Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Palestinian election commission recommends postponing scheduled January voting. Pres. Abbas must approve the proposal, which has already led to squabbling between Hamas and Fatah. Israel's expulsion of a Palestinian student from the West Bank to Gaza continues to draw criticism, including from the US government. AP says radicals will fill the void if peace talks collapse. UPI outlines the benefits and risks of the PA state building plan. In a new poll, more than half of Israelis back talks with Hamas. At least one Palestinian is killed in the central Gaza Strip as Israeli leaders say they are prepared to attack the area again if necessary. Ha'aretz reports FM Lieberman has dropped peace initiatives from Foreign Ministry priorities. Palestinians warns Israeli diplomacy may now focus on Syria. The Gulf News profiles Palestinian construction magnate Hassib Sabagh. In the New Yorker, Lawrence Wright investigates the Gaza war.

Palestinian Officials Push for Delay in Elections
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - November 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections cannot be held on their scheduled date in January, Palestinian Authority election officials said Thursday. The announcement removed some of the immediate uncertainty surrounding the future of the current president, Mahmoud Abbas, who said recently that he would not run for a second term.

Israel challenged on Gazan's ejection from West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Gaza-born Berlanty Azzam, 21, was two months from receiving her bachelor's degree from Bethlehem University when the past caught up with her. During a routine stop at a West Bank checkpoint on Oct. 28, an Israeli guard noticed Gaza City as the town of residence on her ID, placed her under arrest for being in the West Bank without permission and, within hours, had her deported back to the Gaza Strip, blindfolded briefly and in handcuffs.

Mideast radicals fill space left by peace impasse
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Marjorie Olster - November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Iran's closest allies in the Middle East are seizing on a deadlock in U.S.-backed peace efforts to try to sway a frustrated Arab world to their side.

Fayyad plan for Palestinian state is risky
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from United Press International (UPI)
(Analysis) November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has a plan to establish a de facto Palestinian state in the West Bank by 2011, throwing 16 years of futile peacemaking out the window. This is a risky business because it frightens the Israelis as well as his Palestinian opponents. When Fayyad first unveiled his plans in August, U.S. President Barack Obama's administration gave it the green light and deposited $200 million into the Palestinian Authority's treasury, which Fayyad controls.

Israelis seen backing possible talks with Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

More than half of Israelis would support peace talks with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas if it recognised Israel, a poll published on Friday said. The results of the survey conducted by the Israeli Dialog Institute seemed to suggest Israelis were blaming Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a Hamas rival, for a deadlock in peace talks, more than Israel's rightist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Haaretz newspaper wrote.

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli forces killed a young Palestinian man and injured three others in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. Among the injured were two brothers, according to medics, who said the shooting occurred in the Johr Ad-Dik area and that another Palestinian was hospitalized. There were conflicting reports on what led to the incident. Palestinian witnesses said the group was on a hunting trip near the border east of Al-Bureij refugee camp when Israeli forces opened fire. Local medics said the fire was directed at the youths.

Hamas, Fatah spar over elections delay
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

The Central Elections Commission does not have the capacity to hold elections on 24 January, the body's chairman Hanna Nasser announced on Thursday. Nasser said in a Ramallah news conference that the commission sent a letter to President Mahmoud Abbas explaining the situation, and noting that it is not up to the commission to decide when to hold elections, if they are not held on the 24th. The decision will effectively postpone Palestinian presidential and legislative elections to an unknown date.

IDF Chief: Israel will fight in Gaza again if needed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Friday that the army would not hesitate to respond if Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip continued to fire rockets at Israel. "We are prepared to contend with the whole arc of threats," Ashkenazi told students during a visit to a Be'er Sheva high school, citing both the local defense situation as well as Iran's contentious nuclear program.

Under Lieberman, Foreign Ministry drops peace initiatives as goal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has set priorities for his ministry that apparently are at odds with those of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While Netanyahu is trying to convince U.S. President Barack Obama that he is sincere about advancing the peace process on the principle of two states for two peoples, the foreign ministry's written goals don't even mention the word "Palestinians." The ministry has also dropped assisting Israelis abroad from its list of goals.

Abbas must unilaterally declare Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yossi Sarid - (Opinion) November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

It is precisely now that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas must not give up hope, and not because of the sweet nothings that Shimon Peres uttered at the rally in the square last Saturday night about people giving up hope in Ramallah. As if at the President's Residence every day is Carnaval, and not only when he's packing his bags for his trip to Brazil.

PA: Israel to focus on Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Despite Israel's denial that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a secret message of reconciliation to Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Palestinian Authority is convinced that something has changed in the Israeli approach, and that Jerusalem is now planning to focus its efforts on renewing talks with Damascus.

Fatah signals new strategy if Abbas quits
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck - November 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Shaken by the prospect of losing their veteran leader, senior Palestinian officials have started debating fresh strategies in their long-running conflict with Israel in the hope of galvanising international support for their cause.

Israel's dark view of the world
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Charles Grant - (Opinion) November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

The official explained to Bibi Netanyahu that if there was a peace settlement, extra investment would push Israel's long-term growth rate from 5% a year to 7%. The Israeli prime minister responded that if the country had 5% growth, it did not need peace. Netanyahu was joking, according to the official who recounted the story – but the quip highlights a serious point. There is no prospect of a settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, and many Israelis are fairly relaxed about that. During a recent visit to Israel, I met very few people who were optimistic about the peace process.

US ‘very concerned’ about Palestinian student deportation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Two weeks ago, Berlanty Azzam was blindfolded, handcuffed and driven from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers who claimed the Palestinian university student was illegally residing in the occupied territory. Ms Azzam’s expulsion and rough treatment by the Israeli military have drawn wide international media attention and have threatened to deepen a rift between the country and its US ally, the Jersusalem consul general for which was quoted in Israeli newspapers as saying he was “very concerned” by the incident.

The US and peace: more than a dance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

There’s an increasing sentiment in the US, particularly among the liberal Left, that America has done all it can in the Middle East. If the Israelis and Palestinians don’t want peace, then why should America make them? Even more pernicious is the notion that withdrawing from the debate will allow the two sides to grow up and solve problems like adults. This is false. If the US had entered the process by choice, then it had no business being involved in the first place; but that is not the case.

US relations with Israel unchanged
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Marwan Al Kabalan - (Opinion) November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

The fact that US President Barack Obama sent White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to meet with the leaders of the pro-Israel lobbies in the US this week did nothing but feed speculation about how much power and influence these groups wield on US Middle East policy. The purpose of the meeting was to ask these groups to help convince Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze colony expansion in the Occupied Territories and facilitate the resumption of Middle East peace talks.

From Palestinian refugee to citizen of the world
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Joseph A. Kechichian - November 13, 2009 - 1:00am

At 90 years of age and in frail health after suffering a stroke in 2002, Hasib J. Sabbagh is that rare billionaire who not only made his fortune in the construction business but also defined Arab work ethics and quiet-behind-the-scene efficiency. Sabbagh's contribution to peace efforts in the Middle East are well-known, although his attempts to find "a solution to the dilemma of the Palestinian people" through the establishment of an independent state have not borne fruit.

ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New Yorker
by Lawrence Wright - (Opinion) November 9, 2009 - 1:00am

In southwest Israel, at the border of Egypt and the Gaza Strip, there is a small crossing station not far from a kibbutz named Kerem Shalom. A guard tower looms over the flat, scrubby buffer zone. Gaza never extends more than seven miles wide, and the guards in the tower can see the Mediterranean Sea, to the north.

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