Tensions continue to mount following the expiration of the Gaza cease-fire and amid growing speculation about a possible Israeli military offensive (1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). President Abbas denounces Hamas' "abuse of religion for political ends," while in a visit to Russia and Chechnya (3, 4).

Gaza between Haniyeh and Barak
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Elias Harfoush - (Opinion) December 22, 2008 - 1:00am

Marwa Abu Shawab, a mother of five in the Jabalia camp, summarizes in her words the tragedy of Gaza's inhabitants, between Israel's aggressions and Hamas's policies. This lady, who lost two of her children in the clashes between the two sides, today says: "We want to live. If Hamas wishes to end the ceasefire and return to fighting, it at least has the obligation to protect us from Israel's counterattacks, which do not distinguish between fighters and civilians".

Israel Embarks on Global PR Campaign To Recruit Support for Gaza Raids
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Jack Khoury, Barak Ravid - December 22, 2008 - 1:00am

Israel is kicking off a public relations campaign with the intention of widening a basis for international support of a military offensive on the Gaza Strip. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has instructed Israeli representatives abroad to begin diplomatic efforts focused on members of the United Nations Security Council and Europeans states.

Abbas: We won't agree to Israeli invasion of Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - December 23, 2008 - 1:00am

"We won't agree to an Israeli invasion in Gaza or even an aerial attack," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday during a joint press conference in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Palestinian president said Egypt will push for a new truce between Israel and Hamas, which controls the Strip, and referred to the rocket fire on the Jewish state as "foolish". The six-month-old truce, mediated by Mubarak, expired last Friday. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is scheduled to come to Cairo Thursday for talks with Mubarak about a new truce.

The Gaza Time Bomb
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Times
by Patrick Seale - December 23, 2008 - 1:00am

PARIS -- With the ending of the truce between Israel and Hamas, Gaza is now one of the Middle East's most dangerous flashpoints. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has issued a cry of alarm, while Tony Blair, the Quartet's Middle East envoy, has urged Israel to defuse tensions by lifting the siege of Gaza. Everyone is aware that it would take only a spark - such as a Qassam rocket landing on a house in Sderot - to trigger a full-scale war. The paradox is that neither side really wants this to happen.

Have politicians pushing for Gaza war forgotten Lebanon debacle?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoel Marcus - (Opinion) December 23, 2008 - 1:00am

As of writing these lines, no one had been killed by the rocket barrages after the official end of the cease-fire. This doesn't mean the situation is possible to live with, but it appears the hysterical reaction by the public as a whole and politicians in particular stems mainly from the fact that the country is in an election period. And when elections are in the offing people speak from the gut rather than the brain and demagoguery is rampant.

Palestinian, Russian presidents talk Mideast peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
December 22, 2008 - 1:00am

MOSCOW: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday discussed ways to cooperate on Middle East peace. Medvedev said Russia was ready to continue working with the Palestinian authorities to help peace efforts. "We hope we will continue to cooperate productively, especially as the number of problems we are facing haven't become smaller," Medvedev said at the start of his Kremlin talks with Abbas. "We need to move forward, so we will discuss issues related to the Middle East settlement and the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue."

Abbas: Hamas' abuse of religion for political end is unacceptable
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
December 21, 2008 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on a visit to Russia, strongly criticized the radical Islamic Hamas movement on Sunday, saying the organization's "abuse of religion for political ends" was unacceptable, Russia's Interfax news agency reported. Speaking in Grozny, the capital city of the Chechen Republic in Russia, Abbas said that extremists were to blame for Islam receiving so little respect in the world at present. In reality, terrorists have no relationship with religion, he declared.

Domestic politics fuels Gaza conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - December 23, 2008 - 1:00am

The collapse of a six-month Israel-Hamas calm last Friday unleashed a new wave of cross-border attacks and a spate of threats from leaders on both side about worsening violence. And although the Islamist militants called for a 24-hour halt in attacks on Monday for mediation, the region seems once again to be at the brink of another escalation over Gaza.

Hamas says it may consider new truce with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 23, 2008 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY - A tense calm reigned over the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday as the Palestinian Islamist group said it might be willing to agree to a new truce with Israel. Gaza militants fired one rocket which hit without causing damage or injury, and Israel did not launch any raids on the territory after Hamas announced on Monday that it would not launch rockets or fire mortars for 24 hours.

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