Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu initiates a coalition agreement with the ultra-right wing Yisrael Beitenu party (1) (9), while the European Union, along with the Palestinian and Egyptian leadership, urge the new Israeli government to adhere to the pursuit of a two-state agreement (2) (3) (12). Two Israeli police officers are shot and killed in the West Bank (4) (14). Egyptian brokered negotiations continue in Cairo, where Israeli envoys push for the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit (7). Hamas and Fatah agree to hold presidential and legislative elections in January, though they remain deadlocked on the question of a national accord government (10).

Netanyahu in deal with right-wing Israeli party
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - March 16, 2009 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM (AP) — Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party has initialed a coalition agreement with an ultranationalist faction that brings its leader significantly closer to becoming foreign minister, a Likud party spokeswoman said Monday. Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, has drawn accusations of racism for proposing that Israel's Arab citizens sign loyalty oaths or lose their citizenship. Although that plan is not likely to be implemented, his designation as foreign minister could harm Israel's international ties.

EU warns Netanyahu on hawkish government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 15, 2009 - 12:00am

BRUSSELS, Belgium: The European Union urged incoming Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to craft a government that embraces the long-standing goal of an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel. The prospect of a new hawkish Israeli government, with far-right hard-liner Avigdor Lieberman as a possible foreign minister, will be seen in Europe as a setback to the Middle East peace process.

Palestinians won't deal with 'anti-peace' Israelis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
March 15, 2009 - 12:00am

BRUSSELS (AFP) — Palestinian leaders will not negotiate with the kind of "anti-peace" Israeli government which prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu seems determined to form, an official said Sunday. "It is very clear that these days he is talking to far right political parties" which are "totally against the establishment of a Palestinian state", Palestinian Authority foreign minister Riyad al-Malki told reporters in Brussels.

2 Israeli Police Officers Killed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - March 15, 2009 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — Two Israeli police officers were shot dead in their patrol car in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank on Sunday night, police officials said. Although the identities of the gunmen were not immediately clear, Israeli security officials said they were treating the killings as a probable nationalist attack by Palestinians. The attack, along the Jordanian border near the Jewish farming settlement of Massua, came as Israel began easing travel restrictions for Palestinians around Nablus, a Palestinian city northwest of the settlement.

Where is the Palestinian Dialogue Headed?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Abdullah Iskandar - (Opinion) March 15, 2009 - 12:00am

Save for an unexpected surprise, the Palestinian dialogue in Cairo, under Egyptian sponsorship, is still marking its time. Such a dialogue would not have been possible had it not been for a series of Arab pressures on its parties, as well as for the Hamas movement's need to maintain bridges of communication with Egypt, especially after the broad and decisive international and Arab support of Egypt's efforts to resolve the Palestinian issue, both in terms of politics and of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip.

Demographic map of Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Fahed Fanek - March 16, 2009 - 12:00am

In a recent issue of Foreign Affairs, one author came up with a meaningful piece of demographic data. It says that the number of Jews around the world is estimated at 13.1 million, of which 5.4 million live in Israel proper and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The total number of Palestinians is estimated at 10.6 million, including 1.4 million in Israel proper, 3.8 million in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 2.4 million in Jordan, and 3 million in Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere around the world.

Israeli envoys leave Cairo after intensive Shalit talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
March 16, 2009 - 12:00am

Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's special envoy, Ofer Dekel, left Cairo on Monday evening following days of intensive negotiations over a deal for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Upon their return to Israel, Diskin and Dekel were to head to the government compound in Tel Aviv to update Olmert of progress made during the talks.

Netanyahu advisors tell him to push ahead with Syria track
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - March 16, 2009 - 12:00am

A panel of expert advisors have told Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu to devote his attention to negotiations with Syria, thereby creating a chance for regional peace. The panel comprises prominent figures who formerly served in key posts in the defense establishment, government and the business community. The group is offering its services as a "strategic think-tank" to aid the new government in crises management and decision-making, and submitted its major recommendations at a symposium Sunday with Netanyahu's "first 100 days" advisors.

Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu sign coalition deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Atilla Somfalvi - March 16, 2009 - 12:00am

The Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties signed a coalition deal late Sunday night stipulating that Avigdor Lieberman will be appointed Israel's next foreign minister. According to the agreement, Stas Misezhnikov will receive the Tourism portfolio, Uzi Landau will be given the National Infrastructure portfolio, Sofa Landver will become immigration absorption minister and Yitzhak Aharonovitch will be appointed national security minister.

Palestinian elections fixed for January
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 16, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas and Fatah agreed on Sunday to hold presidential and legislative elections by January 2010 but remained deadlocked over the key issues of forming a unity government as well as dealings with Israel. Diplomats and analysts see the success of the Egyptian-sponsored talks as key to reuniting Palestinians after 21 months of schism between Hamas-ruled Gaza and the West Bank, where the Fatah group of President Mahmoud Abbas holds sway.

American activist hurt badly at fence protest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
March 15, 2009 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- An American demonstrator was seriously wounded when Israeli troops and protesters clashed at Israel's West Bank separation fence. Tristan Anderson, an International Solidarity Movement activist from the Oakland, Calif., area, was hit in the head Friday by a tear gas cannister fired by Israeli troops, according to the Associated Press.

Egypt concerned about future Israeli govt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
March 16, 2009 - 12:00am

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul Gheit voiced concern Monday for Middle East peace hopes after an ultra-nationalist party signed up to be part of Israel's new government. "We have a negative, possibly damaging factor, which is the emergence of an extreme right government in Israel," he told members of the European Parliament in Brussels. Earlier Monday, Israeli prime minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu took the first step toward forming a right-wing government by inking a coalition deal with the Yisrael Beitenu party of Avigdor Lieberman.

Worldview: Decision time on Mideast for Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Philadelphia Inquirer
by Trudy Rubin - (Opinion) March 15, 2009 - 12:00am

Hillary Rodham Clinton tiptoed oh-so-carefully around the Israel-Palestine issue on her recent trip to the Middle East. But she and President Obama will have to make some tough decisions soon, as Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to form a right-wing government. Otherwise, any prospects for a two-state solution, even in the long run, will be dead before the end of Obama's first term.

Police: West Bank shooting not caused by checkpoint removal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - March 16, 2009 - 12:00am

Senior police officials say that the removal of checkpoints and the low intensity of Israel Defense Forces operations in the West Bank did not contribute to Sunday's shooting death of two traffic cops in the Jordan Valley. "The IDF's activity is very extensive," said Shlomi Katbi, the commander of the West Bank police. "I don't see where one can tie the ongoing security activity and its quality with what happened Sunday evening." Danny Dayan, the head of the Yesha council of West Bank settlements, said Israel's policies in the territories were to blame for the continued bloodletting.

How Israel Helped Create Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Khaleej Times
by Phillip Knightley - (Opinion) March 16, 2009 - 12:00am

An advance copy of an important new book on the Middle East has kept me awake at night reading it. Called “Kill Khalid: Mossad’s Failed Hit. . .and the Rise of Hamas”, it is by an Australian journalist, Paul McGeough, and was written before the recent war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. McGeough is scrupulously objective but paints a telling picture of the skill with which Hamas and its leader Khalid Meshaal have succeeded in turning most of the Israeli’s strategy around so that it rebounded upon them.

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