February 27th

Rescue a two-state solution in Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Ziad Asali - February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

In the wake of the devastating war in Gaza, the immediate challenge facing the United States, its Arab allies, and the international community, is providing essential aid and reconstruction to the people of Gaza without bolstering Hamas. Hamas launched reckless and provocative rocket attacks against Israel. But Gazans, already suffering under siege, are not Hamas, they are not combatants, and should not be punished.

UN apologises for giving Kerry letter from Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Donald MacIntyre - February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency apologised to the US government last night after it was criticised for passing to a US senator a letter from a Hamas representative intended for President Barack Obama. Karen Koning AbuZayd, the agency head, said she "deeply regrets any awkwardness" the transmission of the letter may have caused for the government, which has refused any direct contact with the Palestinian Islamist faction that rules Gaza.

Fatah, Hamas begin reconciliation talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Richard Boudreaux - February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

Spurred by the prospect of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for the war-battered Gaza Strip, the rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas began long-awaited talks Thursday aimed at restoring a power-sharing arrangement. The talks in Cairo have the blessing of the Obama administration and could lead to a new international approach toward Hamas, the Islamic group that the U.S., like Israel and the European Union, considers a terrorist organization.

Palestinians agree to form unity govt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Times
by Sakher Abu El Oun - February 26, 2009 - 1:00am

Rival Palestinian groups agreed on Thursday to set up a unity government by the end of March after reconciliation talks aimed at ending long-running factional feuding, Palestinian officials said. The agreement, which could lead to the creation of a Palestinian government acceptable to the international community, was announced by officials from two Palestinian factions involving in the Cairo-sponsored dialogue.

Israel's Netanyahu Meets With Envoy Mitchell
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Aron Heller - February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel's next leader sat face-to-face Thursday with a man whose vision of Israeli-Palestinian relations is radically different from his own: the Obama administration's new Middle East envoy. Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu says negotiations on Palestinian statehood are pointless. But envoy George J. Mitchell wants Israel to resume negotiations to establish a Palestinian state. This is Mitchell's second Middle East visit since President Obama took office last month. Next week, Hillary Rodham Clinton will make her first trip to the region as secretary of state.

Palestinian Rivals Announce Steps Toward Healing Rift
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Taghreed El-Khodary, Isabel Kershner - February 26, 2009 - 1:00am

Leaders of the rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah declared Thursday a “historic day” at the conclusion of a meeting here aimed at healing a 20-month schism. The long-awaited Cairo talks added another twist to an already complex political situation as President Obama’s Middle East envoy arrived in Israel for discussions with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

U.S. Helps Palestinians Build Force for Security
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - February 26, 2009 - 1:00am

They rappel down a 65-foot tower, navigate obstacle courses, shoot in the firing range and sleep in pristine barracks. They eat in an air-conditioned mess where brushed aluminum glints from every kitchen surface. Rows of Land Rovers stand by. The entrance reads “The Presidential Guard, Always in Front: Strength, Sacrifice, Redemption.”

February 26th

A Waltz With the Dogs of Memory
In Print by Hussein Ibish - The Nation - February 24, 2009 - 1:00am

Initial reaction to the surprising failure of the Israeli film Waltz with Bashir to win this year's Academy Award for best foreign-language picture has suggested that it confronts harsh truths and painful realities, especially about Israel, too unflinchingly for the Hollywood mainstream to embrace. As a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz put it, this year's Oscars demonstrated that "Hollywood knows exactly how it likes its Jews: Victims." Waltz with Bashir obviously provides little to feed that narrative.

US diplomacy in the Middle East continues as Israel moves to form a new government (1), (9), (11), (14). Palestinians explore possibilities for a “National Accord” government or other forms of political reunification (3), (5), (12). Israel’s new cabinet seems poised to take a sharp turn to the right (2) (8), while more Palestinians are being pushed out of their homes in Jerusalem (10). Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad continues to seek reconstruction aid for Gaza (4), (6).

Clinton to press Israel on Gaza as children suffer
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Times
by Dale Gavlak - February 26, 2009 - 1:00am

Assistance to the Gaza Strip, where tens of thousands of displaced people are living in flimsy U.N. tents despite freezing winter temperatures and rain, will be "at the top of [the] agenda" when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visits the region next week, a U.S. official in Jerusalem said Wednesday. A month after a cease-fire ended Israel's military offensive in Gaza, many sleep on thin mats on the muddy ground and traumatized children burst into tears at any loud noise. Lots where they once played are littered with crushed concrete and other debris.

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