Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Washington Post reports on the 15,000 Gaza civilians still living in emergency shelters (1). President Obama appoints Senator George Mitchell as Mideast Envoy (2), while an editorial in The New York Times discusses the difficulties ahead for him (4). Tensions flare between Hamas and Fatah supporters (3) as Fatah fears that the Gaza offensive has weakened their support (7) . A New York Times blog features reporter Taghreed El-Khodary answering questions submitted by the public about Gaza (5). The UN’s humanitarian chief tells the BBC that the destruction in Gaza is worse than he had anticipated (6). An editorial in The Economist suggests that now is the time to take serious steps towards peace (8).





No Home to Return to in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Griff Witte - January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


When members of the Sultan family ran from their home as an Israeli tank shelled its northern wall, there was no time to shut the front door. There was also no need. The house, which family patriarch Samir al-Sultan began building at the age of 15, was all but destroyed as Israeli forces advanced into the Gaza Strip in early January, turning the house's contents into a mangled mess of glass and mortar. With no home to return to and no prospects for rebuilding, the Sultans on Thursday were among the thousands of Palestinians in Gaza searching for somewhere to go.


As Obama Visits State Dept., Clinton Announces Two Special Envoys
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Karen Deyoung, Glenn Kessler - January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


President Obama traveled to the State Department yesterday afternoon for a visit that was as rich in symbolism as in substance, underscoring his pledge to give top priority to diplomacy as he outlined an activist policy in the Middle East and warned that "difficult days lie ahead" in Afghanistan.


Palestinian Rival Says It Is Attacked by Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Sabrina Tavernise - January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


The 27-year-old in a sweatsuit limped to the table, heaved himself into a chair and began to talk about how he had been shot. Men from Hamas have begun to assault people they suspect of supporting its chief political rival, Fatah, he said, and on Sunday, he became one of the victims. It was impossible to verify the man’s account, which he provided on the condition that he remain anonymous, out of concern for his safety. But it came during a week in which leaders of Fatah accused Hamas of harassing and harming its members in the Gaza Strip.


An Unenviable Job
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


We welcome President Obama’s choice of George Mitchell to be his new Middle East envoy. It is an unenviable and essential job. A former Senate majority leader, Mr. Mitchell has the stature to represent the new administration. He negotiated the 1998 Good Friday accord in Northern Ireland, good training for taking on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a Lebanese-American, his appointment also sends an important signal that the United States will continue to be an unwavering ally of Israel but also sensitive to the Palestinians’ many legitimate grievances.


Q. and A. With Taghreed El-Khodary in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Interview) January 19, 2009 - 12:00am


This afternoon we have answers from Taghreed El-Khodary, our correspondent in Gaza, to some of the many questions submitted by readers for our Q&A. Ms. El-Khodary, who was born in Gaza, has reported for The New York Times since 2001. During the recent conflict, Ms. El-Khodary was one of the few people reporting from inside Gaza, in part due to the fact that the Israeli military refused to give Western reporters access to the Palestinian territory during the fighting.


UN 'shocked' by Gaza destruction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


The UN's humanitarian chief has told the BBC the situation in Gaza after a three-week Israeli offensive against Hamas was worse than he anticipated. Sir John Holmes, who visited Gaza on Thursday, said he was shocked by "the systematic nature of the destruction". He said that the territory's economic activity had been set back by years. UN workers have been given access to Gaza. On Friday, Israel lifted a ban on international aid agencies entering the Palestinian territory. The ban had been in place since early November when tensions mounted between Israel and Hamas.


Fatah fears Gaza conflict has put Hamas in the ascendancy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Patrick Cockburn - January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


The Islamic movement Hamas is taking over from Fatah, the party created by Yasser Arafat, as the main Palestinian national organisation as a result of the war in Gaza, says a leading Fatah militant. "We have moved into the era of Hamas which is now much stronger than it was," said Husam Kadr, a veteran Fatah leader in the West Bank city of Nablus, recently released after five-and-a-half years in Israeli prisons. "Its era started when Israel attacked Gaza on 27 December."


Peace now?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Economist
(Editorial) January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


FRANCE’S president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has a reputation for letting his enthusiasm run away with him. Having rushed with other European heads of government to the Middle East to douse the flames of Gaza, he returned home with a characteristically grandiose idea. Now that a truce seems to be taking hold, he wants, “within weeks”, to convene a peace conference to begin solving the whole conflict once and for all.


Saudi patience is running out
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Turki al-Faisal - (Opinion) January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


In my decades as a public servant, I have strongly promoted the Arab-Israeli peace process. During recent months, I argued that the peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia could be implemented under an Obama administration if the Israelis and Palestinians both accepted difficult compromises. I told my audiences this was worth the energies of the incoming administration for, as the late Indian diplomat Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit said: “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.”


Obama Shifts Mideast Politics Into High Gear
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Middle East Times
by Claude Salhani - January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


Just two days after his inauguration U.S. President Barack Obama began to move forward on his electoral promise to work on the Middle East issues. Obama's first telephone call as president of the United States was to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whom Obama assured of his administration's interest in finding a lasting and just solution to the Middle East crisis.


Inching steadily better than stalemate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Editorial) January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


US President Barack Obama signalled interest in finding a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, made more imperative after the horrors of the just-ended Israeli war on Gaza. Obama called four Middle East leaders on his first day in office; choosing His Majesty King Abdullah, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as his interlocutors on the Palestinian issue, Obama may have wished to show that he is siding with the voices of moderation in the region, not with the so-called rejectionists.


Israel to allow Egypt to boost force on Gaza border to fight smuggling
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anshel Pfeffer, Barak Ravid - January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


Israel has taken a favorable view of an Egyptian request to increase the force of its border guards along the Philadelphi Route by at least 750 - and possibly as much as 1,500 - according to a senior Israeli political source. Meanwhile, the head of the political-security bureau at the Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad, discussed the matter of expanding the Egyptian border force with Omar Suleiman, head of the Egypt's intelligence, in Cairo last night. In Rafah, residents told Haaretz that the Egyptians had deployed 1,200 regulars whose mission is to secure the border and prevent smuggling.


At Last, an Honest Broker
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Israel Policy Forum
by M.J. Rosenberg - January 23, 2009 - 12:00am


Hopefully, George Mitchell’s tenure as special envoy to the Middle East will turn out to be a case of what Yogi Berra would call, “deja vu all over again.” Specifically, we could use a repeat of May 9, 2007, which was the highlight of Mitchell’s career thus far. That was the day that the conflict over Northern Ireland, which began in the twelfth century (and in which 3,500 people had been killed since 1966) ended. It was the day when Protestant leader Reverend Ian Paisley joined former senior IRA commander Martin McGuiness in a power-sharing Catholic-Protestant unity government.





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