Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel's high court orders that a major road in the occupied West Bank be opened to Palestinian vehicles, and a Ha'aretz commentary calls it 28 km of "distilled apartheid." Israeli and Egyptian leaders meet. About 1,000 protesters from around the world gather in Egypt planning to march into the Gaza Strip. The United States sharply criticizes Israeli plans for 700 new settler buildings in occupied East Jerusalem, as plans are announced for more building in the northern West Bank as well. The LA Times reviews Joe Sacco's new graphic novel about an Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza in the 1950s. Hamas threatens to try to capture more Israeli soldiers if prisoner swap talks fail, and accuses Israel of refusing to release four key prisoners. A federal judge accuses the US government of hindering a lawsuit against the PA. Former PM Sharon advisor Dov Weissglas says Israel must continue working with the PA, especially on security. The Guardian says that in spite of its rhetoric of "resistance," Hamas has essentially abandoned the strategy of armed struggle. The National says both sides learned lessons from the Gaza war last year, and that most Israelis support the war but think it ended too soon. Rami Khouri says both sides lost. The Arab News says Israel's new settlement plans show it is not interested in peace.

Israeli Segregated Road Ruled Down
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - December 29, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a major access highway to Jerusalem running through the occupied West Bank could no longer be closed to most Palestinian traffic. In a 2-to-1 decision, the court said the military overstepped its authority when it closed the road to non-Israeli cars in 2002, at the height of the second Palestinian uprising. The justices gave the military five months to come up with another means of ensuring the security of Israelis that permitted broad Palestinian use of the road.

Protesters Gather in Cairo for March to Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mona El-Naggar - December 29, 2009 - 1:00am

More than 1,000 people from around the world were gathered here on Tuesday for a solidarity march into Gaza despite Egypt’s insistence that the Gaza border crossing that it controls would remain closed to the vast majority of them.

White House decries Israel's plan to build homes in East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - December 29, 2009 - 1:00am

An Israeli government plan to build nearly 700 homes for Jewish families in Palestinian-dominated East Jerusalem drew fire Monday from the Obama administration, which called the plan a hindrance to relaunching peace talks. "The United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, calling on Israelis and Palestinians to return to U.S.-brokered talks. "Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally preempt, or appear to preempt, negotiations."

'Footnotes in Gaza' by Joe Sacco
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by David L. Ulin - (Book Review) December 27, 2009 - 1:00am

Joe Sacco's "Footnotes in Gaza" is not a sequel to his 1996 book " Palestine," although it's tempting to read it as such. Both are works of comic-book journalism that take place in the occupied territories, and both offer a ground's-eye-view of situations that seem too big, too incomprehensible for us to wrap our minds around. But while "Palestine" is a portrait of its moment, an account of Sacco's visit to the West Bank and Gaza during the early 1990s, "Footnotes in Gaza" is a more expansive effort.

Israel and Egypt eye movement on peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher, Liam Stack - December 29, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Cairo Tuesday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in talks aimed at bringing Egyptian pressure on the Palestinians ahead of a flurry of diplomatic activity expected next week, including a visit from US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

Israel approves new building plan for West Bank settlement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
December 30, 2009 - 1:00am

In an unusual step, the state announced on Tuesday its plan to promote planning and construction in the northern West Bank settlement of Kiryat Netafim, Army Radio reported Wednesday. Left wing human rights group Peace Now petitioned the High Court of Justice recently against the construction of 14 structures that were illegally built, some of them on Palestinian land without any authorization, according to the petition. In response to the petition, the Defense Ministry approved the Kiryat Netafim construction plans, to legalize the construction of the 14 structures in question.

28 kilometers of distilled apartheid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) December 30, 2009 - 1:00am

This highway has told the whole story. They pave a road, expropriate Palestinian land and the High Court of Justice approves the expropriation, in its words, "provided that it is done for the sake of the local population." Afterwards they prevent the "local population" from using the road, and finally they build a wall with drawings of creeks and meadows so we don't see and don't know that we are driving on an apartheid road, that we are traveling on the axis of evil.

Hamas: Shalit mediator to start new round of talks next week
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - December 30, 2009 - 1:00am

The German mediator brokering a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will begin a new round of talks next week, a source in the Palestinian Islamist group said Wednesday. The comments came shortly after Hamas reportedly rejected the latest offer from Israel to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for its corporal, who has been held in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip for more than three years.

