Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Palestinian protesters supporting hunger striking prisoners clash with Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank. (AP) Mustafa Barghouti says the death of a hunger striker could lead to another intifada. (YNet) A new poll finds that a huge majority of Palestinians want new elections immediately, and support for Fatah remain steady but Hamas' numbers have declined. (PNN) A trial reveals much about Hezbollah's operations in Europe, including looking for Israeli targets. (New York Times) Egypt says it is determined to stop the flow of weapons between Gaza and Sinai, and is reportedly flooding smuggling tunnels with sewage. (New York Times) Hamas says it will not accept any agreement that includes a ban on arms smuggling. (Xinhua) Israeli forces are training for potential subterranean warfare with Hezbollah. (Jerusalem Post) Fatah officials are reportedly angered by indirect Israeli-Hamas negotiations. (Jerusalem Post) A Gaza resident immolates himself outside a Hamas headquarters. (Ma'an) Israel approves drilling for oil in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. (AP) The Netanyahu government is deeply uncomfortable with two Oscar-nominated films on the conflict, "The Gatekeepers" and "5 Broken Cameras." (Reuters) Israeli officials fear US budget cuts might mean a loss of military aid. (Xinhua) DFLP chief Hawatmeh is lightly injured in a bomb explosion in Damascus. (Ma'an) Settlers are accused of torching six Palestinian cars near Nablus. (Ma'an) Witnesses say Israeli occupation forces shot one man and detained two others near Jenin. (Ma'an) Palestinians say they have little confidence that new Israeli justice minister Livni, who is also in charge of negotiations, will be able to have much of an impact on Israel's policies towards them. (The National) Senior PLO and Israeli officials are visiting Washington in preparation for Pres. Obama's upcoming Middle East trip. (JTA)

COMMENTARY: Jeffrey Heller says Livni will face an uphill struggle to make any progress on peace with the Palestinians. (Reuters) Adam Gonn says Netanyahu is taking a risk including Livni in his new government. (Xinhua) Ian Black says Livni "won't be a fig leaf" for Netanyahu if he doesn't want peace. (The Guardian) The National says it fears the new Israeli coalition, including Livni, is indeed a missed opportunity. (The National) The LA Times interviews Likud party centrist figure Meridor. (LA Times) Ari Shavit says if the Bennett-Lapid alliance continues, there will be no let up in settlement activity and it will be very bad for peace. (Ha'aretz) Gideon Levy says before anybody starts talking about the "peace process" again, serious confidence building measures are urgently required. (Ha'aretz) Gershon Baskin insists Israeli-Palestinian peace is still possible. (Jerusalem Post) Paul Hirschson says Israeli-Arab business relations are good for peace. (Jerusalem Post) Jay Michaelson says trying to censor views critical of Israel backfires. (The Forward) George Hishmeh says if Obama does not seize the initiative on peace in his second term, it may be a final opportunity squandered. (Gulf News) Joseph Kechichian says Obama must realize that nothing can advance US interests in the Middle East like the creation of a Palestinian state. (Gulf News) Michael Jansen thinks Pres. Morsi is "playing the Israeli and US game" in Gaza. (Jordan Times)

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

Hundreds of Palestinian protesters are squaring off against Israeli security forces in the West Bank at a demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Some 2,000 people gathered at the Beitunia military checkpoint on Thursday, hoping to march to a nearby military prison. When the military prevented them from proceeding, protesters began throwing stones and burning tires. Israeli soldiers are responding with rubber-coated bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Palestinian MP: New intifada if prisoners harmed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Elior Levy - February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

Palestinians marched Thursday morning from the West Bank village of Bituniya to Ofer Prison in protest against the continued administrative detention of four Palestinians who are on a hunger strike. Several hundred demonstrators waving Fatah flags advanced toward the Bituniya checkpoint. Ofer Prison is located just beyond the checkpoint.

Poll: Large Majority of Palestinians Want Immediate Elections
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Palestine News Network
February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

A large majority of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank support holding immediate presidential and legislative elections, a new poll published Thursday said. The poll, by the Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD) and reported by WAFA, said 95% of Gaza residents and 82% of West Bank residents support the holding of immediate legislative and presidential elections.

Trial Offers Rare Look at Work of Hezbollah in Europe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Nicholas Kulish - February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

LIMASSOL, Cyprus — In a little-noticed trial in a small courtroom here on Wednesday, a 24-year-old man provided a rare look inside a covert global war between Israel and Iran, admitting that he is an operative of the militant group Hezbo

To Block Gaza Tunnels, Egypt Lets Sewage Flow
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Fares Akram, David Kirkpatrick - February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

The Egyptian military is resorting to a pungent new tactic to shut down the smuggling tunnels connecting Sinai and Gaza: flooding them with sewage. Along with the stink, the approach is raising new questions about relations between Egypt’s new Islamist leaders and their ideological allies in Hamas who control the Gaza Strip.

