Top US diplomat on the Middle East David Welch Urges Effective Diplomacy on Iran and Continuity on the Peace Process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Joyce Karam - December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

With less than five weeks left for the Bush administration in office, the top U.S. diplomat to the Middle East, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch, speaks to Al-Hayat in an exclusive interview discussing the long journey that Washington has taken in the region over the last eight years. The U.S. official who brokered the U.S.-Libyan comprehensive claims settlement agreement, calls for an effective diplomacy in the face of the increasing Iranian threat, and sees urgency in continuing the peace process and pursuing a two state solution:

Negotiator: Israel wants 6.8 percent of West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Aron Heller - December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

Israel proposed to annex 6.8 percent of the West Bank and to take in a few thousand refugees under a peace deal, but it has not revealed its position on the most contentious issue _ the future of Jerusalem, the chief Palestinian negotiators said Friday night. Ahmed Qureia said the Palestinian side did not consider the ideas presented on annexation and the return of some Palestinians to be acceptable.

Abbas to announce election date 'shortly'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will "shortly" announce a date for presidential and parliamentary elections, his spokesman said on Sunday. A general election is opposed by the Islamist Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip enclave, leaving the president's secular Fatah organisation in charge only of the West Bank region. "The president will shortly announce the date of presidential and parliamentary elections," Nabil abu Rudeina told AFP.

Hamas says truce in Gaza Strip will end on Thursday
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip said on Sunday that a troubled Cairo-brokered truce with Israel will not be renewed when it runs out later this week. But a spokesman for outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insisted his government remained keen to see the six-month-old truce extended beyond Thursday provided Hamas halted rocket and mortar fire against southern Israel.

Time to end the settlement project
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

The recent settler violence in Hebron, which was described by Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, as a pogrom, brought to the attention of Israelis and Palestinians the grave danger that settlements and settlers represent.

Israeli settlements are blockage to Middle East peace, says Gordon Brown
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Andrew Sparrow - December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

Israeli settlements on the West Bank represent a "blockage" in the Middle East peace process, Gordon Brown said today. At a news conference in Downing Street with Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Brown said he had consistently called for the settlements to be dismantled. Brown and Fayyad spoke before the opening in London of a two-day Palestine trade and investment forum, which is intended to promote Palestinian economic development.

Palestinian PM Fayyad says West Bank settlement must end for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ian Black - December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

Settlement activity in the occupied West Bank must stop at once if there is to be any prospect of reaching a two-state peace agreement with Israel, the Palestinian prime minister has warned in a Guardian interview. Salam Fayyad said he found it "devastating" that Israelis were not even debating the settlement issue in their election campaign. He warned that Palestinian support for his policy of reform and negotiation would collapse if prospects for a workable deal faded away. Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad talks to Ian Black Link to this audio

UN to drive Middle East peace settlement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Harvey Morris - December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

The United Nations Security Council is on Tuesday set to adopt its first resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in five years, to keep alive a search for a two-state solution in a remarkable period of political transition. With a new US president entering the White House in just over a month and elections due in Israel and probably in the Palestinian territories by next spring, the council plans to reaffirm international backing for a settlement. The text is less notable for its content than for the fact that it is sponsored jointly by the US and Russia.

Business can help unlock Palestine’s potential
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Salam Fayyad - (Opinion) December 14, 2008 - 1:00am

A full year after the Annapolis process began and with only two weeks before the end of 2008 – the target date for reaching a comprehensive Palestinian-Israeli agreement – one cannot but be disappointed that Palestinians and Israelis have yet to reach their shared goal of lasting peace. We Palestinians had also hoped that we would have had more to show on the ground for our commitment to the peace process.

Israel Urged to Ease Pressure on Palestinian Banks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Bob Davis - December 15, 2008 - 1:00am

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the heads of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank urged Israel's prime minister to ease Israeli pressure on the Palestinian banking system.

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