Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Israel's relations with Europe are at a low point in many decades, but experts believe this is unlikely to lead to a widespread boycott of settlement goods. PM Netanyahu visits Germany as ties are strained over lack of progress on peace. Israel bars a dissident Jewish Israeli academic from a diplomatic event in Germany. Jordan's King Abdullah II visits the West Bank. Israel and the Palestinians both harden their position on proposed settlement expansions. Hamas leader Meshaal may visit Gaza on Friday, as speculation grows Israel may increasingly try to talk to him. In retaliation against the Tunisian Foreign Minister's visit to Gaza, Israel bars a Tunisian diplomat from resuming his post in Ramallah. Palestinians say Israel must be held accountable for settlement activity by the international community. Ordinary Palestinians quickly find the UN upgrade hasn't changed anything on the ground. Hamas says it wants to establish the first ever Palestinian "Defense Ministry." COMMENTARY: ATFP Executive Director Ghaith Al-Omari and David Makovsky of WINEP discuss Israel's settlement expansion on PBS' NewsHour. The LA Times says Israel's retaliation against the Palestinians, especially building the E1 settlement, only hurts itself. Ma'an interviews FM al-Maliki. Ari Shavit says the political right is becoming so extreme it is dangerous to Israel. Yossi Verter says Deputy FM Ayalon has been thrown off of his party list because he would not obey commands to keep quiet. Shaul Arieli says Ben Gurion and other early Israeli leaders understood an Israeli state is only possible next to a Palestinian one. Ami Ayalon says Palestine's UN upgrade presents an opportunity to revive peace talks. Shimon Shiffer says ordinary Israelis will pay the price for a collapse in relations with Europe. Shlomo Ben-Ami says Israel needs to launch a vigorous new peace initiative. Noam Sheizaf says Israel is addicted to the status quo. Lara Friedman outlines ways Pres. Obama can "get tough" with Netanyahu. Akiva Eldar says Israel's settlement expansion plans are meant to "punish" the US as well as the Palestinians.

Israel faces lowest point in Europe relations in decades
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Christian Science Monitor
by Christa Case Bryant - December 4, 2012 - 1:00am

Jerusalem-The unusually strong European rebuke of Israel’s plans to tighten its grip on land sought for a Palestinian state marks at least a 30-year low point in relations, say Israeli foreign policy scholars. While the nature of Europe’s complaint is not new, the tone reflects both heightened urgency about salvaging the two-state solution, and accumulated impatience with a government seen as diplomatically tone deaf.

Despite souring relations with Israel, Europe not about to boycott settlement goods, sources predict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Times of Israel
by Raphael Ahren, Joshua Davidovich - December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

Sources in the European Union on Thursday played down a report in the Hebrew daily Maariv that Europe was seeking to pass a series of harsh sanctions against Israel following Jerusalem’s announcement last week of plans to expand settlement construction. That move by Israel came in response to the upgrading of the Palestinians’ status the previous day at the UN.

Peace Process Pulls at Germany-Israel Ties
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Nicholas Kulish - December 5, 2012 - 1:00am

BERLIN — Growing up as a teenager in Germany, Jonathan Logan’s opinion of the Middle East conflict was black and white.

Israel bars academic from Berlin diplomatic event
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Israel barred a dovish Israeli academic from taking part in a science symposium in Berlin on Thursday that was part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Germany, drawing renewed charges that his government has little tolerance for dissent.

Jordan king in West Bank to support Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Dalia Nammari - December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Jordan's King Abdullah II paid a rare visit to the West Bank on Thursday in a show of support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' successful bid for U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state.

Israel, Palestinians escalate settlement showdown
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - December 5, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Palestinians and Israelis hardened their positions Wednesday over a contentious new settlement push around Jerusalem, with Israel going full throttle on plans to develop the area and the Palestinians trying to block it through an appeal to the U.N. Security Council.

Hamas chief to make first visit to Gaza on Friday
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal al-Mughrabi - December 5, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal will make his first visit to the Gaza Strip on Friday to attend the Palestinian Islamist group's 25th anniversary rally, Hamas sources said on Wednesday. The two-day visit comes in the wake of last month's air offensive by Israel against Hamas and other armed Islamist factions to stop them firing rockets from the enclave at southern Israeli towns.

Hitmen on hold, Israelis might talk to Meshaal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Crispian Balmer - December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

(Reuters) - Israel once tried to kill Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in a botched assassination attempt on the streets of the Jordanian capital, Amman. Fifteen years later, it is starting to view him in a slightly different light and Israeli analysts say he might yet prove the man who can open a dialogue between the Palestinian Islamist movement and the Jewish state.  

Israel prevents Tunisian charge d'affaires in Ramallah from regaining his post
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

TUNIS, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Israel prevented the Tunisian charge d'affaires in the West Bank city Ramallah from regaining his post on Wednesday, the official TAP press agency reported. Israel took this move following the visit by a high-level Tunisian delegation to the Gaza strip, TAP quoted a communique from the Tunisian presidency as saying.

Palestinians warn Israel must be held accountable over settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
December 4, 2012 - 1:00am

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- The Palestinians accused Israel in a letter to the United Nations of planning to commit further "war crimes" by expanding Jewish settlements after the Palestinians won de facto UN recognition of statehood and warned that Israel must be held accountable.

