December 22nd

Netanyahu office 'shocked' as Abbas meets ex-prisoners
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- An official in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office says he found it "shocking" to see President Mahmoud Abbas meet with certain released prisoners Wednesday in Turkey. Abbas met in Ankara with 11 ex-prisoners who were released by Israel in the prisoner swap, but the unnamed official was in particular shocked that Abbas met with Amna Muna, Israel's Ynet news site said. Muna was convicted in an Israeli court of luring a teenager to his death in 2001.

Israel backs aid to Palestinian Authority
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Ben Smith - December 21, 2011 - 1:00am

In a dramatic public shift that appears to lower the intensity of the simmering diplomatic conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government is backing a strings-attached compromise that would restore American aid to the Palestinian Authority.

US: 'Shouting from UN rooftops' won't help peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

The United States on Wednesday addressed the near-complete condemnation of Israeli settlement policy by UN Security Council members the day before and its own vetoes of UNSC resolutions critical of Israel. "Shouting from the rooftops of the Security Council is not going to change the situation on the ground," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at the State Department Wednesday. Israelis and Palestinians, she explained, must "get back to the table and settle these issues together, and that's the way we are going to have a lasting, stable peace."

Israeli campaign: Ariel Sharon's stroke was 'curse of Gaza disengagement'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ophir Bar-Zohar - December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke in January 2006 came about because of his role in disengagement from Gaza, according to a campaign to be launched on December 31 by an extreme right-wing religious party, Eretz Yisrael Shelanu.

Officials plan water plant to end crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Water Authority is working to establish a major desalination plant by the Dead Sea, its chief has revealed. The plan is designed to help ease the water crisis in the West Bank and Gaza by providing an extra 100 million cubic meters of water, Shaddad al-Attili said. However it will stand or fall on the approval of a joint Israeli-Palestinian committee, he told Ma'an after attending a water conference in Israel organized by Friends of the Earth Middle East.

Hamas denies Syrian report about Mashaal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

DAMASCUS (Ma’an) – Hamas on Tuesday denied reports disseminated by official Syrian news that its chief in exile Khalid Mashaal has criticized Islamic cleric Yousif al-Qaradawi over his remarks about the situation in Syria. In a statement, the movement said “the alleged remarks were made up and baseless.” The website of Syria’s General Organization of Radio and TV on Tuesday quoted Mashaal expressing disappointment at al-Qaradawi urging the Syrian people to revolt against the Syrian regime.

This Holy Land battle focuses on tourists' wallets
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - December 20, 2011 - 1:00am

Reporting from Bethlehem, West Bank— A 45-foot-high artificial Christmas tree towers over Manger Square, and downtown Bethlehem is festooned with sparkling decorations. There's even a picture of a saxophone-playing Santa Claus. But Nabil Giacaman, co-owner of a souvenir shop called Christmas House, isn't feeling the holiday spirit. The third-generation woodcarver, who sells handmade likenesses of baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary, sees as many as 200 tour buses arrive every day from Israel to visit the Church of the Nativity, just a few steps from his store.

Militant Hamas agrees to join PLO umbrella in key step toward unifying Palestinian leadership
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

CAIRO — Rival Palestinian factions reached a key agreement in Cairo Thursday to admit the Hamas militant group into the Palestine Liberation Organization — the umbrella organization of the Palestinian independence movement that has overseen two decades of on-and-off peace talks with Israel, both sides said.

Hamas adjusts to Arab Spring
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - December 21, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Buoyed by the success of Islamist movements in countries swept by the Arab Spring, Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, is showing signs of pragmatism as its sense of isolation fades. The organization is jockeying to reposition itself amid shifting terrain in the Arab world. It is reported to be scaling down its presence in Syria, where its long-time patron, President Bashar al-Assad, is facing a popular uprising. At the same time, it is seeking to strengthen ties with Arab countries where moderate Islamists have made political gains.

Israel Accuses 4 Countries of Meddling in Its Affairs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - December 21, 2011 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — In a highly unusual response to criticism from European nations on the Security Council, the Israeli Foreign Ministry bluntly accused the countries of “interfering with Israel’s domestic affairs” and warned that they risked making themselves “irrelevant.”

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