Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's trip to Israel raises funds and many questions given his controversial remarks. Romney's trip provokes controversy in Washington and Ramallah. Israelis express concern that their country is becoming a partisan issue in US politics. The White House reiterates that the status of Jerusalem will be determined through negotiations. China also criticizes remarks by Romney. DM Barak downplays the risk of Syrian chemical weapons and praises Pres. Obama's support for Israel's security. Sources say Hamas leader Misha'al is likely to remain head of the Politburo. PM Fayyad holds Israel responsible for the shooting of a Palestinian man at an Israeli checkpoint. Knesset Speaker Rivlin says he doesn't want to draft Palestinian citizens of Israel into the military. An MK says PM Netanyahu must “unmask” Israeli espionage in the United States. Israeli government spending on settlements has increased 38% under Netanyahu. COMMENTARY: The New York Times is critical of Romney's performance in Israel, while the Jerusalem Post praises it. Hussein Ibish says Romney's talk of "culture" and “providence” as Palestinian economic determinants are at odds with last week's World Bank report which primarily blames the occupation. Bernard Avishai gives Romney some basic facts on the Palestinian economy. Ben Sales says Romney's Israel remarks illustrate the fading of the Palestinian issue and David Hazony says it shows Israel's rising power. The Daily Star says Romney is "selling his soul" for campaign funds. Akiva Eldar says the Israeli state's reluctance to enforce a court-ordered eviction of settlers is part of a long pattern. Yaakov Katz says Israel is hoping to achieve something tangible from Sec. Panetta's visit this week. Gershon Baskin says Israelis are living in denial about the conflict and the occupation. Shawan Jabarin says increasing authoritarianism from the PA weakens resistance to Israel.

In Israel, Romney wows crowds but puzzles with grasp of Palestinian relationship
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Scott Wilson - July 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Touring U.S. allies this week in his first foreign trip as the likely Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney often appeared to be visiting just another set of swing states, pleasing audiences with parochial promises, puzzling others with off-the-cuff remarks, and raising loads and loads of money. Only the trip was designed to be more than that for a campaign playing catch-up — a chance to show that a former governor light on foreign policy qualifications could represent the United States abroad. On that, the verdict is still out.

W. House: 'Scratching heads' from Romney on J'lem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Tuesday said that US Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's unqualified comments about Jerusalem as solely Israel's capital was causing many to "scratch their heads." Earnest further said that Romney would need to explain himself to the general public.

With Romney visit, Israelis worry about becoming a partisan issue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - July 29, 2012 - 12:00am

Mitt Romney’s visit to Jerusalem on Sunday prompted an escalation in the competition among candidates to demonstrate who’s a stronger supporter of the Jewish state.  

White House says status of Jerusalem to be decided by Israeli-Palestinian negotiations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Xinhua) -- The White House said on Monday that the status of Jerusalem should be settled through negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Commenting on the recent assertion by Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, White House spokesman Josh Earnest reiterated: "It's the view of this administration that the capital is something that should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties."

China joins criticism of Romney, saying comments on Jerusalem could enflame tensions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

China criticized Mitt Romney on Tuesday, saying the U.S. presidential candidate’s statement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel could worsen an already tense Mideast situation, or even re-ignite a war between Palestinians and Israelis. A commentary Tuesday by the official Xinhua News Agency said Romney’s “hawkish remarks” ignored the sensitive nature of Jerusalem. It said the comments disregarded the Palestinians’ claim to the war-won eastern sector of the city, which was annexed by Israel in 1967 in a move that is not internationally recognized.

Israel's Barak plays down Syrian chemical arms risk
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Dan Williams - July 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Israel played down on Monday the risk from Syria's chemical weapons, in what appeared to be a new tack after threats to take military action to prevent the arsenal falling into Islamist hands. Israel has been particularly worried that Hezbollah, the Iranian-inspired Shiite militia in neighbouring Lebanon, may gain access to the weapons should Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's grip slip amid a 16-month-old insurgency. Israel's warnings on this spread war fears and bumped up demand for government-issued gas masks.

Barak endorses Barack, touts US security support
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz - July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

In what appears like a clear endorsement of a presidential candidate, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday night that Barack Obama has been the most supportive president on matters of Israeli security throughout the two countries' diplomatic relations. In an interview aired late Monday night on CNN, Barak told Wolf Blitzer that the Obama administration’s support of Israeli defense and intelligence establishments was far greater than under any other administration he remembered working with since and including President Jimmy Carter.

Hamas to keep Mashaal as head of politburo: sources
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Hamas is going to assign a new office term for its political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal after the Palestinian Islamic movement completed its internal elections, sources said Tuesday. The movement finished the polls in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Israeli prisons, the sources said, adding that elections in Diaspora should end within days and then the name of the politburo chief would be announced.

Fayyad: Israel to blame for checkpoint killing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Monday blamed the Israeli government for the shooting of a 46-year-old Palestinian at a checkpoint near Jerusalem. Israeli border police opened fire at a Palestinian vehicle at a checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem shortly after midnight on Monday, killing Hasan Omar and wounding two other passengers, Palestinian officials and an Israeli police spokesman said.

