March 7th

NEWS: A Palestinian protester shot two weeks ago by Israeli troops at a protest in the occupied West Bank has died of his wounds. (AP) An East Jerusalem woman is injured by rubber bullets fired by Israeli border police. (Ha'aretz) The prisoner issue continues to inflame Palestinian public opinion. (Reuters) Palestinian officials say they have no intention of reviving peace talks with Israel before Pres. Obama's visit later this month. (Xinhua) The closure of smuggling tunnels by Egypt hits Gaza construction projects and businesses. (Reuters) Israeli occupation forces arrest two Palestinians in West Bank raids. (Ma'an) Pres. Abbas and senior Fatah leaders express condolences on the death of Pres. Chavez. (PNN/Ma'an) Palestinians accuse Israeli occupation forces of harassing women at a Jerusalem holy site. (PNN) Israel's police commissioner describes the wave of attacks against ordinary Palestinians as "despicable." (YNet) A Jewish American pro-Palestinian activist is denied entry to Israel. (Ha'aretz) The Israeli government agrees to dismantle four "unauthorized" settlement outposts. (Ha'aretz) Israel is continuing to maintain separate roads for settlers and Palestinians in occupied Hebron. (YNet) Pres. Obama will not speak at the Knesset during his upcoming visit to Israel. (Jerusalem Post) Sweden becomes the ninth European country to upgrade the Palestinian mission to the status of embassy. (AFP)

COMMENTARY: Nabila Ramdani says Hamas squandered a great opportunity by banning women from running in a Gaza marathon, resulting in its cancellation. (The Guardian) Gideon Levy says the atmosphere in Israel created by PM Netanyahu's tenure in office is responsible for the wave of attack against ordinary Palestinians. (Ha'aretz) J. J. Goldberg looks at the decline in Netanyahu's political fortunes. (Daily Beast/Open Zion) Liam Hoare says Obama should address the Israeli public from Rabin Square. (The Forward) Efraim Halevy says Israel and Hamas are increasingly realizing they can provide each other with mutually-beneficial short-term arrangements. (The New Republic) Former Secretary of State Baker says informal representatives from Gaza could help Western and Israeli communications with Hamas. (Al Arabiya) Chemi Shalev says AIPAC is an impressive organization, but has a natural right-wing tendency. (Ha'aretz) Samuel Lebens says if diaspora Jews can't be critical of Israeli policies, they can't be successful in the battle of ideas. (Ha'aretz) Adnan Abu Amer says PM Erdogan is becoming increasingly popular among Palestinians. (Al Monitor) Douglas Bloomfield says Obama will promote, but not push hard for, peace. (Jerusalem Post),/p>

March 5th

NEWS: Israelis are divided, others outraged, over new segregated bus lines for Jews and Arabs in the occupied West Bank. (New York Times/CSM) Pres. Abbas reportedly urges Sec. Kerry to pressure Israel on settlements at a meeting in Saudi Arabia yesterday. (Jerusalem Post) VP Biden and PM Netanyahu stress points of unity at the AIPAC conference. (New York Times) Netanyahu calls for a "credible military threat" against Iran. (Xinhua) UNRWA cancels a Gaza marathon after Hamas bans women runners. (AP) A settler rabbi who promoted peace has passed away. (AP) The PA says settlers have built a new wildcat outpost near Nablus. (Ma'an) Analysts believe Netanyahu probably can form a new government in his two week extended window. (Xinhua) PM Fayyad and Abbas issue conflicting statements about the resignation of finance minister Qassis. (Ma'an) Palestinians say some European labor unions may have agreed to boycott Israeli settlements. (PNN) A bill is introduced in Congress describing Israel as "a major strategic ally" and solidifying aspects of the relationship. (Jerusalem Post) Hamas scolds protesters that self immolation is "un-Islamic." (Al Monitor)

