Middle East News: World Press Roundup

American, Israeli and Arab commentators continue to analyze the tripartite meeting at the UN on Tuesday, with most evaluations being largely negative. The Washington Post highlights the difficulties in framing permanent status talks between Israel and the Palestinians. There are contradictory reports as to whether Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will speak directly next week or only to their American counterparts, and whether or not the US will seek to block implementation of the Goldstone report into the Gaza war. Israeli and Palestinian officials continue to blame each other for lack of progress. The Globe and Mail examines recently released Geneva Accord documents. Right-wing MKs say Prime Minister Netanyahu "celebrated prematurely" before President Obama's UN speech. Hussein Ibish makes the case that the speech significantly strengthens the Palestinian hand going into negotiations.

Starting Point for Mideast Talks Remains an Issue, Analysts Say
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

President Obama's personal push to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will face a tough early hurdle in simply getting the two sides to agree on a starting point for negotiations, according to Israeli and Palestinian analysts.

No meetings between Israelis, Palestinians planned
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - September 23, 2009 - 12:00am

Israelis and Palestinians said Wednesday that their envoys would meet with U.S. officials but not with each other, cementing the impression that a U.S.-sponsored meeting between their leaders had fallen flat. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said there would be no follow-up session with the Israelis because the two sides hadn't bridged the divides that have prevented them from resuming talks. "It's not happening because we agreed to continue dealing with the Americans until we reach the agreement that will enable us to relaunch the negotiations," Erekat said.

UN announces 400 million PA shortfall; donors pledge 400 million
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Following an announcement that the Palestinian Authority would face a 400 million dollar shortfall at year-end, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad made an announcement from New York that donors have pledged to make up that 400 million.

Israeli, Palestinian negotiators to meet in New York Thursday
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

The first meeting of the Palestinian and Israeli negotiation teams will be held in New York on Thursday, sources said. According to the Hebrew Israeli daily paper Ma’ariv, heading the Israeli team will be aide to the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Mulkho. Heading the Palestinian team is Chief Negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization Dr Saeb Erekat.

Abbas: Partial halt on settlement activity is not a freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Just days after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama in New York, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he saw no common ground on which to renew peace negotiations. In an interview with the Al-Hayyat daily, Abbas called the Netanyahu government "a real problem." The Palestinian leader added that he could not agree to Israel's compromise for a partial settlement freeze, which he said inherently implied continued construction. Advertisement

Netanyahu: No peace until Palestinians accept Israel as Jewish state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Haaretz on Wednesday that he would not agree to a Palestinian demand that Israel accept the 1967 borders as a condition for renewing peace negotiations. Netanyahu also gave a condition of his own, saying Thursday that he would never drop his demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. "I told Abu Mazen [Abbas] I believe peace hinges first on his readiness to stand before his people and say, 'We ... are committed to recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people'," Netanyahu said.

US official: Settlements preventing normalization
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

A US official held a meeting with Jewish leaders Wednesday and told them that Israel's failure to achieve normalization with Arab countries was largely due to its approval of 450 more housing units in West Bank settlements. He said the Israeli government had known that the Arab nations may recoil at the announcement, but had approved the construction anyway.

Obama says settlement building illegitimate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
September 23, 2009 - 12:00am

S President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the time has come to relaunch negotiations toward the long-elusive goal of Mideast peace. In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Obama said it was time for talks without preconditions to resolve disagreements on security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees and the status of Jerusalem itself. The president said the goal was clear: "Two states living side by side in peace and security." He said resolving the Mideast issue was essential to promoting a future of peace and prosperity.

No shortcuts to statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
(Opinion) September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

There may be something new under the sun after all – at least since the days when Balfour promised the Jews a National Home in Palestine and Trygve Lie oversaw the UN General Assembly's endorsement of the partition of Palestine.

