Middle East News: World Press Roundup

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Pres. Abbas says as long as he is in office there will be no third intifada. The PA says it will investigate allegations that Israel harvested organs from Palestinians without consent in the late 80s and 90s. Negotiations continue on a possible prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel, which is reportedly considering deporting some "heavy prisoners." A new Israeli school curriculum about pre-state Jewish terrorist groups draws controversy. Israel bans the head of the "Islamic movement" organization from Jerusalem. International aid groups say the world has abandoned the people of Gaza, and a Jerusalem Post commentary says Israel's policies are radicalizing the population. A senior Palestinian official accuses PM Netanyahu of wasting time on peace.The Guardian runs commentaries calling for dismantling the separation barrier, ending the siege of Gaza and investigating reported complicity of Israeli doctors in torture. Former Pres. Carter apologizes to the Jewish community. Palestinian smugglers scoff at a new Egyptian underground barrier on the Gaza border. Aaron Miller says Pres. Obama needs to have foreign policy goals that are achievable, and Yossi Alpher says that it is in Israel's interest for Palestinians to develop a better grasp of Washington politics. Former AIPAC staff member Steven Rosen says that PM Netanyahu and Special Envoy Mitchell have agreed on Terms of Reference for peace negotiations that include the future status of Jerusalem among other issues.

Abbas Says Palestinians Won't Rise Up, for Now
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Charles Levinson - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said there won't be a new Palestinian uprising as long as he's in office, but warned the current calm might end once he steps down, as early as June. In a 60-minute interview, Mr. Abbas rebutted charges by Israel that he was responsible for holding up peace talks, saying he twice presented privately a compromise on settlements to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Mr. Abbas said Mr. Barak ignored the offer. Mr. Barak's office didn't respond to requests for comment.

PA to follow up on organ harvesting allegations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli organ harvesting, settlements, climate change and Christmas topped the agenda of the Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet meeting on Monday, in which ministers joined together in calling the Bethlehem Christmas tree a symbol of Palestinian unity and peace.

Report: German mediator in Shalit deal to arrive in Gaza on Wednesday
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff, Jonathan Lis, Barak Ravid - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

A Hamas official said Tuesday that the German mediator brokering a deal for the release of Gilad Shalit - the Israeli soldier held by the Islamist group - will only arrive in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, as Israel is seeking to modify its response to the proposed prisoner swap. Hours earlier, the group confirmed that it had received Israel's position on the deal, but later said that Jerusalem wanted to make adjustments and asked the mediator, who has never been named, to postpone his visit.

New study unit on pre-state fighters proves controversial
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Or Kashti - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

The Education Ministry is introducing a study unit on the 12 underground fighters who were hanged or committed suicide in prison during the British Mandate in Palestine. The 12, known as "Olei Hagardom" ("those hanged on the gallows"), belonged to the pre-state militias Etzel and Lehi. The program, intended for eighth and ninth grades, will include lessons plus a national competition for essays, poems and drawings on subjects such as "an imaginary conversation I had with one of Olei Hagardom in his last moments in prison" or "the last letter of a condemned man to his family."

Israeli response: Deport 'heavy prisoners'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ron Ben- Yishai - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

After days of fervent meetings of senior ministers, Israel's response to a prisoner exchange deal which would secure the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit is "Yes, but…". Israel gave a positive response to the general outline of the deal presented by the German mediator last week. The condition placed by Israel in its response refers to the names of "heavy prisoners" Israel demands are expelled to Gaza or abroad. According to Israel, these prisoners will not be allowed to return to the West Bank.

Sheikh Salah banned from Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Hanan Greenberg - December 21, 2009 - 1:00am

GOC Homefront Command Major General Yair Golan issued an order Monday banning the head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Sheikh Raed Salah, from entering Jerusalem for three weeks. The IDF Spokesperson's Office stated that the restraining order is aimed at keeping peace in the city, and that the army plans to have it extended to six months if Salah does not successfully appeal the order within seven days.

Encountering Peace: Change in Gaza is possible
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Thirty-nine young people from Gaza applied to attend a peace education workshop sponsored by the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information that was held this past weekend in a school in Beit Jala. Thirty-five of them were denied entry by the IDF and did not have the opportunity to join the 70 other Israelis and Palestinians who spent the weekend in dialogue, debate, disagreement and agreement, rejoicing in the mutual recognition that we all want peace and that peace is possible.

