Middle East News: World Press Roundup

After 35 years in office, the Saudi foreign minister says his biggest regret is the lack of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. In the LA Times, an international law expert affirms that settlements in occupied territories are illegal, and a separate report highlights the rise of religious extremism in Israel. The Christian Science Monitor analyzes the PLO's move to extend Pres. Abbas' term pending new elections. In a Herald Tribune commentary, Mustafa Barghouti warns that time is running out for a two-state solution. The AP profiles a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank surrounded by settlements. Several reports examine the tragic consequences of last year's war in Gaza. Ha'aretz provides details of former PM Olmert's peace proposal, which reportedly involved Israel annexing 6.3% of the West Bank and much of East Jerusalem. Hamas reaffirms its intention to "liberate all of Palestine," and is reportedly inclined to accept Israel's current offer on a prisoner exchange. Egypt chides the organization for "foot dragging" on Palestinian reconciliation. JJ Goldberg critiques four common opinions about Israel and the occupation, and Michael Young says for all its imperfections, the Oslo framework offers the only chance of peace. In a highly unusual move, the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al- Awsat runs an "open letter to the Arab world" from Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Danny Ayalon.

A Legacy of Regret for a Saudi Diplomat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Michael Slackman - December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

The year that Prince Saud al-Faisal was appointed foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, Gerald R. Ford was president of the United States, the Vietnam War ended and Microsoft had just opened its doors.

International law is clear: Israeli settlements are illegal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Iain Scobbie - (Opinion) December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Eric Rozenman's Dec. 11 Op-Ed article, "Israeli settlements are more than legitimate," is legal nonsense that disregards history. He is correct in his observation that Article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine permitted "close settlement by Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands not required for public purposes," but the conclusions he then draws are flatly wrong.

Babylon & Beyond
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Religion is the opiate of the masses, Karl Marx said. That might be true in some places, but in Israel, this drug induces dangerous hyperactivity. Always a scratch-of-the-surface away, religion is an emotional factor in conflict -- between Israel and the Palestinians, between Israelis and themselves. Recent days have provided one reminder after another.

Why the PLO extended Abbas's term
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), was given a green light Wednesday to stay in office beyond next January, when his term was due to expire for the second time. The Central Council of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) voted Tuesday to extend indefinitely the tenure of Mahmoud Abbas. The decision was seen as a stop-gap measure aimed at avoiding a potential collapse of the PA.

When Will It Be Our Time?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mustafa Barghouthi - (Opinion) December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

I have lived my entire adult life under occupation, with Israelis holding ultimate control over my movement and daily life. When young Israeli police officers force me to sit on the cold ground and soldiers beat me during a peaceful protest, I smolder. No human being should be compelled to sit on the ground while exercising rights taken for granted throughout the West.

Palestinian village caught amid Israel settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
by Ben Hubbard - December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

The head of this Palestinian village can't scan the horizon without being reminded of everything his people have lost. From the roof of the village council building, Abdelnasser Bedawi can see six of the nine Israeli settlements and outposts that have sprung up on the surrounding hills in the last three decades, fencing in the village and keeping it from two-thirds of its land.

Go back unto death: Life in postwar Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

In one corner of Salah Samouni’s modest living room hangs a “martyr poster” – a customary honor printed for those killed in all Israeli attacks, in the West Bank and Gaza over the years. On the Samouni poster, the 29 faces stare back from eternity, from Muhammad Helmi Samouni, age six months, to Rizqa Muhammad Samouni, age 55. It was this oversize poster that Salah Samouni brought with him to the public hearing held by the UN Fact Finding Mission led by Richard Goldstone in Gaza City in June.

Abbas now
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

As could have been expected, the limited construction freeze in the settlements has not brought the Palestinian leaders back to the negotiating table. It is obvious that the decision to give incentives to residents of isolated settlements will not contribute to building trust between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Netanyahu is continuing to walk a tightrope between his commitment to a two-state solution and his desire to placate the settlers and their representatives in Likud and the governing coalition.

Haaretz exclusive: Olmert's plan for peace with the Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert proposed giving the Palestinians land from communities bordering the Gaza Strip and from the Judean Desert nature reserve in exchange for settlement blocs in the West Bank. According to the map proposed by Olmert, which is being made public here for the first time, the future border between Israel and the Gaza Strip would be adjacent to kibbutzim and moshavim such as Be'eri, Kissufim and Nir Oz, whose fields would be given to the Palestinians.

