Rep. Mike Honda says two states are the only path to peace in the Middle East. Hamas prisoners report that abuses in Palestinian jails ceased in October. The LA Times profiles a major West Bank highway that has been closed to Palestinian traffic. Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni says peace is possible. Reports suggest that a new US plan envisages a Palestinian state within two years, but Israeli FM Lieberman calls this "unrealistic" and orders his diplomats not to "grovel." A Ha'aretz commentary asks settlers what kind of future they are building, and another argues there is very little difference between the occupation and apartheid. PM Fayyad looks forward to a Palestinian state free of fences and settlements, and Pres. Abbas reiterates that a settlement freeze is the precondition for renewed negotiations. A commentary in the Guardian says Israel is using water to harass Bedouins. The National says Israel is ready for another war in Gaza which is "ready to explode," and profiles bereaved physician Izzeldin Abuelaish. Hamas says it would join Hezbollah in any future conflict with Israel. Time Magazine reviews a year of Mideast missteps. Egyptian clerics quarrel over the legitimacy of Egypt's new barrier along the Gaza border.

Egypt’s Steel Wall Sparks ‘Fatwa War’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Rachelle Kliger - January 3, 2010 - 1:00am

A religious ruling in support of the construction of a massive steel wall on the Egypt-Gaza border is drawing fire from fellow clerics. The steel wall intended to stop smuggling across the Egypt-Gaza border was declared permissible in a religious ruling, or fatwa, by the Islamic Studies College of the renowned Al-Azhar institution, drawing angry responses from other Muslim figures in Egypt, including from within Al-Azhar itself.

Peacemaking in the Mideast: Obama's Year of Missteps
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Time
by Massimo Calabresi - (Opinion) January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

It has taken President Obama just 10 months to achieve something each of his immediate predecessors delivered in their final year in office: failure in the Middle East peace process. Riding a wave of optimism in January, the President on his second day in office named retired Senator George Mitchell as his Middle East special envoy, tasked with kick-starting the dormant negotiations over a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hamas vows to fight with Hizbullah in next war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
January 4, 2010 - 1:00am

Hamas official in Lebanon Ali Baraka vowed on Sunday to fight alongside Hizbullah in the next Israeli war on Lebanon. “We are guests in Lebanon and our policy will not change,” Baraka said during a memorial service to mark one week since the death of two Hamas members in a mysterious explosion in Beirut’s southern suburbs. “However, we are committed to resisting Israeli occupation” forces,” he added. “Israel should know that if it launched a new attack against Lebanon, we will not stand handcuffed.

Gaza remains under pressure and ‘waiting to explode’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - January 2, 2010 - 1:00am

A year on from Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s offensive in Gaza, the threads of a possible Middle East peace are so knotted that they look impossible to disentangle. A right-wing government in Tel Aviv has dared to snub the US administration by barely enforcing what has become a partial and very temporary freeze on the expansion of its settlement programme in the West Bank. Israeli generals, meanwhile, proclaim that they are gearing up for an even fiercer repeat of the attack on Gaza last winter that killed around 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

‘No one can take me away from Gaza’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hamida Ghafour - January 2, 2010 - 1:00am

For weeks the defining image of Israel’s military siege of the Gaza Strip was a distant haze of smoke rising from the ground, sanitised footage that told nothing of the horrors of war. But in the late afternoon of January 16, Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish broke through the silence imposed by the Israeli government’s news blockade and for a few minutes the raw, unfathomable grief of a father whose three daughters and niece had been killed minutes before rang out to the world.

Israel calm but ready to pull trigger, analysts say
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - January 4, 2010 - 1:00am

A year after the Israeli offensive on Gaza, the ceasefire continues to hold and 2009 saw Israel register the lowest number of incidents of Palestinian-Israeli violence in the decade just ended, according to a report released last week by the country’s internal security agency Nevertheless, Israeli analysts will not rule out another war on Gaza, even if Israeli leaders are wary of the political cost. The question is not whether, but under what circumstances, renewed conflict might break out, the analysts say.

Hung out to dry in the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Seth Freedman - (Opinion) January 3, 2010 - 1:00am

At first glance, the bedouin community of Ras al-Awja seem unaffected by the political turbulence that engulfs the rest of the region. Situated between the sprawling desert city of Jericho and the imposing mountains of the Judean desert, the bedouins' encampment is a hive of activity – not least because the birthing season is in full swing.

Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman tells envoys not to grovel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
(Editorial) January 3, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel's hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has told Israeli ambassadors to stop "grovelling" and defend their national honour. He told a shocked audience of some 150 envoys in Jerusalem to "stop turning the other cheek" whenever Israel was insulted, Israeli media report. The envoys were reportedly given no right of reply at the conference. "We received a monologue without being able to hold a discussion," one unnamed ambassador told Haaretz newspaper. 'A response to everything'

'Recent change of atmosphere may mean time is ripe for talks'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
(Editorial) January 4, 2010 - 1:00am

Peace talks with the Palestinians must resume without preconditions, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday. Speaking at the opening of the Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu said, "My impression is that in recent weeks, there has been a change of atmosphere. I hope that the time is now ripe to move the peace process forward."

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