Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Following yesterday's meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, President Obama reaffirms the U.S. commitment to Roadmap principles and reiterates his call for an end to Israeli settlements (1) (2) (4) (16). Several articles discuss the increasing importance of a settlement freeze (6) (7) (14). The New York Times reports on the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza (3). Israeli police shut down a Palestinian theater in East Jerusalem hosting an international literature festival (9). More than three-quarters of the U.S. House of Representatives sign an AIPAC backed letter urging "every effort" be made for Arab-Israeli peace, but calling on the US not to pressure Israel (11).

Obama tells Israel to halt expansion
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Boston Globe
May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

President Obama received Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House yesterday with an invaluable welcoming gift: a toughly worded, categorical US demand for Israel to stop expanding settlements in the West Bank. But hours before the two men met, the Israeli government flatly rejected the demand. Spokesman Mark Regev said that "normal life in those communities must be allowed to continue," including some construction.

Obama Calls for Swift Move Toward Mideast Peace Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Helene Cooper - May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

President Obama called on Israelis and Palestinians on Thursday to move swiftly toward peace talks, as his administration embarked on its first public dispute with Israel. Speaking to reporters at the White House after talks with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Obama said that the absence of peace between Israelis and Palestinians was clogging up other critical issues in the Middle East.

Misery Hangs Over Gaza Despite Pledges of Help
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - May 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Dozens of families still live in tents amid collapsed buildings and rusting pipes. With construction materials barred, a few are building mud-brick homes. Everything but food and medicine has to be smuggled through desert tunnels from Egypt. Among the items that people seek is an addictive pain reliever used to fight depression.

Obama Pushes Israel On Settlement Issue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Glenn Kessler - May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

President Obama yesterday continued to press his administration's tough stance on Jewish settlements in the West Bank, telling reporters after a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that Israel must halt all settlement activity to build momentum for peace.

U.S.-Israel rift becomes an unusually public one
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Paul Richter - May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Reporting from Jerusalem and Washington Richard Boudreaux -- President Obama and top Israeli officials staked out sharply opposing positions over the explosive issue of Jewish settlements Thursday, propelling a rare dispute between the two close allies into full public view just days before the U.S. leader is due to deliver a long-awaited address in Egypt to the world's Muslims.

Why a Jewish Settlement Freeze Has Become the Defining Issue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Daoud Kuttab - May 28, 2009 - 12:00am

The demand by the Obama administration for the Israelis to fully and completely freeze all settlement activities has become a point of contention between the US and Israel for a number of reasons.

The Big Question: What are Israeli settlements, and why are they coming under pressure?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Why are we asking this now? Because the US administration appears to be serious about getting Israel to freeze Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank. Previous US administrations said they wanted a freeze but in practice allowed Israel to continue with at least some building. How did the settlements come about?

Obama 'confident' on two-state solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama says he is confident that Israel will recognise that a two-state solution is in the best interests of its security. Speaking after White House talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Mr Obama again urged Israel to freeze settlement expansion. Israel has insisted it will allow existing settlements to expand, despite pressure from Washington. President Obama also said Palestinians must rein in anti-Israeli violence.  

Israeli police shut Palestinian literature festival in East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli police shut down a Palestinian theatre in East Jerusalem on Thursday, forcing foreign writers taking part in an international literature festival to move elsewhere for the second time in a week. The police action was the latest in recent weeks against what Israel sees as attempts by the Palestinian Authority to host political activities in the city, where both sides in the conflict have staked claims to have their national capital.

Obama: ‘time of the essence’ on peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel and the Palestinians don't have "a moment to lose" in pursuing peace, President Barack Obama said, while recognizing political obstacles on both sides. Obama spoke Thursday after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, just over a week after he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

AIPAC-backed letter gets 329 House signatures
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
May 28, 2009 - 12:00am

More than three-quarters of the House of Representatives signed an AIPAC-backed letter to President Obama on Middle East peace. The document, signed by 329 members of Congress, calls for "every effort" to be made to realize an Arab-Israeli peace while laying out certain "basic principles" to achieve it. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) spearheaded the letter since its introduction earlier this month. A similar letter in the U.S. Senate garnered 76 signatures.

Kerry to Al Hayat: Change in Iraq has worked counter to American interests
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Raghida Dergham - May 28, 2009 - 12:00am

The current Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the former presidential candidate Senator John Kerry assured that when President Barack Obama “referred to the Islamic Republic of Iran for a reason—to recognize publicly the legitimacy of the current governance, and to find a way to try to move forward to talk about the issues that are important between us.” He added that this is “the opening to a new security arrangement, and we want to work on it.”

Israeli policy is a disaster in the making
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
May 28, 2009 - 12:00am

It is important that the international community comes to realise the dangers posed by the current Israeli policy towards Palestinians which precludes any prospect of peace. The direction adopted by the Israeli government is actually a disaster in the making that will affect the entire region.

US stand on settlements could bolster Abbas’s hand
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Steven Stanek - May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama was scheduled yesterday to host the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, for a round of talks at the White House, hoping to prop up a much weakened leader the United States views as crucial to implementing the two-state solution. The visit by Mr Abbas comes at a critical time, in the wake of Mr Obama’s sit-down last week with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and as the US president attempts to revitalise a peace process he sees as essential to improving stability in the broader Middle East.

PA official: Abbas expects US pressure to push out Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will not resume negotiations with Israel unless the Netanyahu government agrees to a complete settlement freeze and publicly accepts a two-state solution, Abbas has told The Washington Post in an interview. And since he does not believe Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will lift his opposition on these issues, Abbas and his leadership expect American pressure to gradually force Netanyahu out of office, the paper reported on Friday. "It will take a couple of years," it quoted one of Abbas's officials as saying.

Palestinians laud 'shared vision' with Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Saeb Erekat says Palestinians encouraged by Obama administration's commitment to peace in the Middle East; Chief Palestinian negotiator says Israel's credibility undermined 'over failure to live up to previous obligations'

Hamas vows revenge after leader killed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Erfat Weiss - May 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Senior Hamas commander Abdel Majid Dudin, responsible for series of deadly terror attacks in Israel, killed in West Bank gunfight with police force attempting to arrest him; organization blames PA cooperation with 'Zionist enemy'

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