NEWS: Israel's leadership is outraged by a settler attack on military bases.The second phase of the Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange is underway. A senior Hamas leader says he very much doubts elections can be held in May. Rights groups say Israel and settlers are destroying more Palestinian homes and wells than ever. Thousands in Gaza attend a Hamas anniversary rally. Israeli extremists clash with police after attacking a historically significant mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. DM Barak says Israeli extremists need to be treated like terrorist groups. Israeli rights groups say a record number of Palestinians have been displaced by home demolitions in the past year.Israeli and Palestinian officials meet to discuss water issues. PM Netanyahu is moving to consolidate his domestic power. COMMENTARY: Thomas Friedman says Newt Gingrich hit a new low in pandering to Israel by suggesting Palestinians are “an invented people.” Haaretz says that Israel must impose its law on settlers. Bradley Burston says Newt Gingrich needs to do a lot of homework. Carlo Strenger says the Middle East is ready to accept Israel if PM Netanyahu will let it. Donniel Hartman says Israel doesn't need would-be American “friends” denying Palestinian peoplehood. Danny Danon says Israel did not mean to offend Jewish Americans with ads warning against life in the United States, but Liora Halperin says it did. Aeyal Gross says it's easy to imagine how Israel would have reacted to rock throwing Palestinians as opposed to settlers. Yossi Alpher says the current peace process paradigm is dead and needs an alternative urgently, and Ghassan Khatib says Israeli extremism is the reason why.

Amid tensions with allies abroad, Netanyahu shoring up power at home
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Matthew Wagner - December 13, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- He may be a lightning rod for criticism abroad, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is consolidating power at home. On Dec. 5, Netanyahu announced that elections for leadership of his Likud Party would be held Jan. 31. The decision came as something of a surprise; primaries in Israel were expected to be held closer to the next general elections, which are set for October 2013.

Erdan, PA agree: Increase water cooperation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Sharon Udasin - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

While clashing on most issues fundamental to the Israeli-Palestinian water crisis, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and Palestinian Water Minister Dr. Shaddad Attili agreed that today’s operations must change and that cooperation between the two entities must grow stronger, at a conference in Ashdod on Tuesday. Since the Oslo Interim Agreement of 1995, the Joint Water Committee has served as the body responsible for allocating water to the Palestinians and managing the treatment of West Bank sewage.

'Record number of Palestinians being displaced'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Ben Hartman - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

An all-time high number of Palestinians have been displaced from their homes as a result of house demolitions east of the Green Line, a consortium of left-wing groups said on Tuesday. “Israeli authorities have stepped up unlawful demolitions in the West Bank including east Jerusalem over the past year, displacing a record number of Palestinian families from their homes,” the statement released by over 20 groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam International said.

Barak: Israel must treat Jewish extremists like a terror group
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Tomer Zarchin - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel needs to see if the actions of right-wing extremist could be legally defined as terror, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday, as Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman weighed emergency measures in the wake of recent price tag attacks and assaults on IDF troops.

Israel right-wing activists clash with Jerusalem police following price tag attack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Oz Rosenberg - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Dozens of right-wing activists clashed with police officers in Jerusalem on Wednesday, amid attempts to arrest suspects linked to recent so-called price tag attacks. The rioters, some of whom reside in the capital's Kiryat Moshe neighborhood after being forced to leave the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, slashed the tires and smashed the windows of several police cars. Six rioters were arrested and taken under custody.

Hamas' Gaza anniversary draws tens of thousands
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak - December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Tens of thousands of Gazans turned out Wednesday for an anniversary rally of the ruling Hamas, a demonstration of strength for the Islamic militant movement ahead of Palestinian general elections tentatively set for the spring. The annual rally has become an increasingly elaborate exercise in stagecraft since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 following internal fighting with forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel razing more Palestinian homes, wells-monitors
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Allyn Fisher-Ilan - December 13, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Israel has stepped up its demolitions of Palestinian property in occupied land this year, razing double the number of homes and water wells from 2010, human rights groups said on Tuesday. The statement endorsed by 20 organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch further said Jewish settler violence against Palestinians had risen in 2011 and that Israel had sped up its expansion of settler enclaves.

Zahhar: No elections in May
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar said Tuesday it was unlikely that elections would be held in May as scheduled. In an interview with Egyptian media, Zahhar said a unity government and security committee needed to be formed to ensure a transparent vote, Cairo-based Al-Ahram reported. He questioned on what basis elections could be held as neither of these prerequisites had been met, according to the newspaper report citing the Middle East News Agency.

Second phase of prisoner swap underway
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 14, 2011 - 1:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – The Palestinian Prisoners' Society said Wednesday that the Israeli prison service has notified the detainees who will be released in the second phase of the prisoner swap deal. The society has released a list naming detainees it says will be freed. Israel released 477 prisoners on Oct. 18 and agreed to free an additional 550 detainees within two months in a captive exchange deal with Hamas to secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

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