Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
A Palestinian diplomat responds to Newt Gingrich with a dubious take on national identity. And Arab League peace monitors in Syria are led by a Sudanese general who presided over the founding of the Janjaweed.
Israel and the Palestinians
• The PLO envoy to the US, Maen Rashid Areikat, takes to the Washington Post to counter Newt Gingrich’s comments about Palestinian identity. This snippet implies that the Palestinians pre-dated the Canaanites:
We lived under the rule of a plethora of empires: the Canaanites, Egyptians, Philistines, Israelites, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Mongols, Ottomans and, finally, the British.
This is the first time I’ve seen the suggestion that the Palestinians lived under Canaanite occupation too.
• Worth reading: Time for Israel to Change the Narrative
• Arab media reports say the PA wants to build an international airport:
Al-Krunz said that the airport would be built in the Al-Bqai’a area between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Bethlehem. He added that 70 percent of the land marked for the airport project belongs to the Jerusalem area and the remainder to the Bethlehem area. The project is estimated to cost $340 million.
• If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the rumblings of international criticism over Israeli plans for a tourist center in the City of David. AP says things are in a bureaucratic stage that would normally have editors yawning:
A spokesman for Jerusalem City Hall said Tuesday that the plans would be discussed in a committee Wednesday and would then be open to public objections as part of the standard zoning process. That process typically takes between several months and several years.
• Big time credibility problem for the Arab League observers now in Syria. The head of the mission, Sudanese Gen. Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, helped create the Janjaweed militia. David Kenner writes in Foreign Policy:
But Dabi may be the unlikeliest leader of a humanitarian mission the world has ever seen. He is a staunch loyalist of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity for his government’s policies in Darfur. And Dabi’s own record in the restive Sudanese region, where he stands accused of presiding over the creation of the feared Arab militias known as the “janjaweed,” is enough to make any human rights activist blanch.
Meanwhile, human rights groups accuse the Syrian regime of hiding detainees from the monitors.
The security official told HRW that he received orders to assist with an “irregular detainee transfer” after Damascus agreed to admit the monitors under a deal which calls for an end to violence, the withdrawal of troops from the streets, the release of prisoners and dialogue with the opposition.
The report also said that police identification cards had been issued to many soldiers to give the appearance that police and not the military were patrolling the streets.
• Oops? Mohamed ElBaradei blows cover on secret US-Egypt talks aimed at preserving the Camp David treaty. The Jerusalem Post writes:
The former leader of the International Atomic Energy Agency told Fars that “what the supreme military council said was that the talks were about bilateral and mutual relations, but I believe that Americans wanted to ensure that the deals signed between Egypt and Israel will remain intact if Islamists ascend to power.”
“The negotiations were completely secret and confidential,” ElBaradei continued.
• Martin Fletcher pays homage to the Arab Spring in a Times of London commentary.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Eli Lake (The Daily Beast) reports that the Israel and the US still haven’t agreed on what red lines would justify an attack on Iran. I hope they get their act together. Tick tick tick . . .
• Jerusalem is sharply displeased with a secret EU paper highlighting the plight of Israeli Arabs. The Independent got a look at it:
While EU leaders regularly criticise Israel over its activities in occupied territory – including the growth of settlement building – the draft is unusual in tackling a highly sensitive issue within Israel’s borders. It warns that the erosion of Israel’s founding ethos – as a Jewish homeland but one committed to treating all citizens equally – “will reinforce those who seek to ‘delegitimise’ Israel and damage [its] international standing”.
A detailed list of recommendations for the EU itself – including active lobbying against discriminatory laws, allocating more European scholarships to Arab students, encouraging European high-tech companies to invest in Arab areas, and fostering the teaching of Arabic and co-existence projects in schools – are understood to have been dropped from the paper after objections mainly from the Netherlands. The draft affirms that Israel’s treatment of its minorities within its borders should be seen by the international community as a “core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.
• Palestinian police stormed the Church of the Nativity after clerics cleaning the building brawled over jurisdictional boundaries. Details and video at The Independent.
“It was a trivial problem that … occurs every year,” said police Lieutenant-Colonel Khaled al-Tamimi. “Everything is all right and things have returned to normal,” he said. “No one was arrested because all those involved were men of God.”
Security forces storming West Bank holy sites used to be soooo politically incorrect.
• A Cyprus Mail staff-ed gives a thumbs down to the Knesset’s discussion on the Armenian genocide, calling it “too little too late, and truly meaningless because it was done for all the wrong reasons.”
The Knesset’s move can only be described as a cynical political move to beat Turkey with the proverbial diplomatic stick, especially in the wake of France’s decision to have denial of the Armenian genocide declared a criminal offence.
Neither will Monday’s session accomplish anything. The Israeli government has made it clear that although it is currently at odds with Turkey, it would like to keep the door open for future restoration of ties with its former military ally. Recognising the Armenian genocide would likely be the last nail in the coffin, and not something Tel Aviv is likely to risk in the long term.
• Embarrassed Saudi officials are investigating how Israeli-made pencils reached one of the kingdom’s largest retail chains. YNet News writes:
The pencils are sold with the Kravitz logo in Hebrew and without any attempt to conceal the fact that they are made in Israel.
• Abe Foxman (Huffington Post) weighs in on NY Times Bibiwashing.
(Armenian image via Wikimedia Commons)