Middle East News: World Press Roundup

As the fragile ceasefire in Gaza takes hold, both Israel and Hamas claim “victory” while Palestinians mourn the dead and survey the devastation (1), (2), (3), (6). Several papers provide analysis of political gains and losses from the conflict for Israel and Hamas (4), (5), (11), (12). Israel says it is moving to block the rearmament of Hamas, while UN SG Ban urges support for Palestinian President Abbas (8), (9). Saudi Arabia pledges $1 billion for Gaza reconstruction, but says that the Arab Peace Initiative is not an open-ended offer (10). A Ha’aretz commentary urges Israel to use carrots as well as sticks, while the National worries that the Gaza conflict has done serious political harm to moderates (14), (15). Robert Fisk thinks its time for a war crimes tribunal for Israeli leaders, and al-Ahram explains the complicated Egyptian position on Gaza (13), (16).

Both Hamas and Israel claim victory following 22 days of death and destruction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Australian
by John Lyons - January 20, 2009 - 1:00am

ISRAELI troops began withdrawing from the Gaza Strip yesterday as both sides agreed to a ceasefire and both sides claimed victory in the 22-day conflict. No air strikes, rockets or major clashes were reported in the territory, giving Gazans their first night of complete peace since the start of Israel's massive assault on Hamas in their stronghold on December 27. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel wanted to leave "as fast as possible", while Hamas claimed it had defeated Israel in "a heavenly victory".

Palestinians mourn Gaza dead, gape at destruction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

Mourning tents dotted the Gaza Strip on Monday as Palestinians gathered to remember loved ones among the 1,300 people killed by Israeli forces. Saber Jnaid said his son, a Hamas fighter, had been killed 12 days ago during Israel's 22-day onslaught on the Islamist militant group. He could not formally receive condolences until fighting stopped on Sunday and Israeli forces pulled back. "May God make the Islamic resistance stronger," the grey-bearded father told Reuters as he sat with relatives. "I have 10 more sons and I hope all of them die as martyrs."

Israel Begins Pullout; Gazans Survey Debris
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jonathan Finer, Craig Whitlock - January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli soldiers flashed the victory sign Sunday as they began withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. Shellshocked Palestinians emerged from shelters and counted their dead. But as a tenuous cease-fire took hold, few people on either side predicted an end to the cycle of violence that has endured for generations. The 22-day war ended without surrender. Neither Israel nor Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza, made any concessions, except to stop fighting temporarily.

Parsing Gains of Gaza War
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - (Analysis) January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

The Parliament building here has been reduced to rubble. The five-story engineering department of the Islamic University is a pile of folded concrete. Police stations, mosques and hundreds of homes have been blown away.

Gaza: so what really happened?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Anne Penketh - (Analysis) January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

It started with "shock and awe" at 7.30pm on 27 December as flares lit up the skies and 100 tons of bombs rained down on the Gaza Strip in the space of 24 hours. Israel declared it was time to put an end to the Hamas rockets terrorising its people, as the world's leaders enjoyed a Christmas break. It ended with a fragile ceasefire shored up by the international community after a three-week military campaign that resulted in the deaths of 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis - and calls for an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes.

Haniyeh: Hamas won Gaza war, but was wise to declare truce
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Sunday that Israel's three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip was a failure and had not cowed the Palestinians, but praised his movement for deciding to declare a cease-fire. "The enemy has failed to achieve its goals," Ismail Haniyeh, the top Hamas leader in the territory, said in a speech broadcast on Hamas television. Though he called the war, in which more than 1,300 Gazans and 13 Israelis died, a "popular victory" for Palestinians, Haniyeh said Hamas's decision to declare a truce on Sunday was "wise and responsible".

