Middle East News: World Press Roundup

ATFP President Ziad Asali is one of the first contributors to a new blog for the Israel Policy Forum (1). With 99% of Israeli votes counted the Kadima party has a one seat advantage over its main rival, Likud (2), though the composition of the parliament could end up favoring the latter (3) causing concern for the future of peace talks (6) (9). The Palestinian Authority presses the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of war crimes by Israel (4). The UN signals that they intend to hold Israel accountable for attacks on its facilities in Gaza (5). Israeli and Hamas officials signal that Egyptian-brokered talks regarding a long-term truce will continue, despite uncertainty over the new Israeli government (7).

The American Task Force on Palestine Blogs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Israel Policy Forum
by Ziad Asali - (Blog) February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

I am delighted to be among the early contributors to the first blog postings on this new part of the Israel Policy Forum (IPF) website. The close relationship that my colleagues and I at the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) have built with IPF is fundamental to what we, at ATFP, are working towards.

With 99% of votes counted, Kadima leads Likud 28 to 27 seats
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

With 99 percent of the votes counted, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's Kadima Party is in first place with 28 of the Knesset's 120 seats, with Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party following closely behind with 27 seats. As the vote progresses, Labor stands at 13 seats, while Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party is expected to garner 15 seats. Exit polls by Israel's three main television stations on Tuesday night came to the same conclusion with Kadima as the leader and Likud coming a narrow second.

After Israel elections, not much is clarified
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Richard Boudreaux - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel's voters threw the country into political uncertainty Tuesday, apparently giving Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's centrist party the largest share of seats in parliament but shifting the majority to a collection of right-wing parties hostile to her goal of a peace accord with the Palestinians.

Palestinians Press for War Crimes Inquiry on Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Marlise Simons - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority is pressing the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate accusations of war crimes committed by Israeli commanders during the recent war in Gaza. The Palestinian minister of justice, Ali Kashan, first raised the issue during a visit to the court’s chief prosecutor late last month, and he and other officials are due back again in The Hague this week, court officials said.

UN ‘will hold Israel to account on Gaza’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Harvey Morris - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary-general, has signalled that the UN intends to hold Israel to account for attacks on its facilities in Gaza regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s election. As Israelis voted on Tuesday, Mr Ban announced he had appointed a senior human rights troubleshooter to probe the destruction of UN facilities in Gaza during the 22 days of Israel’s so-called “Operation Cast Lead”.

Palestinians gloomy as Israel moves right
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Andrew Hammond, Ali Sawafta - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinians reacted gloomily to Israeli election results on Wednesday, as the likelihood rose of a more right-wing government opposed to returning land for a Palestinian state. But the self-rule Palestinian Authority (PA) said the next Israeli cabinet would be obliged to continue peace talks and meet international obligations. "The ascent of the Israeli right does not worry us," President Mahmoud Abbas told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper. "In whatever form, the government, once in power, will ultimately end up with responsibility, pragmatism prevailing."

Israel, Hamas eye Gaza truce despite uncertainty
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Adam Entous - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Egyptian-brokered talks over a longer-term truce between Israel and Hamas in post-war Gaza will continue despite uncertainty over who will form the next Israeli government, Israeli and Hamas officials said on Wednesday. Hamas leaders have suggested that the growing clout of right-wing Israeli parties could prevent outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert from closing a deal.

Israel must meet international obligations: Fayyad
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority said Wednesday the next Israeli government should meet international obligations to continue with peace talks. "Regardless of the form of government that will emerge ... we have the same expectations," Prime Minister of the self-rule Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad told reporters. "We imagine that the expectations of the international community (toward Israel) will be the same as ours." Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party and Tzipi Livni's centrist Kadima party both claimed victory late on Tuesday night after a tight election result.

Arabs fear rise of hard-right in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Arabs on Wednesday saw little hope for peace from whatever government emerges from Israel's inconclusive elections, and they expressed fears over the rising power of Israel's far right. With the prospect of a hard-line Israeli government, some in the region said any progress in Arab-Israeli negotiations will now rely even more on pressure from President Barack Obama, who has said his administration will take an active role in pursuing a Mideast peace.

The furor over Meshaal’s PLO comments
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Ramzy Baroud - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

When Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal declared the need for a new leadership before a cheering crowd in Doha, Qatar, on Jan. 28, his words generated panic among leaders of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) as well as among the traditional Palestinian leadership elites in various Arab capitals. The reaction to Meshaal’s call was more furious than most of the statements issued by the PA and its backers during the 23-day Israeli onslaught against the Gaza Strip which killed and wounded thousands of innocent Gazans.

Arab League cmte to meet on Gaza rebuilding Wed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

The Arab League's higher joint action committee will hold an extraordinary meeting here on Wednesday to probe the reconstruction of Gaza Strip after the Israeli aggression. The meeting, to be presided over by the league's Secretary General Amr Moussa, will discuss the contribution of regional organizations to the rebuilding process, Moussa told reporters on Tuesday. The higher joint action committee has been formed by the Arab League Council held at the permanent-delegate level recently.

Gaza mortar shells strike western Negev; no casualties
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anshel Pfeffer - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired four mortar shells at the western Negev during the course of the day Wednesday, a day after Israel held general elections, the results of which are likely to influence any future peace deal in the region. A Qassam rocket fired by Gaza militants exploded late Tuesday evening in an open field near the western Negev city of Sderot, just half an hour before the polls were to close.

Hamas raising money to rebuild mosques
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Doron Peskin - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

The Hamas government in Gaza announced Sunday it would start raising money to rebuild the mosques destroyed by IDF strikes during Operation Cast Lead. Dr. Taleb Abu Shaar, minister for religious affairs, launched the fundraising campaign at a special press conference that was held on the ruins of the al-Taqwa mosque in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood.

UN to probe IDF damage to Gaza premises
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council Monday he was about to establish a commission to look into Israeli damage to UN premises during the recent Gaza conflict, Reuters quoted diplomats as saying. Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu, the current council president, told reporters that during a closed-door briefing, Ban had promised to provide the council with details on the panel's mandate and the names of its members in the coming days.

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