December 23rd

Report: Israel refuses release of 7 prisoners
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Western diplomatic sources told al-Hayat newspaper that Israel agreed to release 443 of the 450 prisoners Hamas has demanded be freed in the first phase of a prisoner exchange deal for the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit. In addition, the sources said Israel has demanded that over 100 of the prisoners to be freed be banned from returning to the West Bank.

Danger: Popular struggle
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Opinion) December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

There is an internal document that has not been leaked, or perhaps has not even been written, but all the forces are acting according to its inspiration: the Shin Bet, Israel Defense Forces, Border Police, police, and civil and military judges. They have found the true enemy who refuses to whither away: The popular struggle against the occupation.

Row between Israeli defense officials jeopardizing Shalit talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - (Analysis) December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Just as negotiations reached their most crucial juncture yet, they seemed in danger of being sidelined by a daft, superfluous clash between Netanyahu's political adviser Uzi Arad, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin Tuesday. Arad never hid his opposition to the deal, whose current format he considers a strategic error, but it now seems he could have been actively trying to undermine it.

IDF chief: Bringing Shalit back is a national mission
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yuval Azoulay, Avi Issacharoff, Jonathan Lis, Barak Ravid - December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

The Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, reiterated on Wednesday that securing the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity was of the utmost importance to Israel. "Bringing back Gilad Shalit is a national mission, and both covert and overt actions are being carried out to bring him back," Ashkenazi told a gathering in Ashdod.

Bil'in protest leader indicted over spent tear gas canisters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli prosecutors filed an indictment in a military court against Abdullah Abu Rahmah on Monday, a leader of popular demonstrations against the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in.

West of the wall, settlement building continues
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinians in the Qalqiliya district, where Israel's separation wall extends 22 kilometers into the West Bank, have watched rapid construction in the settlement of Oranit continue despite the call for a partial freeze on building. A spokesman from Israel's Civil Administration confirms officials are "familiar with the issue and are working to resolve it."

Patriarch's Christmas message: Mid East peace efforts failed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Efforts to bring peace to the Middle East have failed, Jerusalem’s Latin patriarch Fuad Twal said Tuesday in his annual Christmas message. “Our dreams for a reconciled Holy Land seem to be utopia. Despite the praiseworthy efforts of politicians and men of good will to find a solution to the ongoing conflict, all of us, Palestinians and Israelis, have all failed in achieving peace,” saidTwal, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land. “The reality contradicts our dreams,” he said.

Israel-Hamas deal on Gilad Shalit won't include an end to Gaza blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Erin Cunningham - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel is abuzz with a flurry of media reports on a possibly imminent prisoner exchange that could return captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to his parents after more than three years of captivity under Hamas. The deal would also release up to 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, but Gazans are dismayed that a major condition Israel had previously said was linked to any Shalit deal now appears to be missing from the negotiations: Israel’s two-year economic blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Building by not building in the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
(Editorial) December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton fumbled in Jerusalem last month when she hailed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to temporarily freeze West Bank settlement construction as "unprecedented," thereby suggesting it was somehow optimal. The 10-month freeze is far from ideal, because it allows completion of nearly 3,000 housing units and 28 public buildings already underway in the West Bank, and it doesn't include development in contested East Jerusalem.

Vatican, Israel joust over Jerusalem site
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - December 23, 2009 - 1:00am

The government of Israel seems to be embracing the Christmas spirit. This week it is organizing carols and tree giveaways in Jerusalem, bus service to Bethlehem and even a fireworks show in Nazareth with an apparent eye on burnishing the nation's reputation for religious diversity. But Israel won't be giving the Christmas gift near the top of the Vatican's wish list this year: possession of a Mt. Zion holy site where Jesus is believed to have gathered his disciples for the Last Supper.

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