Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The New York Times says Israelis are united around the release of captured soldier Galid Shalit. Hamas sources say the swap is now up to Israel, and still may include jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. The EU has adopted a motion saying Jerusalem should be shared rather than divided, and the US says it is an issue for negotiations. Israel's Ambassador to the US Michael Oren defends his government's settlement moratorium policy in the Wall Street Journal, but Peace Now says building in the occupied territories is continuing briskly. Meanwhile, Palestinians are being prevented from building in "Area C." Extremist Israeli settlers threaten violence against Palestinians in response to the moratorium and a commentary in Ha'aretz complains that Israeli policy has made all Israelis into settlers. PM Netanyahu claims Palestinians have made a strategic decision to delay talks. A PA police officer has been sentenced to death for collaboration with Israel. The Guardian highlights health risks to Gaza children from contaminated water and a Huffington Post commentary describes nonviolent resistance to the occupation and the separation barrier in the West Bank town of Qalqilya.

Captive Helps Close the Distance Between Israelis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

When Prof. Gadi Wolfsfeld asks his political science students at Hebrew University if Israel really should free 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including organizers of terrorist attacks, for one seized soldier, as the Israeli government is currently contemplating, he faces a stony silence. “People feel extremely uncomfortable raising it,” he said. “It’s so politically incorrect that you run the risk of being labeled a monster. We all feel like we know this boy and we know his family.”

E.U. moderates stance on Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

The European Union's foreign ministers on Tuesday softened their call for a division of Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinians, saying that the city should be shared but that the two sides should negotiate the details. The statement, issued in Brussels, marks a diplomatic victory for Israel in a contest with the Palestinians for international support.

Palestinians struggle to build in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Tom Perry - December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

In the occupied West Bank, a bedouin community whose school is made out of car tires and mud faces the same problem as a developer planning a whole new Palestinian town: building controls imposed by Israel. As Israel enforces a partial, temporary freeze on building in its West Bank settlements, Palestinians and their government are struggling to develop their communities in large areas of the territory that fall under full Israeli jurisdiction.

Israel's Settlement Freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Michael B. Oren - (Opinion) December 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Distracted by the crucial debate over Afghanistan, many Americans may have missed a pivotal event in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. On Nov. 25, Israel's government announced a 10-month construction freeze in Judea and Samaria—the areas generally known as the West Bank. Though some projects already begun will be completed and essential public buildings like medical clinics and schools will be approved, no new housing permits will be issued.

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.

PA officer sentenced to death for collaboration
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

A Palestinian military court in Ramallah sentenced a security officer to death by firing squad on Wednesday after he was found guilty of collaboration with Israel, Palestinian judicial sources said. Identified only by the initials AD, the condemned was sentenced to death in accordance with article 131 of the Palestinian Military Law of Punishment of 1979. The defendant confessed to having been recruited by the Israeli intelligence service in 1992 to spy on Palestinian activists and fellow security officers concerning armament and movement.

Khreisha: PLO can extend Abbas' term
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

The PLO’s Central Council is authorized to extend president Abbas’ term as he is president of both the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, the second deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Hassan Khreisha said on Wednesday. But, Khreisha told Ma'an that the Central Council is not authorized to extend the PLC’s term because the body is supposed to remain in charge until new lawmakers are elected. Khreisha pointed out that late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat extended his term, and thus it is legal for Abbas to do the same.

Netanyahu: PA has made strategic choice to delay peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday of having chosen to postpone peace negotiations with Israel indefinitely as a "strategy." "It appears that the Palestinians have adopted a strategy of delaying negotiations with Israel, and this is in order to refrain from meeting the demands of Israel and the international community, which require comprises on the Palestinian side," Netanyahu told the cabinet.

U.S.: Only Israel, Palestinians should decide Jerusalem's future
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya, Barak Ravid - December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Shortly after European Union Ministers announced their support for the division of Jerusalem between Israel and a future Palestinian state on Tuesday, the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying that the fate of Jerusalem should only be determined by Israel and the Palestinians in talks.

