Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' recent appointment of a new cabinet in the West Bank elicits speculation on the widening gap between Palestinian political factions (1) (3) (11) (12). Israel removes a West Bank settler outpost in a gesture to President Obama (5), while the Administration continues to insist on a full halt to all settlement activity (4) (14). Senior members of Prime Minister Netanyahu's staff dismiss mounting international calls for peace based on two states (16). An op-ed by a Palestinian resident of the West Bank town of Hebron describes the severe restrictions on movement in the area (17).

Palestinians Try to Prune Branches of Core Party
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - (Analysis) May 20, 2009 - 12:00am

There is the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council, the Old Guard and the Young Guard. There are the insiders, the outsiders, the cell leaders, branch chiefs and district heads. And there is the Office of Mobilization and Discipline, also known as the Office of Indoctrination. Fatah, the core of the Palestinian national movement for five decades, has the organizational transparency of a Soviet republic and was long run like one by its founder, Yasir Arafat. Talk of reform arose after his death five years ago and again when Hamas defeated it in legislative elections in 2006.

Keeping Score on Obama vs. Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Helene Cooper, Mark Landler - (Analysis) May 20, 2009 - 12:00am

After the much anticipated White House meeting on Monday between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, one question being asked in diplomatic circles is this: Did Mr. Obama give up more than he got? The meeting between the two, their first as leaders, was mainly an exercise in breaking the ice. But at the early stages of a relationship between the nations’ leaders that is likely to be more strained than it was during the Bush years, their dealings are being analyzed for signs of who has the upper hand.

Vote Fatah (or Hamas)
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Khalil Shikaki - (Opinion) May 20, 2009 - 12:00am

THE performance of the Palestinian Authority during the past 17 months has been impressive. It has managed against the odds to restore order in the West Bank to a degree not seen in many years. And it has confronted and disarmed nationalist and Islamist groups. Corruption is also not as rampant as it was a few years ago.

Obama demands that Israel stop settlements. But how feasible is that?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - May 21, 2009 - 12:00am

This week, US President Barack Obama conveyed a clear message to his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu: the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank must stop. On Thursday, Israeli police evacuated an unauthorized settlement outpost of Maoz Esther, but Israeli peace activists said the move was a public relations stunt, since no settlers live there on a permanent basis.

Israel removes West Bank settler outpost
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Baz Ratner - May 21, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli police broke up an unauthorized settler outpost in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, bulldozing makeshift cabins, police said. About 40 members of paramilitary border police evacuated five settler families from a hilltop camp called Maoz Esther where they were living in wooden huts with sheet metal roofs. The camp was about 300 meters from the Jewish settlement of Kokhav Hashahar, northeast of the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Obama and the Israeli Rejection
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Randa Takieddine - (Opinion) May 20, 2009 - 12:00am

The talks between US President Barack Obama and his guest, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, clearly show the deep difference in their stances on the Palestinians and Iran; this difference will continue to dominate the relationship between the White House and the current Israeli government.

Clock ticking on peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Francis Matthew - (Opinion) May 20, 2009 - 12:00am

The leaders of the Arab world have become very clear in the past few months that there is a deadline for the Arab peace initiative, and they are not willing to let Israel continue stalling them for decades without any consequence as it refuses to withdraw from the West Bank, continues to expropriate land, and expands its colonies.

Determined Obama is key to resolution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) May 20, 2009 - 12:00am

The Arab world was generally anxious that President Barack Obama would retreat from his view, reiterated recently by several of his key officials, that a Palestinian-Israel settlement merits top and immediate attention, especially from Israel. But the fact that he did not in his talks last Monday with the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and had actually stressed the need for several more positive steps, was generally well-received in the Arab world.

The most effective stick to use with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - (Opinion) May 21, 2009 - 12:00am

The most interesting thing about Monday’s allegedly momentous meeting between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu is that the two men agreed on nothing. Obama gave precedence to fruitful negotiations for a Palestinian-Israeli deal while Netanyahu continued to insist that the threat posed by Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons should be given priority. Obama insisted on early Palestinian-Israeli negotiations without conditions, Netanyahu reiterated his demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state before talks could resume.

Arabs willing to give Obama a chance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Steven Stanek - May 20, 2009 - 12:00am

About half of the Arabs in six countries said in a recent poll they have a favourable view of Barack Obama and were hopeful about US foreign policy. Analysts emphasised, however, that the mood could quickly change based on how the US president deals with a number of upcoming foreign policy challenges in the region, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Rift deepens between Palestinian factions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - May 21, 2009 - 12:00am

The swearing-in of a new, extended cabinet by Mahmoud Abbas is a “deliberate attempt” to undermine ongoing unity talks in Cairo, Hamas said yesterday. Mr Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, swore in the cabinet on Tuesday evening. The new government, which in effect will rule only over the parts of the occupied West Bank not under direct Israeli control, is headed by Salam Fayyad, who also led the previous Palestinian administration.

Mr Abbas and a dangerous gambit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) May 20, 2009 - 12:00am

The reappointment of Salam Fayyad, a respected independent, as the Palestinian prime minister should have been a welcome development. The PLO desperately needs a leader aloof from the cronyism and factional strife that define Palestinian politics. Unfortunately that is not the case. If anything, Mr Fayyad risks becoming a victim of naked partisanship.

Israeli Arabs blast plan for PA to cede Temple Mount sovereignty
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn, Avi Issacharoff, Jack Khoury, Barak Ravid - May 21, 2009 - 12:00am

The northern branch of the Islamic Movement blasted Thursday a proposal for the Palestinian Authority to relinquish sovereignty over the Temple Mount in exchange for international Islamic control of the site. "The proposal to transfer sovereignty to a third state stems from the attempted to internationalize the Al Aqsa Mosque, and actually this is a proposal whose significance is the continuation of the occupation; therefore, such a proposal must be aggressively rejected," the Israeli Arab group said in a statement.

Clinton calls on Israel to halt 'any kind' of settlement activity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - May 21, 2009 - 12:00am

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a hard line against settlement construction in the territories Wednesday, including a call to freeze building for natural growth. Her statement came in contrast to the general terms U.S. President Barack Obama expressed about the issue to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the week. "We want to see a stop to settlement construction - additions, natural growth, any kind of settlement activity - that is what the president has called for," Clinton said in an interview with Al-Jazeera.

A friend of Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) May 21, 2009 - 12:00am

It's already clear: the U.S. president is a great friend of Israel. If Barack Obama continues what he started this week, he might prove to be the friendliest president to Israel ever. Richard Nixon saved Israel from the Arab states in 1973, and Obama is about to save Israel from itself. Nixon sent us arms and ammunition at a critical time, and Obama is sending us, at a time no less critical, the substance of a complete peace plan, a plan that would save Israel.

"Fixation on two-state solution is childish"
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - May 21, 2009 - 12:00am

"This idea of two states for two peoples is a stupid and childish solution to a very complex problem," senior members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu staff said on Wednesday as the entourage made its way back to Israel from Washington. They were determined to emphasize that Israel would continue to build in the larger settlement blocs and Jerusalem despite US President Barack Obama's resolute opposition.

Don't do us any favors
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Issa Amro - (Opinion) May 20, 2009 - 12:00am

I am unfamiliar with any location in Israel or in the occupied territories where a Jew cannot travel to his own home in his car. Yet for us, the Palestinians in Hebron, this is the norm. Since 2001, the main street in Hebron's Wadi Hassan, which you refer to as the Zion Route, has been closed off to the movement of Palestinian vehicles. The street is only open to Israelis, even though all its residents are Palestinian. Not even one Jew resides on this street.

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