Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Senator Barack Obama’s recent Middle East trip draws mixed reviews (1) (2) (4) (8). The controversy over water rights in the West Bank continues to threaten the peace process (3). The IDF announces plans to scale down its operations in the West Bank town of Nablus, after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to pull his forces out of the city (6). Israel gives preliminary approval to the construction of a new settlement in the West Bank (7).





Obama Pledges To Israeli Safety, Mideast Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Dan Balz And Griff Witte - July 24, 2008 - 3:19pm


Sen. Barack Obama stepped gingerly through the intractable politics of the Middle East yesterday, offering resolute support for Israel's security, warning that Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons would be a "game-changing" event for the world, and pledging to make peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians one of his highest priorities if he becomes president.


Israel's War By Water
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from New Statesman
July 24, 2008 - 3:21pm


Eight tankers are parked on the rough ground at the filling point. The drivers look anxiously at a metal box attached to a large water-pipe that carries a trickle of water into the nearest tanker. Dr Hassan of the Palestinian Hydrology Group explains: "They are looking at the pressure gauge. Pressure is very low and the drivers are worried. No water deliveries, no pay." This is the Dhahiriya water filling point, a few miles south of Hebron in the West Bank. Many nearby Palestinian communities - the "unconnected villages" - rely on this water.


Obama Sees Window Of Opportunity For Mideast Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
July 24, 2008 - 3:22pm


US presidential candidate Barack Obama vowed on Wednesday to take advantage of what he said was a window of opportunity for Middle East peace if he was elected. “I will not wait until a few years into my term or my second term if I am elected in order to get the process moving,” Obama said in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, which has been hard-hit by Palestinian rocket and mortar fire. “I think we have a window right now that needs to be taken advantage of.”


Palestinians: Jewish Settlers Smash Village
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
July 24, 2008 - 3:24pm


More than 20 Jewish settlers attacked a Palestinian village in the West Bank on Thursday, smashing cars and windows and cutting electricity wires, Palestinian police said. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, however, said settlers never entered the village itself although there were scuffles between Palestinians and Israelis outside the village of Burin on the road to the nearby settlement of Yitzhar. When police and soldiers intervened, a settler snatched a soldier's gun and fired in the air before being disarmed and arrested, Rosenfeld and the military said.


Israel To Scale Down Ops In Flashpoint Palestinian City
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
July 24, 2008 - 3:25pm


The Israeli army will reduce its operations in the West Bank city of Nablus, an official said Thursday after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas threatened to pull forces out of the flashpoint city. Defence Minister Ehud Barak has told Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad that Israel will restrict its activities in Nablus to the "necessary minimum" in order not to undermine efforts to establish an effective Palestinian police force in the city, the senior defence official told AFP.


Israel Revives Plan To Build New West Bank Settlement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
July 24, 2008 - 3:27pm


Israel's Defense Ministry has revived a plan it had shelved under U.S. pressure to build a new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, government officials said on Thursday. A ministry committee approved the construction of 20 housing units in Maskiot, an abandoned military base in the Jordan Valley for some of the families removed from settlements in the Gaza Strip during Israel's pullout in 2005, the officials said. But the project cannot go ahead without approval from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.


Obama Should Talk Less, Listen More
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George Hishmeh - July 24, 2008 - 3:30pm


All eyes have been on the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee, Barack Obama, during his current Middle Eastern and European tour this week. However, should anyone expect new revelations from the popular American politician, he/she is bound to be disappointed. Obama is unlikely to take any risks and deviate much from his declared positions on most of the key foreign policy issues, especially the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, certainly this early in the presidential race.


Israel To Pardon 24 Fatah Fighters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Mohammed Mar’i - July 24, 2008 - 3:31pm


Palestinian sources yesterday said that Israel has informed the Palestinian Authority that it is willing to pardon 24 wanted Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members as part of the deal signed between both sides in July 2007.


Palestinian Family Fights Settlers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - July 24, 2008 - 3:33pm


It must be the smallest Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories: just half a house. But Palestinian officials and Israeli human rights groups are concerned that it represents the first stage of a plan to eradicate the historical neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, cutting off one of the main routes by which Palestinians reach the Old City and its holy sites.


Collision Course
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) July 24, 2008 - 3:35pm


Without realising it, an American philanthropic organisation, planning to set up a $16.5 million children’s hospital in Palestine, is on a collision course with radical Jewish settlers at a time that American officials are constantly repeating calls for a contiguous and independent Palestinian state. One wonders how someone like Barack Obama, who is presently visiting the region, would respond to actions by Jewish settlers preventing the creation of a hospital.


‘egypt To Host Israel-hamas Separate Talks Next Week’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Abd Al-karim Shweiki - July 24, 2008 - 3:37pm


Sources in Egypt have told The Media Line news agency that Israeli and Hamas delegations are expected to hold separate talks next week with the Egyptian intelligence officials brokering negotiations between the parties. The planned talks are described as an attempt to initiate an "intensive" dialogue that will result in a prisoner exchange.


Bereaved Families File Class Action Suit Against Barghouti
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Aviad Glickman - July 24, 2008 - 3:47pm


 Two families who have lost loved ones in terror attacks have filed a class-action suit against the Palestinian Authority, former Fatah Secretary-General in the West Bank Marwan Barghouti, and seven other terrorists held in Israel. Barghouti, who was arrested by the Israeli Defense Forces in 2002, was convicted of the murder of five Israelis and was sentences to five consecutive life terms and 40 years – a total of 165 years. The other seven, who were all convicted of various terror offenses, are also serving long-term prison sentences.





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