Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair cancels a planned visit to Gaza on account of threats reportedly made against him (1). The prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel runs into continued obstacles (2). The IDF makes several Hamas-related arrests in the West Bank town of Nablus (3) (6). A Palestinian military court sentences two Palestinians to death for alleged collaboration with Israel, though the sentence is unlikely to be carried out (4). The European Union denounces Israeli settlement activity (5). Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama is set to visit Ramallah next week (8).

Hamas-israel Prisoner Swap Remains Elusive
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Khaled Moussa Al-omrani, Adam Morrow - July 15, 2008 - 2:01pm

Despite intensive mediation efforts by Egyptian officials, a delegation from Palestinian resistance faction Hamas departed Cairo Saturday (Jul. 12) without securing a prisoner exchange deal with Israel. According to local analysts, fresh swap proposals -- featuring the release of long-time Israeli captive Gilaad Shalit -- continue to run up against Israeli obduracy. "The respective positions of Israel and Hamas are still miles apart," Abdel-Halim Kandil, political analyst and editor-in-chief of independent weekly Sout al-Umma, told IPS.

Palestinians: Idf Arrests Three Hamas Officials In Nablus Raid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
July 15, 2008 - 2:05pm

Israel Defense Forces troops early Tuesday arrested three Hamas council members in a raid on the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Over the past year, Israel has arrested Nablus' Hamas mayor and six of the Hamas-controlled municipal council's 14 members in its efforts to crack down on the militant group's activities in the West Bank The IDF did not immediately comment on the raid, which occurred in the early hours of the morning. Witnesses and residents say a total of 24 Hamas members were arrested, including the municipal officials.

Palestinian Court Sentences Collaborators To Death
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Wael Al-ahmed, Mohammed Assadi - July 15, 2008 - 2:06pm

A Palestinian military court on Tuesday sentenced two Palestinians to death by firing squad for collaborating with Israel, a court statement said. The three-judge military court in the northern West Bank city of Jenin ruled that Wael Said Saad and Mohammad Saad had "contacted the enemy". They were found guilty of "treason" and sentenced to death by firing squad. However, it is unlikely the men will be put to death because the sentence must be authorised by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has never before taken such a step.

Eu Raps Israeli Settlements After Med Union Summit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jeffrey Heller, Paul Taylor - July 15, 2008 - 2:09pm

The European Union criticised Israel on Monday for what it called continued settlement activity on Palestinian land, while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was still in Paris after a Euro-Mediterranean summit. A statement issued by the French EU presidency said the 27-nation bloc was "deeply concerned" by an Israeli decision to issue a call for tenders for new housing units in Arab East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. "This decision serves to undermine the credibility of the ongoing diplomatic process," the EU statement said.

Palestinian Officials To Washington Amid Low Expectations For Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Kuwait News Agency (kuna)
July 15, 2008 - 2:12pm

Palestinian negotiators arrive to Washington on Tuesday to hold talks with US officials in what could be a last bid to overcome the stalemate in a peace process that seems out of reach before the end of the year. "The meeting in Washington is to talk to the Americans about what can be achieved before President George W. Bush leaves office," said the Director of Middle East Democracy at Brookings Tamara Cofman Wittes in an interview with KUNA.

Israeli Army Arrests 8 Palestinians In Nablus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Kuwait News Agency (kuna)
July 15, 2008 - 2:15pm

The Israeli Army arrested 8 Palestinians in Nablus, Tuesday, who Israel claims are affiliated with Hamas Movement. Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces arrested the former head of a charitable society in the city, Dr. abdulhaleem Al-Hanbali, after storming his house and also arrested two members of Nablus Municipality, Kholoud Al-Masri and her husband and Husam Qataloni and his son. A Nabuls Municipality statement said Israeli forces arrested 6 members out of a staff of 15 and claim they are affiliated with Hamas.

Ramallah Readies For Obama Visit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - July 15, 2008 - 2:17pm

Palestinian Authority officials on Monday welcomed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's plans to visit Ramallah next week, saying they would brief him on the situation in the PA territories and the status of peace talks with Israel. The officials, however, warned that Obama's meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, slated for July 23, did not mean that the Palestinians favor Obama over his Republican rival John McCain.

Back To Constructive Chaos
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Zvi Barel - July 15, 2008 - 2:18pm

A miracle happened. Egypt--not the United States, a European state or an international organization, let alone the Arab League--weaved a negotiated agreement between Israel and Hamas. What has changed?

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