Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The LA Times runs an obituary of Edward Sanders, Middle East adviser to Pres. Carter. Speculation continues to swirl around a possible prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, and the possible inclusion of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. The German mediator has asked Hamas to stop press leaks. Israel is reportedly planning to build a wall along the Egypt-Gaza border, and is banning foreign leaders from visiting the Strip. Israel's justice minister has come under heavy criticism for saying that Jewish religious law should be paramount in Israel. Ha'aretz runs a commentary questioning whether Israel is interested in peace, and another arguing that the settlers' own extremism will prove their undoing. A commentary in the Guardian points out how much American financial support underwrites settler extremism. The head of UNRWA says the plight of the refugees must be addressed. The Tablet website profiles PM Fayyad.

Edward Sanders dies at 87; advisor to President Carter on the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Edward Sanders, an attorney and leader in the Jewish community who served President Carter as a special advisor on Mideast policy, died Monday at his Los Angeles home. He was 87. The cause was cancer, according to his son-in-law, Stanley Witkow. Sanders gained prominence during the 1973 energy crisis when, as president of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, he challenged a letter from Standard Oil Co. to 300,000 stockholders that appeared to support a pro-Arab Mideast policy. He later became president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Popular Fatah Leader Complicates Prisoner Swap
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Charles Levinson - December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Marwan Barghouti, the popular imprisoned Palestinian leader, embodies the promise and the peril Israel faces as it negotiates with Hamas to trade hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for a long-held Israeli soldier. Islamist Hamas says Mr. Barghouti tops the list of approximately 1,000 prisoners it is demanding Israel free in exchange for Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who Hamas has held captive in Gaza for more than three years.

Hamas to reap prisoner swap reward
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck - December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Less than a year ago, Hamas was cowering under an Israeli military onslaught that pulverised much of its political and military infrastructure. Now, in a reversal of fortune that must surprise even its leaders, Hamas is poised for a political triumph with the potential to transform its standing and Palestinian politics for years to come. The Islamist group, according to several officials, is closing in on a deal that would see hundreds of Palestinians released from Israeli jails.

Report: Netanyahu okays Israel-Egypt border wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved the construction of a wall along the border between Israel and Egypt, Israeli media reported on Tuesday. The decision came, according to Israeli daily Ma’ariv, after consultations involving security, political, and financial officials in Israel. Netanyahu believes construction of a barrier will stop smuggling and the migration of Africans seeking work or asylum in Israel. The decision, according to Ma’ariv, was made as a result of an increase in the number of African immigrants crossing into Israel.

Justice Minister: Jewish law should be binding law in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yair Ettinger - December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman on Monday said he believes Jewish law (Halakha) should be the binding law in Israel, Army Radio reported. "Step by step, we will bestow upon the citizens of Israel the laws of the Torah and we will turn Halakha into the binding law of the nation," said Neeman at a Jewish law convention at the Regency hotel in Jerusalem, in the presence of many rabbis and rabbinical judges. "We must bring back the heritage of our fathers to the nation of Israel," Neeman said. "The Torah has the complete solution to all of the questions we are dealing with," he added.

Akiva Eldar / Israel may have frozen settlements, but does it want peace?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Analysis) December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

On the eve of signing the settlement construction freeze order, Avigdor Lieberman told reporters that the settlements had never been an obstacle to peace. The proof, the foreign minister explained, is that the Jewish settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria did not stop Egypt and Jordan from signing peace agreements with Israel.

Trust the settlers to lose the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Bradley Burston - (Opinion) December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Barack Obama cannot and will not compel Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and free up land for a Palestinian state. Neither will the international community as a whole, nor Hamas, and certainly not the Palestinian Authority, nor what remains of the Israeli left. Trust the settlers, though. They alone will make it possible. Sooner or later, they'll lose the West Bank all by themselves.

Shalit mediator asks Hamas to stop press leaks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

The German mediator in talks for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit has asked Hamas to refrain from leaking details of the prisoner swap deal to the Arab press, a Palestinian source in Gaza told Ynet Tuesday. He said the mediator personally relayed this message to senior Hamas official Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar and asked him to tell members of the organization to stop mentioning the names of Palestinian prisoners who may be released to the press.

J'lem banning foreign leaders from Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government has an undeclared, but de facto policy, of not letting senior political figures, such as foreign ministers, enter the Gaza Strip from Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned. According to government officials, the reasoning is twofold: to deny Hamas legitimacy that would come of such visits, and as a way of trying to apply pressure over kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit. The policy has come to light after Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin told a parliamentary committee last week that Israel had banned a visit he had hoped to make to Gaza.

The US cash behind extremist settlers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by Andrew Kadi, Aaron Levitt - (Opinion) December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Last month, a Brooklyn-based non-profit organisation called the Hebron Fund, which supports Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied city of Hebron, held a fundraiser at the New York Mets' stadium, Citi Field.

Peace must begin with the plight of Palestine's refugees
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Karen Koning Abuzayd - (Opinion) December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Sixty years ago today the United Nations general assembly voted into existence a temporary body known as UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. UNRWA's task was to deal with the humanitarian consequences of the dispossession of some three-quarters of a million Palestine refugees forced by the 1948 Middle East war to abandon their homes and flee their ancestral lands. Just two decades later, the six-day war generated another spasm of violence and forced displacement, culminating in the occupation of Palestinian territory.

Did group raise funds for Hamas on college campuses?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Eric Fingerhut - December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

A U.S. congressman is the latest to call for a Justice Department investigation into whether a pro-Palestinian group has been raising money on college campuses for Hamas. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) urged a probe into Viva Palestina USA, a humanitarian aid convoy led by British lawmaker George Galloway that brought medical supplies to Gaza last July. Both the Zionist Organization of America and Anti-Defamation League in recent months have urged Holder to investigate reports about the convoy's links to Hamas.

Palestinian grocer sues Sacha Baron Cohen
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

A Palestinian grocer is suing actor Sacha Baron Cohen for $115 million over his portrayal in "Bruno." Ayman Abu Aita filed the lawsuit in the United States against the movie's producers and Cohen, according to reports. In the movie, Ayman Abu Aita, a Christian peace activist, escorted Cohen's alter-ego Bruno, a gay fashion journalist, to a Lebanese refugee camp. Abu Aita was identified in a caption as "Terrorist group leader, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade."

The Pragmatist
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Tablet Magazine
by Michael Weiss - December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, was sharing his vision for the future. “The key requirement for a Palestinian state,” he began, speaking on a cellular telephone from his office in Ramallah. Then the line went dead, a dropped call. “You’ll have to excuse,” he said when he rang back. “We have a lot of competing cellular networks here, and sometimes our signals get crossed.”

West Bank settlers block freeze-order officials
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Hundreds of settlers yesterday blocked the entrances to two settlements in the occupied West Bank to prevent Israeli government inspectors from serving construction freeze orders in line with a government order issued in late November.

Abbas urges peace in Sleiman talks, offers camps cooperation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed Monday Lebanon’s full authority and sovereignty over all Palestinian refugees camps while underscoring that the refugees’ presence was temporary, until a comprehensive peace solution was reached. “There are no legions under the command of the Palestinian authority in refugee camps and we would cooperate with the Lebanese state to the extent the latter allows, since the camps are Lebanese territories upon which the Palestinians live; thus Lebanon has full sovereignty over them,” Abbas said Monday, following his meeting with President Michel Sleiman.

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