Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Los Angeles Times reports on the crossing of tens of thousands of Palestinians of the breached Gaza border wall with Egypt in order to seek humanitarian relief (2.) A Middle East Times editorial examines how the recent Bush Mideast visit revealed diminishing U.S. influence among traditional allies (4.) The Jewish Telegraphic Agency looks at official Israeli reaction to international pressure regarding the Gaza situation (5.) A Guardian (UK) comment by UNRWA commissioner general Karen Koning AbuZayd is critical of the international community's reaction to the Gaza situation, warning that only further violence and extremism can result from not resolving the issue (7.) BBC (UK) reports from the Israeli border town of Sderot on the impact of continuing Palestinian militant rocket fire on its inhabitants (9.) An Independent (UK) comment by Deborah Orr accuses Hamas of colluding in Israel's collective punishment of Gaza by manipulating the victimhood issue for its own interests (10.) Al-Jazeera (Qatar) examines how the Israel-Palestine issue factors into the Christian evangelical vote in the U.S. presidential primaries (12.) A Haaretz (Israel) editorial raises concern about how the religious Zionist camp in Israel consider themselves outside the authority of the state (14.)

Gaza Border Breached; Thousands Flood Into Egypt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Rushdi Abu Alouf, Richard Bourdreaux - January 23, 2008 - 8:37pm

Masked gunmen used explosives to blow holes in the Gaza Strip's border fence early today, enabling thousands of Palestinians to pour into Egypt to buy food, fuel and other supplies that had been cut off because of an Israeli blockade, witnesses said. Egyptian and Palestinian border guards did not resist the mass crossing at the Rafah terminal. Witnesses said Palestinian security officials later closed some of the breaches but kept two open, allowing Gazans to cross into Egypt and return with milk, cigarettes and plastic bottles of fuel.

Mideast: In Gaza, It's Darkness At Noon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mohammed Omer - January 23, 2008 - 8:37pm

It gets dark, and cold, and people are getting hungry. Israel closed border crossings Friday, not allowing even UN humanitarian aid trucks carrying basic food. Crossings have been closed frequently since October 2007. "On Wednesday or Thursday we will have to suspend our food distribution programme in Gaza," spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Christopher Gunness told IPS. "We are running out of fuel for vehicles."

Editorial: Even A President...
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Times
(Editorial) January 23, 2008 - 8:38pm

Even a president of the United States must get used to being defied by his enemies. But it is far more galling to be defied by one's friends. And when a president of the United States on one of his extremely rare visits to the Middle East manages to get humiliatingly defied by Saudi Arabia and Israel on the same trip, something is clearly very wrong somewhere. That was the hapless fate of U.S. President George W. Bush on his much heralded swing through the region to promote his current favorite causes of peace and democracy.

This Brutal Siege Of Gaza Can Only Breed Violence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Karen Koning Abuzayd - (Commentary) January 23, 2008 - 8:41pm

Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and - some would say - encouragement of the international community. An international community that professes to uphold the inherent dignity of every human being must not allow this to happen.

Tony Blair Warned That Middle East Peace Mission Faces Failure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Times
by Catherine Philp - January 23, 2008 - 8:42pm

Tony Blair’s peace mission in the Middle East is doomed because he is not prepared to confront the Israelis, Palestinian business and political leaders said yesterday. Yasser Abed Rabbo, the chief Palestinian negotiator, gave Mr Blair’s mission to revive the West Bank’s economy a “5 per cent chance” unless he was prepared to talk tough to Israel over loosening restrictions on freedom of movement.

Deborah Orr: The Tragic Truth About Collective Punishment
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Deborah Orr - (Opinion) January 23, 2008 - 8:44pm

I wish in no way to condone Israel's wantonly cruel policy of laying siege to Gaza, which it has been pursuing ever since it withdrew from the territory in 2004. But I must say that I do find it a bit rich, this proposition that suddenly and uniquely Israel has resorted to "collective punishment" of the Palestinians. The awful truth is that collective punishment of the Palestinians has been used as a weapon in the Arab-Israeli conflict ever since the inception of the Israeli state, in all sorts of ways, by all sides.

From Birmingham To Gaza, A Same Struggle
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - January 23, 2008 - 8:45pm

I have two texts that I pull off my bookshelf every now and then for renewed stimulation and hope in times of conflict and pessimism. One is the Book of Isaiah in the Bible - that great work of Jewish warning, faith and hope during times of peril in exile; and the other is the collected works of Martin Luther King, Jr., the great American civil rights leader, whose annual commemoration day took place on Monday.

Evangelicals Key In South Carolina
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al Jazeera English
January 23, 2008 - 8:46pm

Evangelical Christians are an important voting bloc in US politics - their strong support was crucial to George Bush's narrow victories in 2000 and 2004. And this year, South Carolina, a state with a strong Evangelical community, will be a crucial test, especially for the Republican candidates. One of them must inspire the Evangelical vote to have any hope of becoming president in November.

They Neither See Nor Remember
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - January 23, 2008 - 8:47pm

The security establishment was quick on Monday to boast of the success of its tactic of escalation against Gaza: Look, the number of Qassams declined. By the time these lines are published, the security establishment may spin another logical axiom: Since we renewed the supply of diesel fuel on a one-time basis, the Palestinians have gone back to firing Qassams. The conclusion: Continue the escalation. The logic of escalation is the middle name of the current defense minister, Ehud Barak, and many Israelis are adopting it.

A Thundering Silence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) January 23, 2008 - 8:48pm

The 14-year-old girls who spent three weeks in jail because they refused to identify themselves after being arrested at an illegal outpost are just one example of what is happening in the religious Zionist camp. It is easy to feel sympathy for minors whom the legal system arrested as a form of punishment, since arrest is not supposed to serve this purpose. In that sense, the court that released them was right to do so.

Politics: U.s. Stymies Security Council Action On Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Haider Rizvi - January 24, 2008 - 6:00pm

Despite intensifying calls for international pressure to address the fast deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip, observers and some diplomats say the U.N. Security Council has proved as ineffective as it has been for many years concerning issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On Tuesday, the Council called an emergency meeting during which a vast majority of delegates strongly condemned Israel's blockade of the occupied Palestinian areas and charged that it was violating international humanitarian law.

An Embattled Olmert Stresses Peace Credentials At Herzliya
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Dina Kraft - January 24, 2008 - 6:01pm

ghting for his political life, Ehud Olmert told the Israeli people that keeping him in office was their best hope of reaching the promised land of peace. "There is no other option to what I am offering," Olmert said Wednesday in his keynote address at the Herzliya Conference, referring to ambitious peace efforts with the Palestinians launched under the aegis of the United States at the Annapolis peace conference last November.

Rafah: Symbol Of Gaza's Isolation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bbc News
by Jonathan Marcus - January 24, 2008 - 6:02pm

The mass breach of the Rafah crossing point illustrates many of the problems and pitfalls of Middle East peace-making. In recent times it was hoped Rafah would become a symbol of a new beginning for the Gaza Strip. What began as a European-monitored crossing with aspirations to become a permanently open link between the Gaza Strip and Egypt has in practice become, for many Palestinians, yet another symbol of their isolation and "imprisonment".

My Talks With Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Dror Ze’evi - (Opinion) January 28, 2008 - 7:29pm

Now I can reveal this: Several months ago, I participated in a series of meetings in Europe that involved a small group of Israeli and Palestinian public figures and academicians, including senior Hamas supporters.

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