COMMENTARY: Dennis Ross suggests a series of unilateral and bilateral steps Israel and the Palestinians could take to improve conditions for peace. (New York Times) Noam Sheizaf offers his critique of Ross' suggestions. (+972) Moshe Arens says Israel should tear down the West Bank separation barrier. (Ha'aretz) Akiva Eldar looks at a new book by Elie Podeh that examines real opportunities for peace that have been missed and ones that were illusory. (Al Monitor) Octavia Nasr says that, to her, Ramallah sums up Palestine. (Al Arabiya) Ha'aretz says the new segregated bus lines in the occupied West Bank are the road to racism. (Ha'aretz) Anna Lekas Miller says the separate buses are only the latest in segregated public transportation in the occupied Palestinian territories. (Daily Beast/Open Zion) Omar Shaban says there are large gas reserves off the coast of Gaza, but Palestinians aren't in a position to benefit from them. (Al Monitor) Michael Billington looks at a new play about Israel's occupation. (The Guardian) Ari Afilalo says newly released archives show PM Begin was right to fire DM Sharon over the 1983 Sabra and Shatila massacre. (JTA) Ben Lynfield asks if Israel is pressuring Palestinians to leave "Area C" in preparation for formal annexation. (The Forward) A Palestinian couple in California explain why they decided to open a Palestinian restaurant following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (San Francisco Chronicle) APN interviews Yossi Alpher on recent developments in Israel. (APN) Matt Hill says many people depict the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict in reductive, simplistic terms. (The Daily Telegraph)

March 4th

NEWS: Israel opens a Palestinian-only bus line in the occupied West Bank. (Reuters) PM Netanyahu gets a two-week extension to continue to try to form a new government, which is not expected to press forward on peace issues. (New York Times/CSM) However, aides to Netanyahu say Israel will have to freeze construction outside of existing settlement blocs. (Ha'aretz) DM Barak again says Israel should consider unilateral separation measures should peace talks continue to fail. (JTA) The PA finance minister resigns over a budget dispute. (Reuters) Pres. Abbas unexpectedly met with Sec. Kerry in Saudi Arabia this afternoon. (Ha'aretz) Kerry scolds PM Erdogan for comments describing Zionism as a "crime against humanity." (Washington Post) Hamas rulers in Gaza launch a campaign to catch "spies." (AP) Gunfire erupts along the Gaza-Israel border. (New York Times) Israel blames Hamas for keeping a Gaza border crossing closed. (AP) Israel continues to insist that injuries to the body of a Palestinian prisoner who died in Israeli custody are consistent with resuscitation efforts. (New York Times) Israeli police question a teenage settler girl in an attack on a Palestinian woman. (AP) Herbs grown in Gaza are being exported to Europe. (Xinhua) Reconstruction in Gaza is still impeded by the blockade. (NPR) Many are skeptical about an Israeli plan for an industrial park for Bedouins. (Los Angeles Times) Palestinians are continuing to work on improving their justice system. (The Media Line) Syrian rebels hang two Palestinians accused of collaborating with the Damascus government in a refugee camp. (The Daily Star) Philip Gordon has been appointed NSC Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region. (White House)

COMMENTARY: Eric Yoffie says Jewish Americans and their organizations should feel proud about the power and influence they have accumulated. (Ha'aretz) Larry Snider says the US should start working intensively with the rest of the world to create the framework for a two-state solution. (Jerusalem Post) Giora Eiland says Americans and others need to start thinking about alternatives to a two-state solution. (YNet) Amira Hass illustrates the absurdities of occupation with a tale of soldiers, a shepherd and two baby goats. (Ha'aretz) Daniella Peled says the suggested EU settlement boycott isn't really an economic measure, but intended to demonstrate European frustration with Israel's settlement activities. (Ha'aretz) Hunger striking Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi explains his actions. (The Guardian) Naela Khalil says Palestinian national reconciliation is still a long way off. (Al Monitor) Shlomi Eldar says Erdogan is a hypocrite. (Al Monitor) Anna Lekas Miller looks at 10 years of Israel's West Bank separation barrier. (Daily Beast/Open Zion) Aeyal Gross says new ethnically-segregated bus lines in the occupied territories push Israel ever closer to Jim Crow and apartheid. (Ha'aretz) Paul McGeough interviews Hamas leader Mishaal. (Sydney Morning Herald)

