Monday’s papers: Israeli-Palestinian disputes and Quran page tearing

Both state-owned and independent newspapers lead with news of a second round of Israeli-Palestinian direct talks hosted in Sharm al-Sheikh. The negotiations, which launch on 14 September, will be attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as US special Middle East envoy George Mitchell. 

Al-Ahram starts off today’s news with a report on the disputes between the two states over timetables. It reports that the Israeli Prime Minister demanded the initiation of negotiations on security measures and the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, while the Palestinian President insisted on discussing the border question and the future of Jerusalem.

A senior Palestinian official, according to the paper, said Palestinians will accept an interim solution which provides them religious sovereignty over Al-Aqsa mosque. However the Palestinian side totally refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. In response to that Netanyahu is quoted as saying: “I always hear they [Palestinians] speak of two states–but not two nations.”  

Reporting on the same story, Al-Akhbar writes that during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is fundamental to reaching a peace agreement, and that “peace can be achieved if Palestine accepts this recognition.”

According to the paper, a senior Israeli official said Israel has refused to host five senior European foreign ministers in Jerusalem due to fears they would put pressure on the Israeli state to extend its settlement construction freeze, although the officially given reason for not hosting the statesmen was the timing of their visit with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.    

While privately-owned newspaper Al-Shorouq does not add anything substantial to this news, Rose el-Youssef, another state-run newspaper, writes that President Hosni Mubarak will meet Abbas, Netanyahu and Clinton separately before the start of direct negotiations to urge both parties to remove all obstacles in the path of the peace process.

In other front-page news, Al-Ahram reports that, despite the end of tension after a Florida pastor called off his threats to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of 9/11, several American cities witnessed various actions against Islam.

In its coverage of the same issue, independent newspaper Al-Dostour provides more details about a group of conservative Christians who tore pages out of the Quran in front of the White House, according to the story, in order to denounce the "charade" that “Islam is a peaceful religion.”

The article also mentions that, despite President Barack Obama's statement that “We (Americans) will not and never will be at war with Islam,” one activist, Andrew Beacham, read out several verses from the Quran that he alleged urge hatred toward Christians and Jews, and then tore out those pages.

At the bottom of page one in both Al-Dostour and Al-Wafd it is reported that Sharm al-Sheikh's hotels are fully booked due to the increasing number of Jewish tourists visiting for Rosh Hashanah and other Jewish holidays.

Al-Dostour reports that between mid-September and the beginning of October some 4000 will Israelis head to Sinai through the Taba border crossing to celebrate their holidays. Meanwhile, Al-Wafd writes that heavy security measures have been imposed to ensure the safety of tourists.

Finally, Al-Dostour hints at the re-opening of the Rafah crossing on Egypt’s border with Gaza on 13 September. The Rafah crossing was closed last Friday when security officers went on leave during the Eid al-Fitr holiday.  

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose el-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouq: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Related Articles

Back to top button