Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The West Bank is tense after extremist settlers torch a mosque in the occupied territories. The Christian Science Monitor reports that the Israeli government claims that enforcing the settlement moratorium requires ignoring existing court orders to dismantle unauthorized settlements. Israel's cabinet has adopted a "national priority" map ensuring more funds for some settlements. As Hamas celebrates its 22nd anniversary, Fatah says Palestinian reconciliation talks are stalemated. Reports suggest that Pres. Abbas has written to PM Netanyahu urging him to finalize a prisoner exchange, but that Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad has told Hamas leaders to take their time. A report suggests that Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni canceled a visit to the UK for fear of arrest over the Gaza war. Army-funded rabbis continue to urge soldiers to disobey orders. An Israeli town refuses to allow a Palestinian to build on his own land. Netanyahu will reportedly take a direct role in deciding future demolitions of Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem. The Independent recalls the Gaza war one year on.

West Bank Is Tense After Arson at Mosque
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Passions ran high on Sunday in this Palestinian village in the northern West Bank two days after arsonists, presumed by Palestinians and many Israelis to be Jewish extremists, set fire to the central mosque. A delegation of Jewish religious leaders and activists, including some from West Bank settlements, tried to reach the village to express their abhorrence of the attack. But the Israeli Army prevented the group from entering Yasuf for security reasons as enraged villagers proclaimed that the visitors would not be welcome.

Israel settlement freeze shields dismantling of illegal outposts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel’s settlement freeze is supposed to clamp down on new housing starts in the West Bank, but it’s also shielding illegally built outposts and settler houses from demolition. The enforcement of an order to evacuate outposts – a step demanded by the US to help restart peace talks with the Palestinians – has been put off for years. Palestinians and Israeli peace groups have been challenging the delay in Israel’s Supreme Court, which requested from Israel a timetable for the demolitions.

Palestinian reconciliation efforts at an impasse, Fatah says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Hopes to restart Palestinian reconciliation efforts through signing Egypt’s proposal shrank again, as member of Fatah’s Central Committee Nabil Sha’ath on Monday alleged that Hamas had refused to sign the reconciliation document. “I contacted the Egyptian officials and reached the conclusion that efforts reached an impasse in light of Hamas' refusal to sign the Egyptian plan. Hamas’ top priority is the prisoner swap negotiations, and they will not take any other step before the deal is finalized,” Sha’ath told Ma’an during a telephone interview from Cairo.

Abbas urges Netanyahu to wrap up Shalit deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas recently sent a message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him to finalize a prisoner swap deal between Israel and the captors of soldier Gilad Shalit, the Hebrew-language daily Ma'ariv reported Sunday. The report says Abbas sent the message through a third party. The president reportedly asked Netanyahu to release Hamas' prisoners in addition to Fatah's Marwan Barghouthi and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's Ahmad Sa'adat.

U.K. reportedly issues arrest warrant for Livni
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Monday canceled her participation in a Jewish function in London, after a warrant for her arrest was issued over part in last winter's Israel's Gaza offensive, Arab-language media have reported. Al-Quds Al-Arabi claimed that Scotland Yard advised the organizers of the Jewish National Fund conference in northwest London that the former foreign minister had canceled her scheduled address to the assembly over threats of a possible lawsuit by pro-Palestinian groups.

Far-right yeshiva head: My duty is to tell troops to refuse orders
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson, Anshel Pfeffer - December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

The head rabbi of a far-right West Bank yeshiva declared Monday after his school was ousted from the Israel Defense Forces hesder program that he encouraged his students to refuse settlement evacuation orders because he had an obligation to "speak his inner truth." Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, whose Har Bracha Yeshiva's status was revoked late Sunday, wrote in an article published on Arutz 7 that he had skipped a critical hearing on the matter with Defense Minister Ehud Barak because he would not give in to "governmental pressure."

Jewish town won't let Arab build home on his own land
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by Jack Khoury - December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Aadel Suad first came to the planning and construction committee of the Misgav Local Council in 1997. Suad, an educator, was seeking a construction permit to build a home on a plot of land he owns in the community of Mitzpeh Kamon. The reply he got, from a senior official on the committee, was a memorable one. "Don't waste your time," he reportedly told Suad. "We'll keep you waiting for 30 years."

The slope of Masada
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

For decades the settlers have been stealing the helpless peasants' land and Israeli governments have been paving the settlers' roads. Every year during the olive harvest, Jewish malefactors raid olive groves in the West Bank, and the long arms of the security forces are too short to assist the Palestinians. In the rare cases when they do catch the culprits, a charitable judge "takes the circumstances into consideration."

