Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: The New York Times explains the grave issues involved in Israel's E1 settlement expansion plan. Israel insists it's pushing ahead with various settlement projects. The Syrian government warns Palestinian refugees not to aid rebels, as opposition forces seize control of the largest refugee camp in the country. The US expresses "deep concern"over the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in Syria. The Israeli Embassy in Ireland deletes a "Christmas" Facebook posting saying Palestinians would have lynched Jesus. Pres. Abbas meets with Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican says it hopes the recent UN vote will lead to a peace agreement. The Israeli Navy shoots and arrests a Palestinian fisherman off the Gaza coast. Palestinian public employees are planning strikes due to nonpayment of salaries. A new poll suggests a majority of "centrist" Israelis would not back a party that willing to divide Jerusalem. A new Palestinian poll suggests Hamas leader Hanniyeh would beat Abbas in an election held at the moment. A Palestinian journalist claims she was discriminated against by her West Bank TV station for wearing a headscarf. The American Jewish Committee says it's going to focus less on domestic issues and more on supporting Israel. Both Jordanians and Palestinians express unease at talk of a possible confederation. COMMENTARY: Aluf Benn says that during this election season, PM Netanyahu is pandering to the religious right. Amira Hass says a Palestinian boycott of Israeli goods won't hurt Israel at all. Sami El-Ali says Palestinian citizens of Israel have a right to express opinions Jewish citizens find obnoxious. Nahum Barnea says FM Lieberman is a damaging political figure but his case is being mishandled by prosecutors. Gershon Baskin emphasizes it takes time, effort and hard work to build partnerships for peace. Dalia Hatuqa says Hamas and Fatah are no closer to resolving their differences. Lara Friedman condemns disingenuous defenses of Israel's settlement expansion plans. Hussein Ibish says all parties involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are facing a set of crucial choices in the coming months.

West Bank Land, Empty but Full of Meaning
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Steven Erlanger - December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

AL ZAYYEM, West Bank — They buried Rabi al-Essawy 14 months ago on land his family owns not far from this village, between East Jerusalem and the large Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim. Mr. Essawy, 65, was a member of an important clan, and thousands attended his funeral.

Israel pushes on with east Jerusalem building plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Aron Heller - December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM —Israel on Monday said it was pushing forward with plans to build hundreds of homes in a Jewish settlement of east Jerusalem, risking renewed tensions with the Palestinians and its Western allies over the contentious project.

Syria Warns Refugees Not to Aid Rebels
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Rick Gladstone, Hania Mourtada - December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria warned its Palestinian refugee population on Monday not to aid the insurgency that is fighting President Bashar al-Assad, as hundreds of Palestinians fled the Yarmouk neighborhood of Damascus. Many headed for relative safety in Lebanon, a day after Syrian forces attacked that neighborhood with airstrikes for the first time in the civil war.

Syrian rebels take control of Damascus Palestinian camp
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Mariam Karouny - December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

BEIRUT, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Syrian rebels took full control of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on Monday after fighting raged for days in the district on the southern edge of President Bashar al-Assad's Damascus powerbase, rebel and Palestinian sources said. The battle had pitted rebels, backed by some Palestinians, against Palestinian fighters of the pro-Assad Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). Many PFLP-GC fighters defected to the rebel side and their leader Ahmed Jibril left the camp two days ago, rebel sources said.

U.S. concerned about deaths in Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
December 18, 2012 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Obama administration on Monday voiced its "deep concern" about the reported deaths of dozens of civilians following the outbreak of armed conflict a day earlier in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital Damascus.

Israeli Embassy Deletes ‘Christmas Thought’ Attacking Palestinians From Facebook
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Robert Mackey - December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

Last Update, 3:10 p.m. A “Christmas thought,” suggesting that if Jesus lived in the modern world he would “probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians,” was deleted from the official Facebook page of Israel’s embassy in Ireland on Monday, just a few hours after it was posted.

Pope tells Abbas of hope for Mideast solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

VATICAN CITY, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday the Vatican hoped the recent de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations would spur the international community to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Abbas, who is on a tour of Europe to thank countries that supported the Nov. 29 resolution by the U.N. General Assembly recognising Palestine, held private talks with the pope for about 25 minutes in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

Israeli navy arrests Palestinian fisherman
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- Israeli naval forces arrested a Palestinian fisherman on Monday after wounding him by shooting at his boat off Gaza City shore, a Palestinian official said. Nezar Ayyash of the fishermen syndicate said that Israeli gunboats encircled the fishing boat of Mas'ad Bakr, opened fire at the boat, wounded the guy and arrested him.

