Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israeli officials have reportedly agreed to a temporary moratorium on West Bank settlement construction activity, outraging Jewish settlers. A poll released yesterday finds that Palestinians prefer Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah party over Hamas. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak meets today with President Obama in Washington to discuss the Middle East peace initiative. Analysis of the newly elected Fatah leadership continues. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency profiles the new Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Politico reports that Israelis are voicing increasing disappointment in President Obama's Jewish chief-of-staff, Rahm Emanuel.

Officials: Netanyahu froze new West Bank projects
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel has quietly stopped approving new building projects in the West Bank while publicly still refusing U.S. demands for an official settlement freeze, government officials said Tuesday. The decision to temporarily shelve new construction was made jointly by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Housing Minister Ariel Atias, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no formal measure has been announced.

Israel agrees to freeze settlement construction as gesture to US
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

In a subtle overture to the US, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Housing Minister Ariel Atias agreed upon a de facto moratorium on new building in the settlements. According to the estimates of officials involved, the freeze will be in effect until the beginning of 2010. The objective is to provide an opportunity for a Mideast peace process to gain momentum in hopes that the new "waiting" tactic will allow international recognition of Israel's sovereignty in Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs.

Settlers say 'old Bibi' is back
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Efrat Weiss - August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Settler leaders were furious Tuesday morning after learning of the agreement to freeze building starts in the territories, including in the settlement blocs and east Jerusalem, as reported by Ynet. "If the prime minister implements the policy of (Opposition Chairwoman) Tzipi Livni, (former Defense Minister) Amir Peretz and Talia Sasson (author of government report on illegal outposts) – this government's days are numbered," warned Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman.

Palestinians prefer Abbas and Fatah to Hamas: poll
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Support among Palestinians for president Mahmud Abbas and his secular Fatah party is greater than that for his Islamist Hamas rivals, according to the results of a poll released on Monday. The survey carried out by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) found that 52 percent of Palestinians would vote for Abbas to remain president, up three percentage points from three months ago.

New Fatah Leadership Boosts Mideast Peace Efforts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Fatah has elected a rejuvenated leadership that will likely bring the mainstream Palestinian movement more in line with President Barack Obama's vision for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, according to unofficial results released Tuesday. But a reluctant Israel and militant Islamic Hamas stranglehold on the Gaza Strip pose formidable obstacles on the road toward a peace accord.

Growing threat to Hamas: Gazans who think it has sold out
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Erin Cunningham - August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Two years after its takeover of the Gaza strip, Hamas has faced down its greatest challenger: A militant, Al Qaeda-inspired organization that says Hamas is not Islamic enough. Last Friday, Hamas forces and the Jund Ansar Allah (Soldier of God) movement fought a day-long gun and artillery battle that killed about 30 in the southern Gaza town of Rafah after the group's spiritual leader, Sheikh Abdel Latif Moussa, declared an Islamic emirate in Gaza and denounced Hamas. Mr. Moussa was killed in the fighting, centered on the mosque where he and his followers had gathered.

Report: Obama, Mubarak to discuss compensation for refugees
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his American counterpart, Barack Obama, are expected during their White House meeting Tuesday to discuss "an initiative of leaders" for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, in which the Palestinians will waive the right of return in exchange for compensation, the London-based Arabic-language al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported Tuesday.

Mubarak firm on Arab-Israeli ties
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
August 17, 2009 - 12:00am

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said Arab states would recognise Israel and normalise ties, but only as part of a comprehensive peace deal. Mr Mubarak is currently in Washington for talks with US officials. The US is asking Arab states to begin normalising ties in return for a proposed temporary freeze in settlement building on the occupied West Bank. But he said states which had trade ties with Israel might consider reviving them if it resumed peace negotiations.

Hilltop Youth push to settle West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

While many Israeli teenagers spend the summer hanging out on beaches or in shopping malls, Evyatar Slonam, 17, is sitting on an exposed hillside in the southern West Bank at the Jewish outpost of Mitzpe Avichai. "We want there to be a mall right here," explains his friend Yehoyada, 15, indicating the hilltop surrounded by Palestinian houses and olive groves. "Tel Aviv once looked like this, too."

Orly Taitz: Obama policies are 'clear and present danger to Israel'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Benjamin L. Hartman - August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

U.S. President Barack Obama's domestic and foreign policies pose "a clear and present danger to Israel," says the driving force behind the campaign to prove Obama was not born in the United States and therefore ineligible to serve as president.

