Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel.
• Abbas wants a major prisoner release as a precondition for peace talks. The Daily Telegraph explains:
Desperate to wring concessions of his own, Mr Abbas has reminded Israel of a promise made by its former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, to follow up any prisoner swap with Hamas by a similar deal with Fatah. Ahmad Tibi, an Israeli Arab MP with close links to Palestinian officials, said that Mr Abbas would now have no choice but to make fulfilment of the Olmert agreement a condition for renewing talks.
But the Israeli government is understood to oppose making any concessions to Mr Abbas in an attempt to punish him for pursuing a bid for Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.
• A pair of J Street activists got op-ed space in the Delaware News-Journal to slam Israeli housing plans for the Jerusalem area of Givat HaMatos. Debating the political wisdom of the decision is one thing, but one particular sentence rings hollow:
. . . if built, it would make the drawing of contiguous and thus viable borders of the Palestinian state very difficult.
It’s an overhyped line I’ve seen applied to other Jerusalem neighborhoods, most notably a 272-acre area known as E-1. Is there any neighborhood that isn’t a linchpin for Palestinian territorial contiguity?
Shalit Swap Followup
• Cheers to The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland. Without being blatant about it, Freedland responds to Deborah Orr.
It should go without saying that Israelis would have preferred a one-to-one exchange, releasing a single Palestinian prisoner, rather than more than a thousand – many of them guilty of horrendous acts of violence – in return for Shalit. But, contrary to what some have suggested, it was Hamas, not Israel, that set that 1:1000 exchange rate; it was Hamas, not Israel, who decided that the freedom of a single Israeli was worth the freedom of a thousand Palestinians.
Thumbs up to HonestReporting readers whose emails clearly got Freedland’s attention. See HR’s critique.
• Here’s a very, very telling remark from Hamas leader Salah Alarori, quoted in the Jerusalem Post:
He further noted that captive soldier took his strength from the value that Israeli society places on human life. Alarori stated that as an enemy, he would prefer for Israeli society to lose this value.
• This John Spooner cartoon in The Age (Melbourne) is surely meant to be satirical — the Arabs blame Israel for everything. Despite the outlandishness, some morons sadly believe this stuff. I give Spooner a thumbs up.
You can dispense with the Zionist conspiracy theories though. The Gaddafi family plans legal action against NATO.
• Time visits Syrian refugees itching to return home to fight Assad:
“We are waiting for war,” he added. “Only a coup will save us from sectarian war.”
“Is it possible that there isn’t an honorable Alawi officer to put a bullet in Bashar’s head?” Masry asked.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Turkey’s now accepting foreign humanitarian assistance, and I’m glad to see Reuters isn’t trying to sex up what is, in a reality, a minor and straightforward story.
• Glenn Kessler compares what the Condi Rice and Dick Cheney memoirs have to say about the 2006 Lebanon war.
• Saudi-Iranian tensions over the Arab Spring make Mecca ripe for a sectarian clash as Sunnis and Shiites arrive for this month’s hajj. Bar-Ilan University’s Joshua Teitelbaum tells The Media Line:
. . . the regime in Tehran looks at the annual pilgrimage through a very different prism than the hosting Saudis, said Bar-Ilan’s Teitelbaum.
“The Saudis see it as great responsibility and a pillar of Islamic and they want to give the best service possible to perform their obligation,” he said. “The Iranians, since the revolution, have looked at this as a big opportunity to propagandize for the revolution and against the people they don’t like, which are the Saudis, the Americans and Israel.”