Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Talks appear on the brink of achieving a cease-fire in Gaza (1), (2), (3), (4). A senior Hamas leader is killed by Israel, which is also accused of attacking UNRWA headquarters with phosphorous munitions (5), (6). The Chief Rabbi of Safed makes genocidal remarks calling the Palestinians “Amalek,” a people who must be exterminated (7). Reports examine Israel’s war aims, and the reaction of the incoming Obama administration and Arab governments (9), (10), (11). Jim Hoagland looks at Egypt’s controversial stance, while both Arab and Israeli commentators ask what the future holds for Hamas (12), 13), (14).

Hamas: We will not accept Israel cease-fire demands
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas will not accept Israeli conditions for a cease-fire in Gaza and would continue armed resistance until the offensive ends, Khaled Meshal, the leader of the Palestinian Islamist group, said on Friday. Speaking at the opening of an emergency meeting on Gaza in Doha, Meshal called on the leaders present to cut all ties with Israel. However, Hamas is set to send a delegation to Cairo later on Friday to discuss Egyptian efforts to mediate a cease-fire in Gaza, a Hamas official told Al Jazeera television.

On Day of Heavy Fighting, Moves Toward Gaza Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Griff Witte - January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

After one of the most violent days of Israel's nearly three-week-old war against the Hamas movement in Gaza, the conflict appeared late Thursday to be moving toward a diplomatic solution.

Gaza ceasefire imminent as Israel negotiates deals with Egypt and US
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Times
by Martin Fletcher - January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

The Israeli military sought to inflict maximum damage on Hamas today before Ehud Omert's government submitted to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that would end the fighting before Barak Obama's inauguration on Tuesday. Amos Gilad, Israel's top negotiator, flew to Cairo to hammer out the remaining details of that ceasefire agreement. Tzipi Livni, the Foreign Minister, flew overnight to Washington where she and Condoleezza Rice are expected to sign a second agreement committing the United States to measures to stop Hamas re-arming itself.

U.N. Chief Urges Israel to Halt Attack on Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner, Michael Slackman - January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

CAIRO — As the war in Gaza entered its 21st day with the quest for an elusive truce resuming in Cairo and Washington, a top exile leader of the Hamas militant group battling Israel’s onslaught rejected Israel’s terms for a cease-fire and urged Arab states to support its resistance. In a speech broadcast across the Arab world and widely followed in the Middle East and elsewhere, Khaled Meshal, the senior leader in exile of Hamas, told an unusual Arab gathering in Doha, Qatar, that “I assure you: despite all the destruction in Gaza, we will not accept Israel’s conditions for a ceasefire.

Assault kills top Hamas leader
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck, Andrew England, Heba Saleh - January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli forces yesterday launched their most furious assault on the Gaza Strip yet, killing a top Hamas leader and shelling a key United Nations compound, amid intensifying diplomatic efforts to end the 20-day conflict. The strikes killed Saeed Seyyam, the Hamas interior minister and the most senior leader of the Islamist group to die so far. News of his death came as the Israeli security cabinet met last night to discuss an Egyptian ceasefire proposal. However, it decided only to dispatch Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, to Washington.

Israeli 'phosphorous shells' incinerate 1,000s of tons of UN food as Gaza starves
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Scotsman
by Ibrahim Barzak, Ben Lynfield - January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

ISRAELI shells set ablaze a food warehouse at UN headquarters in Gaza yesterday, destroying tons of emergency rations intended for needy Gaza civilians, a senior UN official said. A pall of black smoke rose from the UN compound, visible across Gaza City. Flour spilled on the ground and mixed with soot as Palestinian firefighters tried to douse the flames. "The main warehouse was badly damaged by what appeared to be white phosphorus shells," UN humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes said at a news briefing in New York.

Gaza campaign is war against Amalek, says Chief Rabbi of Safed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nadav Shragai - January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

The Chief Rabbi of Safed, Rabbi Shmuel Elyahu, visited a Bnei Akiva yeshiva in Ashdod Thursday where he declared the war against Hamas as "a war of the people of Israel against Amalek." The yeshiva had originally been in the settlement of Neveh Dekalim and was evacuated in 2005 along with similar communities in the Gaza Strip. "This is not a private war of Shmuel and Moshe against Muhammad, but a war of the nation of Israel against those wishing to destroy Jews. This is a [Hamas] war against Judaism and that is how it should be seen," Rabbi Elyahu said.

Gaza Clan Finds One Haven After Another Ravaged in Attacks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Reyham Abdel Kareem, Craig Whitlock - January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

The Abu Nihil clan, all 16 members, huddled on the living room floor of a friend's Gaza City apartment. All the windows were gone, shattered by explosions. Israeli helicopters churned overhead. But the family has decided this is as good a place as any to make its final stand. The Abu Nihils have seen three houses destroyed since Dec. 27, when Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and began a war that has left civilians with no safe place to go.

Israel focused on war aims in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

The world might be transfixed by scenes of destruction in Gaza, but this cuts little ice with Israelis, grimly focused on achieving their war aims. Some, such as restoring Israel's military deterrence and badly damaging Hamas's armed capacity, have already been achieved, Israeli analysts and officials say. Others, such as stopping Hamas rocket fire into Israel and preventing the Islamist movement from rearming via tunnels bored under Gaza's border with Egypt, are still incomplete.

Mideast Awaits Signs of Obama’s Stance on Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Helene Cooper - January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama has promised that he will have plenty to say about the Israeli incursion into Gaza once he takes office next week, and expectations are high. But there is a growing consensus among the people who have followed the Arab-Israeli conflict for decades that Mr. Obama must take some quick, decisive steps — within days of being sworn in — or else face the prospect of coming across in the Arab world as continuing President Bush’s tilt in favor of Israel.

Arab Ranks Divided as Pressure Mounts to Hold Gaza Summit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Voice of America
by Edward Yeranian - January 15, 2009 - 1:00am

Arab leaders and diplomats are engaged in an increasingly bitter quarrel over the need to hold an emergency summit to discuss a cease-fire in Gaza, where the death toll has now risen to more than 1,000. Diplomatic efforts continued Thursday in Cairo where Israeli envoy Amos Gilad has been conveying Israel's position to Egyptian mediators.

Cairo's Bargain
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jim Hoagland - January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

CAIRO -- The besieged Palestinians of Gaza matter to the people of Egypt. But peace with Israel has come to matter more. That outcome was not certain when Jimmy Carter, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat negotiated the Camp David peace treaty nearly 30 years ago. I remember labeling the accord "fragile" on the day it was born. It contained nothing tangible for the Palestinians or other Arabs -- not even for Syria, Egypt's partner in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Hamas's Wars Are Greater than Itself
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Hassan Haidar - January 15, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas is waging three wars at the same time, all deeply intertwined. Each of these wars requires top-notch military and political capabilities, advanced organizational abilities and suitable objective circumstances, all of which are neither present in nor available to the Hamas movement. Nevertheless, it insists on completing its struggle on all three fronts, in a manner that resembles suicide, which does not disagree with its ideology.

Would a weak Hamas or no Hamas be better in Gaza?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - January 16, 2009 - 1:00am

In a series of blows during the past 24 hours, the most severe since the Israel Defense Forces operation began in the Gaza Strip 20 days ago, Hamas was brought very close to surrender. It is unlikely that we will see white flags, because the group recognizes that this would have a devastating effect on its image. But the Israeli military pressure has destroyed most of the Palestinian defenses in the heart of Gaza City, a day after the group had to agree in principle to the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire a deal it is not very happy with.

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