MKs on Right: Netanyahu 'celebrated prematurely'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gil Hoffman - September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama's statements to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday about "not accepting the legitimacy of West Bank settlements" and "ending the occupation that began in 1967" proved that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "prematurely celebrated" what he thought was an American policy shift in Israel's favor, MKs on the Right said Wednesday.

A vision exists for Middle East peace – it's 423 pages long
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Globe and Mail
by Patrick Martin - September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the United Nations this week, refusing to give up on Middle East peace in spite of the failure of his emissary, George Mitchell, to find enough common ground between the two sides to justify a summit with Mr. Obama. If there ever is to be a two-state solution to the 61-year conflict, the final treaty will look a lot like a 423-page blueprint released last week.

Jewish groups, clerics back Obama peace efforts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
September 23, 2009 - 12:00am

A number of Jewish groups and rabbis joined an open letter backing President Obama's intensive efforts toward a broader Middle East peace. Leaders of J Street, Americans for Peace Now and the Reconstructionist movement as well to former presidents of the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis signed the letter published Tuesday, saying that "we believe bold American leadership can help Israelis and Palestinians make the difficult decisions necessary to achieve lasting peace and hold the parties to account should they fail to honor their commitments."

White House: Official ‘misspoke’ on Goldstone report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
September 23, 2009 - 12:00am

The White House says an official "misspoke" when he said the Obama administration would not allow the Goldstone report recommendations on Israel's conduct in the Gaza war to reach the International Criminal Court.

Can Obama make Middle East peace?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Jeremy Bowen - September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama is good at making speeches. His best ones create a powerfully seductive political mood that change is coming, not just at home but in the way the United States does business with the rest of the world. His address to the UN General Assembly showed, once again, not just his rhetorical skill but his understanding of the forces that drive international affairs. But his speeches cannot answer the biggest question about Mr Obama's leadership: can he translate fine words into concrete actions?

Trilateral talks head on path to nowhere
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Aaron David Miller - (Opinion) September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

In fall 2001, assigned as a State Department adviser to Middle East envoy Tony Zinni, I asked the general why he wanted to ruin a brilliant career by taking on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Smiling, he replied that he liked hopeless causes. In that case, I said, he’d come to the right place. Tuesday’s three-way meeting in New York among President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas strongly suggests that after six months of hard labor, another great American — George Mitchell — is being ground up in the maw of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Obama has joined the Arabs in falling for Netanyahu’s trap
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Emile Hokayem - (Opinion) September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

The Arab press has few good words for the US president Barack Obama’s recent performance on the Israeli-Palestinian front. Abdel Bari Atwan, the incomparable editor of the pan-Arab daily Al Quds al Arabi, wrote that it amounted to an outright surrender to the conditions of the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a meeting that brought the two men and the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas together on Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Elsewhere, the tone is less venomous but the bitterness is unmistakable.

What Remains of Obama's Initiative?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Elias Harfoush - (Opinion) September 23, 2009 - 12:00am

Senator George Mitchell does not deserve to end his diplomatic life amidst failure because of a conflict in the Middle East. But in reality, the reason behind this failure is not due to the experienced senator's lack of skills in rounding corners, but because he was deployed to a region witnessing a conflict that has marked its second decade and was not provided with the necessary weapons to achieve any progress.

More Than Just a Photo-Op
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Daniel Levy - (Analysis) September 24, 2009 - 12:00am

Headlines are now being prepared following U.S. President Barack Obama's convening of a trilateral Israeli-Palestinian-American peace summit today in New York. Many will seek to belittle the president's efforts thus far. The summit was being dismissed as a photo-op before it even happened.

Obama's UN speech greatly strengthens the Palestinian position in negotiations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - (Blog) September 23, 2009 - 12:00am

If Netanyahu and the Israelis felt like gloating last night and this morning, that feeling is long gone. President Obama’s speech at the UN General Assembly this morning laid down some very important markers for all parties and committed the United States to a number of principles and positions that are going to make life extremely difficult for any Israeli government that does not wish to cooperate on peace or thinks it is going to get a free ride from this administration.

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