Rivlin comes out against Arab draft
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Hassan Shaalan - July 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Monday came out against the call to enlist Arabs to the IDF during a Ramadan feast in Kafr Qara. "Any sensible person understands that one cannot draft the Arab sector," he said. "Any such call is tinted with hypocrisy and even malevolence."

MK: Netanyahu must 'unmask' US spying on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Hoffman - July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

If US President Barack Obama does not commute the life sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard by the November 6 US election, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should expose American efforts to spy on Israel, National Union MK Arieh Eldad said Tuesday at a Knesset State Control Committee meeting monitoring progress in efforts to bring about Pollard's release.

Israeli spending on West Bank settlements up 38%
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Israeli government spending on West Bank settlements has increased by 38% under prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, according to official figures disclosed as the cabinet voted to implement an austerity package of tax increases and budget cuts. According to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, obtained by the business newspaper Calcalist, spending on Jewish settlements in the West Bank was 1.1bn shekels (£160m) in 2011, up from 0.8bn the previous two years. The overall state budget increased by 2.7% in 2011, Calcalist reported.

Mr. Romney Stumps in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) July 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Mitt Romney made a point of insisting that he would adhere to an unwritten rule and often violated rule about candidates not criticizing each other or contradicting American foreign policy on foreign soil. About the only effort he made to keep that promise during his stop in Israel was to avoid mentioning President Obama by name.

Romney’s visit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
(Editorial) July 30, 2012 - 12:00am

There is no doubt that Mitt Romney is a great friend and supporter of Israel. During his short but significant visit to the country this week, the former Massachusetts governor said all the right things. He backed, inter alia, “any and all measures” to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons, Israel’s right to defend itself (adding “it is right for America to stand by you”) and its claim to Jerusalem as its capital – much to the chagrin of the Palestinians.

Romney Versus the World Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) July 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Republican candidate Mitt Romney's visit to Israel was marked by a series of largely boilerplate comments about the special relationship between the United States and Israel. And, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he almost entirely avoided the question of peace and the two-state solution, preferring to focus on the threat posed by Iran's nuclear weapons. In his speech in Jerusalem, the word “Palestinian” did not once cross his lips.

‘The Hand Of Providence’ And, Oh, The Occupation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Bernard Avishai - (Opinion) July 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Dear Governor Romney: Today, in Jerusalem, you compared the Israeli economy to Palestine’s and suggested, by implication, that Palestinians lacked everything from a progressive culture to “the hand of Providence.” You and I were management consultants in Boston. Here are some facts:

Romney visit reveals falling visibility of Palestinian issue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ben Sales - (Opinion) July 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Mitt Romney’s policy speech in Israel covered plenty of bases: The presumptive Republican presidential candidate spoke about the status of Jerusalem, the threat of a nuclear Iran, the “tumult” of the Arab Spring and the “enduring shared values” that bedrock the U.S.-Israel relationship. But there was one topic that gained little attention: Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. The word “Palestinian” did not appear once in the speech on Sunday evening. 

Romney’s Visit Shows Israel as Rising Power
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by David Hazony - (Opinion) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

For people used to presidential candidate visits to Israel, Mitt Romney’s was a short, strange trip. Missing were the carefully scripted visits to high-profile places like Yad Vashem and Sederot. And though he did get a photo-op at the Western Wall, it wasn’t planned in advance. Press coverage was strictly controlled and interviews were minimal. Compared with candidate Barack Obama’s visit in 2008, this was a low-key affair. What was going on?

Romney the dunce
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
(Editorial) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

For many onlookers around the world, it once would have seemed impossible for a U.S. politician to arise that was more ignorant than former President George W. Bush, but Mitt Romney’s recent international tour seems to have killed these hopes. Even before the Republican presidential candidate’s current trip, it appeared the ex-governor of Massachusetts was spending most of his time clarifying comments he or his staff had made the previous day.

Dispossession, a love story
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has a weakness for real estate images, primarily "premium" real estate. Israel is to him a nice villa, the home of good and law-abiding Israeli citizens surrounded by a teeming jungle of bad and law-breaking Arabs.

Who’s a better friend to Israel?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz - (Analysis) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Like a kid at the circus, Israel just can’t get enough of the different acts. First it was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who came to Israel earlier this month and in some of the harshest rhetoric yet by a senior member of the Obama administration, declared that the US would use “all elements of American power” to stop Iran.

Denial is no solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) July 30, 2012 - 12:00am

I met an American-Jewish lawyer this morning who visits Israel frequently; she is a strong supporter of our country, and a proud Zionist. She has been on the liberal side of American politics her whole life, like most American Jews. She fought for civil rights in the 1960s. She was against the war in Vietnam. She was proud of Israel in 1967, worried in 1973, confused by the first Lebanon war, dismayed by Israel’s continued presence in Lebanon for 18 years.

The PA's West Bank abuses weaken resistance to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Shawan Jabarin - (Opinion) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, there is little faith in the principles of human rights. Notions of justice, accountability and international law mean too little to too many.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017