Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with Special Mideast envoy George Mitchell in New York yesterday (1) (16), as tension continues over efforts to secure an Israeli settlement freeze (6) (7) (12) (17) (18). As violence in the West Bank subsides, the Occupied Territories experience a marked economic upswing (2). The Christian Science Monitor looks at how the Israeli naval blockade is impacting Gaza (3), as the IDF intercepts another ad hoc aid ship (5). Cairo extends the deadline for an agreement in national accord talks between Hamas and Fatah (9). The first movie theater in twenty years opens in the West Bank town of Nablus (10). The Palestinian Authority accuses Israel of planning to expropriate an additional 2% of the West Bank (13).

Barak, U.S. Envoy Discuss Settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Glenn Kessler - July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak huddled for four hours yesterday with former senator George J. Mitchell, the Obama administration's special envoy for Middle East peace, seeking to resolve an impasse between their two governments over the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

As Violence Subsides, Concrete Pours in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Voice of America
by Luis Ramirez - July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel has said it wants to boost the economy of the Palestinian territories as a way to bring peace. The Israeli leadership has not implemented any specific plan to improve economic conditions, yet the territories are experiencing a marked economic upturn as a halt in violence leads to increased trade and investment. West Bank's economy

How Israel's naval blockade denies Gazans food, aid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Mel Frykberg - July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Bringing fresh attention to its blockade of the Gaza Strip, Israel on Tuesday turned back a boat attempting to deliver three tons of medical supplies to Gazans. After a radio message asking the small ferry to turn back was ignored, the Israeli Navy boarded the boat and redirected the vessel to the Israeli port of Ashdod. Reuters quoted a police source as saying that the activists aboard, members of the US-based Free Gaza movement, would "likely be deported."

One Gaza fisherman's tale of tribulation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Mel Frykberg - July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's naval blockade of the waters off Gaza – part of a wider Israeli effort to seal off the tiny coastal strip controlled by the Islamist militant group Hamas – is devastating a key Gazan industry and source of food: fishing.

Israelis intercept Gaza aid ship
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli forces have boarded a ship trying to carry aid and pro-Palestinian activists to the Gaza Strip in defiance of Israel's blockade of the territory. The 20 passengers include former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Prize winner Mairead Maguire. The activists also include some Britons, campaigners said. Ms McKinney described it as "an outrageous violation of international law", as the boat was on a humanitarian mission and was not in Israeli waters. The Israeli military said the boat was trying to enter Gaza illegally.

How hard will Obama press Israel on settlements?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from McClatchy News
by Cliff Churgin - (Opinion) July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The unresolved dispute between the United States and Israel over Israel's refusal to halt building Jewish homes in the predominantly Palestinian West Bank has created a pivotal dilemma for President Barack Obama: How hard should he push one of America's most important allies in the Middle East? So far, Obama has limited his pressure to calculated public comments, calling Israeli settlement construction illegitimate and a roadblock to a lasting peace agreement with the Palestinians that would include a Palestinian state.

Israel downplays settlement rift
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has denied any impasse with the US over Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank as talks ended without agreement. Mr Barak met US envoy George Mitchell as the two allies are struggling to end a rare public rift over the issue. The US wants Israel to stop all settlement activity in the occupied territory, but Israel wants to continue what it calls "natural growth". The Palestinians refuse to restart talks without a settlement freeze. "I don't think we are stuck," Mr Barak said after the meeting with Mr Mitchell on Tuesday.

No change in Jerusalem, yet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Mick Dumper - (Analysis) July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Something is moving in the Middle East but it has not yet arrived in Jerusalem. A new chess game has started in the region: the US ambassador is returning to Damascus, the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, made a speech welcoming the new tone set by Barack Obama in his speech in Cairo, there are leaks of an imminent deal between the Israelis, Egyptians and Hamas over a prisoner exchange and pressure is being brought to bear on Fatah and Hamas to reconcile so that credible negotiations for a Palestinian state can begin.

