Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The six-month truce between Hamas and Israel is set to expire tomorrow, meanwhile rocket fire continues and speculation about the future abounds (1) (2) (3). UNRWA has suspended food aid to Gaza due to a flour shortage (5). An op-ed by ATFP Board Member George Hishmeh discusses the possible differences between a Livni or Netanyahu-led government in Israel (6). Speculation continues about the future of the peace process under President-elect Obama, with numerous observers, including ATFP Board Member Daoud Kuttab urging the US to press for early negotiations (4) (8) (10). A recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research shows most Palestinians continue to prefer PA President Mahmoud Abbas over Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (9).





Israel: Palestinian Militants Fire Rockets From Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - December 18, 2008 - 12:00am


Palestinian militants in Gaza fired barrages of rockets at Israel for a second day on Wednesday, escalating tensions before a six-month truce is due to expire on Friday. One rocket landed in the parking lot of a busy shopping center in Sderot, an Israeli town near the Gaza border, wounding two civilians. At least 13 more rockets landed in open areas, according to the Israeli police, and the air force destroyed an armed rocket launcher in northern Gaza. The truce, which began on June 19, started to unravel in early November.


Gaza militants launch more retaliatory strikes on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 18, 2008 - 12:00am


Gaza fighters on Wednesday continued their retaliation for the killing of a member of a Palestinian resistance group on Monday, firing rockets into the Zionist state. Two people received shrapnel wounds and three cars were damaged as one of 15 rockets fired at southern Israel struck outside a supermarket in the city of Sderot, the army said. Israeli forces immediately launched an air strike in northern Gaza, hitting a rocket launcher that was about to fire, a military spokeswoman said.


Gaza and Israel brace for violence as truce nears end
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - December 18, 2008 - 12:00am


As a six-month ceasefire with Israel neared its end on Thursday Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were divided on whether they wanted it renewed. But the majority seemed braced for a surge of violence. On its side of the tense border, Israel insisted the "lull" was in the Palestinians' interest and ought to continue indefinitely. But Israelis in the firing line of rockets from Gaza were also worried that the truce would soon be over.


Obama and the Israel-Palestine Conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Counterpunch
by Jeff Halper - (Opinion) December 17, 2008 - 12:00am


Writing recently in The Washington Post ("Middle East Priorities," Nov. 21), Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, two former US National Security Advisors, a Republican and a Democrat, declared: "We believe that the Arab-Israeli peace process is one issue that requires priority attention [from the incoming Obama Administration]."


UN aid agency suspends food supplies to Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
December 18, 2008 - 12:00am


A United Nations aid agency has suspended food deliveries to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip because it has run out of flour, the group said on Thursday. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provided crucial supplies to 750,000 Palestinians in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip after Israel closed border crossings. "Food distribution for both emergency and regular programmes will be suspended ... until further notice," the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said in a statement.


Will Bibi or Livni be any better?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - December 18, 2008 - 12:00am


Unlike the just-concluded American election, where everyone is eagerly awaiting the change that has been promised, the ongoing election campaign in Israel which ends one month after President-elect Barack Obama settles in the White House, is noted for the absence of any similar commitments. If anything, the positions of the competing Israeli frontrunners have not been encouraging and even very alarming.


Hamas’s Response: As Ugly as Sin
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq Alhomayed - (Opinion) December 18, 2008 - 12:00am


Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Hamas movement was kind enough to respond to my article entitled 'Religious Arrogance'. However, I wish he hadn't done so as his response was as ugly as sin. Hamas considered what I wrote “distortion” and “part of a campaign that is being carried out by some people in the interest of a political group whose aim is well known; to conceal the political downfall of Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], and to attack forces of resistance and opposition in the interest of settling matters,” according to the Hamas spokesperson.


Is the peace process irreversible?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttub - (Opinion) December 18, 2008 - 12:00am


Lame-duck Palestinian, Israeli and US leaders are making serious effort these days to ensure that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process enters an irreversible track before they leave office.


Palestinians Prefer Abbas over Haniyeh
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Angus Reid Global Monitor
December 18, 2008 - 12:00am


Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has lost support but remains the preferred choice to govern for many people in the Palestinian Territories, according to a poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. 48 per cent of respondents would vote for Fatah leader Abbas in the next presidential election, down five points since August. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is second with 39 per cent. 14 per cent of respondents are undecided.


A Comprehensive Approach to the Middle East Peace Process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by David Miliband - (Opinion) December 18, 2008 - 12:00am


Next year needs to be an important year for the Arab-Israeli conflict. Unless we make real progress, the prospect of a two-state solution will slowly - or perhaps fast - slip away. The situation on the ground leaves too many people insecure, in poverty and despair, and is rapidly undermining the political process. While both sides are tiring of the conflict, they are also tiring, faster, of efforts to resolve it.





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