Jordan king urges more peace efforts from Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
February 2, 2010 - 1:00am

US President Barack Obama telephoned Jordan's King Abdullah II to discuss efforts to "overcome obstacles" facing the launch of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, the palace said. "The two leaders discussed Middle East developments, mainly efforts aimed at overcoming obstacles facing the launch of serious and effective Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in line with a two-state solution," a palace statement said.

West Bank settlement growth slows as freeze starts to bite
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - February 2, 2010 - 1:00am

The settlement freeze is having an impact, figures obtained by Haaretz reveal: In the second half of 2009, one third of all West Bank settlements experienced slower population growth than the average inside Israel - a larger proportion than during the first half.

Netanyahu risks Muslim wrath over Jerusalem holy site
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - February 2, 2010 - 1:00am

Will Netanyahu use a court decision to forgo a plan to alter the Mughrabi Gate? King Abdullah of Jordan is distancing himself from Israel's prime minister because of the violation of the status quo in East Jerusalem. The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is waiting in the corner for the slightest provocation against Islamic holy places by the Israeli government. The only trouble Benjamin Netanyahu is still missing is that of the Mughrabi Gate, at the entrance to the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary compound.

Hamas: Dubai assassins were likely Arabs, not Israelis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - February 2, 2010 - 1:00am

A preliminary investigation conducted by Hamas suggests that the assassination of one of its officials in Dubai last month was likely carried out by agents of an Arab government, and not by Israel's Mossad spy agency. When Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas official reportedly behind the smuggling of Iranian arms to Gaza, was found dead in his hotel room on January 20, the organization was quick to point the finger at Israeli intelligence, vowing revenge attacks. But details of a Hamas inquiry passed to Haaretz reveal that Arab states, not Israel, now top the suspect list.

Jordan criticized for stripping Palestinian rights
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Dale Gavlak - February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

A U.S.-based human rights group criticized Jordan Monday for stripping the citizenship of nearly 3,000 Jordanians of Palestinian origin in recent years. Nearly half the kingdom's 6 million people are of Palestinian origin and Jordan fears that if Palestinians become the majority, it will disrupt the delicate demographic balance. Those concerns have been heightened by some Israeli hard-liners who argue that neighboring Jordan should become the Palestinian state and that more West Bank Palestinians should be pushed into Jordan.

Iran blames Israel for Hamas commander killing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Fredrik Dahl, Reza Derakhshi - February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Iran blamed Israel on Tuesday for the killing of a Hamas commander in Dubai last month. Israel's government has declined official comment on the Jan. 20 death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, which the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Friday announced as an assassination. But Israeli security sources linked him to rockets and other arms that reach Gaza from Iran. "This is another indication of the existence of state terrorism by the Zionist regime (Israel)," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference.

Explosive devices float onto Israeli beaches
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ori Lewis - February 2, 2010 - 1:00am

At least two explosive devices have washed up on Israeli beaches in what security officials described on Tuesday as an attempt by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip to attack Israel. On Monday, sappers detonated one such device on a Mediterranean beach in the southern city of Ashkelon a few kilometres (miles) north of the Gaza Strip, police said. Another was discovered further north on a beach in the port city of Ashdod.

Haniyeh: Hamas isn't afraid of elections
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 2, 2010 - 1:00am

De facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Monday that Hamas seeks national reconciliation and is not afraid of elections "because we came to move forward and take responsibility and we will not back down under any circumstances." His remarks came during a ceremony honoring Gaza Transportation Minister Usama Al-Isawy. Haniyeh pointed out that the transportation sector has developed in a variety of ways, including new parking standards and the removal of unregistered cars, which he said once threatened residents' safety.

Swap talks over, Hamas official says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 2, 2010 - 1:00am

Prisoner swap negotiations with Israel will be stopped for an undetermined period of time, a Hamas official said, blaming the alleged assassination of a military wing co-founder, Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh. A senior official in Hamas, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Saudi daily Ukath that the 20 January assassination, allegedly carried out by agents of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, thwarted talks aimed at securing the release of some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one captured Israeli soldier.

Palestinian parliament expires four years after Hamas electoral upset
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Erin Cunningham - January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

Four years after Hamas won an upset victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, prompting swift international sanctions and a Western-led diplomatic boycott, the mandate for the parliament it dominated officially expired on Monday. According to the Palestinian Constitution, new parliamentary elections should have been held Sunday, Jan. 24, in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But continued political division between the West Bank, governed by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, has delayed the elections indefinitely.

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