March 1st

NEWS: Israeli officials claim injuries to a Palestinian who died in custody are consistent with heart attack resuscitation attempts. (New York Times) The PA says it is going to try to ensure that an independent physician evaluates the case. (Ma'an) Israel's allies increasingly warn it that it is undermining its own security in the occupied Palestinian territories. (LA Times) A Hamas official predicts a third intifada. (Al Monitor) A local Fatah leader tells Israelis they must either make peace with his generation of leaders or face a future of open-ended conflict. (Ha'aretz) Israeli troops practice combating mass protests in the occupied West Bank. (Xinhua) Israel may be suspending highly controversial settlement construction in the occupied territories in advance of Pres. Obama's visit. (Washington Times) PM Fayyad joins a protest at a village deeply affected by Israel's West Bank separation barrier. (YNet) PM Netanyahu criticizes reported comments about Zionism by PM Erdogan. (Reuters) PM Erdogan is sharply criticized for comments equating Zionism with other trans-historical evils. (AP) Sec. Kerry will reportedly raise the issue with him. (Reuters) UNSG Ban calls the comments "hurtful." (YNet) A Fatah official says Israel is increasing "oppressive measures" in occupied East Jerusalem. (PNN) Republicans push a congressional bill ensuring the United States would support Israel in a confrontation with Iran. (AP) Syria protests an Israeli decision to go ahead with oil exploitation in the occupied Golan Heights. (AP) Palestinian doctors say three are wounded in Israeli shelling of Gaza, but Israel denies this. (Ma'an) Croatia says it's going to pull its peacekeeping troops from the border with the occupied Golan Heights. (AP) More Palestinian citizens of Israel are volunteering for National Service. (The Media Line) According to a new poll, most Americans sympathize with Israel, but want equal treatment for Israel and the Palestinians. (Real Clear World)

COMMENTARY: David Makovsky and Ghaith al-Omari say the rhetoric of leaders is crucial to laying the groundwork for renewing progress towards peace. (Washington Post) Gideon Levy and Alex Levac ask what really happened to Arafat Jaradat, the Palestinian prisoner who died in Israeli custody. (Ha'aretz) Yossi Sarid says it's absurd that the issue of National Service for the ultra-Orthodox in Israel is overshadowing the question of the occupation. (Ha'aretz) Alon Pinkas says with Sec. Hagel, Israel has a friend in the Pentagon. (YNet) Yehuda Bauer says "Netanyahu doesn't know history." (Ha'aretz) Adnan Abu Amer says Israel is preparing for cyber warfare with Palestinians. (Al Monitor) Jonathan Schanzer says Palestinians aren't ready for a third intifada… Yet. (Foreign Policy) Peter Beinart asks if Pres. Obama has lost interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Daily Beast) Amos Harel says tensions between Israel and Palestinians are continuing to accumulate and simmer. (Ha'aretz)

February 28th

NEWS: Two hunger striking Palestinian prisoners have agreed to end their fast as Israel says it will release them in May. (Reuters) Pres. Abbas says Israeli settlement construction in the "E1" area is a Palestinian "red line." (Jerusalem Post) PM Netanyahu demands "military sanctions" against Iran. (Reuters) Hamas addresses the Yasser Arafat Foundation in Cairo for the first time on the subject of reconciliation. (Ma'an) The PA economy minister welcomes an EU report recommending sanctions against Israeli settlement activity. (Ma'an) The Israeli press reports a breakthrough in Netanyahu's coalition negotiations to form a new government. (Xinhua) Israeli police insist that Palestinians fabricated a reported "price tag" arson attack on cars last week. (Xinhua) The PA says it has secured the release of four Palestinian teenagers detained by Israel on Wednesday. (Ma'an) Evidence continues to mount that Israeli-Turkish relations are improving, despite the fact that PM Erdogan has described Zionism as "a crime against humanity" at a UN meeting. (Xinhua/Ha'aretz) Israel is using the Bible to reach out to evangelical Christians as far away as Brazil. (CSM) The Oxford University Student Union votes down a measure endorsing a boycott against Israel. (Ha'aretz) Palestinian fishermen are mystified as hundreds of ray fish wash up on the shores of Gaza. (The Independent) Some Palestinians are trying to encourage food self-sufficiency. (IPS) Some Israeli experts see no real sign of change in Egypt's foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinians under Pres. Morsi, despite some changes in rhetoric. (Jerusalem Post)

