Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The New York Times says the Obama administration needs a more imaginative approach to peacemaking. After settlers vow to defy the construction moratorium, and describe Pres. Obama as "the enemy of the Jews," Israel hires more building inspectors. The Christian Science Monitor interviews Hamas official Aziz Dweik. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stresses the importance of creating a Palestinian state. German mediators are reportedly attempting to finalize a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, but Mossad has recommended that Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti not be included. Quartet envoy Tony Blair says without a two state agreement there will be a "hell of a fight." YNet urges Netanyahu to take responsibility for Minister Limor Livnat's description of the Obama administration as "awful." The National profiles employment difficulties facing Palestinian women in Israel. Al-Hayat compares the difficulties faced by El-Baradei and Mitchell dealing with Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad. Rami Khouri says the Palestinians should call Israel's bluff and returned to negotiations with an aggressive agenda. Yossi Alpher argues that the PA government state building plan provides hope in the West Bank, but a different approach is required for Gaza.

Diplomacy 101
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) November 27, 2009 - 1:00am

We were thrilled when President Obama decided to plunge fully into the Middle East peace effort. He appointed a skilled special envoy, George Mitchell, and demanded that Israel freeze settlements, Palestinians crack down on anti-Israel violence and Arab leaders demonstrate their readiness to reach out to Israel. The Israelis have refused to stop all building. The Palestinians say that they won’t talk to the Israelis until they do, and President Mahmoud Abbas is so despondent he has threatened to quit. Arab states are refusing to do anything.

Israel to Recruit More Building Inspectors to Enforce a Freeze on West Bank Construction
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - November 29, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, instructed his staff on Sunday to recruit dozens of new building inspectors to supervise the government’s temporary construction freeze in West Bank settlements, while some settler leaders vowed to defy the building ban. Mr. Barak’s hurried efforts and the settler threats illustrated both the government’s seriousness and the difficulty it could face in carrying out its decision to halt new housing starts in the settlements over the next 10 months.

If Mahmoud Abbas steps down, Hamas official next in line
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - November 27, 2009 - 1:00am

If Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of the mainstream Fatah party makes good on his threat to resign, the man constitutionally assured his post is from the rival Hamas faction. His name is Aziz Dweik, a leading member of Hamas who was released from Israeli prison this summer after being held for three years.

UN chief stresses importance of creating Palestinian State
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
November 29, 2009 - 1:00am

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday expressed concern over the deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian talks and stressed the importance of creating the right conditions for the two sides to build sufficient mutual trust to resume negotiations. "It is vital that a sovereign State of Palestine is achieved," the UN chief said in a message marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which is observed annually on Nov. 29.

Report: German mediator arrives in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

A German mediator arrived in Gaza City on Monday to deliver Israel's final response to Hamas' demands over an impending prisoner swap deal, the Dubai-based satellite network Al-Arabiyya reported. Meanwhile, other Hamas sources ruled out the possibility that the movement would issue a response before sending a delegation of its own to Damascus to consult with leadership there. Israel will release 980 Palestinians in exchange for a soldier captured in 2006, its State Attorney's Office said Sunday. The office said Hamas will select 450 names and Israel will choose the rest.

Israel: 980 Palestinians slated for release
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel will release 980 Palestinians in exchange for a soldier captured in 2006, its State Attorney's Office said Sunday. The office said Hamas will select 450 names and Israel will choose the rest. The announcement came after an activist group petitioned the country's Supreme Court against a swap deal, according to the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Settlers label Obama 'enemy of the Jews'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

Members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own party held a meeting on Saturday to voice outrage at a declared slowdown in construction of West Bank settlements. Settler leaders were among the 200 members of the ruling Likud party who attended the meeting in the city of Ra’ana inside Israel. The right-wing activists saved their most intense criticism for US President Barack Obama, who for 10 months has been urging a total freeze on the expansion of settlements on land taken from Palestinians.

Report: German mediator arrives in Gaza for fresh Shalit talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff, Tomer Zarchin - November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

The German mediator involved in negotiations for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit arrived in Gaza on Monday to relay Israel's answer to Hamas' demands in the talks, the Al-Arabiya TV network reported. According to the report, the mediator was to meet with Hamas representatives later Monday, but the Islamist militant group would only respond to the Israeli offer after consultations between its leaderships in Gaza and Damascus.

