November 7th

NEWS: There is widespread relief but not euphoria in the Middle East at Pres. Obama's reelection. Obama's victory may spell trouble for PM Netanyahu who has ordered his officials not to make any public comments. Pres. Abbas congratulates Obama and Palestinians express hope for a change to US policies. A crocodile has been on the loose in Gaza. A stray bullet from fighting in Syria sets off a land mine in the occupied Golan Heights, sparking a fire. Syrian rebels kill 10 more pro-Assad Palestinian militiamen. The UK condemns new Israeli settlement construction plans. A US court throws out a lawsuit linking an Arab bank to a Hamas shooting incident. US Ambassador to Israel Shapiro says direct negotiations between the parties are the only way forward. A Druze citizen of Israel challenges mandatory military service. Palestinian date farmers in the occupied West Bank are struggling. Israel prevents Palestinian students from Gaza from traveling to the West Bank to study. COMMENTARY: Amos Harel says Iran will not have to take center stage on Obama's agenda. Barak Ravid reflects on the significance of the election from Israel's point of view. Aluf Benn says Netanyahu has successfully accustomed the world to the idea that Israel will attack Iran. The Jerusalem Post is convinced that US-Israel relations will remain strong. Tony Michels looks at the complex relationship between left-wing thought and Zionism. The National says Obama has a new mandate on foreign policy but Middle East peace will probably take a backseat to other concerns. Tariq Alhomayed says Syrian military moves in the demilitarized zone with Israel show Pres. Assad's desperation. Hazem Saghieh says Abbas' recent controversial remarks were merely realistic and serious. Osama Al Sharif says Abbas' era is over and wonders what will come next. Talal Awkal says Palestinians need to see the full video of Abbas' interview on Israeli TV. Ben-Dror Yemini says Israel must respond to Abbas' overtures. Natan Sharansky denies Hussein Ibish's charge that he uses rhetoric about human rights and democracy as a cover for Israel's occupation and denial of Palestinian rights.

November 6th

NEWS: PM Netanyahu reiterates his willingness to strike Iran without any international support. Israel says it is preparing to “ensure the collapse” of a new Palestinian UN initiative, and is considering a range of retaliatory measures. Israel issues tenders for 1,200 new settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.The Syrian government physically shutters Hamas' offices in Damascus.A Turkish court is trying four Israeli military officers in absentia over the deadly flotilla incident. Three Israeli soldiers are wounded by a bomb near the Gaza border. School teachers go on strike in the West Bank. Hamas denies it prevented a Fatah official from leaving Gaza. Russia says Hamas can play a vital role in advancing the Palestinian issue. Palestinians and Israeli settlers are locked in a court battle over the burning of wood for fuel. FM Lieberman's new level of influence is worrying some Israelis. An internal Israeli Foreign Ministry report allegedly contradicts many current government assumptions, including that Palestinian statehood would not threaten Israel, but the stalled peace process does. COMMENTARY: Hussein Ibish pens a memo to the incoming American president on Middle East policy. George Salem says Arab-Americans should vote for Mitt Romney, but Jim Zogby says they should reelect Pres. Obama. Bernard Avishai says a Romney administration would probably ignore the Israeli-Palestinian problem, and that would be a disaster. Adam Gonn says Pres. Abbas is trying to reinsert the Palestinian issue into Israel's election. David Grossman says Netanyahu urgently needs to talk to Abbas. Gershon Baskin says that in his recent interview with Israeli TV, Abbas merely reiterated long-established positions and again demonstrated he is a good partner for peace. J.J. Goldberg says Netanyahu will probably find himself in conflict with whoever wins the American election. Jonathan Yavin says the assassination of the late PM Rabin marked a turning point in Israel's history. Elisheva Goldberg profiles a generation of Israeli youngsters being inculcated with the extremist ideology of the late Rabbi Kahane. Philippe Assouline says both Hamas and the PA are suppressing aspects of Palestinian culture they don't like. Michael Koplow compares Abbas to Guy Fawkes.

