Daily News Brief — July 21, 2010

Palestinian President resists direct peace talks Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is insisting on clear assurances about Israeli settlement construction and the borders of a future Palestinian state before he will commit to open direct talks with Israel. The Obama administration and Israeli government are hoping leaders at the Arab League Summit next week will convince ...

Palestinian President resists direct peace talks
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is insisting on clear assurances about Israeli settlement construction and the borders of a future Palestinian state before he will commit to open direct talks with Israel. The Obama administration and Israeli government are hoping leaders at the Arab League Summit next week will convince Abbas to accept direct talks.

Abbas says President Obama has asked him to enter direct talks, but that his message regarding Palestinian concerns was “vague;” Abbas continues to insist that the U.S. clarifies its position. “If this happens, it will be possible to go to direct negotiations,” said Abbas. “We cannot go to direct negotiations as blind and we will resist that peacefully.” The Palestinian President insists that there must be progress in proximity talks to warrant direct ones.

  • An Arab man posing as a Jew is convicted of rape after having consensual sex with a Jewish woman.
  • Iran says its nuclear scientist who returned to Iran last week provided valuable information on the CIA.
  • Israel tells the UN it will not use white phosphorus in its future wars.
  • An Egyptian minister denies reports that President Mubarak is terminally ill.
  • A Saudi human rights activist is jailed for ‘annoying others.’

Daily Snapshot

Palestinian Authority president and head of the Fatah movement Mahmud Abbas attends a Fatah ‘Revolutionary Council’ meeting in the Palestinian West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 20, 2010, as top Fatah officials gather to discuss calls for direct peace talks with Israel (Abbas MomaniAFP/Getty Images).

Arguments & Analysis
‘India’s Israeli-Arab tightrope’ (Ramananda Sengupta, Al-Jazeera English)
Since its early years, India has sought to maintain positive relations with the Arab world, including being one of the earliest supporters of the Palestinian cause. Yet the end of the Cold War, burgeoning defense relations with Israel, and the continued irresolution to the conflict in Kashmir have all contributed to a precarious balance for India.

‘Aid the jailer or the prisoner–not both’ (Rami Khouri, Daily Star)
While the forms of new media in the Arab and Muslim Middle East have contributed to new avenues of individual self-expression and information, this has not in reality translated to much transformation on the political level. To do that, policymakers especially in the West should minimize the contradictions in their policy approaches to activists and social media forums in the Middle East.

‘U.S. troop levels and Iraqi perceptions of the United States’ (Anthony Cordesman, Center for International and Strategic Studies)
A new report (pdf) draws on recent polling data to give a picture of how Iraqis view issues associated with U.S. troop levels, including the Surge, future withdrawal dates, and the continued U.S. occupation.

‘Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Ambitions’ (Mark Hibbs, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
A recent joint initiative to draw up plans for a nuclear power facility in Saudi Arabia underscores both the changing energy requirements of an economy hitherto based almost entirely on fossil fuels and also the regional power dynamics in light of Iran’s moves in the nuclear realm in recent years.

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Maria Kornalian is the executive associate for the Project on Middle East Political Science and an assistant editor for the Middle East Channel.

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