Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: The US and Israel are trying to limit the impact of the PLO's mission status upgrade at the UN. Palestinians are certain of victory in today's vote, and will get support from at least 13 European states. Surprisingly, Germany and Australia indicate both will probably abstain rather than voting no. Israeli officials are quoted as saying, "we lost Europe." PM Netanyahu says the vote will make it more difficult for Palestinians to achieve statehood. Former PM Olmert says is no reason for Israel to oppose the resolution. Settlers call for massive annexation of occupied territories in "retaliation." Republican senators issue language calling for further aid cuts to the PA in "retaliation." Hamas revives calls for a restructured PLO in which it can play a leading role. Israeli naval forces seize to fishing vessels off the coast of Gaza, throwing claims of eased fishing limitations into doubt. Palestinians executed as "collaborators" with Israel during the recent conflict were reportedly in custody before the violence began. Pro-Israel advocates are facing new setbacks at several American universities. COMMENTARY: ATFP executive director Ghaith Al-Omari and David Makovsky of WINEP analyze the repercussions of the PLO UN bid. The New York Times says it won't bring Palestinians any closer to statehood and resumption of negotiations is urgently required. The Washington Post says Palestinians may achieve an empty triumph at the UN. Nabil Sha'ath appeals to the international community to support the Palestinian initiative. Hanan Ashrawi says a vote for the resolution is a vote for peace. The Guardian says the resolution gives the UN a chance for a fresh start. Israeli Amb. Oren says Hamas deliberately tries to maximize civilian casualties. J.J. Goldberg says the Palestinians are sounding increasingly reasonable but Israel isn't. Leonard Fein says the resolution defends the two-state solution and should be supported by Jews. The National says the UN bid shows Israel increasingly isolated. Ephraim Sneh says the initiative is good for Israel and the United States. Mark Leon Goldberg says Israel needn't fear charges against its officials at the ICC.

U.S. and Israel Look to Limit Impact of U.N. Vote on Palestinian Authority
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Michael R. Gordon - November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON — After failing to head off a vote in the United Nations on Thursday that would upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status, the United States and Israel are looking ahead to how they can contain the damage from the approval of a resolution that even some European allies have signaled they will support.

Palestinians certain to win recognition as a state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Edith M. Lederer - November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

UNITED NATIONS —The Palestinians are certain to win U.N. recognition as a state Thursday but success could exact a high price: Israel and the United States warn it could delay hopes of achieving an independent Palestinian state through peace talks with Israel. The United States, Israel's closest ally, mounted an aggressive campaign to head off the General Assembly vote. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defiantly declared Thursday that the Palestinians would have to back down from long-held positions if they ever hope to gain independence.

Strong European support for Palestinian statehood move
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Louis Charbonneau - November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 28 (Reuters) - A Palestinian bid for indirect U.N. recognition of statehood received vows of support from more than a dozen European nations as of Wednesday, and diplomats said this backing may deter Israel from harsh retaliation against the Palestinian Authority for seeking to upgrade its U.N. status.

Germany to abstain from UN Palestine vote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

BERLIN (Reuters) -- Germany said it would abstain in a vote on Thursday at the UN General Assembly on changing the Palestinian Authority's diplomatic status, citing fears that it could be counterproductive to the peace process. "We did not take this decision lightly. Germany shares the goal of a Palestinian state ... but the decisive steps towards real statehood can only be the result of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement.

Germany backtracks on Palestinian bid; Israeli official: 'We lost Europe'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian people are enjoying sweeping support in the lead up to Thursday night's vote at the UN General Assembly over whether to upgrade the Palestinians' standing to non-member observer status. By Thursday morning Israel time, that support had turned into a full-on landslide, as more European nations decided to alter their positions, essentially leaving Israel to fend for itself.

Abbas to address UN ahead of upgrade vote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas will address the UN General Assembly in New York before it votes on upgrading the PLO's status on Thursday, a Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday. Omar Awadallah, who heads the ministry's UN department, told Ma'an the vote was expected at around midnight Jerusalem time. Representatives of some member states will also address the assembly before voting to explain their positions, Awadallah said.

