May 21st

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' recent appointment of a new cabinet in the West Bank elicits speculation on the widening gap between Palestinian political factions (1) (3) (11) (12). Israel removes a West Bank settler outpost in a gesture to President Obama (5), while the Administration continues to insist on a full halt to all settlement activity (4) (14). Senior members of Prime Minister Netanyahu's staff dismiss mounting international calls for peace based on two states (16). An op-ed by a Palestinian resident of the West Bank town of Hebron describes the severe restrictions on movement in the area (17).

May 20th

Several articles feature more reactions to the first meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama earlier this week (1) (2) (4) (8) (9) (10) (11) (14). The head of Israel’s security services says there is no security reason to finish construction of the West Bank separation barrier (3). The United Nations probe of the Gaza war will continue without Israeli approval (5). A new Palestinian government is sworn-in in Ramallah, despite objections from both Hamas and Fatah (6). Israeli West Bank settlement representatives meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak (15), while U.S. Secretary of State Clinton reiterates the Administration’s call for a halt to all settlement construction (17).

May 19th

In their first meeting yesterday Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu tells President Obama that he wants to restart peace talks, but refrains from endorsing a Palestinian state (1). While President Obama addresses the Prime Minister’s major concern s regarding Iran (2) (4). Palestinian officials voice disappointment in the lack of progress produced by this first meeting (3), and other commentators speculate on the future of the peace process (7) (8) (9) (10). Fatah and Hamas end Egyptian mediated talks in Cairo without an agreement (6).

May 18th

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is in Washington today for his first meeting with President Obama (1), while speculation abounds regarding the substance of their discussions (5) (7) (10) (12) (15). A new Israeli settlement is slated for construction in the Jordan Valley (8). According to Haaretz, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have recently made discreet contacts regarding the resumption of peace negotiations (9). Fatah and Hamas reportedly reach an agreement on the establishment of a joint security force for Gaza (13).

May 15th

In a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jordan’s King Abdullah urges Israeli commitment to a peace based on two states (1), while Netanyahu explains to the Pope his reservations regarding a Palestinian state (2). The first meeting between Netanyahu and President Obama is set for Monday in Washington (3) (11) (9). Four former Mideast ambassadors sign a letter to President Obama urging an ‘active U.S. role’ in seeking peace based on two states (4). Quartet envoy Tony Blair urges urgent action towards such an agreement in testimony before the U.S. Congress (5). Hamas boycotts the visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Syria (7). Egyptian security forces discover a significant weapons cache on the Gaza border (13). An op-ed in Ynet News scoffs at Israeli President Shimon Peres’ ‘natural growth’ explanation for settlement expansion (14).

May 14th

The Pope visits Bethlehem and Nazareth, criticizing Israel's separation barrier and continuing his calls for the creation of a Palestinian state (1) (2) (4) (5) (12) Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with King Abdullah II in Jordan (6). Speculation continues about the first meeting of President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, set to take place on Monday (3) (7) (11). A poll shows 58% of Jewish Israelis support a peace based on two states (16). Objections delay the swearing-in of a new Palestinian government (17).

May 13th

Continuing his Mideast tour, the Pope visits Bethlehem, where he calls for a sovereign Palestinian state and urges the lifting of the Gaza embargo (1) (3) (6) (12). The White House announces dates for upcoming visits of Israeli, Egyptian, and Palestinian leaders (2). Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says that progress in peace negotiations must come before broader Arab recognition of Israel (5). Religious tension mounts in the Arab city of Nazareth in Israel, just ahead of the Pope's visit (9). The leader of the Palestinian "Islamic Jihad" organization argues against any recognition of Israel (13). 1,500 settlers rally in the evacuated West Bank Israeli settlement of "Homesh" (14).

May 12th

Israeli police close a Palestinian media center that had been set up in East Jerusalem for the Pope's visit (1). In The Nation, Robert Dreyfuss reports on a recent address given by U.S. security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton (4). The Pope's visit continues, as he attempts to maneuver through the complicated politics of the Middle East (2) (5) (10) (13) (15). The UN Security Council calls for "urgent efforts" to establish a Palestinian state (6). Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (7). An op-ed in the Daily Star discusses the potential of convening Fatah's General Congress (12).

May 11th

President Obama announces that he will travel to Egypt next month to deliver his address to the world's Muslims (1). The New York Times reports on how Israel is using park development projects to fortify its claims to Jerusalem (2). Pope Benedict XVI continues his Mideast visit, and announces his support for peace based on two states (3) (12) (16). In an interview with the Times of London, Jordan's King Abdullah warns of potential Mideast warfare if movement towards a peace agreement does not begin this year (5). A report by the UN Office for Coordination on Humanitarian Affairs finds that Israeli settlements and outposts have reduced the available land for Palestinians in Bethlehem to 13% (8). The UN Security Council is set to hold talks today on reviving the Mideast peace process (9). In a Damascus press conference exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshal rejects the idea of a peace based on two states (10).

May 8th

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the Mideast for his highly anticipated visit (1) (2) (3). An article in The Guardian looks at the West Bank village of Nu'man, which is surrounded on three sides by the Israeli separation barrier (4). In the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer assesses cease-fire terms recently proposed by Hamas leaders (5). Senior Israeli officials express concern over the shifts in the state of the U.S.-Israel relationship under the new governments in both countries (8). The Israeli organization Peace Now petitions the High Court of Justice for an immediate cessation of settlement construction in the West Bank settlement of Halamish - Neve Tzu (9). Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad calls for an end to land expropriation in the "E1" area near Jerusalem (11).

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