Abbas Suspends Unilateral Statehood Moves?

Everything you need to know about today’s coverage of Israel and the Mideast. Join the Israel Daily News Stream on Facebook.

Today’s Top Stories

1. Haaretz got a nice scoop, reporting that Mahmoud Abbas agreed to temporarily suspend unilateral moves in international organizations. He wants to give US mediation a chance:

Both sources gave the timeframe of the suspension of the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to secure member-state status in various UN agencies as around eight weeks starting on March 22, when U.S. President Barack Obama concluded his visit to the region, with a possible four-week extension.

After the final deadline the Palestinians will assess the prospects of the U.S. efforts. The Israeli source noted that Kerry has said he would allocate three to six months to the process, suggesting that Abbas might agree to an additional extension.

2. The International Criminal Court said it’s won’t investigate alleged Israeli war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. Why the rebuff? Only recognized states can join the court. Haaretz writes:

The ICC explained that “Palestine has been recognized as a State in bilateral relations by more than 130 governments and by certain international organisations, including United Nation bodies. However, the current status granted to Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly is that of “observer”, not as a “Non-member State”.”

Last year, the UN General Assembly voted to give Palestine “non-member observer State status.” I guess the word “observer” is what made the difference to the ICC.

3. Settler groups filed a police complaint against Haaretz columnist Amira Hass. Her latest column (read the whole thing) lauds Palestinian stone throwers; the complaint says it incites violence. Will the police investigate?

Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance.

Whether or not you agree with the complaint, Hass’s timing was certainly poor. It was published the day after Waal al-Araja was convicted for the 2011 murder of Asher Palmer and his son, Yehonatan. Palmer lost control of his car when Araja thew a stone at it.

4. Whose Opinion Matters? Part 2: The Washington Post: In the second part of our analysis of major media op-ed sections,we look at the Washington Post, one of the world’s most influential newspapers.

Israel and the Palestinians

Two Palestinian were killed in clashes protesting the death of security prisoner Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh. YNet reports that Amar Nasar, 17, and Najo Bilbisi, 18 approached an IDF post near Einav and threw Molotov cocktails, prompting soldiers to fire back.

Two autopsies confirmed that the 63 year-old Hamdiyeh died of cancer. He was serving a life sentence for his involvement in a failed suicide bombing. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post also reports that both Hamas and Fatah claim Hamdiyeh as their own.

AP notes that Hamdiyeh was a heavy smoker. Blame Israel for allowing Palestinian prisoners to smoke.

Mohammed al-Dura French court postpones verdict in France 2’s libel case against French activist Philippe Karsenty. Ruling to be handed down on May 22.

The legal action put a spotlight on the veracity of the infamous 2001 Mohammed al-Dura video. In a wide-ranging interview with HonestReporting in 2006, Karsenty explained his battle against the video. Professor Richard Landes comments in the Daily Telegraph.

Worth reading: ‘The antithesis of academic freedom’: York University student union endorses boycott of Israeli professors.

Rest O’ the Roundup

Israel is dispatching envoys to Turkey begin the process for restoring ties. According to Haaretz:

A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said the talks are expected to focus on arrangements for compensating the families of the nine Turkish nationals killed in the May 2010 Israel Navy raid on the Gaza flotilla, as well as Turkey’s promise to cease all legal proceedings against Israel Defense Forces personnel involved in the incident . . .

The full restoration of bilateral relations is expected to take about three months.

CNN‘s Fred Pleitgen takes a nice look at what the Tamar offshore gas field’s launch means for Israel.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood reverted to form, tweeting a video alleging that Jews control the US media. As Max Fisher notes, playing the Rick Sanchez card is a clear dig at Jon Stewart. CNN fired Sanchez in 2010 after the anchor called Stewart a bigot and said Jews run CNN and other networks.

It’s not entirely clear, but the implication of the Brotherhood’s latest tweet appears to be that Stewart is hypocritical for criticizing the government’s arrest of Youssef. It implies that the Egyptian satirist’s perceived crimes are akin to those of Rick Sanchez, and that, therefore, if Sanchez’s firing was justified, then so is Youssef’s imprisonment . . .

Of course, the Brotherhood feed is probably not trying to make a nuanced argument so much as to taunt Stewart, in part by drawing attention to the fact that he is Jewish, and deflect criticism of Morsi’s government for arresting a prominent and respected critic. Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities have threatened to revoke the broadcasting license of the TV station that hosts Youssef’s show. The government, it seems, is really digging in on this one.

New research quanitifies the level of foreign jihadis fighting against Bashar Assad. A high percentage of them are actually from Europe. The Daily Telegraph explains what this means:

Past experience suggested that fighters returning to Europe from Syria would pose a threat at home, though only a small minority would become involved in terrorism.

A study claims that Iran’s atomic endeavors have cost the country more than $100 billion because of cancelled energy contracts, falling oil revenue, and over-spending on nuclear facilities. The Daily Telegraph and Christian Science Monitor picked up on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s full report.

With Iranian elections just three months away, the NY Times looks at the power struggles behind who Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s successor will be.

(Image of Hass via YouTube/BobGrahamCenter)

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.