December 22nd

Israel will ask for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. The UN expresses “serious concerns” over home demolitions. The PA says it will set dates for new municipal elections. Israel is concerned about Hamas' antitank capability. The Latin Patriarch calls for peace. Ha'aretz says PM Netanyahu is to blame for Israel's international reputation. Racist protests erupt in Israel. The PA warns against a new Israeli attack on Gaza, and both sides fear war could happen inadvertently. Deputy FM Ayalon says Jewish refugees must be part of the negotiations. Brazil is emerging as a Middle East player. Palestinian PR efforts seem to be getting better of Israel's. Ghassan Khatib says we may be shifting into a multilateral phase in the peace process. Akram Baker says the US knows what needs to be done to push the parties to a peace agreement.

The same song in a different key
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Akram Baker - (Opinion) December 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Much has been said about United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's December 10 speech at the Brookings Institute. Analysis has ranged from it being admission of complete failure on the part of the Obama administration and a win for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (with US President Barack Obama backing down on the settlements) to some in Palestinian-American circles declaring it a victory for the Palestinians (with the withdrawal of the much-criticized, so-called US "security sweetener" package for Israel in return for a 90-day settlement-building moratorium).

US shift may mean end of bilateral approach
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - December 22, 2010 - 1:00am

The recent shift in the American approach for running the peace process left the Palestinians with different and sometimes contradicting reactions. Initially, the Palestinians were very worried after news leaked about possible American-Israeli negotiations over a deal that would involve American incentives to convince Israel to freeze settlement activities for two or three months. As one leading Palestinian politician put it, each one of these incentives could be potentially more dangerous to the Palestinians than the continuity of settlement activities themselves.

Palestinians one-up Israeli PR machine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - (Analysis) December 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel's public relations machine has long been one of the country's most formidable weapons in the Middle East conflict, but Palestinians have managed to one-up the Israelis recently, earning some noteworthy diplomatic support for their statehood ambitions. Ever since direct negotiations were suspended earlier this year, Palestinian diplomats have criss-crossed the world, visiting capitals in Europe and the Americas to gain support.

Palestinians gain ground in PR, diplomatic war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Uriel Heilman - December 22, 2010 - 1:00am

In the long-running Palestinian-Israeli conflict, score some recent victories for the Palestinians. It’s not that Israel has given an inch in the territorial dispute over the West Bank, or that the Palestinians in Gaza have achieved new military victories against the Israelis, despite increased rocket and mortar fire from the coastal strip in recent weeks. Rather, the Palestinians have scored a series of diplomatic and public-relations successes against a Jewish state weakened by fraying relationships and a declining reputation internationally.

Brazil: a new face in the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Nimrod Novik - December 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Despite the worldwide economic downturn, Brazil's economic performance is the strongest in recent memory. Inflation is under target and international reserves stand at around $240bn (£155bn). This, in turn, has created a space for Brazilian diplomatic activity that reaches far wider than in the past. Partnerships with South Africa and India through the IBSA dialogue forum, a rising presence in Africa and the Middle East, and the strategic partnerships with China and the EU are all examples of Brazil's emergence on the international stage.

Jewish refugees must not be neglected in peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Danny Ayalon - (Opinion) December 22, 2010 - 1:00am

For a long time now, we have been wanting and waiting to sit down and talk. After all, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not short of talking points that need to be urgently resolved. Unfortunately, however, instead of both sides discussing the problems, the Palestinians seem more comfortable issuing demands.

An unwitting slide toward Cast Lead II?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz - December 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Almost two years ago to the day, Operation Cast Lead began, and here, Israel and Hamas are back to fighting again. A large-scale conflict has yet to evolve, but in the eyes of both sides, there is no question that the current escalation could easily lead to Cast Lead II – which neither side wants at the moment.

PA fears new Israeli offensive on Gaza, Erekat says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
December 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat on Wednesday expressed concern over Israel's latest attacks on the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported. Erekat stated that the Palestinian Authority fears Israel will launch a new large scale attack on Gaza, following escalated tensions in the area. The PA negotiator added that military measures will not solve anything and will only make things worse. On Tuesday, Israel pounded Hamas targets throughout the Gaza Strip in the most extensive aerial bombardment since Operation Cast Lead two years ago.

Upsurge in racism as protesters take to the streets against Arabs, migrant workers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nir Hasson - December 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Just weeks after several dozen state-employed rabbis ignited a major controversy by issuing a letter calling on Israeli Jews not to rent or sell their homes to non-Jews, and one day after an anti-Arab demonstration in Bat Yam, Tuesday saw two more incidents in the rising tide of hatred and racism that appears to be sweeping the country.

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