Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israeli planes bomb Gazan smuggling tunnels on the border with Egypt (1), after a rocket fired from Gaza lands in the Israeli city of Ashkelon (2). The Associated Press looks at how the Israeli incursion has damaged Gaza’s previously fragile educational system (3). Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan pledges that his country remains committed to mediating a Palestinian-Israeli peace, despite his heated comments last week (4). Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak proposes the construction of an underground tunnel linking the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (5). Responding to increasing skepticism the UN clarifies that the 43 fatalities at an UNRWA school on January 6 were due to IDF mortar fire landing just outside of the school itself (6). UK daily The Guardian examines the impact of the Gaza incursion on Israel’s upcoming general elections (7).

Israeli planes hit Gaza tunnels
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
February 3, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli planes have bombed smuggling tunnels on Gaza's border with Egypt, the Israeli military says. The raid came after a rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip hit the Israeli city of Ashkelon. The attacks are the latest violations of ceasefires declared by both sides after an Israeli assault on Gaza meant to stop militant rocket fire on Israel. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised a sustained effort to create a Palestinian state.

Gaza rocket hits Ashkelon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
February 3, 2009 - 1:00am

A long-range Grad rocket from Gaza landed in the Israeli city of Ashkelon today as Hamas delegates met Egyptian officials in Cairo for talks aimed at securing a long-term truce with Israel. The rocket was the first of its kind to be fired at the city of 122,000 since informal ceasefires were declared separately by Israel and Hamas two weeks ago at the end of Israel's three-week-long offensive in Gaza. No one was injured in today's attack, police said.

Israel-Hamas war deals blow to schools in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Karin Laub - February 3, 2009 - 1:00am

The jewel of Gaza's bare-bones education system — a U.S.-style school on lush grounds overlooking the Mediterranean — is now a mound of broken concrete. The territory's only laboratory for genetic testing, at a Gaza university, lies in ruins. With 37 primary and secondary schools destroyed or damaged by air strikes, and 18 others still serving as refugee shelters, learning in Gaza has become even more of a struggle.

Turkey still ready to seek Mideast peace: Erdogan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
February 3, 2009 - 1:00am

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday his government remains committed to mediating a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians despite an angry public exchange last week with Israel's president. Erdogan also said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had phoned him Monday to ask him to continue Turkey's role as a Middle East mediator.

Barak: Build Tunnel Linking West Bank and Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
February 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday proposed the construction of a 30-mile tunnel that would connect the northern Gaza Strip with the southern West Bank, thus enabling freedom of movement between the two disjointed Palestinian territories.

UN backtracks on claim that deadly IDF strike hit Gaza school
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - February 2, 2009 - 1:00am

The United Nations has reversed its stance on one of the most contentious and bloody incidents of the recent Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza, saying that an IDF mortar strike that killed 43 people on January 6 did not hit one of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools after all.

From Gaza to Jerusalem: the impact of war on the Israeli election
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Peter Beaumont - (Editorial) February 3, 2009 - 1:00am

Out of Gaza and across the border to the sound of rocket fire. A handful of hours later I am at the Hebrew University for a lecture by Gershon Baskin, one of Israel's most prominent peace activists, who is describing his attempts to open a channel of communication between Israel's leaders and Hamas.

Gaza war crimes probe mulled
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Aaron Gray-Block - February 3, 2009 - 1:00am

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor in The Hague has launched a "preliminary analysis" to establish whether Israel committed war crimes in its offensive in the Gaza Strip, the prosecutor said on Tuesday. Documents also showed that the Palestinian National Authority has recognised the jurisdiction of the ICC, in a move designed to allow investigations of alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories. The ICC prosecutor's office said it had received 210 communications from individuals and non-governmental organisations regarding events in Gaza.

No rush to talk with Abbas, Hamas says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Khaled Yacoub Oweis - February 3, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas will not push for Palestinian reconciliation talks if President Mahmoud Abbas insists on the supremacy of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Islamist group said yesterday. In a statement, a high-level Hamas official accused Abbas of siding with Israel during its invasion of Gaza and seeking to "return on Israeli tanks" to govern the territory. Abbas on Sunday rejected a call by Hamas to replace the PLO with an organization less dominated by his allies and said recognizing the primacy of the PLO in representing all Palestinians was a condition for dialogue.

The PLO: The Authority and the Program
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Abdullah Iskandar - February 2, 2009 - 1:00am

The voices that were raised in Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian factions, in support of the PLO as an authority for Palestinians, indicate that Khalid Meshaal's proposal is nothing at best but a political escalation pending the Egyptian-brokered dialogue. Perhaps it is a trial balloon to test renewed old attempts to ruin the organization's credibility and restore the Palestinians' authority and independent national project to their previous state some decades ago, before the PLO gained Arab, then international, recognition as the sole legitimate representative of Palestinians.

Kingdom asks Palestinians to be realistic
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Abdul Ghafour - February 3, 2009 - 1:00am

Saudi Arabia yesterday urged the Palestinians to adopt a new and realistic concept of resistance that would realize their unity, strengthen their legitimate organizations, protect their lives and properties and ensure their legitimate rights. The Council of Ministers, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, also emphasized the need to strengthen Arab unity and cautioned against certain countries that hide their regional ambitions under the cover of supporting Arab and Muslim causes.

The Palestinian revolution of rising expectations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Ellis Weintraub - (Opinion) February 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Israelis will head to the voting booths on February 10, and polls indicate that Likud will have a strong showing. Such a scenario will see Binyamin Netanyahu ushered back into the position of prime minister. Immediately, the issue of the West Bank settlements will come to the forefront as he deals with the Obama administration's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell.

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