Hamas is reportedly not budging in both sets of Egyptian-brokered negotiations with Israel and Fatah, respectively (1). While Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announces that negotiations regarding the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit have failed (2). Egypt urges the United States and the European Union to reevaluate their boycott of Hamas (3). Avi Isacharoff looks at the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (4). The U.S. joins the Palestinian Authority in inaugurating a new, U.S. funded, training center for Palestinian security personnel in the West Bank (7). Egypt opens the Rafah border crossing to allow aid into Gaza (10).

Robert Fisk: Why Avigdor Lieberman is the worst thing that could happen to the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Robert Fisk - March 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Only days after they were groaning with fury at the Israeli lobby's success in hounding the outspoken Charles Freeman away from his proposed intelligence job for President Obama, the Arabs now have to contend with an Israeli Foreign Minister whose – let us speak frankly – racist comments about Palestinian loyalty tests have brought into the new Netanyahu cabinet one of the most unpleasant politicians in the Middle East.

Egypt seeks softer US Hamas line
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
March 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Egypt's intelligence chief is visiting Washington in what officials say is a push for a more flexible US stance on Hamas, to aid Palestinian unity talks. The US, EU and UN will not deal with the militant rulers of Gaza unless they reject violence and recognise Israel. Talks in Cairo to end the rift between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have faltered over the issue. The division between the factions is also a major barrier to reconstruction in Gaza after Israel's offensive.

Egypt opens Gaza border to aid, Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Egypt has opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip for the second time in two months to allow medical aid and Palestinians to enter the coastal territory. Border official Ghazi Hamad says more than 40 trucks carrying medicine and mineral water have crossed into Gaza so far. He says 120 Palestinians who were stranded in Egypt were also able to cross. The border will remain open until Thursday.

Still optimistic
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Faisal Al Rfouh - March 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Proponents of peace in the Middle East are genuinely worried over the stalemate in the ongoing unity talks between the Palestinian factions in Cairo. After a weeklong parley, the Palestinian parties failed to agree on the composition and obligations of a unity government. This impasse seems to be the result of the varying positions of the main protagonists, Hamas and Fateh.

Egypt blocks Hamas cash at Rafah border
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Egyptian security forces blocked two Hamas officials on Tuesday from entering the Islamist-run Gaza Strip with night-vision goggles and around $900,000 in cash, security and customs sources said. The Hamas officials were stopped at the Gaza border after customs agents found the cash -- 500,000 euros and $250,000 -- during a search of their bags as they headed home after taking part in Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo.

U.S. opens P.A. training center
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
March 17, 2009 - 12:00am

A top U.S. official inaugurated a training center for Palestinian security personnel built with U.S. funds. David Johnson, the assistant secretary of state for law enforcement, on Tuesday joined Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in dedicating the compound in Jericho. The center was built with $10.1 million of State Department assistance," a State Department statement said, adding that it was the first of several U.S.-funded building projects for the P.A. security forces.

Israel's Olmert says effort to free Gilad Shalit has failed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Richard Boudreaux - March 18, 2009 - 12:00am

The split screen seemed to capture Israel's mood of frustration over its setbacks in recent years. On one side, television viewers saw the somber face of Ehud Olmert as he addressed them Tuesday evening for perhaps the last time as prime minister. His message: Marathon efforts to win the release of a captured soldier had failed. The other side showed the soldier's dejected parents as they listened from a tent outside Olmert's residence.

A way out for Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - March 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu has a problem. The diplomatic scene is closing in on him from all directions and he is beginning his tenure as a suspect in the eyes of the international community. The bad memories of the past decade, the statements he made during the election campaign, his opposition to a Palestinian state and what appears to be his inclination toward a right-wing government have strengthened his image as an extreme conservative who insists on going against views accepted around the world. The proposed appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister only bolsters this image.

Who are the deadly terrorists Israel refuses to release for Shalit?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - March 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Egyptian-brokered negotiations over a deal for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit hit an impasse this weekend after Israel refused to free all 450 long-serving Palestinian prisoners sought by Hamas. Negotiator Ofer Dekel told cabinet members on Tuesday that Israel has agreed to release about 325 prisoners on the list, 144 of whom would be sent abroad or to the Gaza Strip. The others would be allowed to return to their homes.

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