Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Hezbollah and Israel agree to a controversial prisoner swap (1) (3). Israel reopens three of the Gaza crossings that were shut down in response to rocket fire last week (2). Palestinian Prime Minster Salam Fayyad signs a deal with the World Bank to finance three major utility projects in Gaza, which are on hold due to the Israeli blockade (4). The ceasefire continues in Gaza, though few are optimistic about how long it will last (6) (8). An Israeli settlement on South Mount Hebron welcomes ten new families, despite talk of a freeze on settlement expansion (11).

Israel's Prisoner Swap With Hezbollah: Too Risky?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - June 30, 2008 - 4:59pm

In an epilogue to the Lebanon war two summers ago, Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved a prisoner swap with Hezbollah to recover two soldiers whose kidnapping along the Lebanese border sparked six weeks of cross-border fighting. The deal involves trading Samir Quntar – a Lebanese member of a Palestinian militant group responsible for the killing of an Israeli father and daughter in a 1979 terrorist attack – for Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who were abducted in 2006 and have probably been killed, say Israeli officials.

Fayyad, World Bank Sign Deal For Gaza Projects
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Wafa Amr - June 30, 2008 - 5:10pm

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad signed a deal with the World Bank on Monday to finance three projects in the Gaza Strip but said they could not go ahead until Israel had lifted its blockade. The $29 million agreement covers an electric utility management project as well as water and wastewater projects in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Half of the money is earmarked for the Gaza Strip, which Hamas Islamists seized from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah forces a year ago.

Hamas Emboldened By Israel-hezbollah Prisoner Swap
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak - June 30, 2008 - 5:08pm

Hamas militants holding an Israeli soldier said Monday they would stick to their tough demands in negotiations over his release, emboldened by the high price Israel is paying in a planned prisoner swap with Hezbollah. The declaration could complicate Israel's efforts to bring Sgt. Gilad Schalit home after two years in captivity. Israel agreed Sunday to free Samir Kantar, a Lebanese convicted in a grisly 1979 attack, along with other prisoners and bodies of Lebanese fighters, in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.

Egypt To Open Gaza Border Temporarily Tuesday
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
June 30, 2008 - 5:12pm

Egypt is to open its border with the Gaza Strip for two days from Tuesday for Palestinians needing to leave the territory, a security official said. "Egypt has decided to open the crossing for two days from Tuesday to allow through Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who have residence permits and visas as well as students and ill people," the official said, asking not to be identified. On June 18, Egypt opened its Gaza border one way for one day to allow Palestinians to return to the Hamas-ruled territory after receiving medical treatment.

Gaza Truce Holding On Shaky Ground
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Times
by Mel Frykberg - June 30, 2008 - 5:13pm

Last week, several days into the Gaza ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, a U.N. convoy and a delegation of humanitarian workers was trapped on the Gaza side of the Erez border crossing into Israel, along with this reporter. Unbeknownst to the humanitarian workers, with whom this reporter was traveling, Islamic Jihad had fired a number of rockets into Israel from the area we had passed minutes earlier, the area of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.

What Kind Of Palestine?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al- Ahram
by Javier Solana - (Opinion) June 30, 2008 - 5:14pm

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have now been talking to each other for more than six months, since the peace process was re-launched at Annapolis in November 2007, with the stated aim of reaching agreement on a Palestinian state before this year is out. The final status issues of borders, Jerusalem and refugees are back on the agenda and the outlines of a two-state solution are visible.

Beyond The Truce
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al- Ahram
by Dina Ezzat - June 30, 2008 - 5:16pm

The fate of the Egyptian-sponsored truce struck earlier this month between Israel and Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza is already in question. Over the past 48 hours, Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza exchanged accusations of truce violations as Israeli aggression on Islamic resistance groups in the West Bank -- yet to be included in the truce -- prompted rocket attacks Tuesday evening on the western Negev. Wednesday, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak ordered crossings linking Gaza to Israel closed.

Illusions Built On Domestic Necessities
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) June 30, 2008 - 5:18pm

In the last few weeks we have witnessed a series of developments that at face value might appear inconsistent with the general trends of deterioration that the Arab-Israel conflict in particular and the Middle East in general has been experiencing.

New Mt. Hebron Neighborhood Absorbs 10 New Families
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Erfat Weiss - June 30, 2008 - 5:21pm

Ten incoming families will inhabit their new homes Monday in a new neighborhood built in the Carmel settlement on South Mount Hebron. Although the Yesha Council is talking about settlements construction being frozen, an inauguration ceremony for the new neighborhood is due to take place Tuesday. One of the new residents told Ynet, “We are not sneaking in like thieves at night.”

Scared Of Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Atilla Somfalvi - (Opinion) June 30, 2008 - 5:25pm

“Hannibal was a military commander who lived more than 2,000 years ago and defeated the Romans in several battles,” Benjamin Netanyahu said at the Knesset cafeteria last week. “For Hundreds of years, mothers in Rome would use him to scare children who wouldn’t eat. They would tell them: ‘If you don’t eat, Hannibal will come for you.’ Now, Hannibal is back. I’m Hannibal.”

Hamas Arrests Fatah Spokesman In Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - June 30, 2008 - 5:26pm

Hamas security forces arrested the spokesman for Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Muhammad Abu Armaneh, who is better known by his nom de guerre Abu Qusai, was taken into custody while standing in front of his shop in Rafah, sources in the Gaza Strip said. The arrest is believed to be linked to Hamas's attempts to enforce the truce agreement that was reached with Israel last week. Last week, Armaneh was the one who announced that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades had fired three rockets at Israel in violation of the cease-fire.

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