The situation in Gaza is improving, but Israel is nervous. The US searches for plan B on peace, and will test the parties on core issues. Aaron David Miller says the administration should not overreach. Hamas says time is on its side. Israel shoots down a balloon near its nuclear reactor. An Israeli expert says it cannot defeat Hezbollah. The PA presses for authority in more of the West Bank. Despite a court order, Israel seizes Palestinian land for a new train line. The PA is investigating whether Mohammed Dahlan is forming a militia in the West Bank. Steven Klein says unilateral Palestinian independence is the best option. The Jerusalem Post publishes a leaked cable on US Middle East policy. Larry Derfner and George Hishmeh both praise Latin American recognition of Palestine. Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, as well as Hassan Haidar, say peace may no longer be possible. AIPAC considered itself targeted by a government espionage investigation. Rami Khouri says the US needs a bold new approach.

One way out for the Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) December 17, 2010 - 1:00am

President Barack Obama described the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections last month as a “shellacking”; he was praised for his outright admission of his shocking defeat. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave him (and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) an unprecedented slap in the face by refusing to freeze his colonial expansion into occupied Palestinian territory, which now houses some 500,000 Israelis; the American head of state remained speechless, seemingly bowing his head down.

US mediation faces its biggest test
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) December 17, 2010 - 1:00am

The American government’s decision to change its approach to mediating an Arab-Israeli comprehensive peace agreement, by dropping its insistence on an Israeli freeze in settlement construction as a prerequisite for moving ahead, confirms several important things. It proves that the US can be decisive, persistent, realistic, patient, pragmatic and humble - all admirable and important qualities in a mediator. The problem is that the US has proved again that the most important attribute for a mediator is the one it has never mastered in recent years: success.

The Illusion of Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Hassan Haidar - (Opinion) December 17, 2010 - 1:00am

Ever since Obama arrived at the White House, Israel has exerted every effort possible to convince him that the priority of his foreign policy should be the Iranian issue and preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, either through intensified sanctions or through military action, and that he would easily find solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if the nuclear threat from Iran were to cease and Tehran’s influence in Gaza, Lebanon and other places were to be reduced.

Dropping Goal of Direct Talks, U.S. Will Now Test Both Sides on Core Issues
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - December 15, 2010 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly promised that he will “surprise the critics and the skeptics” with his willingness to demonstrate flexibility and to compromise in order to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. Now, with Washington adopting a new approach toward Middle East peacemaking, Netanyahu’s willingness is about to be put to the test.

AIPAC viewed U.S. gov’t as targeting pro-Israel groups during espionage probe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - December 16, 2010 - 1:00am

It was a case that transfixed the pro-Israel community: the arrest in August 2005 on espionage charges of two senior officials at the most influential pro-Israel group in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Before the government dropped the case in May 2009 amid questions of whether the officials actually committed a crime by talking to Israeli officials about classified information one of them had received alleging an Iranian plot against Israelis stationed in Iraq, AIPAC fired the two men: foreign policy chief Steve Rosen and Iran analyst Keith Weissman.

These concrete constraints have quashed any hope of peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Hussein Agha, Robert Malley - (Opinion) December 17, 2010 - 1:00am

After weeks of fruitless endeavour, the United States has finally – and wisely – given up on its efforts to secure a renewed freeze on Israeli settlement construction in order to relaunch direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Yet, amid speculation over how Israelis and Palestinians might now resume their talks, a reality is taking hold: the point is fast approaching where negotiations between the two will be, for all practical purposes and for the foreseeable future, over. As emissaries are dispatched and ideas explored, discussions could well carry on.

Rattling The Cage: Goodbye Obama, hello world
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - (Opinion) December 15, 2010 - 1:00am

Recognition by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay is a welcome gesture of impatience at Israel’s denial of Palestinians’ right to statehood in pre-1967 borders. Thank you, Argentina. Thank you, Brazil. Thank you, Uruguay. No, these countries didn’t help fight the Carmel Forest fire, but they just aided Israel in another way by recognizing the state of Palestine. Of course, not all Israelis see it like this. Most, rather, see these countries’ recognition of Palestine as a hostile, anti-Israeli, “delegitimizing” act.

WikaLikes: US ME policy recalibration, Dec. 2010
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by David Horovitz - (Opinion) December 17, 2010 - 1:00am

Secretary of state: This cable sets out amended assessments, priorities for relevant interactions on Israeli-Palestinian Issues. Friday, 10 December 2010, 15:25 S E C R E T STATE NOFORN DECL: 11/18/2035 SUBJECT: (S) REORIENTATION OF POLICY PRIORITIES: ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT 1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: This cable sets out amended assessments, priorities for relevant interactions on Israeli-Palestinian Issues (paragraph 2-end) by Department personnel and other Country Team members.

Forget the negotiating table
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Steven Klein - (Opinion) December 17, 2010 - 1:00am

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, frustrated perhaps by the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, declared last week that it is time to grapple with the "core issues of the conflict," adding that the United States recognizes "that a Palestinian state achieved through negotiations is inevitable." How do I break this to you, Ms. Secretary of State? If you haven't heard the news, the settling of ethno-political conflicts by negotiations is anything but inevitable.

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