December 16th

Israeli high court restricts barrier
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Karin Laub - December 16, 2008 - 1:00am

Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank cannot run in wide loops around Israeli settlements to allow for their expansion, the country's Supreme Court ruled yesterday in an order hailed by a lawyer for Palestinian villagers as a precedent-setting victory. Israeli officials say the barrier, two-thirds complete, is designed to keep out Palestinian attackers, including suicide bombers.

Wanted: an Israeli peace initiative
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Tony Klug - (Opinion) December 16, 2008 - 1:00am

As any serious observer of the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy can testify, partisan enthusiasts of either side are very good at telling everyone else what they should think, where they are wrong and how they should behave. The Israeli ambassador to London, Ron Prosor is, to be fair, not alone in ploughing this path. I counted a total of 11 such imperatives in his brief article for the Guardian last week.

New face of law and order in the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Times
by Mick Hume - December 16, 2008 - 1:00am

The traffic policeman doing Michael Jackson-esque moves outside the Stars and Bucks café in busy Ramallah attracts a lot of attention. To many however, the sight of any Palestinian uniform in the West Bank is still a novelty. The dancing policeman is the face of a new force — trained in Jordan with US and European support — in an attempt to establish Palestinian law and order in the West Bank.

Egyptian intellectuals pay price for curiosity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Jeffrey Fleishman - December 16, 2008 - 1:00am

It has been a tough peace for Ali Salem. His plays don't have a stage. Intellectuals shun him; the writers union refuses to pay his pension. He sits in a cafe window, typing on his laptop and defending his choice long ago to cross the border into Israel and make friends. Egypt and Israel made peace in 1979, but that treaty remains as agitating to Egyptian artists and intellectuals as a sliver of glass beneath the skin. Most of them don't accept it, and those who do are often vilified, their artistic voices muffled by condemnation.

In new ads, Palestinians try to sway Israeli public on peace plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - December 16, 2008 - 1:00am

Along Route 2, which follows the Mediterranean coastline, motorists are seeing an unusual sight: a Palestinian flag next to an Israeli one. Below the image appearing on billboards is a message in Hebrew: There's a viable peace initiative on offer from Arab states. Reach a land-for-peace deal with Palestinians, and we will recognize you. The signature? The flags of 57 Arab and Muslim states – all except Iran.

U.N. Rights Investigator Expelled by Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - December 16, 2008 - 1:00am

Israeli authorities on Monday expelled Richard Falk, a United Nations investigator of human rights in the Palestinian territories, saying he was unwelcome because of what the government has regarded as his hostile position toward Israel. Mr. Falk, an American, arrived in Israel on Sunday. He was held at the airport and placed on the first available flight back to Geneva, his point of departure. A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that Mr. Falk had been informed in advance that his entry would be barred. Mr. Falk was not immediately available for comment.

December 15th

Tony Blair joins the IMF and World Bank in urging Israel to ease the pressure on the Palestinian banking system (1). An op-ed in the Financial Times by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad encourages business development as a key to Palestinian independence (2). The United Nations Security Council is set to adopt a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (3). The Palestinian Prime Minister is joined by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in urging a halt to Israeli settlement activity (4) (5). Hamas announces that the ceasefire with Israel will not be renewed when it expires later this week (7). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to announce a date for presidential and parliamentary elections (8).

Top US diplomat on the Middle East David Welch Urges Effective Diplomacy on Iran and Continuity on the Peace Process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Joyce Karam - December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

With less than five weeks left for the Bush administration in office, the top U.S. diplomat to the Middle East, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch, speaks to Al-Hayat in an exclusive interview discussing the long journey that Washington has taken in the region over the last eight years. The U.S. official who brokered the U.S.-Libyan comprehensive claims settlement agreement, calls for an effective diplomacy in the face of the increasing Iranian threat, and sees urgency in continuing the peace process and pursuing a two state solution:

Negotiator: Israel wants 6.8 percent of West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Aron Heller - December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

Israel proposed to annex 6.8 percent of the West Bank and to take in a few thousand refugees under a peace deal, but it has not revealed its position on the most contentious issue _ the future of Jerusalem, the chief Palestinian negotiators said Friday night. Ahmed Qureia said the Palestinian side did not consider the ideas presented on annexation and the return of some Palestinians to be acceptable.

Abbas to announce election date 'shortly'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will "shortly" announce a date for presidential and parliamentary elections, his spokesman said on Sunday. A general election is opposed by the Islamist Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip enclave, leaving the president's secular Fatah organisation in charge only of the West Bank region. "The president will shortly announce the date of presidential and parliamentary elections," Nabil abu Rudeina told AFP.

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