December 23rd

Patriarch's Christmas message: Mid East peace efforts failed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Efforts to bring peace to the Middle East have failed, Jerusalem’s Latin patriarch Fuad Twal said Tuesday in his annual Christmas message. “Our dreams for a reconciled Holy Land seem to be utopia. Despite the praiseworthy efforts of politicians and men of good will to find a solution to the ongoing conflict, all of us, Palestinians and Israelis, have all failed in achieving peace,” saidTwal, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land. “The reality contradicts our dreams,” he said.

Israel-Hamas deal on Gilad Shalit won't include an end to Gaza blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Erin Cunningham - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel is abuzz with a flurry of media reports on a possibly imminent prisoner exchange that could return captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to his parents after more than three years of captivity under Hamas. The deal would also release up to 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, but Gazans are dismayed that a major condition Israel had previously said was linked to any Shalit deal now appears to be missing from the negotiations: Israel’s two-year economic blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Building by not building in the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
(Editorial) December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton fumbled in Jerusalem last month when she hailed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to temporarily freeze West Bank settlement construction as "unprecedented," thereby suggesting it was somehow optimal. The 10-month freeze is far from ideal, because it allows completion of nearly 3,000 housing units and 28 public buildings already underway in the West Bank, and it doesn't include development in contested East Jerusalem.

Vatican, Israel joust over Jerusalem site
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

The government of Israel seems to be embracing the Christmas spirit. This week it is organizing carols and tree giveaways in Jerusalem, bus service to Bethlehem and even a fireworks show in Nazareth with an apparent eye on burnishing the nation's reputation for religious diversity. But Israel won't be giving the Christmas gift near the top of the Vatican's wish list this year: possession of a Mt. Zion holy site where Jesus is believed to have gathered his disciples for the Last Supper.

December 22nd

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Pres. Abbas says as long as he is in office there will be no third intifada. The PA says it will investigate allegations that Israel harvested organs from Palestinians without consent in the late 80s and 90s. Negotiations continue on a possible prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel, which is reportedly considering deporting some "heavy prisoners." A new Israeli school curriculum about pre-state Jewish terrorist groups draws controversy. Israel bans the head of the "Islamic movement" organization from Jerusalem. International aid groups say the world has abandoned the people of Gaza, and a Jerusalem Post commentary says Israel's policies are radicalizing the population. A senior Palestinian official accuses PM Netanyahu of wasting time on peace.The Guardian runs commentaries calling for dismantling the separation barrier, ending the siege of Gaza and investigating reported complicity of Israeli doctors in torture. Former Pres. Carter apologizes to the Jewish community. Palestinian smugglers scoff at a new Egyptian underground barrier on the Gaza border. Aaron Miller says Pres. Obama needs to have foreign policy goals that are achievable, and Yossi Alpher says that it is in Israel's interest for Palestinians to develop a better grasp of Washington politics. Former AIPAC staff member Steven Rosen says that PM Netanyahu and Special Envoy Mitchell have agreed on Terms of Reference for peace negotiations that include the future status of Jerusalem among other issues.

Netanyahu's New Agreement with Mitchell
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Steven J. Rosen - (Opinion) December 18, 2009 - 1:00am

For a year or two at an early stage in his career, I commuted to and from our adjacent offices each morning and evening with Martin Indyk, later a top peace-process official of the Clinton administration at the Camp David negotiations and now vice president for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. I had just left the Rand Corporation to work at AIPAC, the main pro-Israel lobbying organization in Washington.

Criminal neglect
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Editorial) December 21, 2009 - 1:00am

There can be little doubt that Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu won the first round of Israeli-Palestinian engagement with the Obama administration--and that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lost. Netanyahu executed a partial and problematic settlement construction freeze "balanced" by settlement provocations in Jerusalem and elsewhere. He was rewarded with US support for his readiness to open negotiations while his right-wing coalition stood behind him. Abbas misread American promises and assurances regarding the freeze and the Goldstone report.

Commentary: President 'Yes we can' meets a 'no you won't' world
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from McClatchy News
by Aaron David Miller - (Opinion) December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

As the clock ticks down on the first year of the Obama presidency, one thing is pretty clear: in the Middle East, President "Yes We Can" is bumping up against the cruel and unforgiving world of "No You Won't." From Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iran and Arab-Israeli peacemaking, the president's rhetoric, commitment and desire to engage has outpaced his capacity (so far) to produce.

Gaza underground on schedule to beat Egypt's wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Ismail Atallah could not hide his disgust. With both hands he squeezed an imaginary throat in front of him. “This is what they are trying to do,” he said. “They want to strangle us. The blood of 1.5 million people means nothing to the Egyptians.”

Carter offers Jewish community ‘Al Het’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - December 21, 2009 - 1:00am

Jimmy Carter asked the Jewish community for forgiveness for any stigma he may have caused Israel.

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