Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Obama Administration weighs options for increasing the pressure on Israel to agree to a full settlement freeze (1) (2). Jewish settlers attack Palestinian workers in the West Bank (3). The United Nations fact finding team arrives in Gaza to begin its investigation into allegations of war crimes (4). Israeli settlers seek the eviction of dozens of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem (5). In an interview with Raghida Dergham, General David Petraeus insists that resolving the Palestinian-Israeli issue would decrease threats to U.S. troops (7). The Palestinian Authority confronts Hamas in the West Bank (11) (13) (16). In a posting on Ibishblog.com Hussein Ibish argues that ATFP was right to keep focusing on settlements over the past year (6).

U.S. Weighs Tactics on Israeli Settlement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Helene Cooper - May 31, 2009 - 12:00am

As President Obama prepares to head to the Middle East this week, administration officials are debating how to toughen their stance against any expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The measures under discussion — all largely symbolic — include stepping back from America’s near-uniform support for Israel in the United Nations if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel does not agree to a settlement freeze, administration officials said.

Israeli Rejection of Settlement Freeze: Trouble for Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Time
by Tim McGirk - June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

If President Barack Obama thought he could deliver the promise of a few Israeli concessions during his upcoming Cairo speech to the Muslim world, he was sorely mistaken.

Jewish settler attack injures Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Several Palestinian workers have been hurt in an attack by a group of Jewish settlers in the northern West Bank. One worker suffered serious head injuries, as dozens of masked settlers threw rocks at their vehicles. Police say no arrests have been made following the attack near the Palestinian city of Nablus, which is circled by Israeli settlements. Friction and violence is common between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank, captured by Israel in 1967.

Goldstone's UN inquiry team arrives in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

A UN team investigating possible war crimes in Gaza, led by Richard Goldstone, has arrived in the Strip on a week-long fact finding mission. The four-member team entered from Egypt after Israel failed to grant visas, despite repeated requests by the UN. The UN wants to investigate whether Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during Israel's three-week operation in Gaza in December and January. Israel accuses the UN branch carrying out the mission of bias against it.

Settlers seek takeover of East Jerusalem area
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli settlers are waging court battles to evict dozens of Palestinians from homes in an East Jerusalem neighborhood, a move threatening to widen Israel's rift with U.S. President Barack Obama over settlements. They are trying to reclaim plots of land in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood which they say were owned by Jews before Israel's creation in 1948. They have already won property rights to six Arab homes, whose residents were subsequently evicted. Palestinians and an Israeli rights group say settlers are trying to evict a further 27 Arab families from 28 buildings.

ATFP was right to keep focusing on the settlements over the past year
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - (Blog) May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Daniel Byman of Georgetown University points out in Laura’s posting mentioned below, “Over the past 15 years, settlements have gone from being seen in Washington as an irritant, to the dominant issue.” I think this is very well put. The Obama administration is absolutely right to be focusing with crystalline intensity on the question of the settlements. The settlements are a dagger aimed at the heart of peace based on two states, the only plausible option for ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would make the US troops less threatened and remove the arguments of movements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Raghida Dergham - (Interview) June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The Commander of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, told Al-Hayat in an interview that resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is “very central” for his work as commander of US forces in 20 countries, mostly of them in the Muslim world, and that dealing with this conflict, just like closing Guantanamo, would be “a positive step forward” towards making the US troops less threatened. He said: “I think a lot of things would be better if this issue is resolved.

The Difficult Questions Concerning Obama's Middle East Visit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Bilal Hassen - June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The Palestinian catastrophe [Al-Nakbah] anniversary month, May, has come to an end with American President Barack Obama receiving Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, and by the end of this month - which has been a month of meetings and discussions - the American president immediately starts his practical moves to concretize the results of his meetings and consultations. This will be done with two visits: A first visit to Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday 3 June 2009, and a second visit to Egypt, on Thursday 4 June 2009.

