Middle East News: World Press Roundup

An Israeli human rights organization petitions the High Court for an immediate halt to Israeli mining operations in the West Bank (1). Two former North American Ambassadors to the Middle East propose a “special regime” be charged with administering Jerusalem (2). Intra-Palestinian talks on forming a consensus government are underway in Egpyt (3). Mel Frykberg looks at the tense relationship between Israeli settlers and West Bank villagers (4). Israel reportedly grants amnesty to 20 Fatah members (5). Two rockets are fired into southern Israel from Gaza, resulting in some property damage but no injuries (8).

Israeli West Bank mines 'illegal'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
March 9, 2009 - 12:00am

An Israeli human rights group has filed a petition at the High Court demanding an immediate halt to Israeli mining operations in the West Bank. The group, Yesh Din, accuses Israel of breaking international law by exploiting the occupied territory's resources for its own gain. It says Israel has never conducted a thorough review of the practice. But Israel says the procedures are in line with both international law and agreements with the Palestinians.

'Special regime' touted as solution for Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
March 10, 2009 - 12:00am

A solution to Jerusalem could be a "special regime" that administers the Old City without dividing it, leaving the thorny issue of sovereignty for a future date, two former diplomats wrote. In the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs, professors Michael Bell of Canada and Daniel Kurtzer of the United States, both former ambassadors in the Middle East, propose a way to deal with Jerusalem in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. They suggest creating an impartial, Old City Special Regime (OCSR) chosen by Israelis and Palestinians together, that would appoint a chief administrator.

Palestinians meet in Egypt to agree on unity gov't
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Alaa Shahine - March 10, 2009 - 12:00am

Rival Palestinian groups began crucial talks on Tuesday in Egypt to agree on the formation of a unity government that would prepare for presidential and legislative elections and oversee the reconstruction of Gaza. Diplomats and analysts see the success of the Egyptian-sponsored talks as key to reunite Palestinians after 18 months of schism between Hamas-ruled Gaza and the West Bank, where the Fatah group of President Mahmoud Abbas hold sway.

Israeli Settlers Terrorize Palestinian Villagers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mel Frykberg - March 10, 2009 - 12:00am

"I couldn't run. My pregnancy was too far advanced and there was nowhere to hide," said Amna Salman Rabaye, 31, as she recalled the terrifying incident several months ago. Rabaye from the Palestinian Bedouin village of At Tuwani in the southern West Bank was grazing her sheep when she was assaulted by a security guard from the adjacent illegal Israeli settlement of Ma'on. "We saw a group of masked Israeli settlers armed with sticks and chains heading towards us. The younger shepherds ran and managed to escape, leaving me with the flock of sheep," Rabaye told IPS.

Israel offers amnesty to 20 Fatah militants: sources
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 10, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel has given amnesty to 20 wanted militants of President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement in the West Bank city of Nablus, senior Palestinian security sources said Tuesday. Israel has officially informed the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) that its security apparatus decided to offer amnesty to 20 wanted militants, who are members of al-Aqsa MartyrsBrigades, Fatah's armed wing, said the sources who declined to give their names.

Paradigm shift on Gaza needed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Husam Zomlot - (Opinion) March 9, 2009 - 12:00am

Last week's donor conference at Sharm Al Shaikh for the reconstruction of Gaza produced no great news. The pledged $5 billion (Dh18.35 billion) for a two-year recovery and reconstruction package will help to rebuild houses and infrastructure; only for Israel to destroy them again at the earliest opportunity. This has been a recurring theme in Palestine for the past 15 years.

Clinton advances Middle East peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by James J. Zogby - (Opinion) March 10, 2009 - 12:00am

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent Middle East trip was striking by any measure. Despite grumbling by some in the Arab media for what they derided as “excessive caution” or claiming that she merely echoed the policies of the previous administration - some going as far as to mock her as “Condi Clinton” - her overall performance was significant and substantial.

2 rockets fired from Gaza; damage caused
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Shumlik Hadad - March 10, 2009 - 12:00am

Two Qassam rockets were fired Monday morning from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev. One rocket landed in an open area in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, without causing injuries or damage. The second rocket hit an open area near a kibbutz south of Ashkelon. There were no injuries, but the kibbutz fence sustained damage. On Monday, a senior Islamic Jihad source told Ynet that the Hamas government in Gaza arrested 10 al-Quds Brigades gunmen recently for allegedly firing rockets at Israel.

'Netanyahu to focus first on PA'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - March 10, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu has no intention of sidelining the Palestinian track in favor of a Syrian one, Dore Gold, one of Netanyahu's top foreign policy advisers, said Monday. Gold's comments came the same day that Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published in the United Arab Emirates daily Al-Khaleej that while a peace deal with Israel was possible, normal relations would only come about if Israel ended its conflict with the Palestinians.

Encountering Peace: Political dead ends
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) March 10, 2009 - 12:00am

There are those who want and can't, those who don't want and can, those who don't want and can't, and there are those who want and can. Mahmoud Abbas has been one of those who wanted and couldn't, as was Ehud Olmert. Binyamin Netanyahu is probably one who doesn't want but can. A Palestinian national unity government, should it come to life, will also be one that doesn't want but could. The Obama administration is definitely one that wants and can, but what will it do in the face of those in the Middle East who so clearly don't want?

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