Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: The US says a renewed Palestinian UN bid would threaten the peace process. Palestinian officials say there are diminished hopes in the peace process and the prospects for a two-state solution. More evidence emerges that former PM Olmert may be planning a comeback to challenge PM Netanyahu. Israel's parliament formally announces elections for Jan. 22. Palestinian sources claim Pres. Abbas met secretly in Jordan last week with DM Barak. A leading Israeli radio station bans playing a military protest song. Egypt's campaign against Gaza smuggling tunnels demonstrates that national interests are trumping ideology. Smuggled iPhone 5s are reportedly selling well in Gaza in spite of astronomical prices. The PA announces a plan to increase trade with Arab countries. The US reiterates it does not accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlement activity. The BBC and Bloomberg both look at the Palestinian economic crisis. A new Egyptian movie looks unflinchingly at the fate of the Jewish community in that country. South Africa is moving forward with regulations to clearly distinguish settlement products from those made in Israel. COMMENTARY: David Myers says the threatened shutdown of Ben-Gurion University's Department of Politics and Government for political reasons would be “a further erosion of democratic values in Israel.” Akiva Eldar says a new Israeli government report demonstrates there is no Jewish majority between the river and the sea, and that, therefore, an apartheid reality now exists in the territories controlled by Israel. Salman Masalha says sensible Palestinian citizens of Israel have no one to vote for. Gershon Baskin outlines how, if he were Israel's prime minister, he would revive the peace process. Paul Scham and Edy Kaufman say it's time to look for alternatives to a two-state solution, but don't find any reasonable ones. Analysts call the planned visit by the Emir of Qatar to Gaza, "a reward to Hamas for breaking ties with Syria."

U.S. says Palestinian status bid jeopardizes peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
October 15, 2012 - 12:00am

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 15 (Reuters) - A Palestinian bid to upgrade its U.N. status to a sovereign country would jeopardize the peace process with Israel and make it difficult to get the two sides to return to talks on a two-state solution, the United States said on Monday. Having failed last year to win recognition of full statehood at the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said last month he would seek a less-ambitious status upgrade at the world body to make it a "non-member state" like the Vatican.

Palestinian official reports "diminished hope" in peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
October 16, 2012 - 12:00am

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Palestine said here Monday there were "diminished hopes" in the peace process with Israel to translate the two-state solution into reality, and urged the international community to act to help reach the goal. Riyad Mansour, the permanent Palestinian observer to the United Nations, made the statement as he was taking the floor at an open meeting of the UN Security Council on the current situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Olmert Plans Comeback to Challenge Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Jodi Rudoren - October 15, 2012 - 12:00am

TEL AVIV — Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister who has spent the last several years battling corruption charges, is plotting a comeback that analysts say offers the best hope of uniting Israel’s fragmented political center, but also shows the opposition’s desperation in trying to block the seemingly inevitable re-election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli parliament dissolves for early election
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Aron Heller - October 15, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM —Israel officially opened its election season on Monday as parliament dissolved itself and scheduled a vote for January, plunging the country into a vicious, three-month political campaign.

Abbas secretly meets Israeli minister
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
October 15, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas secretly met Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Jordan Thursday, a Palestinian source revealed Monday. King Abdullah II of Jordan also participated in the meeting which was held in Amman, the source added. The meeting focused on efforts to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and their plans to seek a state recognition through the United Nations.

Israeli Army Radio ban on protest song raises controversy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Los Angeles Times
by Batsheva Sobelman - October 15, 2012 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — A leading Israeli radio station's decision to ban for broadcast a protest song is stirring controversy and underscoring the sensitive intersection of art, politics and freedom of speech in the country.

In Gaza's smuggling tunnels, Egypt's interests trump Brotherhood ties
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ahmed Aldabba, Kristen Chick - October 15, 2012 - 12:00am

As Egypt's closure of some of the smuggling tunnels from Gaza drives up prices in the tiny coastal enclave, it has also spurred anger toward Egypt’s new Islamist president for throttling one of Gaza's main sources of goods.

New iPhones snapped up in Gaza despite high prices, poverty
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
October 15, 2012 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY (Reuters) -- Apple's new iPhone 5 is selling well in the Gaza Strip despite inflated prices, reaching the enclave via smuggling tunnels even before high-tech hub Israel next door. The cutting edge smart phone is being snapped up for almost double what it costs in the United States, its price jacked up by middlemen on its circuitous delivery route from Dubai via tunnels linking the blockaded territory with Egypt.

PA plan would boost trade with Arab countries
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
October 12, 2012 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Authority economy minister hopes to boost revenues for the occupied territories through increasing trade between Palestine and Arab states. Jawad al-Naji told Ma’an on Friday after participating in talks at the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation that opening Arab markets to Palestinian products would boost the economy. The Organization for Islamic Cooperation-sponsored conference was held in Turkey.

