Middle East News: World Press Roundup

In the Washington Post, Griff Witte reports that Condoleezza Rice has left Israel without having negotiated a halt to settlement building in occupied Palestinian land (1). An opinon in the Daily Star by Rami Khouri examines what a halt on settlement activity could do for Palestinian confidence (4). In BitterLemons, Safwat Kahlout argues that Hamas is gaining strength thanks to the blunders of its foes (5). A poll in BBC, reported on by Haaretz, shows Iran as the only country viewed more negatively than Israel (8). Also in Haaretz, an Uzi Benziman opinion discusses the motivation of settlers (9).

Amid Israeli Siege, Palestinian Businesses Look East To China
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
April 2, 2008 - 6:28pm

Faced with Israeli trade and travel restrictions, a stagnant economy and a flood of cheap imports from Asia, Palestinian businessmen are increasingly seeking their fortunes in China. Demand for Chinese visas among Palestinian business owners in the West Bank is so high that the Chinese consul regularly visits the city of Hebron to stamp their passports and circumvent an Israeli ban that prevents them from traveling to the embassy in Tel Aviv.

Rice Misses The Obvious In Peace-making
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) April 2, 2008 - 6:37pm

It is hard to tell if US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is being deliberately innocent and juvenile, or, as the highest American foreign policy official, she is genetically incapable of being honest when it comes to Palestinian-Israeli issues. There is now only one real test of progress, or criterion of political seriousness, in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the short term: Can the United States make Israel stop expanding its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories?

Beware Of Tampering With The Arab Peace Initiative
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq Alhomayed - (Opinion) April 2, 2008 - 6:43pm

In its closing statement, the Damascus Summit called for the re-assessment of the peace strategy with Israel, furthermore setting the coming May as the latest deadline. This formula appears to be the middle ground in terms of the demands that were proposed during the summit with regards to the reconsideration of the Arab Peace Initiative. Doesn't "reassessing the peace strategy" – if that may be deemed a diplomatic expression – imply that the other option is war? And which among the Arab states is ready to declare war on Israel today?

Pa May Holds Election By Year's End, Source Says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - April 2, 2008 - 6:45pm

   "The organizations must be at the heightened state of alert, so that the Israelis won't be able to say that there is no one to deliver the authority to. There will be a new elected government and professional organizations capable of enforcing order and security in the West Bank," the source said. He added that the PA had briefed the Americans on the plan and that the latter tend to support it.

Bbc Poll: Iran Only Country Viewed More Negatively Than Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
April 2, 2008 - 6:46pm

Israel is viewed as the country with the second most negative influence on the world, according to a poll released recently by the BBC World Service. Iran was considered to have the most negative influence, ranked lowest in world opinion at 54 percent - the same ranking it was given in a poll taken last year. Israel's negative rating dropped this year from 57 percent to 52 percent, moving it from having the worst influence in world opinion to second most negative.

Settlements Are Their Religion
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Uzi Benziman - (Opinion) April 2, 2008 - 6:47pm

Three weeks ago, a smug real estate agent appeared on TV and announced with certainty that all the apartments to be built in Givat Ze'ev's Agan Ayalot neighborhood would be populated immediately. He added that he was convinced of his ability to sell every apartment built in this settlement because there is tremendous demand from ultra-Orthodox families for housing in this area. As if to make his words more concrete, little boys with long peyot and little girls in long dresses were shown playing in the background.

Slow Progress For Palestinians In Lebanon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Time
by Andrew Lee Butters - (Blog) April 3, 2008 - 5:24pm

In the past few weeks of writing about Palestinian refugees, I've painted a grim picture of their treatment by Lebanese society: how after nearly sixty years and four generations in exile here they still don't have citizenship, how they are barred from some seventy professions and face all sorts of other legal discrimination, and how during last summer's battle with foreign jihadis based in Nahr al Bared camp, the Lebanese army appears to have taken out its frustrations on Palestinian civilians.

Rice's Roadmap Achievement & Ipf Letter
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Israel Policy Forum
by Sadie Goldman With Jason Proetorius And Ipf Staff - April 4, 2008 - 6:11pm

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may have brokered the first tangible achievement in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process since the Annapolis peace conference four months ago.

Jitters At A West Bank Junction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Week
by Joshua Mitnick - April 10, 2008 - 1:55pm

Rimonim Junction, West Bank — The crossroads is set among idyllic hilltops that feed herds of sheep on the edge of the Judean desert. There is a steady rhythm of Palestinian minivan taxis shuttling between the West Bank’s northern half and the center. Occasionally, the sedan of an Israeli settler swooshes by. At the side of the road leading toward the Christian village of Taiybeh, a booth of concrete cubes sits empty.

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