-THE MIDDLE EAST ENGLISH LANGUAGE PRESS: What they are saying.

A selection of news reports for Friday, June 17, 2011.

Egyptian FM: Palestine UN membership doesn’t negate Israel’s legitimacy

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt: Arab efforts to enable Palestinians to obtain membership in the United Nations do not aim to render Israel an illegitimate state, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Araby said in a Thursday statement. Araby said that diplomatic efforts to request Palestinian state membership in the UN General Assembly are expected in September, and that these efforts are justified in light of ongoing Israeli intransigence and refusal to bring an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “To say that the recognition of the Palestinian state aims to delegitimize Israel is contrary to truth and reality, since the declaration of a Palestinian state is based on the General Assembly of the United Nations’ decision No. 181 of 1947,” said Araby, noting that the decision pointed to the separation of Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish.

Jordan’s king fears very bad year for Middle East peace

The Daily Star, Lebanon: Jordan’s King Abdullah II expressed pessimism about the prospects of Middle East peace in an interview published Thursday, speaking openly about a “one-state solution” to the conflict. “2011 will be, I think, a very bad year for peace,” Abdullah told The Washington Post in an interview at his palace in the Jordanian capital. “Although we will continue to try to bring both sides to the table, I am the most pessimistic I have been in 11 years,” he said. He expressed concern that the United States is distracted by its sputtering economy and weary of expending precious capital on the intractable issue.

Syrian security forces conduct mass arrests in troubled north

The Daily Star, Lebanon: Syrian security forces fanned out through villages and towns in the northern province of Idlib Thursday, randomly hauling in males over age 16 as the regime worked to silence a center of anti-regime protest. In this border region, where thousands of Syrian civilians have fled to havens in Turkey, Turkish officials were preparing to send food, clean water, medicine and other aid to thousands more stranded on the Syrian side. The unusual plan for a cross-border operation on Syrian soil seemed to have Syrian clearance, being announced by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu after he met with a Syrian envoy. “We have taken precautions and humanitarian aid will be supplied for around 10,000 people who are waiting on the Syrian side of the border,” Davutoglu said. He also reiterated Turkey’s support for major democratic reform in Syria.

Lebanon a ‘hostage’ to Syria, Hezbollah

The Peninsula, Qatar: Lebanon is now “hostage” to Syria and Hezbollah following the formation of a cabinet dominated by the Iranian- and Syrian-backed militant group and its allies, an opposition leader said yesterday. “We denounce the formation of this government and state that Lebanon is a country now being held hostage by the Syrian regime and Hezbollah,” said Fares Soueid, a former MP and secretary general of the pro-Western March 14 opposition bloc. Soueid said the Saudi- and US-backed opposition, headed by former premier Saad Hariri, would formally announce this week its position on the new cabinet headed by billionaire Sunni businessman Najib Mikati.

Iran’s president calls for alliance against West

Khaleej Times, UAR: Kazakhstan — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Wednesday for a security alliance of several former Soviet nations and China to form a united front against the West. Ahmadinejad’s address to fellow heads of state at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kazakhstan will likely deepen suspicions that the bloc is intended as a counterweight to the United States across the region. In a summit declaration signed by all the member states, the organization also attacked missile defense programs in another apparent dig at the United States. “The one-sided and unlimited development of missile defense systems by one government or a narrow group of governments could cause damage to strategic stability and international security,” the document said. Much of Ahmadinejad’s fiery speech was devoted to leveling an exhaustive series of thinly veiled accusations against unnamed Western countries, which he described as “enslavers, colonialists, (and) invaders.” “Which one of our countries (has played a role) in the black era of slavery, or in the destruction of hundreds of millions of human beings?” Ahmadinejad said, opening his address.

Israel Aims to Force Palestinians out

The Palestine Chronicle: Israel aims to force Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to leave the enclave through a strategy of pressuring them and making their living conditions hard, says a UN special rapporteur. “One of the tactics I think is to demoralize the Palestinians to an extent that at least a large number of them will seek to leave,” Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, told Press TV in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. “And … I think it is also a way of keeping the situation under a permanent form of control that eliminates any possibility of real political challenge from the Palestinians,” Falk went on to say. The UN’s special rapporteur made the remarks after the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees announced that Israel has “deliberately” impoverished Palestinians in the Gaza Strip through its strict siege on the enclave.

While the Arab World revolts, Israelis covet Jerusalem: mosques, Arab names and all

Al Bawaba, Jordan: While the Arab world has been subverting the system and making some noise, Palestinians have by and large remained quiet as the spotlight left them. Bar a few attempts to wage peaceful protests on Israel’s surrounding borders mid May, Palestine has been somewhat sidelined by the ‘Arab cause’. Or looking at it another way, Fateh and Hamas made a unity agreement before the disgruntled Palestinians had a chance to pipe up. The Raffah crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was reopened successfully again after teething problems the first time round in late May. While all is raging in the wider Arab hemisphere, Palestine seemed to be taking a back burner by all, not least themselves. Not by Israel though. Some contingents of Israel proper seem to have taken a no-holds-barred approach in this period, as they provoke and poke at Palestine’s sensitivities: nothwithstanding the most charged sore spot – Jerusalem. As unrest rages in the wider Arab world, Israel steals the opportunity to pursue its Jerusalem dream- marking its territory on Arab names and key mosques.

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