Israel has made settlers of all its citizens
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Opinion) December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Would any of the settlers who opposed the Civil Administration inspectors this week be living in the territories had the governments of Israel not established and encouraged them? Would the Gush Katif evacuees have moved to mobile homes in Ariel in the expectation of spacious permanent housing had the government clearly declared that this was forbidden - because the settlements will be evacuated in the near future for a peace agreement - and that evacuation-compensation money would not be paid to anyone who moves to the West Bank?

Gaza sources: Swap deal up to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

The implementation of a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas is waiting for an Israeli decision, according to Palestinian sources involved in the negotiations. "Our demands are clear. We made them clear to the German mediator and we have done all we can for the deal to executed," one of the Gaza sources told Ynet. Israel continues to keep silent about the deal. On Tuesday, a Palestinian source told Ynet that the German mediator has asked Hamas to refrain from leaking details of the prisoner swap deal to the Arab press.

Peace Now opens 'snitches' hotline to battle freeze violations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Efrat Weiss - December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

More housing units are being built in the West bank than in any other areas in Israel, even after the government's decision to freeze construction in the settlements, claimed Left wing organization Peace Now during a Wednesday press conference in Jerusalem, as part of a counter assault on the settlers campaign against the freeze. The organization formed an informant hotline that allows citizens to report on violations of the freeze order. Meanwhile, a massive protest organized by the settlers is slated to take place Wednesday night in Jerusalem.

'West Bank building up despite freeze'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Elana Kirsh - December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Housing units are being built at a faster rate in Judea and Samaria than in the rest of Israel, according to data released by Peace Now on Wednesday. The Peace Now report, titled 'Construction Freeze?' noted that despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's recently announced 10-month freeze on new housing starts in the West Bank, approved settlement construction is still higher than that in the rest of the country.

Who will save Gaza's children?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Victoria Brittain - December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Among all the complex and long-term solutions being sought in Copenhagen for averting environmental catastrophe across the world, there is one place where the catastrophe has already happened, but could be immediately ameliorated with one simple political act.

Israeli settlers threaten to make Palestinians 'pay the price' on the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Telegraph
by Adrian Blomfield - December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Mounting discontent over the building ban, announced at the end of November, has already manifested itself in a series of scuffles between egg-throwing settlers and Israeli police officers. But this week hardline Jewish activists have signalled a change of tactic by circulating calls for Palestinian civilians to pay the price for the settlement freeze.

A Portrait of Nonviolent Resistance in One Palestinian Village
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Ellen Cantarow - (Opinion) December 8, 2009 - 1:00am

At no time since its 1967 West Bank occupation have Israel’s seizures of Palestinian land and water resources seemed as shocking as the ones attending its construction of “the wall,” begun in 2002. Vast, complex, and shifting in form, the wall appears most dramatically as 25-foot-high concrete slabs punctuated by militarized watch towers, supplemented by electronically monitored electrified fences stretching over vast distances.

Obama's hands are tied
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Dina Khanat - (Opinion) December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Even before US President Barack Obama gave his inauguration speech, a ray of hope swept the region. Discussions took place regarding Obama's new Middle East policy and hopes that an Israeli-Palestinian deal would be struck under his leadership intensified. Muslims refused to refer to him as anything but Barack Hussain Obama, and the president's "let us embrace one another and forget the past" speech only fuelled even high expectations.

The refugees, still essential to peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - December 9, 2009 - 1:00am

I have attended hundreds of meetings, conferences and symposia on Arab-Israeli peacemaking all my adult life during the past 40 years, and I am able to report that there is good news and bad news. The good news is that Israelis and Arabs wish to achieve a negotiated, peaceful end to their conflict. The bad news is that this inclination to negotiate peace and coexistence is not being translated into a lasting agreement because of Israel’s refusal to come to grips with the core issue that matters for the Palestinians, which is their status as refugees.

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