Hamas and Gaza Jubilant Over Royal Visit

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Today’s Top Stories:

1. Qatar’s emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, visited Gaza today. The Times of Israel describes a jubilant scene as Hamas leaders declared an end to Israel’s siege. Israel’s not happy, but the Jerusalem Post points out that Mahmoud Abbas is even more morose:

PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s absence in receiving the emir is seen as a severe blow to his claim that he is the legitimate and elected leader of the Palestinians.

Abbas was not invited to receive the emir upon his arrival in the Gaza Strip, leaving the task to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The PA’s biggest fear is that the visit would solidify the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip – creating the impression that the Palestinians already have two separate states.

Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute says Israel may have given Qatar a green (or yellow) light for Sheikh al-Thani’s visit:

Qatar likely obtained Israeli acquiescence to the trip as well, or at the very least a promise not to conduct airstrikes. In the past, the emirate almost established a diplomatic mission in Israel, and it has allowed Israeli diplomats to operate in Doha.

For more on the royal visit, see Christian Science Monitor and Eyal Zisser.

2. Bloomberg News picks up on an interesting UN report (pdf) examining how terror groups are using social media “to recruit sympathizers, spread propaganda and plan potential attacks,” with special emphasis on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

3. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debated foreign policy, including Israel, Iran, Syria, and more. Watch the video or read the transcript and judge the candidates for yourself.

Israel and the Palestinians

Gideon Levy skews the results of a poll to back his politicized agenda as Haaretz Creates a Non-Existent Apartheid State. Unfortunately, Western papers are already picking up on this.

Israeli soldier injured by roadside bomb along Gaza border. Times of Israel coverage.

The JTA introduces readers to Asmaa al-Ghoul, the secular, feminist Palestinian reporter and thorn in the side of Hamas. She’ll receive this week a 2012 Courage Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation:

In 2007, al-Ghoul published a piece criticizing her uncle, a Hamas leader, for beating rival Fatah Party activists in their homes. In response, she received death threats.

Jim Manly

• The family of former Canadian MP Jim Manly says their flotillista patriarch must be saved from Israel immediately. But the National Post ruins the mood their campaign’s trying to create:

So let’s recap: A 79-year-old decides on his own accord to join a group that aims to benefit the interests of a terrorist organization accused of brutalizing its own people. He does this by sitting on a boat, which is stopped and taken to a port in the region’s only democratic country, where all indications are that he is treated well. His family, which didn’t talk him out of the trip and has no indication that Manly is receiving anything but civilized treatment, demands his immediate release and offers its sympathy to the terrorist-run enclave rather than the democratic state, suggesting Israel might abuse Manly, brainwash him, force him to sign false statements or otherwise brutalize him. There is no evidence to support any of this outside an apparent ill-informed bias against Israel and in favour of its enemies.

And they wonder why no one — not even from the NDP — wants to offer support?

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