Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: ATFP celebrates its 10th anniversary and announces its Seventh Annual Gala on October 23, 2013. (ATFP) Israel and the Palestinians are intensifying diplomatic activity with the United States in preparation for Pres. Obama's visit to the region. (Jerusalem Post) Israelis are being asked to choose their favorite logo for the Obama visit on PM Netanyahu's Facebook page. (AFP) Former FM Lieberman pleads not guilty in a fraud case. (New York Times) Israel treats five Syrians injured in the Civil War. (Reuters) Jordan denies it has been importing gas from Israel. (Xinhua) A Palestinian prisoner is continuing what is the purportedly longest-ever hunger strike by any detainee, as Israel reportedly detains his brother. (Xinhua/Ahram Online) A Gaza engineer reportedly held in isolation by Israel for over two years is reportedly losing his ability to speak. (Ma'an) The PLO criticizes an ill-fated visit to Bulgaria by a delegation from Hamas. (Xinhua) Hamas officials confirm they are in indirect negotiations with Israel. (Ma'an) Teachers become the latest group of Palestinian public employees to stage a strike. (Ma'an) Palestinian farmers are struggling in the occupied West Bank. (The National) Israeli officials say only "a handful" of prisoners are being held without public knowledge. (Ha'aretz) The surprise alliance between Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett is greatly complicating efforts by Netanyahu to form a new coalition. (LA Times) Netanyahu hints he wants the broadest coalition to push forward on peace with the Palestinians. (Ha'aretz) Israelis are luring Christian tourists with "Holy Land hikes" on the "Jesus Trail." (CSM) The Gaza blockade is snuffing out the area's camel industry. (Al Monitor) Israel says it will return Palestinian farmland to its owners after trying to grant it to a Jewish kibbutz. (Ha'aretz) Hamas condemns Egypt's flooding of Gaza smuggling tunnels. (Al Arabiya/AFP) COMMENTARY: Hussein Ibish asks how long the charade of Palestinian national unity talks can continue. (The National) Thomas Donilon says Hezbollah revealed its true face in the bombing of an Israeli tour bus in Bulgaria. (New York Times) Aluf Benn says Netanyahu might be interested in recognizing a provisional Palestinian state along the lines of the status quo, but this won't be stable. (Ha'aretz) Al-Ahram interviews Egyptian writer Ali Salem. (Ha'aretz) Robert Fattal says Israeli policies are helping Palestinian secure a demographic majority in the areas under Israel's control. (YNet) Yitzhak Laor says the Israeli media is excited about the secret detention of the late Ben Zygier, but indifferent to analogous Palestinian secret detainees. (Ha'aretz) Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed says the Prisoner X scandal shows Israel is being ruled by those with out of date mentalities. (Asharq Al- Awsat) Ben Lynfield says Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens are deeply divided over MK Zoabi. (The Forward) Tariq Al Maeena says Washington should beware of undue pro-Israel influence. (Gulf News) Emily Hauser says Palestinian media appear woefully slow to understand what anti-Semitism is and how much damage it causes. (Daily Beast/Open Zion) Hassan Barari says, as long as there is no real "peace camp" in Israel, Lieberman is right that conflict management is all that can be accomplished. (Arab News) Shlomi Eldar says hunger striking Palestinian prisoners are invisible to almost all Jewish Israelis. (Al Monitor) Sharif Nashashibi asks why Palestinians are hesitating to try to file charges against Israel at the ICC.

Israel, PA lobbying US before Obama's visit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh, Herb Keinon - February 17, 2013 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority on Sunday dispatched two senior officials to Washington to brief the US administration on its stance regarding the resumption of peace talks with Israel.

Israeli public asked to choose logo for Obama visit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
February 18, 2013 - 1:00am

The Israeli prime minister's office is asking the public to choose an official logo for next month's state visit of the US president by voting for one of three proposed designs on Facebook. Participants have until 1400 GMT on Tuesday to choose their favourite design by clicking "like' on Benjamin Netanyahu's Facebook page, a statement from the prime minister's office said.

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Pleads Not Guilty in Fraud Case
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - February 17, 2013 - 1:00am

Israel’s tough-talking former foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, pleaded not guilty on Sunday to

Israel treats five Syrians wounded in civil war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Oliver Holmes, Ari Rabinovitch - February 16, 2013 - 1:00am

Israeli soldiers treated five Syrians who had been wounded in fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels near Israel's security fence on the Golan Heights, the Israeli military said on Saturday. The victims were taken to a hospital in Israel. The military did not say if they were combatants or civilians, or in what circumstances they crossed over to the Israeli side of the fence, although Israeli media said the wounded had approached the area near the fence and soldiers let them in.

