Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israel and the PA reach a quietly negotiated agreement on tax revenue collection and trade. One Hamas militant is killed and 2 others are wounded in a car explosion in Gaza. PM Netanyahu denies any split with the Israeli military over Iran. Pres. Morsy has apparently sent a letter to Pres. Peres vowing to try to help “the Middle East peace process back to its right track,” although his spokesperson denies the existence of any such letter. The Israeli government is reportedly set to approve grants for building hotels in settlements in the occupied West Bank. Former Obama advisor Dennis Ross says he still supports the president. An 80-year-old battle over land ownership in the Negev between Bedouins and Jews has shifted into the Israeli courts. COMMENTARY: Mitt Romney insists that culture is a factor in economic success. Thomas Friedman says Mitt Romney's Israel trip was such shameless fund-raising it should have been held in Las Vegas. Hussein Ibish says whatever Romney's campaign rhetoric is now, if elected he will default to traditional American policies. The Washington Post criticizes Romney's remarks about Palestinian culture. The LA Times agrees that Romney was pandering and unhelpful. Rich Lowry says he agrees with Romney. Elias Harfoush says Romney was “begging for Jewish votes.” Ron Kampeas says Romney and Obama are showing “love for Israel” in different ways. Sam Bahour says the prospect of a Romney presidency is frightening. Amira Hass says Israel is using water as a weapon against Palestinians in the West Bank. Ali Khaled says Israeli historical narratives erase Palestinian Christian history. Benny Morris says Israel has become the most dangerous place in the world for Jews.

Israel, Palestinian Authority sign bilateral trade agreements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Moti Bassok - August 1, 2012 - 12:00am

Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed agreements on Tuesday to regulate bilateral trade and taxation. The agreements were thrashed out in a series of secret meetings that lasted more than a year and had many ups and downs. Israeli sources said they also have diplomatic ramifications.

1 militant killed, 2 others wounded in Gaza blast
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
August 1, 2012 - 12:00am

Palestinians say a Hamas militant was killed and two others were wounded when an explosion went off in the car they were driving near Gaza City. Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra confirmed the death. There were no claims of an Israeli attack, suggesting that the blast may have been from an explosive device that went off prematurely.

Israeli PM denies rift with military ranks over Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
August 1, 2012 - 12:00am

In an interview with Israel's Channel 2, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he is still deliberating whether or not to strike Iran's nuclear facilities and downplayed report that the military echelon are not in favor of attacking Iran. Netanyahu said that "Israel cannot count on anyone else" when it comes to the Iranian threat.

Egyptian president sends peace letter to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
August 1, 2012 - 12:00am

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Tuesday sent a missive to Israeli President Shimon Peres wishing for peace in the Middle East. Although the letter does not specifically mention the peace agreement with Israel, it does include the "Israeli people" as part of Morsi's peace wishes in the region. "I am looking forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle East peace process back to its right track in order to achieve security and stability for all peoples of the region, including the Israeli people," the letter read.

Egypt denies Mursi letter sent to Israel's Peres
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 1, 2012 - 12:00am

Israel said Tuesday it had received a letter from Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi indicating he wanted to work for peace in the Middle East, but Mursi's office later denied sending it. An Israeli official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the denial was to be expected, due to the sensitivity of the issue. Israeli President Shimon Peres's office said earlier Tuesday he had received a letter from the Muslim Brotherhood's Mursi, in the first such missive to Israel since Mursi took office at the end of last month.

Israeli cabinet set to approve grants for building hotels in West Bank settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - August 1, 2012 - 12:00am

A special panel will propose that the government give grants for building hotels in West Bank settlements near Jerusalem to absorb some of the the high demand for hotel rooms in the capital. A new interministerial committee of experts convened this year to designate priority areas for the coming years; it is expected to hand its proposals to the cabinet soon. According to a separate study, Jerusalem could suffer a shortage of accommodations in the future.

Dennis Ross denies ‘split’ with Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Dennis Ross emphatically denied any indication that he no longer supported President Obama. "The idea of trying to get a sense that there is a split with the president is completely untrue," Ross, Obama's former top Iran adviser, told JTA on Tuesday. Ross repeated comments he made to the Daily Beast/Newsweek over the weekend, in which he said that his position as a counselor to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy -- an educational nonprofit subject to tax exemptions -- keeps him from directly advising campaigns.

