Israeli PM plants trees to signify claim to West Bank settlement blocs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 25, 2010 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday planted trees in West Bank settlements, in a move which he said sent a clear message that Israel would retain major settlement blocs under any peace deal with the Palestinians. "The message is clear, we are here, and we will stay here. We plant and build. This is an inseparable part of the State of Israel forever," local news service Ynet quoted Netanyahu as saying at the Kfar Atzon settlement, part of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. He planted a tree to mark the tree-planting festival of Tu B' Shvat.

Abbas to form a committee to probe U.N. fact-finding report on Gaza war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
January 25, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered on Monday to form a committee to probe the recommendations of a United Nations fact-finding report over the Israeli war on Gaza last year. Abbas issued on Monday a presidential decree calling for forming a committee to investigate and study the report's recommendations, saying that the committee has to bring back a response after probing the report's recommendations.

Minister: Israel rejects UN Gaza war probe call
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Amy Teibel - January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel will not set up a special panel to investigate last winter's Gaza offensive, a Cabinet minister said Tuesday, rejecting a key demand of a U.N. report that accused the military of war crimes. Information Minister Yuli Edelstein said Israel would submit a document to the U.N. later this week that deals only with Israel's own investigations of its conduct during the three-week war. Those investigations have been conducted by the military, which has exonerated itself of any systematic wrongdoing.

Benjamin Netanyahu rejects freeze on settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Australian
by John Lyons - January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

On a tour of the largest settlements hours after meeting US President Barack Obama's special envoy, George Mitchell, Mr Netanyahu gave his strongest rejection to any permanent freeze in settlement activity and reaffirmed a commitment to "greater Jerusalem". He told settlers during one tree-planting ceremony: "The message is clear: we are here and will remain here. The settlement blocs are an indisputable part of Israel forever. "This is acceptable to the great majority of Israel's citizens and is gradually being instilled in international consciousness."

Aide: Abbas has 2 conditions for talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas laid out two preconditions for the resumption of negotiations with Israel, during his meeting with US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell on Friday, a senior aide said on Tuesday. The aide, Nimer Hammad, told Ma'an that Abbas asked that Israel commit to a real settlement freeze even for a limited period of time. His second request was that negotiations be based on the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and a full withdrawal to those armistice lines. According to Nimer, the following are some excerpts from the meeting:

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