Jordan denies reports over importing gas from Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 18, 2013 - 1:00am

Jordanian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources dismissed on Sunday reports alleging that it imports natural gas from Israel, the state-run Petra news agency reported. "There are no secret talks between Jordan and Israel to import natural gas," said the ministry in a statement. The ministry added that the Arab Potash Company in Jordan is in talks with its Israeli counterpart to discuss the possibility to import natural gas from Israel as a cheaper alternative for fuel.

Feature: Palestinian prisoner continues longest-ever hunger strike for freedom
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 18, 2013 - 1:00am

Samer Essawi, a 34-year-old Palestinian prisoner who has been imprisoned by Israel since July 2012, went on a longest-ever hunger strike as he thinks it is the only way to struggle for his freedom. Living only on water and salt for 209 days and suffering from chronic health problems, the Palestinian from the village of Essaweyeh near east Jerusalem said in a public letter that he had never thought of giving up the hunger strike.

Israel arrests brother of Palestinian hunger-striker Issawi
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Ahram
February 17, 2013 - 1:00am

Israeli authorities arrested Shady Issawi, brother of Palestinian hunger-striker Samer Issawi, at dawn from his home, The Free Samer Issawi Campaign's Facebook page reported on Sunday.

Prisoner in Israeli isolation for 2 years 'forgets speech'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 17, 2013 - 1:00am

A Palestinian man held in solitary confinement by Israel for two years is losing his ability to recall language and has speech impairments, a lawyer who visited him in jail said Sunday. The lawyer for the Palestinian prisoners society said Dirar Abu Sisi, an engineer from Gaza, is suffering from a number of health problems in his isolation cell. Abu Sisi disappeared in February 2011 while traveling on a train in Ukraine and Israel later announced that it was holding him in a southern Israeli jail.

PNA criticizes Hamas delegation's visit to Bulgaria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 17, 2013 - 1:00am

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on Sunday criticized the visit by Hamas lawmakers to Bulgaria, which was ended Friday with Bulgarian security forces kicking out the delegation. The Hamas officials, who arrived in Sofia Wednesday, did not coordinate for their visit with the PNA or the "official sides in Bulgaria," said Riad Al-Maliki, Palestinian minister of foreign affairs, "This has harmed the Palestinian-Bulgarian relations as well as our relations with Europe."

Hamas official confirms indirect talks with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 17, 2013 - 1:00am

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya on Sunday confirmed that the movement is holding indirect talks with Israel over the implementation of a ceasefire deal, but insisted that they did not amount to political negotiations. Al-Hayya was commenting on a report on Israel's Channel 2 TV on Friday, which said Israeli and Hamas representatives had been negotiating for weeks.

Another round of Palestinian talks fail to deliver on unity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) February 18, 2013 - 1:00am

Last week the interminable Palestinian national reconciliation negotiations failed yet again, amid mutual recriminations. Hamas complained that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas was attempting to re-litigate already agreed-upon items. There was also apparently a dispute about the prospect of Mr Abbas serving simultaneously as both president and prime minister.

Hezbollah Unmasked
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Thomas E. Donilon - (Opinion) February 17, 2013 - 1:00am

ON FEB. 5, after more than six months of investigations, the Bulgarian government announced that it believed Hezbollah was responsible for the attack last July that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver and injured dozens more in the resort town of Burgas. This report is significant because a European Union member state, Bulgaria, explicitly pointed a finger at Hezbollah and lifted the veil on the group’s continued terrorist activities. Europe can no longer ignore the threat that this group poses to the Continent and to the world.

Good morning, Abbas-stan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) February 17, 2013 - 1:00am

All indications are that the Palestinians are set to return to the top of Israel’s priority list, despite the evident boredom of the public and the politicians with what is euphemistically called in Hebrew “the diplomtic issue.” Here a muttered comment about peace by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there a demand during coalition negotiations for renewed negotiations; U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel is approaching, while in the background the calm of the status quo is weakening and a third intifada looms more threateningly than usual.

Ali Salem's long journey from Israel back to the Egyptian consensus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel - (Interview) February 17, 2013 - 1:00am

“When I’m on my own, I still dream of our pushing Israel into the sea,” an Egyptian journalist told author and playwright Ali Salem during an interview for the Al-Ahram newspaper this week. “That’s because you want a crushing solution, in one blow,” replied the 77-year-old, best known in Egypt for visiting Israel in 1994 following the signing of the Oslo Accords.

