December 22nd

Israel will ask for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. The UN expresses “serious concerns” over home demolitions. The PA says it will set dates for new municipal elections. Israel is concerned about Hamas' antitank capability. The Latin Patriarch calls for peace. Ha'aretz says PM Netanyahu is to blame for Israel's international reputation. Racist protests erupt in Israel. The PA warns against a new Israeli attack on Gaza, and both sides fear war could happen inadvertently. Deputy FM Ayalon says Jewish refugees must be part of the negotiations. Brazil is emerging as a Middle East player. Palestinian PR efforts seem to be getting better of Israel's. Ghassan Khatib says we may be shifting into a multilateral phase in the peace process. Akram Baker says the US knows what needs to be done to push the parties to a peace agreement.

December 21st

Aid groups say Gaza restrictions hinder them, not Hamas. A survey finds Palestinians afraid to criticize their leaders. Aaron David Miller says Pres. Obama must proceed very cautiously on peace. Fatah denies that it ever asked Israel to attack Hamas. A PA court convicts a man of treason. Violence escalates along the Gaza border. Pres. Abbas says international recognition encourages Palestinians to stay on the peaceful path to independence. Israeli police arrest gangs accused of beating up Palestinians. Pro-settler Israelis begin to acknowledge the inevitability of withdrawing from the West Bank. Bradley Burston asks what went wrong with Obama's Middle East policy. Gershon Baskin says the Israeli left desperately needs a leader. Raji Sourani says victims of the Gaza war are still being denied justice by Israel. FM Lieberman's settlement home is a virtual fortress. Hassan Barari says wikileaks don't tell the whole story about Arab attitudes. Hussein Ibish says Palestinians are pursuing bilateral, not unilateral, approaches.

December 20th

Pres. Abbas meets with 60 prominent Israelis. An Israeli rabbi fights against anti-Arab discrimination. Palestinians seek international recognition. Israel seizes a West Bank village and expels its inhabitants. Human Rights Watch says settlements are displacing Palestinians. An Israeli airstrike in Gaza kills five Palestinian militants. An American tourist is stabbed outside Jerusalem. Pres.Mubarak and PM Erdogan blame Israel for the failure of talks. Arab states may present a Security Council resolution against settlements. The PLO says it's not considering withdrawing recognition of Israel,but the peace process is moribund. A meeting of the Geneva Initiative invigorates peace camps. Rep. Howard Berman is interviewed by Ha'aretz. Jewish extremists demonstrate against “Arabs dating our sisters.” Tzachi Hanegbi says diplomacy is in real trouble. Hamas objects to the UN teaching Palestinian children about the Holocaust. Asharq Al-Awsat interviews Abbas. Adel Safty says Sec. Clinton is right that Palestinian statehood is inevitable. Ziad Asali says giving up on peace is not an option. The Global Post profiles Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

December 17th

The situation in Gaza is improving, but Israel is nervous. The US searches for plan B on peace, and will test the parties on core issues. Aaron David Miller says the administration should not overreach. Hamas says time is on its side. Israel shoots down a balloon near its nuclear reactor. An Israeli expert says it cannot defeat Hezbollah. The PA presses for authority in more of the West Bank. Despite a court order, Israel seizes Palestinian land for a new train line. The PA is investigating whether Mohammed Dahlan is forming a militia in the West Bank. Steven Klein says unilateral Palestinian independence is the best option. The Jerusalem Post publishes a leaked cable on US Middle East policy. Larry Derfner and George Hishmeh both praise Latin American recognition of Palestine. Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, as well as Hassan Haidar, say peace may no longer be possible. AIPAC considered itself targeted by a government espionage investigation. Rami Khouri says the US needs a bold new approach.

December 16th

The PA cracks down on extremist preachers. The Arab League says new negotiations should be based on a “serious offer” on borders. Israel approves 24 new settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. Norway upgrades the diplomatic status of the Palestinian mission. Palestinians seek diplomatic recognition in Europe. Bethlehem is preparing for a prosperous Christmas but its mayor complains about ongoing occupation. The PLO condemns a House resolution threatening a cutoff of aid if Palestinian statehood is unilaterally declared. Israeli towns continue efforts to keep Arabs out. Carlo Strenger says Palestinians should not repeat the mistake of 1947. Elie Podeh says Israel never wanted peace. Rachel Shabi critiques Israel's claims about Jews from Arab states. The IRS denies it is targeting pro-Israel groups. A fired AIPAC staffer says the group was aware of his activities. Martin van Creveld says the occupied territories are not crucial for Israel's security. Daniel Levy says it's time for a more detailed American peace plan. US may seek a framework agreement. More moderate voices in Hamas seem to be sidelined.

