Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israel bars diplomats from countries that do not have diplomatic relations with it from entering the occupied West Bank to meet with Palestinian officials. Armed militants attack Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 15. Israel says the militants tried to cross into its territory and 8 of them were killed in the process. The Palestinian leadership condemns the attack, and Israel's ambassador to the US accuses Iran of being behind it. Israel upgrades its Arrow missile defense system. Palestinians are continuing to lay the groundwork for renewed efforts at greater UN recognition. Palestinians send a convoy of aid to Palestinian refugees in Syria. An Israeli airstrike kills a Palestinian militant and wounds another in Gaza. Registration begins in the West Bank for local elections scheduled later this year. New Israeli regulations may prevent undocumented migrants and Palestinians living under occupation from filing court cases. Palestinian villagers are erecting stone walls to prevent their lands from being seized by Israeli settlers. Casino tycoon Adelson is reportedly pressuring Mitt Romney to publicly back the release of convicted Israeli spy Pollard. COMMENTARY: Avraham Burg says Israel's democracy is threatened as it may be drifting towards becoming “another Middle Eastern theocracy.” Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff say Israel still faces major dangers from groups operating in the Sinai Peninsula. Gili Heskin says it makes no sense for Israel to consider formally recognizing “unauthorized” settlement outposts. Raleb Majadele says Israel should emulate American self-criticism. Eitan Haber says Israel and the Arab states face a common enemy in Muslim extremists. Jillian Kestler-D'Amours says the Palestinian economy in Ramallah and other cities is a bubble waiting to burst. Jonathan Schanzer tracks how Palestinian refugees in Syria are turning against the Assad regime. Eric Yoffie says Israel is losing the battle for public opinion in United States.

Israel Bars Foreign Envoys From West Bank Meeting
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Jodi Rudoren - August 5, 2012 - 12:00am

Israel on Sunday barred the delegations of five countries from attending a diplomatic conference in Ramallah, in the West Bank, upending plans by the Palestinian president to announce his intention to renew the Palestinians’ bid this September for enhanced status in the United Nations.

Gunmen Kill 15 and Steal Vehicle in Attack on Egypt Base
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mayy El Sheikh, Kareem Fahim - August 5, 2012 - 12:00am

Masked gunmen opened fire on an Egyptian Army checkpoint in the northern Sinai Peninsula on Sunday, killing 15 soldiers who were preparing to break their Ramadan fast. The gunmen then seized at least one armored vehicle and headed toward Israel, apparently in an attempt to storm the border, witnesses and officials said.

Israel says eight gunmen killed in Sinai attack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
August 6, 2012 - 12:00am

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday eight gunmen from a global jihadist group were killed in their attempt to breach the Israeli border with Egypt's Sinai on Sunday. Barak told a parliamentary committee that the gunmen had also killed 13 to 15 Egyptian troops. He added that Israel had been in touch with the Egyptian authorities "to see if we could provide any help".

Palestinian leadership condemns Sinai attack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
August 6, 2012 - 12:00am

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) extended on Monday its support to the Egyptian leadership and people after Sunday's deadly attack against a security checkpoint in North Sinai. Nabil Abu Rdineh, a spokesman for the PNA, said that the attack, which had left at least 16 Egyptian soldiers killed and seven others injured, is "a heinous crime and an act of terrorism." The gunmen remained unidentified although Egyptian sources suspect that they came from the neighboring Gaza Strip. They later seized an armored vehicle and headed for the Israeli border.

Israel's ambassador to U.S. accuses Iran behind Sinai attack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
August 6, 2012 - 12:00am

Israel's envoy to the United States on Monday blamed Iran for Sunday night's attack by Sinai militants against both Israel and Egypt, which left at least 15 Egyptian security personnel dead, the Israeli army on high alert, and thousands of Israelis in nearby communities in a night-long lockdown. "Iranian-backed terrorists again struck at our southern border today killing 15 Egyptian guards and attempting to massacre Israeli civilians," Ambassador Michael Oren wrote in a Twitter post, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Israel upgrades Arrow missile defense system
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - August 5, 2012 - 12:00am

Israel has upgraded its top-tier Arrow II missile defense, a Defense Ministry official confirmed Sunday, as the country girds for possible attacks from Iran and Syria. Sensors, command and control equipment and radar have been enhanced to improve reach and accuracy, the official confirmed without elaborating. He would not say how many Arrow II batteries are deployed around the country and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the military's preparations.

Abbas to move on UN membership bid in September
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - August 4, 2012 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will take a first procedural step toward seeking U.N. recognition of a state of Palestine when he addresses the General Assembly in late September, but has not decided when to ask for a vote on his request, the Palestinian foreign minister said Saturday. Timing is seen as crucial in the Palestinian bid to be recognized as a non-member observer state by the U.N. General Assembly, an upgrade they hope will firmly establish the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as Palestinian territories in the eyes of the world.

Palestinians send aid to Palestinians in Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jihan Abdalla - August 5, 2012 - 12:00am

An aid convoy left the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday carrying food and medicine in a symbol of support for Palestinian refugees caught up in the crisis in Syria. "Today the first convoy will leave from here, from the West Bank, from Palestinian soil towards Syria," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said at a press event marking the event. An official donations drive netted around $650,000 worth of food and medical aid from Palestinian companies, businessmen, and individuals during the charitable month of Ramadan.

