Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Forward looks at possibilities for US-Syrian diplomacy under incoming President Obama (1). Haaretz interviews Prof. Rashid Khalidi (2). Israeli troops confront and evict settlers in Hebron (4, 5, 7, 10). The plight of Palestinians in Gaza continues to draw international attention (3, 9). The Middle East Times examines prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian Confederation (11).





Obama's New Foreign Policy Team Looks Toward Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - December 4, 2008 - 12:00am


Breaking with the Bush administration, the incoming foreign policy team of President-elect Barack Obama is expected to embrace Israeli–Syrian peace talks and might actively take part in negotiations that until now the Americans have shunned. This assessment is shared by Middle East experts trying to gauge the foreign policy priorities of the incoming administration based on statements from the transition team. The negotiations on an accord between Israel and Syria would run parallel to efforts to secure a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.


Obama's 'Palestinian friend' laments catastrophic U.S. policy in Mideast
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - December 5, 2008 - 12:00am


No one stopped Rashid Khalidi, the Columbia University professor of Modern Arab Studies, at Ben-Gurion airport. Having just landed after the long flight from New York, the professor was anticipating the traditional reception from airport security personnel reserved for visitors with "suspicious" names. To his surprise, he entered the airport like anyone else, with no problems or delays. Perhaps word had gotten around at Ben-Gurion that he was the Palestinian friend of United States President-elect Barack Obama.


Action, not words
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Karen Koning Abuzayd - (Opinion) December 5, 2008 - 12:00am


As we approach the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the steadily rising death toll in Gaza highlights the painful gap between its peaceful rhetoric and the desperate reality for Palestinian people.


Israeli troops evict settlers in the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - December 5, 2008 - 12:00am


HEBRON, West Bank — Israeli troops forcibly evicted about 200 hard-line Jewish settlers from a contested building in this volatile biblical city on Thursday, the first serious clash in what seems to be a spiraling confrontation between the government and defiant settlers. The operation, carried out by 600 soldiers and policemen with stealth and efficiency, took half an hour and resulted in two dozen relatively light injuries. But events did not end there. Young settlers then rampaged through Palestinian fields and neighborhoods, setting olive trees on fire and trashing houses.


Hebron clash tests Israeli ability to remove outposts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - December 5, 2008 - 12:00am


Tel Aviv - Hundreds of Israeli police in riot helmets and flak jackets dragged about 250 Jewish settlers from a Palestinian building Thursday in the West Bank city of Hebron, the first major test in two years of the government's readiness to dismantle the dozens of illegal outposts that have complicated peace negotiations.


Tense Egypt-Hamas relations take a turn for the worse
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 5, 2008 - 12:00am


CAIRO (AFP) - Already tense relations between Egypt and Hamas have soured after Cairo for the first time openly accused the Islamists of torpedoing Palestinian reconciliation talks. Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit was quoted as saying on Thursday that months of Egyptian-mediated talks between rivals Hamas and Fateh failed in November because of "Hamas' lack of enthusiasm towards reconciliation".


Israelis fight Israelis on withdrawal plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Times
by Joshua Mitnick - December 5, 2008 - 12:00am


A bloody clash Thursday between Israeli settlers and Israeli police in Hebron could mark the beginning of violent Jewish resistance to a proposed Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank under a peace accord. ASSOCIATED PRESS Israeli police drag away a Jewish settler during an eviction Thursday of a disputed house in Hebron. Some of the 250 settlers who barricaded themselves inside hurled rocks at police in the first major West Bank eviction since a 2006 confrontation.


Freedom Fighters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New Republic
by David Keyes - December 5, 2008 - 12:00am


The word "Freedom" is scribbled on the light-blue door of Jameel Aldweek's classroom in the New Kufar Aqab Girls School on the outskirts of Ramallah. It is a welcome reprieve from the swastika and "All Jews are pussies" emblazoned on the security barrier as I entered the West Bank. Aldweek, director of the Al-Razee Association and co-teacher of a new pilot project in two Palestinian schools, begins by asking the dozen sixth-grade girls in attendance, "What does democracy mean to you?" "Liberty and responsibility," one student immediately shoots back.


Palestinian bickering strands Gaza's pilgrims
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Ben Hubbard - December 5, 2008 - 12:00am


Mohammed Habboush and his wife Ikram wanted so badly to make the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca from their Gaza home that they sold her gold jewelry to pay for the trip. But while Muslims from around the world head to Saudi Arabia for the annual "hajj" pilgrimage, which starts Sunday, the couple remains at home, two of thousands of Gazan pilgrims prevented from traveling by the latest round of Palestinian squabbling.


UN ME envoy slams settler violence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz, Tovah Lazaroff - December 4, 2008 - 12:00am


The United Nations Middle East envoy on Friday praised Israeli security forces for evacuating the Beit Hashalom house in Hebron, but condemned the violence which followed, and promised that the UN would "closely monitor" the developments.


Is an Israeli-Palestinian Confederation Feasible?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Middle East Times
by Rachelle Kliger - December 5, 2008 - 12:00am


JERUSALEM -- With time running out on the U.S. George W. Bush administration and without a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute having been reached, as was hoped, the idea of a Palestinian-Israeli confederation is gradually replacing that of a two-state solution. The notion has been floating around for several years now, in various forms. Josef Avesar, an Israeli-born attorney now based in California, is the founder of the Israeli Palestinian Confederation committee (IPC).





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