Rival Palestinian groups show support for UN bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM —Israel's leader, having failed to block the Palestinians from taking their quest for a state to the U.N., defiantly declared Thursday that they would have to back down from long-held positions if they ever hope to gain independence. Ahead of Thursday's vote, thousands of Palestinians from rival factions celebrated in the streets of the West Bank. In a departure from its previous opposition, the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip said they would not interfere with the U.N. bid, and its supporters joined some of the celebrations.

Former Israeli PM Olmert Supports Palestine U.N. Bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Bernard Avishai - November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

Tomorrow, Mahmoud Abbas stands before the U.N. General Assembly and presents a resolution to upgrade Palestine’s membership to the status of an “observer-state.” The Obama administration has signaled that it will oppose this resolution, as it vetoed a Security Council condemnation of settlements last year—putatively to emphasize the need for direct negotiations between the parties.

Settlers: Annex Area C in response to PA's UN bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Tovah Lazaroff - November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

Settlers and right-wing activists called on Israel to annex Area C and threatened to burn the Palestinian flag, in response to Palestinian plans to Thursday to ask the UN General Assembly to grant it the status of non-member state. Left-wing Israelis, in turn, planned to rally in Tel Aviv in support of the Palestinian move, which constitutes a de facto UN recognition of Palestinian statehood. Settlers argued that now was the moment to strengthen Israel’s hold on the West Bank, particularly since the Palestinian bid was an abrogation of the 1993 Oslo Accord.

GOP senators introduce proposed penalties for enhanced Palestinian status
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Republican U.S. senators introduced the first efforts to penalize the Palestinians and the United Nations should the body affirm enhanced Palestinian status. Language proposed this week as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would cut assistance to the Palestinians by 50 percent and U.S. fees to the United Nations by the same amount should the effort by the Palestinians to gain recognition as a non-member observer state succeed in the General Assembly. It would also cut by 20 percent U.S. aid to any country voting to approve.

Hamas Chief Revives Talk of Reuniting With P.L.O.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Anne Barnard - November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

BEIRUT, Lebanon — On the eve of the United Nations vote on whether to declare the Palestinian Authority a nonmember state, the leader of Hamas revived a long-percolating proposal for his militant party to join the Palestine Liberation Organization, the group that, with Israel, signed the Oslo Accord, which Hamas has long derided.

Israel Seizes 2 Gaza Boats Near New Offshore Limit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Fares Akram, Jodi Rudoren - November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA — Despite an Israeli concession to permit Gazans to fish up to six nautical miles from shore rather than three, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian fisherman and seized two boats as their crews tried to venture farther into the Mediterranean Sea. Hamas, the militant faction that controls Gaza, denounced the action as a threat to the week-old cease-fire agreement that ended eight days of cross-border violence.

Executed Gaza 'collaborators' were in custody before war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Seven Palestinians who were accused of spying for Israel and publicly executed during the latest assault on Gaza were already in jail when the war started, and several had been held for more than a year. Masked gunmen shot the alleged collaborators in two public attacks at the height of Israel's eight-day bombardment of Gaza, killing one person on Nov. 16 and another six people on Nov. 20.

Pro-Israel Strategy Faces Campus Setbacks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Seth Berkman - November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

When the student government legislature at the University of California, Irvine voted unanimously for an anti-Israel divestment measure recently, the vote was not just a setback to the pro-Israel cause — it appeared to throw into question a broad new approach that some pro-Israel advocates have been promoting to move discourse on Israel, as they put it, “beyond the conflict.”

How Will the Palestinian UN Move Impact Prospects for Mideast Peace?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from PBS
(Analysis) November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

MARGARET WARNER: For more on the Palestinian bid for greater recognition at the United Nations, I'm joined by David Makovsky of the Washington Institute For Near East Policy, and Ghaith Al-Omari, executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine. Welcome back to both of you.

