Middle East News: World Press Roundup

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton pledges $300 million in aid for Gaza at the international donors conference being held today in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt (1) (2), while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warns the conference that reconstruction and aid funds alone are insufficient without a political solution (4) (5). In an op-ed for the Gulf News, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon pledges to pursue a lasting peace for Palestine and Israel (9). The Israeli NGO Peace Now reports that Israel is planning to build 73,300 new housing units for settlers in the West Bank (10), a move which would significantly expand the size of the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories (14).

Clinton Starts Mideast Diplomacy With Cash for Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mark Landler - March 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton embarked on her first foray into Middle East diplomacy on Monday, offering a pledge of $300 million for war-torn Gaza and urging accelerated efforts for peace. Mrs. Clinton was attending an international donors’ conference in this Egypt resort on the Red Sea that may well prove to be the simplest part of a visit to a region shadowed by deep mutual distrust between Israelis and Palestinians and the still-unresolved political situation in Israel.

U.S. Talks Tough on Gaza Aid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Glenn Kessler - March 1, 2009 - 1:00am

The United States on Monday will pledge $300 million in humanitarian relief for people in Gaza after the 22-day war with Israel but will maintain restrictions to prevent any assistance from reaching Hamas, State Department spokesman Robert A. Wood said. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, attending an international conference here to raise funds for the Gaza Strip, will also announce $600 million in assistance to the Palestinian Authority, which is controlled by Fatah, a rival of Hamas that is dominant in the West Bank.

Clinton's Mideast mission
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Boston Globe
March 2, 2009 - 1:00am

AS HILLARY CLINTON begins her first diplomatic visit to the Middle East today in Egypt, the obstacles to peace in the region are daunting. But Palestinians and Israelis need a two-state peace agreement more desperately than ever. And America's need to forge such a peace is more acute than ever. If Clinton and the Obama administration's special envoy for the Mideast, George Mitchell, are to succeed at peacemaking, they will have to be patient but tough, aware of complexity but willing to cut through the excuses and sophistry of leaders in both camps.

Billions pledged to rebuild Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
March 3, 2009 - 1:00am

nternational donors have pledged almost $4.5bn (£3.2bn) in aid to the Palestinians, chiefly to rebuild Gaza after Israel's recent offensive. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington would donate $900m, and vigorously seek to advance peace. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told a summit in Egypt cash was "insufficient" without a political solution. Israel, which has been fighting Gaza militants, refuses to allow building materials into Gaza for reconstruction.

Hope for Palestinian state recedes as both sides edge towards other options
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Times
by James Hider - March 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Hillary Clinton starts her first tour of the Middle East as Secretary of State today with a mandate to reinvigorate collapsed peace talks. She will find, however, that support for a two-state solution – the central plank in US-led efforts to tackle the crisis for almost two decades – is at a record low. Not only is it waning on the Israeli side, which is under the new leadership of the right-wing hawk Binyamin Netanyahu, but it is also collapsing among Palestinians, who increasingly view the Oslo peace process, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) that was formed under it, as dead.

Aid without peace ‘insufficient’: Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
March 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas told international donors gathered in Egypt on Monday that financial aid without an end to the conflict with Israel would be 'insufficient.' "We are all conscious that the reconstruction and development efforts will remain insufficient, powerless and threatened in the absence of a political settlement," Abbas said at the conference in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Gaza donor conference: Who is pledging what
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 2, 2009 - 1:00am

An international conference to help rebuild the Gaza Strip got underway Monday in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The Palestinian Authority had hoped to raise $2.78 billion in aid, including $1.33 billion to rebuild the coastal strip after Israel's three-week military offensive in January. Here are some of the pledges announced ahead of the one-day event. # Gulf Arab states plan to pledge $1.65 billion in aid over a period of up to five years.

Dennis Ross: The Most Important Dossier
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed - March 1, 2009 - 1:00am

There are many political envoys in the administration of the new American President, Barack Obama. But assigning diplomat Dennis Ross the dossier of Iran and the Gulf means that his [mission] is the most serious and important of all. Despite the importance of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its historic value, it remains confined to a 35-year-old case, counting the years from the last war that changed the political situation. It can continue as it is, with its disputes and wars confined in the area of its conflicts.

An Atmosphere Suitable for Palestinian Reconciliation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Elias Harfoush - (Opinion) March 2, 2009 - 1:00am

It is a sizeable and thorny issue with a difficult background of blood, prisoners, mutual accusations, and accusations of treason. Moreover, profound disagreements surround the peace process and the progress of negotiations with Israel, as well as perspectives on the map of Palestine and the borders of an independent state. Yet the step taken towards Palestinian agreement is a much better one than it had previously been. Indeed, the earlier state of affairs would have led the Palestinian national project to suicide.

A new beginning for Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Ban Ki-Moon - March 1, 2009 - 1:00am

The widespread destruction and suffering that marked the fighting in and around Gaza between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009 affected civilian populations of Gaza and southern Israel the worst. The people of Gaza, who have endured untold hardship for years, were subjected to still greater misery, leaving them to face an already uncertain future with greater anxiety and despair. I personally felt the extent of the indignities facing the people when I visited Gaza two days after the ceasefire had been declared and what I saw and heard left me deeply perturbed.

Peace Now: Israel planning 73,300 new homes in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Sara Miller - March 2, 2009 - 1:00am

A report by the Israeli left-wing NGO Peace Now released Monday says that the government is planning to build more than 73,300 new housing units in the West Bank. Peace Now estimates that if all of the units are built, it would mean a 100-percent increase in the total number of Israeli settlers. The report says that some settlements, including the two largest Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim, would double in size. According to the report, approval has already been granted for the construction of 15,000 housing units, and is pending for a further 58,000 units.

The end of innocence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - March 3, 2009 - 1:00am

"Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East" is the title of Martin Indyk's book. In the book, Indyk, who served two terms as U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Bill Clinton administration, writes about the failure of the Middle East peace process. Those who interpreted Barack Obama's promises as a return to that type of "innocent" idealism are now discovering they were wrong. The new American administration has made it clear that its foreign policy will be everything but innocent, and it will be based on U.S. interests.

Editorial: On the road to reconciliation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) March 2, 2009 - 1:00am

In the aftermath of the Gaza tragedy, two silver linings, one political, the other economic, have appeared on the Palestinian horizon. Leaders of the rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, now appear to be entering a new era of reconciliation after talks in Cairo, while today an international donors conference, also in the Egyptian capital, could come up with close to $3 billion in reconstruction aid badly needed by the Palestinians after Israel nearly totaled Gaza in January’s onslaught.

Editor's Notes: From the West Bank to Teheran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by David Horovitz - February 26, 2009 - 1:00am

Will the Obama administration urge Israel to halt settlement building, in order to help create a regional climate more conducive to pressuring Iran? It's not clear what had delayed the much-anticipated appointment of former Clinton administration special Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross, finally announced in mid-week, as the State Department's new point man on Iran. Actually, it's still not absolutely clear that Ross is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's point man on Iran, since he has formally been designated her "special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia."

Israel Plans to Double Size of Settlements in Palestinian Territory
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Times
by Sana Abdallah - March 2, 2009 - 1:00am

One day before Hillary Clinton begins her maiden visit to Israel and the West Bank as the U.S. secretary of state, an Israeli peace group announced more settlement expansion plans on Palestinian territories, posing an even tougher challenge to the new American administration's peace endeavors. In a report released on Monday, Peace Now said the Israeli authorities have plans for 73,302 new housing units in Jewish settlements, which would double the number of settlers in the occupied territory and blow the chances for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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