COMMENTARY: Allen Weiner says Israel and the Palestinians need American mediation. (New York Times) Jonathan Schanzer says Palestinians need a succession plan and Abbas needs an heir apparent. (LA Times) Gideon Levy says it's ironic that Israelis, who were so upset by the captivity of a single soldier, seem incapable of understanding Palestinian outrage about thousands of detainees in Israeli jails. (Ha'aretz) Shlomi Eldar says Israel needs to reconsider its policy of administrative detention of Palestinians. (Al Monitor) Matthew Duss looks at the prospects for a third intifada. (The American Prospect) Roger Cohen says although a single state is not going to emerge, the prospects for two states for Israel and the Palestinians are dwindling fast. (New York Times) Eitan Haber says, whether he admits it or not, Pres. Obama is coming to the region with an agenda. (YNet) Sara Hirschhorn says Israelis have to rid themselves of the notion that settlements are irreversible or face a one-state future. (Ha'aretz) Shlomo Cohen says Israel is unfairly taking advantage of Diaspora Jewry. (Ha'aretz) Andy Bachman says BDS rhetoric should be challenged, but not censored, but Martin Raffel says it amounts to hate speech. (JTA) Nathan Guttman looks at different advice offered to Obama in new books by Daniel Kurtzer and Elliott Abrams. (The Forward) George Hishmeh says Obama has a duty to tell Israel it cannot continue with business as usual towards the Palestinians. (Gulf News)

NEWS: The situation on the ground in the occupied territories calms somewhat, as experts say neither the PA nor Hamas are looking for an escalation. (Ha'aretz/Ma'an) Some experts believe both sides will continue to use contained, low-level disturbances to keep up the pressure until Pres. Obama's visit in March. (AFP) Israel hints that, in order to enhance credibility, it may include foreign observers in its own probe into whether a Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody died due to torture. (Jerusalem Post) The Palestinian teachers union says it is calling off a planned general strike protesting non-payment of salaries. (Ma'an) The PA says it will pay the remaining half of January salaries today. (PNN) Pres. Abbas says any peace agreement must involve the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. (Ma'an) Hamas insists no rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel. (Xinhua) An Egyptian court rules that the government must destroy all smuggling tunnels to and from Gaza. (Reuters) Another Egyptian court throws out a case against the peace treaty with Israel, but the FJP says it's still wants to amend the agreement to allow more Egyptian forces in Sinai. (Al-Masry Al-Youm) Israeli officials say unexploded tank shells from Syria land in the occupied Golan Heights. (AP) Israel returns six wounded Syrians to their country after medical treatment. (AP) Palestinians welcome an EU report recommending sanctions against Israeli settlements. (Xinhua/The Media Line) Pres. Peres says he will lead an effort to urge Obama to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. (AP) A Jewish Israeli mob reportedly attacks a Palestinian woman at a rail station in Jerusalem. (Ma'an) A Palestinian American who lives in the occupied West Bank has been repeatedly denied entry into Israel despite having a valid visa. (Ha'aretz)

COMMENTARY: Yaakov Lappin says Israeli officials have concluded that ensuring Palestinian security forces are paid on time is essential for maintaining calm in the occupied West Bank. (Jerusalem Post) Dalia Hatuqa argues that, in the long run, there is an untenable tension between ongoing occupation and PA security coordination with Israel. (The National) Amira Hass asks why a third intifada hasn't broken out yet. (Ha'aretz) Paul Pilar says if there is a third intifada, the United States should take advantage of it. (The National Interest) Ben Caspit says it's not Abbas who is a weak leader, it's Israel's leadership that is weak. (Al Monitor) Carlo Strenger says Israel isn't being delegitimized, the settlements are. (Ha'aretz) Ori Nir says textbooks don't shape worldviews, lived reality of occupation does. (Daily Beast/Open Zion) Zvi Bar'el looks at the role of Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen in the prisoner issue and Israeli security generally. (Ha'aretz) Asmaa al-Ghoul says among Palestinians demands are growing for third parties other than Hamas and Fatah to contest future elections. (Al Monitor) Shai Feldman looks at the tough task facing Obama, Sec. Kerry or anyone else who wants to launch a new Middle East peace effort. (The National Interest)

