Middle East News: World Press Roundup

ATFP President Ziad Asali is interviewed by The Media Line (1). The Obama administration promises that U.S. military aid to Israel will not be lessened because of the financial crisis (2). A Gaza family that lost 29 relatives in January's war drops their lawsuit against Israeli government officials (3). The Washington Post profiles the southern Israeli town of Sderot, near the Gaza border (4). Palestinian unity government talks are underway in Egypt (7) (13), while an editorial in the Arab News urges both sides to withhold public skepticism about success (8). Time Magazine examines the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (10).

Dr. Ziad Asali discusses ATFP with the Media Line
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
(Interview) March 5, 2009 - 1:00am

Media Line: I am speaking with Dr. Ziad Asali who is the founder and currently heads the organization called the American Task Force on Palestine. Dr. Asali, let’s start with the very beginning the [American] Task force on Palestine appears to say what it does in its name, are you geared towards educating the American public, the American Congress, everybody, what exactly is your role?

U.S. official: Obama won't cut military aid to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

U.S. President Barack Obama will not cut the billions of dollars in military aid promised to Israel, a senior U.S. administration official said Wednesday. The $30 billion in aid promised to Israel over the next decade will not be harmed by the world financial crisis, the official told Israel Radio. He spoke on condition of anonymity. The Obama Administration however expects the next government of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu to continue peace negotiations with the Palestinians, he said.

Gaza family that lost 29 relatives drops lawsuit against Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

A Gaza family that lost 29 relatives to Operation Cast Lead, which also left 45 family members injured and their home destroyed, on Tuesday asked that a lawsuit that had been filed in their name for NIS 851 million be withdrawn. The lawsuit names Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi as respondents. The suit was filed in the Nazareth District Court by attorney Mohammed Fukra on behalf of the Samouni family.

2 rockets hit south Israel; no injuries
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ilana Curiel - March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

Two Qassam rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip Wednesday morning landed in open areas within Eshkol Regional Council limits. There were no reports of injuries or damage. "We heard the Color Red siren (warning of incoming projectiles) and entered a secure room; then we heard two explosions," Negev resident Rivka said. Shlomi, another local, said "the anxiety level is beginning to rise again."

For Israel, Sderot Symbolizes Conflict's Toll
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

Sderot, hard by the Gaza Strip and the frequent target of rocket attacks, has become central to Israel's telling of its conflict with the Palestinians. From a hill on the outskirts of town, one can easily see the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, the launching point for many of the rockets and mortar shells that have landed here with nerve-racking regularity in recent years. Perhaps a quarter of Sderot's population has moved away in recent years. Of the 20,000 or so residents left, anxiety and other signs of post-traumatic stress are widespread.

Senators quash bill seen against Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Barbara Ferguson - March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

Anti-Palestinian amendments were quashed Monday in the Senate and, for now, have come to an end. The amendments that would have made it illegal for US budget funds to be used to resettle Gazans in the US was withdrawn before it could be brought to a vote. Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, who, as Senate minority whip, is the second-most important Republican in the Senate, put the bill forward.

Keep in mind the consequences of failure, Egyptians tell Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

Rival Palestinian factions met here yesterday at the start of a marathon effort to forge a national unity government and resolve major disputes between Hamas and Fatah, the two largest groups.

Importance of the PR battle
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

While Hamas and Fatah negotiate on a Palestinian government of unity, party spokesmen pour cold water on their chances of success. That is not what the Palestinians want. Palestinian divisions are Israel’s greatest weapon. What chance of a just settlement while Palestinian confronts Palestinian? This is a make or break point. International revulsion at Israel’s murderous blitz in Gaza has fueled demands that it make the necessary concessions for a peace agreement once and for all. The Palestinians must not lose this opportunity.

The Freeman fight: Was it all about Israel?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Eric Fingerhut - March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

Supporters of the Obama administration's aborted appointment for a top intelligence post said the former ambassador was unfairly tarred by pro-Israel pundits and advocates. But lawmakers who led the successful campaign against the selection of Charles “Chas” Freeman said their concerns always had less to do with his criticisms of Israel than his financial ties to Saudi Arabia and a Chinese oil company with business dealings in Iran.

Why America's Man in Ramallah Quit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Time
by Tim McGirk - March 10, 2009 - 12:00am

Memo to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: In the Middle East, a compliment can swiftly become a curse. Clinton may have thought she was boosting Salam Fayyad's credentials by lavishly praising the Palestinian prime minister during her tour of the region last week. However, Fayyad's resignation on Saturday suggests that Washington's support may have sealed the fate of the ex-World Bank official and technocrat who brought a modicum of transparency to the rambunctious affairs of the Palestinian Authority.

Cause for optimism in the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Telegraph
by Adrian Michaels - March 10, 2009 - 12:00am

An outbreak of amity is threatening to destabilise long-held opinions on the Middle East. A series of recent gatherings has featured surprising lists of guests being nice to each other, and there are more to come. First came last week's meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Attendees included Hillary Clinton, the new US Secretary of State, Nicolas Sarkozy, French President, and a group of Arab nations. They agreed on $4.48bn in aid for the Palestinian economy and the rebuilding of Gaza after the recent Israeli conflict.

In ruins for 18 months, a Palestinian enclave languishes in disrepair
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Nicholas Blanford - March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

Rebuilding Gaza isn't the only effort under way to improve the Palestinians' plight. Eighteen months after it was wrecked in fighting between the Lebanese Army and Islamist militants, this impoverished refugee camp is just beginning to be put back together again in a project hampered by a political crisis, slowed by donor apathy, and overshadowed by the war between Hamas and Israel.

Palestinian factions begin unity meeting in Cairo
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

Rival Palestinian factions met in Cairo on Tuesday at the start of a marathon effort to forge a national unity government and resolve major disputes between Hamas and Fateh, the two largest groups. Senior delegations from Hamas and Fateh and smaller factions began work in five reconciliation committees which they agreed to form last month in the Egyptian capital. The talks are expected to last for 10 days.

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