Rice: US does not accept legitimacy of settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
October 16, 2012 - 12:00am

US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Susan E. Rice said on Monday that the US "does not accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlement activity, and will continue to oppose any efforts to legalize outposts." Speaking at the Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East, Rice emphasized: "The fate of existing settlements must be dealt with by the parties along with other permanent-status issues."

Stifled West Bank economy drains Palestinians' hopes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Yolande Knell - October 16, 2012 - 12:00am

The city is the largest in the West Bank and a major commercial and industrial hub, accounting for about one third of the West Bank's GDP. Recently it was also the scene of some of the worst violence during Palestinian economic protests. Locals blame the discontent on high unemployment, low wages and the rising cost of living as well as the heavy burden of consumer debt. "Our economy depends 100% on customers and as you can see, now the customers have no money," says Ayman, a tour guide.

Palestinians Cry ‘Feed My Children’ as Abbas Rule Imperiled
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bloomberg
by Jonathan Ferziger, Fadwa Hodali - October 16, 2012 - 12:00am

In the Palestinian city of Ramallah, protesters thronged the streets this month shouting “feed my children” after the government once again failed to pay 170,000 civil servants their monthly salaries on time. In Hebron to the south, hundreds of demonstrators burned tires in September to protest the economic squeeze, while in Bethlehem residents tore down road signs to show their anger.

Brave Film Tells Story of Egypt and Its Jews
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Aaron Ross - October 15, 2012 - 12:00am

Cairo — Sitting in a Cairo coffee shop, with his boyish face and gaunt physique, Amir Ramses looks at first glance like someone half his age. But the prominent 33-year-old film director has already directed three major commercial films and several acclaimed documentaries. His new film, the independently produced “Jews of Egypt,” Ramses says, is his most important feature film to date.

South Africa publishes West Bank labeling notice, despite negotiations with Jewish community
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Times of Israel
October 15, 2012 - 12:00am

PRETORIA (JTA) — The South African Trade Ministry has published a second notice concerning the labeling of Israeli products, despite working with the Jewish community on a compromise.

In defense of academic freedom
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Los Angeles Times
by David N. Myers - (Opinion) October 14, 2012 - 12:00am

In August 2009, an Israeli academic and political activist by the name of Neve Gordon published an Op-Ed article in the Los Angeles Times in which he reluctantly called for a gradual international boycott against his own nation. Gordon felt that such dramatic action was required to overcome the deep structural inequities between Jews and Arabs in Israeli society and the occupied territories, and to force the government back toward the goal of a two-state solution.

The Jewish majority is history
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) October 16, 2012 - 12:00am

Amid a dry economic report published yesterday in TheMarker lies an official announcement/acknowledgment of unparalleled importance: The government of Israel confirms that between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River there is no longer a Jewish majority. In other words, in the territory under Israel's jurisdiction a situation of apartheid exists. A Jewish minority rules over an Arab majority.

For Israeli Arabs, there's no one to vote for
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Salman Masalha - (Opinion) October 16, 2012 - 12:00am

The country is once again abuzz, as the old cliche goes. Color has returned to the cheeks of all the pundits and politicians. Why? Because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to call early elections, and he has leapt at the flattering polls that have fallen into his lap and rushed to inform the nation that the running in place will continue for another four years.

The challenge of statesmanship
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) October 15, 2012 - 12:00am

Election season is here, and many of us Israelis entertain the fantasy/dream of throwing our hats into the arena and imagining that we could soon be in positions of power in government. If I were prime minister, who would receive my first phone call? It would not be a difficult decision – Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Moving on From Two-State Solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Edward Edy Kaufman, Paul Scham - (Opinion) October 16, 2012 - 12:00am

The current Israeli-Palestinian stalemate is as comprehensive as it is unprecedented. All relevant parties — Israelis, Palestinians (both Fatah and Hamas), the United States, the European Union, the Arab world — are preoccupied with their own internal or regional political or economic issues, not to mention the possibility of an Iranian nuclear bomb and Israeli threats to attack. The only good news is that Israeli-Palestinian violence is also largely on hiatus — though by no means gone, as rockets fired at southern Israel occasionally remind us.

Qatari emir to visit Gaza as 'Hamas reward for breaking Assad ties'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - (Analysis) October 16, 2012 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY // The Qatari emir is to make an official visit to the Gaza Strip this week, in a move analysts say is to strengthen the country's influence with Arab Islamists and reward Hamas rulers for breaking ties with the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani would be the first Arab head of state to officially visit Gaza since the Palestinian Islamist group wrested control in 2007.

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