February 26th

NEWS: Two Palestinian teenagers are injured by Israeli gunfire at another protest in the occupied West Bank. (New York Times) Dozens are injured in additional protests. (Ma'an) A rocket fired from Gaza lands in southern Israel for the first time since last year's truce. (Reuters) Israel seals Gaza border crossings in response to the rocket attack. (Ma'an) Israeli officials say Iran has set up a camp of missile experts in Gaza. (Ha'aretz) Israel and some other observers fear the death of a Palestinian prisoner in custody and other pressures may lead to another intifada. (Reuters/CSM) The dead prisoner is buried by Palestinians with honors, as both sides appear to be trying to prevent further unrest. (Washington Post) The PA says an autopsy shows the prisoner died following extensive torture in Israeli detention. (Ma'an) The UN calls for an independent inquiry into the prisoner's death. (AFP) Pres. Abbas orders Palestinian security to maintain order despite provocations, and says Israel wants to provoke chaos. (Ha'aretz/Ma'an) Palestinian prisoners end their hunger strike over the death of their fellow detainee. (Xinhua) Israeli authorities order hunger striking Palestinian prisoners hospitalized after 28 days. (Ha'aretz) Israel bans Palestinian construction near the West Bank separation barrier for "security reasons." (Xinhua) UN officials declare the two-state solution to be on "life support." (Ha'aretz) Sec. Kerry says Pres. Obama plans to "listen" to Israeli and Palestinian leaders during his upcoming trip, not present a US peace plan. (Reuters) With the help of the UN, Palestinians establish their first national disaster loss database. (UN)

COMMENTARY: The National says peaceful Palestinian protests could prove a potent challenge to Israel's unsustainable occupation. (The National) Bradley Burston says just as Lincoln abolished slavery, Israel must abolish the occupation. (Ha'aretz) Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat recounts his difficult journey from Palestine to Hollywood for the recent Academy Awards. (Huffington Post) The Jerusalem Post argues Palestinians should be more upset about journalists in Palestinian detention rather than Palestinians in Israeli detention. (Jerusalem Post) Philip Stephens says PM Netanyahu's apparent eagerness for a conflict with Iran spurs the impression he is more interested in war than peace. (Gulf News) Ali Hashem says Israel and Hezbollah prefer a shadow war of assassinations and terrorism to any direct confrontation across the border. (Al Monitor) Omar Barghouti explains his understanding of the BDS movement. (New York Daily News) Brent Sasley says Sen. Marco Rubio needs a lesson in peace process history. (Daily Beast/Open Zion)

February 25th

NEWS: Palestinians say an autopsy shows Arafat Jaradat, a 30 year old prisoner who died in Israeli custody, was tortured, while Israel insists he passed away from a heart attack. (Ma'an/New York Times) Palestinians demand an international inquiry into Jaradat's death, and into conditions for Palestinians in Israeli prisons generally. (New York Times/AP) Palestinians across the occupied territories protest in support of prisoners. (Xinhua) Dozens are injured in West Bank clashes over the prisoner's death. (Ma'an) Israeli settlers shoot two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. (AP) The Israeli military says it's preparing for a potential third Palestinian uprising, as its forces go on high alert throughout the occupied territories. (Xinhua/Washington Post) Israel demands the PA suppress Palestinian demonstrations. (Reuters) A Fatah official says "Israeli arrogance" may indeed result in a third intifada. (Ma'an) Hamas calls for the capturing of more Israeli soldiers by armed Palestinian groups. (Ma'an) In a letter to its US sponsors, Palestinians protest the route of the Jerusalem Marathon. (New York Times) Hamas bans a Fatah official from leaving Gaza. (Xinhua) A Hamas court cuts in half the sentence for the murderer of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni from 10 to 5 years. (AFP) Egypt seizes 20,000 liters of fuel being smuggled into Gaza. (Ma'an) The US and Israel say they have successfully tested the Arrow anti-missile system for the first time. (AP) A Palestinian citizen of Israel in Haifa, who is a noted artist, is using his work to try to save an elderly refugee relative in Syria by finally bringing her home. (Ha'aretz) There are signs of a slow but steady reconciliation between Israel and Turkey. (The Media Line)