November 5th

NEWS: Remarks by Pres. Abbas on Israeli television are denounced by Hamas and left-wing factions and dismissed by PM Netanyahu. Israeli media suggests Netanyahu was considering military action against Iran in 2010, but was overruled by security officials. Palestinians reject Netanyahu's demands they drop a renewed UN bid, and the Arab League encourages them to go forward with it. Israeli forces kill a mentally ill Palestinian man near the Gaza border. 20 are killed in fighting in a Damascus Palestinian refugee camp. Swiss investigators visit the tomb of the late Pres. Arafat in preparation for possible exhumation. Israel releases a Palestinian teenager improperly jailed for six months. Despite a new promise of aid from the UAE, no date is set for paying PA employees. Newly released documents illustrate the range of Palestinian reactions to early Zionist settlement. A once-thriving Palestinian village has been turned into a virtual ghost town by the separation barrier. COMMENTARY: Ha'aretz says Israel needs to say "yes" to Abbas' overtures, but the Jerusalem Post says the whole affair proves the Palestinians aren't ready for peace. Hussein Ibish says Abbas didn't say anything new and explains the official Palestinian position on refugees. The National praises Abbas' "realism and openness to calculated compromise." The New York Times says a new Palestinian bid for greater UN recognition won't help anyone, and Netanyahu seems unwilling to make any substantial compromises. Issam Younis writes an open letter of complaint to Hamas. Christa Case Bryant says US-Israel relations have never been stronger, and don't depend on presidential personalities. Saeb Erekat says whoever wins tomorrow's US presidential election may be the last American leader with a real chance of securing a two-state solution. Zvi Bar'el says with Pres. Morsy distracted by domestic politics, a volcano of violence may explode in Sinai. Jamal Zahalka calls for international sanctions against Israel, but Adel Safty says a boycott campaign is pointless. Danny Rubinstein says the visit to Gaza by the Emir of Qatar is a devastating and possibly fatal blow to the PA. George Hale describes the pitfalls of trying to report on corruption in the West Bank.

November 1st

NEWS: Israeli authorities in occupied East Jerusalem are creating more street names. Palestinians intensify their diplomatic campaign for greater recognition at the UN. Syrian rebels are reportedly arming anti-Assad Palestinian factions. Israeli center-left parties are reportedly discussing the possibility of a coalition to defeat PM Netanyahu. Israeli settlers scuffle with occupation forces as they demolish unauthorized settlement structures. PLO sources reportedly say PM Fayyad has proposed a new cabinet. A Palestinian columnist is being investigated by the PA for libel. UNRWA is facing resistance from its own teachers in educating Palestinian students about the Holocaust. US police chiefs are studying Israeli counterterrorism methods. Israel acknowledges the details of the assassination of PLO leader Abu Jihad. Pres. Peres says there shouldn't be any diplomatic initiatives until the next Israeli election. COMMENTARY: Hussein Ibish says whoever wins the election, the next administration will have to deal with the question of Palestine. Siraj Davis and Yasmin Omar Lulu look at the plight of refugees in Gaza. Ari Shavit calls FM Lieberman a "grotesque version" of Pres. Putin. Shaul Arieli says Israel's leaders are not adopting peaceful positions. Barak Ravid says Moshe Kahlon is very supportive of Israeli settlement efforts. Jeremy Ben-Ami says the Levy Commission Report serves bashers of Israel. Morgan McDaniel says Palestinian businesswomen are increasingly asserting themselves. Alon Pinkas says Netanyahu's move to the right opens up space for former PM Olmert in the Israeli political center. Yedidia Stern says Israeli women shouldn't be forced to choose between a religious life and a full one. Menachem Klein says the next Palestinian uprising will probably begin by targeting Palestinian leaders, not Israel.

October 31st

NEWS: Israeli officials say Iran is pulling back from military aspects of its nuclear program. Palestinians are pressing forward with a renewed effort at greater recognition at the UN. French investigators say they will exhume the body of the late Pres. Arafat next month. PM Netanyahu is in France, pushing for tougher sanctions against Iran. Syrian rebels attack Palestinian factions aligned with Pres. Assad. Sudan dismisses Israeli allegations about arms shipments. Analysts say the Israeli right is uniting while the center and left remain in disarray. Peace Now says two new “unauthorized” outposts have been established by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank. Israel announces 180 new settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli forces arrest 24 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Netanyahu claims Arabs would not be upset about an Israeli attack against Iran. A long-serving PLO official says a Palestinian confederation with Jordan might be an option. The Church of Scotland owns a luxury hotel in the Galilee. Jewish-American groups are increasingly discussing how to deal with the new Egyptian government. Knesset Speaker Rivlin says the reelection of Pres. Obama would be bad for the settlement project. COMMENTARY: Amira Hass says Israel cannot forever rely on military prowess for its future and security. Zvi Bar'el says Israel is starting to resemble Turkey, a democratic system in effect ruled by a single party. Alan Dershowitz says he thinks Obama deserves to be reelected. The Daily Star says Arab states talk about Palestine, while Israel acts. Danny Rubinstein says the Palestinian economy is teetering on the brink of collapse. Adam Raz says it might be time for Israel to abandon its policy of nuclear ambiguity. Michael Koplow says the Netanyahu-Lieberman joint list could be a disaster for both of them.

