Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Hamas accuses Israel of assassinating its officials in charge of tunnel smuggling. Egypt's new intelligence chief reportedly helped broker the release last year of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas.Catholic Church officials express concern about acts of vandalism against Christian sites in Israel and the occupied territories. Hamas is angered as the PA arrests its activists in the West Bank. Fatah officials deny reports Pres. Abbas is considering resigning. The IMF reiterates that the Palestinian economy is “facing serious risks.” A new poll shows most Israelis and Palestinians think any attack on Iran will result in a major war, and support a two-state solution. Israel's attorney general wants to prosecute “illegal” construction in the occupied West Bank. A Palestinian activist held by the PA has ended a hunger strike amid signs of his impending release. Palestinian officials say a UN General Assembly resolution would set the terms for a peace agreement, not contradict it. A new study shows Pres. Obama's middle name affects the way he is perceived by some Israelis.Palestinians are reportedly undecided regarding the timing of any renewed UN bid. COMMENTARY: Xinhua says Palestinian despair is pushing discussion of annulling the Oslo agreements. Ghassan Khatib says despite calm in the occupied West Bank, the PA is on the brink of collapse. Ari Shavit says PM Netanyahu is leading Israel's relations with the United States to the precipice.Ha'aretz says Israeli attitudes before 1993 that preferred the status quo to a peace agreement are returning. Douglas Bloomfield says it appears to be dawning on Netanyahu that Obama is likely to be reelected. Barbara Slavin says the new “fortress Israel” mentality leaves little room for diplomacy. Peter Beinart says the fact that the pro-Israel lobby isn't all powerful doesn't mean it doesn't exist. PLO chief of mission Areikat responds to recently publicized comments by Mitt Romney. Zvika Krieger says there are powerful answers to Romney's negativity about Israeli-Palestinian peace. Michael Desch says Netanyahu has gone too far in challenging the United States on Iran.

Gaza: Hamas Says Israel Killed Officials
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

Israel killed two Palestinians in the Hamas-led Gaza Strip on Wednesday, accusing both of involvement in attacks on Israel and weapons smuggling from Egypt. Officials with the Islamist group accused Israel of using an airstrike on a vehicle after dark in the town of Rafah on Gaza’s border with Egypt to assassinate two officials in control of tunnels leading into Egyptian territory.

Egypt: New Intelligence Chief Helped to Broker Israeli’s Release
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

President Mohamed Morsi appointed as the country’s new intelligence chief on Wednesday a veteran official who was involved in the brokering of last year’s release of an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants, an official news agency said.

Worries over violence against churches in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Josef Federman - September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

  JERUSALEM — After a series of attacks by vandals on Christian holy sites in Israel, normally tight-lipped Roman Catholic officials are beginning to speak out, publicly appealing to authorities to take a stronger stand against the violence.

Hamas angered as Palestinian rival arrests supporters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - September 19, 2012 - 12:00am

  GAZA, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Hamas sharply criticised the arrest of dozens of its members by Palestinian Authority police in the West Bank on Wednesday, underscoring dire relations between the Islamist group and its Fatah-dominated rival after a failed bid for reconciliation.

Fatah leader: Abbas won't quit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Mahmoud Abbas has no intention to resign and will remain president until the next elections, senior Fatah official Jamal Muhassen said Thursday.

IMF: Palestinian economy 'facing serious risks'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian economy is facing serious risks, with a slowdown in growth and rise in unemployment in both Gaza and the West Bank, the International Monetary Fund said Thursday. 

Poll: Majority of Palestinians, Israelis say attack on Iran would result in major war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

Around 80 percent of both Israelis and Palestinians say that an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would ignite a major regional war, a joint Israeli-Palestinian survey indicated on Thursday, adding that around 70 percent of respondents say they believe the chances of establishing a Palestinian state in the next five years were practically nonexistent.

AG urges Barak to allow inspectors to prosecute illegal construction in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has requested Defense Minister Ehud Barak to allow construction inspectors operating in the West Bank to prosecute settlers who build without permits, Haaretz learned on Wednesday. The request was made as part of the AG's appeal to bolster the Civil Administration's inspecting unit, originally submitted a few months ago as part of the battle against illegal construction in settlements and outposts, only to be resubmitted recently.

Jailed Palestinian activist ends hunger strike, amid signs of possible release
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

The campaign being waged by international pro-Palestinian activists against the incarceration of Zakarya Zubeidi is beginning to show signs of success, friends of the Jenin Freedom Theater co-founder said Thursday. Zubeidi, a resident of the Jenin refugee camp and a former leading militant turned cultural activist, has been under Palestinian Authority custody since May and went on hunger strike September 9.

Erekat: UN resolution will set terms for talks with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Tovah Lazaroff - September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Thursday said the terms of reference for Palestinian negotiations with Israel will be set in a proposed UN General Assembly resolution. Speaking after a meeting with a number of European Union envoys in Jericho, Erekat said the process of establishing a state begins at the UN, so seeking upgraded statehood status at the United Nations is not a unilateral step. "No one is talking about canceling the peace process," he said.

