Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israeli government plans to add 900 new settler housing units in occupied East Jerusalem draws ire from the US government, the UN, Europeans, Palestinians and Arabs. Israeli bulldozers demolish two Palestinian apartments in the city. A group of Jewish Americans is on a mission to buy property in Jerusalem and other parts of the occupied territories. A commentary in Ha'aretz suggests that PM Netanyahu senses US weakness on Jerusalem, but another suggests that he has a personal and political interest in advancing peace. A new poll finds 75% of Jewish Israelis support negotiations with the PA. In Cairo, Pres. Abbas reaffirms a commitment to seek UN recognition of Palestinian statehood, and an editorial in the Arab News argues that if both Israel and Hamas are against the idea, it must have some merit. Rami Khouri argues that the world is tiring of the Palestinian question, and Daoud Kuttab says that Palestinians have no choice left other than unilateral action. Shai Feldman and Khalil Shikaki propose guiding principles for further US engagement in Israeli-Palestinian peace making.

Plan to Expand Jerusalem Settlement Angers U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - November 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel said Tuesday that it had advanced plans to expand a Jewish district of Jerusalem in territory that was captured in the 1967 war and that the Palestinians claim as part of their future state. The move is likely to further complicate the Obama administration’s faltering efforts to restart peace talks.

Housing plan for Jerusalem neighborhood spurs criticism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

City officials moved forward Tuesday with a plan to build 900 homes in a disputed neighborhood of Jerusalem, prompting sharp criticism from the White House, the Palestinians and others who feel it will further undermine the chance of renewing peace talks. The new units will expand the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo, one of several built on land taken by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed to the city in a step not recognized by the international community.

Middle East peace: Is two-state solution kaput?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by John V. Whitbeck - (Opinion) November 17, 2009 - 1:00am

The seemingly perpetual Middle East "peace process" is now at a moment of truth. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said so himself at a press conference on Nov. 4.

Israel razes Palestinian homes in Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli bulldozers demolished a two-family Palestinian home in the town of Al-Isawiya in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday, the second home demolition in two days. Residents of the town said Israeli forces entered the village with three bulldozers on the premise of carrying out demolition orders, and noted Israeli police and border guards blocked off the main entrances of the community.

Abbas in Cairo: PA committed to seeking UN recognition
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

President Abbas confirmed on Tuesday the unilateral decision to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state in accordance with the recent Arab Peace Initiative committee’s support, during a news conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mobarak. Abbas confirmed the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to appealing to the UN Security Council for a resolution recognizing a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with Arab support.

ANALYSIS / Netanyahu senses Obama's weakness on Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Analysis) November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

If there is anything that irks the White House more than news from the American consulate in Jerusalem about new West Bank settlements, it is a newspaper report on a new neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Thus when U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, on Monday about a new construction project in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood, which is beyond the 1967 lines, Mitchell was hoping to settle the matter quietly.

Comment / Why Netanyahu really does want to advance peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - (Opinion) November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

I could hear the prime minister's familiar voice on the telephone. "I want to advance a peace agreement with the Palestinians. I am capable of achieving an agreement. I have the political will inside me," Benjamin Netanyahu told me. He repeated this message during his speeches at the conference of Jewish communities in Washington and at the Saban Forum in Jerusalem: great concessions, generosity of spirit, territorial compromise, let's start negotiations and surprise the world, he said.

Poll: Record high support of peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

According to the monthly War and Peace Index, some 75% of the Jewish public in Israel support holding peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. This marks the highest support rate recorded on the War and Peace index in recent years. Despite the optimistic numbers, the public is split vis-à-vis the demand to freeze construction in settlements in order to advance negotiations.

Ban Ki-moon condemns plan to expand Gilo
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly denounced Wednesday Israel's plan to expand the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, calling it a blatant expansion of a settlement. A spokesman for the secretary general said that Ban "believes that such actions undermine efforts for peace and cast doubt on the viability of the two-state solution". The Secretary-General reiterated his position that settlements are illegal, and called on Israel to respect its commitments under the Road Map to cease all settlement activity, including natural growth.

America speaks Arabic
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Moshe Elad - (Opinion) November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

US Special Envoy Mitchell’s demand that the Israeli government refrain from building in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood is merely the prelude to a process meant to erode the legitimate status of Israel’s Jerusalem neighborhoods. These neighborhoods (including Gilo, Ramot Alon, French Hill, and Neve Yaakov) were built after the Six-Day War within the jurisdiction of Israel’s capital; now, they are finally being granted American recognition of their traditional Palestinian name: Settlements.

U.S. Jews on mission to buy in settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
November 17, 2009 - 1:00am

A group of American Jews arrived in Israel on a mission to promote home purchases in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. The 46 members of the three-day mission, which began Monday, were scheduled to meet with realtors.

A Vacuum Can Also be Used
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Husam Itani - (Opinion) November 17, 2009 - 1:00am

In his reaction to the recent Palestinian stance, Benjamin Netanyahu included the following elements: it is forbidden for you to go to the Security Council to issue a resolution that recognizes your future state. If you do this, you will not find international support. If you do obtain this support, we will put an end to this attempt by force.

Israel’s double standards
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Faisal Al Rfouh - (Opinion) November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel orchestrated a drama, interdicting a cargo ship on November 3 for allegedly carrying Iranian arms for Hizbollah and then releasing it after nothing incriminating was found. Israel’s reported justification for its action under UN Resolution 1747 looks paradoxical in view of its utter and open defiance of all UN resolutions pertaining to the Palestinian issue, particularly resolutions 242, 338 and 194.

The world tires of the Palestinian cause
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

The atmosphere in Cairo this week tells us much about the contemporary Arab world’s view of the Pa­lestine cause in relation to domestic issues in every Arab country. Ordinary Arabs and their governments alike seem fed up with the incompetence of the Palestinian leadership, while remaining strongly committed emotionally to the justice and rights of the Palestinian cause. This is emotionally satisfying for Palestinians, but not very promising politically.

Let down by Obama, Palestinians see few options
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Tom Perry - (Opinion) November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

With US diplomacy seemingly going nowhere, Palestinians are exploring desperate and at best symbolic measures to press a demand for a state that even firm believers in peace among them fear may never emerge. Appeals to the United Nations and European Union to consider recognizing a state that Israel says it cannot accept on the Palestinians’ terms look unlikely to break the deadlock.

Editorial: Time for action
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

If both Israel and Hamas condemn the proposal of a UN declaration of independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, as they have, it suggests it must be the right idea. The Palestinian Authority has come up with it because nothing is happening to the peace process. It is their way of forcing it back onto the international agenda.

The Only Hope Left?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Daoud Kuttab - November 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Mahmoud Abbas is in a bind. Faced with a seemingly insurmountable impasse to negotiations with Israel, the Palestinian Authority president can either resign from his PLO chairmanship or come up with some serious, unilateral action to break the deadlock. With hopes that Barack Obama would stand up to the right-wing Israeli leadership dashed, an unwillingness to return to violent resistance, and the inability to resign his presidency of the PA in protest, the Palestinian leader has no alternative but to declare a Palestinian state unilaterally.

The Obama Presidency and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Brandeis University Crown Center for Middle East Studies
by Shai Feldman, Khalil Shikaki - November 18, 2009 - 1:00am

The first ten months of the Obama administration’s efforts to achieve a breakthrough in Arab-Israeli peacemaking have led to widespread disappointment among Palestinians and to growing anxiety among Israelis. Inevitably, this unsatisfactory interim report card is partly a result of the high expectations created by President Barack Obama himself, during the presidential campaign as well as in his inaugural address and following his inauguration.

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