Middle East News: World Press Roundup

ATFP President Ziad Asali testifies before Congress regarding the aftermath of the Gaza war (1). Israeli elections result in political gridlock as the Kadima party winds up with a one seat victory over Likud (2) (3) (7). The Christian Science Monitor looks at the rise of Avigdor Leiberman’s ultra-right wing party (4). A pair of articles by Aaron David Miller discuss the Israeli elections and the future of the peace process (5) (6). Israel allows a temporary easing of the blockade for Gazan farmers to export flowers to Europe (8). IDF planes strike a Hamas post in southern Gaza (15).

Oral Testimony of ATFP President Ziad J. Asali: House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia Hearing on aftermath of Gaza war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia Chairman Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY) February 12, 2009 Mr. Chairman, I wish to thank you and the Sub-Committee's esteemed members for the privilege to testify before you, and summarize my written testimony. Although Hamas launched reckless and provocative rocket attacks against Israel, Gazans are not Hamas, they are not combatants, and should not be punished. As a human being, and as a physician, I was horrified by the tragedy that has befallen the people of Gaza by Israel’s disproportionate use of force.

In Israeli Vote, With Two Parties Nearly Tied, the Winner Is Gridlock
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner, Isabel Kershner - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Israelis awoke Wednesday to find that their parliamentary elections had yielded not a new government but political gridlock instead, along with the prospect of weeks of wrangling and deal making before the country’s direction becomes clear.

Israeli Uncertainty Buys Obama Time
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Publicly, the administration of President Obama has pledged to “hit the ground running” in reviving Middle East diplomacy. But the indecisive results of Israel’s elections have provided the White House with breathing room it actually welcomes.

Key to who will govern Israel: Avigdor Lieberman
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel is in a political bind. The nation voted Tuesday, but Wednesday two leaders claimed victory and a third-party newcomer found himself anointed the new Israeli "kingmaker." Centrist Tzipi Livni's Kadima won 28 seats in the Knesset, or parliament, while right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud took 27 – so slim a margin that neither can claim a governing majority.

Scrambled Electoral Eggs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Aaron David Miller - February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Would-be peacemakers might want to wait before they start popping champagne corks in the wake of Kadima’s election victory. The outcome of the Israeli election has further complicated an already-muddled outlook for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Thinking Right About Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Israel Policy Forum
by Aaron David Miller - (Blog) February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

The results of this week's elections in Israel validate a reality that has been stunningly obvious for some time now: the future of peace and war making in Israel is now firmly in the hands of the Israeli right and center right. You don't need a genius to conclude that the story line on peacemaking has been there for a long while. From Begin to Shamir, to Rabin to Sharon to Olmert and now to Netanyahu and Livni, the saga of Israel's quest for peace and/or peaceable arrangements with its neighbors has been a story of doves talking the talk and hawks - pure or transformed - walking the walk.

Final count leaves Israel with election headache
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Douglas Hamilton, Jeffrey Heller - February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Final results of Israel's parliamentary election confirmed on Thursday that the centrist party of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni won the contest by a single seat over right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud. The end count did nothing to change the confusing political picture that emerged on Tuesday night, or resolve a potentially paralyzing dispute between the two main parties over who should rightfully head the next government.

Israel lets farmers in Gaza send flowers to Europe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel temporarily eased its blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip Thursday to allow Palestinian flower growers to export 25,000 blooms to Europe ahead of Valentine's Day. The amount of carnations allowed out of the Gaza Strip was only a fraction of what farmers produce. Many farmers say they have no choice but to feed the crop to sheep. Israel tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip after Hamas Islamists wrested control of the territory from President Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah faction in 2007. Israel allows in aid, but exports are banned with few exceptions.

Egyptian police arrest 40 smugglers near Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Egyptian police have arrested 40 suspected smugglers and seized contraband goods in a new crackdown on smuggling along the country's border with the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian security official said on Thursday. The official said hundreds of security forces have been deployed in and around the town of Rafah, located along the sensitive border with the Palestinian Hamas-run coastal area. The goods seized in the latest raids are worth about $1 million, he said but did not elaborate.

Obama must resort to arm-twisting
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) February 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Barack Obama does not expect to be woken up at 3am over any imminent Middle East crisis. The Iranians were apparently pleased with his offer to start a dialogue during his very first live press conference, and the Israeli elections apparently have returned the ruling Kadima party to power although it is not yet certain whether Tzipi Livni will be able to form a new coalition government on the second try.

Middle East peace process in need of serious Israeli partner - Abul-Gheit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul-Gheit said on Thursday that the peace process is in need of a serious Israeli partner. Abul-Gheit added in statements to the press, in his first comments on the Israeli elections' results, that the current situation in the region requires awareness that peace and stability will not be achieved unless all international resolutions are implemented and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Calm file between between Palestinian factions, Israel to be reached in days
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Member of the Political Bureau of the Palestinian Democratic Front Saleh Zeidan on Thursday said that the issue of the truce between Palestinian factions and Israel will be done in few days based on halting the Israeli violations and the opening of all crossings. Zeidan said in a statement distributed by the front's central media department that "There is significant progress in terms of the Cairo talks on the issues of Palestinian dialogue and calm," pointing to the existence of some of the points and issues that need further clarification.

Israel's Intelligence Disaster
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Middle East Times
by Richard Sale - February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian intelligence agents, working for Israel in its recent "Operation Cast Lead," were exposed and many of them captured or killed in the aftermath, U.S. officials said. The ongoing round up is ongoing and expanding, these sources said. In the course of the operation, Israel also failed to find and reclaim Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006, and Tel Aviv also failed in its planned targeted killing of Ahmad Haabri, the commander of Hamas' military arm, the Al-Qassam Brigades, these sources said.

Arabs Make Gains in New Israeli Parliament
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Arab parties have increased their representation in Israel's newly elected parliament, juxtaposed against a notable increase in support for Jewish right-wing parties. According to the votes counted so far, the new Knesset (Israel's parliament) will have one extra Arab member in the 18th assembly, compared to the previous parliament, and possibly an additional seat on top of that, after all the votes are counted.

IDF strikes Hamas post in south Gaza, after day of mortar fire
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli warplanes on late Wednesday night struck a Hamas post in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman said that the strike before dawn Thursday came in response to mortar fire Wednesday on the western Negev. There were no reports of casualties in the attack. "As the sole authority in the Gaza Strip, Hamas bears full responsibility for all terror activities originating within its area of control," the IDF said.

Yesha Council revels in Lieberman's success
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Erfat Weiss - February 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Yesha Council revels in Lieberman's success 'Elections proved consensus regarding two-state solution nothing more than corrupt spin,' settler leader says, adding Yisrael Beiteinu chairman 'will be one of the strongest supporters of the settlement enterprise' Efrat Weiss Despite the inconclusive results of Tuesday's general elections, it is clear that the political Right will have a majority in the 18th Knesset, leading Yesha Council head Danny Dayan to say that Israeli voters made "an obvious and unequivocal ideological decision."

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