October 30th

NEWS: Major clashes have broken out in a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus. Israel arrests 30 Hamas activists in the occupied West Bank, as its policy of isolating the organization by blockading Gaza appears to be unraveling. Pres. Abbas expresses concern that the visit by the Emir of Qatar to Gaza could lead to its separation from the West Bank. Israel believes sanctions against Iran are forcing it to cut back on aid to Hezbollah. Israel says it would limit the use of cluster bombs in any new conflict with Hezbollah. Israeli forces kill a Hamas militant as more projectiles hit southern Israel. PM Netanyahu is going to visit Paris. Two Israeli police officers are indicted for beating an Arab youth. Palestinian citizens in Israel feel unprotected by the Israeli police. European NGOs are pushing for a ban on trade with Israeli settlements. Settler leaders continue to press the Israeli government to adopt the recommendations of the Levy Committee Report. COMMENTARY: Roger Cohen says Jews in Ohio are divided as never before over the election. Abdul-Hakim Salah says the outcome of the US election is unlikely to affect US Middle East policy. Dennis Ross says the two-state solution is not dead and remains the only path to peace. Reuven Pedatzur says Israel has no answer to rocket attacks from Gaza. Kenneth Bandler says the US should make sure other Arab states don't follow Qatar's example in recognizing the de facto Hamas government in Gaza. Gershon Baskin says the situation in Gaza might not escalate, but Israelis and Palestinians must find a way to stop it from continuously repeating. Matthew Brooks says Jewish Americans should vote for Mitt Romney for president. Mel Levine says Romney has many financial ties to Iran. Rami Khouri says a recent letter by American Christian groups to Congress on aid to Israel is an antidote to typical political pandering. Yaron London says Israel is in a low-level war with Gaza whether Netanyahu wants to admit it or not. Andrew Apostolou says the US-Israel relationship is based on practical politics, not romance. Ahram Online interviews former Pres. Carter.

October 29th

NEWS: Iran reportedly acquires images of sensitive Israeli military installations from Hezbollah drones. DM Barak is hoping to extend his political career. Israel and militants in Gaza continue to exchange fire. Palestinians are moving forward with a renewed UN bid later in November. The controversy continues about Jews praying on the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif in occupied East Jerusalem. UNRWA strongly disputes Israeli claims that militants use its facilities to fire rockets towards Israel. Hamas leaders insist they want to end Palestinian political divisions. A new poll suggests more Americans believe Pres. Obama is Jewish than he is Muslim, when in fact he is a Christian. An Israeli human rights group says, unlike the government, it will cooperate with a UN investigation into settlement activity. The Dead Sea is shrinking at a record rate. Bahrain denies reports that its King will visit Gaza. COMMENTARY: Geoffrey Aronson says Israel's new Netanyahu-Lieberman alliance could make it almost impossible for the United States to secure a settlement freeze. Gideon Levy agrees with critics of his article last week that Israelis would accept apartheid-like arrangements, but only if their preference for two states cannot be realized. Yehuda Ben Meir insists most Israelis don't want apartheid. Benjamin Pogrund says Israel has moved to the right, but it is not an apartheid state. Akiva Eldar says the alliance between PM Netanyahu and FM Lieberman could be counterintuitively good news. Eitan Haber says the plans of the late PM Rabin will be implemented by whoever is Prime Minister. Jeff Barak says the Likud party may be abandoning the legacy of Jabotinsky. Linda Gradstein says Hamas may be gaining in international legitimacy. Nathan Jeffay says Israeli government recognition of a university in a settlement in the occupied West Bank may spur boycott movements. Nicolas Pelham looks at the growth of extremist Islamist movements in Gaza.

October 26th

NEWS: Israeli officials are instructed to keep quiet about potential US-Iranian negotiations. PM Netanyahu and FM Lieberman announce their parties will be running a joint list in the upcoming Israeli election. The heads of Catholic churches in the "holy land" condemn the route of Israel's West Bank separation barrier. Israeli officials complain Egypt is not doing enough to curb militant activity in Sinai. A UN expert calls for a boycott of companies tied to Israeli settlement activity. Arab MKs in Israel are facing an uphill task in mobilizing their community for the upcoming election. Israeli officials worry about the consequences of Israel's reaction to, and diplomatic campaign against, a renewed Palestinian UN bid in November. The Guardian explains why Israel might have been responsible for an attack in Sudan. The EU is moving to strengthen pharmaceutical trade ties with Israel. COMMENTARY: Douglas Hamilton and Nidal al-Mughrabi say Hamas' brinksmanship betrays a quiet confidence. Alaa Tartir and Jeremy Wildeman say World Bank policies consistently fail the Palestinians. Yossi Verter says fear drove Netanyahu and Lieberman into each other's arms. Chemi Shalev says the partnership could backfire. Aluf Benn says the coalition is aimed at war with Iran. Gideon Levy says the present quiet in the occupied West Bank cannot last. Yonah Jeremy Bob says the Goldstone report may have actually strengthened Israel. Nathan Guttman says US Jewish-Christian dialogue in was in trouble long before the controversy over a letter to Congress. Sari Bashi says the next US administration must not allow Israel to deny Palestinian students American scholarships. Patrick Seale asks if the next US administration can change course in the Middle East, especially regarding Israel. Hassan Barari says Israel is a slogan in American politics. Adel Zaanoun says the visit of the Emir of Qatar may have been a coup for Hamas, but it doesn't set the stage for an independent state in Gaza. David Roberts says Qatari meddling in Gaza is mainly aimed at countering Iran. George Hale looks of the dynamics of the PA fiscal crisis.

