February 14th

NEWS: Hamas leaders are unable to reconcile their differences over the recent agreement with Fatah, and PLO officials say this is frustrating Palestinian reunification. West Bank Hamas officials say the agreement is valid. Israel and Iran exchange accusations over bomb attacks on diplomats in India and Georgia. Israeli building demolitions displace 120 Palestinian villages near Hebron. Egypt says it will monitor the work of Palestinian “public freedom committees.” Israel rejects an appeal by a Palestinian militant on hunger strike. Palestinians may again be considering efforts to upgrade their status at the UN. Palestinians in Hebron say they are faced with a barrage of harassment. Right-wing Israeli MKs complain about lack of funding for Jewish “heritage sites” in the occupied territories. The Daily Beast has an in-depth story on US policy toward the Iranian nuclear program, with Israel as the "wild card." Lebanon's Interior Ministry is setting up a database of Palestinian refugees. COMMENTARY: Roger Cohen says Peter Beinart's new book about the dilemma of Jewish power in Israel and the United States is extremely important. Moshe Arens says it's no wonder that Hezbollah leader Nasrallah feels the need to respond to a Ha'aretz commentary. Oded Haklai says some issues involving Palestinian citizens of Israel are more easily solve than others, but all need addressing. Faisal Al Yafai says Egyptians are renegotiating with themselves, the United States and Israel. Osama Al Sharif says the Palestinian reconciliation agreement can succeed. Yossi Alpher says the Hamas-Fatah agreement represents a failure of Israeli strategic thinking. Ghassan Khatib says internal Palestinian dialogue is the only way forward.

February 13th

NEWS: Gaza Hamas leader Zahar says “no one in the organization was consulted” about the agreement with Pres. Abbas, that it “cannot be implemented,” and is “a mistake” and “a real crisis.” Hamas' de facto PM Haniya visits Tehran and insists relations remain strong. Iranian leaders urge Hamas to continue armed resistance against Israel, and Haniya agrees. Hamas bans a rally in Gaza in favor of the Syrian opposition. Settlers in an “unauthorized outpost” agree with the government they can stay for at least 2 more years despite a Supreme Court order to vacate. Israeli police block a right-wing extremist from marching on holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem. A new poll finds Palestinians are most concerned about jobs and financial security. A UN special rapporteur says Israel is enacting a discriminatory housing policy against Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories. An Israeli diplomat is wounded in a New Delhi car blast. PM Netanyahu blames Iran and Hezbollah for the attacks on Israeli diplomats. Israel bans 35 Palestinian doctors from taking Israeli certification exams on grounds that Al-Quds University cannot be considered a "foreign university." One Palestinian was killed and 3 injured in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza. Israeli extremists again vandalize Palestinian/Jewish school in occupied East Jerusalem with anti-Arab hate slogans. COMMENTARY: Akiva Eldar says Israelis who maintain Palestinians rejected 'generous peace offers' are playing into Hamas' hands. Yigal Caspi says Abbas has to choose between Hamas and peace. Barry Rubin says Israel is continuously “saved” by its enemies. Leonard Fein says settlement activity in Jerusalem is designed to destroy prospects for a two-state solution. Husam Itani says the Syrian regime will no longer be able to exploit the Palestinian cause. Naseem Tarawnah says for Jordan, Palestine is a domestic issue, but Hassan A. Barari says it is frustrated by the impasse at the Amman talks.

