January 30th

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that the extent of settlement building has been covered up by the Israeli defense ministry (1). US Mideast envoy George Mitchell announces plans to return to Israel shortly after February’s general elections (2) and urges Israel to open Gaza’s commercial border crossings as a way to choke off underground arms smuggling (8). The Economist examines the role of diplomacy after the Gaza incursion (3). Dozens in Gaza are believed to have been killed in a wave of internal reprisal attacks (5). Returning after his heated denunciation of Israel at the World Economic Forum Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is greeted warmly in Istanbul (6). Hamas calls for new Palestinian leadership to replace the PLO (7).

January 29th

Mideast envoy George Mitchell meets with Israeli and Palestinian Authority leadership (1) (2). The new tone of Middle East policy articulated in President Obama’s recent appearance on Al-Arabiya television is widely well received (3) (4). The United Nations launches an appeal for $613 million to aid the people of Gaza (5). A Spanish court approves a motion by a Palestinian group to probe Israeli officials for suspected war crimes (6). An Israeli human rights group accuses the IDF of subjecting Palestinians captured during the Gaza offensive to inhumane conditions (7). The choice of George Mitchell as Mideast envoy raises concern for Israeli settlers (8).

January 28th

Mideast envoy George Mitchell arrives in Israel for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leadership (1). The New York Times looks at how the continued blockade of Gaza is affecting the humanitarian situation (2). Thomas Friedman reexamines Saudi King Abdullah’s peace plan (3). Pat Buchanan predicts conflicts between U.S. President Obama and Israeli Prime Ministerial candidate Benjamin Netanyahu (4). The Israeli group Peace Now reports that settlement expansion accelerated in 2008 compared with the previous year (6). Egypt condemns Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah as provokers of conflict (7).

January 27th

In his first interview with Arabic television President Obama reaches out to the Muslim world and says that peace talks should resume (1). Israel launches fresh attacks into southern Gaza after an IDF soldier was killed by a bomb planted on the Gaza-Israel border (2). Newly appointed Mideast envoy George Mitchell is in Cairo on the first leg of his week-long tour of the region (3). The British Gaza appeal by the Disasters Emergency Commission raises record funds despite being refused airtime by the BBC (4). Egypt proposes a start date of February 22nd for Palestinian reconciliation talks (5). The situation in Gaza could complicate Pope Benedict XVI’s planned trip to Israel (6). Benjamin Netanyahu, along with a third of the Likud candidates, refuse to sign a loyalty oath ruling out the possibility of a Palestinian state (11).

January 26th

The network of underground tunnels in southern Gaza are under repair, despite threats from Israel against reopening them (1). The Chicago Tribune features an op-ed by ATFP Senior Fellow Hussein Ibish (3). The Los Angeles Times reports on the background of recently appointed Mideast Envoy George Mitchell (5) who is expected to make his first official visit to the region next week (6). Israel and Hamas disagree over the terms of a new Egyptian mediated ceasefire (8). Benjamin Netanyahu vows that a Likud-led Israeli government would not allow the building of new settlements in the West Bank, but would allow for “natural growth” (12).

January 23rd

The Washington Post reports on the 15,000 Gaza civilians still living in emergency shelters (1). President Obama appoints Senator George Mitchell as Mideast Envoy (2), while an editorial in The New York Times discusses the difficulties ahead for him (4). Tensions flare between Hamas and Fatah supporters (3) as Fatah fears that the Gaza offensive has weakened their support (7) . A New York Times blog features reporter Taghreed El-Khodary answering questions submitted by the public about Gaza (5). The UN’s humanitarian chief tells the BBC that the destruction in Gaza is worse than he had anticipated (6). An editorial in The Economist suggests that now is the time to take serious steps towards peace (8).

January 22nd

In the aftermath of the war in Gaza control of the strip is a subject of debate (1). Reports that the IDF used phosphorous arms on Gaza prompt an international outcry (2). In an op-ed for The New York Times Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi promotes the one-state solution (4). As the Arab League meets this week in Kuwait, all talk is focused on Gaza (5). President Barack Obama is reportedly set to appoint George Mitchell as his Mideast envoy (6). Israel warns that they may renew their military strike if Hamas reopens its network of underground tunnels (7). Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is the recipient of Obama’s first phone call in office (11).

January 21st

Israeli troops move out of the interior of Gaza (1), (2). Control of the strip is now debated as Hamas moves to reassert its authority in spite of shouldering some blame for the carnage (3), (4) (9). UNSG Ban expresses outrage at Israel’s actions, and Israel now admits it may have used illegal white phosphorous munitions (5), (6), (7). The violence has harmed the political fortunes of President Abbas and the PA (8). The Arab summit and Arab political divisions receive much coverage (10), (11), (12), (13), (14), (15). Ghassan Charbel in Al-Hayat urges Israel, Hamas and the Arab states to learn the lessons of the conflict (16).

January 20th

Echoing the words of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in 2006, Hamas leaders express surprise at the scale of Israel’s attack, while the group claims “victory” (1), (2). Into the second day of the cease-fire, residents of Gaza continue to take stock (3), (4). Gaza reconstruction will cost “billions,” but Arab leaders have been unable to agree a strategy for rebuilding (6), (7). President Abbas is seen as “the big looser” in the conflict, but Ha’aretz reports that outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Olmert privately discussed dividing Jerusalem with Arab leaders (8), (9). An op-ed by ATFP President Ziad Asali and Tom Dine, former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, urges President Obama to take immediate steps to salvage a two state solution to Middle East peace (10). The Christian Science Monitor and the Middle East Times consider the return to government of former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross (11), (12). The Guardian notes that Arab governments have been severely discredited during the conflict (14). Bret Stephens suggests that Israel scored a tactical “victory,” while David Grossman points to the futility of such violence (15), (16).

January 19th

As the fragile ceasefire in Gaza takes hold, both Israel and Hamas claim “victory” while Palestinians mourn the dead and survey the devastation (1), (2), (3), (6). Several papers provide analysis of political gains and losses from the conflict for Israel and Hamas (4), (5), (11), (12). Israel says it is moving to block the rearmament of Hamas, while UN SG Ban urges support for Palestinian President Abbas (8), (9). Saudi Arabia pledges $1 billion for Gaza reconstruction, but says that the Arab Peace Initiative is not an open-ended offer (10). A Ha’aretz commentary urges Israel to use carrots as well as sticks, while the National worries that the Gaza conflict has done serious political harm to moderates (14), (15). Robert Fisk thinks its time for a war crimes tribunal for Israeli leaders, and al-Ahram explains the complicated Egyptian position on Gaza (13), (16).

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