Oren navigates waters among Israel, U.S. government and American Jews
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - August 17, 2009 - 12:00am

Tweeted, a diplomat’s job would look something like this: Explain home abroad, explain abroad home. In recent weeks, it’s seemed as if the job description for Israeli envoys would encroach on the 140-character limit: Explain home abroad, explain abroad home, explain Jews abroad home, explain home to Jews abroad, explain, explain, explain. Michael Oren, the new Israeli ambassador to Washington, has had a busy six weeks, and he acknowledges that some of his difficulties have had to do with a debate within his government about whether to even engage with liberal American Jews.

U.S. Jews press Mubarak
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
August 17, 2009 - 12:00am

U.S. Jewish leaders urged Egypt's president to take the lead in encouraging other Arab nations to make conciliatory gestures to Israel. Hosni Mubarak is in Washington this week to meet with President Obama and advance plans to revive the peace process. Mubarak met Monday morning with an array of leaders from Jewish groups who told him that conciliatory measures from Arab nations, including allowing Israeli overflights and expanding business ties, would help Israel make concessions. Arab states and the Palestinians first want Israel to commit to a settlement freeze.

Israelis sour on Rahm Emanuel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Kenneth P. Vogel - August 17, 2009 - 12:00am

As the Obama administration presses Israel to cease settlement expansion as part of a renewed push for a Middle East peace deal — a course of action that many Israelis have interpreted as evidence of the president’s favoritism towards Palestinians — Israelis have increasingly focused their disappointment not on Obama, but rather on his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

Israel wrecked Arafat, crowned Hamas, and gave birth to Al-Qaida in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nehemia Shtrasler - (Analysis) August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

This week marked four years since the Gaza disengagement, and it seems that the Strip is becoming increasingly radical - that peace is more distant and the settlers who were removed from the enclave are more embittered. Did Ariel Sharon and the majority of the Israeli public that supported the move make a bad deal?

Egypt's Essential Partnership
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Abdel-Moneim Said - (Opinion) August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

President Obama's second meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, scheduled to take place today, presents an opportunity to view this important bilateral relationship from a proper perspective. For too long, U.S.-Egyptian relations have focused, somewhat myopically, on only two things: the state of Egypt's peace with Israel and its progress toward democratization.

Quiet slicing of the West Bank makes abstract prayers for peace obscene
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Slavoj Zizek - (Opinion) August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

On 2 August 2009, after cordoning off part of the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem, Israeli police evicted two Palestinian families (more than 50 people) from their homes; Jewish settlers immediately moved into the emptied houses. Although Israeli police cited a ruling by the country's supreme court, the evicted Arab families had been living there for more than 50 years. The event – which, rather exceptionally, did attract the attention of the world media – is part of a much larger and mostly ignored ongoing process.

Hamas, the Emirate and the Waiting
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Ghassan Charbel - (Opinion) August 17, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas has eliminated the Islamic emirate announced by Abdel Latif Moussa (Abou Nour Makdessi) in Rafah. It has eliminated the emirate and its prince. Hamas cannot stand Moussa’s accusations. He said that if the Hamas government maintained its status, it would be like a secular party “fraudulently associating itself with Islam like (Turkish Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan”. It is not easy for Hamas to see the “Prince of the Jihadi Salafists” stand in a mosque and challenge its image and approach then call his armed men to the street, challenging its authority and status.

Fatah, reunited and reinvigorated
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) August 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Fatah, the leading movement within the Palestine Liberation Organization, has moved one step closer to becoming a normal political party. It has just concluded its sixth congress, held for the first time in the Occupied Territories, which meant that former guerrillas from Lebanon and Jordan were allowed entry by Israel. The conference, it appears, succeeded in reuniting and reinvigorating the movement, which has suffered since the death of its founder and long-time leader, Yasser Arafat.

Drawing borders is the first step
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) August 17, 2009 - 12:00am

We still have no real idea of when or what President Obama will present as an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. In the meantime, the Prime Minister's special emissary, Yitzhak Molcho, is off to Washington to try and reach some understandings with the US administration prior to the next meeting between Senator Mitchell and Netanyahu. The rumors floating around suggest that Obama's plan will aim to focus first on setting borders between the State of Israel and the future State of Palestine, now that Netanyahu has accepted the two-state solution.

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