February 10th

NEWS: Palestinian officials say they will consult the Arab League on the future of talks with Israel. Fatah and the PLO support Pres. Abbas' deal with Hamas. PA security forces arrest 56 people in Israeli-controlled areas of occupied Hebron. Many Palestinian towns in “Area C” have no electricity. Extremist settlers raid a Palestinian village near Nablus. Hamas' ties with Iran are continuing to fray. Suspended PA Economy Minister Abu Libdeh and one of his aides face corruption charges. A Likud-sponsored bill in the Knesset would provide 35% tax breaks for funding "Zionist settlement," although it does not specify where. DM Barak approves more new settlement homes, which activists say amounts to a new settlement. American musician Cat Power cancels an appearance in Israel, citing Israel's policies. Anonymous hackers threaten cyber attacks against Israeli websites. COMMENTARY: The Washington Post says unless Hamas changes its policies, Palestinian national unity will do more harm than good. Yossi Sarid says Shin Bet is looking for extremists on West Bank hilltops but can find them in the Likud Central Committee. Yoel Marcus says the Herzliya Conference turned into a forum for empty “babbling” about Iran. Guy Bechor says the Arab uprisings mean the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer central to Middle Eastern realities. Ziad al-Drees says the Russian and Chinese vetoes on Syria, along with continued US vetoes on Israel, show that the veto system at the UNSC is dysfunctional. George Hishmeh says money from large donors like corporations or individuals such as Sheldon Adelson show that cash still drives American elections. The Arab News welcomes the Palestinian agreement, but says moving forward will not be easy. Zvi Bar'el says the Palestinian agreement should prompt the Quartet to adopt policies designed to push Hamas towards accepting a two-state solution. Yusef Harb says Palestinian political factions must catch up with the movement of the public. Alon Ben-Meir says psychology is key to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

February 9th

NEWS: A split within Hamas threatens the agreement with Fatah. Pres. Abbas says Palestinian national unity doesn't contradict negotiations with Israel. A Palestinian militant being held by Israel without charge or trial is entering his 55th day of hunger strike. Racism against Arabs plagues Israel's soccer league. The chairman of the Palestinian election commission says Hamas is obstructing its work in Gaza. Jewish settlers and Palestinian villagers plant trees together. Pro-Palestinian Presbyterians take down a Facebook page after complaints from supporters of Israel. The BDS movement is trying to mainstream itself on US campuses. Egypt's intelligence chief meets with Palestinian officials. COMMENTARY: Ari Shavit says the peace process is dead but must be quickly replaced by a new, realistic approach to resolving the conflict. Israel Harel says that in spite of constant criticism from outside, Israel has achieved a great deal of normalcy. Alex Fishman says Israel is becoming overwhelmed with paranoia. Eitan Haber says soon PM Netanyahu will have to show whether he has really moderated his views or remains a staunch right-winger. Douglas Bloomfield says the US is trying to persuade Israel that sanctions on Iran are working and need to be given more time. John Whitbeck says a new language for peace must be developed. J.J. Goldberg says this time Palestinian unity might actually be accomplished. Elias Harfoush says through their agreement Palestinians are trying to regain control of their destiny. Roger Hercz says Israel is trying to determine its response to the Palestinian agreement. Karl Vick says the agreement is helping Hamas mainstream itself.

February 8th

NEWS: Fatah officials say Gaza-based Hamas leaders are wrong in claiming the terms of the Palestinian agreement are illegal. Many Palestinians express skepticism about the agreement. The State Department reacts cautiously to the announced deal. The EU says it doesn't anticipate any change in aid to the Palestinians. The Israeli High Court rules to preserve the remnants of a Palestinian village depopulated in the 1948 war. Israel is relinquishing copyright control of its National Photo Collection. The CSM profiles Hamas. Two brothers are killed by unknown assailants in Nablus. A Palestinian “public freedom” committee suspends its work, saying neither major party shows any interest. COMMENTARY: Ha'aretz says PM Netanyahu is punishing Israel by avoiding peace. Zvi Bar'el says Americans are right to be upset about the Russian veto on a UN Syria resolution, but should remember its own history of vetoes on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Carlo Strenger says the violence in Syria doesn't justify the occupation, but it does reinforce the dangerous region Israel faces. Elliott Abrams says if Hamas is admitted to PLO or PA without changing its current policies, Palestinians will have abandoned the peace track. The Jerusalem Post interviews former Israeli ambassador to the US Sallai Meridor. Mati Wagner asks if Hamas is really preparing to revise its policies. Nida Tuma says Palestinians managed to live happy lives in spite of the onerous occupation. The Gulf Times says the Palestinian agreement should be seen as a major victory for Qatari diplomacy. Yossi Alpher says Abbas is juggling multiple initiatives, while Israel has none at all. Ghassan Khatib says the goal of the Palestinian agreement is democratization.

