Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad resigns in hopes of paving the way for a national accord government (1) (7) (8). The New York Times reports on how excavation of West Bank land is threatening a peace deal (2). A confidential report by the European Union accuses Israel of illegally annexing East Jerusalem (3). According to an opinion poll released today, Hamas’ popularity among Palestinians has risen since the war in January (4). The Israeli government bans West Bank Palestinians from entering Israel during the three day Jewish holiday of Purim (5).

Palestinian Prime Minister to Resign
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 7, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinian prime minister said Saturday he submitted his resignation in a move that could help usher in a power-sharing deal between Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas and his rivals in the militant group Hamas. Salam Fayyad's resignation was meant to be a goodwill gesture toward Hamas, but the group's officials dismissed the announcement, saying Fayyad's appointment and time in office has been unconstitutional.

Desert’s Sand and Rocks Become Precious Resources in West Bank Dispute
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - March 6, 2009 - 1:00am

Boulders the size of compact cars are carved out here at a vast quarry near Bethlehem and pushed noisily through grinders, producing gravel and sand that go into apartment buildings in this rapidly growing Israeli settlement and all across Israel itself. The land of the West Bank is, of course, disputed. Israel occupies it, and the Palestinians want it for a future state. But more and more of it is gone — quarried by Israeli companies and sold for building materials, a practice that is the focus of a new legal challenge.

Israel annexing East Jerusalem, says EU
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Rory McCarthy - March 7, 2009 - 1:00am

A confidential EU report accuses the Israeli government of using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank barrier as a way of "actively pursuing the illegal annexation" of East Jerusalem. The document says Israel has accelerated its plans for East Jerusalem, and is undermining the Palestinian Authority's credibility and weakening support for peace talks. "Israel's actions in and around Jerusalem constitute one of the most acute challenges to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making," says the document, EU Heads of Mission Report on East Jerusalem.

Hamas's popularity rises after Israel's Gaza war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 9, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas's popularity among Palestinians has risen sharply since a three-week Israeli war in January devastated the Islamist-ruled Gaza Strip, an opinion poll released Monday showed. If an election were held today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would beat Mahmoud Abbas, the Western-backed Palestinian president and leader of Fatah who advocates a peace deal with Israel.

Israel imposes West Bank closure during festival
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 9, 2009 - 12:00am

The Israeli military has imposed a three-day closure on the West Bank, banning Palestinians from entering Israel during a Jewish festival. The military says the closure began early Monday and will last through the Purim holiday, ending at midnight Wednesday. The military says exceptions will be made for Palestinians needing urgent medical care and in other humanitarian cases. Israel's military considers Jewish festivals likely times for Palestinian attacks and regularly imposes such closures.

Clinton rolls out foreign policy approach in trip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Sue Pleming - March 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Six weeks into the job, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is starting to roll out the Obama administration's approach to the most prickly foreign policy challenges from Arab-Israeli peace to Russia. In her second foreign trip which ended early on Sunday, Clinton dipped into Middle East peacemaking and promised to work for a "comprehensive" Arab-Israeli peace. She tried to charm European institutions in Brussels and literally hit the "reset" button in strained U.S.-Russia ties during a dinner with Moscow's foreign minister in Geneva, and then went to Turkey.

Decks cleared for Palestine unity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) March 9, 2009 - 12:00am

In tendering his resignation, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has done what few politicians do: He has given up his post for a cause he truly believes in. The resignation, of Fayyad’s own free will, was a noble gesture for righteous goals - that of improving the chances of a possible unity government of Fatah and Hamas, an end to the fractious situation that has paralyzed and polarized Palestinian life, and more hope for the peace process leading to an eventual state for a people living under the yoke of a cruel occupation.

A politician’s sacrifice in the name of peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) March 9, 2009 - 12:00am

The resignation of the Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday is a reflection of the tragedy of Palestinian politics. Here is a man widely viewed as competent and clean, a technocrat who fought corruption, mismanagement and security disorder, but who, for the sake of Palestinian unity, is ready to fall on his sword – a rare occurrence. Even Hamas, whose bete noire Mr Fayyad has become, will agree with that.

Bulldozer Attack in Jerusalem Linked to Palestinian Evictions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Middle East Times
by Sana Abdallah - March 6, 2009 - 1:00am

It has been speculated that the attack by a 26-year-old Palestinian man ramming a bulldozer into an Israeli police car in Jerusalem was linked to Israeli plans to demolish dozens of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, widely believed to be part of the Jewish state's strategy to change the face of the holy city by expelling its Arab residents.

Recognizing Two-State Principle Condition for Negotiating With Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Huda al Husseini - (Opinion) March 8, 2009 - 1:00am

The Gaza aid conference will not divert attention from the internal problems that the Palestinians are facing. PNA head Mahmud Abbas wants a national unity government that accepts the two-state solution and previously signed agreements. As for Hamas, it responds by saying that the required government should be one that embraces the resistance. Accordingly, Hamas refuses to differentiate between its position as a movement and the obligations that a Palestinian government is required to meet. It continues to cling to its victory in the parliamentary election.

Global pressure mounts against Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Adel Safty - March 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel is facing unusual pressure for its continued siege of the Gaza population, and for its conduct of the Gaza war. The United States, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations have demanded that Israel allow at least 500 trucks of aid daily into Gaza - Israel has been allowing less than 200.

The New Contenders
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq Alhomayed - (Opinion) March 9, 2009 - 12:00am

The first comment we heard from Hezbollah with regards to its opening of channels of communication with the British Foreign Office is that this is "a step in the right direction." However Westminster has said that this step is nothing more than floating a trial balloon, yet Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qasim welcomed the new language!

World takes dim view of Lieberman in FM post
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoav Stern - March 9, 2009 - 12:00am

American and European officials have thus far declined to comment publicly on the expected appointment of Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister. Behind the scenes, however, many officials are asking whether this appointment is really necessary - and newspapers on both continents are criticizing the move openly. The official position in Washington is that Barack Obama's administration will work with whatever Israeli government is ultimately established. Beyond that, American officials are keeping mum.

Bibi has a partner
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) March 9, 2009 - 12:00am

Shortly after the Annapolis Summit, Nabil Fahmy, former Egyptian ambassador to the U.S., was invited to a farewell meeting at the White House. President George W. Bush was in a jovial mood. "Condi [former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice] and I are very optimistic about the peace process," the president said, "but Elliot [Abrams] is quite pessimistic." The veteran Egyptian diplomat turned to look at Abrams, at the time charged with the Middle East portfolio at the National Security Council.

U.S. turns up heat on Israel over settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - March 9, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel is under increased pressure from the United States over settlement construction. In the past month, since Barack Obama was sworn in as U.S. president, Israel has received four official complaints from members of the new administration regarding various issues linked to West Bank settlements.

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