Study: Obama’s middle name influences Israeli perceptions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
September 19, 2012 - 12:00am

(JTA) – President Obama’s middle name, Hussein, can influence the way he is perceived by Israelis, a new study found. Researchers at the University of Haifa and University of Texas found that when Obama’s middle name was used to identify him, Israelis saw him as less pro-Israel. Results of the study, which was published in the journal Political Behavior, were announced Wednesday in a news release.

Palestinians Undecided on Timing Of UN Observer Status Bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Ayyam
by Hani Habib - September 19, 2012 - 12:00am

Despite the clamor caused by the Palestinian premier when he requested that Palestine be given the status of “observer state” at the United Nations General Assembly, the Palestinian Authority has decided to go forward with this request at the UN. However, the PA is still uncertain of the best way to present this demand, and is hesitant regarding the vote it will undergo.

News Analysis: Palestinians' despair pushes call for annulling Oslo interim accords
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
(Analysis) September 19, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinians signaled recently to annul or modify the interim Oslo peace accords signed with Israel in 1993, where observers considered the issue an explanation of despair towards reaching a final agreement and establish an independent Palestinian state.

Despite calm, Palestinian Authority still on brink of collapse
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) September 19, 2012 - 12:00am

Last week, the Palestinian Authority experienced the most dangerous internal crises it has faced since its establishment in 1994. Although the immediate cause of that crisis was the government’s announcement of price hikes in fuel and a 1-percent increase in the value added tax, it is difficult to understand what happened without acknowledging the other, less obvious factors that contributed, including the current political environment.

Netanyahu is leading ties with U.S. to the precipice
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu was supposed to be a champion in America. He grew up in America, was educated in America and worked in America. He's an expert on American history, understands the American economy and knows American politics. He thinks in American English, and the thing he really believes in is the uniqueness of America. Most of the people he appreciates are American tycoons and intellectuals.

Israel's idée fixe of a peace-less status quo is returning
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

On the 19th anniversary of the Declaration of Principles (the Oslo I Accord) between Israel and the PLO, and on the 17th anniversary of the Interim Agreement (Oslo II), the Oslo process has hit rock bottom.

Did Bibi just throw Romney under the bus?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Douglas Bloomfield - (Opinion) September 19, 2012 - 12:00am

It’s been no secret that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would prefer Mitt Romney as president of America. He’s had a very tense relationship with Barack Obama, who came to office intent on restarting a peace process the Israeli prime minister would prefer to see shelved. There has been an ongoing flow of anti-Obama leaks coming out of “sources” in Jerusalem often identified in the Israeli media as “close to the prime minister’s office.”

Very Little Room for Diplomacy in ‘Fortress Israel’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Monitor
by Barbara Slavin - (Opinion) September 19, 2012 - 12:00am

Reading Patrick Tyler’s provocative new book, Fortress Israel, it is hard to have confidence that Israel’s leaders will allow much more time for efforts at a diplomatic resolution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear program.

Even Real Lobbies Fail Sometimes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Peter Beinart - (Opinion) September 19, 2012 - 12:00am

Why does writing about the Israel lobby make people stupid? By people, I mean both anti-Semites obsessed with Jewish control of the government and smart foreign policy commentators like David Rothkopf, who believes that because pro-Israel Jews don't control the United States government, the Israel lobby is a myth.

Peaceniks in Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Maen Areikat - (Opinion) September 19, 2012 - 12:00am

The leaked statements by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney once again betray the dangerous relationship between U.S. domestic politics and U.S. national strategic interests. To be clear, this is not the first time U.S. presidential candidates and party institutions made statements contradicting long-standing U.S. policy to improve their electoral chances. The examples are too many to mention and they all end up back-pedaling once they assume office.

The Answers to Mitt Romney's Israel-Palestine Apathy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Atlantic
by Zvika Krieger - (Opinion) September 19, 2012 - 12:00am

Just as Mitt Romney's campaign advisors promised this week that his campaign would start having real policy discussions, we receive the candidate's most substantive treatment of the Middle East to date, in the form of a leaked video from a recent closed-door fundraiser. His main thesis seems to be that, for Israelis and Palestinians, "the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish." He provides two general arguments to support his claim, both of which are problematic.

Bibi's Chutzpah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Council on Foreign Relations
by Michael Desch - (Opinion) September 18, 2012 - 12:00am

Speaking at a news conference in Jerusalem last week, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed outrage at the refusal of the Obama administration to set "red lines" for Iran's progress on its nuclear program: limits that, if crossed by the Iranians, would trigger U.S. military action against the Islamic Republic. Netanyahu suggested that by not taking a harder line, the United States might fail to persuade Israel to forego a unilateral strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

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