Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Associated Press reports on Israeli reaction to the call by Hamas for a ceasefire with Israel (2.) The Washington Post examines the policies of separation and exclusion that Israel's non-Jewish Arab citizens face in a number of different areas (3.) In Foreign Policy In Focus, professor of politics at San Francisco university Stephen Zunes offers a mixed review of the two main arguments put forth by Professors Walt and Mearsheimer in their recently released book on the Israel lobby in the United States (4.) The BBC (UK) analyzes how much difference aid to the Palestinians can make to their daily lives (7.) The Reut Institute (Israel) publishes a post-Annapolis paper whose main contention is that the key to empowering the Palestinian Authority politically lies with Israel rather than with the international donor community (8.) Haaretz (Israel) reports on an Israeli government evaluation that extreme right-wingers in Israel will use violence to counter any illegal outpost or settlement evacuation from the occupied Palestinian territories (9.) Also in Haaretz, Amira Haas details the political jockeying behind the current Palestinian census, suspended in Gaza by Hamas (11.) An Amin (Palestine) opinion by member of the Palestinian National Council Bernard Sabella uses the occasion of the holidays to write an open letter to Israelis (13.)

Israelis Cool To An Offer From Hamas On A Truce
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - December 20, 2007 - 4:42pm

Officials in the Israeli prime minister’s office reacted coolly on Wednesday to an indirect approach by the Hamas leader in Gaza offering talks on a truce. The offer was relayed through an Israeli reporter, Sleman al-Shafhe, of Channel 2 television. On a news broadcast on Tuesday night, Mr. Shafhe said Ismail Haniya, the leader of the Hamas government in Gaza, had called him earlier in the day to convey a message to the Israelis.

For Israel's Arab Citizens, Isolation And Exclusion
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Scott Wilson - December 20, 2007 - 4:44pm

Fatina and Ahmad Zubeidat, young Arab citizens of Israel, met on the first day of class at the prestigious Bezalel arts and architecture academy in Jerusalem. Married last year, the couple rents an airy house here in the Galilee filled with stylish furniture and other modern grace notes.

The Israel Lobby Revisited
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy In Focus
by Stephen Zunes - December 20, 2007 - 4:45pm

It has been 21 months since John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt published their article “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” in The London Review of Books and four months since their publication of a book by the same name. Their main arguments are that unconditional U.S. support for the Israeli government has harmed U.S. interests in the Middle East and that American organizations allied with the Israeli government have been the primary influence regarding the orientation of U.S. Middle East policy.

Bush To Make First Presidential Visit To Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ewen Macaskill - December 20, 2007 - 4:48pm

President George Bush is to embark on a week-long tour of the Middle East in the new year to nudge Israelis and Palestinians towards an end to their decades-long conflict and to bolster an Arab coalition against Iran. It will be the first time in his seven years as president that Bush will have visited Israel, the West Bank, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Elaborate security planning is already under way in Israel and the Arab countries for the visit, which begins on January 8, given the level of hostility towards Bush in the Middle East over the Iraq war.

Analysis: Palestinian Aid And Politics
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bbc News
by Jeremy Bowen - December 20, 2007 - 4:50pm

If delegates to the Palestinian donors' conference in Paris felt like a little light shopping after their work was done it was a mere step from their meeting hall to the Champs Elysees. If they had worked up an appetite, there are restaurants where a modest piece of grilled fish can cost more than 60 Euros (US $86).

Paris Donors Conference For The Palestinian State: The Ball Is In Israel's Court
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Reut Institute
December 20, 2007 - 4:53pm

In light of yesterday's donor conference in Paris, the Reut Institute contends that the key to upgrading the PA's political status lies with Israel rather than with the donor countries. Yesterday, the Donors Conference for the Palestinian State (rather than the Palestinian Authority) was convened in Paris.

Experts: Extreme Rightists Will Use Violence If Settlements Are Evacuated
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amoss Harel - December 20, 2007 - 4:55pm

Extreme right-wing activists are expected to use severe violence to disrupt any move to evacuate outposts or settlements, even the destruction of a few homes, according to an evaluation recently presented to the government by the security establishment and law enforcement officials in the territories. The evaluation states that the violence during any attempt at evacuation would be more serious than that seen during the evacuation of Amona two years ago.

In Jerusalem, Build Up, Not Out
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
December 20, 2007 - 4:56pm

We shouldn't envy those who are building the future of Jerusalem. The secular people may be leaving the city, but it is growing by leaps and bounds - though it is not easy to find a place to build. The city cannot develop to the east, in the area known as E1, because of clear-cut pledges to the Americans not to create territorial contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim. It cannot expand westward because the Safdie plan has been shelved. A real problem.

Hamas, Pa Census Bureau Locked In Dispute Over Gaza Survey
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - December 20, 2007 - 4:57pm

The United Nations and Palestinian parliament members are mediating between Hamas and the Palestinian Central Statistics Bureau (CBS) over a census taken in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas authorities shut the CBS offices last month and declared the census suspended, after CBS refused to hand over its data to a committee Hamas set up to supervise the census.

Gaza: To Die With The Philistines?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - December 20, 2007 - 4:58pm

The most famous words ever spoken in Gaza were the last words of Samson (Judges, 16, 30): “Let me die with the Philistines!” According to the Biblical story, Samson took hold of the central pillars of the Philistine temple and brought down the whole building upon the Lords of the Philistines, the people of Gaza and himself. The teller of the story sums it all up: “So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.”

Letter To An Israeli In Christmas Time
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arabic Media Internet Network
by Dr. Bernard Sabella - December 20, 2007 - 4:59pm

This is the time of feasts and holidays. We are on our second day of Eid El Adha, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice; Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights, was celebrated few days ago.   Christmas is around the corner. As we celebrate our separate holidays, it is clear that we have not yet found the middle ground that would enable all of us to genuinely share the celebrations of each other. There are many theories, academic arguments and practical reasons of why we have not yet arrived at the middle ground.

Underwriting The Conflict In Hebron
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The American Prospect
by Matthew Duss - December 21, 2007 - 3:20pm

On Nov. 18, in the beautifully appointed ballroom of Manhattan's posh Grand Hyatt Hotel at Grand Central Station, the Hebron Fund held its annual fund-raising gala. According to organizers, guests paid upward of $300 a head, with anything above the cost of the dinner considered tax-deductible. The evening began with a reception in an anteroom featuring a buffet of gourmet foods. A chef in a tall hat worked a stir-fry station; another expertly sliced sashimi and rolled sushi. A dessert table overflowed with cakes and chocolate mousse.

Blair Treads The Road From Baghdad To Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Philip Stephens - (Commentary) December 21, 2007 - 3:32pm

For Tony Blair it was a poignant, even painful, coincidence. Britain’s former prime minister was at an international donors’ conference in Paris this week, passing round the hat for the Palestinians in his role as Middle East mediator. In a small, unremarkable ceremony 2,000-odd miles away in Iraq, British troops were bidding farewell to Basra. Iraq, as far as Britain is concerned, is a lost war. Mr Blair’s premiership was one of its many casualties. Perhaps that explains why the former prime minister is not ready to give up on a Middle East peace deal.

Palestinian Statehood Is The Key
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Tanvir Ahmed Khan - (Opinion) December 21, 2007 - 3:37pm

Two important events have taken place in quick succession and yet a pall of uncertainty hangs over a possible route to a viable two-state solution in Palestine. Implicit in both events - the largely attended meeting in Annapolis, Maryland on November 26-27 and the just concluded donors conference in Paris - is a fresh recognition by the international community that in the final analysis the denial of Palestinian aspirations for statehood is the real locus of instability in the region.

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