Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Associated Press reports on Israeli plans to build 300 new homes in an East Jerusalem settlement based on their contention that East Jerusalem is not occupied territory (2.) In the American Prospect, Israeli author and journalist Gershom Gorenberg analyzes Israeli PM Olmert's reluctant and incomplete conversion to a true believer in a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories (4.) The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports on a new Israeli hardline right-wing fund established to offset the effect of left-wing groups on Israelis (6.) The Telegraph (UK) reports on the discrepancy between successive Israeli governments' pledges to demolish illegal settlement structures with actual demolition (8.) An Asharq Alawsat opinion by Hussein Shobokshi draws hope from the emergence of a Palestinian 'third way' (10.) In Miftah (Palestine) Joharah Baker laments the damage to the Palestinian cause that disunity has done (12.) A Jerusalem Post (Israel) opinion by B'Tselem executive director Jessica Montell is critical of Israel's policy in Gaza resulting in a humanitarian disaster for Palestinian civilians (14.)

Israel Plans New Homes In East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Mark Lavie - December 5, 2007 - 4:45pm

Israel announced plans Tuesday to build more than 300 new homes in a disputed east Jerusalem neighborhood, drawing quick Palestinian condemnation that the move will undermine newly revived peace talks. The new housing would expand Har Homa, a Jewish neighborhood in an area Palestinians claim as capital of a future state. Palestinian officials appealed to the U.S. to block the project, but Israel says a pledge to halt settlement activity does not apply anywhere in the holy city.

Muslim Extremists Constantly Insult Faith
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Chicago Tribune
by Hussein Ibish - (Commentary) December 5, 2007 - 4:47pm

The recent jailing and deportation of a British teacher in Sudan highlights yet again the depths to which ultraconservative religious fanatics are damaging one of the great faiths of mankind. Gillian Gibbons' "offense" was to allow her 7-year-old students to name a class teddy bear Muhammad. She was initially threatened with a possible sentence of 40 lashes but was sentenced to 15 days in jail, before her deportation.

Nobel Laureate, Bibi's Sister-in-law Launch Fund To Fight Left In Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Jacob Berkman - December 5, 2007 - 4:52pm

A Nobel laureate and the sister-in-law of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are heading a group of intellectuals starting a philanthropic fund to combat what they describe as a "left-wing assault" on Israeli public opinion. Robert Aumann, a Hebrew University mathematician who won the 2005 Nobel Prize in economics, and Daphne Netanyahu, an Israeli law professor, trotted out the plans for the Israel Independence Fund last week in New York at a board meeting of the Zionist Organization of America.

Darkness Surrounds Spotlight On Peace Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by William Fisher - December 5, 2007 - 4:54pm

Most of those representing Middle East and North African nations at the Nov. 27 conference appear to endorse the idea of a "two-state solution" to the decades-old conflict: a separate and contiguous Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. But Arab delegates to Annapolis -- including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen -- have had little to say about the nature of the state that may emerge from negotiations set to begin soon between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel Fails To Demolish West Bank Buildings
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Telegraph
by Carolynne Wheeler - December 5, 2007 - 4:56pm

The Israeli army has followed up on only three per cent of its own orders to demolish illegal buildings in Jewish settlements in the West Bank over the last decade, a study says. The report by Peace Now, an Israeli settlement watchdog, follows pledges by the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, to freeze new construction in settlements. Israel also faces increasing pressure to dismantle illegal outposts in preparation for negotiations toward the founding of a Palestinian state.

Israel Questions Us Report Of Nuclear Weapons Freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Donald Macintyre - December 5, 2007 - 4:57pm

Israel moved quickly yesterday to question the US intelligence report that concluded Iran's nuclear weapons programme was frozen, and called for intensified international pressure on the country. The Israeli Prime Minster, Ehud Olmert, who said the conclusions in the National Intelligence Estimate had already been discussed with Washington, echoed US officials by declaring: "It is vital to pursue efforts to prevent Iran from developing a capability like this." He added: "We will continue doing so along with our friends the United States."

Problem And Hope
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Hussein Shobokshi - (Opinion) December 5, 2007 - 4:58pm

The troubled Palestinian situation has reached an alarming deadlock with the passage of time, while the chasm continues to widen between Hamas in Gaza on one hand, and government authority and the PLO in the West Bank on the other.

Islamist Threat Is Exaggerated
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Amir Tehari - (Opinion) December 5, 2007 - 5:00pm

Is the Greater Middle East region ready for reforms designed to broaden the decision-making base of the state? The question has been at the heart of a debate triggered in 2002 when the Bush administration launched its plans for the region. Since then, the plan itself has been put on the backburner. But the debate continues. One view is that almost none of the region's 30 states is ready for a political system based on achieving power through elections.

The Devastation Our Disunity Has Created
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Miftah
by Joharah Baker - (Opinion) December 5, 2007 - 5:02pm

This morning, Israeli forces killed yet another three Hamas activists in an air strike on Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip. Over the past two weeks, some 30 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli military forces, mostly in the Strip, even as Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak insists his army continues to hold out on wide scale military action there.

A Bad Odor
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - December 5, 2007 - 5:04pm

This is most definitely not a pastoral picture: Two village council heads are standing in front of the garbage dump of one of the villages, Beit Liqia, and counting, one by one, all of the environmental hazards. The village's houses are 200 meters away. There are people who burn garbage (mainly to separate metal from old cables or the iron from tires) and then black smoke forms and wafts around the windows of the crowded homes. Around the garbage dump are olive groves. Nobody harvests the olives there any more. At the garbage dump in the village of Beit Anan they burn the waste.

In The Wake Of Annapolis, Other Fronts Develop
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Marc Perelman - December 6, 2007 - 4:30pm

In a bid to reassert itself in a region where it long held sway, Russia has re-entered the Middle East diplomatic fray by serving as a go-between for Israel and Syria and by offering to host a follow-up meeting to last week’s peace summit in Annapolis, Md.

Hamas Urges Talks With Abbas Amid Israeli Attacks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-mughrabi - December 6, 2007 - 4:31pm

A Hamas leader on Wednesday renewed his call for dialogue with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's rival Fatah faction a week after Abbas restarted talks with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas formally relaunched a U.S.-sponsored peace process last week and Israel has since stepped up raids on Hamas-run Gaza to try to curb rocket fire by militants.

Promises Of Annapolis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) December 6, 2007 - 4:33pm

Now that the dust has settled on the recent Annapolis conference that promised to try and reach a Palestinian-Israeli settlement by the end of next year, it is time to review the event that was an unprecedented achievement for the lameduck Bush administration, particularly on the decades-old Arab-Israeli conflict that has been virtually neglected in Washington for nearly seven years.

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