A Historic Opportunity for Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Raghida Dergham - May 29, 2009 - 12:00am

When US President Barack Obama gives his awaited speech in Egypt next Thursday on June 4, it will be in his interest to have thoroughly examined the speech given by his predecessor, George W. Bush, on April 4, 2002, which was the most powerful speech given by a US President concerning the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel.

The Middle East peace process may be on the line
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Mkhaimar Abusada - (Opinion) June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the White House, the first such visit since US President Barack Obama came to power, revealed major differences between the two leaders. Most importantly, Netanyahu could not say the magic words, "two states for two peoples." He did concede that both Palestinians and Israelis will have to live and coexist side-by-side, and that he supported self-rule for Palestinians. But he made no mention of a state and thus failed to endorse the cornerstone of Washington's Middle East policy, underscoring a rare rift in United States-Israel relations.

West Bank fight a grim reminder
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The six people who have been killed in a firefight between Hamas fighters and Palestinian policemen is not only the worst clash in the West Bank since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip two years ago. The deaths also served as a grim reminder that it is not just Benjamin Netanyahu who stands in the way of peace. The Palestinians themselves are doing a fairly decent job of hampering their own aspirations.

Egypt rejects U.S. plan for Arab-Israel normalization
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel - June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Egypt has rejected an American proposal for gradual normalization between the Arab world and Israel that would have allowed Israeli planes to fly freely through Arab air space. The idea arose during discussions in Washington last week between Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and senior White House and State Department officials, including National Security Advisor James Jones and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Anti-Hamas crackdown sign of renewed PA confidence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The Hamas leader who was killed in a shootout with Palestinian policemen in Qalqilyah on Sunday had been on the Shin Bet security service's most wanted list for a long time. His terror network is believed to be responsible for the failed attempt to detonate an explosives-laden truck in the Dan region two years ago. It was the Palestinian Authority that finished the job - dealing Hamas in the West Bank a second blow, after last week's killing of another Hamas leader by an Israeli SWAT team near Hebron.

What will happen if Israel 'defeats' Obama?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Editorial) June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

You had to read it twice to believe it: "Criticism of the United States in Jerusalem." A senior Israeli official warns: "We are disappointed." The fly hovering about is complaining that the elephant is not obeying its orders. What chutzpah on the part of Barack Obama. He just entered the White House and already has something to say - about how many new houses we are building in Ofra, and about when we will dismantle the walls in the "illegal outposts," which are already beginning to disintegrate because of old age.

Halutz: Conflict with US must be avoided
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Daniel Edelson - May 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Former IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. (res) Dan Halutz, warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against engaging in a diplomatic conflict with the United States. He also reminded Netanyahu that despite criticisms regarding the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah has not attacked Israel since it ended.

Abbas vows to crack down on Hamas violence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - May 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said following clashes between Fatah and Hamas in the West Bank Sunday that the Palestinian Authority would "strike with an iron fist" against anyone attempting to harm Palestinian interests. A Palestinian Authority (PA) official said that Sunday's fierce clashes in Qalqilya, which left six people dead, were part of the Authority's efforts to curb Hamas' increased activity in the West Bank, which includes resuming the activity of its military cells and obtaining arms and explosives.

PM won't freeze settlement construction for natural growth, 'Post' learns
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - June 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel will not freeze settlement construction for natural growth, despite intense pressure from the Obama administration to do so, The Jerusalem Post has learned. While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has indicated that he will remove illegal settlement outposts, he is determined, the Post has learned, to continue building for natural growth in settlements beyond the security barrier. In Netanyahu's view, it is further understood that there is no reason housing units cannot be built inside the major settlement blocs for people who want to move there, as well as for natural growth.

44% of outpost land is Palestinian-owned, Peace Now says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Dan Izenberg, Tovah Lazaroff - May 31, 2009 - 12:00am

Peace Now on Sunday said that 44 percent of the land - 7,000 out of 16,000 dunams - on which 100 unauthorized West Bank outposts sit, is under private Palestinian ownership. Overall, it said, 80 of the outposts make some use of some private Palestinian land. In 37 cases, she added, more than 50% of the outpost makes use of Palestinian land. Another 17, she said, are totally built on Palestinian land.

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