Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel’s Security cabinet announces that it will not lift the Gaza blockade until captured soldier Gilad Shalit is freed (1). The UN says a large stockpile of unexploded weapons is missing in Gaza (2). Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni says that Israel must be prepared to give up ‘considerable territory in exchange for peace’ (3). Israel launches air strikes on sites in southern Gaza (4). Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says he wants aid for rebuilding Gaza to be sent directly to the needy (5). Speculation continues about holding Israel accountable for alleged war crimes (6). Former U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer warns against a possible Netanyahu-Lieberman Israeli government (12).

Israel links Gaza deal to soldier's release
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Adam Entous - February 18, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel decided Wednesday against lifting its border blockade of the Gaza Strip until Hamas agreed to the release of a captured Israeli soldier, putting a longer-term ceasefire proposal by Egypt on hold. The unanimous decision by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's security cabinet raised the stakes in delicate negotiations over Hamas demands that Israel free up to 1,400 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Explosives haul missing in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Tim Franks - February 17, 2009 - 1:00am

A large stockpile of unexploded weapons has disappeared in Gaza, before United Nations experts were able to dispose of it safely, the BBC has learned. The explosives, including aircraft bombs and white phosphorus shells, were fired by the Israeli military during its recent offensive in the Gaza Strip. UN officials said they were urgently trying to establish where the arms had gone and have called for their return. Israel has accused Hamas of taking the stockpile, which was under Hamas guard. 'Extremely dangerous'

Israel 'must give up considerable territory in exchange for peace'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
February 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Occupied Jerusalem: Tzipi Livni, who hopes to be appointed Israel's prime minister-designate, said on Monday Israel must give up considerable territory in exchange for peace with the Palestinians, drawing a clear distinction with her rival, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel launches air strikes on Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - February 18, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli warplanes struck a number of sites in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, causing some damage but no casualties, Palestinian residents and Hamas security officials said. Residents said one air strike targeted tunnels which run under the Egyptian border at the town of Rafah that militants use to smuggle arms into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Another hit an already bombed security compound in the town of Khan Younis. An Israeli army spokesman said the warplanes had hit seven tunnels and one other target in Gaza.

Hamas rival says Gaza aid should go directly to the needy, not militants
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Karin Laub - February 18, 2009 - 1:00am

International donors should send Gaza reconstruction money directly to property owners, the Palestinian prime minister said Wednesday, offering a plan that effectively bypasses the territory's Hamas rulers — his political rivals. The Islamic militants want a say over how the money is given out. However, the international community is unlikely to hand hundreds of millions of dollars to the militants, still shunned by most of the world. The United States and the European Union consider Hamas to be a terrorist group.

Who can probe Gaza war crimes claims?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Bethany Bell - February 18, 2009 - 1:00am

There have been numerous calls for investigations into whether war crimes were committed during the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza. The Geneva Conventions and additional protocols prohibit the destruction of property, "except when rendered absolutely necessary by military operations" and "indiscriminate attacks" affecting civilians. Concerns about the number of civilian casualties and damage to buildings in Gaza have been raised - among others - by the United Nations, by the Palestinian Authority, the Arab League and by human rights groups.

Losers in election stretch beyond Israel's borders
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Roula Khalaf - February 17, 2009 - 1:00am

It will be weeks before the real Israeli election winner emerges, but one thing is clear. Whether a coalition led by Tzipi Livni's Kadima or Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud prevails, the public's shift to the right ensures that there are losers beyond the Jewish state's borders. One of them is Mahmoud Abbas, the embattled president of the Palestinian Authority, who has been desperately seeking a revival of a peace process.

Likud in final bid for Israeli coalition with Kadima
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Australian
by John Lyons - February 18, 2009 - 1:00am

LIKUD leader Benjamin Netanyahu made a final attempt yesterday to build a stable coalition government in Israel, apealing to the leader of the Kadima party, Tzipi Livni, that she should join him in a government broader than just the "nationalist camp". He made the comments the day before President Shimon Peres was due to receive the official results from last week's election.

Shake Up in the PLO
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Kifah Zaboun - February 18, 2009 - 1:00am

Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- High-ranking Palestinian sources have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas transferred the task of leading the Palestinian negotiating team from Ahmad Quray, alias Abu-Ala, to Saeb Erekat, head of the PLO's negotiations department.

Israeli elections and the Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Faisal Al Rfouh - February 18, 2009 - 1:00am

The swing to the right in the recently held elections in Israel is likely to have an impact on the Middle East peace process in general and Israel-Palestine relations in particular. The past four elections were won by candidates who promised to end Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, but in the February 10, 2009, elections, some candidates promised to “wage war”. The gain of the right-wing parties is a cause of concern for the Arab world and the Palestinians.

Kurtzer: Netanyahu-Lieberman is 'bad combination' for U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - February 18, 2009 - 1:00am

Daniel Kurtzer, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, said on Tuesday that a government led by Benjamin Netanyahu that also included Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman would be a "bad combination for American interests." "It would be much more difficult for the right-wing even with determined American leadership to advance the peace process," Kurtzer said. "Not impossible, but very difficult."

Bill Clinton says he's still hopeful for Mideast peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
February 18, 2009 - 1:00am

Despite the political impasse in Israel and the uncertain future of the Middle East peace process, former U.S. president Bill Clinton says he is still hopeful that Israel and the Palestinians can come to a two-state solution. "Palestinians are having more babies than the Israelis," Clinton told CNN's Larry King Live on Tuesday. "The Israelis have to decide whether they want to share the future in a positive way with a constructive Palestinian state, so that they have a Jewish democracy, which is what Israel was set up to be," he said.

IDF raids village near Qalqilya in search of weapons
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - February 18, 2009 - 1:00am

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday night arrested 15 wanted Palestinian terror suspects in the West Bank village of Jayus, northeast of the city of Qalqilya. An army spokesperson said the forces were operating in the town following a rise in the number of incidents involving the throwing of stones at Israeli vehicles recently. The Palestinians said the soldiers used excessive force against the residents, claiming that that the army imposed a curfew on the village and that dozens of men were assembled at the local school yard.

Analysis: Amman caught between Hamas and Fatah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Brenda Gazzar - February 18, 2009 - 1:00am

An expected move by Jordanian parliamentarians to file a petition with the International Criminal Court at The Hague accusing senior Israeli figures of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead does not reflect the kingdom's official position, experts say. The petition is expected to be filed this week by the head of Jordan's Parliamentary Legal Committee, Mubarak Abu Yamin, against several Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, Arab media reported this week.

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