Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Israeli army announces plans to limit incursions into four West Bank cities in recognition of major improvements in Palestinian security force capabilities (1). The Arab League embraces President Obama’s vision for Middle East Peace (3). Former Bush administration official Elliott Abrams claims that there was a US-Israeli “understanding” allowing for settlement construction when Ariel Sharon was Israel’s Prime Minister, although Secretary of State Clinton has stated categorically that there is no record of any such agreement (5). Several articles assess the impact of continuing tensions over Israel's unfulfilled Roadmap commitment to a settlement freeze (6) (7) (11) (12). The National examines the most recent rift between Fatah and Hamas (10).

Israel army to curtail operations in four West Bank cities
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Adam Entous - June 25, 2009 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said on Thursday it would curtail its military activities in four West Bank cities to help a U.S.-backed move to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The announcement, that will give Palestinian security forces a free hand to operate in the cities, coincided with efforts by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ease tensions with U.S. President Barack Obama over stalled peacemaking with the Palestinians.

Israeli settlements vs.Tuscan towers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from United Press International (UPI)
June 25, 2009 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM, June 25 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says constructing towers like those in a Tuscan village would solve the natural growth needs in West Bank settlements. A reporter from the Maariv newspaper who accompanied Netanyahu on his European trip, said Thursday Netanyahu revealed his vision to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, citing the Tuscan village of San Geminano as an example. The report said Berlusconi told Netanyahu the towers in the village are empty, to which Netanyahu retorted, "With us they will be full."

Obama opened "window of hope" says Arab League
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by Cynthia Johnston - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Arab League said on Wednesday it saw a "window of hope" for Middle East peace and Arab states would respond positively to U.S. President Barack Obama's vision for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. But the league likened negotiating with Israel while settlements were continuing to expand as tantamount to surrendering on "matters over which we cannot surrender."

The Price of Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Common Ground News Service
by Carlo Strenger - (Analysis) June 18, 2009 - 12:00am

TEL AVIV - Israel has very real reasons to be afraid. But the Netanyahu-Lieberman politics of fear that is supposed to justify occupation of the West Bank has catastrophic consequences, and the world no longer wants to listen to the cries, “The wolf, the wolf.” Here is how the dynamics works:

Hillary Is Wrong About the Settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Elliott Abrams - June 25, 2009 - 12:00am

Despite fervent denials by Obama administration officials, there were indeed agreements between Israel and the United States regarding the growth of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. As the Obama administration has made the settlements issue a major bone of contention between Israel and the U.S., it is necessary that we review the recent history.

Some Jewish settlers turning against Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Dina Kraft - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

YITZHAR, West Bank (JTA) -- The Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in this Jewish settlement looks more like a well-fortified auto repair shop than a house of learning. Located in an industrial neighborhood, the yeshiva has a drab aluminum exterior and tin roof, and it’s surrounded by a metal gate. A small guard house sits out front, and teenage boys wearing oversized, thick-knit kipot walk in and out of the gate and past a lonely basketball hoop. Appearances notwithstanding, these students and their teachers have become the face of radical Jewish nationalism in Israel.

Why Defining ‘Natural Growth’ Is So Confusing, On Purpose
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Jeffay - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Givat Ha’eytam, West Bank — Givat Ha’eytam, a lonely hill in the Israeli occupied West Bank, seems like anything but a natural part of the bustling 8,000-person Jewish settlement of Efrat. Indeed, the stony outcrop, with its view of Efrat’s buildings in the distance, soon will be cut off from that settlement by the separation barrier Israel is building across the length of the West Bank, ostensibly to protect Israelis from Palestinian terrorism.

Landmark Fatah leadership conference set for 4 August in Bethlehem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 25, 2009 - 12:00am

Ramallah – Ma’an - After 37 rounds of talks Fatah leaders pegged 4 August as the date for the sixth Revolutionary Council meeting to be held in Bethlehem. It will be the first Fatah leadership meeting in twenty years. The decision was made at the government headquarters in Ramallah on Wednesday, in a two-day long meeting that set out the final details for the conference. There will be 1,550 active Fatah members attending the conference, and organizers asked Palestinian President and Fatah’s leader Mahmoud Abbas to ensure that members from abroad were included in the conference.

Netanyahu's demand on Israel's 'Jewishness' is arbitrary
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Abraham Yehoshua - (Opinion) June 25, 2009 - 12:00am

Ever since the 1967 Middle East war, a small number of Israelis, not all on the left, supported the idea of two states as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most of their compatriots rejected it, as did the Palestinians. Israelis justified their stance with this question: Just when did the Palestinians become a nation deserving of statehood? The Palestinians were asking in return: Why should the Jews, a religious community dispersed around the world, have their own state?

Palestinian groups round up rivals
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - June 25, 2009 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK // On June 14, Fatah and Hamas, the estranged main Palestinian factions, seemingly moved a step closer to reconciliation when representatives met in Ramallah and Gaza City and agreed to begin releasing prisoners held by both sides. But 10 days later, with a security sweep in the West Bank that netted more than 100 Hamas members, and the closing of a Gaza newspaper and the arrest of its editor, the rivals appear instead to have taken two strides backward.

Netanyahu - a slow learner
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Paul Woodward - June 25, 2009 - 12:00am

During his historic speech in Cairo earlier this month, the US president Barack Obama said: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop." On Tuesday, The Guardian reported: "Israel's defence ministry has proposed legalising 60 existing homes at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, and building another 240 homes at the site, despite US calls for a halt to settlement growth.

PM takes heat in Paris for settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continued to refuse to yield ground on the settlement construction issue Wednesday, even though French President Nicolas Sarkozy squarely backed the US position and called for a complete halt to the construction. Netanyahu, speaking with reporters after his meeting in Paris with Sarkozy, said that Israel and the US had an "unbreakable bond," but that "there can be differences of opinion between friends."

Israeli and Palestinian youth 'imagine' a peaceful region
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Stephanie Rubenstein - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

"If peace were made in 2008, what would the region look like 10 years later?" That was the question posed to Israeli and Palestinian youngsters by One Voice, a grassroots organization that aims to promote the voices of moderate Israelis and Palestinians who are working toward a two-state solution.

Aharon Barak: Jews want equality, and to kick Arabs out
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Daniel Edelson - June 25, 2009 - 12:00am

Speaking at a New Israel Fund legal conference at the Rabin Center in Tel Aviv, former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak said, "The situation of human rights in the occupied territories is problematic, and this situation has an indirect effect on human rights in Israel." Barak, who said he is a "big believer in a state of all its citizens", while maintaining its Jewish character, criticized the general Jewish public.

What have we gained?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Hadas Ziv - June 24, 2009 - 12:00am

The blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip has been in place for two years, and who can even remember its aims by now? How did Palestinian civilians become the target of Israel's defense establishment?

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