Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Jewish Daily Forward analyzes movement towards an Israeli settlement freeze. Reuters reports that despite recent growth trends the West Bank's economy cannot thrive in an environment of strict mobility restrictions. Two Palestinian families in Jerusalem's Old City are forced to demolish their own homes. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is set to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris next week. The US has reportedly agreed to exclude East Jerusalem from formal negotiations on a settlement freeze. Israeli group Peace Now files a petition to halt the construction of 15 permanent structures in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Netafim. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met earlier today with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Deal on Temporary Settlement Freeze Hinges on What Happens Afterward
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - August 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Attempts to finalize a deal on a settlement freeze are entering the final stretch, although significant differences still exist between American and Israeli negotiators. While those negotiators have reportedly reached an understanding on a nine-month freeze on new construction in the West Bank, both sides are struggling to agree on what should happen the day after the temporary freeze ends. The Israeli government would like to return to previous arrangements that allowed building within settlement blocs, while the Obama administration has refused to commit to any future deal, sources say.

West Bank's Economic Recovery Hangs on Mobility
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

The economy of the West Bank and Gaza is forecast by the World Bank to grow by 5 percent this year, 6.5 percent in 2010 and 7.5 percent in 2011. But it's hardly the talk of Wall Street. The Palestinian economy cratered in 1999 and is still clawing its way back up the graph. Per capita GDP dropped from around $1,500 (926 pounds) in 1999 to just over $1,000 last year. So the notion that the West Bank is some kind of world-class recession beater, as Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal, has people here shaking their heads.

Two Old City Jerusalem families forced to demolish own homes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Two Palestinian families in Jerusalem’s Old City have been forced to demolish their own house after Israeli authorities threatened him with heavy fines if he did not. One resident, Muhammad Faysal Jabir lived with his family of five in a 28 square meter house in the Aqbat Al-Khalidiyya neighborhood of the Old City. Jabir told Ma’an that the apartment used to be just 12 square meters, and that he added an extension apparently without permission from the Jerusalem Municipality.

Report: Abbas to meet Sarkozy in Paris next week
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on 4 September, Agence France-Presse reported on Wednesday. "President Abbas will travel to Paris on September 3 and will meet President Sarkozy the next day," an anonymous Palestinian official told AFP. The visit would be Abbas’ second to France since February, amid an international effort led by the US to reinitiate long-stalled peace negotiations with Israel.

U.S. drops demand for Israel building freeze in East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

BERLIN - The Obama administration has agreed to Israel's request to remove East Jerusalem from negotiations on the impending settlement freeze. According to both Israeli officials and Western diplomats, U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell has recognized the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot announce a settlement freeze in East Jerusalem. The officials said the U.S. will not endorse new construction there, but would not demand Jerusalem publicly announce a freeze.

Petition: Raze 15 structures in Kiryat Netafim settlement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Aviad Glickman - August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

The Peace Now movement filed a petition with the High Court of Justice Thursday against Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Southern Command Chief MaJ.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, demanding that they halt the construction of 15 permanent structures in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Netafim. The petition calls on Barak and Shamni to issue orders to demolish the buildings. According to the petition, the structures are being built illegally on public land and private land owned by Palestinians.

Palestinians uproot Hebrew road signs in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

The US international aid agency says Palestinian authorities in the West Bank have started replacing Israeli-installed road signs bearing Hebrew script with new signs in just Arabic and English. The move is in preparation for a future Palestinian state. Howard Sumka, of USAID, says the American-funded project is expected to take up to four years and cost about $20 million. Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and built military camps and civilian settlements throughout the territory.

PA wants piece of Shalit deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Reports of progress on a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas have led to high expectations in the Palestinian Authority as well, as sources say they hope this means past understandings between Israel and the PA will also be realized with the deal's execution. According to sources, Israel has in the past agreed to release a number of Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture to President Mahmoud Abbas as the deal for the release of captive solder Gilad Shalit nears completion.