COMMENTARY: Chaim Levinson says West Bank demonstrations are not yet a third intifada. (Ha'aretz) Zvi Bar'el says the protests are in place of negotiations that were never held. (Ha'aretz) Dalia Hatuqa says the PA may be trying to use the specter of a third intifada to pressure Israel. (Al Monitor) Amos Harel says Israel is trying to calm the situation, and whether a third intifada breaks out or not depends on how the PA handles the situation. (Ha'aretz) Shlomi Eldar says Pres. Abbas is also trying to calm the situation and offers the best hope for avoiding a third intifada. (Al Monitor) Ha'aretz says Israel has no choice but to deal seriously with Palestinian issues if it wants to avoid a third intifada. (Ha'aretz) Khaled Abu Toameh says some think Abbas and other PA leaders may have an interest in escalating tensions with Israel. (Jerusalem Post) Hassan Barari says PM Netanyahu's coalition building efforts may backfire. (Arab News) Michael Ross looks at why Israel's "Prisoner X" might have committed suicide. (Daily Beast/Open Zion) Sharif Nashashibi looks at how Pres. Morsi's government is much tougher on Hamas in many ways than Pres. Mubarak's was. (Al Arabiya)

February 22nd

NEWS: An Israeli court orders a hunger striking Palestinian prisoner released sometime in the next two weeks when his eight-month sentence is concluded, but he may continue his fast anyway. (Reuters) Palestinian security forces are struggling to maintain order, but are facing many challenges, including from Israel. (The Media Line) Israeli police in Jerusalem are reportedly beefing up their presence in preparation for more protests in support of hunger strikers. (Ma'an) The Israeli military is preparing for possible action along the Syrian border. (CSM) Israel is reportedly pressuring the UN to ensure no criticism of its policies in an upcoming report by UNSG Ban on the upgrade of Palestine's status to nonmember observer state. (Xinhua) Jordan says it will continue to work to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. (Xinhua) Palestinian officials reiterate that negotiations can only begin in the context of a settlement freeze. (Ma'an) A Hezbollah operative on trial in Cyprus says he was told to track Israeli flights. (New York Times) A youth in Gaza who immolated himself in front of a Hamas headquarters was apparently protesting against officials in the building. (Xinhua) The EU renews its support for mental health improvement in Gaza. (PNN) PM Fayyad condemns attacks against Palestinian electricity poles in the occupied West Bank, apparently by Israeli settlers. (PNN) A new batch of Israeli documents about the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres are released, but portions regarding the activities of the Israeli military remain heavily censored. (Ha'aretz) Then-DM Sharon said at the time that the Sabra and Shatila report could allow Israel to be accused of genocide. (YNet) Residents of an Arab neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem appeared to be left without health care. (YNet) A new poll suggests that Yesh Atid would crush Likud in new elections. (Jerusalem Post) The BBC looks at two Oscar-nominated films about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (BBC) The only music school in Gaza faces closure due the lack of funds. (Al Monitor) The PA, the EU and the UN are holding a conference in the West Bank on improving the quality of teaching in Palestinian schools. (PNN)

