Mideast envoy George Mitchell wraps up his weeklong tour of the region (1). As Israel prepares to hold general elections next week, the situation in Gaza is a central issue (2). In Paris today Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attempts to increase diplomatic support for reconstruction of Gaza (4) while public tensions persist between Hamas and Fatah (11) (13). Work continues in Cairo to broker a ceasefire acceptable to both Hamas and Israel (5). An editorial in Haaretz criticizes Israel’s recent decision to invest in a new Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem (12).

Gaza counts the cost – and assigns blame
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
February 1, 2009 - 1:00am

Two weeks after an uneasy ceasefire ended Israel's 22-day offensive, Gaza is still struggling to come to terms with the cost of more than 1,300 Palestinian lives, more than 5,000 injuries and the total or partial destruction of some 20,000 homes.

Israel's Key Election Issue: Did War End Too Soon?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Griff Witte - February 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Just over a week before Israel holds elections to choose a new government, the outcome of the war in the Gaza Strip has emerged as a central issue in the campaign, with the candidates sparring over whether the massive military operation went far enough. The argument reflects the reality that elections here often turn on a single question: Who looks tougher on national security?

Hamas cites 'positive direction' as Cairo works toward stronger Gaza truce
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
February 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian officials were gathering in Cairo on Sunday amid hopes of bolstering a ceasefire in Gaza, even as Israel threatened to strike at Hamas after Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel. Egypt has been mediating a truce after Hamas and Israel announced ceasefires on January 18, ending a devastating 22-day war that killed more than 1,330 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

Abbas, US envoy push Mideast peace in Paris talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
February 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas headed to Paris on Monday to try to drum up diplomatic support for a unity government and to push for a role in rebuilding the war-shattered Gaza Strip, controlled by rival Hamas. With scattered violence in Gaza straining an informal cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants, Abbas was expected to join French, U.S. and other officials in meetings aimed at finding sturdier solutions for Gaza.

Hamas: We're in no hurry to talk with Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
February 1, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas will not push for Palestinian reconciliation talks if President Mahmoud Abbas insists on the supremacy of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Islamist group said Monday. In a statement mocking Abbas and his supporters, a high-level Hamas official accused Abbas of siding with Israel during its recent invasion of Gaza, and seeking to "return on Israeli tanks" to govern the territory.

Mitchell gets earful from Mideast
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Caryle Murphey - February 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Winding up his week-long tour of the region, President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, met Saudi officials here over the weekend for an exchange of ideas on ending the volatile Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr. Mitchell conferred with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud bin Faisal Saturday night and met with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Sunday.

Hamas Leads Largest Suicide Operation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq Alhomayed - (Opinion) February 2, 2009 - 1:00am

In Doha [on Wednesday] Khalid Mishal announced his intentions to form a new [alternative representative] authority for the Palestinian people in order to replace the Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO] in what represents the first practical steps to bury the Arab Peace Initiative, and in the process reverting the Palestinian cause back to square one.

Bad news from a new neighborhood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) February 2, 2009 - 1:00am

The news that Israel has invested close to NIS 200 million in Mevasseret Adumim, a new Jewish neighborhood east of Jerusalem where 3,500 housing units are slated to be built, reveals the real intentions of the outgoing government. As Amos Harel reported in Haaretz yesterday, for the past two years, Israel has invested massive amounts of money on infrastructure for the construction of housing units to create a contiguous bloc between Ma'aleh Adumim and East Jerusalem.

A Wake-Up Call for Arabs and Israelis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Times
(Analysis) February 2, 2009 - 1:00am

There is good news and there is bad news associated with U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East peace initiative. The good news is that there is a president in the White House who is truly dedicated to forge ahead with the peace process. And for several reasons.

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