Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Three right-wing Israeli parties vie for the important housing portfolio under Prime-Minister designate Netanyahu (1), while concern continues to mount about the rightward shift of a new Israeli government (10) (13). Israel has reportedly agreed to free all 450 prisoner demanded by Hamas in exchange for captured soldier Gilad Shalit (2). Officials from Hamas and Fatah report that there are still major obstacles to be overcome as national accord government talks continue in Cairo (4). The Palestinian Center for Human Rights releases their statistics on the Gaza war (7). A Palestinian youth is killed in the West Bank after allegedly throwing explosives at an Israeli military vehicle (8).

Parties aiming to increase settlements fight over Housing portfolio
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Mazal Mualem - March 13, 2009 - 12:00am

Three factions are fighting over the Housing portfolio, which prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has promised the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. Shas is resolved to appoint the party's MK Ariel Atias - today minister of communications - as housing minister, while United Torah Judaism, the other ultra-Orthodox party, wants the ministry mainly to be in control of the Israel Lands Administration.

Sources: Israel agrees to free all 450 Hamas prisoners for Shalit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoav Stern - March 13, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel has agreed to free all 450 of the prisoners demanded by Hamas in exchange for kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, and the dispute now revolves around Israel's demand that some of these prisoners be deported rather than returned home, Palestinian sources in Cairo said Thursday. Ofer Dekel, Israel's lead negotiator on the issue, was in Cairo Thursday for further talks with Egyptian mediators.

Some hope, much pessimism, on Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
(Editorial) March 13, 2009 - 12:00am

There are many reasons to feel more pessimistic than optimistic about the possibility of any major breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this year. The inaction by the international community, especially the United States, over the past few years has made the situation more complicated, with increased violence and hardened public opinions on both sides.

Hamas, Fatah differ over attitude to agreements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - March 13, 2009 - 12:00am

Rival Palestinian factions have so far failed to overcome obstacles in reconciliation talks which they hope will lead to a unified governing body for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, officials said on Friday. President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement has insisted during Egyptian-hosted talks taking place in Cairo that rival Islamist group Hamas must "abide" by existing peace agreements signed with Israel but Hamas has refused to make such a commitment.

Obama's Middle East test
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Patrick Seale - March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

Will President Barack Obama manage to resolve the intractable Arab-Israeli conflict, which has held the world hostage for the past 60 years? Or will he be driven by events to revert to the more modest aim of conflict-management, which has characterised the policies of his predecessors in the White House? This question was the underlying theme of a conference at the Nato Defence College in Rome on March 4-5, attended by participants from the Middle East, the United States and Europe.

The one-, two-, five-state solutions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
March 13, 2009 - 12:00am

We enjoy the counting game when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, hypothesising about the number of states that must be created to end this conflict. The one-state solution is an idea coming from part of the Palestinian liberal elite that calls for one state for two nations: Israelis and Palestinians. The idea is rejected by Israelis as political suicide because demographic trends will mean a Palestinian-dominated state in 20 years or so.

Palestinian rights group releases Cast Lead stats
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

Some 1,434 Palestinians were killed, including 960 civilians, during Israel's military offensive in Gaza, a Palestinian human rights group said. The dead included 288 children and 121 women, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said on Thursday. The non-civilians killed included 239 police officers and 235 "fighters," according to the group. The group said it would publish a list of the names of those killed next week in Arabic, and would follow that with an English version, according to Reuters. Some 5,303 people were injured in the fighting, according to the group.

Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ali Sawafta - March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian youth and wounded another on Wednesday after firebombs were thrown at their vehicle in the occupied West Bank, an Israeli military spokeswoman said. A Palestinian paramedic said Fayez Atta, 17, from a village near the West Bank town of Ramallah, had died of gunshot wounds and another youth had been taken to an Israeli hospital in a serious condition. The Israeli spokeswoman said troops opened fire when the Palestinians, whom they suspected had attacked their vehicle with firebombs, ignored their orders to surrender.

Seems like old times in Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Chicago Tribune
March 13, 2009 - 12:00am

There's a lot of talk, most of it from Republicans, about President Barack Obama reneging on one or another of his impassioned campaign promises, most of them having to do with our ever-worsening economic disaster. But the promise that is most serious, at least in foreign policy, is the Middle East—and one can't quite tell yet whether the "forgetfulness" over his earlier pledges of "change" toward the region are coming obliquely from his secretary of state or directly from Obama himself.

Is a right-wing government the answer?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
March 13, 2009 - 12:00am

A right-wing Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu is widely seen as spelling the end of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Given the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which Netanyahu has promised to accelerate, no other outcome seems conceivable.

Likud-Kadima coalition talks resumed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Atilla Somfalvi - March 13, 2009 - 12:00am

Netanyahu government continues to materialize: The secret talks between the Likud and Kadima parties have been resumed recently in a bid to form a joint coalition, sources in both parties confirmed Friday. Senior officials in both parties have been discussing this possibility in the past few days. According to the sources, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and are aware of these talks and were even involved in some of them Netanyahu himself has spoken to senior Kadima officials, but Likud sources clarified that these were not negotiations.

A Reality Check
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
March 12, 2009 - 12:00am

The (enhanced) Grad missiles that hit the southern city of Ashkelon several days ago underscore the bitter strategic defeat Israel incurred in the recent Operation Cast Lead.

Obama Administration Overhauls US Mideast Policy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Voice of America
March 11, 2009 - 12:00am

The Obama administration is moving quickly to overhaul American policy on the Middle East, sending top envoys to the region and promising to push hard for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some regional analysts warn conditions on the ground may make progress especially difficult. U.S. President Barack Obama has been in office less than two months. During that brief period, however, he has already dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, special envoy George Mitchell, and other diplomats from the State Department and White House to the Middle East.

Concern as ultra-right winger set to lead Israel's foreign policy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Scotsman
by Ben Lynfield - March 13, 2009 - 12:00am

CONCERN was mounting last night over Israel's plans to appoint as foreign minister an ultra-nationalist politician who based his election campaign on stoking fear of and hatred against the country's Arab minority. However, European Union countries are poised to give Avigdor Lieberman a chance unless the guidelines of the new right-wing coalition headed by Benjamin Netanyahu contain elements directed against Israel's Arab minority, a European diplomat said last night.

The Real Israel Is Its Own Saving Grace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Israel Policy Forum
by M.J. Rosenberg - March 13, 2009 - 12:00am

It's like this. If the only page you read in the newspaper is the obituary section, it's going to appear to you that people are sure dying a lot. That same metric applies to news about Israel. If you confine your reading to news about the Gaza war, the continuing blockade, and the rise of Avigdor Lieberman, it is pretty easy to give up on the whole place.

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