December 18th

Israel: Palestinian Militants Fire Rockets From Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - December 18, 2008 - 1:00am

Palestinian militants in Gaza fired barrages of rockets at Israel for a second day on Wednesday, escalating tensions before a six-month truce is due to expire on Friday. One rocket landed in the parking lot of a busy shopping center in Sderot, an Israeli town near the Gaza border, wounding two civilians. At least 13 more rockets landed in open areas, according to the Israeli police, and the air force destroyed an armed rocket launcher in northern Gaza. The truce, which began on June 19, started to unravel in early November.

December 17th

The settlers' presence is a time bomb waiting to happen
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Saed Shukhy - (Opinion) December 17, 2008 - 1:00am

The settler riots earlier this month were some of the worst instances of violence in Hebron in many years. But they were not isolated incidents and cannot be divorced from the brittle situation in Hebron that is a direct result of the city's fanatical settler presence, nor from the provocation of the settlement project in occupied Palestinian territory in general.

Middle East needs Obama’s touch
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Richard N. Haass, Martin Indyk - (Opinion) December 17, 2008 - 1:00am

President Barack Obama will face a series of challenges in the Middle East demanding urgent attention: an Iraq that could still unravel, an Iran approaching the nuclear threshold, a faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and weak governments in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories challenged by strong militant Islamist groups. He will also discover that time is working against him. But with changes in policy, the incoming president can capitalise on new opportunities rather than be overwhelmed by old realities in this critical and troubled region.

Quartet makes fresh bid to revive talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
December 17, 2008 - 1:00am

The UAE participated in a meeting held by the Arab liaison group of the Arab League with the Middle East Quartet to discuss ways of reviving Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations and stepped up calls to both sides to take the necessary steps to bolster negotiations. The Quartet, in a top-level meeting hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, called on the Palestinians to continue their efforts to reform the security services.

Israelis Continue to Abuse Palestinian Prisoners
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mel Frykberg - December 17, 2008 - 1:00am

Israel released over 200 Palestinians from Israeli jails in a "goodwill gesture" Monday. This followed the Muslim feast of Eid Al-Adha and was an attempt to boost the waning popularity of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Several prisoners spoke to the assembled local and international media about their time in detention. They accused the Israelis of maltreating and physically abusing detainees despite Israeli claims that torture and the abuse of prisoners have been outlawed and no longer occur.

Brown urges Olmert to lift curbs on Palestinian economy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 17, 2008 - 1:00am

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday urged Israel's caretaker leader Ehud Olmert to ease constraints on the struggling Palestinian economy. Brown held talks with Olmert at Downing Street a day after joining Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, at a forum in London to promote British investment in the Palestinian territories. The pair also discussed the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which Brown described Monday as a "barrier that's got to be overcome" in the Middle East peace process.

Bush to meet Abbas on Friday: White House
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 17, 2008 - 1:00am

President George W. Bush plans to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Friday at the White House, spokeswoman Dana Perino said on Tuesday. "President Bush will welcome Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas to the White House on Friday, December 19th," Perino said. "The president looks forward to discussing with him our shared efforts toward peace in the Middle East, including progress in building capable Palestinian institutions, fostering economic development, and training and deploying Palestinian security forces in the West Bank," she said.

Rockets hit Israel after killing of Islamic Jihad man
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 17, 2008 - 1:00am

Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza responded to the killing of one of their members by Israeli forces in the Occupied West Bank by firing rockets into Israel on Tuesday. The retaliation by Gaza-based fighters was met with an Israeli air strike on the impoverished territory later in the day.

ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq Alhomayed - December 17, 2008 - 1:00am

The issue of charities has been raised once again in news reports in light of the recent Mumbai terror attacks. Accusations have been levelled against the Pakistani Islamist movement Lashkar-e-Taiba for carrying out the attacks and Pakistani authorities have cracked down on Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Islamabad’s largest charitable organization.

UN adopts Middle East resolution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
December 17, 2008 - 1:00am

The draft describes US-brokered talks between Israelis and Palestinians as "irreversible" and urges greater diplomatic efforts to secure a deal. The resolution is the first on the Middle East issue adopted by the 15-member council in almost five years. It passed by 14 votes to zero. One council member, Libya, abstained. The draft calls on both parties to "refrain from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations". It also urges an "intensification of diplomatic efforts" to build lasting peace in the Middle East.

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