Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Economist discusses the recent inaugural meeting of the Mediterranean Union (1). The much anticipated prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah is carried out, to mixed reactions (2) (9). The IDF continues their crackdown on Hamas-affiliated organizations in the West Bank (3) (5). Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair cancels his planned visit to Gaza (8) and expresses his doubts about the prospects for a peace agreement this year (7).





Israel’s Delicate Prisoner Swap With Hezbollah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Der Spiegel
by Ulrike Putz And Holger Stark - July 16, 2008 - 2:14pm


The hopes had been high. Just a day earlier, Shlomo Goldwasser, the father of the Israeli soldier Ehud Goldwasser, had held out the possibility that his son, abducted by Hezbollah on the Lebanese border two years ago, might still be alive. But on Wednesday, when Hezbollah fulfilled its part of the much anticipated prisoner exchange involving Goldwasser and the other Israeli soldier abducted in the 2006 raid Eldad Regev, the Islamist extremists were only able to hand over two black coffins.


Israel Targets Hamas Philanthropy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Peter Hirschberg - July 16, 2008 - 2:15pm


JERUSALEM - Shopping malls. Schools. Medical centers. Charities. Orphanages. Soup kitchens. These are the latest targets in the campaign the Israeli military is waging against Hamas in the West Bank. Israeli military officials have identified Hamas' civilian infrastructure in the West Bank as a major source of the Islamic group's popularity, and have begun raiding and shutting down these institutions in cities like Hebron, Nablus, and Qalqilyah.


Gaza Siege Batters Women
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mel Fryberg - July 16, 2008 - 2:16pm


GAZA CITY, Jul 16 (IPS) - The siege of Gaza has led to a sharp rise in the number of battered and sexually abused women and children in the Gaza Strip, say members of the Gaza Community Health Programme (GCHP). Manal Awad, director of the women's empowerment project of the GCHP, said reports of domestic violence had been slowly increasing since the outbreak of the second Intifadah (uprising) in 2000 but had spiked dramatically during the siege of Gaza over the last year.


Israeli Troops Abduct 12 Hamas Members In West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
July 16, 2008 - 2:17pm


NABLUS, Occupied West Bank: Israeli troops abducted 12 Hamas members in a dawn raid in the Occupied West Bank on Tuesday, a Palestinian security official said, as part of a widening crackdown on the Islamist movement. The troops rolled into the northern city of Nablus in about 40 jeeps and detained 12 members of the movement, including two women and two city council members, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.


A Look At Previous Israeli-lebanese Prisoner Swaps
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
July 16, 2008 - 2:18pm


A look at previous Israeli-Lebanese prisoner swaps: -- 2004: Israel and Hezbollah exchange an Israeli civilian and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers for 436 Arab prisoners and the bodies of 59 Lebanese fighters. -- 1996: Israel frees 65 Lebanese prisoners for the bodies of two soldiers captured in fighting in Lebanon. -- 1991: Israel trades 51 Lebanese prisoners for proof that one of its soldiers held in Lebanon is dead.


Blair: Mideast Peace Deal Unlikely This Year
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
July 16, 2008 - 2:19pm


RAMALLAH, West Bank—Mideast envoy Tony Blair says he is pessimistic that Israel and the Palestinians will complete a final peace agreement by year's end. The former prime minister tells the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds that questions surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's political fate have complicated the peace effort. Blair says "the political situation in Israel makes it difficult to continue being optimistic about reaching a peace treaty between the Israelis and Palestinians by the end of the year."


Blair Nixes Gaza Visit On Security Concerns
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
July 16, 2008 - 2:20pm


RAMALLAH: Tony Blair, the Mideast envoy, yesterday decided not to visit Gaza on the advice of Israel’s Shin Bet Intelligence agency. The visit would have been the first by a top Western diplomat to the Hamas-ruled territory.


Why Does Israel Keep Agreeing To Prisoner Swaps?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Shmuel Rosner - July 16, 2008 - 2:20pm


An 80-page report reportedly detailing everything Hezbollah knows about Arad's fate was received along with the new photos. But the report didn't answer the fundamental questions: Where is he now, and what has happened to him in the years since the photos were taken, not long after he was captured? A sense of disappointment, even bitterness, started to creep into the daily coverage of the coming deal.


Hamas Representatives Delay Talks On Swap For Shalit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - July 16, 2008 - 2:22pm


Hamas representatives postponed negotiations with Israel Monday over Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, held captive in the Gaza Strip. The talks were expected to begin this week in Cairo. Israel believes Hamas is trying to force Egypt to open the Rafah crossing before beginning talks. A senior Hamas delegation from Gaza and Damascus was expected to arrive Monday in Cairo to meet with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. Ofer Dekel, an envoy of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was also due in Cairo.


Lakers' Jordan Farmar To Go On Peace Mission To Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Chris Hine - July 16, 2008 - 2:23pm


Like other NBA players, Jordan Farmar will head overseas this summer, only with a different mission -- to facilitate peace in the Middle East. The Lakers' guard, who is Jewish, will travel to Israel to run basketball camps for Israeli and Palestinian children in association with the Peres Peace Center. The goal of the camps, which take place Aug. 4 to 11, is to bring Israeli and Palestinian children together through basketball and create a foundation for peaceful relations between them in years to come.





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