Ahmadinejad tells Mashaal to not rush Shalit deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad advised Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal to wait on concluding the prisoner exchange deal with Israel, until it includes the maximum number of Palestinian prisoners to be released, according to Gaza-based news agency Qudsnet. Qudsnet quoted Iranian media sources close to the government as saying that Mashaal updated Ahmadinejad with the latest developments during their Sunday meeting in Tehran.

'PM takes control of J'lem demolitions'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Dan Izenberg, Herb Keinon, Abe Selig - December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has taken a more active role in determining the fate of east Jerusalem demolition orders by giving his military attache the final word on whether the Jerusalem Municipality can destroy illegal buildings in the Arab sections of Jerusalem, MK Uri Ariel informed the Knesset Law Committee on Sunday. Ariel made the disclosure during an urgent discussion on the fate of Beit Yonatan, the illegal seven-story residential structure built in Silwan in 2002 by Ateret Cohanim, a nationalist-religious movement seeking to settle Jews in the city's Arab neighborhoods.

Cabinet approves national priority map
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Over the objections of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the four other Labor Party ministers, the cabinet on Sunday overwhelmingly approved by a 21-5 vote the government's new national priority map that will include some 90 West Bank settlements. In a protracted cabinet debate over the map, numerous Likud ministers took Barak to task for saying that the settlements should not be granted the priority status as a "prize" at a time when a number of the settlements were the jumping off point for extremist actions such as Friday's torching of the mosque in the West Bank village of Yasuf.

Hamas celebrates 22nd anniversary since founding
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have turned out in the Gaza Strip to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the founding of the Islamist group Hamas. Supporters filled the streets, waving banners and portraits of assassinated Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The event comes almost a year after a deadly three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Islamist group has controlled Gaza since routing the rival Palestinian Fatah faction from there in June 2007.

New Israeli funds for West Bank settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

They are being designated as national priority zones, meaning they will qualify for grants, tax benefits, and other forms of aid. The move comes amid anger by Jewish settlers at a government-imposed curb on new building in settlements. The Labour Party leader warned some of the new money might go to extremists. On Friday a mosque in the West Bank was set on fire, and sprayed with Hebrew graffiti. Labour leader Ehud Barak said: "I don't think that we need to award them a prize in the form of including them in the national priority map."

No freeze on Palestinian suffering
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Seth Freedman - (Opinion) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Within minutes of our arrival in Tuwani, in the south Hebron hills of the West Bank, an army Jeep rolled into the village and shattered the mid-morning tranquillity. "We're turning this place into a closed military zone," announced the stern-faced commander to anyone within earshot. Brandishing his rifle in one hand and a military document in the other, he proceeded to explain that "I decide who can be here and who can't, and anyone who isn't a resident has to leave immediately".

Gaza one year on: The aftermath of a tragedy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
(Opinion) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Hilmi Samouni still hopes at some point – "inshallah" – to go back to his old job as a kitchen assistant in the Palmyra, Gaza City's best known shwarma restaurant. But unlike his 22-year-old brother Khamiz, who is working once again in a car paint shop, and his 20-year-old cousin Mousa, on a two-year accountancy diploma course at Al Azhar University, Hilmi, who is 26, found that he couldn't cope when he returned to the Palmyra after the war.

Peace itself may be the price for these attacks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Opinion) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

‘The IDF won’t determine where to fight us. We will choose the battlefield.” This taunt aimed at the Israeli army did not come from Hamas or Hizbollah, but it presents just as much danger to the state of Israel and to greater hopes for peace in the Middle East. It came from Yonatan Rachamin, a 25-year-old Israeli, and he is not alone in his intransigence.

Norway leads against the settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

While US President Barack Obama has not been able to secure a total freeze of Israeli settlements, several European governments and the European Union collectively have undertaken a series of measures related to Israeli colonization policies in the occupied West Bank that are worth noting. The increasing focus in some Western countries on the criminality of Israel’s colonization may represent a new point of pressure that – like the international boycott of South Africa – could ultimately push Israel to a more responsible and realistic response to criticisms of its colonialism.

Editorial: Unsettling facts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) December 14, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli Jewish settlers need not worry about being evicted or that the homes built for them will be brought down. They should have no concerns that Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition will stop settlement construction. There has never been a climate in Israel more conducive to building them. And the reasons are economical as much as they are ideological.

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