The Palestinians’ U.N. Bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

On Thursday, a week after the Gaza cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, the Palestinian Authority, which controls parts of the West Bank, is scheduled to ask the United Nations General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinian status to nonmember observer state.

What will Palestinians do after the U.N. vote?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
(Editorial) November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY will almost certainly win a vote Thursday in the U.N. General Assembly granting observer status to a state of Palestine. But it will be a pale triumph for President Mahmoud Abbas and his West Bank-based Fatah movement.

The time is now: Support Palestine’s UN bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nabeel Shaath - (Opinion) November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

Today, Palestine will ask the UN General Assembly to vote on a resolution to enhance its status to that of Observer State. This step will be a milestone in realigning international efforts to achieve peace in the region, within the framework of international law and the values embodied in the UN Charter. There should be no doubt: Supporting this initiative will create a new, positive, and effective momentum for a just path to peace in our region.  

Supporting Palestine at the UN today is a vote for peace in the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Hanan Ashrawi - (Opinion) November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

It might seem stating the obvious that Palestinians and Israelis find solutions only through negotiation, until you look at the record. It is a story in which one side makes proposals for nothing in return; one side makes agreements that the other side breaks; and one side keeps commitments that the other side ignores.

Palestine: theatricals at the UN
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
(Editorial) November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

A "crashing wave of applause" filled the hall in which the general assembly was meeting in Flushing Meadow Park, the temporary headquarters of the new United Nations, when the French representative voted for the resolution which partitioned Palestine. The French vote was taken as a signal that the resolution would prevail. "The chamber," wrote Alistair Cooke, our correspondent, "was crackling with currents of elation and despair."

Falling for Hamas’s media manipulation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Michael B. Oren - (Opinion) November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

What makes better headlines? Is it numbing figures such as the 8,000 Palestinian rockets fired at Israel since it unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and the 42.5 percent of Israeli children living near the Gaza border who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder? Or is it high-resolution images of bombed-out buildings in Gaza and emotional stories of bereaved Palestinians? The last, obviously, as demonstrated by much of the media coverage of Israel’s recent operation against Hamas.

Who Stands Against Peace?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - (Opinion) November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

The last days of November 2012 were an awkward time for Israel in the international arena. After years of presenting itself as the reasonable party in the conflict, saddled with a Palestinian negotiating partner that won’t negotiate, its ruling Likud party wound up a two-day Knesset primary vote on November 26 by choosing a slate of candidates dominated by hard-line rightists who oppose Israeli-Palestinian compromise and reject Palestinian statehood.

Why Jews Should Back Palestinian U.N. Bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Leonard Fein - (Opinion) November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

I rather doubt that more than a few of those whose knees have jerked in opposition to the planned request by the PLO that its status at the United Nations be upgraded have actually read the resolution. Instead, they rely on Israel’s bitter opposition and on America’s predictable opposition.

Palestinians' UN bid confirms Israel's isolation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) November 29, 2012 - 1:00am

  Today in New York, the United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to vote on upgrading the status of Palestine at the international body. The numbers look good and short of an unexpected upset, Palestinians will probably be granted "observer" status at the world body, similar to the Vatican.

State of Confusion
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Ephraim Sneh - (Opinion) November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

The Israel-Hamas war has refocused international attention on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and increased the stakes surrounding U.S. President Barack Obama's handling of the Palestinian bid for recognition at the United Nations as a non-member state. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas intends to submit that bid on November 29th -- the 65th anniversary of the U.N.

Who's Afraid Of The ICC?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Mark Leon Goldberg - (Opinion) November 28, 2012 - 1:00am

Tomorrow, the United Nations General Assembly will vote overwhelmingly to upgrade Palestine’s status from “Permanent Observer Entity” to “Non-Member State Permanent Observer.” This seemingly banal change in nomenclature may have profound consequences in the West Bank and Israel, but it will not make much of a noticeable difference at the U.N. itself. 

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017