Middle East News: World Press Roundup

President Obama calls for diplomatic outreach and encourages peace between Israel and its neighbors in his address to Congress (1). Mideast Envoy George Mitchell embarks on his second trip to the region (2). Americans for Peace Now reports that Israel issued a number of new land seizure orders during the Gaza war (3). Veteran Mideast negotiator Dennis Ross is appointed to be Secretary Clinton’s special advisor on Iran (4). The first female Islamic judges in the Palestinian territories are appointed in the West Bank (5). Just ahead of reconciliation talks in Cairo, thousands of Palestinians rally in Nablus in support of President Mahmoud Abbas (10). Secretary of State Clinton expresses frustration as Israel delays delivery of the United States’ pledged $900 million in humanitarian aid for Gaza (14).

Obama ties Israel talks to ‘new era of engagement’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - February 24, 2009 - 1:00am

President Obama coupled his calls for expanded diplomatic outreach to his quest for peace for Israel and its neighbors.

U.S. Middle East envoy takes second trip to region
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
February 24, 2009 - 1:00am

U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell has embarked on his second trip to the region to further President Barack Obama's pledge to work for Arab-Israeli peace, the State Department said on Tuesday. Mitchell was in London on Tuesday for talks with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and would also visit the Turkish capital Ankara, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel and the West Bank before returning to Washington on March 4.

New land seizure orders issued during the Gaza operation - February 2009
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Americans For Peace Now
February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

The Peace Now Settlement Watch Team latest report discloses that a number of new land seizure orders were issued during the Gaza operation, a number of these orders were related to the route of the separation fence. In most cases they were irregular orders signed by a brigadier general, commander of the Judea and Samaria Division (as opposed to the Officer in Command of the Central Command who usually signs seizure orders), and are limited to only 60 days. Peace Now sees these seizure of orders as an attempt to establish quick facts on the ground and to bypass High Court provisions.

Veteran Mideast negotiator will be Clinton's Iran advisor
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Paul Richter - February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

Reporting from Washington -- Veteran Mideast peace negotiator Dennis B. Ross, who was widely expected to be named special envoy to Iran, has been given a less ambitious mission as the Obama administration continues to weigh how best to deal with the Islamic Republic. President Obama named prominent negotiators to represent the administration in the Middle East and South Asia, and Ross was expected to be given a corresponding assignment for Iran.

A win for women's rights
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Diaa Hadid, Nasser Shiyoukhi - February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

The Islamic courts were among the last male-only bastions in Palestinian society, where women have been presidential candidates, police officers and even suicide bombers. Now two stern-looking young women in Muslim head scarves and long black robes have smashed through the thick glass ceiling. Khuloud Faqih, 34, and Asmahan Wuheidi, 31, made history when they became the first female Islamic judges in the Palestinian territories.

Musical Show of Unity Upsets Many in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - February 24, 2009 - 1:00am

Achinoam Nini, a singer and peace activist, has long stirred controversy here. Known abroad by her stage name, Noa, she has recorded with Arab artists, refused to perform in the occupied West Bank, condemned Israeli settlements there and had concerts canceled because of bomb threats from the extreme right.

World Agenda: why the Middle East could thwart Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Times
by Richard Beeston - February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

He has dispatched envoys, offered his hand in friendship to old enemies and even raised the matter last night in his first big speech to Congress on the state of the nation. But no matter how hard Barack Obama tries, the Middle East is proving even more challenging a problem than he could have reasonably expected. In the space of a few days the mess he inherited from George Bush has got a lot messier.

'Palestine's' Next Stage
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Peter Marks - February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

George Ibrahim tugs down at the top of his turtleneck and points to the bare skin of his throat. "This," he says in accented English, "is what kasaba means in Arabic. Center of breathing. Center of life."

Chas Freeman for NIC: Lots at Stake
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Nation
by Robert Dreyfuss - February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

A thunderous, coordinated assault against one of President Obama's intelligence picks is now underway. It started in a few right-wing blogs, migrated to semi-official mouthpieces like the Jewish Telegraph Agency, and today it reached the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, in the form of the scurrilous piece by Gabriel Schoenfeld, a resident scholar at some outfit called "the Witherspoon Institute."

Thousands rally for Abbas in West Bank as Palestinian rivals begin talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

Thousands of Palestinians congregated in the West Bank town of Nablus on Wednesday in a strong show of support for President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of reconciliation talks between rival Palestinian factions set to begin in Cairo. Later in the day, representatives of Abbas' Fatah movement are to sit down in Egypt with envoys from the Islamic militant group Hamas to try to plaster over the gaping political rift that divides them. Fatah on Tuesday released some 42 Hamas prisoners as a goodwill gesture ahead of the reconciliation talks.

Reversal of American stand
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Osama Al-Sharif - February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

In a brazen departure from the policies of the Bush administration, Washington is rapidly warming up to Syria, a country that for years was stigmatized, isolated and threatened. Congressional delegations have been landing in Damascus and meeting President Bashar Assad; early signs suggest that a quick thaw in relations is about to happen soon.

A framework for an enhanced international role in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Ezzedine Choukri Fishere - February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

The recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip resuscitated the debate over a possible international role in the besieged territory. What capacity, if any, can the international community fill in order to help run Gaza's crossings, patrol its borders, ensure equitable distribution of humanitarian assistance and support imminent reconstruction efforts?

Interview With Mr. Detlev Mehlis, The First Commissioner of UNIIIC In The Assassination Of Former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr. Rafik Hariri
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Raghida Dergham - February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

Detlev Mehlis, Former Commissioner of United Nations International Independence Investigation Commission in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others, stressed that the tribunal which commences its work on Sunday, March 1st, is the "raised finger of the international community to anyone who considers achieving his political goals in Lebanon through assassinations." In his exclusive statement to Al-Hayat, he added that "I hope one day this raised finger will turn into a finger pointing at the perpetrators."

Clinton warns Israel over delays in Gaza aid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has relayed messages to Israel in the past week expressing anger at obstacles Israel is placing to the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. A leading political source in Jerusalem noted that senior Clinton aides have made it clear that the matter will be central to Clinton's planned visit to Israel next Tuesday. Ahead of Clinton's visit, special U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is expected to issue a sharply worded protest on the same matter when he arrives here Thursday.

Quartet planning to meet in Sharm ahead of Gaza donors' conference
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

Foreign ministers from the four powers heading a Middle East peace process may meet in the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheikh on March 1, RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russia's foreign ministry as saying on Wednesday. The Quartet is composed of Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union. The State Department on Tuesday reaffirmed its support for Israel, telling Haaretz that the U.S. viewed its relations with Jerusalem as "special" and lasting.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017