Pres. Abbas lays down conditions for returning to peace talks, rules out resumption of violence. The Washington Post's profile of two Palestinian brothers, one in the West Bank and the other in Gaza, illustrate growing political divisions in Palestinian society. The Christian Science Monitor says Egypt's Gaza border wall has deep strategic significance, and asks whether soldiers will obey extremist rabbis or PM Netanyahu. The Voice of America reviews the year of stalemated peace talks. PM Fayyad says Palestinian state building is underway. A report in Ha'aretz looks at tax exempt US funding for extremist settlers, including a rabbi who recently rationalized the killing of non-Jewish babies. Both Israel and the UK confirm that a British court issued and then withdrew an arrest warrant for former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The Guardian profiles Palestinian "tunnel tycoons." The EU is formally reviewing its ties to Israel because of skepticism about its intentions on peace. Husam Itani says Palestinians are partly to blame for their own predicament and a commentary in the Arab News says Netanyahu is not serious about peace at all. In Bitter Lemons, Ghassan Khatib calls for increased international engagement to promote serious negotiations and Issa Samander suggests that Israelis would see realities differently if settlers were returned to Israel and behaved there as they do in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The moment of truth
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Issa Samander - December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

The US administration was very quick to announce its appreciation of the Israeli right-wing government's decision to temporarily and partially halt settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories. In doing so, Washington has only shown its weakness. If the US cannot convince Israel even to properly freeze settlement construction in occupied territory, then how will it convince Israel to dismantle settlements? And if that doesn't happen, what then for the two-state solution?

The ball is now with the international community
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Binyamin Netanyahu's announcement in late November that his government would implement a settlement freeze was not taken seriously by Palestinians, Arabs or other interested and involved parties. Palestinians warned that the announcement amounted to no more than a public relations gimmick aimed at reducing growing international criticism of Israel's settlement expansion policies. Palestinian officials made clear that the Israeli "freeze" did not signal any change to Israeli settlement expansion, which is responsible for preventing the resumption of negotiations.

Netanyahu not at all serious about peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Hassan Tahsin - (Opinion) December 15, 2009 - 1:00am

PEACE with Palestinians has never been on the agenda of Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu. Nevertheless, he speaks about peace. In his view peace has only one meaning — the total surrender of Palestinians to Israel. In his opinion, all the Palestinians presently living in the occupied territories are terrorists because they demand freedom from Israel; they want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their independent state; they don’t want their children to die of malnutrition; they don’t want to be humiliated by Israeli soldiers or thrown arbitrarily out of their homes and farms.

Real Settlements and Imagined State
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Husam Itani - (Opinion) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

The sympathy in the words of Israeli Minister Benny Begin and the attack of settlers against the mosque of the village of Yasuf in the West Bank, in addition to the tepid response to Palestinian efforts aimed at obtaining international recognition of the state which the Palestinian Authority is threatening to declare unilaterally, reveals the depth of the Palestinian predicament and its urgent need for a approach different from that which has proved bankrupt, in and from the side of the two camps dominating the Palestinian scene.

EU ‘concludes’ that Israel must step up peace pace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Leslie Susser - December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

The new European Union document on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is being interpreted in Jerusalem as a warning to the Israelis: Do more to restart stalled peace talks or face mounting pressure from Europe.

Palestinian tunnel tycoons feeding demand for banned goods
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - December 15, 2009 - 1:00am

Mahmoud is proud of the motorbike he bought two months ago for $700, now parked in the sand at the entrance of one of the tunnels used to smuggle the machines into Gaza. It is all the more precious these days. After an influx of bikes through the deep underground passages between Gaza and Egypt resulted in carnage on the roads by young, untrained riders, the Hamas government ordered the imports to stop.

Israel condemns UK attempt to arrest Tzipi Livni
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
December 15, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel has reacted angrily to the issuing by a British court of an arrest warrant for the former Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni. The warrant, issued by a London court on Saturday, was revoked on Monday when it was found Ms Livni was not visiting the UK. Ms Livni was in post during Israel's controversial Gaza assault last winter. It is the first time a UK court has issued a warrant for an Israeli former minister. Pro-Palestinian campaigners have tried several times to have Israeli officials arrested under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

'Recognition of '67 border before talks'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
December 15, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday told members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)'s Central Council that he would not be willing to resume peace talks with Israel until the latter stops settlement construction in the West Bank and recognizes the borders of a future Palestinian state, the Chinese News Agency reported. "If settlement activity were to stop completely for a specific period and borders of a [Palestinian] state were declared within the 1967 borders, we would go to negotiations," Abbas said ahead of the meeting in Ramallah.

Hamas: Deal for Shalit release still a long way off
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jack Khoury - December 15, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said Tuesday that a prisoner exchange deal for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces solider Gilad Shalit was still a long way off. President Shimon Peres told IDF soldiers Monday that the release Shalit did not depend solely on Israel, but was being hampered by disagreements between Hamas' wing in the Gaza Strip and its overseas wing.

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