Pres. Abbas says he would return to negotiations if Israel halted settlement activity "for a fixed time." Hamas is seeking to lower tensions with Israel and Egypt, and vows to halt any attacks against Israel from Gaza. PM Fayyad accuses Israel of trying to isolate the PA, and launches a fund aimed at ridding the Palestinian economy of settlement products. More extreme groups challenge Hamas in Gaza. The US expresses support for Egypt's new Gaza border wall. Egypt reiterates its insistence on the creation of a Palestinian state. A Ha'aretz commentary says PM Sharon succeeded in cutting Israelis off from the realities of conflict. A YNet commentary says FM Lieberman's policies are making Israel look ridiculous. A huge majority of Israelis support negotiations with the PLO. The Pope calls for a two state solution. Rami Khouri says he has not lost his faith in the American people, but Osama Al Sharif warns of the dangers of failed negotiations. An ATFP original translation of an article by Hassan Khader critiques the "mass-man" mentality in the contemporary Arab world.

Resumption of Mideast talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Osama Al-Sharif - (Opinion) January 13, 2010 - 1:00am

In normal circumstances — but then what’s normal in the Middle East — one would receive news of recent US efforts to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with relief, even jubilation. After weeks of deliberate disengagement from mediation, maybe to punish the main parties or as a sign of frustration, anger or all of the above, Washington is once again stepping into the quicksands of the elusive peace process, which it had helped launch and nurture and eventually monopolized for more than 15 years.

Apply American decency to Mideast policy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) January 13, 2010 - 1:00am

I am often asked why I maintain the slightly naive expectation that the United States will one day pursue policies in the Middle East that are fair to all in the region, and also comply with international law and core American values. My answer is, in part, Denise Horn’s Globalization and International Affairs class INTL 1101 at Northeastern University in Boston.

Pope calls for two-state solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

ROME (JTA) -- Pope Benedict XVI called for "universal recognition" of both Israel's right to exist and the rights of Palestinians to an independent state. In his traditional New Year's address Monday to world diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the pope recalled that during his trip to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority last May, he had "urgently appealed" for dialogue and respect between Israelis and the Palestinians.

'Large majority in favor of peace talks'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Haviv Rettig - January 13, 2010 - 1:00am

Both Jewish and Arab Israelis support peace talks with the Palestinian Authority by a large majority, but also trust the government's handling of Israel's security challenges, according to the latest Tel Aviv University "War and Peace Index" survey. 72.5 percent of Israelis support negotiations toward peace, with just 20.9% opposing it. This support for negotiations, however, did not translate into optimism that the efforts would result in peace in the near term.

Lieberman-style diplomacy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Alon Liel - (Opinion) January 13, 2010 - 1:00am

The humiliating meeting held by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon with Turkey’s ambassador to Israel attests to a new kind of diplomacy invented by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The content of the conversation was barely mentioned, but rather, only its style was: Seating the ambassador on a low seat, refraining from shaking his hand, pummeling him, and later stressing this was about pulverizing him – these are all new rules of diplomacy. The incident made the Foreign Ministry look ridiculous internationally, and not only in the context of our ties with Turkey.

Hamas wants rocket fire halt to avoid Israeli retaliation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

Hamas in Gaza tried to ease tension with Israel and Egypt on Tuesday, urging other Palestinians to stop firing rockets into the Jewish state and promising Cairo answers over the shooting of an Egyptian soldier at the border. Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Islamist movement's government in the coastal enclave, said other armed groups in the Gaza Strip should observe what has amounted to a ceasefire since Israel's major offensive a year ago. That, Haniyeh said, was in the interests of protecting Gazans from Israeli attacks.

Sharon's real legacy - keeping the Arabs out of sight
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) January 13, 2010 - 1:00am

Let's assume the optimistic forecast by special U.S. envoy George Mitchell comes true and in two years the establishment of an independent Palestine is declared at a ceremony. The event will be broadcast on prime time, but most Israelis will opt to view "Big Brother 6," "Survivor 7" or whatever the next television hit is. Viewers will behave this way not because they oppose a Palestinian state but because they are indifferent. Palestine-shmalestine simply does not interest them.

Fayyad launches settlement good boycott fund
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 13, 2010 - 1:00am

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad launched on Tuesday the National Dignity Fund, as part of an initiative undertaken by the Palestinian Authority to rid the Palestinian market of settlement goods at a ceremony in the Red Crescent headquarters in Al-Birreh, Ramallah. The National Dignity Fund aims at increasing the availability of Palestinian produce in local markets, in addition to strengthening their presence in global markets as an alternative to goods made on illegal Israeli settlements, Fayyad said during his speech.

Abu Al-Gheit: Either 2 states or 1 state for 2 peoples
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 13, 2010 - 1:00am

Cairo – Ma’an – Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit asserted on Tuesday evening that Egypt insists on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied in 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, Egyptian media reported. Abu Al-Gheit explained that his recent visit to Washington with Chief of Intelligence Omar Suleiman was undertaken to compel the US administration to exert pressure on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to agree on Egypt's call for renewed peace talks, he said speaking in an interview with Egypt's Channel 2.

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