Middle East News: World Press Roundup

A report by Human Rights Watch criticizes Israeli drone strikes carried out during the Gaza war (1). Several articles assess the issues involved in a potential Israeli settlement freeze (2) (3) (7) (12). Mohammad Yaghi looks at the financial crisis within the Palestinian Authority (5). The Palestinian Authority reports that Hamas had allegedly planned attacks on PA officials in the West Bank(9) (16). Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is set to begin talks with Special Mideast envoy George Mitchell in New York today (10) (15). A poll released today shows support for Hamas is waning among Palestinians (18).

Report Criticizes Israeli Drone Strikes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Christopher Drew - June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Twenty-nine civilians, including eight children, were killed in several missile strikes by Israeli drones in Gaza in December and January, according to a report released on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch. The group questioned whether Israeli forces had taken “all feasible precautions” to avoid civilian casualties. Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a spokeswoman for the Israeli military, said Israeli forces had gone to extraordinary lengths to warn civilians during the Gaza offensive, and she questioned the credibility of some of the Palestinian witnesses cited by the advocacy group.

In the West Bank, Suburb or Settlement?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Chaim Hanfling knows a lot about this settlement's population boom. Six of his 11 siblings have moved here from Jerusalem in recent years to take advantage of the lower land prices, and at age 29, he has added four children of his own.

In two Israeli settlements, a booming demand for more space
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

A stack of moving boxes packed with religious books is tucked into the corner of Yossi and Racheli Zehnwirth's apartment salon. Three years ago, the couple arrived as newlyweds in this devoutly religious settlement – the second largest in the West Bank – with the hopes of buying their own home, a goal beyond reach 15 minutes away in Jerusalem.

Israel's Man of Conscience
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Nation
by Ezra Nawi - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

My name is Ezra Nawi. I am a Jewish citizen of Israel. I will be sentenced on the first of July after being found guilty of assaulting two police officers in 2007 while struggling against the demolition of a Palestinian house in Um El Hir, located in the southern part of the West Bank. Of course the policemen who accused me of assaulting them are lying. Indeed, lying has become common within the Israeli police force, military and among the Jewish settlers.

The PA Financial Crisis: Causes and Implications
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
by Mohammed Yaghi - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Eighteen months have passed since the Paris donor conference, where members of the international community promised the Palestinian government $1.45 billion in assistance for its 2009 budget. The Palestinian Authority (PA), however, has received less than a quarter of this amount, and Arab governments in particular have fallen short, contributing only $78 million of the $600 million pledged.

Experts Voice New Hope for Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Voice of America
by Mohamed Elshinnawi - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

In the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama's June 4th speech to the Muslim world and the Israeli prime minister's recent acceptance of a conditional Palestinian state, hopes have risen for a resumption of talks aimed at resolving the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

West Bank settlers call tourists to the rescue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
by Patrick Moser - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

This year's cherry festival was a roaring success, drawing thousands of people who enjoyed grilled kosher sausages and right-wing ideology in the emblematic Gush Etzion settlement bloc. A band belted out its stuff as clowns entertained the wee ones and families gorged themselves on the plump cherries of the Rosh Tzurim kibbutz, one of the communities in Gush Etzion, just south of Jerusalem. Food stalls and other small businesses did brisk trade, but the fest was about more than just fun and money.

Bibi’s inner circle
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Leslie Susser - June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu’s father, the historian Ben Zion Netanyahu, once said that his son's biggest failure as a leader was his inability to pick the right people to advise him. Now prime minister for a second time and facing major decisions on Iran, the Palestinians and the Arab world -- not to mention ties with the United States -- Netanyahu has picked what looks like a strong but possibly too like-minded team. These are the more influential members of the inner circle Netanyahu has put together in the weeks since taking office.

