Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Washington Post reports on the various obstacles delaying rebuilding in Gaza (1). With Israeli elections only two days away, a still-tight race prompts discussion (2) (3) (9). The UN resumes delivery of aid to Gaza after Hamas returns the food it had seized last week (4). An op-ed by Thomas Friedman speculates on where Middle East peace will fit amongst President Obama’s priorities (5). A pair of articles discuss the challenges ahead for Mideast envoy George Mitchell (6) (12) Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says that a broader ceasefire agreement may be achieved in the next week (10). A new poll published in Haaretz shows that only a quarter of Gazans are in support of Hamas (13).

After Gaza War, Daunting Curbs On Rebuilding
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Griff Witte - February 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Mohammed Irhaiem's former home was a spacious 1,500 square feet and was built from solid concrete blocks. It had views of the Mediterranean and fruit trees in the yard. His new home, which he surveyed for the first time this week, measures 12 by 6 feet and is made of sheets of canvas held aloft by three wooden poles. His is one of 90 bright white tents that have sprouted in neat rows amid a sea of gray rubble, the wreckage from homes -- including Irhaiem's -- that were destroyed during the 22-day Gaza war between Israel and Hamas.

A Promise of War
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jackson Diehl - (Opinion) February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

The past four Israeli elections have been won by a candidate who promised to end Israel's conflict with the Palestinians. Tomorrow, for the first time in decades, Israelis may choose a prime minister who is promising to wage war.

A Hard-Liner Gains Ground in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - February 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Last year, he suggested publicly that Egypt’s president “go to hell.” In the Israeli parliamentary elections, to be held Tuesday, he is running on a vow to require Arab citizens to sign a loyalty oath. As his campaign slogan asserts with a sly wink at Jewish voters, Avigdor Lieberman “knows how to speak Arabic.”

UN to resume aid supplies to Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

The UN's Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) halted aid on Thursday, saying Hamas had taken hundreds of tonnes of aid from shipments of flour and rice. An Unrwa spokesman said deliveries were not expected to resume until after Tuesday's Israeli elections. The Gaza Strip is facing a humanitarian crisis following Israel's recent three-week offensive. About half of Gaza's population is dependent on UN food aid. Israel intensified a blockade on the Gaza Strip 19 months ago when Hamas took over the territory.

Beyond the Banks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Thomas L. Friedman - February 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Visiting Israel, I’ve been peppered with questions from Israelis and Palestinians about where their peace process will fit in among President Obama’s priorities. My guess, I’ve answered, is that President Obama has three immediate priorities: banks, banks and banks — and none of them are the West Bank.

Can Obama envoy George Mitchell kick-start Mideast peace?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Mark Rice-Oxley - February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Few people can kick off a résumé like this: "1995-99: solved one of the world's most durable and intractable conflicts." So when President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were casting around for a peace envoy for the Middle East, George Mitchell was the obvious choice. Who better to deploy than someone experienced in the tortuous dealmaking that defused a comparable crisis and steered Northern Ireland toward a (sometimes frosty) civility?

Israeli election: the settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Peter Beaumont - February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

The settlements on the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law, a stumbling block to successive peace proposals. On the day I see Beni Raz I traverse the spine of Israel's settlements in the West Bank from west of the Palestinian town of Qalqilya to Jerusalem. There are the Jerusalem settlements that probe into the Arab neighbourhoods in the city's Arab east, pushing between the towns and villages. Prising them apart.

PA: Hamas rockets are bid to sway Israeli election
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority foreign minister on Monday accused Hamas of trying to influence the outcome of Tuesday's general election in Israel by keeping up the rocket fire on southern Israel. Riad Malki said Hamas did not want to see a pro-peace government elected in Israel during the parliamentary vote because it would pursue a political deal with the PA, dominated by its rival Fatah movement. On Sunday, two rockets struck southern Israel, violating an informal Israel-Hamas truce.

Israeli election battle seen too close to call
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ari Rabinovitch - February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel's national election is likely to be a cliff-hanger, pollsters said on Monday, on the eve of a vote right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party had been forecast to win. "The trend we've seen the last few days indicates a very close battle," said pollster Rafi Smith of the Smith Research Center. "No one has jumped ahead and it's tough to call."

Broader Gaza deal possible next week - Mubarak
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Monday a broader truce would "maybe" be agreed next week for the Gaza Strip, where a fragile ceasefire has been in place since Israel ended a military offensive on Jan. 18. "We have discussed the date when the situation could calm down, maybe from next week," said Mubarak, speaking through an interpreter and referring to attempts to reach a "consolidated" deal to stabilise the Hamas-ruled Strip.

Playing With Fire
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Middle East Times
February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Both Israel and Hamas are playing dangerous games, the outcome of which could lead to a major confrontation in the Middle East. First, Hamas: Encouraged by their "victory" in the last confrontation with Israel, Hamas continues to lob the occasional rocket on Israel. Perhaps it's their way of reminding the Israelis that they remain a force to contend with. However, it would benefit Hamas to study carefully Israel's last two wars - the war with Hezbollah in 2006 and the recent war with Hamas in Gaza.

Good Luck George Mitchell - You'll Need It!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Times
by Reema I. Ali - February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

It appears that George Mitchell, who has everyone's respect, has been dealt in the Middle East conflict as good a hand as U.S. President Barack Obama has in the U.S. economic crisis. The stakes are high, yet the players would like to continue the game in the good old ways! Just as the president would need all the brain power to assist him in negotiating the tough turns so does Mitchell.

Survey: Only one in four Gazans supports Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Only a quarter of the Palestinians in Gaza support Hamas, Army Radio reported Monday. According to the findings of a new poll conducted in Gaza by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, support in the ruling Hamas government has drastically gone down following the Israel Defense Forces offensive in the coastal strip. Only 28% of the Palestinians now say they support Hamas, compared to 51% who voiced their support for Hamas in November 2008.

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