Middle East News: World Press Roundup

While the U.S. continues to engage Israel for a settlement freeze (1), American and European officials discuss the responsibilities of Arab countries in the dispute (6)(8). Polls reveal widespread discontent with Hamas in Gaza leading up to Palestinian reconciliation talks (2). Oxfam decries the Israeli barrier in the West Bank, calling for the ‘triumph of the rule of law’ (3). The UN war crimes investigation in Gaza concludes hearings on the recent conflict (4). Israel seeks to facilitate Palestinian economic growth by extending the hours of a vital crossing on the Jordanian border (7). Kadima leader Tzipi Livni criticizes the performance of the Netanyahu government in its first 100 days (13).

US, Israel looking for a way to resolve settlements dispute
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - July 6, 2009 - 12:00am

A new round of Israel-US talks in London failed to defuse the standoff over Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank, though analysts and aides say the two sides are looking for a face-saving compromise for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to yield on continued growth. After a three-hour meeting with Middle East Envoy George Mitchell, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak reported progress but added, "there's still a way to go," Ha'aretz reported on its website.

Hamas bends to pressure in Gaza and abroad
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Rafael Frankel - July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

By one calculus of Middle Eastern politics, Israel could say that its month-long offensive against Hamas and heightened economic blockade of Gaza have succeeded. Rockets no longer fly into Israel from the Gaza Strip. And Gaza's Islamist rulers saw their support base drop below 20 percent as a direct result of a war that exacted a high price: 1,400 dead, 50,000 homes destroyed or damaged, and 1.5 million of Israel's neighbors more embittered than ever.

'Law must thwart' Israeli barrier
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
July 8, 2009 - 12:00am

The campaign marks five years since an International Court of Justice advisory opinion found its construction was illegal and it should be dismantled. Since then, Oxfam says, the view of the "most distinguished international legal body has been met by inaction". Israel says the barrier for security; Palestinians view it as a land grab. In the report, entitled Five Years of Illegality, Oxfam details the situations of 13 Palestinian communities affected by the barrier and its associated security system of gates, buffer zones and passes.

UN Gaza inquiry wraps up hearings
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
July 8, 2009 - 12:00am

A UN war crimes investigator has said testimonies about the recent conflict in Gaza have been "difficult to hear" as four days of public hearings ended. Richard Goldstone said his four member team had been shaken by the extent of the destruction in Gaza. Witnesses from Gaza, Israel and the West Bank gave testimony in public hearings in Gaza and Geneva. Israel has refused to co-operate, accusing the UN Human Rights Council of bias against it.

Jerusalem streets marked by signs of conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Erika Soloman - July 8, 2009 - 12:00am

Ilana Sichel held a ladder steady for her Israeli boyfriend Romy Achituv while he slapped a white sticker over the defaced Arabic script on a battered yellow sign in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem. The sticker, typed out by Sichel in Arabic, says, "Danger of Death," as does the English and Hebrew alongside it. "It could seem like we're vandalizing," Sichel mused as Achituv stepped away from the electric pole. "Well, I guess technically we are."

Arab steps U.S. seeks in Israeli settlement dispute
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
(Analysis) July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell is pressing for a halt to Israeli settlement activity, holding out the prospect of reciprocal steps by Arab states towards normalising relations with Israel. Talks in London on Monday between Mitchell and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on a package that could include a settlement freeze and normalisation ended inconclusively. Further discussions are planned between Mitchell and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as early as next week.

Israel to extend hours of key Jordan crossing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
July 8, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel on Wednesday said it would increase the operating hours of the key Allenby border crossing with Jordan in a move aimed at boosting the Palestinian economy. At a cabinet committee charged with improving the West Bank economy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the extension of hours of operation of Allenby for the transport of goods, his office said in a statement. "Until now the crossing was open until eight in the evening," a spokesman for the prime minister said. "It will now be open until midnight, with the option to extend operations to 24 hours according to need."

Mideast must seize 'window of opportunity': German FM
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged Middle Eastern leaders on Tuesday to seize the "window of opportunity" that the new US administration has opened in the region. US President Barak Obama's initiative "creates many opportunities that we need to use now," Steinmeier said after meeting Lebanese prime minister designate Saad Hariri in Beirut. "That is why all the partners must take part constructively in this process and make their positions clear quickly before the window of opportunity closes."

Commentary: Israeli know-how
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from United Press International (UPI)
by Arnaud De Borchgrave - (Opinion) July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

He speaks like an American, looks like an American, and acts like an American -- because he is an American. He is Israel's new ambassador to the United States, a citizen of both countries. Michael B. Oren (born Michael Bornstein), 54, went to Israel for the first time at 15 to work on a kibbutz, the collective farms that were once recruitment grounds for Israel's ace fighter pilots. He returned to the United States to complete a master's in International Affairs at Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Near East Studies at Princeton.

Confusing Obama before Negotiations Even Begin
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed - (Opinion) July 7, 2009 - 12:00am

The Israeli debate with the US over the issue of settlements is ongoing, and it appears that the US President began experiencing the problems of the Middle Easterners from the first moment that he announced his opposition to settlement construction. The resulting headache from this may have caused the president to reach for the aspirin. “Stop the construction of settlements” is the warning that Obama issued to the Israelis when he announced his willingness to solve the critical problem of the Middle East.

For Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Faisal Al Rfouh - (Opinion) July 8, 2009 - 12:00am

July 4 marked the Independence Day of the United States; the advent of the Obama administration marked a departure from the policies of unilateralism and intervention, thereby paving way for reconciliation and accommodation. President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo and Washington’s genuine desire for peace will take some time to convince the world, in general, and the Arab Islamic world, in particular, which has been rattled by the Bush era’s adventurism.

Obama will not give in
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Mickey Bergman - (Opinion) July 8, 2009 - 12:00am

President Obama will not give in to Israel when it comes to settlements. Both he, Secretary Clinton and Special Envoy Mitchell have made it abundantly clear: “not one more brick.” Israel’s refusal of this demand could potentially lead to a level of tensions between Washington and Jerusalem that we have not seen in a long while. Israel should propose an alternative that will not only make the administration happy, but will also make real progress toward ending the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Livni: Netanyahu support for two-state solution is hypocrisy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
July 8, 2009 - 12:00am

Kadima Party chair Tzipi Livni on Wednesday criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's performance in his first 100 days in office, calling his new-found support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "the height of hypocrisy." Speaking in an interview to Army Radio, the opposition leader accused Likud members of continuing to attack Kadima over its support for a two-state solution, but said that the government changed its position due to pressure from the United States.

The left went to the beach
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) July 8, 2009 - 12:00am

A huge omission lies in the American demand that Israel freeze construction in the settlements. President Barack Obama and his aides failed to stir an internal Israeli debate on the settlements and did not pose a political or public challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding his insistence that "natural growth" be allowed beyond the Green Line.

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