Middle East News: World Press Roundup

ATFP Senior Fellow Ghaith al-Omari discusses the Arab Peace Initiative in an article for Middle East Progresss (1). The BBC reports on the plight of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (2). A recent poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research shows that a majority of Palestinians favor holding elections in 2009 when President Abbas' term ends. (3) (4). Two opinion pieces, one by Daily Star columnist Michael Young and the other by ATFP Board member George Hishmeh, join the ongoing speculation about President-elect Obama's Middle East strategy (5) (6). United States Gen. Keith Dayton praises the capabilities of the Palestinian Security Forces (8).

Putting the Arab Peace Initiative Into Action
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Progress
by Ghaith Al-Omari - December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

The fact that more than five years after its publication, the Arab Peace Initiative continues to be a topic of conversation is a testament to its strength. Its recent resurgence presents an opportunity for Arabs, Israelis and Americans alike to breathe new life into the shaky and uncertain Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Lebanon refugees fear for future
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Natalia Antelava - December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

Ruins and rubble are all that is left of Nahr al-Bared, a camp for Palestinian refugees near the Lebanese city of Tripoli. Piles of ravaged concrete tower over the Mediterranean, cutting into the grey clouds of the winter sky. As we pass a battered army checkpoint the scale of destruction emerges - mind-boggling and depressing at the same time. "It was scary, very scary," our guide Fady Tayyar says as we drive into the camp accompanied by the Lebanese army. No-one is allowed to enter Nahr al- Bared without permission.

Poll: If elections were held today, Fatah would win over Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' secular Fatah movement would beat the radical Islamic Hamas movement if elections were held today, according to a Palestinian public opinion poll published Thursday. Support for Hamas has nevertheless stabilized after months of decline, said the poll conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research.

Palestinians favour elections in 2009: poll
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

Most Palestinians believe that Western-backed president Mahmud Abbas’s term ends in January and they support holding new elections next year, according to a poll released on Thursday. The same poll found that Abbas holds a 10-point lead over his rivals in the Islamist Hamas, which has said it will refuse to recognise him as president when his constitutionally mandated four-year term expires on January 9.

Giving peace in Palestine no chance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Michael Young - December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

Rarely a day goes by without someone offering new advice to the incoming Obama administration on how to deal with the Middle East. This advice is usually based on a simple principle: If George W. Bush pursued a specific policy, Barack Obama must do the opposite.

Time for an Obama intervention
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - December 10, 2008 - 1:00am

When the outgoing Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, was in Washington late last month to bid farewell to President George W. Bush, whose term ends on January 20, the two unpopular leaders understandably reminisced about their close relationship, the American leader being considered Israel's closet friend when compared to former American presidents.

Official: IDF prepared for Gaza op
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ron Ben-Yishai - December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

Eight days before the ceasefire agreement brokered with the militant groups in the Gaza Strip is scheduled to end, and amid non-stop rocket fire, a security source said that "the IDF will execute any operation the political echelon orders." The source further criticized statements made by various cabinet members, saying there was no need for them to publicly call for a Gaza operation, while they choose to take different stands – sometimes opposite stands – in the practical discussions on the matter.

Dayton: New PA forces are most capable ever
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by David Horovitz - December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

Keith Dayton, the US army general who is overseeing the training in Jordan of the Palestinian Authority's National Security Force for the West Bank, has praised the new recruits as "the most capable Palestinian security forces that have ever been fielded here," and firmly played down the notion that they might one day come to turn their weapons on Israel.

Livni: National aspirations of Israel's Arabs can be met by Palestinian homeland
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday that the creation of a Palestinian state would serve as a solution to national aspirations of Israel's Arab citizens. "Once a Palestinian state is established, I can come to the Palestinian citizens, whom we call Israeli Arabs, and say to them 'you are citizens with equal rights, but the national solution for you is elsewhere,'" Livni was quoted by Army Radio as saying to students at a Tel Aviv high school. "The idea is to maintain two states for two peoples, that is my path to a democratic nation," she added.

'Abbas vows to continue peace talks no matter who is elected Israeli PM'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has pledged to carry on peace negotiations with Israel regardless of who is elected prime minister in the upcoming elections, the A-Sharq al-Awsat daily reported on Thursday. Abbas told the paper that the domestic political crisis in Israel has hampered progress in the current talks. During the interview, the Fatah leader also attacked the rival Hamas movement for blocking Gaza residents with visas issued by the Palestinian Authority from making the pilgrimage to Mecca this month.

Hebron settler who shot two Palestinians put under house arrest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

The West Bank settler who was caught on film shooting at Palestinians last week was put under house arrest on Thursday. Ze'ev Braude, 51, of Kiryat Arba, is alleged to have shot two Palestinians at close range during the evacuation of a disputed house in Hebron. The Jerusalem District Court on Thursday overruled a previous Magistrate's Court decision, which moved to release Braude with restrictions, after the presiding judge refused to extend his remand until an appeal was served.

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