Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is in Washington today for his first meeting with President Obama (1), while speculation abounds regarding the substance of their discussions (5) (7) (10) (12) (15). A new Israeli settlement is slated for construction in the Jordan Valley (8). According to Haaretz, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have recently made discreet contacts regarding the resumption of peace negotiations (9). Fatah and Hamas reportedly reach an agreement on the establishment of a joint security force for Gaza (13).

Netanyahu Arrives in Washington for First Meeting With Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Amy Teibel - May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, worried by U.S. overtures to Iran and Syria and under pressure to support a Palestinian state, arrived in Washington yesterday for his first visit with President Obama. The two leaders, set to meet today at the White House, bring divergent policies on how to approach the Middle East conflict. The Obama administration is trying to promote dialogue with Iran and Syria, Israel's arch foes. Israel fears such efforts could lead to tolerance for Iran's nuclear ambitions, which Netanyahu regards as the greatest threat to his country.

On Fiery Birth of Israel, Memories of 2 Sides Speak
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Dina Kraft - May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

In a high-rise apartment with a Mediterranean Sea view, the cameraman checks his frame and the interviewer makes sure the slight, silver-haired man is relaxed enough to tell his story. Then Peleg Tamir, 81, starts recounting his days as a teenage recruit for an underground militia fighting for the Jewish state. Arrested by the ruling British authorities in 1947, he smuggled himself out of a detention center in a suitcase. “Everyone was shocked when I climbed out,” he said.

Endgame diplomacy for Mideast
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Boston Globe
by Sam Bahour, Geoffrey Lewis - May 16, 2009 - 12:00am

PRESIDENT OBAMA has acknowledged that "we can't talk forever" about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "At some point," he said recently, "steps have to be taken so that people can see progress on the ground." This attitude sheds a cautious ray of hope that the United States may be finally considering a policy shift gauged by facts on the ground instead of the number of meetings held to discuss a peace process. This is a wise starting point.

Saving Israel From Itself
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The American Conservative
by John Mearsheimer - (Opinion) May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

The United States and Israel fundamentally disagree about the need to establish a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel. President Obama is committed to a two-state solution, while Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu is opposed and has been for many years. To avoid a direct confrontation with Washington, Netanyahu will probably change his rhetoric and talk favorably about two states. But that will not affect Israel’s actions.

Israel PM 'may back two states'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
May 16, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be prepared to endorse a peace process leading to an independent Palestinian state, his defence minister has said. Ehud Barak, a long-time rival now part of Israel's governing coalition, spoke ahead of Mr Netanyahu's first meeting with US President Obama in Washington. He told Israeli TV a regional deal could be struck within three years. Mr Netanyahu has so far been unwilling to discuss a two-state solution, saying only he wants a "fresh approach".

Palestinian security forces must aspire to serving the state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Mohammed Najib - (Opinion) May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas' military takeover of the Gaza Strip in mid-June 2007 was a significant turning point in the job, role, views and priorities of the Palestinian Authority's security apparatuses in the West Bank. For the first time since their creation in 1994, they found themselves fighting to defend the Palestinian regime from an internal threat.

Obama to Discuss Possible Settlement Freeze and Iran Strategy with Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Joyce Karam - May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to discuss the prospect of an Israeli settlement freeze and ease Israeli concerns on the US strategy towards Iran.

New Jordan Valley settlement to be built
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

A new settlement will be built in the Jordan Valley for the first time in 26 years, Army Radio reported Monday morning. The new construction is set to take place in Maskiot, where 10 families evacuated from the former Gaza settlement of Shirat Hayam now live in trailers. A tender was issued recently to build 20 new residential units, and according to the report, construction was due to commence immediately. An adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the move at Maskiot proved Israel was tightening its hold on the West Bank.

Israel, PA hold secret meetings over renewing peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have launched discreet contacts recently regarding a renewal of negotiations, Haaretz has learned. The meetings come despite the PA's public position to the effect that negotiations will not be resumed until Israel freezes construction in West Bank settlements. President Shimon Peres on Sunday said that Israel is interested in renewing peace talks with the Palestinians immediately. Peres met with Jordan's King Abdullah on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea.

Netanyahu unlikely to back Palestinian state in Obama meet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya, Mazal Mualem, Barak Ravid - May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unlikely to state support for the establishment of a Palestinian state when he meets with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, an aide to the prime minister said. However, in a bid to soften edgy relations with Washington, Netanyahu will propose that joint teams draft a new road map for the Palestinian peace process and a new strategy on Iran.

ANALYSIS / Netanyahu's problem will be the Palestinians, not Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - (Analysis) May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

The impression one gets on the eve of the meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama is that there has never been so much hype before. The media have employed typical hyperbole, describing it as a "clash of the titans" and speaking of a historic turning point in U.S.-Israel ties, and possibly in the Middle East at large.

Mitchell associate: Obama won't rush to press Bibi
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama will not rush to press Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in their upcoming meeting, a close associate of Special Mideast Envoy George Mitchell said Sunday. "No winning strategy begins with a punch in the nose," the source said, adding that Netanyahu can expect a "business-like meeting, highlighting the common" between the two countries. Meanwhile, former Bush Administration official Elliott Abrams estimated that the first minute or two of Monday's meeting may determine the chemistry between both leaders.

Fatah, Hamas agree on joint Gaza force
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Moving closer to reconciliation? Egyptian sources reported Sunday night that Fatah and Hamas were able to reach agreement on the establishment of a joint security force in the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian MENA news agency reported that the groups reached understandings on the formation of the joint force, and that the agreement on the matter as well as on other issues will be signed on July 7th.

Likud ministers ready to resist PA state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Hoffman - May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would not be able to advance the formation of a Palestinian state, due to the wide majority against it in the Likud faction, MKs who oppose a two-state solution said Sunday. They said that unlike the fight against the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, when only 15 MKs out of 40 dared challenge then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, this time around, two-thirds of the Likud faction would defy a potential effort by Netanyahu to withdraw from parts of Judea and Samaria.

Palestinians hope Obama will push for statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority is hoping US President Barack Obama will exert pressure on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at their meeting Monday to accept the two-state solution and halt settlement construction in the West Bank, a PA official in Ramallah said on Sunday. The official said that the Palestinians would not return to the negotiating table as long as Netanyahu remained opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state.

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