Middle East News: World Press Roundup

BBC News reports that a West Bank settlement, unauthorized by the Israeli government, appears to be receiving state funding (1). Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows to continue peace talks, but makes no mention of a Palestinian state (2). Human Rights Watch reports that Israel's use of white phosphorous shells in the Gaza war may constitute a war crime (3). Indirect talks regarding the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit resume between Hamas and Israel (4) (13). A pair of op-eds discuss the current state of the Israel lobby in the U.S. in the wake of the Freedman affair (6) (10). Several opinion articles offer assessments of the prospects for peace and the urgency of action (5)(11) (12) (15).

New support for West Bank outpost
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Tim Franks - March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

An unauthorised Jewish settlement in the West Bank, illegal even under Israeli law, appears to benefiting from state funding, the BBC has uncovered. A road is being built from the established settlement of Eli, near the Palestinian city of Nablus, leading east to the illegal outpost at Hayovel. Settlement expansion is a major barrier to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. The international community regards all settlements in the West Bank as illegal under international law.

Netanyahu Says Peace Talks Will Continue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's incoming prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said Wednesday that he will pursue peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, but he withheld any endorsement of an independent Palestinian state. "I think that the Palestinians should understand that they have in our government a partner for peace, for security and for rapid economic development of the Palestinian economy," he told a business group in his most substantial remarks on the peace process since the Israeli elections in February.

Israel phosphorus use criticised
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's use of white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas during the recent Gaza conflict may constitute war crimes, a rights group has said. Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of "deliberately or recklessly" using the shells in violation of the laws of war, causing "needless civilian deaths". The New York-based group's report is based on research conducted immediately after the conflict ended in January. Israel has insisted that its use of weapons in the offensive was lawful.

Hamas: We've resumed Shalit talks with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas resumed indirect negotiations with Israel aimed at exchanging abducted Israel Defense Force soldier Gilad Shalit for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners currently held in Israeli jails, Hamas official Ali Barakeh said Wednesday. Shalit was kidnapped by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in June, 2006. Efforts to secure his release in a prisoner exchange with Hamas have so far yielded no results. Barakeh said that a delegation from Hamas is in Cairo to pursue a deal.

The Fierce Urgency of Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Roger Cohen - (Opinion) March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Pressure on President Obama to recast the failed American approach to Israel-Palestine is building from former senior officials whose counsel he respects. Following up on a letter dated Nov. 6, 2008, that was handed to Obama late last year by Paul Volcker, now a senior economic adviser to the president, these foreign policy mandarins have concluded a “Bipartisan Statement on U.S. Middle East Peacemaking” that should become an essential template.

The Lobby Falters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from London Review of Books
by John Mearsheimer - (Opinion) March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Many people in Washington were surprised when the Obama administration tapped Charles Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council, the body that oversees the production of National Intelligence Estimates: Freeman had a distinguished 30-year career as a diplomat and Defense Department official, but he has publicly criticised Israeli policy and America’s special relationship with Israel, saying, for example, in a speech in 2005, that ‘as long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-hande

A Tax Break Fuels Middle East Friction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by David Ignatius - (Opinion) March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

For many years, the United States has had a policy against spending aid money to fund Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which successive administrations have regarded as an obstacle to peace. Yet private organizations in the United States continue to raise tax-exempt contributions for the very activities that the government opposes.

Palestinians Serenade Survivors in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

For just over an hour on Wednesday, a club for elderly Holocaust survivors on a side street in this suburban town south of Tel Aviv came alive with an encounter of an extraordinary kind. A youth orchestra came to play for the elderly Israelis, a good turn that might pass in other countries as routine. In this case, though, the entertainers were Palestinians, a group of musicians 12 to 17 years old from the Jenin refugee camp, once a notorious hotbed of militancy and violence in the northern reaches of the West Bank.

IAF Sudan strike / 'Two planes hit convoy'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Barak Ravid - March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Two senior Sudanese politicians confirmed Thursday that unidentified aircraft attacked a convoy of suspected arms smugglers as it drove through Sudan toward Egypt in January, killing almost everyone in the convoy. An American news network said that the attack was carried out by the Israel Air Force. CBS reported that the IAF carried out the attack on a convoy of trucks in Sudan carrying arms for Hamas in the Gaza Strip. According to the report, 39 people riding in the 17-truck convoy were killed, while a number of civilians in the area were injured.

The pro-Israel lobby - 'alive, well, and bipartisan?'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nathan Guttman - (Opinion) March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

The fight is over. Chas Freeman, the outspoken Israel critic appointed to chair the National Intelligence Council, is out. And now, both sides in the explosive firefight that broke out over his appointment are battling to frame the narrative over what it all meant. For some of Freeman's critics, the bottom line is what counts. "This shows the pro-Israel lobby is alive and well, and bipartisan," declared Jonathan Tobin, executive editor of the neoconservative journal Commentary, at a public forum just five days after Freeman's March 10 withdrawal.

Israeli Crimes and the Opportunity for Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Randa Takieddine - (Opinion) March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Arab observers can rightly ask about the reaction of the western world, its media, and pro-Israeli groups if Arab soldiers had committed the crimes that Israeli soldiers have acknowledged during the war against Gaza.

The Last Chance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Editorial) March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

It would appear that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister-designate, has struck a secret agreement with Avigdor Lieberman, head of the ultra-right wing Yisrael Beiteinu Party, to continue construction on the so-called E1 settlement plan, which will sever occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

Report: Significant progress on Shalit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Significant progress ahs been made on the release of Israeli captive Gilad Shalit, a senior Palestinian official told Hizbullah's al-Manar television. The official said that "an Egyptian envoy arrived in Israel Tuesday evening and met with senior Israeli officials, including Ofer Dekel, who have been appointed by the government to handle the Shalit case, and Amos Gilad. "Great progress was registered during the meeting," he added.

A government united by its disagreements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

The new government of Israel has finally taken shape. Likud will lead a hodgepodge of right wing and left wing, secular and religious as well as capitalist and socialist. This, Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partners tell us, is the unity government that the Israelis want. But while the government appears to represent the full spectrum of the Israeli electorate, there is little to unify the coalition partners.

Editorial: Chances of peace remote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

THIRTY years to the day after Egypt signed a peace deal with Israel, the Jewish state has demonstrated why that supposed first move in a resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians remains just that, a supposed first move. The anti-peace and uncompromising Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu is to form the next Israeli coalition. He has clinched a deal with the center-left Labor Party.

The Palestinian cause is being hijacked
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Michael Young - (Opinion) March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

I first met Kamal Medhat, whom I always knew as Kamal Naji, in early 2007, when I was looking for background information to review a book on militant Islam in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp. At the time, Kamal could still claim to have abandoned everything for the attractions of academia, though you knew even then that the finality of the man was not a fastidious thesis and a chalkboard.

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