Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Benjamin Netanyahu is sworn in as Israel’s new Prime Minister, (1) (6) along with his coalition government (10) (13), while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urges international pressure on Netanyahu to continue negotiations towards a peace agreement and a Palestinian state (9). A study released by the United Nations Development Program shows that 70% of Palestinian youth oppose violence as a solution to the conflict with Israel (3). An op-ed in The National stresses the importance of Arab unity in moving peace talks forward (8). Israel’s Knesset heatedly debates alleged misconduct by IDF soldiers (11), while an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle accuses Israel of flouting international law (5).

Netanyahu Offers Conciliation, but Not Concessions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — Taking over as Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu struck a somewhat conciliatory tone toward the Palestinians in an address Tuesday to Parliament, promising negotiations toward a permanent accord. But Mr. Netanyahu, the leader of the hawkish Likud Party, stopped short of endorsing a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a potential point of friction with the United States.

Israel not bound by Annapolis understandings: Lieberman
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Adam Entous, Jeffrey Heller - April 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's new ultranationalist foreign minister said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-leaning government would not be bound by U.S.-backed understandings on a Palestinian state reached in 2007. Avigdor Lieberman's dismissal of the Annapolis conference declaration could swiftly steer Israel and Netanyahu onto a collision course with U.S. President Barack Obama, who last week reaffirmed Washington's commitment to Palestinian statehood.

UN: 70% of Palestinian youth oppose violence to resolve conflict with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
April 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Nearly 70 percent of Palestinian young adults believe the use of violence to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not very helpful, according to a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) study released Tuesday. Only 8 percent believe violence is an important tool, the study, based on interviews with 1,200 Palestinians over the age of 17 in the West Bank and Gaza. The study also found out that more than 80 percent of young Palestinians are depressed, and 47 percent identify themselves as Muslim rather than Palestinian.

Palestinian unity talks resume in Cairo
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
April 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas resumed reconciliation talks in Cairo on Wednesday aimed at agreeing a government of national unity acceptable to the international community. The Egyptian-mediated talks between the Islamist Hamas and the Western-backed Fatah of Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas were adjourned on March 19 after failing to agree on a new government. The two factions met on Wednesday in the presence of Egypt's intelligence chief and pointman for Israeli-Palestinian affairs Omar Suleiman, Egypt's official MENA news agency reported.

Changing the rules of war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The San Francisco Chronicle
by George Bisharat - April 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The extent of Israel's brutality against Palestinian civilians in its 22-day pounding of the Gaza Strip is gradually surfacing. Israeli soldiers are testifying to lax rules of engagement tantamount to a license to kill. One soldier commented: "That's what is so nice, supposedly, about Gaza: You see a person on a road, walking along a path. He doesn't have to be with a weapon, you don't have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him." What is less appreciated is how Israel is also brutalizing international law, in ways that may long outlast the demolition of Gaza.

Fasten your Seat Belts, Bibi is Back
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed - March 31, 2009 - 12:00am

[The news of] Bibi Netanyahu's election to the position of Prime Minister of Israel was a piece of bad news, but something that nevertheless must be dealt with. Netanyahu's victory has aroused fear and disappointment that even US President Barack Obama has not hesitated to express. And now the question is; where will the man with the most notorious reputation in modern Israel lead the region? Will he change, in the same way that the Butcher [of Beirut] Ariel Sharon, and before him the extremist Menachem Begin, changed?

Obama has hit the ground running in the Mideast
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Abdel-Moneim Said - April 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The Obama administration has hit the ground running in the Middle East by virtually reversing all the traditional positions of the Bush administration: from neglect to activism, from clash of civilizations to dialogue of civilizations, from believing that the Arab-Israel conflict cannot be resolved to believing that despite difficulties the hope is there.

Indecision causes Palestine to suffer
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
April 1, 2009 - 12:00am

‘For I have known them all already, known them all/ Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons/ I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” Ennui as perhaps only TS Eliot can paint it; disappointment as perhaps only Palestinians can feel it. If anyone had hoped that the Arab League summit in Doha might have started to bridge the distance between the various sides in the Arab community over the Palestinian conflict, it didn’t.

Abbas urges U.S., world to pressure Netanyahu on peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
April 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday urged the international community to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government, saying the newly sworn-in leader "does not believe in peace," AFP reported. "Benjamin Netanyahu never believed in a two-state solution or accepted signed agreements and does not want to stop settlement activity. This is obvious," AFP quoted Abbas as telling the official Palestinian news agency.

Netanyahu government / Who's who in the new cabinet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
April 1, 2009 - 12:00am

An introduction to the faces - some old and some new - who make up Israel's new coalition government.

MKs spar over Gaza testimonials
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Sharon Roffe-ofir - April 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The controversy surrounding testimonials of conduct unbecoming by the Israeli Defense Forces during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza was the focus of a heated Knesset discussion Wednesday, demonstrating once more the polarity within the Israeli parliament. The military launched an official inquiry into allegations made by soldiers who claimed that innocent people were targeted during the Israeli offensive, but Judge Advocate General Brigadier-General Avi Mandelblit later determined that the accusation had no merit and closed the case.

A step away from reality
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
(Opinion) March 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Leaders often speak out on certain issues in order to communicate what they are doing for the country, but they sometimes do so simply to remind the public that they exist. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat both spoke of the peace process this past week and seem to have expressed their basic desire to remain relevant in the political sphere.

Analysis: Israel's new coalition
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
March 25, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's centre-left Labor party has voted at a conference to join a coalition government led by Benyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister-designate and Likud leader. The move provides the parliamentary majority necessary for government, which will include the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu, led by Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister-designate, and the orthodox Jewish Shas party. Ehud Barak, the Labor leader, says that his party will provide balance to a right-wing government, while others argue that Labor itself is moving to the right.

Netanyahu vague on peace talks with Palestinians: PNA
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) said on Wednesday new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his inauguration speech "offered nothing" concerning the peace talks with the Palestinians. Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, said, "Netanyahu failed to endorse the two-state solution. He failed to explicitly support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. He made only vague commitments to continuing negotiations."

Poll: most Palestinians want gov't to observe peace deals
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 1, 2009 - 12:00am

A majority of Palestinians want any upcoming government to conform to all deals the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has signed, according to a poll released on Wednesday. According to the poll, which involved 900 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, 63 percent said they want the government to adhere to the agreements the PNA signed, while the rest believe the agreements are not binding to the upcoming government.

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