Hamas says not to accept any deal banning arms smuggling
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

Islamic Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip cannot accept any agreement that bans arms smuggling to the coastal enclave, a Hamas official said Wednesday. "Preventing people under occupation from getting the mechanism of fighting the occupier is meaningless," said Salah al-Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official.

IDF trains for potential clashes with Hezbollah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Lappin - February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

Reconnaissance soldiers from the the IDF’s Engineering Corps recently completed an intensive series of subterranean warfare drills to prepare them for a potential clash with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has placed its command and control centers in underground bunkers, and dug a maze of tunnels where commanders, fighters and weaponry can be placed out of sight of the Israel Air Force.

Fatah irate at reported indirect Israel-Hamas talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

Fatah officials expressed outrage on Wednesday over reports that Hamas and Israel are conducting indirect talks in Cairo. According to the reports, Israeli and Hamas officials who arrived in Cairo recently have been holding indirect talks about consolidating the current cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, which has been in effect since Operation Pillar of Defense ended in November.

Gaza man self-immolates in government office
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

A man set himself on fire at a government office in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, wounding himself and four others, witnesses and medics said. The man was seriously wounded after he self-immolated at an office for the Ministry of Social Affairs in Jabalia, witnesses told Ma'an. Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said four others were wounded in the incident, including two female staff members and an elderly man. The wounded were taken to Kamal Udwan Hospital and Shifa Hospital, al-Qidra said.

Israel gives OK for oil drilling in Golan Heights
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

Israel says it has given the go-ahead for a gas exploration project in the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau it captured from Syria in the 1967 war. Israel's Energy and Water Resources Ministry said Wednesday it has issued a permit for the American-Israeli company Genie Energy to drill for oil on the plateau. The company is headed by Effi Eitam, a hawkish former Israeli Cabinet minister.

Israel's Oscar bid discomforts Netanyahu government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Dan Williams - February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

An Oscar-nominated Israeli documentary has brought little joy to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, the focus of the film's criticism of Israel's policy toward the Palestinians. Featuring searingly confessional interviews with six former chiefs of the shadowy security service Shin Bet, "The Gatekeepers" portrays the 46-year-old West Bank occupation and Jewish ultranationalism as threats to Israel's survival.

Israeli officials fear impending U.S. budget cuts to trim military aid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

Israeli officials are concerned that the United States' budget cuts due to begin on March 1 will reduce its military aid to the Jewish country, economic Globes reported on Wednesday. The report said the planned budget cuts will approximately chop 250 million U.S. dollars from the aid and will halt the U.S. assistance to Israel's missile programs.

DFLP chief hurt in Damascus explosion
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

The head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine was lightly injured on Thursday in a car bomb that shook central Damascus and killed several people, a DFLP official said. Nayef Hawatmeh, 74, suffered minor injuries but did not require hospital treatment when the bomb exploded near DFLP offices in Syria, DFLP central committee member Khalid Atta told Ma'an. Atta said the bomb had not targeted the DFLP office, which was damaged in the attack.

Official: Settlers torch 6 cars in Nablus village
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

Armed settlers attacked a village south of Nablus overnight Wednesday and torched six cars, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said dozens of residents of the Esh Kodesh settlement outpost entered Qusra village firing heavily. They torched six cars, belonging to Raed Musbah, Abed Taher, Yousef Odeh, Yasser Abu Rida, and Nashat Fawzi, Daghlas told Ma'an.

Witnesses: 1 shot, 2 detained in Israeli raids in Jenin
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

Israeli forces shot a Palestinian in his leg and detained two people in raids in the Jenin district overnight Wednesday, witnesses said. Soldiers detained Samid Abu Haija from his home in al-Yamun, northwest of Jenin, and 24-year-old Mohammad Naser al-Sadi from Jenin refugee camp. In Birqin village, west of Jenin, soldiers surrounded the home of Mohammad Qablawi and ordered residents to leave the house.

Palestinians have little faith Livni can influence peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

Palestinians are not optimistic about the influence of Tzipi Livni as Israel's negotiator in talks with them after her appointment in the emerging coalition government of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mrs Livni, a former foreign minister, was the leader of the opposition until March last year, when she formed her own party on a platform critical of Mr Netanyahu and his government's policy of expanding Jewish settlements.

Palestinians’ negotiator Erekat, Israeli security chief Amidror visiting D.C.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

Saeb Erekat, the top negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, and Yaakov Amidror, the Israeli national security adviser, are visiting Washington. Erekat will meet this week with David Hale, the top U.S. official handling Middle East peace talks, the State Department said in a statement Wednesday. Israeli officials confirmed that Amidror also is in Washington, but would not identify with whom he is meeting. The meetings comes ahead of President Obama's planned visit next month to Israel and Palestinian areas next month.

