December 24th

Year after Gaza war, Hamas says ready to fight Israel again
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
December 24, 2009 - 1:00am

One year after Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip, the spokesman for Hamas' armed wing said this week that the Islamist group would not shirk away from a new battle with Israel. "We do not wish for war. We wish for calm and peace for our people," Abu Ubaida, Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades spokesman told Reuters. "But if any battle is imposed on us, we are ready with all our manpower and equipment to confront any Zionist war, any crime and any attack regardless of scale," he added.

Netanyahu asks Livni, Kadima to join unity government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis, Mazal Mualem, Barak Ravid - December 24, 2009 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked opposition leader Tzipi Livni, the chairwoman of Kadima, on Thursday to join a unity government. Livni did not immediately reject the offer, and added that if the offer is real "I always said that it is up for discussion." Livni clarified that any decision regarding Kadima's moves will be taken by the party after thorough discussion and not by her alone. Netanyahu told Livni that Kadima's addition to the government was crucial in light of the local and global challenges facing Israel today.

Hamas likely to accept Israel offer on Shalit within days
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yuval Azoulay, Avi Issacharoff, Jack Khoury - December 24, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas announced on Wednesday that the German mediator involved in the talks to release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit had delivered Israel's offer. Hamas' deputy political leader, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said that top officials in the group were studying Israel's offer and would respond to the German mediators within days. Media outlets in the Gaza Strip said that a Hamas delegation would head from Gaza to Cairo on Thursday, and then to Damascus, where they would meet with members of Hamas' political wing there to discuss their response to what Israel has put on the table.

Israeli minister: Barghouthi must be freed with or without Shalit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 24, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel should release imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, with or with out a prisoner exchange deal, Israel’s Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said on Wednesday. “I call to release Marwan Barghouthi not in the deal with Hamas … these are two entirely different issues,” he told a news conference in East Jerusalem’s American Colony hotel. Ben-Eliezer has called for Barghouthi’s release in the past.

Prisoners' families say deportation better than nothing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Rumors of a prisoner release are notoriously hard on families of the detained. As the back-and-forth between Israel and Gaza factions continues at a heated pace, Ma’an spoke with the wives and children of some of Palestine’s most prominent detainees. Abla Sa’adat is the wife of one of the nine prisoners identified by Israeli media earlier in the week as one of the nine high-profile prisoners whose release the swap deal depends on.

Reports: Hamas flexible on prisoner expulsion
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 24, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas is leaning toward accepting Israel’s demand to deport more than 100 prisoners in an exchange deal that would secure the release of a captured soldier, news reports said on Thursday. The Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal reported on Wednesday that Hamas would allow 123 prisoners to be deported in an exchange that would also see the release of some 1,000 Palestinians from Israeli prisons.

Postwar Gaza: Scars frozen, Mideast at an impasse
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Karin Laub - December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Gaza's scars have been frozen in place since Israel waged war a year ago to subdue Hamas and stop rockets from hitting its towns. Entire neighborhoods still lie in rubble, and traumatized residents can't rebuild their lives. A man who lost two daughters and his home can't visit his surviving 4-year-old girl in a Belgian hospital because Gaza's borders remain sealed. A 15-year-old struggles to walk on her artificial limbs, while dozens of other war amputees still await prostheses.

ISRAEL: Good neighbors make fences
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Batsheva Sobelman - (Blog) December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

While Egypt's steel barricade draws both ire and fire from Gaza, it isn't the only neighbor fencing in its property. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to build a fence along the country's border with Egypt. The border sprawls about 143 miles through sand-land and mountainous terrain, and with the exception of the official crossing at Taba, it is wide open. It is largely a peaceful area, but in recent years it has become increasingly exploited by a wide range of factors that are evolving into a real threat.

December 23rd

Israel and the Vatican fail to resolve an ongoing dispute over a site in occupied East Jerusalem at which the "Last Supper" is reputed to have taken place. The LA Times says Israel's partial settlement freeze is not perfect but could form the basis for progress on peace. Reports differ over what is delaying an Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange, including a dispute over key prisoners, the possibility of deportation of some, and a bitter dispute between Israeli civilian and military leaders. The Christian Science Monitor says in any event an agreement will not end the siege of Gaza. Jerusalem's Latin patriarch denounces the occupation. Palestinians west of the separation barrier report ongoing settlement construction. Israeli prosecutors indict the leader of nonviolent resistance to the barrier for incitement, and a commentary in Ha'aretz says Israel is waging a war of attrition against nonviolent resistance to the occupation. A Cambridge University choir is split over a possible boycott of Israel. Palestinians say Israel is cutting Bethlehem off to tourists. Asharq Al-Awsat conducts a lengthy interview with Pres. Abbas.

Palestinians say Israelis are cutting off Bethlehem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Telegraph
by Adrian Blomfield - December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

West Bank Palestinian officials say they have been blocked from benefiting from a record 1.4 million foreign visitors to the occupied West Bank’s most important tourist attraction. They claim Israeli tour guides play on the fear of the tourists by warning them they face danger as soon as they enter the area. Thousands of foreign tourists and pilgrims visit each day to see the Church of the Nativity, held by some Christians to mark the exact spot where Christ was born.

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