December 15th

Controversy surrounds a planned Jerusalem marathon. The CSM praises the Obama administration for continuing intensive diplomacy. Pres. Abbas visits Egypt. Dennis Ross travels to Israel. The UN is concerned about Hamas' closure of a charity. Rock-throwing youths play cat and mouse with occupation forces in occupied East Jerusalem. Special Envoy Mitchell reiterates US commitment to Palestinian statehood and may have presented new ideas to the parties. PM Netanyahu says he's happy to discuss core issues. Hamas leaders say they will never recognize Israel. A soccer brawl highlights tensions between Jordanians and Palestinians. Pres. Peres says time is running out for peace. Israel is still seeking more F-35 fighter jets. The JTA looks at Jewish American tensions over Israel. Israeli policies stir debate at Brooklyn College. The long struggle of a Palestinian family chips away at Jewish-only housing policies in Israel. The Jordan Times says the diplomatic impasse may result in renewed violence.

December 14th

Special Envoy Mitchell meets with Pres. Abbas. Robert Wright says the UN can create a Palestinian state. Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon says Palestinians must prove they want peace. Occupation forces demolish two homes under construction in occupied East Jerusalem. The EU pushes for an end to settlement activity and says it will recognize a Palestinian state “when appropriate.” Hamas celebrates its 23rd anniversary, and tries to shore up its popularity. Israel refuses entry to Palestinian firefighters being honored for helping with the Carmel blaze. Carlos Strenger says the Palestinian state has been born in South America. DM Barak says Israel is threatened by the lack of peace. Members of Congress say a unilateral declaration of statehood could end US funding to the PA. Carlo Strenger and Akiva Eldar say Palestinian statehood requires recognition of Israel. George Semaan says the Arabs need a new strategy for dealing with Israel. Hussein Ibish says Sec. Clinton's recent speech gives the Palestinians a real opportunity for progress.

December 13th

Tom Friedman says neither Israelis nor Palestinians are serious about peace. Sec. Clinton indicates the failure of direct negotiations, and analysts predict more difficulties. Palestinians continue to hope for national reconciliation. The Palestinian nonviolent protest movement may be waning, as Israel releases one of its leaders. PM Netanyahu welcomes the US focus on core issues. Rights groups protest Israel's treatment of Palestinian minors. Some Palestinians doubt the possibility of a two-state solution. Pres. Abbas asks the US to intervene with Israel over the expulsion of a Hamas politician from Jerusalem. The Israeli military intensifies activities on the Gaza border. Palestinians may be able to use indirect negotiations to pressure Israel. Akiva Eldar says negotiations provide a cover for deepening the occupation. Former Israeli soldiers recount abuses. Former EU leaders demand the creation of a Palestinian state. Tony Karon says Palestinians must increase the cost of occupation. Raghida Dergham looks at Palestinian strategy. Ian Buruma praises nonviolent protests in occupied East Jerusalem.

December 10th

Roger Cohen looks at the Jewish debate on Israeli policies. The US debates its role in the peace process. The UN says the Gaza blockade is not over. A call by top Israeli rabbis not to rent to Arabs continues to provoke controversy. Two Gaza teens are killed by abandoned Israeli ordnance. Senior Palestinian officials are coming to Washington. Palestinians are weighing their options, including seeking UN membership. Hanan Ashrawi says more talks are futile without a change in the US approach. Israel draws heavy international criticism on settlements. There is no clear successor to Pres. Abbas. The US may be working to resuscitate indirect talks. Latin American recognition of Palestine is partly based on anti-corruption efforts. Saeb Erekat says Israel must recognize refugee rights. Hassan Haidar says Palestinian officials shouldn't bother going to Washington. The Arab News calls the US reversal on a settlement freeze “capitulation.” Hussein Ibish says it's not the end of the world or the peace process.

December 9th

Fallout from the US abandonment of a settlement freeze continues: Palestinians say talks are not possible if construction continues; some analysts think the move hurts chances for peace; others say a deal will be slow and difficult; Israeli and Palestinian negotiators criticize US policy; the US says it does not and will not condone settlement activity; Daoud Kuttab says the US should now use sticks as well as carrots; Ziad Asali says giving up is not an option. Jackson Diehl says the US can either support Palestinian state-building or present its own plan. Special Envoy Mitchell will continue with talks. Bribery is rampant in the occupied territories. Israel launches air strikes against Gaza. UNSG Ban says Israel should end settlement activity. Edwin Bennatan says Israeli policies have created a Palestinian state. Israel offers compensation for flotilla deaths. Asharq Al-Awsat interviews Mohammed Dahlan. Rami Khouri says dissolving the PA is a terrible idea. Ghassan Khatib says the current situation is undermining the Palestinian leadership. Yossi Alpher says UN creation of a Palestinian state could be a good idea.

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