Middle East News: World Press Roundup

In a Time Magazine Blog, Andrew Lee Butters described the process of Hizzballah recruitment (1). A poll in the Angus Reid Global Monitor reveals that most Israelis oppose a withdrawal from the West Bank (5). Ghassan Khatib discusses the impact of the declining US economy on peace in BitterLemons (6). The Daily Star reports on comments made by US Vice President Dick Cheney that Syria and Iran are undermining the renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace process (7). An opinion by Yoav Stern in Haaretz discusses the current state of the Arab world with respect to the upcoming Damascus meeting (12).

Saudi King Calls For Interfaith Dialogue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Donna Abu-nasr And Abdullah Shihri - March 25, 2008 - 5:46pm

King Abdullah is calling for a dialogue among Muslims, Christians and Jews, the first such proposal from this strictly Muslim kingdom at a time of mounting tensions between followers of Islam and those of other religions. In a speech late Monday, Abdullah said the country's top clerics gave him the green light to pursue his idea. Their backing is crucial in a religiously conservative society that expects decisions taken by its rulers to adhere to Islam's tenets.

Palestinians And Israelis Call For Stepped Up International Support To Achieve Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 25, 2008 - 5:47pm

The Palestinians and Israelis called Tuesday for stepped up international support to achieve peace, especially from the U.N. Security Council. In separate speeches to the council, the Palestinian U.N. observer Riyad Mansour and Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman said their leaders' agreement last November to reach a peace settlement by the end of the year needs greater backing from the international community if it is to work.

Israel Backs Larger Deployment Of Palestinian Forces
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Adam Entous - March 25, 2008 - 5:54pm

Israel said on Tuesday it would allow up to 600 members of a Palestinian security force trained in Jordan under a U.S. program to be deployed in a West Bank city once considered a hotbed of militant activity. Israel hopes the Defence Ministry decision, announced ahead of a weekend visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, will help blunt Western and Palestinian complaints that it was not doing enough to bolster U.S.-backed peace talks and a Palestinian "law and order" campaign in the occupied West Bank.

Israelis Oppose Withdrawal From West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Angus Reid Global Monitor
March 25, 2008 - 5:55pm

The majority of people in Israel are against continuing a process of dismantling Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, according to a poll by the Mutagim Institute published in the Jerusalem Post. 64.9 per cent of respondents oppose withdrawing from Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.

Bad For The Economy, Bad For Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) March 25, 2008 - 5:56pm

While economists are puzzling over the global financial crisis that started in the US and is most dramatically illustrated by the fall in the value of the US dollar, the effect in this region is massively and disproportionately felt. Most countries in the region either have their currencies directly tied to the dollar or are heavily invested in economic relations with the US.

Cheney Accuses Iran And Syria Of Sabotaging Peace Process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
March 25, 2008 - 5:58pm

US Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday hit out at Iran and Syria as he wrapped up a Middle East peace push, saying the two countries were undermining the renewed but faltering Israeli-Palestinian talks. Iran and Syria "are doing everything they can to torpedo the peace process," Cheney told reporters in Occupied Jerusalem as he wrapped up a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories before heading to Turkey.

Why Attend The Damascus Summit?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq Alhomayed - (Opinion) March 25, 2008 - 5:59pm

I see no reason for surprise over Saudi Arabia's decision to send its representative [Ahmad Qattan, Saudi's ambassador to the Arab League] to attend the Arab Summit in Damascus. In fact; the question that needs to be posed is this: Why attend? Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallim made an announcement a few days ago in which he said that the success of the forthcoming summit lies in the fact that it will convene in Damascus and without any delays "despite pressure and blackmail attempts".

Palestinian Sourcs: Israeli Pardons 36 Wanted Suspects
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - March 25, 2008 - 6:01pm

  The Palestinians were also told that next week they will receive a list of dozens of other suspects who will be granted a full pardon   In July 2007, Ynet was the first to report the agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that saw 240 members of the al-Aqsa Brigades embark on a three-month probation period, ahead of a final decision on a pardon.

Danger: Weak State Ahead
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yehezkel Dror - (Opinion) March 25, 2008 - 6:08pm

One of the most serious challenges facing the country is a deterioration of statehood. In some crucial ways, Israel can be seen as a weak state that has a difficult time making decisions about controversial issues and implementing them, especially when it faces zealous opposition from Jewish minority groups. It's a dangerous situation to be in, as the enormous achievements of the first 60 years of the state do not in and of themselves guarantee its continued growth, or even its very existence, in the future.

Israeli Defense Sources: Hamas Wants To Maintain Gaza Quiet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amoss Harel - March 25, 2008 - 6:09pm

Hamas is interested at this stage in maintaining the lull in fighting against the Israel Defense Forces along the Gaza Strip border, defense officials suggested Monday. Likewise, Egypt is keeping up heavy pressure on Hamas leaders in Gaza not to deviate from the understandings reached with it regarding the suspension of fighting.

Chasm In Arab World: Half Of Its Leaders Skipping Damascus Meet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoav Stern - (Opinion) March 25, 2008 - 6:10pm

"The strength of the Arabs is in their solidarity" is the slogan of the Arab League Summit in Damascus, but it seems the Arab world has not been this fragmented for a very long time. The leaders of at least 12 Arab countries will not attend the summit that opens, according to remarks by Arab sources to Haaretz on Monday. They also said no significant decisions will be made at the summit.

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