Might Palestinian Refugees Fleeing Syria Return to the West Bank?

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Today’s Top Stories

1. I’m not sure yet what this might mean for the Palestinian “right” of return, but Mahmoud Abbas wants refugees fleeing Syria to come to the West Bank. Jerusalem Post coverage. AP adds that such a move would require Israeli consent.

However, Palestinians trickled back to the Yarmouk refugee camp after an agreement was reached among the factions.

2. US mediators produced a maritime boundary for Israel and Lebanon. Beirut has a lot of incentive to work it out, reports the Christian Science Monitor:

If the idea is accepted by both sides, it will reduce the risk of renewed conflict between the two enemy states and hasten Lebanon’s efforts to begin tapping the billions of dollars of natural gas estimated to be lying beneath the seabed . . . .

Gibran Bassil, Lebanon’s energy minister, has claimed that surveys have shown that the area off the southern Lebanon coast alone contains 12 trillion cubic feet of gas which “could be enough to cover Lebanon’s electricity production needs for the next 99 years.”

Richard Engel

Richard Engel

3. Robert Young Pelton makes a very persuasive case against media blackouts when journalists are kidnapped. He emailed Gawker:

As publisher of Somalia Report, I tracked over 300 kidnap cases every week. As an author with two decades years of experience with groups that kidnap—and as a former hostage held by death squads in Colombia—I don’t like the idea of media self-censorship. Typically large organizations will attempt to strong-arm media outlets using the “for their security” line when an employee is kidnapped. There exists no proof that censorship helps expedite a safe release, and there is no proof that accurate information about a victim harms him. Inaccurate reporting about wealth, religion, political views and affiliations could influence a kidnap victim’s status, because they could be perceived as lying to their captors. But censorship historically has only covered up a host of corporate incompetence and handwringing.

Israel and the Palestinians

A must-read LA Times staff-ed makes a “slightly belated but heartfelt criticism of Khaled Meshaal and Hamas’ maximalist views:

In other words, if you were hoping that Hamas might be persuaded to support a two-state solution, taking its lead from liberation movements in Africa, northern Ireland and elsewhere that have given up guns and bombs for negotiations, Meshaal’s message was: Forget it. He, at least, will apparently not be satisfied with a West Bank and Gaza state, and continues to insist that all of Israel, including cities such as Haifa and Jaffa that have large Arab populations but are not part of post-1967 occupation, belongs to the Palestinians.

That’s outrageous, irresponsible and deeply depressing, even from the leader of a well-known terrorist organization.

Don’t let the headline scare you. Christa Case Bryant’s dispatch in the Christian Science Monitor is the only article I’ve seen mentioning that hundreds of houses in Givat HaMatos are being built for Arab residents.

Some 549 new homes in Givat HaMatos for Arab residents were also approved yesterday, but went largely unnoticed . . .

Human Rights WatchHuman Rights Watch says Israel broke the laws of war by attacking what it called “journalists” in Gaza.

“Just because Israel says a journalist was a fighter or a TV station was a command center does not make it so,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Whitson has it backwards. Just because a terrorist marks his car as TV, does media work for a terror group, or even moonlights for Big Media doesn’t give him the kind of protection extended to other real journos.

Jodi Rudoren (in an email to Politico) defended herself after Elliott Abrams attacked the NY Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief.

Readers of The Scotsman will be forgiven for thinking that Israeli democracy’s under attack. Israel’s Central Elections Committee ruled that Israeli Arab MK Haneen Zoabi is ineligible to run in the next elections. While hyperventilating over the rights of Israeli Arabs, Ben Lynfield left out some key info; but as the Jerusalem Post reports, the story’s not over yet:

Zoabi’s disqualification will automatically be brought to an appeal before the High Court of Justice. If her appeal is rejected, Balad plans to boycott the upcoming election. The only individual disqualification to be upheld by the court was that of Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1988.

As my colleague, Simon Plosker, blogged this afternoon, Arab Voting Becomes a Stick to Beat Israel.

Continued on Page 2

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