Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Ben Caspit, chief political commentator for Ma'ariv, examines the coalition government taking shape in Israel (1). The Media Line reports on the troubled state of the Palestinian health care system (2). The Israeli military denies claims that it used white phosphorous shells unlawfully during the Gaza war (3). Israel is suspected to be behind an airstrike earlier this year against alleged smuggling convoys in Sudan (5). Following continued criticism of IDF conduct (7), an Israeli soldier faces disciplinary action for a reckless shooting during the Gaza war (6). Palestinian officials report that Israel has revised the list of prisoners it might release in exchange for captured soldier Gilad Shalit (8).

A Play-by-Play of Coalition Building: What it Means
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Progress
(Blog) March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

What is the current status of the coalition formation efforts? Benjamin Netanyahu now has agreements with Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, Habayit Hayehudi [the Jewish Home] and Labor. He already has more than 60 members of Knesset [MKs]. In my opinion the National Union party won’t be in the government. Yahadut Hatorah [United Torah Judaism] also seems to have been left out.

Troubled Palestinian Health System Heads for Overhaul
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Felice Friedson, Rachelle Kliger - March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Two-year-old Rafiq lays his head peacefully on his mother’s shoulder, sticks a thumb in his mouth and buries his face in her black veil. Up until a short while ago Rafiq, whose family lives in Gaza, was at death’s door with a deadly kidney condition. But last September he was given a new lease of life when he was admitted to Barzilai hospital in Israel and nursed back to health.

Israeli Use of Phosphorus Against Gazans Disputed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - December 31, 1969 - 8:00pm

Israel's use of white phosphorus artillery shells led to the deaths of at least 12 Palestinian civilians and destroyed millions of dollars in property during the recent three-week war in the Gaza Strip, the organization Human Rights Watch says in a report released Wednesday. Israeli military officials called the claim "baseless" and said the shells, designed to produce a smoke screen, were used in accordance with accepted rules.

Being a Partner for Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

As he prepares to take office as Israel’s next prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is offering what sounds like a tantalizing commitment. He said that his government will be a “partner for peace.” “I will negotiate with the Palestinian Authority for peace,” he said.

Israel suspected in Sudan airstrikes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
March 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Reporting from Khartoum, Sudan, and Jerusalem — A Sudanese official said Thursday that hundreds of people were killed early this year when foreign warplanes bombed three convoys smuggling African migrants through Sudan along with weapons that apparently were destined for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hinted at his air force's possible involvement in the attacks. They came after Israel ended a 22-day assault on Gaza without fully achieving one of its aims: to choke off Hamas' weapons supply.

Israel army punishes Gaza soldier
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
March 27, 2009 - 12:00am

An Israeli soldier was removed from the combat area after he shot a Gazan woman in the leg "by mistake" during the recent offensive, military sources say. The soldiers were firing in the air and urging a group of Palestinians who looked "suspicious" at the time, the military said. It appears to be the first officially confirmed case of disciplinary action over troops' actions in the conflict. The Israeli forces' conduct has been heavily criticised.

Gaza witness: IDF troops told us 'Go south or you'll get shot'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
March 27, 2009 - 12:00am

When Israel Defense Forces soldiers expelled Abir Hijeh, her five children and their neighbors from homes in a Gaza war zone, she said they warned her in broken Arabic: Go south or you might get shot. The group went the wrong way and came under fire from Israeli soldiers. Hijeh was wounded and her 2-year-old daughter was killed. Hijeh's account of a sniper firing on civilians, along with soldiers' graffiti and destruction seen by The Associated Press in homes they commandeered, lend support to allegations of IDF misconduct during the onslaught in Gaza.

Palestinians say Israel revises prisoner swap list
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Abraham Rabinovich - March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

A Palestinian official said on Thursday Israel had revised a list of Palestinian prisoners it might release in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier. The official said the offer had been passed to the Hamas Islamist group, which controls the Gaza Strip, through Egyptian mediators. Hamas officials said Wednesday that indirect negotiations had been renewed to free Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted by Palestinian militants who tunneled into Israel from the Gaza Strip in 2006.

The ball is in Obama’s court
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by George S. Hishmeh - March 27, 2009 - 12:00am

While cruising in South America last month, I happened to pick on board the ship’s minuscule edition of The New York Times and, much to my surprise, it had the news about the ordeal of Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr., who felt duty bound to withdraw his nomination as chairman of the National Intelligence Council in the wake of a brutal and unjustified attack by the pro-Israel lobby.

One Last Chance for Peace in the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Times
by Claude Salhani - March 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Here we go. This is the last chance for a peaceful resolution of the Middle East crisis before the region takes a turn for disaster. All the ingredients for peace as well as for greater conflict are in place. How it all turns out is now up to the players on the ground. At this point it's a 50-50 gamble. Examining the peace dividends, they are many. First, regarding the Palestinian issue, everyone knows the final outcome. There are no surprises; the issues have been addressed ad nauseam:

Obama: Israel-Egypt treaty inspires us to expand circle of peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

The 30th anniversary of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel proves that peace is always possible, US President Barack Obama said Thursday.      "As we commemorate this historic event, we recall that peace is always possible even in the face of seemingly intractable conflicts," Obama said.

Sudan strike won't make Iran give up on Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - (Analysis) March 27, 2009 - 12:00am

A moment before the Olmert government leaves office, coincidently or not, American television network CBS breaks the fascinating story of the Israel Air Force attack on an Iranian weapons convoy in Sudan.

The racist Israeli fascist in me
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Bradley Burston - (Opinion) March 17, 2009 - 12:00am

I was determined to duck it. I was resolved to fly to the States, speak about the situation in Israel, and reply with nothing more than a half-smile and a "next question, please," to the well-read and otherwise openhearted people who ask questions of the tenor of "Between you and me, what is wrong with these people, your friends, the Israelis?"

Freeman, Straight, No Chaser, as Critic of Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
March 25, 2009 - 12:00am

Charles “Chas” Freeman, who until recently was set to assume the post of chairman of the National Intelligence Council, wants to make a few things emphatically clear. Freeman would like it to be known that he does not believe, as some have charged he does, that American support of Israel caused the September 11 terrorist attacks. “That’s obviously nonsense,” said Freeman, who withdrew his name for the post on March 10, just a month-and-a-half after agreeing to take up the job amid weeks of attacks on him by supporters of Israel and others.

After 30 years peace must make progress
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
March 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Yasser Reda marked the occasion by stating that while the signing of the treaty was a courageous act by the leaders of both countries, the peace never developed into a warming of relations as was intended. Considering how the peace process has languished over the past 30 years, this is hardly surprising.

Moment of truth
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Ahram
by Nicola Nasser - (Opinion) December 31, 1969 - 8:00pm

In view of a world consensus on a two-state solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict most political analysts and commentators concluded that Israeli prime minister-designate Benyamin Netanyahu, who still refuses to affirm his commitment thereto, would face a "moment of truth" during his recent meetings with visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US presidential envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell. Yet the outcome of Clinton's first regional tour as secretary of state and Mitchell's second tour as envoy proved the opposite.

Israeli PM's "final offer" to Palestinians revealed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from China View
March 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed to return 93 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians and to handle the Jerusalem question under an international framework as his "final offer," local news service Ynet reported Thursday. Olmert made the promises to Palestinian National Authority (PNA)Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting in September, said the report, quoting senior officials as saying that the pledges marked Olmert's "final offer to end the conflict."

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