Why Did Journos Boycott Abbas?

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Today’s Top Stories:

1. Palestinian affairs reporters working for the Israeli media boycotted Mahmoud Abbas’ meeting with a delegation of Israeli politicians and activists. The Jerusalem Post explains why:

The decision was taken by the Association for Palestinian Affairs Correspondents after representatives of the Geneva Initiative, who initiated the meeting with Abbas, allowed only one journalist from Haaretz to accompany them.

All the other journalists who requested to cover the meeting had initially been told by the Israeli organizers that no reporter would be accompanying the delegation to Ramallah . . .

Gal Berger, chairman of the association, said that Abbas was deliberately avoiding Palestinian affairs correspondents “because he does not want hard questions.”

Indeed, Haaretz‘s Barak Ravid filed a softball dispatch from the Muqata.

2. The Emir of Qatar is due to visit Gaza in the coming days. Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani would be the first Arab leader to visit Gaza since Hamas seized the strip in 2007. More at Maan News.

3. Press reports claim that Iran is plotting to deliberately pollute the Persian Gulf to “punish” the West for its sanctions. The Independent writes:

The idea, said to have been drawn up by the leader of Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, was to wreck or sabotage an oil tanker in the Straits of Hormuz – the narrow seaway between Iran and Oman which is used by more than a third of the world’s oil tankers to enter the Persian Gulf.

An oil spill from such a large vessel would cause an environmental disaster in one of the busiest international waterways, and force at least the temporary and hugely costly closure of the Persian Gulf to shipping, according to details published by Der Spiegel.

Der Spiegel’s report points out that an environmental clean-up would be possible only with technical support from Iran. As a result, Western nations “could be forced to relax sanctions against Iran or drop them altogether”.

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza Salafists to Maan News: Hamas is blocking our efforts to launch a political party.

Palestinian women are campaigning in municipal elections in record numbers — including an all-female ticket in Hebron. Is the NY Times describing affirmative action or window dressing?

And while municipal councils are the closest form of government to people’s lives the world over, in the West Bank they lack control over taxes, development projects and, in most places, even basic services.

It’s an attempt on the part of Fatah to generate a sense of legitimacy,” explained Basem Ezbidi, a political-science professor at Birzeit University. . . .

For the first time this year, there are quotas requiring that one of every five council seats goes to a woman, and in nine cities, there are set-asides for Christians as well.

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