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ATFP News Roundup November 2, 2016

News:

Italian President Sergio Mattarella expressed on Tuesday his appreciation for the link between his country and Palestine during his first visit to the occupied Palestinian territory. (Ma'an/Times of Israel)

mountainous Palestinian community in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Al Jab'a differs in many ways from surrounding Israeli settlements but it shares one worry with its neighbors – a shortage of water. (Reuters)

PM Netanyahu says heads "most sympathetic government toward settlements" ever. (Ha'aretz)

Palestinian Authority security forces reportedly attempted to prevent an attack by one of its officers on Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint. (Ma'an/Times of Israel)

Israeli Nature and Parks Authority forces demolished several graves inside a Palestinian cemetery in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday morning, according to local sources.  (Ma'an)

Clashes broke out between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces on Tuesday afternoon near al-Quds University in the Jerusalem district town of Abu Dis. (Ma'an)

The Palestinian soccer chief said Tuesday he would appeal to the world’s top sports court if the soccer world body FIFA fails to punish Israel over clubs based in the West Bank. (Times of Israel)

Israeli media reported that Israeli security forces “thwarted a potential stabbing attack,” after they stopped a Palestinian woman who allegedly had knives in her possession near the Ibrahimi mosque in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron. (Ma'an)

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday a Western failure to rein in violent Islamists in Syria had indefinitely delayed the resumption of peace talks. (Reuters)

All sides fighting over the Syrian city of Aleppo may be committing war crimes through indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a regular U.N. briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Meeting reporters, Mr. Assad radiated confidence that he was firmly in control of his country, declaring that he planned to remain president until his term ends in 2021. (New York Times)

After Islamic State conquered villages in northern Iraq, it spelled out in minute detail the rules of its self-proclaimed caliphate, from beard length to alms to guidelines for taking women as sex slaves. (Reuters)

Islamic State militants killed 40 former members of the Iraqi Security Forces near Mosul on Saturday and threw their bodies in the Tigris river, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said on Tuesday, citing reports from the field. (Reuters)

Iraqi forces battled Islamic State fighters on the eastern edge of Mosul on Tuesday as the two-week campaign to recapture the jihadists' last main bastion in Iraq entered a new phase of urban warfare. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia has injected more than $25 billion into the faltering Egyptian economy in two years, but ties between the two most influential Sunni nations are fraying. (New York Times)

Commentary:

Akiva Eldar says Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman's "carrot-and-stick" plan promises Palestinians big punishments alongside negligible benefits, very much like the policies of the European colonial powers in Africa. (

Mohammed Othman says Hamas has released Zaki al-Sakani from prison, raising questions of whether it was part of a deal between Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan, with whom it just restored relations. (Al-Monitor)

The Washington Post says President Erdogan tramples free expression in a colossal purge. (Washington Post)

Antoun Issa says Lebanon has a new president, not that it matters. (Foreign Policy)

Abdul Rahman Al Rashed says during the years ahead, whether the war continues or peace prevails, it will not be easy for Houthis to impose themselves as a dominating power. (Al Arabiya)

ATFP News Roundup November 3, 2016

News:

Israeli planning authorities issued building permits for 181 new homes in East Jerusalem Wednesday, drawing a harsh rebuke from the United States. (Times of Israel/Ha'aretz)

The former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan is the focus of intrigue as Arab leaders seek change over the objections of Mahmoud Abbas, who has no designated successor. (New York Times)

One of the most divisive trials in Israeli history is taking place in a cramped military courtroom in a peeling mansion in the poor Arab section of Jaffa. (Washington Post)

An Israeli official accused Hamas of “exploiting” Palestinian residents of Gaza traveling to Israel to make them cooperate with the movement, and threatened to reduce access to aid in the blockaded coastal enclave if such alleged pressures continued. (Ma'an)

The Palestinian teenager who murdered Dafna Meir, a mother of six, in her West Bank home was sentenced to life in prison. (JTA)

Israeli bulldozers raided and demolished the unrecognized Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev desert for the 105th time on Wednesday morning. (Ma'an)

Two Palestinian teachers from the occupied West Bank district of Nablus qualified to participate in the Global Teacher Prize organized by the Varkey Foundation. (Ma'an)

A senior reporter who spoke to PM Netanyahu the day of the Israeli election says Netanyahu blamed global conspiracy to oust him using U.S. super-software that locates voters. (Ha'aretz)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused Syrian government troops of committing "crimes against humanity" that could not be overlooked. (Reuters)

