Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Secularists appear to be rising in Israeli politics. Hamas and Fatah officials are expected to meet again in Egypt. PM Netanyahu meets with Quartet envoy Blair. Media mogul Murdoch apologizes for a cartoon critical of Netanyahu which many found offensive. Palestinian villagers are suing Israeli occupation authorities over military drills. Former deputy FM Beilin says Netanyahu might agree to a "provisional" Palestinian state. Some psychologists question whether Netanyahu and Pres. Obama can overcome their differences. Sources claim the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is pressing Hamas leader Mishaal not to step down, while others say some Arab states are pushing for him to chair the PLO. Occupation forces injure a man in northern Gaza. Israeli and Palestinian officials will meet to discuss Palestinian tax revenues. COMMENTARY: Roger Cohen interviews Amos Oz. Anshel Pfeffer says he doesn't find the Netanyahu cartoon to be anti-Semitic. Aluf Benn says the foundations of Netanyahu's rule remain very strong. Barak Ravid says Yesh Atid leader Lapid may not be as opposed to compromise on Jerusalem as he tries to seem. Shlomi Eldar says Lapid should call Pres. Abbas. Gershon Baskin says good governance and peacemaking go hand-in-hand. Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed says Israel has a stake in a weakened Syria, which is almost certain to emerge from the current conflict. Omar Shaban says a new group of Palestinians is getting rich from tunnel smuggling. Gilead Sher says Israel is greatly in need of a two-state solution. Trudy Rubin says Israel's recent election didn't settle much.

Israeli Secularlists Appear to Find Their Voice
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Jodi Rudoren - January 28, 2013 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Speaking to a group of ultra-Orthodox men shortly before he officially entered politics, Yair Lapid, a proudly secular talk-show host, declared that in a century-long competition to define Israel’s character, “we lost and you won.”

Hamas says next inter-Palestinian talks in Egypt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Jamal Halaby - January 28, 2013 - 1:00am

AMMAN, Jordan — Reconciliation talks between Palestinian militant group Hamas and its rival Fatah are on track and will resume in Egypt on Feb. 9, Hamas' political leader said Monday. Khalid Mashaal said that "obstacles" over crucial issues such as elections and a future government remain, but that he expected progress in talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli PM meets with Mideast Quartet envoy Blair
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 29, 2013 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the international Quartet's envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair on Monday evening. Netanyahu told Blair, who represents the United Nations, the United States, Russia and the European Union, that he looks forward to continuing working with Blair regarding the challenges Israel is facing.

Murdoch apologizes for ‘offensive’ cartoon of Netanyahu using blood-red mortar to build wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
January 29, 2013 - 1:00am

Media baron Rupert Murdoch has apologized for a Sunday Times cartoon depicting Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall using blood-red mortar, an image Jewish leaders said was reminiscent of anti-Semitic propaganda. The political cartoon, which was published on Holocaust Memorial Day, shows Netanyahu wielding a long, sharp trowel and depicts agonized Palestinians bricked into the wall’s structure. It was meant as a comment on recent elections in which Netanyahu’s ticket narrowly won the most seats in the Israeli parliament.

Palestinian villagers take IDF to High Court over military drills
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - January 29, 2013 - 1:00am

The army has been carrying out training exercises for about a week near three Palestinian villages in south Hebron, in violation of a High Court of Justice order that also forbids the villagers' eviction from their homes, said local farmers backed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. The farmers of a-Tabban, Mirkez and Jinba reported that military drills in a "firing zone" adjacent to their villages started last Monday with no warning, damaging their fields, pasture areas and wells.

'PM said he'd okay provisional Palestinian state'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Sam Sokol - January 29, 2013 - 1:00am

While not ready to sign a comprehensive peace deal, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is willing to establish an interim Palestinian state without a final agreement, former deputy foreign minister Yossi Beilin said on Monday. Speaking during a debate with outgoing settlement council head Danny Dayan, Beilin stated that he had heard from Netanyahu that he would be ready for establishing a “provisional border with the Palestinians.” “This is something that I heard from him that he would be ready to do it,” he stated.

Putting Bibi and Barack on the Couch
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - January 27, 2013 - 1:00am

As Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama look toward new terms in office, their long, tense relationship will now feature a new twist: The re-inaugurated American leader launches his second term greatly emboldened, while the Israeli prime minister emerges from a jolt of an election that has greatly weakened him. Nevertheless, psychiatrists and political analysts alike believe that the impact on their forced marriage will be four more years of pretty much the same thing — pronounced disagreements alongside pragmatic attempts to prevent their relationship from falling apart.

Egypt’s MB Pressuring Hamas Chief to Continue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
January 28, 2013 - 1:00am

The Hamas movement has postponed selecting a new Political Bureau chief in a clear bid to persuade incumbent, Khalid Mishal, to nominate himself for a fifth term. An Informed Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that delaying the convening of the Hamas Shura Council is meant to give Arab, Palestinian, and Islamic parties’ more time to pressure Mishal to change his mind.

