Making Do With Foreplay
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Uzi Benziman - January 14, 2008 - 6:12pm

The new term in the Israeli diplomatic lexicon is "shelf agreement." President George W. Bush begged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to redouble their efforts to create the outline of a final-status agreement, and the two sounded as if they intended to carry out the task. The new effort's starting assumption is that even if the redeeming formulas are found and understandings are reached on all the controversial issues, an agreement will not be signed due to the political difficulties each leader faces.

Believing Olmert
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - January 14, 2008 - 6:11pm

After listening to many of his statements, some of them very impressive, one comes to recognize that Ehud Olmert perhaps truly desires peace with the Palestinians. The fact that he has not zigzagged, not even once, that he only reiterates the same things, speaking like Uri Avnery (even if 40 years late), that he does not backtrack or stutter - only reinforces this feeling. It is permissible, therefore, to succumb to the temptation and believe that the man who told Haaretz on November 28, "two states, or Israel is finished," indeed has undergone a profound change.

Abbas Should Be Safeguarded
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - January 14, 2008 - 6:10pm

President George W. Bush, who came to jump-start the peace talks, is fading in the distance, and the large-scale military action in Gaza is getting closer. It is as if there are two peoples: The people of the West Bank and the people of Gaza. With the first we make peace and with the second we go to war.

Palestinians Collectively Reject Bush Proposal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Ali El-saleh - January 14, 2008 - 6:10pm

The proposal by US President George Bush during his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories of laying down an international mechanism to compensate the Palestinian refugees has aroused Palestinian reactions that could be described as homogenous in their content, whether at the official, unofficial, or opposition levels.

Bush Tells Us The Old, Old Story
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
(Editorial) January 14, 2008 - 6:09pm

President George W. Bush made a disappointing speech on Sunday in Abu Dhabi when he sought to summarise the key points of his new Middle East strategy in the keynote address of his current trip to the region. He failed to offer any specific policies, preferring to repeat a simplistic insistence on the introduction of democracy, freedom and justice in the region. It was very disappointing that there was little that had not been said before, and that Bush's vision does not include any genuine policies. He does not have anything new to offer to the region.

Disempowering Arabs Empowers Islamists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) January 14, 2008 - 6:08pm

I thought the most intriguing aspect of US President George W. Bush's call in Jerusalem this week for a Palestinian state that was "viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent" was the simultaneous use of the words "sovereign" and "independent." This tells us nothing new about American rhetoric on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it is intriguing for how it can help clarify crucial political sentiments in other parts of the Arab world.

Democracy: Fragile Seeds That Fall On Stony Ground
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Times
by Richard Beeston - January 14, 2008 - 6:07pm

Halfway through his eight-nation tour of the Arab world, President Bush delivered yesterday what his hosts had long expected: a call for democracy to flower in the arid political climate of the Middle East. Three years ago, when he made the drive for democracy in the region the central pillar of US foreign policy for his second term in office, the impact caused political shockwaves among friends and foes in a part of the world where rulers and dictators have long resisted change.

President Bush's Only Achievement In The Middle East Is To Increase The Power Of Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Johann Hari - (Commentary) January 14, 2008 - 6:00pm

Just as we were all sighing with relief at the end of the Bush years, the lame duck President has waddled into the Middle East to remind us his beak is still nuclear-tipped. With one year to go, he is standing on the sands of Arabia to announce Iran is "the world leading state sponsor of terror" and must be confronted "before it's too late". He then quacks a few words about peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the "success" of the surge in Iraq.

Insubstantial Pageant
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
(Editorial) January 14, 2008 - 5:59pm

After all the supercharged talk of change in the primaries this week, George Bush's trip to the Middle East served as a reminder that America still has a way to go before it can wave goodbye to all that. As with the US summit in Annapolis last year, it is hard, even for the congenital optimist, to find much to cling on to after Mr Bush's first visit to the region as president. In Prospero's words, "the great globe itself, yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind".

Tensions Threaten Israeli Coalition
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck - January 14, 2008 - 5:58pm

Ehud Olmert is battling to keep together Israel’s fractious multi-party government, amid rising tensions between the prime minister and his rightwing coalition partner over the current Middle East peace talks.

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