Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Christian Science Monitor looks at the economic boom in the West Bank town of Nablus, after Israel relaxes surrounding checkpoints (1). BBC News interviews three Gaza residents about their views on Hamas (2). Israel has reportedly released former U.S. congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, after detaining her and other activists on board a ship attempting to break the Gaza blockade (4). Israeli Defense Minister reports that progress was made in his second round of talks with Special Mideast Envoy George Mitchell (5) (12). A new poll shows that 61% of Israelis support Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy of allowing “natural growth” in settlements (11).

In Palestinian town, business booms after Israel relaxes checkpoints
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - July 6, 2009 - 12:00am

Nablus, West Bank - The downtown streets in this Palestinian city bustle with pedestrians and echo with the bleating of taxis vying for road space. During the recent Palestinian uprising, activity in the second-largest city and commercial capital of the West Bank was choked off by Israeli security roadblocks and frequent gunfire from roaming militant gangs. But for the first time since 2000, the Israeli military has loosened movement restrictions around Nablus, opening up the city to Palestinians around the West Bank and to Arab citizens of Israel who come to shop.

Israeli foreign minister: I'm not being sidelined
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ian Deitch, Amy Teibel - July 6, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's ultranationalist foreign minister said Monday that he voluntarily removed himself from crucial talks with the United States because he lives in a West Bank settlement, denying speculation that he's being sidelined by an image-conscious government troubled by growing friction with the Obama administration. The talks are meant to bridge the gap between Washington, which demands a total West Bank settlement freeze, and Israel, which wants some construction to continue.

Israel releases former U.S. congresswoman: group
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
July 6, 2009 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israel has allowed a former U.S. congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, to return home days after detaining her and other activists on board a ship carrying relief supplies for Gaza, a pro-Palestinian group said on Monday. Israeli authorities intercepted the vessel, which had 21 activists on board, on June 30 and said it would not be permitted to enter Gaza's coastal waters because of security risks in the area and an existing naval blockade. McKinney has been released, a statement by the American Muslims for Palestine said.

Israel's Barak sees progress in U.S. envoy talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
July 6, 2009 - 12:00am

LONDON (Reuters) - Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday he and U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell had made progress in their second session of talks within a week on encouraging regional peace. "I think there is progress. There's still a way to go," Barak told Reuters after the talks in London. U.S. President Barack Obama has pressed Israel to halt settlement activity as part of a bid to revive peace talks under which the Palestinians would gain statehood.

Egypt says captured Israeli soldier well
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

Cairo, July 7 - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Tuesday he believed an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants three years ago was well and that he hoped the issue would not take a long time to resolve. Militants of the Hamas Islamist group and other gunmen launched a raid into Israel in June 2006 from the Gaza Strip, killing two soldiers and capturing Gilad Shalit. Egypt has sought to mediate a deal for his freedom between Hamas and Israel.

Testing Religious Authority before Negotiation!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq Alhomayed - July 6, 2009 - 12:00am

The dispute between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement and Hamas in Gaza reveals many hidden aspects about the two movements and their alliances. It has illustrated the extent to which they exploit the Palestinian Cause and religion, and the pressure of political finance on their decisions. The Islamic Jihad movement, which is facing financial deficit, resorted to using the weapon of religion against Hamas, which in return responded with the very same weapon. All of this is happening to consolidate the internal positions in Gaza in front of the supporters of these movements.

The Arabs' blanket rejection of Netanyahu's speech is short-sighted
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Abdel-Moneim Said - (Opinion) July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama's speech at Cairo University triggered a host of repercussions. Perhaps the most salient is that it compelled the Israeli government to declare its position, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did in his speech at Bar-Ilan University on June 14. The Netanyahu speech, in turn, triggered two general responses. Whereas the United States and the European Union welcomed the speech, the Arabs rejected it, with some Arab media insisting it had effectively sounded a death knell for the negotiating process.

Why Israel won't evacuate West Bank outposts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - (Analysis) July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

If George Mitchell, America's special envoy to the Middle East, wants an advance estimate on the reliability of Israeli promises to evacuate outposts, he may find the High Court of Justice discussion on the outpost of Migron helpful. The state's request to be granted another year-long extension before having to evacuate the outpost by law offers a sad glimpse into the situation, and reveals the gaps between the official declarations of the Netanyahu administration and the actual law enforcement in the territories.

What demographic problem?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yair Lapid - (Opinion) July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

At times, we need to stop and rethink everything. Our entire history is made up of people who were sure they knew the truth, yet forgot that the truth has an annoying tendency to change on occasion without us noticing it.

Poll: Majority of Israelis in favor of 'natural growth'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
(Analysis) July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

Some 61% of the Israeli public support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands on settlement expansion, unless for the purpose of "natural growth," the War and Peace Index for June said Tuesday. Thirty-one percent are against the PM's position, but both sides agree that the government cannot do anything that may harm Israel's relations with the United States.

Barak: Israel will dismantle outposts within months
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with US Middle East envoy Senator George Mitchell in London on Monday, for their second meeting in the space of a week. The defense minister told Mitchell that "Israel is committed to evacuating the 23 illegal outposts within weeks or months."

Israel fumes at EU settlement statement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

Furious at a European Union statement blaming the settlements for aid the EU gives the Palestinians, the Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the EU ambassador to Israel, Ramiro Cibrián-Uzal, to register a protest. In a rare move, the senior deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak, called Cibrian-Uzal to the ministry in Jerusalem for an explanation. An AP story quoted the European Commission as saying that Israel's settlement policy helped strangle the Palestinian economy and made the Palestinian government more dependent on foreign aid.

Encountering Peace: It's the occupation, stupid!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) July 6, 2009 - 12:00am

Many voices here are already pondering the question how are we going to deal with at least three more years of an anti-Israel administration in Washington. These are the people who think that pressuring Jerusalem to meet its road map obligations is empowering the Arabs and weakening the country. One such person, and he defined himself as pro-peace, told me that until the Arabs recognize Israel as the Jewish state, freezing settlements sends the wrong message; it tells the Arabs they don't have to do anything and that all of the pressure will only be on Israel.

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