Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The New York Times reports that Israel may be willing to accept a temporary halt to settlement activity as part of a broader Mideast peace endeavor (1), as tension continues to build over the proposed freeze (7) (8). The Los Angeles Times features a backgrounder on Israeli settlements in the West Bank (3). The U.N. fact-finding commission begins its hearing on allegations of war crimes during the Gaza war (4). The International Red Cross issues a report saying that the 1.5 million residents of Gaza are "trapped in despair" in their current conditions, especially children (9). Israel approves construction of 50 new homes in an existing West Bank settlement to absorb the evacuees of the Migron outpost (13) (14) (17). Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak heads to Washington to meet with Mideast envoy George Mitchell in a bid to resolve the settlements dispute (15) (18).

Israel May Shift on Settlements Freeze Amid Broader Effort
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - June 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel would be open to a complete freeze of settlement building in the West Bank for three to six months as part of a broad Middle East peace endeavor that included a Palestinian agreement to negotiate an end to the conflict and confidence-building steps by major Arab nations, senior Israeli officials said Sunday. The officials spoke before a planned meeting in Washington on Tuesday between Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, and George J. Mitchell, the Obama administration’s Middle East envoy, and said this was the message Mr. Barak would take with him.

Unlikely Ally for Residents of West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Ethan Bronner - June 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Ezra Nawi was in his element. Behind the wheel of his well-worn jeep one recent Saturday morning, working two cellphones in Arabic as he bounded through the terraced hills and hardscrabble villages near Hebron, he was greeted warmly by Palestinians near and far. Watching him call for an ambulance for a resident and check on the progress of a Palestinian school being built without an Israeli permit, you might have thought him a clan chief. Then noticing the two Israeli Army jeeps trailing him, you might have pegged him as an Israeli occupation official handling Palestinian matters.

A guide to Israeli settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Gershom Gorenberg - (Opinion) June 28, 2009 - 12:00am

In Cairo this month, President Obama urged Israel to stop settlement construction in the occupied territories. "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," he said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his own policy speech soon after, ardently defended the communities and the people who live in them. "The settlers are neither the enemies of the people nor the enemies of peace. Rather, they are an integral part of our people." So what's all the fuss? We present a guide for the perplexed. For starters, what's a settlement?

U.N. fact-finding commission faces skepticism in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Reporting from The Gaza Strip -- A novel approach toward injecting international justice into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict got underway Sunday in this embattled enclave, but it left neither side particularly satisfied. Borrowing from the South African reconciliation experience, a United Nations fact-finding commission opened what it said was the first-of-its-kind public hearing to gather witness testimony about alleged war crimes during Israel's 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip in winter.

Netanyahu's Settlement Smoke Screens
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Gershom Gorenberg - (Opinion) June 27, 2009 - 12:00am

It has become a fixed feature in the Israeli media, almost like the weather forecast. Nearly every day come reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government is on the verge of a deal with President Obama to avoid a full freeze on construction in West Bank settlements. The sources are normally Israeli government officials, with an occasional American source speaking very far off the record.

End the Spat With Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jackson Diehl - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

The upheaval in Iran offers the Obama administration a host of fresh foreign policy opportunities. Not the least of them is a chance to creep away from the corner into which it has painted itself in the Arab-Israeli peace process.

What a Freeze Can't Do
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by David Ignatius - June 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, seemed perplexed during his visit to Washington this month: At a time when America and Israel agreed on all the big issues -- from Iran and North Korea to Afghanistan and Pakistan -- how could the little issue of Israeli settlements on the West Bank get in the way?

Israel's settlements are on shaky ground
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Sarah Leah Whitson - June 28, 2009 - 12:00am

The debate over Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories is often framed in terms of whether they should be "frozen" or allowed to grow "naturally." But that is akin to asking whether a thief should be allowed merely to keep his ill-gotten gains or steal some more. It misses the most fundamental point: Under international law, all settlements on occupied territory are unlawful. And there is only one remedy: Israel should dismantle them, relocate the settlers within its recognized 1967 borders and compensate Palestinians for the losses the settlements have caused.

