Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The New York Times looks at the controversy over PM Netanyahu's intentions on peace. The PLO extends the terms of Pres. Abbas and the Palestinian parliament in light of Hamas'refusal to agree to new elections. Israel's Consul General to New England says his country is ready for peace. Egyptian mediators propose a reconciliation summit between Fatah and Hamas, as student groups clash in Gaza and Hamas says 80 of its members have been arrested by PA police. The EU is set to deliver €200 million to the PA over the next three years. Abbas says that peace is possible in six months if Israel agrees to complete settlement freeze, and reports suggest that the US, Egypt and France are planning to try to restart peace talks based on the 1967 borders involving a complete but unannounced freeze. The new EU foreign policy chief will be traveling to Jerusalem. Israeli police raid the home of nonviolent Palestinian protesters. Jewish extremists plan another provocative march in occupied East Jerusalem. A commentary in the Guardian says Jewish internal dialogue about Israel needs to be more civil. Rami Khouri says that it's unfair for anyone to blame the Goldstone report for the present diplomatic impasse.

Weighing Netanyahu as Peace Maker
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - December 15, 2009 - 1:00am

A month ago, Aluf Benn, a senior columnist at the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote an article that shocked many. He said he believed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party, was seriously interested in making concessions to the Palestinians and coming to an agreement on a two-state solution. Long a foe of Palestinian statehood, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now says he backs the two-state idea.

Palestinian leaders to extend President Mahmoud Abbas's term indefinitely
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Liberation Organization's ruling Central Council gathered here this week to extend the soon-to-expire term of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a session that promised to say as much about the drift and division in Palestinian politics as about the 74-year-old leader's standing.

Mahmoud Abbas remains in charge of PLO until elections can be held
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Reporting from Ramallah, West Bank - With a giant poster of deceased leader Yasser Arafat smiling over them, members of the Palestine Liberation Organization's central council gathered here Tuesday to indefinitely extend President Mahmoud Abbas' term until credible elections can be held. The extension, expected to be formally approved today, should provide a degree of short-term stability to the fractured Palestinian movement. But for some, the stopgap measure only papers over an emerging PLO leadership crisis that could become yet another obstacle to peace talks.

Israel is ready for peace. Are its neighbors?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Nadav Tamir - (Opinion) December 15, 2009 - 1:00am

The time for peace in the Middle East is now. This has been the consistent message from both the Netanyahu and Obama administrations. And it is time to take advantage of the fact that we have a stable government in Israel capable of making a move toward peace, a US government that has made it an important foreign-policy priority, our best Palestinian Authority negotiating partner thus far in President Mahmoud Abbas, and a majority of the population and government on both sides who desire a two-state solution.

Hamas-Fatah summit proposed
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Egyptian mediators agreed to hold a meeting between opposing Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, a Palestinian official involved in the talks said on Wednesday. Iyad As-Sarraj, a prominent Gaza psychiatrist who heads the nonpartisan Palestinian Reconciliation Committee, said Egypt accepted a suggestion from the group during a meeting in Cairo on Tuesday night to hold a three-day workshop with Hamas, Fatah, and other factions.

Hamas: PA security forces arrest 80 members in 24 hours
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority security forces have arrested 80 members of the Hamas movement from locations across the West Bank in the last 24 hours a statement from the party issued on Wednesday said. The statement noted that the arrests occurred in ten of the eleven districts in the West Bank, including Nablus, Jenin, Salfit, Hebron, Tulkarem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho, Qalqiliya and Tubas. The statement included the names of 50 alleged supporters, which could not all be independently verified by Ma'an.

France to deliver €200m in aid to PA
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

The French government will deliver 200 million Euros for the support and development of Palestinian infrastructure over three years, officials announced Wednesday. Palestinian Minister of Foreign affairs Riyad Al-Maliki and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner signed three agreements for the funds in the French minister’s office in Paris shortly before the announcement.

