December 22nd

New study unit on pre-state fighters proves controversial
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Or Kashti - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

The Education Ministry is introducing a study unit on the 12 underground fighters who were hanged or committed suicide in prison during the British Mandate in Palestine. The 12, known as "Olei Hagardom" ("those hanged on the gallows"), belonged to the pre-state militias Etzel and Lehi. The program, intended for eighth and ninth grades, will include lessons plus a national competition for essays, poems and drawings on subjects such as "an imaginary conversation I had with one of Olei Hagardom in his last moments in prison" or "the last letter of a condemned man to his family."

Report: German mediator in Shalit deal to arrive in Gaza on Wednesday
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff, Jonathan Lis, Barak Ravid - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

A Hamas official said Tuesday that the German mediator brokering a deal for the release of Gilad Shalit - the Israeli soldier held by the Islamist group - will only arrive in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, as Israel is seeking to modify its response to the proposed prisoner swap. Hours earlier, the group confirmed that it had received Israel's position on the deal, but later said that Jerusalem wanted to make adjustments and asked the mediator, who has never been named, to postpone his visit.

PA to follow up on organ harvesting allegations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli organ harvesting, settlements, climate change and Christmas topped the agenda of the Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet meeting on Monday, in which ministers joined together in calling the Bethlehem Christmas tree a symbol of Palestinian unity and peace.

Abbas Says Palestinians Won't Rise Up, for Now
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Charles Levinson - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said there won't be a new Palestinian uprising as long as he's in office, but warned the current calm might end once he steps down, as early as June. In a 60-minute interview, Mr. Abbas rebutted charges by Israel that he was responsible for holding up peace talks, saying he twice presented privately a compromise on settlements to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Mr. Abbas said Mr. Barak ignored the offer. Mr. Barak's office didn't respond to requests for comment.

December 21st

An underground barrier being constructed by Egypt along the border with Gaza comes under heavy criticism. A prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas continues to be negotiated. An American-style college program has opened for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Extremist rabbis from government-affiliated religious institutions continue to urge Israeli soldiers to disobey orders. Israel has jailed the leader of the nonviolent Stop The Wall campaign. Pres. Abbas says he's not optimistic about peace. A commentary in Ha'aretz says the Israeli peace camp needs to focus on a return to the 1967 borders, and another in YNet says that Israel is squandering an opportunity to make peace with the best Palestinian partners it has ever had. A Labor MK and former cabinet minister calls for a new American peace initiative to replace the Roadmap. Former Pres. Carter calls for the rebuilding of Gaza. A former Bush speechwriter says politicians from the religious right like Palin and Huckabee will find their encouragement of settlements has consequences. Leonard Fein expresses doubts about PM Netanyahu's intentions on peace. A new Palestinian opinion poll shows Pres. Abbas would beat Hamas leader Hanniyeh by 16 points in a new election. IPS reports that Europe's ties with Israel remained close in spite of recent tensions.

EUROPE: Cosy With Israel, Despite the Headlines
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by David Cronin - (Analysis) December 18, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel's relations with the European Union were tense for most of 2009 - if newspaper headlines are to be believed. In the past week, a British court drew fierce criticism from Israeli politicians after it issued an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister, following a complaint that she had authorised war crimes in Gaza.

The Palestinian Situation and the Egyptian Fig Leaf
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Mohammad Salah - (Opinion) December 20, 2009 - 1:00am

An Arab official challenged me and affirmed his conviction that no reconciliation will take place between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. He said that the current situation achieves the interests of the two sides, irrespective of the interest of the Palestinian people. When I asked about the Egyptian mediation efforts and their benefit, and Cairo’s expectation of a response by Hamas to the Egyptian negotiating card, the official said he was certain that Hamas would not agree to it as is.

Survey finds Abbas would win election
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - December 19, 2009 - 1:00am

In spite of political stalemates on all fronts, it was a relatively good week for Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and the head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

A Netanyahu Conversion? The Case for Skepticism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Leonard Fein - (Opinion) December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Too transparent to be a scam, more nearly a farce. I refer to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 10-month “freeze” in settlement construction on the West Bank, about as gummy a freeze as can be imagined, a freeze meant to change nothing, only to placate the Americans.

Why Palin and Huckabee Dig Settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Noam Neusner - (Opinion) December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

The Republican field for 2012 is beginning to stretch its legs. Not surprisingly, presidential hopefuls have started to define themselves by what they are not: Barack Obama.

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