The Arab World’s first stand-up comedy festival is held in Amman, Jordan (1). In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, Barack Obama pledges to reach out to the Muslim world during his presidency (2). Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party is accused by rivals of promoting extremism and isolation (4). Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari urges President-elect Obama to make Middle East peace a top priority for his administration (5). An Israeli settler, filmed shooting at Palestinians in the West Bank town of Hebron, is freed by a Jerusalem court (6). Israel approves a money transfer to the impoverished Gaza strip (7).

Barak: Israel will act in Gaza when time and place are right
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - December 10, 2008 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday to discuss the future of Israel's policy on the Gaza Strip, after the ongoing cease-fire with Hamas comes to end next week. Just hours before the meeting, a Qassam rocket struck the western Negev, following a two-day lull in fire from Gaza. The prime minister would not allow any details of the meeting to be released to the public, but topics on the agenda included Israel's response to Hamas in light of the militant group's continued violations of the truce.

Israel Xmas Scrooge for Bethlehem winery
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from McClatchy News
by Dion Nissenbaum - (Blog) December 9, 2008 - 1:00am

For 125 years, the Roman Catholic Cremisan Monastery near Bethlehem has been producing its own brand of wine to help fund its work in the West Bank. The monastery recently started exporting wine to Europe, where it is used as communion wine. This year, though, because of long delays in getting permission from Israel to export the wine, Cremisan exporters say they won't be able to get wine to Europe for Christmas.

Israel approves Gaza money transfer
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
December 10, 2008 - 1:00am

Israel has approved a money transfer to impoverished Gaza to ease the cash crunch there. Israel has not allowed money to enter Gaza since October, causing cash shortages in local banks. Its refusal to let Palestinian banks send money to their Gaza branches is a part of a larger blockade imposed on the territory in response to Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza. Israeli officials say Defense Minister Ehud Barak agreed on Wednesday to transfer 100 million shekels ($25 million) to Gaza from banks in the West Bank. The transfer is expected to take place in the next few days.

Israeli Court Frees Settler Seen Shooting At Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 10, 2008 - 1:00am

A Jerusalem court Wednesday freed a Jewish settler suspected of firing on Palestinians at point blank range in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron. Zeev Braudeh from the settlement of Kiryat Arba on the city's outskirts turned himself into police Saturday after video footage released by a human rights group showed him firing at a group of Palestinians. Two Palestinians were injured by the gunfire and Braudeh suffered light wounds after a Palestinian crowd threw stones at him.

Nobel Peace Prize winner urges Obama to focus on Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
December 10, 2008 - 1:00am

Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari urged U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday to start his term by giving high priority to the Middle East conflict, calling it the world's most challenging peace-building project. In his acceptance speech in Oslo, the Finnish diplomat and mediator also warned that the global financial crisis would strike hard at the developing world, and called on governments to not cut back on foreign aid.

Far right gains bring setback for Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck - December 9, 2008 - 1:00am

The veteran leader of the Israeli right is opposed to current peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and has called for a tougher policy towards Iran. Mr Netanyahu is also a committed supporter of free-market reforms and economic liberalisation.

Barack Obama plans to reach out to Muslim world
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Chicago Tribune
by John McCormick, Peter Nicholas, Christi Parsons - (Interview) December 10, 2008 - 1:00am

Barack Obama says his presidency is an opportunity for the U.S. to renovate its relations with the Muslim world, starting the day of his inauguration and continuing with a speech he plans to deliver in an Islamic capital. And when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20, he plans to be sworn in like every other president, using his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.

Arabs enjoy a bit of comic relief
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Times
by Dale Gavlak - December 10, 2008 - 1:00am

Torrents of raucous laughter erupted through the crowd, packed mainly with youths clad in T-shirts and jeans who were eager for some good, clean fun. "This is great. Everybody's on time. All the Arabs showed up," Jordanian-American comic Mike Batayneh said, ribbing the audience of 3,000 about the penchant for lateness in the Middle East. "Normally, it's like, 'What time did you get here?' Ah, 'Sometime between 2:30 and Monday'," the Detroit native joked in English. The audience in the capital's plush King Hussein Cultural Center auditorium roared.

Israeli Wall Fuels Migration
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Linda Gradstein - December 10, 2008 - 1:00am

Samih Bashir, a Palestinian lawyer, plans to move early next year to a large house with two living rooms, three bathrooms and a big backyard where his four children can play. It is in a Jerusalem neighborhood called French Hill -- a part of the city that Israel says will never become part of a Palestinian state. Bashir worries that his current neighborhood, Beit Hanina, would end up under Palestinian control if the two sides ever reach a peace deal.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017