Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Reuters reports on comments from a senior PA adviser that the issue of Jerusalem is still a high priority in talks with Olmert (2.) An Angus Reid poll shows that most Israelis would back a motion to launch a large scale military operation in Gaza (3.) A report by Americans for Peace Now looks at settlement expansion in the West Bank (5.) The Kuwait News Agency covers French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner’s visit to the Palestinian Territories (9.) Ran HaCohen makes the case for Israel to talk with Hamas (11.) Gideon Levy compares the current situation in Azoun Village to the days of the Intifada(12.)

Palestinians: Jerusalem Still High On Agenda
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
February 19, 2008 - 6:33pm

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has not agreed to postpone talks on the future of Jerusalem, a senior adviser said yesterday, disputing comments by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert said on Sunday that Abbas had consented to hold off discussing Jerusalem until the end of the negotiating process, a move that could anger Palestinians but help the Israeli leader hold together his fragile coalition government for now.

‘abbas Meets Olmert Amid Crisis In Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
February 19, 2008 - 6:34pm

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was due to meet Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud ‘Abbas in Jerusalem on Tuesday in an attempt to overcome differences facing the final-settlement talks, Palestinian sources said.   The differences followed Olmert’s announcements on Sunday that ’Abbas had consented to hold off discussing Jerusalem until the end of the negotiating process. Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Olmert also revealed the aim of the United States-backed peace talks is to reach an understanding on "basic principles" for a Palestinian stat

A Post-annapolis Breakthrough Proposal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Chuck Freilich - (Opinion) February 19, 2008 - 6:38pm

Three months after the Annapolis conference and a commitment that an agreement would be reached by the end of 2008, prospects for peace are as distant as ever. Hardly a day goes by without rockets hitting Israel from Gaza. Ashkelon and Ashdod are now in range and sooner or later Tel Aviv and its environs will be hit by rockets as well, from the West Bank. Repeated attempts to do so have been thwarted by the IDF, but the law of averages is against us.

Guidelines Of A New Egyptian Policy Toward Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Gamal A. G. Soltan - February 19, 2008 - 6:39pm

The recent breach of Egypt's border with Gaza accentuated the risks implied in the current situation in the territory. Losing control over that border for 10 consecutive days proved to be embarrassing for Cairo. Bending to the plot implemented by Hamas operatives embarrassed Egypt even further. Far more serious than just the embarrassment, the infiltration of suspect terrorists into Egypt is a major security concern for a country that has been in a continuous war on terror for 30 years.

Olmert Says Gaza Blockade To Continue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
February 19, 2008 - 6:40pm

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday that Israel would maintain the tighter blockade that it has imposed on the Gaza Strip since last month. "We will continue to apply sanctions that are hurtful to the needs of the (Palestinian) population in order for it to be clear that living conditions cannot be altered only from our side," he told the parliamentary group of his Kadima party in allusion to near daily rocket fire from Gaza.

Kouchner Believes Israelis Heard Him On Settlements, Palestinian Issues
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Kuwait News Agency (kuna)
February 19, 2008 - 6:41pm

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who returned February 17 after a two-day visit to the Palestinian territories and Israel, believes that he was heard by Israel when he brought up a number of important issues relative to the peace process and Palestinian development, officials here said.

Israel Says 'no'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Antiwar
by Ran Hacohen - February 19, 2008 - 6:45pm

On Jan. 23 Ha'aretz readers were utterly embarrassed. Just as the quality paper was printing its top headline, based on Israel's omniscient "security sources" – "New Israeli Policy in Gaza: Border Crossings Will Stay Closed" – the border crossings between Gaza and Egypt were being opened; a few hours later, they didn't exist anymore. Once again, the regional power was caught in surprise; Hamas won by breaking the siege.

Humbling Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Middle East Times
by Alon Ben-meir - (Opinion) February 20, 2008 - 6:49pm

The most acute problem facing Israeli officials today is how to end the daily Qassam rocket attacks intended to demoralize Israelis and to undermine the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel insists – rightfully – that Hamas, as the self-proclaimed authority in Gaza, is to blame and must suffer the consequences. The question is what to do so that Hamas is weakened rather than strengthened by the Israeli punitive countermeasures while progress continues in the peace negotiations.

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