Already accused of war crimes in Syria, the Kremlin is anxious to avoid a blood bath and humanitarian crisis while ousting antigovernment forces. (New York Times

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces moved closer on Wednesday to a town south of Mosul where aid groups and regional officials say Islamic State has executed dozens of prisoners. (Reuters)

Whenever members of Islamic State's Mosul vice squad find a woman without gloves, they pull out a pair of pliers. (Reuters)

Residents celebrated their regained freedoms after the Iraqi forces’ victory over the Islamic State in their area, and the military worked to maintain order. (New York Times)

Aid agencies said on Wednesday families who have fled Mosul and surrounding towns were starting to reach displacement camps away from the fighting, as Iraqi forces press on with an offensive to retake Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq. (Reuters)

Almost half the population of the Middle East and North Africa would stay away from casting ballots for either Clinton or Trump if given the right to vote in next week’s US presidential election, an opinion poll revealed Thursday. (Times of Israel)

Commentary:

Ahmad Melhem says news was leaked to the media about the arrest of cell members who were plotting to assassinate three Fatah leaders, although the Palestinian security services will not reveal details on the case before the investigation process is complete. (Al-Monitor)

Steven Heydemann says President Obama shouldn’t leave his successor with no options to move ahead with diplomacy in Syria. (New York Times)

Emile Simpson says Russia has quietly been building power throughout the Middle East. (Foreign Policy)

Michael Young says the election of Michel Aoun as Lebanon’s president represents a new phase in Lebanese politics. (The National)

Rima Maktabi says the Lebanese people want to see the implementation of modern and new laws, and then electing a parliament that reflects their demands, diversity, and opinion. (Al Arabiya)

The New York Times says as more people are arrested and media outlets closed, other countries need to speak the bitter truth to Turkey. (New York Times)

ATFP News Roundup November 1, 2016

News:

The Israeli government requested a delay in the evacuation of a West Bank settlement outpost in order to better prepare new housing for its residents. (JTA)

Fatah leader Mohammad Dahlan severely criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) while dismissing the likelihood of a reconciliation with his former party, in an exclusive interview with Ma’an in Cairo. (Ma'an/Ha'aretz)

Members of Israel’s ruling government coalition boycotted speeches by lawmakers of the Arab Joint List at the opening of the Knesset’s winter session, and the Arab lawmakers responded by walking out on the address by PM Netanyahu. (JTA)

A Palestinian assailant shot and wounded three Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank on Monday and was killed by troops returning fire, the Israeli army said. (Reuters/JTA/Ma'an)

Israel is trying to thwart an attempt by the Palestinian Authority to join the international police force, Interpol, fearing that it would leak sensitive information to Palestinian terror groups, Israeli officials said. (Times of Israel)

Nine Palestinian prisoners continued their open hunger strikes in Israeli prisons on Monday, according to Sawt al-Asra (Voice of the Prisoners) radio. (Ma'an)

Israel’s Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) to the Gaza Strip announced on Sundaythat Israel would be increasing its water supplies to the besieged coastal enclave. (Ma'an)

The European Union’s foreign policy chief recently affirmed the right of EU citizens to boycott Israel, citing freedom of expression and rebuffing claims by Jerusalem that such measures amount to banned anti-Semitic activity. (Times of Israel)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew visited Israel for talks on the Iran nuclear deal and other issues. (JTA)

Syria's army said on Monday the Nusra Front and what the army called other terrorist groups had killed 84 people, mostly women and children, in Aleppo during the past three days, in a bombardment that included chemical weapons and rocket fire. (Reuters)

Iraqi forces prepare to break into Mosul in battle against Islamic State. (Washington Post)

Turkey wants the operation on Raqqa, Islamic State's main stronghold in Syria, to start after Mosul and Euphrates Shield operations have been completed, Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday. (Reuters)

The leader of Iraq's largest Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia expressed hope on Monday that the battle of Mosul would not be as protracted and devastating as in the one that allied Shi'ite militias are fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo. (Reuters)

An elderly Christian widow who survived two years of Islamic State rule over her northern Iraqi town said the jihadists threatened to kill her, forced her to spit on a crucifix and made her stamp on an image of the Virgin Mary. (Reuters)

The ex-general and polarizing Christian leader takes office with the support of the militant group Hezbollah, but Lebanon’s underlying turmoil is unresolved. (New York Times)

Commentary:

Adnan Abu Amer says Hamas and Egypt appear to be adjusting their attitudes toward each other, and Fatah’s dismissed leader Mohammed Dahlan probably has a role in this regard. (Al-Monitor)

