DM Barak shakes up Israeli politics by leaving the Labor Party but stays in the government, and visit soldiers in Nablus. Upheavals in Tunisia spur Palestinian officials to issue reassurances about the Palestinian economy. Russia confirms its commitment to an independent Palestinian state. Israeli authorities approve 122 new settler housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians are expected to submit a Security Council resolution condemning settlements this week. A Hamas operative dies in a tunnel collapse. Uriel Reichman says if Israel does not come up with a peace strategy of it own, the US or UN will act alone. Carlo Strenger says the Israeli right has caused the country’s international isolation. PM Netanyahu says he is determined to go forward with peace talks. Israeli women are harassed by the Israeli authorities for consistent outreach to the Palestinians. John Ging leaves his position as head of UNRWA. Tony Karon says Russian immigrants have pushed Israeli politics to the aggressive nationalist right.

Israel finds no rebuttal to Russian immigrant rhetoric
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Tony Karon - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Snap quiz: Which was the first country to recognise Israel at the United Nations? No, not the United States, nor any other western country. It was, in fact, the Soviet Union.

UN director in Gaza quits for new post
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - January 17, 2011 - 1:00am

John Ging, the high-profile director of the UN relief agency in Gaza, is to quit his current post to take up a senior UN job in New York. Ging, 45, who has worked in Gaza since 2006, has been an enthusiastic and effective advocate for the rights of the Gazan population and a vocal critic of Israeli government policy. He has been the target of assassination attempts and death threats in Gaza, and Islamist opponents have attacked projects he has promoted.

Israel's 'disobedient women' questioned over illegal trips for Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

In a small village between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, I joined a remarkable group of women and children for lunch last weekend, a noisy and cheerful crowd enjoying plates of chicken, fish, rice and salad. All of them were breaking the law. The party consisted of around 20 mostly middle-aged Israeli women, slightly fewer and younger Palestinian women and a handful of the latter's children.

Russia reaffirms recognition of Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

The Russian president, on a rare visit to the West Bank, has reaffirmed Moscow's recognition of an independent Palestinian state. Dmitry Medvedev said Russia had recognised the state in 1988 and his country's position remained unchanged. The Russian premier's visit seeks to revive a collapsed peace process. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is seeking the country's support for a tougher stance towards Jewish settlements at the UN Security Council.

Peace process under threat as Barak goes to war with his party
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Catrina Stewart - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, abruptly quit as leader of the Labour Party yesterday, plunging the party into disarray and casting a shadow over prospects for peace. The announcement prompted the resignation of three Labour ministers from the government, robbing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hawkish coalition of its more moderate voices. Mr Netanyahu is left with a slender majority to govern, but he is now potentially more vulnerable to pressure from the far-right members of his coalition.

Encountering Peace: To be suspect
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) January 17, 2011 - 1:00am

From the age of 14 until making aliya at 22 I was an activist and leader in the Zionist youth movement Young Judaea. Aliya, as we were taught and as we imparted to many others who we inspired to follow in our footsteps, was not simply a change of address. “Moving up” to Israel had to involve a qualitative change of life based on the most important of values – tikkun olam, repairing the world, or more specifically, making our world a better place. These are the most fundamental principles on which I have become the person that I am today.

Ehud Barak quits Israel's Labour to form new party
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak says he is resigning as head of the Labour party to form his own faction. Mr Barak is heading a breakaway group - Independence - which includes four other Labour MPs, reports say. Correspondents say the move strengthens Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition, as it allows Mr Barak's party to remain in government. Labour is due to vote on whether to quit the coalition over Mr Netanyahu's handling of the Mid-East peace process.

PM determined to advance peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Attila Somfalvi - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to speed up the dialogue with the United States in a bid to renew the regional peace process, state officials said Monday night. According to one of the sources, "(Defense Minister Ehud) Barak's departure (from the Labor Party) will make it possible to clarify to the Palestinians that the chance for moving up the elections is far smaller than it was before."

Barak escapes political drama in Nablus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Hanan Greenberg - January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak chose to escape Monday's political drama by visiting the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday morning. "We have embarked on a new road, but Nablus is not the place to discuss these things. I came here to pat the soldiers on the shoulder and shake hands with the commanders," Barak said when asked about his decision to split from the Labor Party and establish a new faction.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017