U.S., Israel inch closer to deal on settlement freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell arrived in Israel Sunday and met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak as part of an ongoing effort to reach an agreement on construction in the settlements. The two are reportedly close to a deal in which Washington would allow a limited number of projects in advanced stages of construction to be completed, but Israel would freeze all other building for an as-yet undetermined period of time.

A shared Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Boston Globe
by James Carroll - (Opinion) July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

George Mitchell is in the Middle East, pressing for peace. His planned itinerary brackets Israel and Palestine with a start in Abu Dhabi and Syria and a conclusion in Bahrain and Egypt. The Obama administration’s determination to revivify the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is further indicated by the arrivals in the region next week of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, National Security Adviser James Jones, and special Middle East adviser Dennis Ross. President Obama has replaced the Bush policy of hands-off with a gloves-off readiness to push all parties hard.

IDF: More than 300,000 settlers live in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

There are now more than 300,000 residents living in Jewish West Bank settlements, according to a Israel Defense Forces Civil Administration report covering the first half of 2009. As of June 30, the settlements had 304,569 residents, an increase of 2.3 percent since January. Most of the growth was in the most religious communities, including the ultra-Orthodox settlements. Modi'in Ilit gained 1,879 residents, a 4.5 percent increase. Beitar Ilit gained 1,074 residents, a 3.1 percent jump.

Mitchell appeals to Syria over West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

George Mitchell, the top US envoy to the Middle East, landed in Israel yesterday as part of a regional tour this week that includes meeting senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to reach a compromise on the disputed issue of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. Mr Mitchell’s trip to Israel and the occupied West Bank comes after his visit to Damascus, where he stated that the US wants Syria’s help in reaching a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Securing the nightspots of Ramallah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Basem Sharawi is having a typically busy weekend. In between joking with would-be revellers at the popular Snowbar nightspot in Ramallah while politely but firmly telling them they cannot get in to the party raging below, the 28-year-old is constantly on his walkie-talkie to other members of his five-man security team. “There’s always a way to convince people. They won’t always be happy, but they will eventually see things my way,” Mr Sharawi said with a smile.

Envoy Mitchell kicks off Mideast peace push
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - July 26, 2009 - 12:00am

The Obama administration embarked on a multipronged Middle East peace drive on Sunday, with four senior US officials coming here to push for progress on some of the region's thorniest issues. In the course of what promises to be an intense week of diplomatic activity, Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian, and Egyptian leaders are meeting with Middle East special envoy George Mitchell. Three other heavy-hitters will also be in town: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, special adviser Dennis Ross, and National Security Adviser James Jones.

Gaza judge tells female lawyers to wear head scarf
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak, Diaa Hadid - July 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Gaza's top judge said Sunday that he has ordered female lawyers to wear Muslim headscarves when they appear in court, the latest sign that the Islamic militant group is increasingly imposing its strict interpretation of Islamic law on residents of the coastal strip. Supreme Court chief justice Abdul-Raouf Halabi said female lawyers will be required to wear a headscarf and a long, dark colored cloak under their billowing black robes when the court returns from its summer recess in September.

U.S. Envoy Visits Israel After Talks in Damascus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

U.S. Middle East envoy George J. Mitchell held talks in Israel on Sunday after having a "candid and positive" discussion with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad amid a diplomatic push by Washington to restart stalled peace talks. Washington is committed to a "comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and that includes Israel and Palestine, Israel and Syria, Israel and Lebanon, and normal relations with all countries in the regions," Defense Minister Ehud Barak's office quoted Mitchell as saying after the two held talks in Tel Aviv.

In 2 West Bank Settlements, Sign of Hope for a Deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner, Isabel Kershner - July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Seen from afar, this fast-growing settlement embodies everything that the Obama administration wants to address through its demand for a freeze on settlement building: it sits on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and, with 45,000 residents and 60 births a week, it is the largest and fastest-growing Jewish community in the West Bank. If, as is widely believed abroad, “natural growth” by Israeli settlers is blocking the creation of a viable Palestinian state, this community should show why.

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