Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Washington Post says the PA government state building plan could provide the key to peace, the Arab News points out that no one has any better ideas, and the World Bank is donating $64 million toward the effort. Israel closes the only oil and gas terminal on the Gaza border. AFP profiles the plight of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Egypt says Israel is stalling on a prisoner exchange with Hamas, and may offer a new plan for Palestinian reconciliation. Jordan's Foreign Minister confirms his country's interest in the creation of a Palestinian state. Israel is ignoring 400 Palestinian home demolition appeals. A commentary in Ha'aretz says the settlement moratorium is part of a "masquerade," and the paper also interviews an extremist Jewish settler. Israeli diplomats are preparing to combat a Swedish EU initiative to recognize occupied East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. The Media Line profiles the new Palestinian "planned" city in the West Bank, and some Zionists around the world express outrage at the Jewish National Fund decision to donate 3,000 trees to the project. Ir Amim explains the dangers of new settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem. The Daily Star reviews Joe Sacco's new graphic novel "Footnotes in Gaza."

The Fayyad plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
(Editorial) December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

ISRAELI PRIME Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took office in March after a campaign in which he refused to support Palestinian statehood, promised an expansion of Jewish settlement in the West Bank and hinted at a new military campaign to "topple" Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Eight months later, the Israeli leader is on record as accepting a Palestinian state, is deep in negotiations with Hamas over a possible prisoner swap, and -- most remarkably of all -- has dispatched inspectors and security forces to the West Bank to enforce a 10-month suspension in Jewish housing construction.

Israel closes sole oil and gas terminal on Gaza border
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Erin Cunningham - December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

The population of the Gaza Strip is facing an acute cooking gas shortage this winter, after a unilateral Israeli decision in October to permanently close the sole oil and gas terminal between the coastal Palestinian territory and the Jewish state. The Nahal Oz crossing has been shut down for "security reasons," an official with the Israeli coordination office for the Gaza Strip said, adding that it will only act as "a backup" when the Kerem Shalom crossing in the south is too congested.

Lebanon's Palestinians: refugees for life
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
by Rita Daou - December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's visit to Beirut on Monday casts the spotlight on the plight of nearly 300,000 Palestinians in Lebanon who fear they are doomed to be refugees for life. His brief trip comes amid renewed efforts to revive the Middle East peace process and concern in Lebanon's political circles that any deal struck on the refugee issue would be at the expense of the Lebanese.

Egypt says Israel stalling on prisoner swap
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit accused Israel on Sunday of stalling on a prisoner swap with Hamas for a captured Israeli soldier by refusing to free certain Palestinian prisoners. "Israel is still placing obstacles toward releasing all those demanded by the Palestinians," said Abul Gheit, according to a statement released by the foreign ministry. "We hope that the Israeli side, which decided to achieve this exchange, will go through with it and not place further obstacles," he said.

Jordanian FM: Establishing Palestinian state in Jordan's interest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Visiting Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh Saturday said establishing an independent Palestinian state is in Jordan's interest. "Establishing a Palestinian state is part of the Arab peace initiative... and it is in Jordan's interest," Judeh told a joint news conference with Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Reyadal-Maliki following a meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This is the only solution to conflicts in the region, he added.

Israeli forces kill Israeli man at Gaza border
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli forces shot and killed an Israeli citizen near a Gaza border crossing overnight, an official said. An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma'an that forces opened fire at the man, a civilian in his 30s, as he attempted to enter northern Gaza near the Erez crossing early Monday. The spokeswoman added that when Defense Ministry guards identified seeing the man they first fired warning shots but ultimately targeted him when he failed to respond. The forces aimed at his lower body, she said.

Report: Egypt to offer new reconciliation plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Egypt intends to propose a new suggestion to the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation plan, focusing on disputed points, while Cairo will ask both sides to either accept or refuse the plan as a whole, but will not allow amendments, according to Al-Yaum, a Saudi newspaper, on Monday. Egyptian mediators will restart dialogue that was frozen for months following the Palestinian Authority's deferred discussion of the UN-backed Goldstone report, a high-profile source said Monday.

Israel ignoring 400 Palestinian house demolition appeals
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

The State Prosecutor's Office never responded to some 400 High Court petitions filed by Palestinians seeking to save their West Bank homes from demolition orders - which means the homes cannot be demolished - according to an advocacy-group report released today. The homes were classified by the state as being illegally built.

