statistics come in the penultimate questions.

Hamas' Mission Is Evolving As Sands Shift in Mideast
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Monitor
by Isam al Khafaji - (Analysis) March 22, 2012 - 12:00am

“We will not be part in a war between Iran and Israel.” The startling announcement came not from the moderate Jordanian monarchy, nor from the Palestinian authority whose aim is to liberate the territory under Israeli occupation since 1967, but from Hamas, the organization whose proclaimed objective is to liberate all of historic Palestine via armed struggle.

Water-Rights Rancor Swirls Through West Bank Settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Calcalist
(Analysis) March 28, 2012 - 12:00am

The politics of water is one of the most intriguing issues involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Who really owns the water sources shared by both Israel and the Palestinians, and how should they be divided? Peace Now activist Dror Etkes, known for his activity as the organization's chief tracker of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, has prepared a special report commissioned by the UN which shows how the settlers' activity in the West Bank seriously obstructs the Palestinians' access to springs and their ability to use them.

A Country of Walls
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
(Interview) March 29, 2012 - 12:00am

an interview with Talal Okal BI: What do the conditions in the Sinai peninsula have to do with you and others in the Gaza Strip? Okal: The border that separates Sinai in Egypt and the Gaza Strip is the only border that is open for our use. The town of Rafah [where the main crossing is located] is actually split across the border between the two sides and many of Egyptian Rafah's residents are relatives of those who live on the Gaza side of the town. The connections there are extensive. Moreover, the tunnel network operating out of Gaza opens onto the Sinai.

Challenges and Opportunities
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yoram Meital - (Opinion) March 29, 2012 - 12:00am

Developments in the Sinai Peninsula during the past year clearly reflect dramatic changes in Egypt and highlight the delicate situation at the Israeli-Gazan-Egyptian border junction.

A New Season of Palestinian Protests Challenges Both Israel and Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Time
by Tony Karon - (Opinion) March 29, 2012 - 12:00am

The Arab League is talking about Syria; Israel and the U.S. are talking about Iran. Nobody in the corridors of power, these days, is talking about the Palestinians. In part, that reflects the shifting geopolitical sands and the effectiveness of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in changing the subject — when he came to Washington to meet with newly elected President Barack Obama in 2009, Netanyahu wanted to talk about Iran, but Obama insisted he talk about settlements and the Palestinians; when Netanyahu met Obama in Washington three weeks ago, Iran dominated the agenda.

Peter Beinart Responds
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Tablet Magazine
by Peter Beinart - (Opinion) March 30, 2012 - 12:00am

When someone calls you “an angry ex” and an “angry scold” and says your book is an “act of moral solipsism” written in “a spirit of icy contempt and patent insincerity,” it is tough to know where to begin.

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