Everything you need to know about today’s coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
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Today’s Top Stories
1. Conflicting reports about emerging peace talks appeared throughout the day. Initially, Palestinian sources claimed US Secretary of State John Kerry planned to announce a new round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians before the end of the week. The report, however, was later denied by US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “There are currently no plans for an announcement for the resumption of negotiations,” Psaki said.
In Amman, Kerry spoke positively of the Arab League peace plan, which calls for peace with the Arab world in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 border, including a withdrawal from the Golan, and a “just solution” to the refugee problem.
“Israel needs to look hard at this initiative, which promises Israel peace with 22 Arab nations and 35 Muslim nations – a total of 57 nations that are standing and waiting for the possibility of making peace with Israel,” he said in Amman.
2. Barack Obama’s nominee for Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said she plans to fight against the “unacceptable bias and attacks” against Israel at the UN and promised to work to get Israel a seat on the Security Council.
3. Netanyahu trying to persuade EU to freeze new policy regarding West Bank. According to the Jerusalem Post:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned European Commission President José Manuel Barroso on Wednesday hoping to convince the EU not to formally publicize on Friday new guidelines on settlements. Israel believes the regulations would have negative ramifications on both the peace process and its ties with the EU.
Israeli officials said that Netanyahu attacked the new measures and repeated his position that there were more burning issues in the Middle East – such as the Syrian civil war and the Iranian nuclear program – that needed to be dealt with first.
Guardian contributor Rachel Shabi says the EU’s new directive to cancel grants for projects over the Green Line is a case of the EU following through with policy that matches its rhetoric of recent years. Meanwhile, Palestinian officials told Israel Hayom that Palestinian workers will also lose on the new policy.
4. Success: Monster Cartoon – German Newspaper Apologizes. See HR’s latest media bias update.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Wall Street Journal op-ed by Daniel Schwammenthal marks one year since the deadly Burgas bombing in Bulgaria by Hezbollah and slams the EU’s failure to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization. (Access through Google News).
There is cautious optimism that when foreign ministers meet on Monday, they will agree to designate Hezbollah’s military arm, at least, as a terrorist organization.
True, trying to distinguish between a political and military arm is a distinction without a difference—one that even Hezbollah itself rejects. There is only one Hezbollah, with one unified command structure. By listing only the military arm, the EU would probably not be able to use many of its antiterror instruments against the so-called “Party of God,” such as seizing Hezbollah’s assets or putting a stop to its fundraising in Europe. The group currently raises cash on the Continent under the guise of its purported social-assistance projects.
But even though such a designation would be largely symbolic, the power of this symbolism should not be underestimated. Such a decision would be the first official EU recognition of Hezbollah’s true nature.
• Christian Science Monitor looks at life in southern Israel, near the border with Egypt.
Last week school was canceled after a reported breach of the fence. Katsir and her kids made cookies for the soldiers who work nearby.
“I tell them, ‘People are trying to hurt us, but the army is protecting us, so let’s make the most of [the day off],'” says Katsir, who says she also has confidence in the Egyptian army’s efforts to protect the fence. However, she adds later, the recent upheaval in Egypt has put her more on guard. “I’m alert, more alert than other times.”
• London Transportation department forced to rework its contract with Emirate airline for a cable car project over the River Thames after it was discovered that the contract contained language barring business with any Israeli owned companies.
• British political party suspends MP from the party over comments made about the Jews “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel” just a few years after the Holocaust. He also called Israel an apartheid state on Twitter.
• Cyprus is in the market for new warships from Israel.
• Google Israel Chief praises “world of innovation” in Israel, says Waze won’t be last Israeli company Google acquires.
• Which topics trigger the biggest battles on Wikipedia? No surprises here:
Millions of articles from 10 separate language editions of Wikipedia were subjected to analysis to find the topics over which editors scrapped most fiercely. English, Spanish, Persian, Arabic and Czech editions were among those analysed. Data was taken from editions of Wikipedia published on the web in 2010.
The most controversial topics across all the 10 editions analyzed were:
- Adolf Hitler
- The Holocaust
• IKEA mulling new store in Ramallah, the “economic hub of the West Bank.”
For more, see Wednesday’s Israel Daily News Stream.