'The Freeze' is just another scene in Israel's masquerade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Like every production, be it a flop or a hit, the future of this show will also be decided by the audience. In the meantime, as the first act shifts into high gear, the viewers are yawning. The government and the settlers are proud to introduce "The Freeze," a show in which both sides play - in quite unconvincing fashion - already scripted parts. During the first act, no real, historic edict has been issued. Rather, these decrees are just props. Thus, nobody will evacuate one balcony in the final scene.

Meet Daniel Pinner - an extremist West Bank settler
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - (Interview) December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Daniel Pinner, whose monologue follows, lives in the settlement of Kfar Tapuah, which was founded in 1978 by a core group of members of Moshav Bareket belonging to the Hapoel Hamizrachi movement and is defined as a "religious communal" settlement. In 1990 Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane (the son of Meir Kahane, founder of the extreme right-wing Kach party, which was banned in 1994) moved there; he was murdered, together with his wife Talia in 2001, in a shooting on a highway south of the settlement of Ofra. Following the younger Kahane, others identified with the Kach movement moved to Tapuah.

Israel gears to fight Swedish initiative
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

A senior political source defined Monday Sweden's attempt to declare Jerusalem the capital of Palestine as an "underhanded move by Stockholm, a mere moment before its term as head of the European Union is over. We are making efforts to thwart this move at the highest diplomatic levels." The European Union's foreign ministers are scheduled to convene in Brussels later Monday, ahead of the EU meet scheduled to take place in the city on December 10. The agenda for the second day of the conference is said to include the Balkans, the Middle East peace process and Iran.

World Bank gives Palestinian Authority $64 million
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

The World Bank has given $64 million to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to help it prepare for statehood. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad signed the agreement on Sunday. World Bank official Shamshad Akhtar says the goal is to boost Fayyad's plan to set up institutions for a state within two years, though talks with Israel are stalemated. A World Bank delegation visiting the West Bank and Gaza Strip will also look for ways to ease entry of construction materials into Gaza.

Planned City “Rawabi” Draws on Palestinian Enterprise and Israeli Experience
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Felice Friedson - November 29, 2009 - 1:00am

Just six miles north of Ramallah, Palestinians have begun planting thousands of evergreen tree saplings as part of a major greening project to grow a forest to hug the edges of what will be the first planned Palestinian city. The city is already named Rawabi, Arabic for “hills”. For Palestinians it presents a new kind of urbanism, which aims to draw middle-class professionals away from smoggy towns and villages towards a better way of life.

New Construction in East Jerusalem: What it Really Means
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Orly Noy - December 3, 2009 - 1:00am

The recent diplomatic and journalistic storm over plans to expand the Gilo neighborhood in Jerusalem exposed a fundamental difference of view between Israel and many of its strongest supporters. Reacting to news that plans for 900 new dwellings in Gilo were to be approved by the Jerusalem Planning Committee, the White House was said to be "dismayed" by the move, and the UN General Secretary Ban-Ki Moon "deplored" it.

Israeli resentment grows on trees
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Seth Freedman - (Opinion) December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is no stranger to controversy, its sectarian approach to charity work having fomented tension for decades in Israel and abroad. The JNF is once again embroiled in a row, though this time the tables have turned, with the fund's administrators finding themselves cast as pantomime villains by diehard supporters of the Jewish state.

Editorial: Fayyad’s plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Both the Palestinian and Israeli public have taken great interest in the plan by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad proposing the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state within two years, and taking the case to the UN Security Council for recognition of the prospective state. The expected response, by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been to warn against any unilateral steps by the Palestinians.

Altogether more than a footnote
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Olivia Snaije - December 4, 2009 - 1:00am

The first thing that comes to mind when holding graphic novelist and journalist Joe Sacco’s new book, “Footnotes in Gaza,” is the colossal amount of work that went into it. Not only is this pen-and-ink graphic novel almost 400 pages long, the subject too is heavy: The Israeli military’s massacre of Palestinian civilians in Khan Younis and Rafah (Gaza), during the 1956 Suez Crisis. The Malta-born American researched and reported on the subject for seven years, making two extended trips to Gaza – where he was often under fire from weapons paid for with his tax dollars.

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