Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israelis are increasingly concerned about the potential fallout from remarks by PM Netanyahu. Israel hints it may continue to press the US over Iran. Israel distances itself from a film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is being depicted in a number of films at the Toronto Film Festival. Conditions are worsening for Palestinian farmers in the occupied West Bank. Israel increases its military budget. Hamas leader Hanniyeh postpones a visit to Cairo. Palestinian prisoners in Israel launch a hunger strike for the release of long-serving fellow prisoners. Few candidates are being registered for upcoming local West Bank elections. Pres. Abbas offers condolences to the United States following the murder of American diplomats in Libya. Palestinian officials say Israel has seized millions of shekels of Palestinian tax revenue. Nature and Parks Authority issues the first official Israeli objection to the route of the separation barrier, citing environmental concerns. FM Lieberman launches a series of insults against Abbas. COMMENTARY: David Remnick Crispian Balmer says Netanyahu risks overplaying his hand in his dispute with the US over Iran. Daniel Kurtzer says that the US and Israel need diplomacy, not recriminations. Ari Shavit says the hope offered by PM Fayyad's policies is fading. Douglas Bloomfield says the next American president must work with Arab states to revive the peace process. George Hishmeh says Americans need to understand the Palestinian predicament.

Israelis Fear Fallout From Netanyahu’s Blunt Comments
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - September 12, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — In Israel, where arguments are rife, there are at least two issues of national consensus: that the special relationship with the United States must be preserved at all costs, and that the looming threat of a nuclear Iran must be dealt with.

Israel hints it will keep pressing US on Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — Israel's leader suggested in an interview Thursday that he'll keep publicly pressing the United States to get tougher on Iran, despite the strains his remarks have caused with the Obama administration.

Israel distances itself from Prophet Muhammad film
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
September 12, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — The Israeli government is distancing itself from a filmmaker whose movie ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad sparked a deadly riot at an American consulate in Libya, but says it will be "vigilant" at its diplomatic offices overseas. The movie, "Innocence of Muslims," was produced by Sam Bacile, a 56-year-old California real estate developer who has said he's both Israeli and American. The film depicts Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and madman.

Middle East crisis in spotlight at Toronto film fest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Julie Gordon - September 12, 2012 - 12:00am

TORONTO, Sept 12 (Reuters) - The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has taken a backseat in recent days to the Arab Spring, but at the Toronto International Film Festival an unusually high number of films shine fresh light on the decades-long conflict. Dramas like "The Attack" and "Out in the Dark" explore the human side of the strife, while documentaries such as "State 194" and "The Gatekeepers" offer insight into the politics behind the conflict through interviews with top political and security players.

Palestinian farmers wither in tough climate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jihan Abdalla - September 12, 2012 - 12:00am

BEIT UMMAR, West Bank, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Once a mainstay of the local economy, Palestinian agriculture in the rocky West Bank is in decline as farmers struggle to protect their livelihoods and their lands. Deprived of water and cut off from key markets, farmers across the occupied territory can only look on with a mix of anger and envy as Israeli settlers copiously irrigate their own plantations and export at will.

Israeli gov't boosts army budget by over 126 mln USD
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Dave Bender - September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

  JERUSALEM, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- An Israli Knesset (parliament) committee ruled to allocate an extra 500 million shekels (126.7 million U.S. dollars) to the Israeli army's 2012 budget, according the Jerusalem Post on Thursday Israeli Finance Committee's decision raised the total sum to about 60.3 billion shekels (15.2 million U.S. dollars), the Jerusalem Post said.

Hamas PM postpones Cairo visit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haneya postponed his visit to Egypt to next week, a Palestinian official said Thursday. The visit was planned to take place Thursday but was postponed for "technical reasons," said Yousef Rizka, an aide to Haneya. Haneya has a scheduled meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, a spokesman said earlier this week.

Palestinian prisoners in Israel on hunger strike for release of elderly
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

  RAMALLAH, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian prisoners in Israel went on a hunger strike on Thursday to urge for the release of their colleagues who have been held before Israel and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed their peace accords in 1993, a Palestinian official said.

Few choices for voters in upcoming election
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The registration process for local elections ended Tuesday with 200 municipalities registering only one bloc of candidates, officials said Thursday. The West Bank has 353 electorates but 200 of them will not be contested in October's municipal election because voters will only be able to vote for one list of candidates. Abdul Kareem Sidir, undersecretary of the Ministry of Local Government, told Ma'an that 16 municipalities in the Jerusalem area decided to run on joint lists, which means candidates will be unopposed.