Hamas: Israel refusing to free 4 senior prisoners
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - December 29, 2009 - 1:00am

The Hamas organization says Israel is refusing to release the "heaviest" prisoners as part of a possible prisoner exchange deal. The movement's official website on Tuesday mentioned the names of Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Saadat, Ibrahim Hamed and Abdullah Barghouti. Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said that there was no news on the talks aimed at securing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release.

US administration delaying trial against PA
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - December 29, 2009 - 1:00am

A federal judge in Washington has criticized the American administration's refusal to take a stand on a damages claim filed against the Palestinian Authority over a terror attack which left an American citizen dead. Esh Kodesh Gilmore, 25, who worked as a security guard at the National Security Institute offices in east Jerusalem, was murdered in a terror attack which took place in the area in the year 2000. His friend Itay Swissa was seriously injured.

Working with the PA
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Yedioth Ahronoth
by Dov Weissglass - (Opinion) December 29, 2009 - 1:00am

The heinous murder of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Hai called for speedy justice. Most likely the operational circumstances made it impossible to arrest the murderers and justified killing them. The many worrying indications of a resumption of terror acts in Judea and Samaria justified a swift, precise and forceful action, in order to deter properly those wishing to renew the acts of violence.

This is not humane. We need dignity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Sami Abdel-shafi - (Opinion) December 29, 2009 - 1:00am

On my way to visit a friend in the Abed Rabbo district, north of the Gaza Strip, the taxi driver handed me a small pack of biscuits for change. There are nearly no copper coins left here so cab drivers barter a half Israeli shekel for biscuits brought in from the tunnels between the southern city of Rafah and Egypt's northern Sinai. Some Gazans, who once earned a respectable living, resorted to melting coins and sold the copper for food supplies.

Hamas's rhetoric of resistance masks new stance a year after Gaza war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Rory McCarthy - December 28, 2009 - 1:00am

When Hamas held its annual anniversary celebrations in the centre of Gaza City it looked like a defiant and celebratory show. There was a male choir in camouflage fatigues singing on the stage, a sea of green flags in the crowd and wave after wave of self-congratulatory chanting: "Far and wide, Hamas is shaking the ground." A year after Israel's devastating three-week war in Gaza, the Palestinian Islamist movement which controls the strip is still very much in charge and unbowed.

Gaza: both sides learned lessons for the next battle
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - December 29, 2009 - 1:00am

Walid Abu Khalid is a cautious man. He agreed to meet only at a location and time of his choosing and then only in a car that he directed to keep moving in and out of the narrow alleys of the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza to no obvious destination. Abu Khalid, 27, a former journalism student is a field commander with the Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. Although Israel’s assassination policy has all but ended since last year’s war, Abu Khalid, an assumed name, knows that one phone call from an informer could seal his fate.

Gaza: many Israelis believe attack was justified, but ended too soon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - December 29, 2009 - 1:00am

Few Israelis today have qualms about the high death toll inflicted by their country’s assault on the Gaza Strip last year. But even though many Israelis still believe the 22-day onslaught, which ended on January 18, was justified in a bid to curb Hamas rocket fire on their country’s southern communities, some have begun to question whether the attack achieved its goals. They say the military campaign ended too early and warn that another offensive may be necessary to complete the job.

The Gaza scorecard, one year later
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) December 29, 2009 - 1:00am

A year after the Israeli attack on Gaza, a scorecard of “winners and losers” suggests that nobody won anything, but Israel has probably suffered political losses that it could not have envisioned when it decided to invade Gaza. I count seven main aims that Israel had in mind when it launched its war a year ago and tightened its siege of Gaza; one of them was achievable without a war, and the six others have either remained unachieved or have turned things to Hamas’ and the Palestinians’ favor. Here is my review of where things stand a year after the Gaza war.

Editorial: Israeli settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) December 30, 2009 - 1:00am

So Israel is to build a further 692 new houses in East Jerusalem, over and above the developments that Premier Benjamin Netanyahu insisted were simply “in-filling” and not brand new constructions as such. Given that a complete halt to all new settlement activity is the key condition for the resumption of Palestinian peace talks, the Israelis know perfectly well that even the plans for this new construction constitute a mighty barrier thrown across the path of any negotiated settlement.

Cruel onslaught on Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Linda Heard - (Opinion) December 30, 2009 - 1:00am

Sunday, the 27th of December, marked one year since Israel’s military launched Operation Cast Lead that robbed the lives of more than 1,400 Palestinians including 318 children, leaving 5,300 wounded. The cruel onslaught on Gaza that relentlessly continued until Jan. 18, 2009, destroyed United Nations facilities, hospitals, schools, ministerial buildings and 3,500 houses, leaving 20,000 homeless.

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