Gaza residents 'live in despair'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Aleem Maqbool - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

In a report, it said that a main cause was the continuing Israeli blockade. The report comes six months after the end of Israel's military offensive in Gaza in which at least 1,100 Palestinians died. Israel said the offensive was aimed at curbing rocket attacks into southern Israel by Palestinian militants. The Red Cross says that the people of Gaza are unable to rebuild their lives and are sliding ever deeper into despair. There is not the cement or steel to reconstruct neighbourhoods hit by Israeli strikes.

US-trained Palestinian force is keen for action
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Karin Laub - June 28, 2009 - 12:00am

In the live-fire exercise, everything was carefully choreographed — Palestinian commandos, faces blackened, stormed a hide-out in an abandoned building, "wounded" one gunman and "arrested" a second. But is this corps, American-trained and steadily growing, ready for the real thing? President Barack Obama's hopes for a Middle East peace breakthrough may rest heavily on that question.

Report: Most West Bank wastewater untreated
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
June 28, 2009 - 12:00am

The wastewater of 2 million of the 2.8 million people living in Jerusalem and the West Bank is not treated, according to a new report. The human rights group B'Tselem on Sunday released its report "Foul Play: Neglect of Wastewater Treatment in the West Bank." While the organization laid much of the blame on Israel, it said the Palestinians also were at fault. The report said the failure to treat the Israeli and Palestinian wastewater could result in the permanent contamination of the mountain aquifer, a main source of water for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel alone cannot block peace progress
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Opinion) June 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, is attempting to drum up support for his peace plan. He claimed that Europe had responded favourably to his conditions for a peaceable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, a refusal to resettle Palestinian refugees within Israel proper and that any future Palestinian state would be denied the right to an army or control over its borders and airspace.

Israel to build 50 West Bank homes for outpost evacuees
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Tomer Zarchin - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel will build 50 new homes in an existing West Bank settlement as part of a wider plan to absorb residents slated to be evicted from the illegal outpost of Migron. The complete plan calls for the construction of 1,450 homes in the settlement of Adam. The State Prosecutor's Office informed the High Court on Friday that 190 housing units will be built in the settlement of Adam in the first stage, in accordance with the plan, which was approved by the Defense Ministry in May.

State approves construction of 50 new housing units in Adam
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by SHALHEVET ZOHAR - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Hours before Defense Minister Ehud Barak leaves for the United States, the Defense Ministry on Monday notified the High Court that in accordance with a 1996 government master plan for the construction of 1,450 housing units in a new neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Adam, the ministry has at this stage approved only 190 units, of which 50 have received final approval. These 50 units are intended to house the settlers expected to be evacuated from the unauthorized Migron outpost, near Ramallah.

Barak heads to U.S. in bid to end settlements row
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak was set to head to the United States Monday in a bid to end a quarrel with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration over Israel's refusal to completely halt West Bank settlement construction. Barak is expected to propose two potential compromises on the matter: Either a temporary complete settlement freeze, or the limiting of building in settlement blocs to high-rise construction only.

After U.S. pressure, Barkat to halt 70% of East Jerusalem demolitions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nir Hasson - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is set to announce a plan to freeze demolition orders on around 70 percent of unauthorized construction in the east of the city, Haaretz has learned. The municipality would also negotiate compensation terms with families evicted from the remaining 30 percent. The plan represents a departure from earlier statements, in which Barkat spoke out against illegal construction by Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

Palestinians: Migron decision destroys chances for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority is livid with Israel's decision to build 50 new housing units in the West Bank settlement of Adam. The new units are intended to house the current residents of the illegal outpost of Migron, who will need to be relocated when the outpost is evacuated.

Final preparations head of Barak-Mitchell meeting
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

"The settlements will not be an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians." That is the message Defense Minister Ehud Barak will be carrying with him on his upcoming trip to meet with special US envoy George Mitchell. Barak is being dispatched in an attempt to dissipate the tensions between the White House and Jerusalem, and to allow the renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians. Until now Israel has not given any sign to suggest it intends to acquiesce to the international demand that all construction in the West Bank be frozen, including within existing settlements.

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