Israel air strike kills radical Gaza gunman
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
August 5, 2012 - 12:00am

An Israeli air strike killed a Palestinian gunman from a radical Islamist group and wounded another on Sunday as they rode a motorbike in southern Gaza, near the Egyptian border, hospital officials said. They identified the dead man as a former member of the Popular Resistance Committees militant group who had shifted allegiance to "Magles Shoura al-Mujahddin", among Salafi factions that are a fringe presence in Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

CEC: Voter registration opens in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 6, 2012 - 12:00am

Voter registration opened in the West Bank on Sunday to prepare for elections, the chairman of the Central Elections Commission announced. At a news conference in Ramallah, Hanna Nasser said 754 voter registration centers would be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday until Thursday. Nasser added that he hoped it would be the last time he announced the start of local elections, which are overdue and have been stalled by the infighting between Hamas and Fatah.

New regulation may bar migrants, Palestinians from filing lawsuits in Israeli courts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Tomer Zarchin - August 6, 2012 - 12:00am

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman has signed on regulations that require plaintiffs to cite their Israeli ID numbers or foreign passport numbers on the documents they file. Although the ministry said the cases of individuals such as migrant workers, Palestinian residents of the territories and stateless individuals who have no passport will be referred to a registrar or judge, civil rights activists say the new regulation will bar those without foreign passports from filing lawsuits in Israeli courts.

Traditional stone walls help protect Palestinian land
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
by Hossam Ezzedine - August 6, 2012 - 12:00am

It has taken four years for Amer Dahabreh to build a traditional stone wall around his land, in what appears to be the ideal solution for protecting it from Jewish settlers. Within the safety of this stone enclosure, this 60-year-old farmer grows apricots, grapes, peaches and courgettes in the village of Ein Yabrud, which is overlooked by the neighbouring Jewish settlement of Ofra. The village is located in Area C, an area under total Israeli control which comprises some 60 percent of the West Bank.

Adelson vs. Romney
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Dan Ephron, Eli Lake - August 6, 2012 - 12:00am

Casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, a major contributor to Mitt Romney’s election effort, is pressing the Republican nominee to come out for the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, a major Republican donor and associates of Adelson and Romney tell The Daily Beast.

Israel’s Fading Democracy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Avraham Burg - (Opinion) August 4, 2012 - 12:00am

When an American presidential candidate visits Israel and his key message is to encourage us to pursue a misguided war with Iran, declaring it “a solemn duty and a moral imperative” for America to stand with our warmongering prime minister, we know that something profound and basic has changed in the relationship between Israel and the United States.

Israel-Sinai border attack thwarted, but ominous signs loom ahead
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - (Opinion) August 6, 2012 - 12:00am

Sunday’s confrontation on the Israeli-Egyptian border ended very successfully from Israel’s point of view. A concrete warning from the Shin Bet security service allowed the Israel Defense Forces to properly ready itself along the triangulated border near Rafah. Every terrorist that tried to infiltrate into Israeli territory was killed, while the Israeli side suffered no casualties. But if one takes a broader view, the incident testifies to the development of some very serious problems – for Egypt, in the near term, and for Israel, in the slightly longer term.

Legalizing outposts the last thing we need
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Gili Heskin - (Opinion) August 5, 2012 - 12:00am

A committee headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy determined that Israel is not an occupying power in the West Bank and recommended that the State sanction the majority of illegal Jewish outposts in the region. Netanyahu announced that he would implement the panel's recommendations as soon as possible, as though the settlement policy has ever been subjected to legal or moral decisions.

Op-Ed: Israel must learn from American’s unrelenting self-examination
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Raleb Majadele - August 5, 2012 - 12:00am

Among the many strengths of Israel is its strong democratic tradition. Maintaining this tradition, however, seems to be more of a challenge with every passing year.  Trends among some political parties inspired by nondemocratic instincts threaten Israel's most essential foundation. This fragile situation is made even less stable by the less than statesmanlike behavior of some Israeli leaders. 

Israel, Arab Countries Share A Common Foe in Radical Islam
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Monitor
by Eitan Haber - (Opinion) August 3, 2012 - 12:00am

Many years ago, a new concept was added to the Israeli political lexicon: a window of opportunity. In those years, the early 1990s, there was no need for erudite explanations of the concept. The Soviet Union collapsed; Syria lost its Soviet patron, halting the supply of Soviet weapons to Damascus and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was on the skids, actually crashing to the boards. The list doesn't end there.

Palestinian Bubble Set to Burst
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Jillian Kestler-D'Amours - (Opinion) August 5, 2012 - 12:00am

“It will collapse, and the collapse will be harder when it happens later,” says Tareq Sadeq, Palestinian economist and professor at Birzeit University, about the financial bubble building up in the Palestinian Authority government. “It will mean that people will lose their homes. They will lose their cars. They will lose their land sometimes because of the collapse of the bubble. This will affect the whole economy and will also reflect on the Palestinian Authority. So this may be a collapse of the PA itself,” Sadeq tells IPS.

Why the Palestinians are turning against al-Assad
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from CNN
by Jonathan Schanzer - (Opinion) August 3, 2012 - 12:00am

Even if Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad somehow survives the current uprising aimed at toppling his regime, the beleaguered dictator will have a lingering identity problem. Indeed, a long-standing pillar of Syria’s foreign policy has been support to the Palestinian “resistance” against Israel. But in the wake of the Syrian onslaught, the country’s estimated 500,000 Palestinians are abandoning – even challenging – their long-time champion. With this dramatic shift, al-Assad is left more isolated in the Middle East than ever before.

Israel is losing the battle for public opinion in America
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Eric H. Yoffie - (Opinion) August 6, 2012 - 12:00am

The government of Israel wants to talk about Iran, but a lot of people did not get the memo. For an important group of public intellectuals, the occupation of the West Bank is becoming more rather than less important. And we are not talking here about the usual cast of anti-Israel characters, but of mainstream journalists, scholars, and opinion makers – those who write in middle-of-the-road, general publications with a broad readership.

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