Israel's Livni faces rough road in peace push with Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jeffrey Heller - (Analysis) February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

Tzipi Livni's coalition pact with right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu speaks volumes about the obstacles ahead for the moderate former Israeli foreign minister in her new task of pursuing peace with the Palestinians. Expectations of a new peacemaking initiative have been raised by a planned visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan next month by U.S. President Barack Obama, who has clashed with Netanyahu over the prime minister's policy of expanding settlements on occupied land Palestinians want for a state.

Israel's Netanyahu risks inclusion of Livni into government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Faisal J. Abbas - (Analysis) February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister designee Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday announced that former foreign minister Tzipi Livni of the HaTnua (Movement) party will join his next government as justice minister. Thus, this is making the HaTnua the first party to join Netanyahu's coalition after the parliamentary elections on Jan. 22.

Tzipi Livni 'won't be fig leaf' for Netanyahu if he doesn't want peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ian Black - (Opinion) February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

Tzipi Livni's appointment as Israel's justice minister is a significant first step in Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's laborious construction of a new coalition government. Giving her the additional role of chief negotiator with the Palestinians appears designed to indicate a readiness to re-engage in the moribund peace process.

Israel's coalition is a missed opportunity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

When it comes to peace, it has been clear for a long time that Israel's politicians will never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Faced with a peace-minded president in the White House and world opinion against the occupation, Israel's leadership still continues to find ways of avoiding putting peace talks back on the agenda.

Israel's Dan Meridor on the future of the Likud Party
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - (Opinion) February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

Israel's conservative Likud Party may have dominated last month's national elections, but it faces a historic identity crisis that could affect its survival and ability to govern, says longtime Likud member Dan Meridor.

Yair Lapid's crucial choice
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

Yair Lapid, the chairman of Yesh Atid, wants to be prime minister. Okay, good. Lapid doesn’t have the experience necessary to be prime minister. Okay, good. But Lapid has impressive political skills, which he demonstrated during the election campaign. Okay, good. Therefore, in order to prove that he is indeed worthy of being prime minister in the future, the good Israeli needs to prove he is a good reader of the reality map. He has to prove he knows how to distinguish between what is important and what is not.

A real Mideast peace process should look different
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

A moment before our attention shifts once more to the chatter about peace and the nonsense about the talks, about Barack Obama’s upcoming visit and Tzipi Livni’s appointment as “chief negotiator,” it would be good if we remembered what people ought to mean when they utter the words “peace process.” Not another round of negotiations, endless meetings and photo opportunities. We’ve already had enough of those to spare, and they led nowhere. The solution has long been known, and it could have been carried out long ago.

Encountering Peace: Israeli-Palestinian peace is achievable
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

Many of those who claim that a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty putting an end to the conflict is not possible are the very people who do not want it to happen. This includes those who say it’s too late, there are too many Israelis living beyond the green line, or too many new settlement houses have been built, and those who say there is no Palestinian partner.

Doing business – tangible peacemaking
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Paul Hirschson - (Opinion) February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

The anti-Israel crowd is all gung-ho on assaulting Israel’s legitimacy. They propose advancing this through imposing sanctions, calling for divestment and implementing boycotts. Indicting Israelis for all sorts of supposed wrongs would be the ultimate thrill, turning the individual Israeli into all of Israel, facilitating the next round of assault. Isolation achieved, the undermining of the very legitimacy of Israel, they argue, is feasible.

Jewish Gays Should Fight Pinkwashing But Not With Censorship
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Jay Michaelson - (Opinion) February 21, 2013 - 1:00am

Is censoring disagreeable speech ever a good idea? A porn star and an aging Jewish icon seem to think so. Both men, Michael Lucas and Abraham Foxman, have recently opined that speech in favor of “BDS” — boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — is hate speech and should be banned from Jewish, LGBT, and academic community institutions.

A case for Mideast peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to three key states in the Middle East — Israel, Palestine and Jordan — for the first time as president of the US has been described by his Secretary of State, John Kerry, merely as a bid to “listen” to the three leaders.

Commitment to a just cause
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Joseph A. Kechichian - (Opinion) February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

President Barack Obama will no doubt get a chance to discuss with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, several sensitive issues during his upcoming visit to Israel. Logically, the two men would reconsider the use of fake western passports by Mossad agents — as the most recent revelations involving Ben Zygier, an Australian citizen involved in the Dubai operation that killed the Hamas agent, Mahmoud Al Mabhouh in January 2010, confirmed.

Morsi playing Israel’s, US’ game on Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - (Opinion) February 20, 2013 - 1:00am

It is becoming increasingly clear that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is colluding with Israel and the US to shut down the smuggling tunnels that link Gaza to Egypt and account for more than 30 per cent of the goods consumed in the besieged and blockaded coastal strip.

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