Middle East News: World Press Roundup

An op-ed by ATFP President Ziad Asali in The Daily Star urges swift action on all sides to rebuild Gaza and preserve the potential for peace in the Middle East (1). In The Nation, ATFP Senior Fellow Hussein Ibish (psycho)analyzes the Israeli film "Waltz With Bashir"(2). After meeting in Cairo, Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas announce that first steps towards a unity government have been taken (3) (7) (8). The New York Times profiles US efforts to fund and train Palestinian Security Forces in the West Bank (4). Secretary of State Clinton faces criticism from some Jewish Americans as she pressures Israel to speed up the delivery of aid to Gaza (5). Israel's Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Mideast Envoy George Mitchell (6).

Rescue a two-state solution in Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Ziad Asali - February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

In the wake of the devastating war in Gaza, the immediate challenge facing the United States, its Arab allies, and the international community, is providing essential aid and reconstruction to the people of Gaza without bolstering Hamas. Hamas launched reckless and provocative rocket attacks against Israel. But Gazans, already suffering under siege, are not Hamas, they are not combatants, and should not be punished.

A Waltz With the Dogs of Memory
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Nation
by Hussein Ibish - February 24, 2009 - 1:00am

Initial reaction to the surprising failure of the Israeli film Waltz with Bashir to win this year's Academy Award for best foreign-language picture has suggested that it confronts harsh truths and painful realities, especially about Israel, too unflinchingly for the Hollywood mainstream to embrace. As a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz put it, this year's Oscars demonstrated that "Hollywood knows exactly how it likes its Jews: Victims." Waltz with Bashir obviously provides little to feed that narrative.

Palestinian Rivals Announce Steps Toward Healing Rift
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Taghreed El-Khodary, Isabel Kershner - February 26, 2009 - 1:00am

Leaders of the rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah declared Thursday a “historic day” at the conclusion of a meeting here aimed at healing a 20-month schism. The long-awaited Cairo talks added another twist to an already complex political situation as President Obama’s Middle East envoy arrived in Israel for discussions with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

U.S. Helps Palestinians Build Force for Security
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - February 26, 2009 - 1:00am

They rappel down a 65-foot tower, navigate obstacle courses, shoot in the firing range and sleep in pristine barracks. They eat in an air-conditioned mess where brushed aluminum glints from every kitchen surface. Rows of Land Rovers stand by. The entrance reads “The Presidential Guard, Always in Front: Strength, Sacrifice, Redemption.”

Israel's Netanyahu Meets With Envoy Mitchell
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Aron Heller - February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel's next leader sat face-to-face Thursday with a man whose vision of Israeli-Palestinian relations is radically different from his own: the Obama administration's new Middle East envoy. Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu says negotiations on Palestinian statehood are pointless. But envoy George J. Mitchell wants Israel to resume negotiations to establish a Palestinian state. This is Mitchell's second Middle East visit since President Obama took office last month. Next week, Hillary Rodham Clinton will make her first trip to the region as secretary of state.

Palestinians agree to form unity govt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Times
by Sakher Abu El Oun - February 26, 2009 - 1:00am

Rival Palestinian groups agreed on Thursday to set up a unity government by the end of March after reconciliation talks aimed at ending long-running factional feuding, Palestinian officials said. The agreement, which could lead to the creation of a Palestinian government acceptable to the international community, was announced by officials from two Palestinian factions involving in the Cairo-sponsored dialogue.

Fatah, Hamas begin reconciliation talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Richard Boudreaux - February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

Spurred by the prospect of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for the war-battered Gaza Strip, the rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas began long-awaited talks Thursday aimed at restoring a power-sharing arrangement. The talks in Cairo have the blessing of the Obama administration and could lead to a new international approach toward Hamas, the Islamic group that the U.S., like Israel and the European Union, considers a terrorist organization.

UN apologises for giving Kerry letter from Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Donald MacIntyre - February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency apologised to the US government last night after it was criticised for passing to a US senator a letter from a Hamas representative intended for President Barack Obama. Karen Koning AbuZayd, the agency head, said she "deeply regrets any awkwardness" the transmission of the letter may have caused for the government, which has refused any direct contact with the Palestinian Islamist faction that rules Gaza.

Europe to give $556 million in Palestinian aid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from International Herald Tribune
February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

The European Union's executive office says it will give 436 million euros ($556 million) in aid to the Palestinians in 2009, including support for rebuilding Gaza. The European Commission said in a statement Friday that the pledge is to be made at a donors' conference for Gaza on Monday. It is not clear how much of that sum will be spent in Gaza.

The Israeli Condition Against the Egyptian Role
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
(Opinion) February 20, 2009 - 1:00am

Once again, Israel has thrown a monkey wrench into Egypt's efforts to deal with the explosive and saddening situation in Gaza, after it had waged the war on the Strip - thus anticipating Egyptian and Turkish efforts to extend and renew the truce, whose effects were over at the end of 2008.

Hamas must act with wisdom
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Marwan Kabalan - February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

When the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, captured the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006, the incident was described by some Western analysts as reckless behaviour. The argument was that the kidnapping would not help to alleviate the four decades of suffering of occupied Palestinians. On the contrary, it would make their lives more difficult.

‘Israel misses the point’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by George S. Hishmeh - February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu is not giving up, still hoping that he can entice Tzipi Livni and even Ehud Barak with key portfolios, should they accept to join his projected coalition government, or else, he must know fully well that his days as head of an Israeli government of extreme rightists will be numbered. Hence, the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations will remain at a standstill.

Time not ripe for two-state solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
(Opinion) February 26, 2009 - 1:00am

The Obama administration will have to address on an immediate basis a number of burning problems of varying degrees of magnitude. In the short run it will be required to tackle the rehabilitation of Gaza under Hamas' rule: On the one hand to secure aid to assure the fundamental wellbeing of its inhabitants, while at the same time curtailing the influx of weaponry into Gaza. The fight against terror, its performers and sources has to be continued in all vigor.

A New Debate on Where Antisemitism Comes From
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
February 25, 2009 - 1:00am

Responding to mounting signs of a resurgence of aggressive antisemitism in Europe and elsewhere, the British government recently hosted an unusual gathering to discuss ways of fighting the threat. Known as the London Conference on Combating Antisemitism, the mid-February gathering brought together 125 members of parliaments from 40 nations for two days of emotional calls to action, along with scholarly analyses of what speakers called “the new antisemitism.”

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