PA: Hamas plotted attacks on West Bank officials
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas members planned attacks on Palestinian Authority (PA) officials in the West Bank on orders from Hamas leaders abroad and the group’s armed wing in Gaza, a senior official said on Monday. At-Tayib Abdul Rahim, secretary-general of the Palestinian Presidency reveled the alleged plot at a news conference in Ramallah. He said the PA learned of the plans from interrogations of Hamas prisoners. He said that a Hamas cell had planned the attack ahead of the 7 June deadline set by Egypt for an agreement between Hamas and Fatah. Hamas has not yet responded to these charges.

Israel and US hold settlement discussions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, will meet with George Mitchell, the top US Middle East envoy, in New York today for talks aimed at bridging a growing rift between the two countries on the expansion of Jewish settlements in occupied territory that Palestinians want as part of their future state.

Editorial: The Gaza ghetto
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

THE report on life in Gaza just issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross six months after the brutal Israeli attacks which killed between 1,100 and 1,400 people makes bitter reading.

Israel ministers divided on settlement halt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak will meet in New York today with U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell in an effort to agree on a compromise formula on settlement construction. The meeting takes place in light of a recent disagreement among the "forum of six" ministers over this issue. A political source in Jerusalem said Monday that a "temporary freeze" of construction in the settlements was met with objections by three of the six senior ministers in the forum.

Fatah deputy reports progress in unity talks with Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

The head of the Fatah faction in the Palestinian parliament, Azzam al-Ahmed, said on Tuesday that significant progress has been made in Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks with Hamas. The Fatah deputy said that both sides have found common ground on key issues, including Hamas prisoners being held in Palestinian Authority prisons, Palestinian elections, as well as the make-up of the armed force that is likely to be deployed in the Gaza Strip.

Lieberman ally slams Netanyahu over Sarkozy remarks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's unusually blunt call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remove Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman from his post has sparked a political backlash among Lieberman's allies in Jerusalem. During the premier's visit to Paris last week, Sarkozy urged Netanyahu to "get rid" of hard-line Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Channel Two reported on Monday. The second-in-command of Lieberman's Yisrael Beteinu party said Netanyahu should have "banged on the table" in response to Sarkozy's attack on Lieberman.

US 'optimistic' ahead of Barak-Mitchell meeting
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Will the Barak-Mitchell meeting manage to relieve some of the tension between Israel and the United States? The White House has expressed its optimism over the chances of making progress during Tuesday's meeting between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and special US envoy George Mitchell, which will be held in New York. Barak was sent by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with Mitchell in a bid to reach an understanding with the Obama administration about continuing construction in West Bank settlement for natural growth purposes.

PA official: Hamas planned to assassinate senior officials
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority has recently arrested a Hamas cell that admitted to planning to assassinate senior Palestinian officials by July 7, the date set by Egypt for the signing of an agreement between Fatah and the Islamist group, the head of the Palestinian Presidency said on Monday. According to Tayeb Abdul-Rahim, the order to attack Palestinian officials and institutions in the northern West Bank was given by Hamas' leadership abroad and by its armed wing in Gaza, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Analysis: Diplomatic faux pas, or calculated message?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz - (Analysis) June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel has a thing with timing, particularly around important diplomatic meetings. In January, 2007, for example, then-prime minister Ehud Olmert flew down to Sharm el-Sheikh for a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Shortly before Olmert's plane took off, the IDF launched a rare daytime raid on downtown Ramallah in search of a terror suspect. Pictures of the raid - in which four people were killed and 20 wounded - were broadcast live on Al Jazeera. Needless to say, this was not constructive for the Olmert-Mubarak meeting.

Poll: 'Palestinian support for Hamas waning'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
June 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas support among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is waning, according to a survey conducted by the Palestinian Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC). According to the results of the poll published Monday, 18.8 percent of the Palestinian population backs the Islamist group, compared to 27% when the last JMCC survey was conducted in January. The survey of 1,199 people also showed that 35% of Palestinians support Fatah, a nine percent rise compared with the previous survey.

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