COMMENTARY: Yossi Verter says PM Netanyahu suspects political newcomers Bennett and Lapid of plotting to overthrow him. (Ha'aretz) Linda Gradstein looks at why it's taking so long to form a new Israeli governing coalition. (The Media Line) Anshel Pfeffer says the "Prisoner X" scandal shows Israel has to stop stealing identities. (Ha'aretz) The Jerusalem Post interviews former Deputy FM Ayalon, who says former FM Lieberman's tenure was "a failure," and "it would be wrong" for him to regain the position. (Jerusalem Post) Uriel Halbreich thinks a confederation between Israel, Jordan and Palestine is the best way forward. (Jerusalem Post) Uri Savir says that for peace to be sustained, all mainstream constituencies must buy into and be included in it. (Jerusalem Post) Amy Goodman says the two Oscar-nominated films about the conflict will change the public dialogue on Israel and Palestine. (The Guardian) Adina Friedman says Morocco offers an example of good relations between Arabs and Jews. (The Daily Star) Akiva Eldar interviews Marwan Muasher on the urgent need for an American initiative on Israeli-Palestinian peace. (Al Monitor) Mick LaSalle calls the Oscar-nominated film "The Gatekeepers" revealing. (San Francisco Chronicle) Alon Ben-Meir looks at the perils of mutual delegitimization between Israel and the Palestinians. (Huffington Post)

February 21st

NEWS: Palestinian protesters supporting hunger striking prisoners clash with Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank. (AP) Mustafa Barghouti says the death of a hunger striker could lead to another intifada. (YNet) A new poll finds that a huge majority of Palestinians want new elections immediately, and support for Fatah remain steady but Hamas' numbers have declined. (PNN) A trial reveals much about Hezbollah's operations in Europe, including looking for Israeli targets. (New York Times) Egypt says it is determined to stop the flow of weapons between Gaza and Sinai, and is reportedly flooding smuggling tunnels with sewage. (New York Times) Hamas says it will not accept any agreement that includes a ban on arms smuggling. (Xinhua) Israeli forces are training for potential subterranean warfare with Hezbollah. (Jerusalem Post) Fatah officials are reportedly angered by indirect Israeli-Hamas negotiations. (Jerusalem Post) A Gaza resident immolates himself outside a Hamas headquarters. (Ma'an) Israel approves drilling for oil in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. (AP) The Netanyahu government is deeply uncomfortable with two Oscar-nominated films on the conflict, "The Gatekeepers" and "5 Broken Cameras." (Reuters) Israeli officials fear US budget cuts might mean a loss of military aid. (Xinhua) DFLP chief Hawatmeh is lightly injured in a bomb explosion in Damascus. (Ma'an) Settlers are accused of torching six Palestinian cars near Nablus. (Ma'an) Witnesses say Israeli occupation forces shot one man and detained two others near Jenin. (Ma'an) Palestinians say they have little confidence that new Israeli justice minister Livni, who is also in charge of negotiations, will be able to have much of an impact on Israel's policies towards them. (The National) Senior PLO and Israeli officials are visiting Washington in preparation for Pres. Obama's upcoming Middle East trip. (JTA)

COMMENTARY: Jeffrey Heller says Livni will face an uphill struggle to make any progress on peace with the Palestinians. (Reuters) Adam Gonn says Netanyahu is taking a risk including Livni in his new government. (Xinhua) Ian Black says Livni "won't be a fig leaf" for Netanyahu if he doesn't want peace. (The Guardian) The National says it fears the new Israeli coalition, including Livni, is indeed a missed opportunity. (The National) The LA Times interviews Likud party centrist figure Meridor. (LA Times) Ari Shavit says if the Bennett-Lapid alliance continues, there will be no let up in settlement activity and it will be very bad for peace. (Ha'aretz) Gideon Levy says before anybody starts talking about the "peace process" again, serious confidence building measures are urgently required. (Ha'aretz) Gershon Baskin insists Israeli-Palestinian peace is still possible. (Jerusalem Post) Paul Hirschson says Israeli-Arab business relations are good for peace. (Jerusalem Post) Jay Michaelson says trying to censor views critical of Israel backfires. (The Forward) George Hishmeh says if Obama does not seize the initiative on peace in his second term, it may be a final opportunity squandered. (Gulf News) Joseph Kechichian says Obama must realize that nothing can advance US interests in the Middle East like the creation of a Palestinian state. (Gulf News) Michael Jansen thinks Pres. Morsi is "playing the Israeli and US game" in Gaza. (Jordan Times)

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