Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The New York Times profiles how the Israeli incursion has affected the small Gazan farming village of El Atatra (1). Israel prepares to defend itself against possible war crimes charges from the International Criminal Court (2) (8). An op-ed in The Washington Times analyzes Obama’s recent television interview with Al-Arabiya (3). UN officials report that Hamas policeman have seized a large amount of aid intended for Gaza civilians (4). National security dominates the debate as candidates prepare for Israeli general elections next week (5). Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority announces a $600 million reconstruction program for Gaza (7). Mideast envoy George Mitchell requests to have a regional office for dealing effectively with day-to-day developments (9). A top Hamas official tells The Jerusalem Post that a ceasefire agreement is likely to be reached by the end of the week (11).

In Shattered Gaza Town, Roots of Seething Split
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner, Sabrina Tavernise - February 3, 2009 - 1:00am

The phosphorus smoke bomb punched through the roof in exactly the spot where much of the family had taken refuge — the upstairs hall away from the windows. The bomb, which international weapons experts identified as phosphorus by its fragments, was intended to mask troop movements outside. Instead it breathed its storm of fire and smoke into Sabah Abu Halima’s hallway, releasing flaming chemicals that clung to her husband, baby girl and three other small children, burning them to death.

War crimes accusations rattle Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Three-and-a-half years ago, Israeli reserve Gen. Doron Almog was forced to flee Britain just after landing in London. He had been tipped off about a surprise warrant for his arrest issued by a British magistrates court. The charge: war crimes. Now, as the recent Gaza war stirs up more accusations of offenses, the Jewish state and international human rights advocates are gearing up for more potential criminal cases against military officers and political leaders in Europe and possibly elsewhere.

DALE: Obama's Arab-TV interview
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Times
by Helle Dale - (Opinion) February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

The Arab world remains in a tizzy of excitement over the interview given last week by President Obama with the Arabic news service Al-Arabiya. "Overwhelmingly positive" is how the State Department's Web site describes the reaction in the Middle East. Was it anything Mr. Obama said that made them so elated? More likely it was the simple act of speaking to the Arab world through one of its own media and the facts of Mr. Obama's identity and family background. One thing is for sure, Mr.

Hamas police 'seize aid for Gaza'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

A UN spokesman said policemen raided a UN warehouse on Tuesday after officials refused to hand over the aid to a Hamas-controlled ministry. The UN said it was the first time its aid had been confiscated by Hamas. It condemned the action and demanded the goods be immediately returned. Hamas denied its men had taken any aid. UN spokesman Christopher Gunness said Hamas police took 3,500 blankets and over 400 food parcels. The Hamas Social Affairs Minister in Gaza, Ahmed al-Kurd, denied that members of the Islamist movement had removed aid from a UN building.

National security again to dominate Israeli elections
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Rory McCarthy - February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli Foreign Minister and Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni speaks at an election campaign rally in the southern city of Sderot. Photograph: David Buimovitch/AFP/Getty Images With less than a week to go before Israel holds elections, the rival candidates are locked in fierce debate not about whether the devastating war in Gaza went too far, but whether it went far enough.

Lieberman set to swing Israel to the right
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel’s Avigdor Lieberman, much-needed iron fist to some, racist to others, is steamrolling into elections next week as the poll’s biggest spoiler, set to swing the balance of power sharply to the right. The Soviet immigrant’s ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu (Israel is Our Home) party is poised to become parliament’s third-largest, nudging out centre-left Labour, which ruled Israel for more than half of its 60 years, polls say.

Abbas government announces $600 million Gaza aid project
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ali Sawafta - February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

The government of Western-back Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Wednesday a $600 million reconstruction program for the war-battered Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who heads Abbas's West Bank-based government, said the program would cover all Palestinian houses destroyed or damaged during Israel's 22-day military offensive in the Hamas-ruled enclave.

ICC takes first step toward Gaza war-crimes probe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Tuesday he would determine whether there was such a legal entity as a Palestinian state, a precursor to a possible probe of war crimes in Gaza. Having received a request from the Palestinian National Authority to investigate the recent Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, Luis Moreno-Ocampo said: "My work is now to analyze this in accordance with [international] law."

US Mideast envoy wants regional office
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

The special US envoy for Middle East peace, George Mitchell, has asked to open his own office in the region to deal with day-to-day developments between Israel, the Palestinians and neighboring states, signaling a desire for greater American hands-on involvement in negotiations. Mitchell, who just returned from the region on Monday and plans to go back this month after Israel's Feb. 10 elections, has proposed placing a small staff in Jerusalem to monitor the situation on the ground, officials briefed on his recommendation said.

Editorial: Israel flouting own rules on settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

There is no such thing as a legal Israeli settlement on the West Bank. Under international law there should have been no building in any of the occupied territories. Yet Israel has carried on constructing, often strategically, chains of settlements as around occupied East Jerusalem, in defiance of UN rulings. A halt to new settlement activity and to the expansion of existing sites has been pivotal to all recent efforts to advance the peace process.

Hamas official to 'Post': Deal likely this week
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by Brenda Gazzar, Yaakov Katz, Tovah Lazaroff - February 3, 2009 - 1:00am

A top Hamas official told The Jerusalem Post late on Monday that he believes an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas is likely to be reached by Thursday. Ahmed Youssef, the Gaza-based deputy foreign minister and former political adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said he had not yet heard back from a Hamas delegation in Cairo, which was scheduled to meet Egyptian officials about a cease-fire proposal. But he said he was optimistic that a cease-fire agreement was imminent.

Barak okays new West Bank settlement in return for evacuation of illegal outpost
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has agreed to approve the establishment of a new settlement in the Binyamin region in return for settlers' agreement to evacuate the illegal outpost of Migron. The Migron settlers will move into the new 250-house settlement after leaving the illegal one they built on private Palestinian land. Today there are 45 families living in Migron, with only two living in permanent housing and the rest in trailers.

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