Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Benjamin Netanyahu is to be sworn in as Israel’s prime minister today (1), prompting speculation about how the new Israeli government will interact with the Obama administration in Washington (3) (5) (6) (7) (15). The Israeli military closes their investigation into allegations of misconduct by soldiers in the Gaza war (2). In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Peace Now urges an end to settlement construction (4). Palestinian Authority officials announce that Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will stay on until a new government is formed (8), as national accord government talks resume in Cairo (9) (10). Two Palestinians are killed in a clash with the IDF on the Gaza border (11).

Netanyahu set for inauguration as Israel's leader
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jeffrey Heller - March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu was to be sworn in as Israel's prime minister Tuesday, returning to a post he held a decade ago and with no explicit commitment to the internationally-backed goal of Palestinian statehood. Netanyahu, 59, planned to ask parliament to ratify his right-leaning coalition government at a session starting at 5 p.m. (1400 GMT), officials said. Debate could last for hours.

Israel Ends Inquiry Into Abuse in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - March 30, 2009 - 12:00am

The Israeli military said Monday that its advocate general had decided to close an investigation into allegations of abuses by soldiers during the recent campaign in Gaza. The allegations arose from the accounts of soldiers at a conference of graduates of a premilitary course at an academic college in northern Israel. The military police found that “the crucial components of their descriptions were based on hearsay and not supported by specific personal knowledge,” the army said in a statement.

Israel's Netanyahu says he can work with Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Richard Boudreaux - March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

In the weeks since he was chosen to form Israel's next government, Benjamin Netanyahu has labored to dispel the perception that he's on a collision course with the country's most powerful ally. Never mind his history of spats with Washington, or that he refuses to embrace the goal of an independent Palestinian state, a cornerstone of American policy reaffirmed by President Obama last week.co And never mind that religious parties in his coalition call for expanding the Jewish settlements in the West Bank that Obama has criticized. Or that his foreign minister lives in one.

Draw the Line on Israel's Settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Lara Friedman, Hagit Ofran - (Opinion) March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

From the earliest days of the peace process, it was clear that Israel's settlements would be one of the most contentious issues on the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli domestic agendas. Conventional wisdom has held that serious Israeli action on settlements must be put off until a deal is ready to be signed. This is based on the logic that given the huge amount of political capital it will cost any Israeli government either to freeze settlements or to pursue peace, no Israeli government can do both at the same time.

Bibi and Barack Can Unite on Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Yossi Klein Halevi - (Opinion) March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Enemies of the American-Israeli alliance could not have conjured a scenario more fraught with potential for misunderstanding. In Washington, a new president is reaching out to the Muslim world, including Iran. In Jerusalem, the government about to take office represents the disillusionment of the Israeli public with 15 years of failed peace talks. For President Barack Obama, power is a means to encourage the rational self-interest of opponents. For Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, power is the means of defending his people from irrational hatred. Mr.

Netanyahu to shift Israel to right
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck - March 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu will be sworn in as Israel’s prime minister, marking a decisive shift to a more rightwing, hawkish government, just as the country is facing mounting international criticism.

New Israeli government may be out of sync with US
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Matti Friedman - March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

The new government taking power in Israel Tuesday supports expanded Jewish settlement in the West Bank and does not explicitly endorse an independent Palestinian state, a course that could put the country at odds with the Obama administration. Western officials are also concerned about incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's choice for foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, whose proposal to put citizens to loyalty tests is widely seen as a racist attack on Israel's Arab minority.

'Palestinian PM Fayyad stays on for now’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who has submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas, will stay on until a new government is formed, Palestinian officials said on Monday. The former World Bank economist tendered his resignation on March 7, effective March 31, in order to help rival Palestinian factions to reach a deal on an interim government. But aides to Abbas say the prime minister could be persuaded to remain in the post.

Palestinian factions return to Cairo for unity talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Representatives of rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah returned to Cairo on Tuesday to resume talks on forming a "national unity" government, representatives of the groups said. Egyptian-mediated talks between Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, which controls the West Bank, were scheduled to resume on Tuesday, ahead of a broader meeting including more factions on Wednesday. "The talks will focus on the issues that were not solved in the last round of talks," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Tuesday.

Hamas leader hopes unity talks will be fruitful
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

There is a strong chance talks resuming this week can help heal a rift between the Hamas group and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, a senior Hamas leader said on Sunday. "We stress our interest in reaching an agreement to end the internal Palestinian division under Arab and Egyptian sponsorship," Ismail Haniyeh said on Hamas television in the Gaza Strip before an Arab summit convening in Qatar on Monday.

Two Palestinian gunmen said killed by IDF in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed two Palestinian militants and wounded three in violence along the Gaza-Israel border, a Gaza health official said, in one of the worst flare-ups since Israel's ended its offensive in the territory more than two months ago. An IDF soldier was lightly wounded in the fighting, the military said. Palestinian witnesses reported hearing two explosions from the border area in the central Gaza Strip, after which Israeli helicopters hovered over the fence and fired at targets inside Gaza.

Abbas to Arab summit: Israel chose settlement instead of peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

"Our experience in the aftermath of the Annapolis conference has proven that Israel is still a ways off from abandoning its settlement policy and choosing the path of peace," Mahmoud Abbas said Monday. Speaking at the Arab summit in Doha, Qatar the Palestinian president said that at the same time it was conducting negotiations on a permanent peace agreement Israel "continued to establish facts on the ground in accordance with its ambitions of expansion."

Settlers step up construction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank have stepped up the illegal construction of roads and housing in the past three months, taking advantage of the government’s distraction by the recent onslaught in Gaza and the national elections, an Israeli human rights group said yesterday. Yesh Din, based in Tel Aviv, claimed that the projects were probably funded by the government.

Leave East Jerusalem alone
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

On the eve of the new government's swearing-in, right-wing elements in the new coalition and among the settlers are preparing to heighten Israeli control in East Jerusalem. In the coalition negotiations, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to promise to carry out the large (E1) plan to create Jewish urban contiguity between Ma'aleh Adumim and the capital.

Worries over Netanyahu team
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Layelle Saad - March 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu will present his right wing government tonight to the Israeli Knesset sparking international worries over the possibility of a future peace process. With over 30 ministerial positions, Netanyahu's shaky coalition government between the right-wing Likud party and the Centre-Left Labour Party will be among the largest cabinets in Israeli history.

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