Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Middle East Progress discusses the issue of Jerusalem with former Canadian Ambassador Michael Bell (1). A Paris meeting between Mideast Envoy George Mitchell and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is cancelled, as tensions continue over a settlement freeze (3) (4) (16). The Associated Press finds that more than a third of “natural” growth in existing settlements is due to Israelis migrating into the West Bank (5). Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s recent speech draws a strong reaction from within the Palestinian government (6). Russia announces that it will try to hold a Mideast Peace conference before the end of the year (9). The Israeli military removes several roadblocks in the West Bank (13).

Solving the Problem of the Old City
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Middle East Progress
by Michael Bell - (Blog) June 23, 2009 - 12:00am

Why is the issue of Jerusalem so central to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian and the broader Arab-Israeli conflict?

Netanyahu Believes Obama Has Already Backed Down On Settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Talking Points Memo
by M.J. Rosenberg - (Opinion) June 23, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu believes that President Obama has already blinked. The way he sees it, Obama made his demand to stop settlements in Cairo. He, Netanyahu, responded with a firm "no" -- but by uttering the phrase "two states" changed the subject suficiently to get Obama off his back. He also thinks the Iran crisis has diverted Obama's focus away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and saved him from further pressure.

US-Israel talks in Paris aborted
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

A meeting between Israel's prime minister and a senior US envoy has been cancelled amid growing differences over settlement building in the West Bank. Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot said the US put off the meeting in response to Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to heed US demands to halt settlement activity. But Mr Netanyahu's aides say it was the prime minister who cancelled Thursday's meeting with George Mitchell in Paris. They said "more professional work" was needed, without adding further details.

Netanyahu delays U.S. talks due to settlement debate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

An Israeli official said Wednesday that the government had postponed a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Washington's top Mideast envoy George Mitchell because it wanted more time to iron out differences over West Bank settlements. The meeting with Mitchell was to have taken place in Paris where Netanyahu is visiting. Netanyahu aides said Defense Minister Ehud Barak would instead meet Mitchell next week in Washington. A senior official traveling with Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel sought more professional work before the meeting.

Migrants boost Jewish settler numbers in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Israelis moving to the West Bank accounted for more than a third of settler population growth in recent years, government statistics show, undercutting Israel's argument that it is continuing settlement construction only to accommodate growing families already living there. The so-called "natural growth" rationale for building on land the Palestinians claim for a future state has vaulted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into an unusually vocal and public clash with the Obama administration, which has come out strong against continued settlement expansion.

Fayyad irks Abbas allies with statehood speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ali Sawafta - June 23, 2009 - 12:00am

Critics accused Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Tuesday of exceeding his mandate and challenging President Mahmoud Abbas by declaring a goal of statehood within two years. Fayyad, a former IMF economist, is far from popular with many in the Fatah party, the dominant faction of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) which, led by Abbas, is the strongest political force in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel sees "hard work" settling dispute with Obama
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Allyn Fisher-Ilan - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Bridging gaps between Israel and the United States over settlement growth in the occupied West Bank will require hard work, a senior Israeli official said on Wednesday, playing down prospects for a swift breakthrough. U.S. President Barack Obama wants Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare a total settlement freeze. Netanyahu wants to build further within existing blocs to accommodate what he calls "natural growth" in settler families.

Israeli shackling of detainees 'torture'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli security forces' shackling of Palestinian prisoners is frequently cruel and humiliating and in a number of instances constitutes "torture," a rights group said Wednesday. The army and the internal security forces "shackle detainees in painful and humiliating manners that, in a number of instances, rise to the level of torture," the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) said. The group published its findings in a report based on 547 cases of arrests and dozens of interrogations conducted over the past year.

Russia set to hold Middle East peace summit this year
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
June 23, 2009 - 12:00am

Russia's president on Tuesday said that Moscow aimed to hold a Middle East peace conference before the end of 2009 - a move backed by Egypt. Russia, which has proposed such a conference in the past, is a member of the Quartet of Middle East negotiators, along with the European Union, the United States and the United Nations. "We paid special attention to Middle East issues. We highly appreciate efforts by the Egyptian president to create an atmosphere of trust and cooperation in the region," Dmitry Medvedev said after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

On a mission to 'reclaim' Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
by Jacky Rowland - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Arye King is an Israeli settler on a self-appointed mission from God: to extend Jewish ownership over the whole of Jerusalem. Armed only with a crash helmet and a list of properties which, he says, belong to Jewish owners, he travels by motor scooter around the Jerusalem area, posting eviction orders against Palestinians who believe they are living lawfully in the disputed homes. On the day we join him, his mission takes him to Beit Zafafa, a Palestinian neighbourhood in the south of the city.

If anyone can handle Bibi’s curveball, it’s Mitchell
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Patrick Granfield - (Opinion) June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

When George Mitchell, the US president Barack Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, sits down with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of a summit in Paris tomorrow, there will be little fanfare – and that may suit Mr Mitchell. He has a reputation for being hard-nosed, but also for humility. He is discreet, understated and rarely departs from his boss’s game plan – virtues that a generation ago in America would have been associated with a “baseball man”.

PM: J'lem, US working on settlement deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel and the US are continuing to negotiate the parameters of a settlement construction freeze, diplomatic officials said Tuesday, soon after it was announced that a scheduled meeting Thursday in Paris between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Middle East envoy George Mitchell to discuss the matter had been postponed.

Israel removes dozens of West Bank roadblocks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Recent weeks have seen a dramatic change in Israel's roadblock policy in the West Bank. Right under the nose of the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israel Defense Forces has lifted some of the main, permanent roadblocks in the West Bank, which have played a central role in restricting the movement of Palestinians, mostly between the main Palestinian cities.

Israel mulls temporary freeze on settlement construction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel is considering enacting a temporary freeze on settlement construction, excluding projects already underway, if the United States agrees to continued construction for natural growth once the freeze ends, an Israeli government source has told Haaretz. U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell has been conducting low-profile talks with Israel in a bid to reach an agreement on the settlement issue, the government official said.

Egypt Intensifying Pressure For Lull
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Egypt is leading an unprecedented effort to bring about an agreement on a lull and a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas and the other Palestinian factions, London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Wednesday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' scheduled visit to Cairo on Wednesday, and a visit to Israel by Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman's assistant, General Muhammad Ibrahim, were said to be part of this effort.

Mitchell calls off meeting with Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

The dispute between Jerusalem and Washington over the settlement issue continues in full force: Special US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell has called off a meeting scheduled for Thursday in Paris with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the backdrop of the ongoing dispute over West Bank settlements. Defense Minister Ehud Barak is expected to leave for Washington for an unplanned meeting with Mitchell on Monday in order to mediate. The Prime Minister's Office. however, clarified Wednesday morning that Israel was the one to cancel the meeting.

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