Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The war in Gaza has strained the alliance between Israel and Turkey (1). The debate continues over Israel’s reported use of white phosphorous munitions in attacks on population centers in Gaza (2). In the New York Times, Thomas Friedman paints a bleak picture of the fractured state of affairs in both Palestine and Israel (3). The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announces that it will examine the various requests to investigate possible war crimes by Israel (4). The Egyptian mediated talks involving Hamas and Israel fail to generate an agreeable ceasefire, (9) prompting further analysis of Egypt’s role as a broker in the region (5). Palestinian officials report that Mideast envoy George Mitchell plans to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas on February 26, in his second visit to the region this month (10).

Gaza War Created Rift Between Israel and Turkey
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner, Sabrina Tavernise - February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

The four daily flights to Tel Aviv are still running. The defense contract signed in December has not been scrapped. But since Israel’s war in Gaza, relations with Turkey, Israel’s closest Muslim ally, have become strained. Israel’s Arab allies stood behind it in the war, but Turkey, a NATO member whose mediating efforts last year brought Israel into indirect talks with Syria, protested every step of the way in a month of angry remarks capped when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stalked off the stage during a debate in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 29.

After the war, Gazans seek answers on white phosphorus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - February 5, 2009 - 1:00am

When Nafiz Abu Shabam received a 5-year-old patient at the Shifa Hospital early in the war between Israel and Hamas, he dressed her burns and sent her for tests. Three hours later, when he and other medical staff redressed the wound, they saw smoke coming from it. "We found small pieces of foreign material in her body, and even when we picked it out, the wound was still smoking," he says. "We were later told [by foreign doctors and human rights workers who arrived after the war started] that it was white phosphorus."

Don’t Try This at Home
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Thomas L. Friedman - (Opinion) February 3, 2009 - 1:00am

In recent days, some have questioned whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was making a big mistake in appointing so many “special envoys,” such as George Mitchell, to handle key trouble spots, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I think they are right to question Mrs. Clinton about this plethora of envoys. But I don’t think the problem is that she has too many; it’s that she doesn’t have enough. In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she may need at least a half-dozen envoys.

International Criminal Court to consider Gaza investigation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Sebastian Rotella - February 5, 2009 - 1:00am

In a move that could inject a new international actor into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the International Criminal Court will examine requests to investigate alleged war crimes during the recent combat in the Gaza Strip, its chief prosecutor said Wednesday. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the Netherlands-based court, said he had decided to consider an investigation after the Palestinian Authority accepted the jurisdiction of the court last week.

Much at stake for Egypt in Palestinian-Israel talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Jeffrey Fleishman - February 5, 2009 - 1:00am

Men with satchels and briefcases come and go, negotiating into the night, slipping away in the morning, attempting to make peace in a place where it seems hardest to find. An Egyptian spy with a wisp of a mustache and an array of tailored suits listens to them all: the Israelis and the moderate and radical Palestinians, including those from the militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has been working to cement a lasting truce between Hamas and Israel, and to bring reconciliation between rival Palestinian parties.

Lieberman set to be Israel’s kingmaker
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck - February 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Avigdor Lieberman has been called a racist and a fascist, ridiculed as a former nightclub bouncer and branded a threat to Israeli democracy. He is under investigation for alleged corruption, and the target of torrents of abuse from his political opponents. Yet Mr Lieberman, the leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party and a political bruiser of the first order, may yet have the last laugh. With just a week to go until Israel’s general election, his party looks certain to emerge as one of the big winners.

Israeli army says shelling of house where girls died was 'reasonable'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Rory McCarthy - February 5, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel's military last night admitted that one of its tanks killed three girls at their home in Gaza during last month's war in a case that shocked the Israeli public, but said the shelling was "reasonable." The Israeli military said two shells had hit the house of a Palestinian doctor, Izz el-Deen Abu el-Eish, on 16 January, killing his daughters. Moments after their death the Hebrew-speaking gynaecologist was interviewed by mobile phone live on an Israeli television channel, screaming with grief in an extraordinary scene.

Egypt Prevents Hamas Taking Millions into Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
February 5, 2009 - 1:00am

Egyptian authorities on Thursday prevented a senior Hamas official carrying nine million dollars and two million euros in cash entering Gaza via Rafah, a security official told AFP. Border official had held up a six-member delegation on its way back from truce talks in Cairo after insisting that they search their bags. The officials allowed five members to cross, but prevented Gaza-based Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha, who was carrying nine million dollars and two million euros, from crossing into Gaza with the money.

Cairo talks end without Gaza deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
February 5, 2009 - 1:00am

The latest round of talks between Egypt and Hamas has ended in Cairo without a final agreement on a truce in Gaza. Egyptian officials had expressed hopes a deal would be signed on Thursday, but Hamas negotiators returned to Gaza and Damascus overnight with a number of issues still unresolved. Despite the setback, Hamas delegates are expected to return to Egypt on Saturday and officially accept an at least 12-month truce with Israel. Mohammed Nasr, a member of the Hamas delegation that travelled to Cairo, told Al Jazeera that some of the proposals discussed were "ambiguous".

Mitchell to meet with Abbas on February 26 - Palestinian officials
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
February 5, 2009 - 1:00am

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell will meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on February 26 on his second visit to the region in a month, a Palestinian official said Wednesday. "Mitchell will meet president Abbas in Ramallah on February 26," said the official, who asked not to be named. He had initially said the meeting would take place on February 22. "This second visit since his appointment in January confirms the real interest the administration of President Barack Obama has in a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Hamas are Sunnis!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq Alhomayed - (Opinion) February 5, 2009 - 1:00am

Khalid Mishal's speech in Iran has led to questions as to whether the leader of the Hamas movement has sufficient political awareness. Mishal's actions have confounded some of the movement's leadership, and provoked those who sympathize with the suffering of the Gaza Strip. Mishal's actions [in Iran] resulted in Hamas figures publicly responding, reinforcing the belief that there is extreme disparity between the Hamas movement in Damascus and the Gazan Hamas over Tehran which has not provided anything for Hamas and the people of Gaza other than [empty] talk which has benefited no-one.

A public opinion poll conducted by Jerusalem Media & Communications Center
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jerusalem Media and Communications Center
February 5, 2009 - 1:00am

A striking finding in this field poll is the disparity between opinions in the West Bank and opinions in the Gaza Strip on most of the issues tackled in the poll. For example, 53.3% of respondents in the West Bank believe that Hamas won in the recent war, while 35.2% of respondents in Gaza Strip felt the same.

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