'Hamas leader Mashaal seeking presidency of PLO'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
January 29, 2013 - 1:00am

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is seeking to take over the presidency of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, currently chaired by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the London-Based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on Monday. According to the report, Mashaal's desire to chair the PLO is behind his decision not to stand for reelection to his position as chairman of Hamas's Political Bureau.

Medics: Israeli forces shoot, injure man in north Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 29, 2013 - 1:00am

Israeli forces shot and injured a man in north Gaza on Tuesday, medics said. Medical sources told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers stationed near the border opened fire at a laborer collecting scrap metal near Beit Hanoun. The man was transferred to hospital for treatment. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that "Palestinians gathered near the security fence and damaged it in the northern Gaza Strip. Security forces first fired warning shots in the air, and the suspects distanced themselves."

Palestinian, Israeli officials 'to discuss tax transfers'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 29, 2013 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority Ministry of Finance officials will meet with their Israeli counterparts on Wednesday to discuss resuming the transfer of taxes withheld by Israel since November, an official said. Rami Mahdawi, PA finance ministry spokesman, told Ma'an Tuesday that the meeting will discuss Israel's position to resuming the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues, which have been withheld as punishment for the UN's acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state in November.

Sitting Down With Amos Oz
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Roger Cohen - (Interview) January 28, 2013 - 1:00am

AMOS Oz, the novelist whose stories and tales have probed the soul of Israel with an intimate insistence, greeted me to his book-lined apartment with a quick Hebrew lesson. I must understand that the key word, Yiddish really, is “fraiers” — or suckers.

Four reasons why U.K. cartoon of Netanyahu isn't anti-Semitic in any way
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anshel Pfeffer - (Opinion) January 28, 2013 - 1:00am

A cartoon that appeared in this London's Sunday Times this week depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall with blood-red colored cement, trapping in between the bricks Palestinian-looking figures, is causing the latest is-it-or-is-it-not-anti-Semitism furor.

In the end we're left with Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) January 28, 2013 - 1:00am

The elections are over, the votes have been counted, the banners folded away. Benjamin Netanyahu will continue as prime minister. His messages have changed slightly. During the campaign, Netanyahu wanted "a strong prime minister and a big party." Now he talks about "a broad and stable government." All the rest is as it was. It's the same Bibi, with the same worldview, the same experience and the same objectives.

Will Yair Lapid divide Jerusalem?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - (Opinion) January 28, 2013 - 1:00am

Throughout his election campaign Yair Lapid insisted on his adamant opposition to the partition of Jerusalem under any future peace agreement with the Palestinians. Back in February 2012, when he first began communicating with potential voters, he declared that Jerusalem "belongs to the people of Israel and no one else." Months later, giving a campaign speech in the West Bank city of Ariel in October 2012, he underlined the message:

Yair Lapid Should Call Abu Mazen
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Monitor
by Shlomi Eldar - (Opinion) January 28, 2013 - 1:00am

Below is the transcript of a phone call that has not yet taken place: “Hello?” “Hello Mr. Lapid, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas speaking.” “Who?” “Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Mazen.” “Ah-ha, shalom.” “Apropos of peace, do you feel like dropping by me for coffee? I am here in Ramallah, a 50-minute ride from Tel Aviv.” “Give me a minute to check …”

Encountering Peace: Good governments make peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) January 28, 2013 - 1:00am

The most important thing any government can provide for its people is peace. Peace is the precondition for everything else. Economic growth, welfare for those in need, good education for all, culture, infrastructure, opportunity and hope are all attainable, if there is peace. Israel is the land of promise, the land of great potential. Amazing things have been achieved here over the past 65 years under very difficult circumstances. The major promise that has not been fulfilled is peace.

The role of Israel in Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed - (Opinion) January 29, 2013 - 1:00am

THE war in Syria is also an Israeli concern and its results may be as dangerous as the October 1973 war. The fall of Bashar Assad’s regime can change the map and may perhaps threaten the existing balance of power formulated after the disengagement agreement signed by President Hafez Assad and Israel under Henry Kissinger’s auspices during the October war.

New Class of Palestinians Get Rich On Gaza Tunnel Trade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Monitor
by Omar Shaban - (Opinion) January 28, 2013 - 1:00am

One of the challenges for reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) is to reaccommodate 55,000 PA employees — who had been asked to refuse to work with the Hamas government — in the Gaza Strip.  Another important challenge is how to assimilate hundreds of newly rich Palestinians who have amassed vast fortunes from illegal trade as well as legal economic activities, and re-incorporate hundreds who had halted economic activity because of the blockade. The tunnels are not new

Time has come for 2 states
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Gilead Sher - (Opinion) January 29, 2013 - 1:00am

In about a month and a half Israel's 33rd government will be sworn in, and, regardless of the make-up of the next coalition, it must succeed in determining the country's borders.

Trudy Rubin: Little settled by Israeli vote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Philadelphia Inquirer
by Trudy Rubin - (Opinion) January 29, 2013 - 1:00am

Here's a pop quiz for those who have been too busy to notice the surprising results of Tuesday's Israeli election: Was the key issue (1) Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's testy relationship with President Barack Obama; (2) whether Israel should bomb Iran's nuclear sites; or (3) whether to revive the mummified peace process?

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