Shlomi Eldar says Israel's failure to publicize a decision that benefits the Palestinians shows just how preoccupied Israel’s right-wing government is about a settler backlash. (Al-Monitor)

Ben Caspit says senior IDF officers say that Israel should not have purchased three new submarines from Germany, but rather invested the money in air and ground defense. (Al-Monitor)

Mona Alami finds cause for concern in the increasing assertiveness of Hizbollah in Lebanon and Popular Mobilisation Units in Iraq – both proxies of Iran. (The National)

Evan McMullin looks at how to turn things around in Syria. (Foreign Policy)

Seth Jones asks if the Islamic State will lose Mosul and still win. (Foreign Policy)

ATFP News Roundup October 31, 2016

News:

Following the United States’ reelection to the United Nations Human Rights Council, U.S. Secretary of John Kerry criticized the body for its “biased focus on Israel.” (JTA/Times of Israel)

Leaders of Hamas announced that they had offered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a “complete vision” to achieving reconciliation between Hamas and the ruling Fatah movement. (Ma'an)

Pres. Abbas' Political Rival Dahlan Says He Won't Seek Palestinian Presidency, Backs Jailed Barghouti. (Ha'aretz)

Three Israeli Border Police officers were injured in a car ramming attack near Hebron, the fifth attempted West Bank attack in two days. (JTA)

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced that Kuwait would be donating $5 million to the organization. (Ma'an)

A Palestinian allegedly carrying out a car-ramming attack was killed by Israeli forces near the village of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron early on Sundayevening. (Ma'an)

The Israeli Foreign Ministry says relocating illegal West Bank outpost to abandoned Palestinian land would harm Israel. (Ha'aretz)

Israeli authorities have banned 5-year-old Ibrahim from visiting his father, Palestinian Muhammad Ahmad Abd al-Fatah Abu Fanunah, in prison, Abu Fanunah’s wife said to Voice of Prisoners (Sawt al-Asra) radio on Sunday. (Ma'an)

A prominent Israeli journalist and author quit his job on Sunday after a second woman accused him of sexual harassment, the first having been persuaded to go public by the raft of sexual assault allegations against U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump. (Reuters/New York Times/JTA/Ha'aretz)

Iraqi troops and security forces edged closer to Mosul on two southern fronts on Sunday but a leader of the Shi'ite militias newly participating in the offensive warned that the battle for Islamic State's Iraq stronghold would be long and grueling. (Reuters)

Iraqi federal policemen stood over the corpse of an Islamic State suicide bomber covered by a curtain. The chain attached to his ankle was tied to a car that had dragged him through streets, they said, that were once part of a self-proclaimed jihadist caliphate. (Reuters)

Gun trucks and humvees streamed north on a highway heading to Mosul on Sunday flying the banners of Shi’ite militias along with Iraqi flags while blaring religious songs. (Reuters)

Iraqi Christians, scarred by Islamic State’s cruelty, doubt they will return to Mosul. (Washington Post)

Twenty-six years after being forced from Lebanon's presidential palace and into exile by the Syrian army, Michel Aoun is set to be elected head of state on Monday, backed by many of his old enemies. (Reuters)

An air raid by an Arab coalition killed 60 people in Yemen, including inmates of a prison near the city of Hodeidah, medical sources said. (Reuters/New York Times)

Turkey said it had dismissed a further 10,000 civil servants and closed 15 more media outlets over suspected links with terrorist organizations and U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for orchestrating a failed coup in July. (Reuters)

Commentary:

Roger Cohen says it’s easier to leave Palestinians in limbo waiting for a “peace process” that goes nowhere. (New York Times)

Mohammed Othman says Palestinians are divided over the motives behind recent coordination between Hamas and dismissed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan. (Al-Monitor)

Avi Issacharoff says the PA president has been meeting with the leaders of Turkey, Qatar and Hamas — perhaps because his friends are abandoning him. (Times of Israel)

Aziza Nofal says a recent study found that despite the significant role foreign aid plays in the Palestinian economy, the private sector is not receiving the support it deserves. (Al-Monitor)

Uri Savir says new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will present innovative and proactive ideas for the United Nations to deepen its involvement in advancing the two-state solution. (Al-Monitor)

Yossi Beilin looks at Pres. Obama's last chance to rectify Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking failures. (Ha'aretz)

Akiva Eldar says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu uses time and again the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people to sideline the issues of occupation and settlements. (Al-Monitor)

