Another round of Palestinian national accord talks in Cairo ends in deadlock (1). Israeli President Shimon Peres is set to meet with President Obama in Washington next week (2). Britain criticizes a recently released UN human rights report on the Gaza war (4). Egypt cracks down on Gaza tunnel smugglers (5). A former Palestinian Authority official is sentenced to seven years in prison for embezzlement (6). The recently released World Bank report on Israeli-Palestinian water rights continues to provoke controversy (7). Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stresses his commitment to securing the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit (9). Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak voices his hope for peace within three years (10).

Britain raps 'unbalanced' UN rights Gaza report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
April 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Britain criticised Wednesday a report by a UN human rights investigator on Israel's Gaza offensive as "unbalanced", but insisted it was extremely concerned by the situation in Gaza and the West Bank. Last month, the UN special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, said in a report that there was "reason" to conclude that Israel's massive military offensive on Gaza in December and January was a war crime, but the Jewish state slammed the report as "one-sided".

Egypt puts the bite on Gaza tunnel smugglers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - April 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Once a profitable business, Abu Abdallah's tunnel under the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip has been out of work for three weeks due to an Egyptian security crackdown on smuggling. The Palestinian network of some 3,000 tunnels, created to thwart Israel's blockade of the coastal territory ruled by Hamas Islamists, was reduced to hundreds by bombing during Israel's three-week offensive in January. Now Egyptian police efforts are also biting into Gaza's underground supply system, which supplements the tightly restricted flow of aid commodities allowed in by the Israelis.

Change meets challenge
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - April 27, 2009 - 12:00am

At a time when neither Palestinian nor Israeli domestic political conditions are conducive to progress on peacemaking, the region is looking to the new US administration as the only source of hope. It is evident that the strategies and approaches of the previous American administration contributed, at least in part, to an unprecedented deterioration in the region, including for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Muslims in Holy Land are cool to next month's visit by Pope Benedict, still angry over speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Diaa Hadid - April 29, 2009 - 12:00am

A banner across the main square in Jesus' boyhood town condemns those who insult Islam's Prophet Muhammad — a message by Muslim hard-liners for Pope Benedict XVI during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land next month. The pontiff may have to tread carefully with his visit to Nazareth. Many Muslims are still angry over a 2006 speech in which Benedict quoted a medieval text depicting the prophet as violent. Even some Christians are nervous that Benedict could stir up trouble for them. They worry that if he says anything contentious about Islam again, Muslims might lash out.

Peres to Meet Obama Next Week
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
April 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli President Shimon Peres will visit the United States next week where he will meet President Barack Obama in the first high-level meeting between the two allies since the new US administration took office. Peres will leave this weekend for Washington to represent Israel at the annual conference of the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), his office said in a statement. “During his stay in Washington, Peres will hold talks with US President Barack Obama,” it said, without providing a date.

Middle East peace requires joint effort
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
April 28, 2009 - 12:00am

In order to find a just and lasting peace and end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is crucial that all concerned parties become engaged in the process. It is vital that the major powers, and the United States in particular, take on and continue to support a dialogue for peace between the two sides.

Palestinian rivals deadlocked on power-sharing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
April 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah ended a fourth round of power-sharing talks without a deal Tuesday, but are to meet again on May 16, negotiators said. The key stumbling block remains the political program of a Palestinian unity government that would be in power until elections are held in January 2010. Prospects of a breakthrough in the next round are slim. The international community said it will only deal with a Palestinian government that recognizes Israel, a concession the Islamic militant Hamas is unwilling to make.

Barak: Israel can and must make peace within three years
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gidi Weitz - April 28, 2009 - 12:00am

"I am certain it is possible and certainly necessary to act with all our might to achieve peace even before I turn 70, which will be in three years," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak in his first extensive interview since joining the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu: Israel to do all in its power to bring Shalit home
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
April 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed on Wednesday the state's commitment to the parents of captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit to do all in its power to win the corporal's release. "Every combat soldier knows that we will use all our capabilities in order to bring him back home safe and sound," Netanyahu said before a special Independence Day ceremony to honor outstanding soldiers in the President's Residence.

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