Hamas influence in Gaza is growing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - (Opinion) November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

What can we learn from the state's response Sunday to a High Court of Justice petition demanding the publication of which Palestinian prisoners would be freed in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit? Not much.

Blair: 2-state solution or 'hell of a fight'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - November 29, 2009 - 1:00am

Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair portrayed Sunday a harsh picture of the region without a Palestinian state. "The alternative to a two-state solution is a one-state solution and that will, I assure you, be a hell of fight," he said in an interview to the CNN network. According to Blair, the next month "will be completely critical and fundamental" in the efforts to resume direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The former British prime minister noted that it was essential for the sides to sit down and talk "as quickly as possible".

Case of Israeli chutzpah
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Orly Azoulay - November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

Exactly at the time when US President Barack Obama was holding the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, Minister Limor Livnat was speaking in Beersheba and badmouthing the American Administration. We have never faced such terrible US Administration, she said. Never before has an Israeli minister spoken out about the American government that way; at least not publicly.

Costa Rican president: Palestinians don't need army
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Netanel Shlomovich - November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

The recipe for peace between Israel and the Palestinians includes negotiations, honesty, immediate talks on the core issues, and the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state – this is the vision presented by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias in a special interview with Ynet. Arias, who is currently visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority, boasts extensive experience in mediating peace agreements; his efforts prompted his Nobel Peace Prize win in 1987.

‘Arab women need not apply’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel’s finance minister was accused last week of trying to deflect attention from discriminatory policies keeping many of the country’s Arab families in poverty by blaming their economic troubles on what he described as Arab society’s opposition to women working. A recent report from Israel’s National Insurance Institute showed that half of all Arab families in Israel are classified as poor compared with just 14 per cent of Jewish families.

El-Baradei and George Mitchell
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Elias Harfoush - (Opinion) November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

How can diplomacy succeed, even when managed by men like Mohamed El-Baradei or George Mitchell, when they have to deal with Benjamin Netanyahu or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

We should call Israel's bet, then raise
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement a few days ago, that Israel would suspend all new housing construction in the occupied West Bank for 10 months, while other building and colonial ventures continued, reminds us that we are passing through another episode of a long-running tale of biblical proportions: Arabs and Israelis reject or stall American peace-making efforts; stalemate ensues amid mutual accusations of insincerity; Israel takes a unilateral initiative that many hail as a positive step, but that the Arabs see as not enough and mostly deception; and the conflict and

Devious ways
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t really believe the Palestinians would thank him for deciding to temporarily freeze settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli prime minister received the Palestinian reply immediately after he announced a 10-month settlement freeze in the West Bank: Any temporary halt that did not include East Jerusalem is a nonstarter. The really important question, which interests Netanyahu more than anything else, is how US President Barack Obama will view his proposal.

The vision and nightmare
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, has an idea. That happens to him quite often. One might almost say — too often. It goes like this: The US will turn its back on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The entire world will follow. Everybody is fed up with this conflict. Let the Israelis and the Palestinians sort out their problems by themselves.

Two alternative paths
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Editorial) November 23, 2009 - 1:00am

I continue to believe that a bilaterally negotiated two-state solution between Israel and the PLO is the optimal outcome and is possible. But not under the leadership currently in power in all the relevant capitals: Jerusalem, Ramallah, Gaza, Cairo and last but not least (on the basis of its first 10 months' performance) Washington. In the absence of credible hope for a near-term solution, a number of alternative paths to progress present themselves. Two are reflected in evolving realities on the ground, hence appear to be the most pragmatic. They are not mutually exclusive.

Hamas Bans Women Dancers, Scooter Riders in Gaza Push
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bloomberg
by Dan Williams - November 30, 2009 - 1:00am

The Islamic Hamas movement banned girls last month from riding behind men on motor scooters and forbade women from dancing at the opening of a folk museum. Girls in some public schools must wear headscarves and cloaks. Signs of Hamas’s creeping Islamization are everywhere in Gaza, the Mediterranean coastal enclave that Hamas has run by itself since 2007. Gaza is already politically divided from the West Bank, the Palestinian territory administered by the secular Fatah movement.

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