Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Speculation about President-elect Obama's Middle East strategy continues as his team is assembled (1) (5) (10) (11). In blockaded Gaza, cash shortages prompt a dire warning from the World Bank about the potential collapse of the commercial banking system (2) (8). Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem experience increased pressure and tensions (3). A report issued by an Israeli human rights group likens the Israeli occupation to South African apartheid (6). American Jewish groups largely back Israel's recent decision to evacuate settlers from a Hebron building (7). Israel reimposes the ban on international journalists entering Gaza, despite much protest (9).

Obama team's warring Middle East views
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Ben Smith - December 6, 2008 - 1:00am

President-elect Barack Obama and his presumptive secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, both pledged during the campaign to press for peace in the Middle East. But the Middle East conflict is, perhaps unsurprisingly, already playing out on a small scale within Obama’s own transition. Top policy jobs haven’t been filled — the org chart, insiders say, hasn’t even been drawn — but Middle East politics watchers, and Obama backers concerned with Israel, are carefully eyeing the interplay between two of his most important advisers on the Middle East.

In Gaza, No Cash for Holiday
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Linda Gradstein - December 8, 2008 - 1:00am

Every year, Ali Hussein, 35, looks forward to Eid al-Adha, the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice, which begins Monday. He works for the police force and earns a good salary by Gazan standards, about $800 a month. Along with some friends, he buys a sheep every year, slaughters it and donates the meat to the poor. He buys new clothes and special sweets for his four young sons, and he gives his mother, sisters, nephews and nieces gifts of cash.

New Tensions in Jerusalem’s Arab Neighborhoods
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - December 6, 2008 - 1:00am

A series of recent Israeli actions in the mainly Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem have raised tensions there, with Palestinian and Israeli critics contending that they are part of a wider plan to “Judaize” historically charged areas around the Old City.

From an Israeli Settlement, a Rabbi’s Unorthodox Plan for Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - December 5, 2008 - 1:00am

ABOUT two weeks ago Menachem Froman, the chief rabbi of this Jewish settlement perched on the edge of the Judean desert, had a dream. In the dream, he recounted in an interview this week, he was sitting with the late Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat “as we used to.” “It was like he was pushing me to continue in my efforts to make peace between our peoples,” he said.

Barack Obama's BlackBerry Subject: Israel-Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Economist
December 4, 2008 - 1:00am

“THE big question is: do you want to end this conflict or just tamp it down? The arguments for the first are self-evident. Palestine fouls up our diplomacy: Israel is thrown at us whenever we ask Muslim allies for help. Unsolved, this conflict generates wars. The last administration was tripped up by the Israel-Hizbullah war in 2006. Another round in Lebanon—or a small war in Gaza, or a big one between Israel and Iran or Syria—is possible at any time.

Israel's West Bank system 'like apartheid'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 7, 2008 - 1:00am

ISRAEL'S discrimination between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank is increasingly reminiscent of white South Africa's apartheid system, an Israeli human rights group said. Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory "have created a situation of institutionalised discrimination and segregation,'' the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said.

Jewish groups back Israel on Hebron
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
December 7, 2008 - 1:00am

U.S. Jewish groups for the most part backed Israel's evacuation of settlers from a Hebron building and condemned settler violence.

World Bank warns of possible Gaza bank collapse
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
December 6, 2008 - 1:00am

The World Bank said on Saturday that Israel's tightened blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip had created cash shortages that could lead to the collapse of banks in the impoverished Palestinian territory. Also sounding an alarm, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the spiraling Gazan crisis risked bolstering Palestinian militants who have alternative supplies of cash and contraband thanks to smuggling tunnels from neighboring Egypt.

Israel reimposes ban on international journalists in Gaza, despite protests
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Steve Weizman - December 8, 2008 - 1:00am

Israeli defense officials have reinstated a ban on international journalists entering the Gaza Strip, despite protests from the heads of major news organizations and an appeal to the Supreme Court. After weeks of media protests, the ban was lifted Thursday, only to be re-imposed the following day as part of a wider closure of the Gaza border in response to Palestinian rocket attacks.

Obama spells end of blank cheques for Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 7, 2008 - 1:00am

Israel can no longer expect "blank cheques" from Washington once president-elect Barack Obama's administration takes over in January, a former US ambassador to the Jewish state said on Sunday. "The era of the blank cheque is over," said Martin Indyk, director of the Centre for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute who is considered close to incoming secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Obama Could End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Counterpunch
by Yinon Cohen, Neve Gordon - December 5, 2008 - 1:00am

As Barack Obama enters the oval office he will face a series of daunting challenges. One of these is confronting the age old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been seriously, yet unsuccessfully, tackled by every American president since Jimmy Carter. The inability to reach a peaceful solution has not only had fatal repercussions for the people residing in Israel and the Occupied Territories, but has also been detrimental to Middle East stability and to vital US interests in the region.

Following settler attacks, Hebron residents feel anger and fear
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Brenda Gazzar - December 8, 2008 - 1:00am

Hebron resident Faez Rajabi was feeling a mix of emotions on Sunday. On the one hand, he was pleased that the disputed four-story apartment building in Hebron that he built for himself and his family was no longer inhabited by settlers. On the other, he lamented the turmoil that erupted during Thursday's eviction of the settlers from the home, as mostly young extremist settlers attacked policemen, set homes and cars on fire, shot at residents and broke windows and satellite dishes.

This election's real meaning
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) December 8, 2008 - 1:00am

It happened four weeks before the heroic evacuation of the House of Contention in Hebron. In the middle of the night, police officers entered a small apartment in the Shimon Hatzadik compound in the Sheikh Jarra neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The police officers easily overwhelmed a handful of human-rights activists and evicted the al-Kurd family, which had lived there for 52 years.

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