Egypt constructs huge Gaza wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Ben Lynfield - December 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Egypt has reportedly begun building an underground iron wall along its border with the Gaza Strip in a major upgrading of its efforts to end smuggling through tunnels. Egyptian security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the wall project is under way. Local residents reported Egyptian clearing work was in progress 90 metres from the border over the last three weeks.

Egypt denies building 'Gaza wall'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Egypt has denied it is constructing an underground steel barrier along its strip with the Gaza border in an attempt to seal off smuggling tunnels built by Palestinians. Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported that Egypt was installing a metal wall up to 30 metres deep along the strip used by Palestinians to break the Israeli blockade of the territory. The paper reported that the wall would be nearly 10km long as "impossible to cut or melt".

Egypt’s wall is not the cause of Gaza’s woes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The news is sure to inflame the Arab world: Egypt is building, with US help, a new wall to prevent Gazans from tunnelling into the country. This development becomes all the more contentious since it comes nearly one year after the devastating Israeli assault on the Palestinian territory. But cooler heads must prevail. Any backlash against Egyptian authorities would be undeserved. It is Israel’s blockade, not Egypt’s wall that is starving the Palestinians.

In Shift, Oren Calls J Street ‘A Unique Problem’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Josh Nathan-Kazis - December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Breaking with his previous restraint, Israel’s ambassador to the United States delivered an unprecedented blast against J Street, the new dovish Israel lobby that has made waves in Washington and throughout the Jewish community. Addressing a breakfast session at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s biennial convention December 7, Ambassador Michael Oren described J Street as “a unique problem in that it not only opposes one policy of one Israeli government, it opposes all policies of all Israeli governments. It’s significantly out of the mainstream.”

State Dept. blames Goldstone for stalled peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The Goldstone report drove the Israelis and Palestinians apart, a U.S. State Department official said. The aside by Assistant U.S. Secretary of State P.J. Crowley in a briefing for reporters Tuesday was the clearest signal of U.S. frustration with the United Nations Human Rights Council report into last winter's Gaza war, authored by South African Justice Richard Goldstone, that recommended war crimes charges against Israel and Hamas.

PA plans dollar-pegged currency
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Jonathan Ferziger, Alisa Odenheimer - December 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinians plan to resurrect the pound from a six-decade hiatus if they manage to build a state, securing its value with a dollar or multicurrency peg, according to Palestine Monetary Authority Governor Jihad al-Wazir. Wazir, the closest thing Palestinians have to a central-bank chief, also said in an interview that he was fighting to stop Hamas from tampering with Gaza Strip banks and to strengthen the financial system for a "tough" year ahead. For advice, he sometimes turns to Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer.

Disappointed US scales back its Middle East diplomacy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - December 11, 2009 - 1:00am

With the Palestinians refusing to return to the negotiations, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not calling for a complete settlement freeze and the Arab world declining to make any gestures to Israel, the current sense in Jerusalem is that the US is scaling back its intensive involvement in the diplomatic process. The best example of this is that US Middle East envoy George Mitchell has not been to the region in over a month and is not now expected to come back until January, after the holiday season in the US.

'PA police cornerstone of future state'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Lappin - December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The development of a fully functioning Palestinian civilian police force is a crucial cornerstone for the establishment of a Palestinian state, the head of an EU mission set up to bolster Palestinian police in the West Bank said during a press conference in Ramallah on Wednesday. British Chief Constable (ret.) Paul Kernaghan, the outgoing head of the EU Police Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS), said his vision was "to see the Palestinian Civil Police [PCP] operating alone on the streets of Palestine."

Israel's talks with Vatican fail
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel's efforts to reach understandings and achieve reconciliation with the Vatican have failed for the time being. The talks between Israeli officials and the Vatican have hit a dead-end, Ynet learned Thursday. The failure mostly stems from disagreement in respect to the Vatican's demand for sovereignty at the Last Supper Room on Jerusalem's Mount Zion. The Vatican also upheld its objection to the confiscation of Church land across Israel for public purposes.

Bibi, Barak at odds on priorities map
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - December 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking into possible amendments to the designation of national priority regions in Israel, while one of his main coalition partners, the Labor Party, is expressing its displeasure with the scheme. The PM is looking into various proposals presented to him, the PM's Office said Thursday evening in the wake of harsh criticism of the plan. The national priority designation, which includes the settlements, has irked the Labor party, with Defense Minister Ehud Barak announcing that he will attempt to delay a government discussion of the issue.

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