Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The race between Israel’s main political parties, led by Livni and Netanyahu, is too close to call as Israelis head to the polls today (1). Even on the eve of elections violence continues between Gaza and Israel (2) (9). The Palestinian Authority stops paying Israeli hospitals for the treatment of West Bank and Gaza patients (3). An op-ed by Israeli President Shimon Peres urges support of the two-state solution (4). An original ATFP translation of an article by Hassan Al Battal in Al-Ayyam daily criticizes Hamas’ claims to “victory” (5). Amnesty International accuses Hamas of using violence to eliminate opponents in Gaza (7). The UN expresses frustration over Israel’s refusal to allow paper into Gaza, where it is needed for new school textbooks (8).

Livni and Netanyahu level as Israeli election begins
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Rory McCarthy, Haroon Siddique - February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Israelis cast their votes today in the country's general election, with the rightwing opposition leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, and his rival, Tzipi Livni, the centrist foreign minister, neck and neck, according to analysts. Up to a fifth of voters were thought to be undecided hours before voting began, an unusually high number that reflected disillusionment with all candidates. After casting her vote in Tel Aviv, Livni urged people to ignore the bad weather and cast a vote for "hope".

Violence breaks quiet of cease-fire on eve of Israel's national election
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Boston Globe
by Ibrahim Barzak - February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY - Israeli aircraft struck two targets in the Gaza Strip and a Gaza militant died in a clash with troops on the border yesterday, as an official of the moderate Palestinian government accused Hamas of trying to boost hawkish candidates in Israel's election. The violence on the eve of the vote occurred as Egyptian mediators continued their efforts to cement a long-term cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, after the three weeks of intense fighting that racked the coastal territory last month.

Palestinians Stop Paying Israeli Hospitals for Gaza and West Bank Patients
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Scores of Palestinian patients being treated in Israeli hospitals, a rare bright spot of coexistence here, are being sent home because the Palestinian Authority has stopped paying for their treatment, partly in anger over the war in Gaza. Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem says that for the past week, no payments have come in and Palestinians whose children it is treating have been instructed by Palestinian health officials to place them in facilities in the West Bank, Jordan or Egypt.

One Region, Two States
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Shimon Peres - (Opinion) February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

There is no shortage of opinions when it comes to Middle East affairs, and the recent events in Gaza have not muted them. A minority of Middle East pundits have recently emerged as advocates for a one-state solution, which would undermine Israel's legitimacy and internationally recognized right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state in the land of my forefathers. Having personally witnessed the remarkable progress we have made with the Palestinian Authority in recent years, I believe that a two-state solution is not only the best resolution to this age-old conflict but one within our reach.

Victory in the scales of factual numbers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Ayyam
by Hassan Al-Battal - February 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Experts like to clutch statistics in their hands, but there are some statistics which grab journalists by the throats, especially some “marginal” statistics from the last Gaza War. These less-known statistics include the fact that 88% of the population of the Gaza Strip has become dependent on food assistance, and that 600,000 tons is the approximate weight of the rubble from destruction.

Israel election: Arabs to overtake Jewish population
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Telegraph
by David Blair - February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The Israeli Right's old ambition was to keep every inch of this territory, especially the gains of the Six Day War in 1967. But demographics now underlie every calculation and, for Israelis, the facts are deeply disturbing. Today, their country has about 5.7 million Jewish inhabitants. Meanwhile, the West Bank, which Israel occupies, has 2.5 million Palestinians and the Gaza Strip another 1.5 million. The Arab minority within Israel itself numbers a further 1.4 million.

UN envoy: Gaza's children traumatized by war, despite ceasefire
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Children in the Gaza Strip continued to suffer and feel insecure despite a ceasefire that has mostly ended three weeks of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas, the UN special envoy for children and armed conflict said Monday. Radihika Coomaraswamy said grave violations of child rights had been committed during the fighting that began on December 27 when Israel Defense Forces launched airstrikes against Hamas militants who had been firing rockets and mortars into southern Israel.

Amnesty accuses Hamas of eliminating opponents
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

'Islamist group forces in Gaza engaged in campaign of abductions, deliberate and unlawful killings, torture and death threats against those they accuse of collaborating with Israel,' human rights group says AFP Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Hamas of waging a campaign to kill or maim scores of Palestinian opponents in the Gaza Strip since the end of December. The human rights group said in a report that at least two dozen men have been shot dead by gunmen from the Palestinian militia that governs the Gaza Strip since December 27.

UN official slams Israel for blocking textbooks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

Head of UNRWA operation in Gaza 'extremely frustrated' by Israel's refusal to allow paper into Strip, says new textbooks meant for children's human rights program The top UN Official in Gaza criticized Israel on Monday for blocking the shipment of paper to print textbooks for a new human rights curriculum that will be taught to children in all grades in the Palestinian territory. Israel also has refused to allow 12 truckloads of notebooks into Gaza as well as plastic sheeting which is

Palestinian killed by Israeli troops
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Dubai: On the eve of Israeli parliamentary elections, a Palestinian fighter belonging to Islamic Jihad was killed by Israeli troops in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hannoun. The fighter was on a mission to attack Israeli patrol on the border with Israel, according to Islamic Jihad. Earlier in the day, Israel carried out air strikes on a building used by Hamas police, with no casualties reported. The air strikes came in response to continued rocket fire from Hamas on Sunday.

Israelis Go to the Polls - At Stake: Future Relations With Arabs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Middle East Times
February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

These are troubled times for Israel as it faces new threats from new enemies in wars which have proven to be harder to combat than the traditional armies and traditional wars it faced in the past, as in the 1948 War of Independence, the June 1967 Six-Day War, or the 1973 October War. In retrospect, fighting conventional armies has been far less complicated than fighting asymmetric wars, or small wars, as has been the case with battling Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south.

Netanyahu: No Return of Golan Heights to Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, (AP) – Benjamin Netanyahu, the front-runner in polls ahead of Israel's election this week, declared Sunday he would not give up the strategic Golan Heights for peace with Syria, an apparent attempt to toughen his right-wing credentials after a last-minute charge by a hardline party. Israelis go to the polls Tuesday after one of the calmest campaigns in the nation's history, despite the vital issues facing Israel — war, peace, terrorism and economic recession. The electorate has appeared fatigued after Israel's three-week offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers last month.

Elections 2009 / Fatah rooting for Livni, says Netanyahu win will boost Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority will work with any government Israel elects, as long as it is committed to the peace process, President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said in a press statement Monday. Off the record, however, senior PA officials said they are worried by the apparent strengthening of the Israeli right. If, as seems likely, Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu becomes prime minister and Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu greatly increases its representation, this would bolster Hamas, which opposes negotiations with Israel, they argued.

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