March 27th

Blair Urges Middle East Progress
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 27, 2008 - 12:10pm

Palestinians and Israelis must try to improve living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to keep the peace process alive ahead of a visit by US President George W. Bush in May, Envoy for the Quartet of Middle East Peace Brokers, Tony Blair, said on Tuesday.   Blair also told the European Parliament that progress in the peace talks was crucial to build both sides' confidence in the negotiations and to show that Palestinians could take charge of security, and called for a new strategy on dealing with the Hamas -run Gaza Strip.

Fatah Says Hamas Must Cede Gaza Before Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ali Sawafta - March 27, 2008 - 12:07pm

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction on Wednesday ruled out talks with Hamas unless the Islamist group first cedes control of Gaza, casting doubt on a Yemen-sponsored reconciliation push. Fatah and Hamas, which seized control of the coastal enclave last June, agreed in Yemen this week to revive direct talks after months of hostilities to "return the Palestinian situation to what it was before the Gaza incidents."

Abbas: Talks With Israel Touch On All Core Issues Including J'lem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 27, 2008 - 12:05pm

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said that talks between chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are tackling "all the core issues without exception: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, borders, and security." "We hope to achieve a settlement in 2008, there are many obstacles but we hope they will be removed. We are all pressing to reach a settlement by the target date," Abbas said.

We Heard You, Mr. Boim
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Kadura Fares - (Opinion) March 27, 2008 - 12:03pm

Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim explained away the construction of 750 new housing units in the settlement of Givat Ze'ev by saying that the permits had been issued in 1999, but that construction had stopped due to, as he put it, the "outbreak of violence." That is, the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising. According to Boim, the contractors went to court, and as a result of their petition, the government ordered the construction's approval. Boim was talking, it seems to me, to Israelis and overseas leaders critical of the renewed construction.

March 25th

Chasm In Arab World: Half Of Its Leaders Skipping Damascus Meet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoav Stern - (Opinion) March 25, 2008 - 6:10pm

"The strength of the Arabs is in their solidarity" is the slogan of the Arab League Summit in Damascus, but it seems the Arab world has not been this fragmented for a very long time. The leaders of at least 12 Arab countries will not attend the summit that opens, according to remarks by Arab sources to Haaretz on Monday. They also said no significant decisions will be made at the summit.

Israeli Defense Sources: Hamas Wants To Maintain Gaza Quiet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amoss Harel - March 25, 2008 - 6:09pm

Hamas is interested at this stage in maintaining the lull in fighting against the Israel Defense Forces along the Gaza Strip border, defense officials suggested Monday. Likewise, Egypt is keeping up heavy pressure on Hamas leaders in Gaza not to deviate from the understandings reached with it regarding the suspension of fighting.

Danger: Weak State Ahead
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yehezkel Dror - (Opinion) March 25, 2008 - 6:08pm

One of the most serious challenges facing the country is a deterioration of statehood. In some crucial ways, Israel can be seen as a weak state that has a difficult time making decisions about controversial issues and implementing them, especially when it faces zealous opposition from Jewish minority groups. It's a dangerous situation to be in, as the enormous achievements of the first 60 years of the state do not in and of themselves guarantee its continued growth, or even its very existence, in the future.

Palestinian Sourcs: Israeli Pardons 36 Wanted Suspects
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - March 25, 2008 - 6:01pm

  The Palestinians were also told that next week they will receive a list of dozens of other suspects who will be granted a full pardon   In July 2007, Ynet was the first to report the agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that saw 240 members of the al-Aqsa Brigades embark on a three-month probation period, ahead of a final decision on a pardon.

Why Attend The Damascus Summit?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq Alhomayed - (Opinion) March 25, 2008 - 5:59pm

I see no reason for surprise over Saudi Arabia's decision to send its representative [Ahmad Qattan, Saudi's ambassador to the Arab League] to attend the Arab Summit in Damascus. In fact; the question that needs to be posed is this: Why attend? Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallim made an announcement a few days ago in which he said that the success of the forthcoming summit lies in the fact that it will convene in Damascus and without any delays "despite pressure and blackmail attempts".

Cheney Accuses Iran And Syria Of Sabotaging Peace Process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
March 25, 2008 - 5:58pm

US Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday hit out at Iran and Syria as he wrapped up a Middle East peace push, saying the two countries were undermining the renewed but faltering Israeli-Palestinian talks. Iran and Syria "are doing everything they can to torpedo the peace process," Cheney told reporters in Occupied Jerusalem as he wrapped up a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories before heading to Turkey.

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