Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits Jerusalem in an effort to diffuse tensions over Israel’s policies toward Iran. Meanwhile, US envoy George Mitchell meets with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, then with Palestinian President Abbas, to discuss the peace process, declaring that “everyone must take steps, some of them difficult, some of them controversial.” Prominent American Jewish leaders speak out about their July 13 meeting with President Obama. In Congress, Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Ed Royce (D-Calif.)are soliciting signatories to a letter to the Saudi king asking him to “step forward with a dramatic gesture toward Israel.” As the IDF refutes claims that it is planning to evacuate outposts in the West Bank, settler activists announce their intent to build 11 more.

US-Israeli talks make 'progress'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
July 28, 2009 - 12:00am

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu say talks about reviving the regional peace process have made "good progress". There was no mention of Israel agreeing to halt settlement construction, a key demand the US has made of its ally. Mr Netanyahu has previously rejected such a freeze, saying "natural growth" of settlements must be allowed. Mr Mitchell is one of several senior US officials in the region pushing for a comprehensive Middle East peace deal.

Jewish leaders seek more pressure on Palestinians, Arab states
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Any good therapist will tell you: There’s pressure that hurts and there’s pressure that heals. Two weeks after President Obama promised more of the latter, establishment Jewish groups are still squirming -- complaining that the pressure on Israel is unrelenting, while pressure on Arabs and the Palestinians has yet to kick in. Jewish leaders, who reached out to JTA to describe in greater detail their White House meeting with the president on July 13, say they see progress, but are concerned that an imbalance persists.

'Obama unlikely to present peace plan'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - July 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Recent talks with US envoy George Mitchell have left Israeli officials with the impression that - contrary to expectations in some circles - President Barack Obama is not going to unfurl his own regional peace plan. Rather, according to these officials, the administration is aiming to create a positive dynamic that will lead to the relaunching of a Palestinian-Israeli diplomatic process, but this time with more regional players on board.

Congressional letter to Saudi king gathering signatures
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

A letter urging Saudi King Abdullah to "assert a strong leadership role" in the Middle East is gathering signatures in the House of Representatives. The AIPAC-backed letter, circulated by Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Ed Royce (D-Calif.), expresses disappointment with the Saudi government's public reaction thus far to President Obama's Cairo speech, noting that the Saudi foreign minister recently said that his country could not "take any step toward normalization before the return of all Arab land."

US Urges Concessions in Mideast Peace Drive
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
July 28, 2009 - 12:00am

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell on Monday appealed to Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states not to shy away from difficult or controversial steps towards peace in the region. Amid a flurry of US diplomatic activity across the Middle East, Mitchell told Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas that Washington is doing "everything we can to achieve a comprehensive peace.

Settlers completing 11 new outposts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
July 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Settlers planned to complete the construction of 11 outposts in the West Bank ahead of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's scheduled meeting with US envoy George Mitchell early Tuesday morning, in response to American pressure to freeze settlement activity. Activists on Sunday announced that they wished to "put an end to the White Papers," and called for assistance in constructing the 11 outposts, an allusion to the 11 settlements established in the Negev during the British Mandate.

The Reason They Won't Help Abu-Mazen
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed - July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

In the Arab world, you must be annoying or a source of troubles to get care and attention. But if you respected the rules, did not cause clamor, or caused deaths and explosions, then no one would care about you. Therefore it is not surprising when the Somalis seek to host Al-Qaeda organization and hijack ships in their search for attention and support.

Mitchell to Abbas: 'Still a gap' on Israel Settlement Activity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
July 28, 2009 - 12:00am

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday he was still working on a deal with Israel to halt West Bank settlement activity so peace talks can resume. "We are discussing the issue but we didn't conclude an agreement yet with the Israelis," a senior Palestinian official quoted Mitchell as saying over a working dinner with Abbas in Ramallah.

The “Usefulness” of the Palestinian Cause
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Husam Itani - (Opinion) July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

If one were to place side by side Israel’s decisions and stances regarding the conflict with the Palestinians since Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister six months ago, the features of an unmistakably organized campaign to do away with what remains of the rights of Palestinians would plainly appear.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017