Abbas to Haaretz: Peace possible in 6 months if Israel freezes all settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

If Israel completely halts construction in the settlements, negotiations with the Palestinians on a final-status agreement can be completed within six months, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Haaretz Tuesday, adding that Israel needn't declare the freeze, just carry it out. Abbas, who appeared self-assured and upbeat during the exclusive interview, said the Palestinians had no preconditions for talks with Israel but wanted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet his obligations to the road map, which calls for a cessation of construction in the settlements.

U.S. planning to restart Israel-PA talks based on '67 borders
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

The United States and Egypt, along with France, are planning a joint move to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks on the basis of the June 4, 1967, borders, territorial exchanges and a complete freeze of construction beyond the Green Line, including East Jerusalem. The freeze would not be announced publicly. Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said in an extensive interview with the Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat that "once they realized their earlier approach had failed, the Americans see themselves forced to change direction."

UN: Much of West Bank closed to Palestinian building
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel effectively allows Palestinians to build in only 1 percent of Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank over which it retains full control, according to a new report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The report also said that so far this year Israel has demolished 180 Palestinian structures in Area C. As a result, 319 Palestinians, including 167 children, have lost their homes.

IDF raids Naalin photographer's home
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Family members of a girl who shot a video showing an Israel Defense Forces soldier firing a rubber bullet at a bound Palestinian in the West Bank village of Naalin last year say the army has been harassing them ever since. The relatives told Ynet that a massive IDF force raided their house on Wednesday night and left behind a lot of damage. The girl's father and brother were then summoned for investigation. An IDF official claimed, however, that the soldiers arrived to arrest a man suspected of rioting and that the incident had nothing to do with the videotape.

Clashes break out between Hamas, Fatah students in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Clashes broke out at the al-Azhar University in Gaza after Hamas members sought to hang Hamas flags on the site in commemoration of the organization's 22nd anniversary. The university is affiliated with Fatah. Students clashed with the Hamas members. Some of them were arrested by security forces who were dispatched to the site.

Activists planning Temple Mount ascent
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Abe Selig - December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

A group of activists dedicated to bringing Jews to the Temple Mount told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that they were hoping to see hundreds of participants take part in a planned "mass pilgrimage" to the site scheduled for Thursday morning in honor of Hannuka, which celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple after it was recovered from Hellenist Greeks more than 2,000 years ago.

Civilising the debate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Keith Kahn-Harris - (Opinion) December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

Last Sunday's Observer finally broke a story about which rumours had been circulating for a while: Professor David Newman, a British-Israeli geographer at Ben Gurion University, Israel, received an astonishing couple of emails from Michael Gross, a British-Jewish businessman, philanthropist and member of the university's board of governors, threatening to "use whatever influence I have at BGU to have you thrown out" and, even more extraordinarily, saying "I hope you perish" and "the sooner you are removed from BGU and the face of the earth, the better."

EU's Ashton to travel to Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Irish Times
by Ruadhan MacCormaic - December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

THE EUROPEAN Union’s new foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, will travel to the Middle East early next year to press for a resumption of peace talks. Baroness Ashton, appointed last month as the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, is expected to visit Jerusalem in early February to keep pressure on Israel to halt settlement building and urge Palestinians back to negotiations. Addressing the European Parliament yesterday, she reiterated that the time was ripe for a resumption of peace talks, which have been suspended for a year.

Enough of blaming the Goldstone Report!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) December 16, 2009 - 1:00am

A brief news item in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) a few days ago made depressing reading. It was entitled: “State Department blames Goldstone for stalled peace talks.” “Wow!” I thought to myself, has it really come down to this? The United States and Israel, who do not hesitate to toot their horn about their democratic credentials, now blame the stalled Arab-Israeli peace process on Judge Richard Goldstone, the main author of a report on potential war crimes during the Gaza war that was issued last September by the United Nations Human Rights Council inquiry commission?

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