Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Mideast envoy George Mitchell arrives in Israel for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leadership (1). The New York Times looks at how the continued blockade of Gaza is affecting the humanitarian situation (2). Thomas Friedman reexamines Saudi King Abdullah’s peace plan (3). Pat Buchanan predicts conflicts between U.S. President Obama and Israeli Prime Ministerial candidate Benjamin Netanyahu (4). The Israeli group Peace Now reports that settlement expansion accelerated in 2008 compared with the previous year (6). Egypt condemns Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah as provokers of conflict (7).





Gaza ceasefire of critical importance, says US envoy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ewen Macaskill, Rory McCarthy, Peter Walker - January 28, 2009 - 12:00am


A continued ceasefire in Gaza is of "critical importance", Barack Obama's Middle East peace envoy, George Mitchell said today, as Israeli jets bombed smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border amid the worst violence in the territory since a truce began 10 days ago. Mitchell arrived in Israel this afternoon after talks in Cairo with the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. In Jerusalem, he held talks with the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, and was due to meet the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, before travelling to the West Bank to see the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.


At a Border Crossing, Drivers and Truckloads of Aid for Gaza Go Nowhere
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Michael Slackman - January 27, 2009 - 12:00am


France sent technical equipment to help Gazans draw water from the ground. The Swiss sent blankets and plastic tarps. Mercy Corps, a relief agency, sent 12 truckloads of food. And on Tuesday all of it, including dozens of other trucks carrying sugar, rice, flour, juice and baby formula, sat in the hot sun here going nowhere.


Abdullah II: The 5-State Solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Thomas L. Friedman - (Opinion) January 27, 2009 - 12:00am


In February 2002, I traveled to Saudi Arabia and interviewed the then crown prince, now king, Abdullah, at his Riyadh horse farm. I asked him why the next Arab summit wouldn’t just propose to Israel full peace and normalization of relations, by all 22 Arab states, for full withdrawal from all occupied lands and creation of a Palestinian state. Abdullah said that I had read his mind (“Have you broken into my desk?” he asked me) and that he was about to propose just that, which he later did, giving birth to the “Abdullah peace plan.”


A Bibi-Barack Collision?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Creators Syndicate
by Pat Buchanan - (Opinion) January 27, 2009 - 12:00am


"Where there is no solution, there is no problem," geostrategist James Burnham once wryly observed. Ex-Sen. George Mitchell, the latest U.S. negotiator to take up the Palestine portfolio, may discover what it was that Burnham meant. For Israel's three-week war on Gaza, where Palestinians died at a rate of 100 to one to Israelis, appears to have been, like Israel's wars in Lebanon, another Pyrrhic victory for the Jewish state.


George Mitchell and the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Gerry Adams - (Opinion) January 27, 2009 - 12:00am


In the crowds of Washington's Union Station last week, I bumped into George Mitchell. We were both in the city for Barack Obama's inauguration, but at that point there was only speculation that George might be made US special envoy for the Middle East – it wasn't until I returned to Ireland that the appointment was confirmed.


Peace Now: Israel settlement building accelerated in 2008
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
January 28, 2009 - 12:00am


Settlements and outposts in the West Bank expanded more quickly in 2008 than the previous year, a Peace Now report said Wednesday. According to the group, 1,257 new structures were built in settlements during 2008, compared to 800 in 2007, an increase of 57 percent. The group said in the report that building more than doubled in outposts, which unlike settlements are not recognized by the Israeli government. It says 261 structures were built in outposts, compared to 98 the year before.


Egypt attacks Iran and allies in Arab world
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
January 28, 2009 - 12:00am


Egypt aired its grievances against Iran, the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, saying they worked together in the fighting over Gaza to provoke conflict in the Middle East. "(They tried) to turn the region to confrontation in the interest of Iran, which is trying to use its cards to escape Western pressure ... on the nuclear file," Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in an interview with Orbit satellite channel broadcast Wednesday.


News Laundering
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by Tariq Alhomayed - January 28, 2009 - 12:00am


What’s worse than money laundering in our Arab world is news laundering. This happens around the clock without any consequences or supervision. In the world of the internet, satellite channels, and SMS text messaging, it is clear to see that news laundering is widely popular and some media organs are contributing to this whether intentionally or unintentionally.


The false promise of radicalism has again reared its ugly head
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Emile Hokayem - (Opinion) January 28, 2009 - 12:00am


A dark spectre hovers over the Arab world: the cult of muqawama – resistance – and false promise of radicalism. Indeed, with every appalling Israeli bombing campaign comes a quixotic victory for Hamas and Hizbollah that leaves their societies in tatters but strengthens the sentiment elsewhere that complete victory over Israel is within reach, if only Arab governments could step aside and let the muqaweemen carry out their glorious mission.


Among Egyptians, Mixed Feelings over Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
January 27, 2009 - 12:00am


At a smoky cafe in Cairo, a group of bank employees sharing a lunch of beans, falafel and pickles discussed their anger over Israel's Gaza offensive and the images of slain children and destruction they've watched on TV. However, outrage wasn't their only feeling. In Egypt, there's also a sense of frustration with the Palestinians — and sentiment that Arabs must become more realistic in dealing with Israel.


America's election message
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) January 28, 2009 - 12:00am


U.S. President Barack Obama promised after his inauguration to pursue Middle East peace "actively and aggressively." Today, former U.S. senator George Mitchell arrives in Jerusalem for his first visit to the region as Obama's special envoy to the Middle East. His election-eve visit is intended to send Israeli voters and candidates the message that Obama means what he says and that the new administration will be judged by its contribution to bringing peace closer.


Top UN official blasts Hamas for 'cynical' use of civilian facilities
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
January 28, 2009 - 12:00am


United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Chief John Holmes blasted Hamas Tuesday for its "cynical" use of civilian facilities during recent hostilities in the Gaza Strip. "The reckless and cynical use of civilian installations by Hamas and indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian populations are clear violations of international humanitarian law," Holmes told the UN Security Council.


Another price of the Gaza operation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Meir Javedanfar - (Opinion) January 27, 2009 - 12:00am


The recent invasion of Gaza is likely to have an impact on Barack Obama-Israel relations, both for good and bad. Hamas's provocative attacks made it very difficult for Jerusalem not to respond. The government, through Egypt, tried on several occasions to convince Hamas to stop attacking southern cities. But that failed, as did the siege of Gaza.





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