Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Secretary of State Clinton meets with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, showing her support for a two-state solution and criticizing Israeli home demolitions (1) (4) (5) (6) (7). An op-ed in The Christian Science Monitor urges President Obama’s Middle East team to build on the momentum developed toward the end of the Bush Administration (2). In an op-ed for The Daily Star Rami Khouri warns that despite its generosity, the donors’ conference in Sharm el-Sheikh failed to address the political issues underlying the destruction in Gaza (8). Israeli Housing Minister Ze’ev Boim dismisses the settlement expansion report issued earlier this week by Peace Now as “baseless” (11).

Clinton Says She Pressed for Gaza Border Opening
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mark Landler - March 4, 2009 - 1:00am

A day after announcing a new diplomatic initiative in the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled here Wednesday to show support for the Palestinian Authority, saying she had pressed the Israeli government to open border crossings to war-torn Gaza. “We have obviously expressed concern about the border crossing,” Mrs. Clinton said after a meeting with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. “We want humanitarian aid to get into Gaza in sufficient amounts to help alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza.”

Build on Bush's Middle East progress
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Robert Zelnick - March 4, 2009 - 1:00am

George W. Bush made his greatest Middle East mistake before becoming president. Had he embraced rather than disowned Bill Clinton's desperate efforts to secure an agreement, Israeli and Palestinian leaders might have gone the extra mile to accommodate the new administration. The tragedy of the second intifada might have been averted. The seizure of Gaza by Hamas might never have occurred.

"If We Could, We'd Be Building Like Crazy"
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Slate
by Linda Gradstein - March 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Elianna Passentin says she moved from her native California to this settlement deep in the heart of the West Bank because she wanted to raise her six children in a place tied to Jewish history. "Looking out our windows, we see Tel Shilo, which was the capital of the Israelite kingdom for 359 years and the site of the Tabernacle," she says. "In our garden we found dozens of pottery shards from the time of the Bible. Our children learn [the] Bible at home and then they see the Bible out their window."

Clinton says two-state solution 'inescapable' for Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Times
by James Hider - March 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Hillary Clinton threw herself into the turmoil of the Middle East crisis yesterday by backing the creation of a Palestinian state despite opposition from the incoming Israeli Government. The US Secretary of State also dispatched high-level envoys to Syria to discern the opportunities for regional talks.

Abbas Urges Iran to Stop 'Interfering'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
March 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Iran must stop interfering in Palestinian affairs, president Mahmud Abbas said on Wednesday after talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "We are sending a message to the Iranians and others -- stop interfering in our affairs," he said. "They are interfering only to deepen the rift between Palestinians." Abbas spoke on the same day that Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for world Muslims to join the Palestinian "resistance" against Israel at the start of a two-day summit in support of Hamas-run Gaza.

Clinton: Israel's demolition of East Jerusalem homes harms peace efforts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - March 4, 2009 - 1:00am

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday blasted Israel's plans to demolisg Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem as a violation of its international obligations and "unhelpful" to Middle East peace efforts. "Clearly this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the 'road map'," Clinton said, referring to the long-stalled peace plan.

Clinton meets Palestinian leaders
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
March 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Leaders of the Palestinian Authority have urged Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, to push Israel to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and open the borders of the Gaza Strip. Clinton met Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Salam Fayyad, the prime minister, on Wednesday in Ramallah, the administrative headquarters of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA). At the start of the talks Clinton reaffirmed Washington's commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The monumental folly at Sharm el-Sheikh
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) March 4, 2009 - 1:00am

The international pledges at Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday of some $4.5 billion in aid to the Palestinians to rebuild the Gaza Strip and promote the development of the West Bank seem like a monumental folly in view of the surrounding political context of this gesture. The financial generosity of the donors was largely offset by their political cowardice on two fronts: in challenging Israel to live according to the norms of law in its treatment of the Palestinians under its occupation; and in coming to grips with Palestinian political realities, especially the legitimacy and role of Hamas.

Stop Israel's expansionist plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
(Opinion) March 3, 2009 - 1:00am

As the international donors for Gaza gathered on Monday to discuss rebuilding the devastated Gaza Strip, it was revealed by the Israeli group Peace Now that Israel is planning to expand colonies in the West Bank. There are now plans to build more than 70,000 illegal homes on the occupied Palestinian land.

Arab Foreign Ministers on the Gaza Conference
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Sawsan Abu-Husain - March 3, 2009 - 1:00am

In statements to Asharq Al-Awsat, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem explained the importance of the positive atmosphere in the Arab arena, especially with regard to Arab and Palestinian reconciliation, and stressed that nothing disturbs [Arab] relations. Meanwhile the Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin-Ahmad Al Khalifa, said that the issue of the crisis with Iran has been put on the agenda of the Arab League Council of Ministers, because it is an issue that concerns all Arabs; but he insisted that Bahrain has been assured [by Iran] that the incident will not be repeated.

Housing Min. slams 'baseless' report of 73,000 new settlement homes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
March 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim on Wednesday called a report released earlier this week over a government plan to build more than 73,300 new housing units in the West Bank "delusional and baseless." "There are a total of 11,530 housing units in Judea and Samaria that were approved by Housing and Construction institutions," Boim told Knesset. "The report about 73,000 housing units is delusional and baseless."

What Bibi faces in liberated Washington
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gershom Gorenberg - March 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Washington at the beginning of the Obama era has the feel of a city that has just been liberated from foreign occupation, or of a person who just snapped out of an inexplicable psychotic episode. The paranoia of the Bush days has passed. The world is no longer divided into children of light and children of darkness.

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