The West Bank is tense after extremist settlers torch a mosque in the occupied territories. The Christian Science Monitor reports that the Israeli government claims that enforcing the settlement moratorium requires ignoring existing court orders to dismantle unauthorized settlements. Israel's cabinet has adopted a "national priority" map ensuring more funds for some settlements. As Hamas celebrates its 22nd anniversary, Fatah says Palestinian reconciliation talks are stalemated. Reports suggest that Pres. Abbas has written to PM Netanyahu urging him to finalize a prisoner exchange, but that Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad has told Hamas leaders to take their time. A report suggests that Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni canceled a visit to the UK for fear of arrest over the Gaza war. Army-funded rabbis continue to urge soldiers to disobey orders. An Israeli town refuses to allow a Palestinian to build on his own land. Netanyahu will reportedly take a direct role in deciding future demolitions of Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem. The Independent recalls the Gaza war one year on.

Editorial: Unsettling facts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli Jewish settlers need not worry about being evicted or that the homes built for them will be brought down. They should have no concerns that Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition will stop settlement construction. There has never been a climate in Israel more conducive to building them. And the reasons are economical as much as they are ideological.

Norway leads against the settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

While US President Barack Obama has not been able to secure a total freeze of Israeli settlements, several European governments and the European Union collectively have undertaken a series of measures related to Israeli colonization policies in the occupied West Bank that are worth noting. The increasing focus in some Western countries on the criminality of Israel’s colonization may represent a new point of pressure that – like the international boycott of South Africa – could ultimately push Israel to a more responsible and realistic response to criticisms of its colonialism.

Peace itself may be the price for these attacks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Opinion) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

‘The IDF won’t determine where to fight us. We will choose the battlefield.” This taunt aimed at the Israeli army did not come from Hamas or Hizbollah, but it presents just as much danger to the state of Israel and to greater hopes for peace in the Middle East. It came from Yonatan Rachamin, a 25-year-old Israeli, and he is not alone in his intransigence.

Gaza one year on: The aftermath of a tragedy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
(Opinion) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Hilmi Samouni still hopes at some point – "inshallah" – to go back to his old job as a kitchen assistant in the Palmyra, Gaza City's best known shwarma restaurant. But unlike his 22-year-old brother Khamiz, who is working once again in a car paint shop, and his 20-year-old cousin Mousa, on a two-year accountancy diploma course at Al Azhar University, Hilmi, who is 26, found that he couldn't cope when he returned to the Palmyra after the war.

No freeze on Palestinian suffering
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Seth Freedman - (Opinion) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Within minutes of our arrival in Tuwani, in the south Hebron hills of the West Bank, an army Jeep rolled into the village and shattered the mid-morning tranquillity. "We're turning this place into a closed military zone," announced the stern-faced commander to anyone within earshot. Brandishing his rifle in one hand and a military document in the other, he proceeded to explain that "I decide who can be here and who can't, and anyone who isn't a resident has to leave immediately".

New Israeli funds for West Bank settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

They are being designated as national priority zones, meaning they will qualify for grants, tax benefits, and other forms of aid. The move comes amid anger by Jewish settlers at a government-imposed curb on new building in settlements. The Labour Party leader warned some of the new money might go to extremists. On Friday a mosque in the West Bank was set on fire, and sprayed with Hebrew graffiti. Labour leader Ehud Barak said: "I don't think that we need to award them a prize in the form of including them in the national priority map."

Hamas celebrates 22nd anniversary since founding
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have turned out in the Gaza Strip to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the founding of the Islamist group Hamas. Supporters filled the streets, waving banners and portraits of assassinated Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The event comes almost a year after a deadly three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Islamist group has controlled Gaza since routing the rival Palestinian Fatah faction from there in June 2007.

Cabinet approves national priority map
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Over the objections of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the four other Labor Party ministers, the cabinet on Sunday overwhelmingly approved by a 21-5 vote the government's new national priority map that will include some 90 West Bank settlements. In a protracted cabinet debate over the map, numerous Likud ministers took Barak to task for saying that the settlements should not be granted the priority status as a "prize" at a time when a number of the settlements were the jumping off point for extremist actions such as Friday's torching of the mosque in the West Bank village of Yasuf.

'PM takes control of J'lem demolitions'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Dan Izenberg, Herb Keinon, Abe Selig - December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has taken a more active role in determining the fate of east Jerusalem demolition orders by giving his military attache the final word on whether the Jerusalem Municipality can destroy illegal buildings in the Arab sections of Jerusalem, MK Uri Ariel informed the Knesset Law Committee on Sunday. Ariel made the disclosure during an urgent discussion on the fate of Beit Yonatan, the illegal seven-story residential structure built in Silwan in 2002 by Ateret Cohanim, a nationalist-religious movement seeking to settle Jews in the city's Arab neighborhoods.

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