Israel's Wild West
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Ayyam
by Moshe Ronen - July 30, 2012 - 12:00am

The year: 1935. Three Zionist Jews, born in Persia and its environs, decide to buy plots in the Holy Land. They find a Bedouin Sheikh named Hussein Salaam Abu Kuaf, pay him and receive a 654 dunam tract [158 acres] in the Negev. Almost 80 years later, their descendants discover that a Bedouin village was constructed on the land that had been purchased for them, and the new tenants have no intention of leaving. “This is exactly like the Ulpana Hill crisis,” claim the Jewish land-owners. “Only this time, it’s about Bedouins who took over Jewish land.”

Culture Does Matter
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National Review
by Mitt Romney - (Opinion) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it. In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy.

Why Not in Vegas?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Thomas L. Friedman - (Opinion) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

I’ll make this quick. I have one question and one observation about Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel. The question is this: Since the whole trip was not about learning anything but about how to satisfy the political whims of the right-wing, super pro-Bibi Netanyahu, American Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, why didn’t they just do the whole thing in Las Vegas?

Romney in Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Taken at face value, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's comments during his recent trip to Israel might seem alarming. But in fact almost all of them are boilerplate American campaign rhetoric. 

Mitt Romney’s less-than-successful trip abroad
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
(Editorial) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

FOR THE PAST seven days, Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, spoke about American foreign policy and traveled the globe, starting with an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev., then a trip to Great Britain, Israel and Poland. What has Mr. Romney revealed about his world view? Not nearly enough.

Mitt Romney: Pandering on the world stage
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Los Angeles Times
(Editorial) August 1, 2012 - 12:00am

Like everyone else, we're a bit tired of the gaffe-centric coverage of the presidential race. Every day the two campaigns and the press seem to gin up another small-potatoes controversy designed to send voters into a tizzy, generally without addressing the more serious issues facing the country or the economy.

Romney’s Truth Telling
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National Review
by Rich Lowry - (Opinion) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Sometimes the world seems a little smaller. Mitt Romney’s trip to Israel was such a moment. Demonstrating rhetorical instincts that should get him booked routinely on MSNBC, Palestinian official Saeb Erekat denounced the Republican candidate as a racist. It was a heartening display of the commonality of Romney critics. Whatever their varied backgrounds or interests, they all speak in one voice when it comes to attributing racial hatred to the former Massachusetts governor.

Begging For The Jewish Votes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Hayat
by Elias Harfoush - (Opinion) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

The statements of Mitt Romney, the US presidential Republican candidate, during his visit to Israel, stir a certain level of pity for the man more than actual criticism of his positions. He seemed to be begging for the votes of the Jewish American voters in front of Benjamin Netanyahu. He was being more conservative than Netanyahu himself with respect to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and Iran, and Israel’s right to deal a military blow to Iran if necessary.

Romney, Obama show love for Israel in their own separate ways
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - (Opinion) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

It was a weekend of Israel love politically that highlighted two approaches to showing affection for the Jewish state: Go to Israel, as Mitt Romney did, or go pro-Israel, as the Obama administration did. The pictures told the story, or as it were, stories: Romney in a kipah at the Western Wall on Sunday, Obama in the Oval Office two days earlier surrounded by go-to Jews from Congress and the Jewish organizational world to witness the signing of a bill enhancing U.S. defense assistance to Israel.

Romney exposed his ignorance in the land of the prophets
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Sam Bahour - (Opinion) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Mitt Romney made history on Monday. In a single speech from Jerusalem, he proved beyond a reasonable doubt that to qualify to be a U.S. presidential candidate one needs precious little understanding of history, economics, or reality. Romney has just enough to be dangerous.

Using water as a weapon in the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Opinion) August 1, 2012 - 12:00am

Events in Area C are a burning issue for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot. More correctly, he is infuriated by what he and the Civil Administration bureaucracy term "Palestinian illegal construction."

Palestinian Christians swept aside as Israel rewrites history
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Ali Khaled - (Opinion) August 1, 2012 - 12:00am

He vanquished a dragon, saved a princess and passed into myth. What popular culture knows about St George (or Georgius, in Latin) pretty much begins and ends with the children's fairy tale, but there is a historical figure underneath that legend. Born about 1,800 years ago, St George's father was a soldier in the Roman army, and his mother was a Palestinian Christian. After his death, he was hallowed by the Catholic Church, but what is less known is that Muslims also venerated his name.

Israel Under Siege
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Benny Morris - (Opinion) July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Here’s a cliché: The Jewish state, founded to provide a safe haven for the world’s persecuted Jews, has become the most dangerous place in the world for Jews. But, unfortunately, this is true, and growing truer by the minute.

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