Trade revives as Palestinian cities reconnect
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Businesses in normal countries take getting around for granted. They can distribute, export and attract workers and customers from wide areas. In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, access to more than half of the land is restricted. Israel has ultimate control of roads, energy, water, telecommunications and air space. The violent Palestinian intifada (uprising) of 2000 triggered an Israeli security crackdown, creating checkpoints on key routes, closing roads and putting 600 obstacles around Israel's West Bank settlements.

Merkel warns Iran on sanctions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Angela Merkel was speaking after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin. She also called on Israel to freeze its settlement construction for the sake of progress in peace talks. In London on Wednesday, Mr Netanyahu suggested Israel was close to an agreement on settlements. During his visit to Germany, the Israeli prime minister has also been given original blueprints of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

On the ground in Gaza, hopes for peace still flicker
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Antony Loewenstein - August 26, 2009 - 12:00am

Kamal Awaja lost his son in the recent Gaza war. He claims that Israeli soldiers murdered his child in front of his eyes before shooting his wife and himself in the leg, chest and arm. Today he lives with his large family in a tent in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, trying to provide a sense of normality for his children by tending a vegetable patch and constructing a small, plastic swimming pool.

US shifting stance on settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
by Mark Levine - August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

The US has long seen itself as playing a crucial role in bringing about Israeli-Palestinian peace. Yet, US policy toward Israeli actions in and around Jerusalem has shifted over time. Initially, the Johnson administration took a strong line, with UN representative Arthur Goldberg explaining a week after the 1967 war ended that "the United States does not accept or recognise these measures as altering the status of Jerusalem."

Palestinians pay the price for Israel's illegal settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Katherine Butler - August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

On a still, hot, August afternoon you can only hear the bleating of the lambs and the occasional bark of a dog. There are few places more exposed and isolated in the West Bank than the cluster of tents and caves that is home to Khalil Nawaja, his wife Tamam, their two sons and their 50 sheep.

Israeli academics must pay price to end occupation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anat Matar - August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Several days ago Dr. Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev published an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times. In that article he explained why, after years of activity in the peace camp here, he has decided to pin his hopes on applying external pressure on Israel - including sanctions, divestment and an economic, cultural and academic boycott. He believes, and so do I, that only when the Israeli society's well-heeled strata pay a real price for the continuous occupation will they finally take genuine steps to put an end to it.

Analysis: History is not on the side of peace-makers in Israeli-Palestinian conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Telegraph
by Robert Spencer - August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

But then, it is not the first time his presence in London has heralded a supposed breakthrough in the Middle East peace process. Eleven years ago, it was no less a peacemaker than Tony Blair who claimed credit. In the warm aftermath of the Belfast Agreement, Mr Blair summoned Mr Netanyahu, during his first stint as Israel's leader, for talks with Yasser Arafat of the PLO. The success of that and subsequent summits can be easily described.

Fayyad’s brilliant two-year plan for Palestinian Statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

There are so many ways in which the plan by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for the de facto creation of a Palestinian state can be seen as a brilliant idea that is hard to ignore or oppose it. Fayyad’s blueprint includes plans to end the Palestinian economy’s dependence on Israel, unify the legal system and downsize the government. The idea, submitted by him after weeks of meetings with his ministers and staff, also involves building infrastructure, harnessing natural energy sources and water, and improving housing, education and agriculture.

Washington Watch: Is Obama Bush league?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Douglas Bloomfield - (Opinion) August 26, 2009 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama is expected to reveal his Middle East strategy next month, very likely in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. In many ways it may resemble his predecessor's 2002 vision for Arab-Israeli peace, but the question everyone will be asking is whether this time the American president is really serious.

De-facto deliberations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Alan Baker - (Opinion) August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

The new aims and proposals enunciated by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad regarding the establishment of a de facto Palestinian state within two years, with or without Israeli cooperation, would appear at first sight to be interesting. To a certain extent it could even be refreshing, offering a more pragmatic and viable forecast for the political and economic development of the Palestinians than any previous visions - which were based mostly on threats and unrealistic, belligerent rhetoric.

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