Middle East News: World Press Roundup

An op-ed in the Washington Post looks at how private American support is central to Israeli settlement activity (1). The U.S. rejects criticism from Hamas on the pace of the peace process (4). The BBC looks at how industry in Gaza continues to struggle, six months after the war (6). Foreign Ministers from the G8 back international calls for a full Israeli settlement freeze (7), as the Quartet prepares to make a similar statement today (9) . Israeli officials play down reports that they are close to reaching an agreement with Hamas on the release of Gilad Shalit (8).





Want to Stop Israeli Settlements? Start With Americans
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Ronit Avni - (Opinion) June 24, 2009 - 11:00pm


This month, both at Cairo University and from the Oval Office, President Obama has called on the Israeli government to stop the expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. He should send the same message to the Americans who are funding and fueling them.


Will Obama Buckle?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Israel Policy Forum
by M.J. Rosenberg - June 25, 2009 - 11:00pm


There is considerable discussion in Washington about whether President Obama is maintaining or easing the pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu. There is no real evidence pointing to the latter other than the silence from the administration on the just-announced plan to expand the Talmon settlement by some 300 units, a provocation and a test of Obama's resolve. Beyond that is the general fear that the Israeli government has invariably won these battles with previous administrations and the feeling that Obama will, like his predecessors, blink as the lobby quietly (or loudly) pushes back.


Americans' Unfettered Support for Israel Is Beginning to Erode -- And That May Help the Peace Process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
(Analysis) June 25, 2009 - 11:00pm


The Israel Project hired pollster Stanley Greenberg to test American opinion on the Middle East conflict -- and got a big surprise. In September 2008, 69% of Americans called themselves pro-Israel. Now, it's only 49%. In September, the same 69% wanted the U.S. to side with Israel; now, only 44%.


U.S. Rejects Hamas Criticism Middle East Peace Process Too Slow
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bloomberg
by Paul Tighe - June 25, 2009 - 11:00pm


June 26 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. rejected criticism by the leader of the Palestinian Hamas group that the Middle East peace process is too slow, saying it is trying to bring all parties back to talks. “We’re encouraging all parties to take steps that will lead to a positive context, that will lead to renewed negotiations,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said at a briefing in Washington.


Israel in plan to expand West Bank settlement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Vita Bekker - June 23, 2009 - 11:00pm


Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, has approved a plan to construct hundreds of new homes in an unauthorised outpost in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, an Israeli rights group said on Tuesday in a report that appeared to defy Washington’s calls for a freeze on settlement growth.


Gaza industries struggle to rebuild
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Heather Sharp - June 25, 2009 - 11:00pm


One of the building's corners stands on a precariously buckled concrete pillar. But the small assembly line swishes on in the middle of the vast room, spitting out blue-wrapped ice lollies. Al-Wadiya group, Gaza's largest food manufacturer, suffered extensive damage during Israel's 22-day military operation in January. But six months later, recycled scrap metal covers a gaping hole, and the factory is making ice-cream again. Just. Before the conflict, Chairman Yaser al-Wadiya employed 276 people to make 127 food products. Now 45 employees produce only four items.


G8 calls for Israeli settlement freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
June 25, 2009 - 11:00pm


The Group of Eight (G8) powers called for a freeze in Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and urged all parties to "re-enter direct negotiations on all standing issues consistent with the Road Map," according to a final draft statement seen by Reuters on Friday. The G8 foreign ministers, who are meeting in Trieste, Italy, also deplored the post-electoral violence in Iran.


Israel plays down reports of imminent Gaza deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Adam Entous, Alastair MacDonald - June 25, 2009 - 11:00pm


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli officials played down reports on Friday that a deal was close with Hamas that would include the release of an Israeli soldier held captive in the Gaza Strip in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Israeli and Palestinian political sources and Western diplomats confirmed, however, that Egyptian mediators were still working on a package of measures that could combine exchanges of prisoners, ceasefire agreements, an easing of Israel's blockade on Gaza and rapprochement between rival Palestinian factions.


Quartet to urge Israel to freeze all settlement activity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
June 25, 2009 - 11:00pm


TRIESTE, Italy (Reuters) - The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators will urge Israel on Friday to freeze all settlement activity, including "natural growth," a European diplomat said. The Quartet, which includes the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia, will make the call in a statement after its first formal meeting since U.S. President Barack Obama took office in January.


Israel gives Abbas forces freer hand in West Bank cities
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Adam Entous - June 24, 2009 - 11:00pm


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel agreed on Thursday to give Palestinian security forces a freer hand to operate in four West Bank cities and to limit its own military activities there in a U.S.-backed move to bolster President Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinian officials said the changes were inadequate because the Israeli army still reserved the right to re-enter the cities of Qalqilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho to counter what it called any "urgent" threats by militants.


Hamas leader rejects "freak" Israel offer of state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Khaled Yacoub Oweis - June 24, 2009 - 11:00pm


DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal denounced on Thursday an Israeli offer of a demilitarized Palestinian state as a "big prison" and said only armed struggle could restore Palestinian rights. In a speech this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported the U.S. goal of a Palestinian state but said it should be demilitarized and the Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish nation.


Aharon Barak: W. Bank is occupied territory
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Dan Izenberg - June 24, 2009 - 11:00pm


Former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak stated repeatedly during a keynote address on Thursday that the West Bank was occupied territory and that he hoped a poliltical solution would be reached to solve the problems connected with the occupation. He also indicated that the human rights situation among Palestinians in the West Bank was very grave and that Israeli Jews were not seriously addressing the problems of discrimination in Israel against Israeli Arabs.


Palestinian peace in our time?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - June 25, 2009 - 11:00pm


It's been two years since Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip, and it seems as if the breach between Gaza and the West Bank - or between what has been dubbed "Fatahland" and "Hamastan" - has never been wider. More than 700 Hamas members are imprisoned in Palestinian Authority jails in the West Bank, whereas several hundred Fatah loyalists are kept in Hamas' detention facilities in Gaza. In June 2007, as Hamas launched its takeover of Gaza, clashes between the two organizations claimed the lives of 158 Palestinians, mostly Fatah members.





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