NEWS: Former PM Olmert is indicted on bribery charges. Israeli officials say they are rethinking their policy on prisoner swaps. The PA is transferring funds to Gaza to offset a financial crisis. Hamas leader Hanniyeh arrives in Tunis as his tour continues. Last year the PA prosecuted 517 merchants for violating the settlement goods ban. Israeli authorities say they are struggling to contain Jewish extremists in the occupied territories. The Israeli military rabbis distribute an image of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock erased. Hamas is adapting its positions, but not enough to join the peace process, experts say. Renewed negotiations with Israel may strengthen the hand of Pres. Abbas. COMMENTARY: Gideon Levy says Israel must salvage its relations with Turkey. Nahum Barnea says it's ridiculous to describe Jewish Americans critical of Israeli policy as “anti-Semites.” The Economist says the PLO has little choice but to seek a rapprochement with Hamas. Glenn Kessler says Rick Santorum is profoundly mistaken to claim that “no Palestinians live in the West Bank.” Aaron David Miller says admitting Palestine as a full member of the UN under current circumstances is a terrible idea, but Mustafa Barghouthi says it is essential. Hillel Neuer claims that Gaza is no longer under Israeli occupation. Michael Luongo looks at accusations of “pinkwashing" by Israel. Ronald Lauder says Israel should concentrate on upgrading its submarine forces to create more deterrence. Barak Ravid describes the background of the Jordanian-brokered Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Jordan King Abdullah's Christmas Eve initiative
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - (Blog) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

Last week, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh arrived in Bethlehem for the traditional Christmas Eve mass in the Church of the Nativity. Just before services began, Judeh met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and updated him on the recent push by Jordan and the Quartet on the Middle East – which includes the United States, Russia, the EU, and the UN – to organize a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian representatives in Amman.

The U.N. Should Accept Palestine as a Full Member State
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Slate
by Katy Waldman - (Opinion) January 4, 2012 - 1:00am

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi is gentle and soft-spoken, as befits a Palestinian leader known for his commitment to nonviolence. Currently Barghouthi, a medical doctor, serves as the general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, a political party based in the West Bank that seeks to provide moderate Palestinians with an alternative to what many consider Fatah’s corruption and Hamas’ extremism. “Politics can drive you to wrong decisions and wrong feelings, sometimes,” he told me during our phone conversation last week.

The Granddaddy of Dumb Ideas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Slate
by Aaron David Miller - (Opinion) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

It can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t happen. Such are the sad prospects of the Palestinian plan to achieve statehood through membership in the U.N.

Rick Santorum’s claim that ‘no Palestinian’ lives in the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Glenn Kessler - (Blog) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

“All the people that live in the West Bank are Israelis. They are not Palestinians. There is no Palestinian. This is Israeli land.” — Former senator Rick Santorum, Nov. 21. 2011 A blog on The Jewish Week Web site highlighted this statement on Monday, which was also captured on tape and posted on YouTube. (See clip at the end of the column.) The statement is somewhat reminiscent of former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s comment that the Palestinians are an “invented people.”

Hillel Neuer: The UN must recognize that Gaza is no longer an occupied territory
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from National Post
by Hillel Neuer - (Opinion) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

GENEVA — The UN’s continued labelling of the Gaza Strip as an “occupied” territory — even after a Hamas leader stated that it’s not — is no longer tenable. Mahmoud Zahhar, the co-founder of Hamas, confirmed that Gaza is not under Israeli occupation, in comments reported Tuesday by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an. Zahhar was casting doubt on whether Hamas would organize anti-Israel marches in Gaza, in conjunction with similar protests that the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority are organizing in the West Bank.

Rivals who may need each other
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Economist
(Analysis) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

FIVE years after Western governments sought to turn the West Bank into a model of statehood for peace-minded Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority (PA) that runs it is being cast adrift—possibly with dramatic consequences. The cafés of Ramallah, the Palestinians’ fledgling seat of government near Jerusalem, have been bereft of chattering aid workers from the West since the American administration withdrew its support in the wake of President Mahmoud Abbas’s controversial bid for full statehood at the UN in late 2011.

Israel vs. the NY Times
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Nahum Barnea - (Opinion) December 29, 2011 - 1:00am

Don Quixote devoted himself to tilting at windmills: In his imagination he viewed them as a menacing, monstrous enemy that must be destroyed. He is considered a romantic figure, a hero willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of his love and ideas. Yet with all this romance, people sometimes forget that Don Quixote did not fight real monsters, but rather, figments of his imagination. He was a hero, but a pathetic one.

Pinkwashing’s Complicated Context
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gay City News
by Michael Luongo - (Opinion) January 4, 2012 - 1:00am

Israel is known as the most advanced country in the Middle East on LGBT rights issues. It has openly gay politicians, a parade and bars in Tel Aviv, open service in the military, and a burgeoning queer film and arts scene. This positive atmosphere, however, is largely useful only if you happen to be Jewish and are living on a certain side of the West Bank separation wall.

I miss Ariel Sharon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Tzipi Livni - (Opinion) January 5, 2012 - 1:00am

Arik Sharon sank into a coma six years ago. All of us followed it and prayed with hope as the ambulance disappeared into the hospital. When today I try to think about the essence of the public longing for Sharon, six years later, it appears that the longing for Arik has turned into longing for a prime minister who does not fear domestic politics and who sees the welfare of the nation of Israel before him when making decisions.

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