October 25th

NEWS: There is a lull in fighting between Israel and militants in Gaza after Egypt brokers a truce. Israel claimed 79 rockets were fired at it from Gaza. Israel says it has “no knowledge” about an attack in Sudan.Palestinians and Israelis protest a settlement supermarket. Hamas sources again say Moussa Abu Marzouk is likely to be the next leader of its Politburo. More Israelis are being drawn to the idea of annexing the West Bank without providing equal rights to its Palestinian residents and jettisoning Gaza. Israel has reopened two Gaza crossings. Israel warns any renewed Palestinian UN bid will have “far-reaching consequences.” The US extends $4 billion in new loan guarantees to Israel. Israel's vice premier says the new Egyptian government of Pres. Morsy is harsher on Hamas than the former Mubarak regime. Israel deports activists from a blockade-breaking ship bound for Gaza. The embattled Zionist Organization of America cancels its annual gala after losing its tax-exempt status. Young Palestinian voters seemed disconnected from recent local elections. The Palestinian Hotel Association says its members boast a 90% occupancy rate. COMMENTARY: ATFP Pres. Ziad Asali says US elections matter and the American political system is open to all participants. Hussein Ibish says policies of the West, Israel and the Arab states are, wittingly or unwittingly, strengthening Hamas at the expense of the PA. Tariq Alhomayed says the price for Qatar's “guardianship” of Gaza is not yet clear but will be high for all. The National says the Qatari visit to Gaza is a sign of regional changes. Gideon Levy gives his view of the range of Jewish Israeli opinion. Aaron David Miller interviews former Mossad chief Halevy. Talal Awkal says Palestinian elections won't be effective until democracy is established and rights are respected.

October 24th

NEWS: During his visit to Gaza, the Emir of Qatar pledges $400 million in reconstruction aid. The visit may be a historic breakthrough for Hamas. Four more Palestinians are killed in Israeli air raids on Gaza after an Israeli soldier is injured by a bomb in the border area and three Israelis are wounded by rocket attacks on southern Israel. A Palestinian is arrested trying to smuggle bombs into Jerusalem. Palestinians say Israel has destroyed five Palestinian wells near Jenin. Public sector strikes are once again gaining momentum in the occupied West Bank. Israel's High Court issues an injunction on separation barrier construction near a West Bank farming village. The PLO is reportedly circulating a position paper to European governments on its renewed UN bid. An Israeli military court rules soldiers must act to stop illegal settlement construction. FM Lieberman vows to continue to raise the issue of Jewish refugees and migrants from the Arab world. The Palestinian ambassador in Lebanon insists there was no Palestinian involvement in recent armed clashes in Beirut. Some Americans in Israel are more forcefully backing Mitt Romney. COMMENTARY: Efraim Halevy says historically it is Republicans, not Democrats, that have put sustained pressure on Israel. Adam Gonn says support for PM Netanyahu is not negatively affected by fighting with militants in Gaza. Many experts believe the Qatari visit to Gaza provides an international opening for Hamas. Muhannad Abd al-Hamid says Qatar and Hamas may be trying to establish a quasi-independent emirate in Gaza, with Israel's blessing. Eric Yoffie says Jewish and Protestant Americans may be headed towards an irreparable rift on Israel. Merav Michaeli says Israel isn't showing respect for its treaties with Egypt and Jordan, let alone evincing interest in peace with the Palestinians. Hagai Segal says Likud should learn from the volatile US presidential campaign, but isn't. The Jerusalem Post says Israel needs to do more to improve educational services for Arab citizens. Rachel Shabi joins those declaring the two-state solution "dead." Brant Rosen defends a letter by American Christian groups to Congress questioning aid to Israel as "reasonable" and “sensitively worded.” Shibley Telhami says it's not at all clear if American voters really care which presidential candidate supports Israel more. Noam Shelef says Gideon Levy misrepresented recent poll numbers regarding Israeli attitudes on apartheid. Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff say Hamas has changed its policy on not attacking Israel.

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