Public sector union announces strikes across West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 18, 2012 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority civil servants union on Monday accused Israel of collective punishment for withholding Palestinian tax revenues and announced strike action over non-payment of salaries. Union chief Bassam Zakarneh said government employees would strike from noon Tuesday until the end of the week.Civil servants have not received November salaries and cannot afford transport to get to work, Zakarneh added.

Poll: 67% of centrist Israelis wouldn't elect party that splits Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - December 18, 2012 - 1:00am

Two-thirds of centrist voters - defined as Labor Party and Yesh Atid supporters - would not support a party willing to compromise on Jerusalem, according to a poll commissioned by the rightward-leaning Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Palestinian poll: Hamas' Haniyeh would win PA presidency over Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

If elections for Palestinian president were to take place today, and the candidates were Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Haniyeh would win, a new Palestinian public opinion poll reveals. According to the poll, published on Monday by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), headed by Khalil Shikaki, some 48 percent of the electorate would vote for Haniyeh, compared with 45 percent to Abbas.

Hijab Stands In the Way of Palestinian Female Journalists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Diana Atallah - December 18, 2012 - 1:00am

Journalists Claim Discrimination for Wearing Hijab RAMALLAH - Lubna Abu Safiyeh was forced to leave her media job and now works in an administrative position in a Ramallah company - all because her ambition to work in the TV world did not fit her choice of wearing a head scarf.

AJC Turns Towards Israel, Global Advocacy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Josh Nathan-Kazis - December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

The century-old American Jewish Committee is cutting back on its domestic political agenda and on its research functions in favor of a focus on international advocacy. That shift follows a strategic plan that the AJC approved in 2009. Though the changes at the AJC have been broadly noted, the content of the blueprint itself — which the AJC shared with and described to the Forward — was previously unreported.

Talk of Palestinian-Jordanian confederation irks observers on both sides of the river
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Times of Israel
by Elhanan Miller - December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

Media reports that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is advancing a plan for confederation with Jordan have sparked a flurry of negative reactions both in Jordan and in the Palestinian territories.

Netanyahu is pandering to the religious right
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

  In the previous election campaign Benjamin Netanyahu promised change, but back then he was in the opposition and wanted to return to power. Now, when he's asking the voters for four more years as prime minister, his campaign slogan should be "No change," "I don't want change," or simply "Netanyahu. The status quo."

A Palestinian boycott of Israeli goods won't hurt Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Opinion) December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

  Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad called upon Palestinians on Saturday to boycott Israeli products, as a response to the Netanyahu government’s decision not to transfer to the PA the taxes and customs duties it is due to receive.

First Zoabi, then you
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
(Opinion) December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

Here we go again; as if this hasn't happened five times before. Knesset members from the extreme right are demanding that the Balad party and Hanin Zoabi be disqualified from the upcoming elections.

The mountain and the mouse
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Nahum Barnea - (Opinion) December 14, 2012 - 1:00am

Avigdor Lieberman is a damaging politician. He is damaging as a foreign minister and he is damaging as the leader of a party that seeks to destroy the democratic regime. He also causes damage with the norms he has adopted for himself as a public figure, the improper means by which he made money for himself and members of his family and the trickery he used to thwart the investigations against him.

Encountering Peace: Partners in dispute
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

I got a letter today from a friend who has a senior position in one of Israel’s important ministries. He used to work with me. He has spent years in the IDF and was one of the people in charge of security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority. He wrote that he continues to admire my dedication to peace with the Palestinians, and that he has no doubt my reasons for continuing to believe and work for peace stem from my commitment to the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

Hamas and Fatah No Closer To Settling Their Differences
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Monitor
by Dalia Hatuqa - (Opinion) December 17, 2012 - 1:00am

Amid the unprecedented West Bank celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of Hamas’ founding, questions are arising as to whether the Islamist Movement and Fatah are finally one step closer to reconciling their political differences. 

Disingenuous Defenses of Netanyahu's Settlement Plans
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Lara Friedman - (Opinion) December 17, 2012 - 1:00am


Palestinian cause redefined as Hamas spins Pyrrhic victories
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) December 18, 2012 - 1:00am


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