July 27th

US Middle East envoy calls on Arab world for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Josef Federman - July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy called on the Arab world yesterday to take steps towards normalising relations with Israel, while Israel's prime minister said he hoped his country's disputes with the US over West Bank settlement construction would soon be resolved.

Israel prepares 'defense brief' ahead of UN Gaza reports
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

A group of legal experts from the Foreign Ministry is writing a defense brief for the government in advance of two harsh reports on Operation Cast Lead expected to be released soon. The ministry's defense brief is expected to be finished in a week or two, ahead of two United Nations reports that are expected to be highly critical of the extent of civilian injuries in the Gaza Strip during the operation. A draft of the two reports is expected to be given to Israel around the end of August, before they are officially presented to the Human Rights Council in mid-September.

Senators want Obama to press Arabs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Two U.S. senators, a Democrat and a Republican, are circulating a letter pressing President Obama to lean on Arab nations to make peace overtures to Israel.

Obama should not give in
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

First, an honest disclosure: I loved the Shepherd hotel very much. In the first years after the Six-Day War, I was a frequent guest there. My work in the Knesset demanded that I stay in Jerusalem at least two nights every week, and after the war I switched from the hotels of West Jerusalem to those in the eastern part of the city. My favorite was the Shepherd. I felt at home there.

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.

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