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Fri. March 27, 2015 EDITOR'S PICKS :  
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Issue: Israel's Jewish Identity. What Does it Mean?
MidEast Week
PA: Made "Generous" Offer; Israel: "Bring it to the Table"
Israeli and Palestinian Women Wage Peace
Israel's Arab Parties United For Election
More Arabs Join Israel's National Service
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Gaza Reconstruction Has Barely Begun
Palestinians Hope for Upset in Israeli Elections
Netanyahu's Planned Speech to Congress Sparks Controversy
Egypt Intensifies Crackdown on Islamists
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‘Abbas Passes the Ball to Washington: “If They’ve Got a Better Idea...”

Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud ‘Abbas told Lebanese television on Monday that peace talks with Israel are dead, but he’s all ears if Washington has a better idea than going to the United Nations for a unilateral declaration of statehood. The U.N. option appears to be blocked because any action in the General Assembly needs a Security Council enabling resolution – which the U.S. plans to veto. But ‘Abbas is seemingly looking past that problem, insisting that if Washington cannot bridge the gap the alternative is Turtle Bay in September. According to ‘Abbas, the issues of “borders and security” are preventing bilateral talks from proceeding. The Palestinian leader also denied that the U.N. route constitutes a “unilateral” move, arguing that, “President Obama says he wants to see an independent Palestinian state by September. The Quartet has said the same. Fayyad's government has guaranteed its authorities will be prepared for a state, and they are one-hundred percent ready. These three reasons caused us to speak of September. That, in addition to the absence of negotiations.”

Palestinians: Only Fayyad Can Prevent International Isolation Due to Hamas

Palestinians believe that only by keeping Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at the head of the new government can international isolation because of Hamas’ inclusion be avoided according to a newly released poll. Led by the United States, Western nations cannot donate to governments that include entities appearing on the list of terrorist organizations, such as Hamas. That would preclude support for the proposed Palestinian unity government. Yet, Palestinians believe that naming Fayyad – a highly respected, American-educated former official of the International Monetary Fund – prime minister will provide the leverage Western nations need in order to support the new government. The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), shows support for Fayyad over Hamas candidate Jamal Khoudari by a margin of 45% to 22%. The poll also shows 61% of Palestinians preferring to follow the Fatah-led course over Hamas policies. Unity talks have broken down over the issue of Fayyad’s appointment by Fatah and its veto by Hamas.

Israel Considers Curtailing Benefits of Palestinian Prisoners Until Shalit is Released

An Israeli news source is reporting that Prime Minister Netanyahu is considering the recommendations of a former justice minister that privileges granted to Palestinian prisoners be cut back as a means of applying pressure for the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas in a cross-border raid in 2006 and has never been allowed the customary visits by the Red Cross since his capture. The move to curtail prisoners’ benefits is recognized as controversial and it is presumed that it will attract international criticism. But the Israelis believe the move will cause the families of incarcerated Palestinians to put pressure on Hamas to conclude a proposed deal with the Israelis that’s being brokered by Germany. The recommendations were not implemented until now because it was feared that doing so would harm those negotiations.

Syrians Take to the Streets in Rejection of Al-Asad’s Speech

Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad took to the air waves for the third time since unrest in his nation began, again accusing others of fomenting the violence that has left thousands dead at the hands of his forces; more than ten thousand behind bars; and at least twenty-thousand living in refugee camps in neighboring Turkey and Lebanon. Although foreign reporters are still banned by Al-Asad, news agencies reporting the content of phone calls from Syrians indicated throngs of protestors were in the streets of several cities rejecting Al-Asad’s remarks. Al-Asad said the three-months of unrest “have nothing to do with reform, it has to do with vandalism.” He promised to “isolate the saboteurs.”

Lebanese Man Sentenced to Death for Aiding Israeli Army

A Lebanese man was sentenced to death by a military tribunal on Monday for allegedly assisting the Israeli army by providing it with information. Specifics of the case against Bassem Abu Jawdeh are unclear, but the prosecutor’s request for the death penalty implies the accusation that someone died as the result of his actions. Prosecutors requested death penalties for six others placed on trial in January, all of whom were accused of causing the deaths of “resistance fighters.” The death penalty must be affirmed by the president, prime minister and justice minister. About 150 Lebanese are presently under arrest for allegations of spying for Israel. On Saturday, a newspaper reported that Hizbullah had discovered a network of at least ten people within its ranks that were spying for Israel. 






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