Gideon Eshet says the rhetoric between Jerusalem and Gaza may be filled with deep hatred, but it allows both governments to prove there is no solution; In the meantime, the strip's residents are paying the price. (Ynet)

Emile Hokayem says the weakening of the Islamic State will resurface more potent fault lines. (Washington Post)

Hassan Hassan highlights some underlying troubles of the battle to liberate Mosul that should worry the US-led coalition. (The National)

Hisham Melhem says the new American president will inherit a crumbling region, half of it in a state of conflagration and the other half struggling to protect itself from flames. (Al Arabiya)

ATFP News Roundup October 28, 2016

News:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held a rare meeting with the heads of rival party Hamas in Qatar on Thursday, in direct talks aimed at ending years of hostility between the two movements. (Times of Israel/Ha'aretz)

The security cabinet reportedly approved a series of Palestinian building plans in Area C in the West Bank, in a vote that was held in secret in order not to anger settlers and right-wing activists. (Times of Israel/Ha'aretz)

A slew of Palestinian officials accused Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman of sowing strife among Palestinians, while trying to dethrone PA President Mahmoud Abbas by boosting his rivals. (Times of Israel)

President Reuven Rivlin of Israel visited the family of the 15-year-old boy who was killed by shots fired on the Israel-Egypt border. (JTA)

An Israeli court dropped charges on Wednesday against two Israeli security guards who shot and killed two Palestinian siblings at a checkpoint in April, ruling that there was not sufficient evidence that they had acted improperly. (Ma'an)

The state of Israel has postponed this week its decision regarding the fate of a primary school in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank, which has been threatened with demolition by the Israeli government for years. (Ma'an)

Several Palestinian youths were injured when Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas during clashes near the Shufat refugee camp in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem. (Ma'an)

Israeli authorities temporarily decreased the number of trucks of goods allowed into the besieged Gaza Strip through the Karam Abu Salem crossing on Thursday. (Ma'an)

On a rooftop overlooking the walls of Jerusalem's Old City, around 200 American-Israeli fans of Donald Trump gathered to proclaim their support for the Republican candidate, convinced he will be Israel's best friend if elected. (Reuters)

Experts question legality of non-American donations to Israeli GOP group. (Ha'aretz)

U.S. prosecutors on Thursday said two men from Syria and Turkey have been extradited to face criminal charges that they tried to sell military-grade weapons to purported Mexican drug traffickers to help them ship cocaine to the United States. (Reuters)

Syria should investigate accusations that government forces carried out chlorine gas attacks and Islamic State militants used mustard gas, Russia said on Thursday, dimming Western hopes that U.N. sanctions could be imposed on those responsible. (Reuters)

The Iraqi army was trying on Thursday to reach a town south of Mosul where Islamic State has reportedly executed dozens to deter the population against any attempt to support the U.S.-led offensive on the jihadists' last major city stronghold in Iraq. (Reuters)

When Kurdish fighters cleared Islamic State from the northern Iraqi village of Fadiliya, some residents celebrated by passing around cigarettes - an act that would have earned them a public whipping under the group's reign of terror. (Reuters)

The European Parliament awarded Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar its top human rights prize. (New York Times)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised on Thursday to amend a law that human rights groups say has severely restricted protest rights and hinted at possible pardons for young people imprisoned without conviction. (Reuters)

U.N. peace proposal to end a 19-month war in Yemen appears aimed at sidelining exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and setting up a government of less divisive figures, according to a copy seen by Reuters. (Reuters)

Commentary:

Charles Krauthammer says President Obama could try to force a two-state solution before he leaves office. (Washington Post)

Ahmad Melhem says a Japanese-funded project to protect and exhibit the largest mosaic floor in the Middle East, an ancient creation dating back to the Umayyad period, promises to protect this treasure of Palestinian heritage and attract thousands more visitors to Jericho. (Al-Monitor)

Adnan Abu Amer says Hamas carried out a ministerial reshuffle in the Gaza Strip, claiming to pump new blood into the ministries as the consensus government has failed to meet its responsibilities toward Gaza. (Al-Monitor)

Shlomi Eldar say Israeli physicians say that many cancer patients from the Gaza Strip are banned from entering Israel, and so they are hospitalized in Gaza where there is no adequate medical treatment. (Al-Monitor)

Mathew Reed says the United States has dramatically stepped up attacks on the caliphate’s oil production. But to win this battle, it’s going to have to go scorched earth. (Foreign Policy)


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