Tensions grow in the Middle East in advance of Pres. Obama's speech tonight. Mustafa Barghouthi says the world should welcome Palestinian unity. A Likud MK says if Palestinians move toward statehood, Israel should annex large chunks of the occupied territories. Jackson Diehl accuses Pres. Abbas of “setting the stage for another conflict.” Abbas is taking major risks for Palestinian national unity. DM Barak says PM Netanyahu must take bold steps towards peace. The LA Times says the US must persist in trying to achieve a peace agreement. Netanyahu has reportedly abandoned the idea of presenting new peace initiatives. Israel plans more settler housing units in a key and hotly-contested area of occupied East Jerusalem. A Fatah official says his party is ready for elections. Analysts say Netanyahu’s US trip is not likely to accomplish much. Palestinians blame Israel for the impasse. Israel arrests six Palestinians in the West Bank. PM Fayyad will reportedly not be retaining his position in a new government. Ari Shavit Says Netanyahu must clearly accept the 1967 borders. Gideon Levy says Israel must own up to Palestinian suffering. The Israeli government will host a discussion on settlement expansion while settlers announce plans for more outposts. Israeli officials warn European recognition of Palestine would lead to violence. Yariv Oppenheimer says Israel’s mainstream must unite against the extreme left and right. Larry Derfner says the status quo keeps getting worse. Daniel Barenboim writes about his peace concert outreach in Gaza. D. Bloomfield says Israel is no longer a high priority issue in Washington. Karma Nabulsi says more refugee protests are likely. Elliot Jager recalls how David Ben-Gurion dealt with US leaders. Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid says there are no prospects of conflict between Egypt and Israel. George Hishmeh says US diplomacy has failed. Michael Jansen says Palestinian nonviolent resistance won’t work with Israel. Raymond Helmick and Nazir Khaja say Israeli Palestinian peace is essential for Middle East democracy.

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