Talks in current climate a 'waste of time'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) dismissed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's declaration of a 10-month moratorium in the settlements as a "brazen ploy to buy time," rejecting a return to talks as a "waste of time" during a speech to a conference here on Monday.

Fatah cracks down on Hamas officials
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Alarmed by the possibility that a prisoner exchange agreement with Israel will bolster Hamas's popularity among Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority has stepped up its measures against the movement's leading figures and members in the West Bank. Over the past 48 hours, PA security forces arrested 14 Palestinians in the West Bank on suspicion of being affiliated with Hamas, sources close to the movement said on Monday. The sources said the latest crackdown was clearly linked to reports that a prisoner exchange agreement will soon be reached between Hamas and Israel.

World 'failed Gaza over Israeli blockade' - aid groups
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Tim Franks - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Aid agencies have strongly criticised the international community for failing to help bring an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza. The charities made the accusation in a report published just ahead of the anniversary of Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip. The aid agencies condemn not just Israel, but the world community. In the words of Oxfam's director, Jeremy Hobbs, "world powers have failed and betrayed Gaza's ordinary citizens". The charities call for more pressure to be exerted on Israel to end what they describe as its illegal collective punishment of Gazans.

The separation wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Austen Ivereigh - (Opinion) December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Within spitting distance of the very spot Jesus Christ was born is one of the world's great monstrosities, "a symbol of everything wrong with the human heart" as the Archbishop of Canterbury described it when he saw it for himself.

Israel's doctors must allay torture fears
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Antony Lerman - (Opinion) December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

One of the disturbing features of the persistent use of torture by many countries in conflict situations around the world is the role some doctors play in condoning it. The World Medical Association (WMA), which "promot[es] the highest possible standards of medical ethics, [and] provides ethical guidance to physicians", is crystal clear on this practice.

Lift the Gaza blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Nick Clegg - (Opinion) December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

On 27 December last year, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, an overwhelming exercise of military force aimed at silencing the Hamas rockets which had terrorised Israeli towns and villages. The immediate effects of the invasion are well known: 1,400 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, with many more wounded or displaced; 10 Israeli soldiers and three civilians killed, dozens more injured; and thousands of families in southern Israel forced to flee to other parts of the country. The rocketfire from Gaza into Israel has slowed but has not entirely ceased. Hamas is still in power.

Carter offers Jewish community ‘Al Het’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - December 21, 2009 - 1:00am

Jimmy Carter asked the Jewish community for forgiveness for any stigma he may have caused Israel.

Gaza underground on schedule to beat Egypt's wall
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

Ismail Atallah could not hide his disgust. With both hands he squeezed an imaginary throat in front of him. “This is what they are trying to do,” he said. “They want to strangle us. The blood of 1.5 million people means nothing to the Egyptians.”

Commentary: President 'Yes we can' meets a 'no you won't' world
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from McClatchy News
by Aaron David Miller - (Opinion) December 22, 2009 - 1:00am

As the clock ticks down on the first year of the Obama presidency, one thing is pretty clear: in the Middle East, President "Yes We Can" is bumping up against the cruel and unforgiving world of "No You Won't." From Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iran and Arab-Israeli peacemaking, the president's rhetoric, commitment and desire to engage has outpaced his capacity (so far) to produce.

Criminal neglect
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Editorial) December 21, 2009 - 1:00am

There can be little doubt that Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu won the first round of Israeli-Palestinian engagement with the Obama administration--and that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lost. Netanyahu executed a partial and problematic settlement construction freeze "balanced" by settlement provocations in Jerusalem and elsewhere. He was rewarded with US support for his readiness to open negotiations while his right-wing coalition stood behind him. Abbas misread American promises and assurances regarding the freeze and the Goldstone report.

Netanyahu's New Agreement with Mitchell
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Policy
by Steven J. Rosen - (Opinion) December 18, 2009 - 1:00am

For a year or two at an early stage in his career, I commuted to and from our adjacent offices each morning and evening with Martin Indyk, later a top peace-process official of the Clinton administration at the Camp David negotiations and now vice president for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. I had just left the Rand Corporation to work at AIPAC, the main pro-Israel lobbying organization in Washington.

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