February 7th

NEWS: Both the Palestinian public and political leaders are deeply divided about the national reconciliation agreement, as is the Arab media. Hamas and Fatah are continuing their negotiations in Cairo. Salam Fayyad and Ismail Haneya both welcome the agreement. The EU lays out terms for continued aid to a new Palestinian government. Residents of Kafr Aqab in occupied East Jerusalem are cut off from most public services by Israel's separation barrier. A Jerusalem monastery is vandalized with hateful slogans by Jewish extremists, an attack condemned by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the PA Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs, and the Heads of the Local Churches of the Holy Land,. Israel says it is concerned that Hezbollah might get arms from Syria. PM Netanyahu orders his cabinet to cease “chitchat” about Iran. Palestinian MK Tibi's right to speak in the Knesset is again restricted. COMMENTARY: Ethan Bronner says the agreement between Hamas and Fatah carries risks for both Abbas and Netanyahu. Joe Klein says if it leads to the replacement of PM Fayyad, the agreement will be a disaster for the Palestinians. Khaled Abu Toameh doubts that the agreement will work. Robert Danin says implementing the agreement will be very difficult. The National says Palestinian unity is the only way forward. Magid Shihade says the agreement will have real consequences for all parties. Ha'aretz interviews Mohammed Bakri about his 2003 film “Jenin, Jenin.” Sefi Rachlevsky says the Israeli government isn't doing enough to protect its citizens. Moshe Arens says democracies around the world are warming to Israel. Larry Derfner says Israel is on the road to war with Iran.

February 6th

NEWS: Hamas and Fatah sign an agreement that will apparently allow Pres. Abbas to also serve as PM, although it's not clear when this would take effect. Human Rights Watch says Israel's policies are denying thousands of Palestinians residency rights. PM Netanyahu will address the AIPAC conference next month. The last remaining member of Hamas' politburo leaves Damascus. In Israel, chatter about a possible attack on Iran grows, but Pres. Obama says he doesn't believe Israel has made any such decision. Palestinian villagers escort a stranded Israeli soldier to safety. The PLO will submit a list of proposed world heritage sites to UNESCO. An Israeli pro-peace group is banned from leading tours of occupied Hebron. COMMENTARY: Akiva Eldar says Israel could broker a nuclear-free Middle East, but it won't. Eliezer Yaari says Palestinian MKs are maintaining a shameful silence on violence in Syria. Susan Hattis Rolef says Israeli students should visit Hebron, and Jeff Barak says they need to see both sides of the story there. Amir Ofek denies Israel mistreats Palestinian children. Ben White says Israel won't allow equality for its Palestinian citizens. Tim Llewellyn memorializes the late Palestinian journalist Tewfik Mishlawi. David Ignatius says US officials are genuinely worried about a potential Israeli attack against Iran. Stuart Littlewood says Palestinians need higher caliber leaders. Azriel Bermant looks at Pres. Peres' new book about David Ben-Gurion. Ha'aretz says Palestinian citizens are not enemies of the state. Elyte Baykun says it is pointless for Palestinians to negotiate with an Israeli government that continues seizing land for settlements.

