Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Hamas calls for Islamic Jihad to halt rocket fire into Israel from the Gaza strip (1) (8). Palestinian national accord government talks continue in Cairo, as Egypt applies pressure for a swift resolution (2) (3) (4). After withdrawing from his appointment to head the National Intelligence Council, Charles Freeman blames the "pro-Israel lobby" (5) (14). Secretary of State Clinton warns that the pledged $900 million in American reconstruction aid for Gaza is contingent upon the new Palestinian government's recognition of Israel (9). A Wall Street Journal op-ed urges Palestinian economic growth as a key foundation for a lasting peace (12).

Hamas crackdown on Jihad ups tensions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

A crisis has erupted between Hamas and Islamic Jihad following allegations that Hamas's security forces in Gaza have been trying to prevent rocket attacks on Israel. The latest strife coincides with the start of reconciliation talks in Cairo between Hamas and Fatah. The latest round of negotiations, which began on Tuesday under the auspices of the Egyptian government, will last for 10 days and are aimed at reaching agreement on the formation of a Hamas-Fatah government.

Egypt wants Palestinian unity deal by Saturday
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: A participant in Palestinian power-sharing talks said Wednesday that Egypt wants an agreement by Saturday. Egypt is mediating between rivals Hamas and Fatah. The talks began Tuesday in Cairo. Negotiator Samir Ghosheh, who is from a tiny faction, says he and his colleagues were told by Egypt that they need to produce an agreement by Saturday. An accord is seen essential for financing reconstruction in Gaza. The deadline appeared to be a pressure tactic. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak wants to host a signing ceremony by the end of March.

Progress made on security in Palestinian unity talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

GAZA, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Hamas and Fatah achieved notable progress on the issue of reforming security services during their reconciliation talks in Cairo but still divided on other issues, Palestinian officials said Wednesday. The Palestinian conferees in Cairo dialogue, who represent all the factions, work under five committees to settle the five controversial issues: forming a unity government, reforming the security services, reforming the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), holding elections and achieving the reconciliation.

Egypt urges Palestinian unity agreement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

Egyptian moderators want a power-sharing agreement between the various Palestinian factions by Saturday, a participant in the talks in Cairo said on Thursday. Negotiator Samir Ghosheh, a member of one of the smaller factions, said that he and his colleagues were told by Egypt that they need to produce an agreement by the weekend. An accord is seen as essential for financing reconstruction in Gaza.

Intelligence Pick Blames 'Israel Lobby' For Withdrawal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Walter Pincus - March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

The withdrawal of a senior intelligence adviser after an online campaign to prevent him from taking office has ignited a debate over whether powerful pro-Israel lobbying interests are exercising outsize influence over who serves in the Obama administration.

The key is an end to occupation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

Following the words and efforts of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Sharm El Sheikh, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah, one gets the feeling that she was on a hard-sell campaign trying to convince the majority of Israelis to accept the concept of the two-state solution. For now, Palestinians are more interested in the end of the decades-old occupation of their lands.

The Country's Loss
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by David Broder - March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

The Obama administration has just suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the lobbyists the president vowed to keep in their place, and their friends on Capitol Hill. The country has lost an able public servant in an area where President Obama has few personal credentials of his own -- the handling of national intelligence. Charles Freeman, the man who was slated to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the high-level interagency group that prepares evaluations for the president and other senior officials, suddenly withdrew his name Tuesday night.

Hamas condemns Gaza rocket strikes on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

Gaza's Hamas rulers issued rare criticism Thursday of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel from the strip, saying now is the wrong time for such attacks. The Islamic militant group has fired thousands of rockets at southern Israel in recent years. But Hamas said Thursday that it was not behind recent attacks and that it was investigating who was responsible. It apparently fears that new rocket fire could disrupt the reconciliation talks currently underway in Cairo.

Clinton: U.S. Gaza aid tied to recognition of Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

Some $900 million pledged by the United States to the Palestinians will be withdrawn if the expected Palestinian Authority coalition government between Fatah and Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist, Western and Israeli diplomats said Wednesday. During her visit to the region last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas against forming a coalition with Hamas that will not meet the expectations of the Quartet.

Gideon Levy / Everyone agrees: War in Gaza was a failure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

Suddenly we're all in consensus: The recent war in Gaza was a failure. The bon ton now is to list its flaws. Flip-floppers say its "achievements" were squandered; leftists say the war "should never have started" and rightists will say the war "should have lasted longer." But on this they all agree: It was a blunder. Because we consider the war to have been almost cost-free, with just 13 Israeli dead, it will be the first in 36 years without a Commission of Inquiry formed in its wake.

An open debate on Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
(Editorial) March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

When John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt wrote about "The Israel Lobby" in 2006, many supporters of Israel were outraged. How, they wanted to know, could anyone say that the United States offered "unwavering support" to Israel? Worse yet, how did these two misguided professors dare suggest that there was a cabal of die-hard Zionists in the media, in Congress, in the Pentagon and in neocon think tanks working to ensure that U.S. policy did not deviate from the pro-Israel party line?

Mideast Peace Can Start With Economic Growth
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Daniel Doron - March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. does not want to be restricted by "old formulas" when it comes to the peace process. As she works on a new approach, she may want to ask why costly diplomatic efforts have not led to Israeli-Palestinian peace but to ongoing war.

Dramatic Shift In Diplomacy Draws Muted React, So Far
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - (Analysis) March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

It is an Obama revolution that has gone by virtually unremarked. In the space of one week, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have knocked down no fewer than five long-standing pillars of American foreign policy from the Bush years and earlier, leaving Israel and other countries affected to confront a transformed world of diplomacy. Between March 2 and March 7, the Obama administration: • Sent two senior envoys to Damascus for high-level negotiations with Syria, ending Washington’s years-long effort to isolate the country.

Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee for Intelligence Post
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Helene Cooper, Mark Mazzetti - March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON — When Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, announced that he would install Charles W. Freeman Jr. in a top intelligence post, the decision surprised some in the White House who worried that the selection could be controversial and an unnecessary distraction, according to administration officials.

Hamas conditions dim unity gov’t prospects
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas said on Wednesday it would demand the right to choose the next Palestinian prime minister and a majority of Cabinet seats in any unity government with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' secular Fateh faction. Hamas' opening position in Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks in Cairo appeared to dim chances of a deal on a unity government acceptable to the United States and other Western powers, which shun the Islamist group for refusing to recognise Israel and renounce violence.

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