December 24th

The LA Times says that Israel is building a barrier along its border with Egypt. Several sources look back at the Gaza war one year on, as Hamas says it's ready for another conflict. Reports suggest that Hamas may be flexible on the deportation of released prisoners, and Ha'aretz says that it is likely to accept Israel's latest offer. Israeli cabinet minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer says that jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti should be released, but not in the context of a deal with Hamas. A leadership battle threatens to split Israel's Kadima party. A UN official accuses the international community of the "tragic" failure in Gaza. A YNet commentary says that settlers are on a collision course with mainstream Israeli society. More young Israelis pledge to disobey orders to evacuate settlements. West Bank shepherds say their livelihood is threatened by drought and occupation. The Guardian reports on Christmas in Bethlehem under the shadow of the separation barrier, as Palestinian Christians from Gaza pray for peace. Neve Gordon says Israel is determined to break nonviolent Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Consensus Cracks over Shalit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Rachelle Kliger - December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Every day for the past three and a half years, campaigners have sat at a makeshift tent outside the official prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem in protest, cajoling passersby to sign a petition urging the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit. At first, the campaigners were loud and aggressive. People who passed the tent without signing would get called back, stickers and fliers thrown into their faces. Not signing, the campaigners explained, was simply not an option.

Peace high on Gazans’ Christmas wish list
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - December 24, 2009 - 1:00am

Father Jorge Hernandez was busy and distracted. Yesterday was the third day he had spent composing his Christmas sermon, and he hadn’t finished it yet. “Good intentions are the foundation for hope,” the Latin Catholic priest said his message would be. “Hope is something we have to pray for in Gaza, where we celebrate Christmas with mixed feelings, remembering the war last year.” Father Jorge, an Argentinian, was appointed in May to lead Gaza’s small Catholic congregation of a few hundred and was not here during the war. But he can still see, he said, the “psychological impact”.

Breaking Palestine's peaceful protest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Neve Gordon - (Opinion) December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

"Why," I have often been asked, "haven't the Palestinians established a peace movement like the Israeli Peace Now?" The question itself is problematic, being based on many erroneous assumptions, such as the notion that there is symmetry between the two sides and that Peace Now has been a politically effective movement. Most important, though, is the false supposition that Palestinians have indeed failed to create a pro-peace popular movement.

Bethlehem's modern nativity scene – crib, wise men and separation wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Rory McCarthy - December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

The shelves of Bethlehem's tourist shops this winter are filled with the gifts you might expect. There are countless carved olive-wood crucifixes, angels and last suppers. But there are also unexpected nativity scenes complete with Joseph, Mary, crib, wise men and large Israeli concrete wall with military watchtower.

Scars of conflict still raw in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck - December 24, 2009 - 1:00am

Until the day the soldiers came, Majed Abdullah al-Atamneh counted himself a fortunate man. He owned six houses on the eastern fringes of Abed Rabbo village in the northern Gaza Strip, three taxis and several acres of land planted with olive and lemon trees. All his sons and their families lived in the family compound, 56 men, women and children in total.

West Bank shepherds fear for their flocks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Bethany Bell - December 24, 2009 - 1:00am

According to the Christian tradition, shepherds were the first to visit the infant Christ. These days, about 12,000 families still rely on herding in the West Bank. The United Nations is warning that their livelihood is under threat, because of drought and Israeli restrictions on their movements. A flock of sheep and some scrawny goats huddle in a rough stone enclosure on a barren hillside south of Hebron. They belong to Mohammed Abu Ali and his wife Fatima, and their family. They live in a cave next to the sheep pen. Fatima says the animals are all they have.

Israel teenagers pledge 'no settlement evacuation'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
December 24, 2009 - 1:00am

About 200 Israeli teenagers have pledged to disobey any orders to evacuate Jewish settlements during their military service. The letter sent to Defence Minister Ehud Barak was signed by young people about to be drafted into the Israeli Defence Force. Jewish law as written in the Torah forbids the dismantling of Jewish-built homes, the letter said. The government has ordered a 10-month lull in building in the West Bank. "We consider utilizing the army for political ends and for warfare against Jews an existential danger and a destruction of the military," the letter said.

2 types of Zionism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Gadi Taub - (Opinion) December 24, 2009 - 1:00am

Based on recent reports, it appears that the IDF is preparing to enforce the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria as if it was dealing with a strike against Iran’s nuclear sites.

UN expert slams 'tragic' international failure in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

A UN human rights expert on Wednesday condemned a "tragic failure" by major powers to end Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip or probe alleged war crimes committed during a military offensive one year ago. In Geneva, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, urged Israel's European and North American allies to press for the immediate end of the blockade "backed up by a credible threat of economic sanctions."

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