Hamas turns away from its face of moderation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - (Analysis) December 16, 2010 - 1:00am

Ahmed Yousef, Palestinian intellectual, diplomat, and self-described public-relations extraordinaire, champions many causes. Bridging the chasm that divides Iran's Shiite theocracy from the Muslim world's majority Sunnis is one. Reconciling Islamist governance with democracy and human rights is another.

The PA cracks down on extremist preachers. The Arab League says new negotiations should be based on a “serious offer” on borders. Israel approves 24 new settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. Norway upgrades the diplomatic status of the Palestinian mission. Palestinians seek diplomatic recognition in Europe. Bethlehem is preparing for a prosperous Christmas but its mayor complains about ongoing occupation. The PLO condemns a House resolution threatening a cutoff of aid if Palestinian statehood is unilaterally declared. Israeli towns continue efforts to keep Arabs out. Carlo Strenger says Palestinians should not repeat the mistake of 1947. Elie Podeh says Israel never wanted peace. Rachel Shabi critiques Israel's claims about Jews from Arab states. The IRS denies it is targeting pro-Israel groups. A fired AIPAC staffer says the group was aware of his activities. Martin van Creveld says the occupied territories are not crucial for Israel's security. Daniel Levy says it's time for a more detailed American peace plan. US may seek a framework agreement. More moderate voices in Hamas seem to be sidelined.

US focus on framework agreement in peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - December 16, 2010 - 1:00am

George Mitchell, the US Middle East envoy, said yesterday that he hoped to make "real progress" in peace talks, even as media reports suggested that the Palestinians may be disappointed with Washington's efforts so far. Mr Mitchell met in Cairo with Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, on the third day of his visit to the region. "In the days ahead our discussions with both sides will be substantive, two-way conversations with an eye towards making real progress in the next few months on the key questions of an eventual framework agreement," he said.

Obstructing a Middle East Rescue Effort
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Daniel Levy - December 15, 2010 - 1:00am

Special Middle East envoy George Mitchell is back in the region conducting his shuttle diplomacy, settlement construction continues apace and the much-anticipated speech of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton managed to avoid hard choices. It’s business as usual, so presumably we can all relax — Israel has dodged another peace bullet. No so fast. I would suggest that recent events should have sent the gevalt-o-meter into the red zone for anyone concerned about Israel’s future or shared American-Israeli interests.

Israel Doesn’t Need the West Bank To Be Secure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Martin van Creveld - (Opinion) December 15, 2010 - 1:00am

When everything is said and done, how important is the West Bank to Israel’s defense?

Rosen Fires Back in His Law Suit Against AIPAC
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - December 15, 2010 - 1:00am

The American Public Affairs Committee has frequently condoned its employees’ receipt of classified information, according to documents filed in federal court by lawyers for Steve Rosen, a former senior official of the pro-Israel lobby. The new court filing, submitted December 15, offers Rosen’s response to claims by AIPAC that he acted improperly by obtaining classified information without the lobby’s knowledge while working on its behalf.

IRS: No ‘special’ policy for pro-Israel groups
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
December 15, 2010 - 1:00am

In affidavits, Internal Revenue Service officials denied telling a pro-Israel group that they checked whether such groups applying for tax-exempt status oppose the administration. “Z Street's application was not referred to the TAG group because of an ‘Israel Special Policy’ as alleged in Z Street's complaint,” Jon Waddell, the manager of the Exempt Organizations Determinations Group, said. TAG is an acronym for Touch and Go, the informal name for the Exempt Organizations Determinations Group, according to a report Tuesday by Politico.

The problem with Israel's Jewish 'refugee' initiative
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Rachel Shabi - (Opinion) December 16, 2010 - 1:00am

While the US has given up pressing for a freeze on illegal settlement building, one Israeli minister has been cranking up the volume on an issue he apparently considers more pressing. The deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, recently launched a new initiative to demand that Palestinians "recognise Jews who exiled from Arab lands as refugees". Ayalon's initiative is in alliance with Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), whose mission is to put this issue on the international agenda.

Bethlehem Is Booked for Christmas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Arieh O'Sullivan - December 16, 2010 - 1:00am

Amid unseasonably sunny December days in Bethlehem, it appears history is about to repeat itself. During the week of Christmas all the city’s hotels are fully booked for the first time in decades, which will leave some of the estimated 90,000 expected visitors without any room at the inn. Merchants in shops along its fabled cobblestone streets leading to Manger Square were busy preparing souvenirs for the flood of pilgrims converging on this West Bank town over the next month as Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Armenians celebrate the birth of their savior Jesus Christ.

Israel never really wanted peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Elie Podeh - (Opinion) December 16, 2010 - 1:00am

Peace may be a dream - but it is not our dream. The time has come to recognize the fact that Israel uses the rhetoric of peace, but does very little on the practical level toward achieving it. Anyone still clinging to the axiom that "we'll leave no stone unturned" needs to take a good look in the mirror. Is Israel truly laboring with determination and persistence to reach peace?

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