October 30th

Scott MacLeod defends Human Rights Watch against criticism that it's been unduly critical of Israel. A Reuters analysis argues that President Abbas is seeking to use Palestinian elections to reunite the West Bank and Gaza, and the President warns that Israel's measures are leading to potential violence and that Prime Minister Netanyahu "hasn't changed" since his first term in the 1990s. Special Envoy George Mitchell and Secretary of State Clinton are set to meet with Palestinian and Israeli leaders. Rabbi Eric Yoffie argues in Ha'aretz that settlements are antithetical to peace. The Independent highlights the exemplary plight of a student expelled by Israel from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip just before graduation. The National argues that Hamas opposition to Palestinian elections exposes its motivations and Daoud Kuttab says that elections are essential to the Palestinian people.

October 29th

The New York Times looks at how Palestinian women's soccer teams are fighting for both gender equality and national independence. The Boston Globe calls on Israel to stop provocative excavations in Jerusalem. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the city must serve as a capital for both states and calls for reconstruction in Gaza. Numerous articles examine the significance of the first annual conference of the new pro-peace, pro-Israel organization J Street. Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon says he will avoid visiting Europe for fear of arrest, and Israel's ambassador to the UN says the Goldstone report will remain a problem even if an internal investigation is launched. Seth Freeman argues that greater cooperation between the IDF and extremist settlers shows the growth of religious-nationalist politics in Israel.

October 28th

Hamas announces it will ban elections in Gaza, as NPR highlights the group's declining popularity and the New York Times profiles the threat to its rule from more extreme Islamic groups. A number of articles and commentaries consider the implications of the first J Street conference. The 2009 State Department International Religious Freedom Report says Israel continues to discriminate against religious minorities. Ha'aretz reports that the US is considering "indirect" Israeli-Palestinian talks as the next phase of the peace process, but other reports suggest that Arab states are urging the Palestinians to reenter negotiations without preconditions. In The Guardian, Ahmad Khalidi argues that the PA plan for institution building focuses too much on the West Bank and might weaken the Palestinian hand in negotiations with Israel.

October 27th

President Abbas reportedly tells President Obama he may not run in scheduled Palestinian elections if Israel does not begin to cooperate on peace talks, and PLO officials complained that Israel is portraying the Palestinians as "untrustworthy bastards." The New York Times highlights isolation and despair among professionals in Gaza, while the PA tries to prevent Israel's closing of Gaza's main fuel terminal.Hamas reportedly eases strict enforcement of religious social conservatism. Two Israeli soldiers are injured in the process of demolishing a Palestinian home. Reuters' Alastair Macdonald explains the intense restriction of movement in the West Bank. Israeli settlers begin their annual attacks on the Palestinian olive harvest. Amnesty International accuses Israel of withholding water from Palestinians in the West Bank. An Israeli army judge claims that all Jews have a religious right to West Bank land and Palestinians have none. The Guardian profiles Palestinian American comedienne Maysoon Zaid who performed at the ATFP Gala earlier this month.

October 26th

Tensions again mount in occupied East Jerusalem as Israeli police clash with Palestinian demonstrators, and Jewish extremists call for building a "Third Temple." Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post separately interviews Prime Ministers Fayyad and Netanyahu, as well as President Peres. President Abbas says his decision to schedule Palestinian elections for January is "irrevocable," leading to considerable speculation in the Arab press about the consequences. J Street's first annual conference opens amid controversy. The Israeli cabinet sets up a team to consider responses to the Goldstone report. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan claims that Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman "threatened to use nuclear weapons against Gaza." Jordan and Israel mark 15 years of cold but stable peace.

October 23rd

Judge Goldstone asks the United States to clarify its concerns about his report into the Gaza war. Secretary of State Clinton reports modest progress on Middle East peace to President Obama, but Special Envoy Mitchell says he is "not in the slightest discouraged." The LA Times profiles a new Palestinian version of Sesame Street. Israel confirms increased settlement activity including in outposts. Protesters assail former Prime Minister Olmert in San Francisco after a similar incident in Chicago. Foreign Minister Lieberman complains that the PA cannot negotiate with Israel locally and combat it on the international stage simultaneously. The Israeli High Court of Justice orders the IDF to allow Palestinians to drive on some "Jewish-only" roads in the West Bank. The BBC profiles costs to the people of Gaza from Hamas rule. In Foreign Policy, Rebecca Abou-Chedid says Arab and Jewish Americans can and should work together to promote Middle East peace.

October 22nd

A new poll of Palestinian public opinion finds strong support for Fatah, Pres. Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad, new elections and the West Bank police. Israel launches another attack on Gaza smuggling tunnels, but the border area has become a shopping hub. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice says that Israel must do more than pay "lip service" to the peace process. Egypt continues to press Hamas to sign a national reconciliation agreement, with the PA vowing to call new elections. The Independent profiles the plight of Palestinian refugees in Arab states. The Forward examines Robert Wexler's surprise move from Congress to the think-tank world. In the Daily Star, Ghassan Rubeiz highlights innovations in Arab and Jewish American activism being pioneered by J Street and ATFP.

October 21st

Israel hardens its stance on the Goldstone report and will seek to change the international laws of war, although its cabinet is split on an internal independent inquiry. China joins Russia and the US in pledging to block consideration of the report at the Security Council. Goldstone writes that Israel could defuse the crisis by launching its own internal investigation. Pres. Abbas says that he will announce elections for Jan. 24, despite objections from Hamas. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says the US should blame Israel for stalled peace talks. Prime Minister Fayyad reiterates that the occupation must end. The JTA analyzes the tense Obama-Netanyahu relationship. An original ATFP translation of an article printed in several Arab newspapers by Khairallah Khairallah and another from the Arab News profile last week's ATFP Gala.

October 20th

The Israeli Cabinet will consider an investigation into allegations in the Goldstone report. A Palestinian cooperative trades olive oil for foreign cash in an effort to sustain a wider Palestinian economy as violent attacks by extremist settlers increase. Al-Jazeera airs an offensive parody of the Palestinian national anthem, angering Palestinians. A Palestinian poll says President Abbas could regain lost support before scheduled elections in 2010. Commentaries in Gulf News, Arab News and Al Hayat evaluate Pres. Obama’s positions on peace and the Goldstone report. In the Nation, Adam Horowitz and Phillip Weiss evaluate shifting attitudes among Jewish Americans regarding Israel.

October 19th

The UN Human Rights Council endorses the Goldstone report putting diplomatic pressure on Israel, but Russia joins the US in asserting that it will not permit a debate in the Security Council. The controversy has damaged the popularity of President Abbas, who is now only slightly more popular than Hamas leader Hanniyeh according to a new poll. Asharq Al-Awsat reports Abbas may be considering calling for elections in January in spite of objections from Hamas. The BBC profiles Hamas-Fatah rivalry in Qalqilya. Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly says that an agreement has been reached with the United States on settlements. Patrick Seale argues that Israel should understand that President Obama’s patience is not endless. Hussein Ibish outlines what would be at stake for Israel and the Palestinians in a third intifada.

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