Fatah, Hamas to miss unity deadline set by Cairo
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas Islamists and the rival Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have been given three more weeks to seek a reconciliation deal after it became clear they would miss a July 7 deadline set by Egypt. Palestinian officials said on Tuesday that Cairo had now given the factions until July 28 to agree to resolve their political divisions and end bickering marked by clashes and security crackdowns in Gaza and the West Bank. The sides will leave Egypt and return for a final negotiating round on July 25.

Big screen returns to West Bank town
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - June 30, 2009 - 12:00am

Mustafa Odeh, 75, remembers well when there last was a cinema in Nablus. “Those were different days,” he said in front of his tiny plumbing repair shop in the centre of the city. “There were no satellite dishes, not many TVs, no 300 different channels. The cinema was good then.” And it would still be today, or so believe two local businessmen who last week opened a brand new commercial screen in the centre of the city just around the corner from Mr Odeh’s shop.

Editorial: Odious personality
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

A couple of months ago, Israel’s controversial, very right-wing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was in London for talks with the British government as part of a four-nation European trip. It was his first visit abroad as foreign minister and it would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall when he met British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, if only to have seen the body language. All the reports point to a cold get-together.

Israel, U.S. inch toward deal on settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. special Mideast envoy George Mitchell will meet in two weeks to reach a final agreement on settlement construction in the West Bank. Defense Minister Ehud Barak and George Mitchell agreed during their talks in New York this week that Israel must take action toward easing access for Palestinians in the territory and halting settlement activity. Their four-hour discussion brought Israel and the United States closer to ending its dispute over settlement construction, a source close to Barak said.

PA: Israel planning to expropriate another 2% of West Bank land
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority this week accused Israel of planning to declare another 2 percent of the West Bank state land, thus effectively expropriating it. But the defense establishment rejected this claim, saying the land in question had been under the Dead Sea until the shrinkage of that body of water uncovered it and the goal of the declaration is to prevent the land from being taken over by private or commercial entities. It is not clear which claim is correct.

Bibi Needs Tzipi
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The dispute with the United States over the settlement freeze is a futile controversy serving only one purpose: to bolster the status of the administration of President Barack Obama as an honest broker in the eyes of the Palestinians and the Arab states, in contrast to that of his predecessor, which was seen in Ramallah, Cairo and Riyadh as serving Israel. Obama wants to show that he can bend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That is not necessarily bad for Netanyahu.

Court: Revise charges against soldier who shot at Palestinian
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Aviad Glickman - July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

The trial of Lieutenant-Colonel Omri Borberg, and his subordinate L., charged of disorderly conduct over their involvement in shooting at a bound Palestinian, Ashraf Abu-Rahma, was called off by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, after the judges accepted a petition by human rights organizations that argued that the charges were extremely insufficient. The ruling was unanimous, and the judges ordered the Military Advocate General reexamine the case and reconsider the charges to be brought against the two.

Barak, Mitchell remain disputed on settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell failed to reach an agreement regarding the Israeli construction in the settlements during their meeting in Washington Monday. Mitchell is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu in about two weeks. A joint statement published following the meeting said that Barak and Mitchell "discussed the full range of issues related to Middle East peace and security and the contributions Israelis, Palestinians, their neighbors and the international community should make to this effort.

Barak: US, Israel close on settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Before heading back to Israel from New York following his meeting with US Mideast envoy George Mitchell, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday morning that Israel was close to an understanding with the US on settlements, which he stressed were part of a regional comprehensive peace effort. "We focused mainly on the need for a comprehensive regional agreement," he told Israel Radio. "That includes other Arab states which have something to give to Israel, not just to take"

'No commitment to settlement freeze'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon, Hilary Leila Krieger - July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel is considering what it can do to enable a full-fledged Mideast peace process and Palestinian-Israeli negotiations to take off, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday after talks with US Mideast envoy George Mitchell in New York. But after the four-hour meeting, Barak would not commit to a temporary settlement freeze. Asked whether Israel would agree to a freeze of perhaps three to six months, Barak replied: "I think it's a little bit too early to predict."

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