Hamas still wants to liberate 'all of Palestine'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Ari Shavit - (Opinion) December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

The cat is out of the bag: Palestine, all of Palestine. Standing before 100,000 people in the center of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh this week declared the objective of the Hamas movement. The moderate prime minister of the moderate faction of the Palestinian religious movement publicly announced the peace solution for which his government is aiming. The ultimate solution is not the total liberation of the Gaza Strip or a Palestinian state. It is the liberation of all of Palestine.

Report: Hamas leans toward accepting Israel offer on Shalit deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas is leaning toward accepting Israel's latest offer on a deal for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the pan-Arab newspaper A-Sharq Al-Awset reported Thursday. According to the paper, the proposal does not include the release of hardened Palestinian terrorists from Israeli custody. There are still divisions within Hamas over the matter, A-Sharq Al-Awset reported, between those who back accepting the current offer, and those who want the Islamist militant group to insist on the terrorists' release.

Report: Israel refusing to release senior Hamas prisoners
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel is refusing to release senior leaders of the Hamas movement currently imprisoned in Israel for security reasons as part of a Shalit prisoner swap deal, according to a report published Thursday by the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Palestinian sources known to be reliable and close to the negotiations for brokering a prisoner swap deal for the release of Shalit told the newspaper, "The Hamas movement is inclined to agree to a deal in which Palestinian prisoners will be released in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit."

Egypt rebukes Hamas over 'foot-dragging' in Palestinian reconciliation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

During a recent meeting with a Palestinian delegation in Cairo, Egyptian Intelligence head General Omar Suleiman accused Hamas, including its politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, of violating agreements, Palestinian sources told Al-Jazeera Thursday. Referring to Egypt's efforts to reconcile Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, Suleiman said, "We (Egypt) don't work for Hamas or Mashaal," adding that the Islamist group's conduct was a source of embarrassment to Egypt.

Childhood in ruins
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Harriet Sherwood - (Opinion) December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Ghiada abu Elaish's fingers twist in her lap and her eyes cloud over as she recalls the day an Israeli shell killed four of her cousins and left her in a coma for 22 days. She has had almost 12 months to reflect on the tragedy, a time in which hatred and anger might have consumed the 13-year-old. Remarkably, though, not only has she survived shocking injuries and a dozen operations, with many more to come, but she has retained both her sweet nature and faith in a bright future.

The impunity of Israel and its allies will carry a price
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Seumas Milne - (Opinion) December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

When evidence of war crimes is produced, you might expect states that claim to defend the rule of law to want those crimes investigated and the perpetrators held to account. Not a bit of it. The decision by a London judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of Israel's former foreign minister Tzipi Livni over evidence of serious breaches of the laws of war in Gaza has sparked official outrage in Britain.

Four Myths About the Mideast and Real Estate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - (Opinion) December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

‘Take not heed unto all words that are spoken,” the wise old preacher Ecclesiastes wrote. You might find to your grief that people don’t always say what they mean — or worse, that they do. In that spirit, here’s a quick primer to some common sayings in circulation these days and what they really mean. Myth No. 1: Israeli settlements in the territories aren’t the problem preventing peace. The problem is Arab refusal to accept Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state.

Oslo: far from perfect but it’s the best place to start
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Michael Young - (Opinion) December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Two authors who have written lucidly and imaginatively on the Palestinian-Israeli peace process are Robert Malley and Hussein Agha. Mr Malley served in the National Security Council under Bill Clinton, and heads the Middle East programme at the International Crisis Group, while Mr Agha is a senior associate member at St Antony’s College, Oxford. Yet recently they wrote an article in The New York Review of Books that showed how, when it comes to a final settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, their imagination has dried up.

An Open Letter to the Arab World
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Danny Ayalon - December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Since the reestablishment of our state, Israeli leaders have sought peace with their Arab neighbors. Our Declaration of Independence, Israel’s founding document that expressed our hopes and dreams reads, “We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help.” These words are as true today as when they were first written in 1948. Sadly, sixty one years later, only two nations, Jordan and Egypt, have accepted these principles and made peace with the Jewish State.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017