February 3rd

NEWS: UNSG Ban has shoes and rocks thrown at him in Gaza, as he says time is running out for negotiations. A viral photo of an Israeli soldier abusing a Palestinian is allegedly debunked. Two Palestinians are injured in an Israeli attack on Gaza. Israel clarifies its new subsidies won't apply to settlements after all. Pres. Abbas says Israel's "goodwill" gestures are not enough to resume talks. Israel's Shin Bet chief says Iran is targeting Israeli sites in retaliation for the assassination of its nuclear scientists. Palestinians return a lost Israeli soldier to Israel's custody. The Quartet is to working on a package of incentives for Palestinians to continue with negotiations. Gaza renews furniture exports. A new study suggests Jewish American support is tilting towards the Republican Party, but Democrats dismiss these claims. COMMENTARY: Yoel Marcus says PM Netanyahu is here to stay. Yossi Sarid decries indoctrination of Israelis about Hebron. Anshel Pfeffer says Jewish Americans should put their own interests, and that of their country, ahead of that of Israel. Uri Savir says Israel should regard Tunisia as a model for post-dictatorship Arab democracies. US Congressman Allen West says the US-Israel relationship is unique and precious. J.J. Goldberg looks at the backers of an Islamlophobic film used by the NYPD. Bilal Hassen says Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are impossible. George Hishmeh says Israel is deliberately trying to sabotage the two-state solution. Sarah Wildman says time is quickly running out for the two-state solution.

February 2nd

NEWS: A new poll finds a majority of Palestinian youth in favor of a two-state solution. UNSG Ban says that a Palestinian state is long overdue. Israelis and Palestinians bitterly dispute the propriety of a TV show that included interviews with family members of convicted murderers. Israel's Supreme Court again orders the evacuation of the largest “unauthorized” settlement outpost. Analysts speculate that Hamas' policy shifts are designed to gain ascendancy. Palestinian security services detain two journalists on suspicion of mocking the leadership. Germany upgrades Palestine's diplomatic status. Israel may renege on designating 70 settlements as “national priority” areas. Israel asks the US to prompt the Palestinians into continuing low-level negotiations. Israeli military leaders warn against attacking Iran. Changes in Hamas' policies may be connected to a financial crisis. COMMENTARY: Chuck Freilich says Israel faces a momentous choice on Iran. Israeli Maj.-Gen. Kochavi says the Arab world is rediscovering its power through the uprisings. Ray Hanania says it's easier to be caught up in emotions than to make the hard choices for peace. George Hishmeh says Israel appears to be systematically undermining all hopes for peace. Leila Hilal looks at potential options dealing with the Palestinian refugee question. Steven White and P.J. Dermer ask if “hypocrisy is becoming the norm at the Jerusalem Post?” The Forward looks at the depiction of the Israeli occupation at the Sundance Film Festival. Victor Kotsev blames Israel largely for the failure of recent negotiations. Amira Hass asks if helping Palestinians serves as cover for the occupation.

February 1st

NEWS: The PA and PM Fayyad face a backlash over tax hikes. Fatah officials say Palestinian leaders may agree on a new government by Thursday. UNSG Ban is on a peace mission to the Middle East. PM Netanyahu is reelected Likud chief. Religious extremists deploying harsh rhetoric are coming to the forefront of both Israeli and Palestinian discourse. Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem. Hackers target Palestinian news websites. Released Palestinian prisoners are adapting to life in Qatar. Growing lawlessness in Sinai may threaten the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. COMMENTARY:Ha'aretz says Netanyahu's new committee on settlements would not be necessary if the government followed the law. Douglas Bloomfield says Hamas is running away from Syria like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Josh Nathan-Kazis says concerns about Israel have replaced racial anxieties as the main obstacles Pres. Obama must overcome with Jewish voters. Rami Khouri says he's not impressed with the apparent rapprochement between Hamas and Jordan and thinks it should be put to a referendum. Osama Al Sharif says it's not clear how much Hamas really being brought out of the cold, but distancing it from Tehran has to be a good thing. Efraim Inbar says the Amman talks are another exercise in total futility. Elliott Abrams says designating 70 settlements as “national priority” areas is a foolish move by Israel but is actually Washington's fault. John Whitbeck says Israel is using carefully crafted language to assert ownership of East Jerusalem and other occupied areas. APN interviews Yossi Alpher on the Amman negotiations. Robert Staloff urges American politicians to stop speaking in terms of “ironclad commitments” to Israel.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017