What exactly is Palestine?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH // Mahmoud Abbas declared that Palestine had a state on his triumphant return from the United Nations, but many Palestinians are asking: what do we have and what do we call it? The Palestinian Authority (PA) president on Sunday lauded Palestine's "historic achievement" of being recognised as a non-member state at the UN. "Now we have a state," he told thousands gathered at his presidential compound in Ramallah.

Hamas wants a Gaza defense ministry
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from United Press International (UPI)
December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A Hamas official said the group plans to establish a defense ministry in the Gaza Strip to enhance resistance efforts against Israel. Attending a ceremony in Gaza Wednesday to honor police officers injured during Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas official Fathi Hamad said the Palestinian army must be prepared and ready to counter Israeli actions, Ahram Online quoted him saying.

How West Bank Construction Hampers Progress for a Two-State Solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from PBS
(Transcript) December 3, 2012 - 1:00am

RAY SUAREZ: For more on what the construction of this settlement could mean for the stalled peace process, 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. And, David, is this, strictly speaking, in response to the vote on observer status in the U.N., or is this some something that the Israelis have wanted to do anyway? DAVID MAKOVSKY:, Washington Institute For Near East Policy: Well, it's a little of both.

Israel takes a harder line
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Los Angeles Times
(Editorial) December 4, 2012 - 1:00am

When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he would seek recognition from the United Nations for a Palestinian state, Israel complained that Abbas should have pursued that objective in face-to-face peace negotiations and warned of grave consequences, threatening to expand settlements or even to "cancel" the peace process altogether.

PA to use new UN status to create 'international front'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
by Faisal J. Abbas - (Editorial) December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – The Palestinian Authority will seek to take advantage of the qualitative support by some European countries against Israel’s policies in the Palestinian territory through creating an international front to urge countries to take more strict positions against Israel, says the Palestinian minister of foreign affairs.

The right is a danger to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

Let's set aside values. Are we indeed prepared to reinforce our status as an occupying state that controls another people for a prolonged period? Let's set aside justice and morals. Are we indeed prepared to turn Zionism into an apartheid movement that denies millions of residents their basic rights? Let's set aside identity. Are we indeed prepared to exchange a Jewish democratic state for a state of ultra-nationalist zealotry that tramples on its minorities?

The real reason Lieberman ousted Deputy FM Danny Ayalon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yossi Verter - (Opinion) December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

One day after the surprising ouster of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon from Yisrael Beiteinu's next Knesset slate, a few details that appear to explain the move leaked out. Highly-placed sources in Yisrael Beiteinu said that party chairman and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman suspects Ayalon of an unforgivable sin - serial leaks to diplomatic reporters.

Ben-Gurion already agreed to a Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Shaul Arieli - (Opinion) December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

In the first years of the Oslo Accords the Israeli government didn't question the Palestinian people's right to self-determination in the land of Israel. Israel also expressed this in its mutual recognition with the PLO.

Seize the opportunity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ami Ayalon - (Opinion) December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

If there is one conclusion that can be drawn from the UN General Assembly vote on accepting Palestine as a non-member observer state, it is that the direct negotiations paradigm failed and has been replaced by a new concept: Constructive unilateralism.

We're going to pay
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Shimon Shiffer - (Opinion) December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

In the past, prime ministers would react with scorn and contempt to the UN and European resolutions against Israel. "Um-Shmum," David Ben-Gurion said angrily (um is the Hebrew acronymic pronunciation for 'UN', and the 'shm'-prefix signifies contempt or irony). "Those anti-Semites," Yitzhak Rabin said of the Europeans. And Menachem Begin said after the Sabra and Shatila massacre: "What does the world want from us?

Israel’s missing peace offensive
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Shlomo Ben-Ami - (Opinion) December 5, 2012 - 1:00am

Even before the latest ceasefire took hold, it had become clear that the dilemma facing Israel in Gaza entails more than simply developing military answers to the challenge posed by Hamas.

Israel’s Addiction to the Status Quo
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Monitor
by Noam Sheizaf - (Opinion) December 2, 2012 - 1:00am

A well-known cliché in Israeli political discourse refers to a high rate of support among the Jewish public for a two-state solution. As the claim goes, despite the Second Intifada and the rounds of fighting against Hamas in Gaza, most Jews still prefer this solution to the annexation of the Palestinian territories.

How Obama Can Get Tough With Bibi
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Lara Friedman - (Opinion) December 5, 2012 - 1:00am

Recently, the European Union adopted harsh new Iran sanctions, strongly supported by Israel. Shortly thereafter, Israel announced new East Jerusalem settlement construction. The EU’s top official Catherine Ashton, who was about to visit Israel, condemned the announcement in measured terms; Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, publicly told her, in effect, to shove it.

Netanyahu's Christmas Present
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National Interest
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) December 6, 2012 - 1:00am

Israel's declared intention to build settlement housing in the E-1 area could destroy the possibility of the two-state solution. There are two possible U.S. responses. The first would be akin to President George H. W. Bush's consistent and tough settlements policy. The other would resemble President Bill Clinton's incoherent and soft settlement approach.

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