An inconvenient truth
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Robert Fattal - (Opinion) February 16, 2013 - 1:00am

On December 31, 2012 the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics released a report on the demographics of Palestinians. Rather than going through the effort of talks with the Netanyahu government, Palestinians are now talking to all of Israel. Israelis can be forgiven for not paying much notice, given other issues like absorbing the consequences of the elections.

Fitting Palestinian prisoners into the excitement of the Ben Zygier affair
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yitzhak Laor - (Opinion) February 18, 2013 - 1:00am

Samer Issawi was sentenced by a military tribunal to nearly three decades in prison, freed after six years in the 2011 prisoner swap that secured the release of Gilad Shalit, and re-arrested in July and sent back to jail for another 20 years because he went from Jerusalem, where he lives, to A-Ram, on the other side of the road. Issawi has been on a saline drip to keep him alive since August.

Israel's Cover-ups
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed - (Opinion) February 16, 2013 - 1:00am

We are usually highly critical of Arab governments, accusing them of being outdated. We also blame them for their rigid commitment to policies of suppression and silence. But then we witness a country, such as Israel, displaying traits that are just as bad as those we have been criticizing. We typically assume Israel is a modern and strong country that can deal with everything in a transparent manner. It has larger universities, larger research centers and more advanced media institutes than us.

Haneen Zoabi, Israeli Lawmaker, Is Reviled by Jews — and Adored by Arabs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Forward
by Ben Lynfield - (Opinion) February 16, 2013 - 1:00am

At the Knesset in West Jerusalem, she has been threatened, denounced as a terrorist and stripped of her parliamentary privileges. Israel’s new kingmaker, Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, has cited her as the reason he would never join a coalition that depended on support from Israeli-Arab political parties. But at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem, chatting earnestly over a cup of espresso and a slice of cake, Haneen Zoabi is interrupted repeatedly by waves and smiles, and by requests by passers-by to have their picture taken with her.

Israel is the sleeping enemy within the US
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Tariq A. Al-Maeena - (Opinion) February 16, 2013 - 1:00am

When writers daringly break barriers and put out reports on the dangers of Israeli manipulation of US politics for self-serving interests, their pieces are quickly dismissed as anti-Semitic hysteria. But historical events justify the alarm raised by a few western writers against a deeply embedded menace within the US political system. It is a menace that singularly promotes Israeli interests above American ones, and effectively uses US politicians for that purpose.

Palestinians Need To Learn The Lesson On Antisemitism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Beast
by Emily L. Hauser - (Opinion) February 15, 2013 - 1:00am

On January 31, Ma’an News Agency ran an opinion piece on its Arabic-language website in which the author, Ghassan Mustafa al-Shami, unleashed his decidedly vile opinion that the Holocaust is a “myth” spread and exploited by Jews for our own nefarious ends:

Israelis, Palestinians and ‘managing the crisis’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Hassan Barari - February 17, 2013 - 1:00am

A few days ago, the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that chances to reach an agreement with the Palestinians on the issue of permanent borders would be modest. He argued that whatever happens, parties will be left only with “managing the crisis.” Difficult as it may look, Liberman has articulated what many observers already know. Ever since the peace process has run aground following the advent of Sharon’s first government, events unfolded have only reinforced what Liberman had said.

Hunger Striker Samer Issawi Invisible to Israeli Society
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Monitor
by Shlomi Eldar - (Opinion) February 17, 2013 - 1:00am

Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi from the village of Issawiya has been on hunger strike for more than 200 days now. “Two hundred days? How is he still alive?” I asked Khader Adnan. If anyone could give me a reliable answer to this question, it's Adnan. After all, he started the wave of hunger strikes in Israeli prisons about a year ago, and since his release he has emerged as one of the most prominent activists on behalf of Palestinian prisoners.

Joining the ICC: What is the P.A. waiting for?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Arabiya
by Sharif Nashashibi - (Opinion) February 18, 2013 - 1:00am

Palestine’s upgraded status at the U.N. to non-member observer state handed it a potent weapon against the longest military occupation in modern history: the ability to join the International Criminal Court. So what has the Palestinian Authority done with this weapon in the months since? Absolutely nothing, and for no discernible reason.

On eve of Israeli visit, renowned academic Zygmunt Bauman laments protracted occupation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avner Shapira - February 16, 2013 - 1:00am

Professor Zygmunt Bauman last visited Israel some 20 years ago, during the period of the second government of Yitzhak Rabin. “I came to Israel during the tragically brief episode of Rabin’s government − the time of hope that the nation was about to come to its senses, stop the rot and follow the road out of the impasse,” he recalls now. “That episode, though, was brought to a violent end shortly after − not by a Palestinian, but by a Jewish bullet.

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