Abbas offers condolences to US after deadly attack in Libya
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday called US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to offer his condolences on the death of the American ambassador to Libya. "On behalf of myself, personally, and all Palestinian people, we offer sincere condolences to the US president after the US ambassador in Libya was killed in a criminal attack," Abbas said, according to the official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa.

Israel takes cut of Palestinian tax revenues
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
by George Hale - September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities have seized millions of shekels in tax revenue for the Palestinians to compensate for an Israeli company's unpaid electricity bills, officials said Wednesday. Finance Ministry officials say Israel kept 35 million shekels ($9 million) of the 260 million shekels ($66 million) in customs taxes it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in September. The Israeli Ministry of Finance confirmed the deduction.

For first time, Israeli state agency opposes segment of West Bank separation fence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zafrir Rinat - September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority has reneged on its consent to construction of the separation fence near the Palestinian village of Battir, south of Jerusalem. It is the first time a government agency has expressed opposition to the construction of a segment of the fence. In a document sent recently to the Defense Ministry, the INPA cited damage to the landscape and to relations with residents of the Palestinian village, and demanded that the Defense Ministry find an alternative way of ensuring security in the area.

Liberman calls Abbas a 'liar, a coward and a wimp'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman kept up his campaign against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, calling him a "liar, coward and wimp" who would quit if he had any modicum of self-respect. Liberman, who last month sent a letter to the Quartet calling for Abbas' replacement, said at a briefing with reporters that the PA leader neither represents anyone nor controls anything. He repeated his charge in the letter to the Quartet that Abbas was engaged in diplomatic terrorism, which he said was even worse than conventional terrorism.

Neocon Gambits
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New Yorker
by David Remnick - (Opinion) September 12, 2012 - 12:00am

It is hard to overestimate the risks that Benjamin Netanyahu poses to the future of his own country. As Prime Minister, he has done more than any other political figure to embolden and elevate the reactionary forces in Israel, to eliminate the dwindling possibility of a just settlement with the Palestinians, and to isolate his country on the world diplomatic stage.

Netanyahu risks overplaying hand in Iran dispute
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Crispian Balmer - (Analysis) September 12, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, Sept 12 (Reuters) - The public row between Israel and the United States this week will make it hard for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to launch a unilateral strike against Iran and risks undermining his domestic standing. Despite years of warning about the dangers of Iran gaining nuclear weapons, the Israeli leader has failed to convince any major world power of the need for military action and has yet to persuade his domestic audience that Israel should go it alone.

U.S. and Israel need mutual diplomacy, not recriminations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Daniel Kurtzer - (Opinion) September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

The United States and Israel do many things well together. We do strategic cooperation, security planning, intelligence sharing, economic and trade relations, and cultural interaction. Every day, scores of official and unofficial interactions take place between our governments and our two peoples, and for the most part, they are extraordinarily productive and mutually beneficial.

The Fayyad opportunity is fading
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

The news generated by the Middle East in recent years has usually been bad. Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, the Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt and Turkey became an aggressive neo-Ottoman power. The Iranian rebellion was quashed, Iraq was drawn into the Shi'ite sphere of influence and Syria turned into a gruesome slaughterhouse. Even in Libya, which raised hopes for a while, the American ambassador was murdered on Wednesday.

The next president and the peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Douglas Bloomfield - (Opinion) September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

Two days after taking office, Barack Obama announced a major Middle East initiative, complete with a high-level special envoy, to restart Israeli- Palestinian peace talks. It was a major blunder. It was poorly prepared, asked more of the Israelis than the Palestinians, raised Palestinian expectations beyond Obama’s ability to deliver and he failed to take his case directly to the Israeli people. And he had no Plan B. Don’t look for a repeat next January no matter who is in the Oval Office.

Washington needs to appreciate the other side
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) September 12, 2012 - 12:00am

As Americans (and many others in the world) were marking last Tuesday the 11th anniversary of the horrendous 9/11 terrorist attack by Al Qaida, there is no doubt that many are still wondering whether the US is now a safer place or US governments can avoid similarly devastating incidents. The obvious grievances that motivated the attackers were attributed to the one-sided US policies in the Middle East, still a source of great concern to many inside the US and others elsewhere.

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