Gaza doctor who lost 3 daughters demands explanation from Barak
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Meital Yasur-beit Or - January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, a gynecologist from Gaza who lost three of his eight children and a niece over the weekend in IDF shelling, said he is still expecting an explanation from Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Israel preparing for Iran bid to rearm Hamas in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - (Analysis) January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

A long column of Israel Defense Forces infantrymen on Sunday morning made its way back to Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. The soldiers marched about 10 kilometers, along the same route that they had taken in the opposite direction during the warfare over the past two weeks. A number of the officers remembered a similar march that took place in August 2006, from southwest Lebanon back to Israel.

Ban urges Arabs to back Abbas in Gaza crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Louis Charbonneau - January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged Arab leaders to join together in backing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his efforts to reunite the war-ravaged Gaza Strip with the West Bank. Speaking a day after Israel and the militant Palestinian group Hamas announced separate ceasefires, Ban also said that Arab unity was crucial if the three-week Gaza conflict was not to be repeated in the future.

Saudi Arabia offers $1 billion to rebuild Gaza as fragile cease-fires hold
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Borzou Daragahi, Raed Rafei - January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

The Saudi Arabian monarchy vowed to spend $1 billion to help rebuild the Gaza Strip after a devastating three-week war between Hamas and Israel but warned the Jewish state that an Arab 2002 peace offer was imperiled and that conflict could be renewed. "Israel must realize that the choice between peace and war will not always be open to it," King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz said at a long-scheduled Arab League economic forum in Kuwait, according to the Persian Gulf state's official Kuwait News Agency. "The Arab peace initiative will not always remain on the table."

Decision Time for Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed - (Opinion) January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

We are entering a new era following the end of the Israeli war on Gaza; the positions have been examined and the results have become known, and things are presently less ambiguous. The leaders of the Hamas movement- because there is not one single leader that can be addressed- have two choices with regards to their [foreign] relations that will decide the fate of the movement, especially as they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses in confronting [Israel].

It takes two to cease fire
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

The decision by the Israeli cabinet to declare a unilateral cease-fire lacks three basic components: a partner, a monitor and a political process.

So, I asked the UN secretary general, isn't it time for a war crimes tribunal?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Robert Fisk - (Opinion) January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

It's a wrap, a doddle, an Israeli ceasefire just in time for Barack Obama to have a squeaky-clean inauguration with all the world looking at the streets of Washington rather than the rubble of Gaza. Condi and Ms Livni thought their new arms-monitoring agreement – reached without a single Arab being involved – would work. Ban Ki-moon welcomed the unilateral truce. The great and the good gathered for a Sharm el-Sheikh summit. Only Hamas itself was not consulted. Which led, of course, to a few wrinkles in the plan.

Israel is good at using sticks, but its carrot approach needs work
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Alex Sinclair - (Opinion) January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

During its three-week offensive on Hamas, Israel has used a great big stick on the Palestinians of Gaza. Most Israelis, myself included, have supported our right to use that stick, pained as we are at the suffering we have inflicted on many innocent Palestinians. But when the core narrative of the situation was "We got out of Gaza; you continued to attack us" - which, despite Israel's continued blockades and targeted assassinations, remains the basic truth of the Gaza story over the past 3 years - then we were justified in taking action to prevent these attacks.

This violence in Gaza has killed the moderates
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) January 18, 2009 - 1:00am

After three weeks of bloodshed in the Gaza Strip a ceasefire is finally forthcoming, yet there is little to celebrate. Over 1,000 Palestinians have died as a result of the bombardment of densely populated urban areas. Much of Gaza’s infrastructure, already depleted after six months of crippling economic blockade, is demolished or non-functioning. And this ceasefire contains nothing that ensures that the violence will not resume in the immediate future. For, despite international efforts to impose a bilateral ceasefire on Hamas and Israel, little progress was made.

The Egyptian paradox in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Ahram
by Abdel-Moneim Said - (Opinion) January 19, 2009 - 1:00am

The nightmare of politics is when political leaders have to deal with deeply contradictory goals. And when these contradictory goals characterise an environment of armed conflict, "war" for short, the nightmare is at its worst. Nothing represents this nightmare better for Egypt than the Israeli war in Gaza, where contradictory objectives describe both external and internal policy.

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