Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The State Department confirms that it is holding firm on the policy of no new Israeli settlements, while Palestinian leadership insists that a full settlement freeze is a preconditions for new peace talks and the Israeli government confirms there has been no agreement on settlements with the US. The New York Times looks at the long history of non-violent civil disobedience in the West Bank village of Bilin. The Toronto Star examines how new construction of Jewish homes in Arab East Jerusalem is harming urban relations. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to tour a number of Arab and European countries before the end of the year. Hamas chief Khaled Meshal is reportedly planning to fly to Cairo next week to approve a possible deal that includes the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

State Dept.: Policy against new Israeli settlements stands
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from CNN
by Charles Keyes - August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

The State Department is sticking with a strict no-new-settlements policy toward Israel, its spokesman said Thursday, but he held out the possibility that Israelis and Palestinians might eventually take a different path. "The position that the secretary has stated remains our position," spokesman P.J. Crowley said at his daily briefing. "And we continue to discuss with Israel and with the other parties what they have to do on the settlement issue."

Palestinians say full settlement freeze is precondition to new peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ashraf Khalil - August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

A senior Palestinian peace negotiator says the terms of a proposed Israeli deal to restart the peace process, leaked to the press this week, are unacceptable. But he did not rule out a meeting at the United Nations next month between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. In Germany today, Mr. Netanyahu said that no new agreement to stop settlement building has been reached.

In Village, Palestinians See Model for Their Cause
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Every Friday for the past four and a half years, several hundred demonstrators — Palestinian villagers, foreign volunteers and Israeli activists — have walked in unison to the Israeli barrier separating this tiny village from the burgeoning settlement of Modiin Illit, part of which is built on the village’s land. One hundred feet away, Israeli soldiers watch and wait. The protesters chant and shout and, inevitably, a few throw stones. Then just as inevitably, the soldiers open fire with tear gas and water jets, lately including a putrid oil-based liquid that makes the entire area stink.

East Jerusalem Arabs feel squeeze as Jews push into communities
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Star
by Matthew Kalman - August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Ahmed Abedat was wondering this week how much longer he will be able to enjoy the spectacular view from his grocery shop in Ras Al-Amud – from the ancient Mount of Olives cemetery across the valley to the majestic golden Dome of the Rock soaring above the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.

Hope rises for renewal of Mid East peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Irish Times
by Mark Weiss - August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

A RENEWAL of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians late next month now appears a distinct possibility, although Israeli and US officials will continue to meet in the coming weeks to hammer out details of a compromise formula acceptable to both sides. At Wednesday’s meeting in London between Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, the sides inched closer to a package which will enable the resumption of bilateral talks on the Israeli-Palestinian track, suspended since Mr Netanyahu became prime minister five months ago.

Abbas to tour Arab, European countries by year's end
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas intends to carry out a tour that will include a number of Arab and European countries, according to a leading Palestine Liberation Organization official on Wednesday. Yasser Abed Rabu, the PLO Executive Committee's secretary-general, said Abbas would visit Tunis, Algeria, Morocco, Spain and France. Rabu added that the president's goals were to "rescue" the peace process from Israeli threats and settlement activity, and shore up support from the international community in favor of a just resolution to Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

U.S.: We will be flexible on conditions for Mideast talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

A State Department spokesman said on Friday that the Obama administration will be flexible on pre-conditions for all parties involved in Middle East peace negotiations. "We put forward our ideas, publicly and privately, about what it will take for negotiations to be restarted, but ultimately it'll be up to the parties themselves, with our help, to determine whether that threshold has been met," spokesman P.J. Crowley said, adding that the U.S. position on an Israeli settlement freeze remains unchanged."

Report: Meshal to fly to Cairo to approve Shalit deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal is expected to fly to Cairo next week to approve a deal that includes the release of captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, the London-based Arabic language newspaper al-Hayat reported on Friday. Meanwhile, a German intelligence official has arrived in Cairo to help mediate on the Shalit deal, senior German officials told Haaretz on Thursday.

Israel arrests 5 Palestinians ahead of Ramadan prayers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Jerusalem Police on Friday arrested five Palestinians in the vicinity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount ahead of Ramadan prayers, Israel Radio reported. One of the men, a resident of the Isawiyah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, attacked a police officer and lightly hurt him after being asked to undergo a security check. Another man, a resident of Rahat, was arrested for carrying a knife, while a Gaza man was detained for being in the area without a permit.

US: Settlements no precondition on Mideast talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

The United States indicated Friday that its calls on Israel to freeze settlements were not a precondition for restarting Middle East peace talks, as the Jewish state held firm in its refusal. President Barack Obama's administration insisted it was not changing its stance, which has caused friction with the close US ally, that Israel halt all settlements in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. But State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the main US goal was to relaunch talks between Israel and the Palestinians, who will decide for themselves on the contours of a peace deal.

PM faces uprising over 'settlement halt'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Hoffman - August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will return from his European trip to find that two Likud rallies have been organized to express opposition to the settlement freeze he reportedly negotiated with US envoy George Mitchell in London. The first, scheduled for Tuesday at Tel Aviv's Azrieli Tower, was organized by Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled. It is not officially an anti-Netanyahu rally but rather a "pro-Jerusalem event," and yet MKs who attend are expected to bash the deal the prime minister is negotiating with the Americans.

Israel hobbling West Bank economy, says Tony Blair
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Ben Lynfield - August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel's delaying tactics over the launch of a new Palestinian mobile phone network could deal a substantial blow to the West Bank's economy, Tony Blair warned yesterday in his capacity as the international community's Middle East envoy. Wataniya Mobile, based in Qatar, has been preparing for the launch of Palestine's second mobile telecoms company since 2007, with the second largest private investment in West Bank history, amounting to $700m.

Netanyahu: We haven’t agreed to a settlement freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel’s prime minister denied reports that Israel has agreed to halt construction in West Bank settlements. At a news conference in Berlin on Thursday following his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Benjamin Netanyahu also said the Palestinians first must recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state before negotiations could be held.

Obama steers the peace train
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Jerrold Kessel, Pierre Klochendler - August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

It isn't formal yet, but it's bound to be soon - within the coming six weeks, Palestinians and Israelis will again sit down around the peace table. That's the upshot of Wednesday's London meeting between United States President Barack Obama's special Middle East envoy, Senator George Mitchell, and Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu. Mitchell is set to come to Jerusalem in a fortnight's time with the goal of finalizing an agreement on both an Israeli settlement freeze and the consequent re-igniting of direct peace talks.

Running to stand still? The peace test for Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Philip Stephens - August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu has what kindly observers might describe as a credibility problem. Travelling in Europe this week, the Israeli prime minister said he was straining every sinew to restart peace talks with the Palestinians. His interlocutors were unconvinced. Mr Netanyahu looks too much like a politician running in the cause of standing still.

Bibi in control until Obama calls settlements illegal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Alan Philps - (Opinion) August 27, 2009 - 12:00am

In June, Barack Obama declared to the consternation of Israel that “the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements”. Since then the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has chipped away at the principle of a total freeze on settlement building with what looks like increasing success.

Hamas fights the Salafists to gain more legitimacy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Mkhaimar Abusada - August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

The recent shoot-out in a Gaza mosque between Hamas security officers and militants from the radical jihadist group the Warriors of God brought to the surface the deep tensions that divide Palestinian Islamists. Twenty-two people died, including the Warriors of God’s leader, Abdel-Latif Moussa. But Palestinian security officials doubt that these will be the last casualties.

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