Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Egypt allows 100 protesters into Gaza. 2009 saw a sharp drop in casualties in the occupied West Bank. Activists are helping civilians overcome the trauma of the Gaza war. Pres. Abbas says no effort will be spared to aid civilians in Gaza. A new report anticipates significant growth in the Palestinian economy. Ha'aretz reports that settlement construction is "booming" in the occupied West Bank, and runs a commentary saying Israel must tell settlers they can remain in a Palestinian state only as Palestinian citizens. PM Netanyahu proposes a peace summit. Authorities arrest, then release an Israeli settler in connection with last month's mosque arson. Palestinians say dramatic developments on peace are possible in the near future. The fate of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti may be key to an Israel-Hamas prisoner swap. The BBC says Gaza's economy has moved literally underground. American Jewish organizations back a former Somali official accused of human rights violations in an effort to protect Israel from lawsuits. Stalled peace talks have deepened the divide among Palestinians. The UAE manages to get humanitarian aid into Gaza. Backlash over the Gaza war has affected Israel's diplomacy. Ghassan Khatib says the two state solution is still alive, but being killed by Israeli settlement activity.

Hundreds Demonstrate on Border With Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - December 31, 2009 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of demonstrators gathered on both sides of the Israeli-Gazan border on Thursday to mark a year since Israel’s three-week war in Gaza, and to call for an end to the blockade of the area imposed by Israel and Egypt. About 85 of the several hundred demonstrators inside Gaza were foreigners, part of a group of more than 1,000 who arrived in Cairo in hopes of entering the territory but who were stopped by the Egyptian authorities. After days of negotiation, Egypt permitted a small delegation to cross the normally closed border at the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

In sharp contrast with Gaza, casualties decline in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider, Samuel Sockol - January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM -- The first year in a decade without a suicide bombing, as well as an expanded Palestinian security force, resulted in a decline in the number of Israeli and Palestinian casualties in the occupied West Bank in 2009 -- a contrast to the hundreds of Palestinian lives claimed by last winter's war in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

In reversal, Egypt allows some foreign activists to enter Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
December 31, 2009 - 1:00am

Cairo, Egypt — Egypt has allowed 84 pro-Palestinian foreign activists to march to Gaza, which is under an Israeli-led blockade, an Egyptian official in the North Sinai governorate said. Some 1,400 activists from 43 countries had gathered in Cairo since Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the Israeli three-week offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Egypt said 100 activists would be allowed to pass through.

Gaza war anniversary: How one group helps victims overcome trauma
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - December 28, 2009 - 1:00am

Jerusalem — Rawya Hamam was watching her son deteriorate. Hisham wouldn't sleep, clung to her incessantly, and said he wanted to go back into her belly so he'd be safe. "Grandma is lucky she died so she doesn't have to live here now," the boy told his mother.

Abbas: Gaza's suffering is our suffering
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Bethlehem – Ma’an – President Mahmoud Abbas vowed on Thursday to spare no effort in supporting Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip. “Your suffering is ours – we will continue supporting you. We will offer every possible means of support,” he said, speaking at a ceremony in Ramallah marking the 45th anniversary of the founding of his Fatah movement. He touted the role of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) in supporting Gazans. He said the PA still pays the salaries of 77,000 employees in Gaza, devoting 55% of its budget to the territory.

US market brief expects several growth sectors in Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Bethlehem - Ma’an - Growth in several Palestinian sectors including energy and telecommunications is expected over the next few years, a report by the US Commercial Service published Tuesday. The Service, a division of the US Department of Commerce, highlights opportunities for American investors in emerging market.

Construction in West Bank settlements booming despite declared freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Despite the construction freeze, dozens of settlements in the West Bank are experiencing a building boom, even on the eve of another visit to the region by U.S. envoy George Mitchell to try to restart talks for a final settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Construction is being carried out mostly to the east of the separation fence; it began shortly after warrants were issued on November 26 freezing construction.

Settlers can stay, but only as citizens of Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Alexander Yakobson - (Opinion) January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

The time has come to say to the settler leaders: Okay - you've convinced us. It seems that a mass evacuation of settlers is an impractical idea. You showed us clearly that you're prepared to turn such a removal into a national trauma. It's doubtful that any Israeli politician would chance it.

Netanyahu proposes peace summit with Abbas this month
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later this month in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, government sources said Thursday. "There is a possibility of a breakthrough surrounding the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority," senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office said earlier Thursday. The Egyptian administration began efforts to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table following Netanyahu's recent visit in Cairo, the officials said.

Mosque arson: Suspect released
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Efrat Weiss - January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

The youth suspected of torching the mosque in the West Bank village of Yasuf was released on bail Thursday evening, after the police verified his alibi. Nevertheless, the minor's involvement in the case is still investigated. The youth, who is a relative of Kach founder Rabbi Meir Kahane, was arrested in the morning hours and interrogated for several hours. Attorney Yehuda Shushan, representing the suspect told Ynet that his client has no criminal record and that he adamantly denies all the allegations against him, adding that he was "traumatized by the arrest."

Palestinians: Dramatic development in peace process possible
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

A dramatic development in the peace process is expected in the coming weeks, Palestinian sources told Ynet Thursday. The sources said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is set to visit Egypt early next week to discuss jumpstarting the regional peace talks with his counterpart Hosni Mubarak. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Mubarak in Cairo earlier this week. According to the Prime Minister's Office, "The two leaders discussed ways to jumpstart the peace process with the Palestinians, as well as the efforts to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit."

Barghouti fate key to Schalit deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Hamas said on Thursday that although it has reservations about the latest Israeli prisoner exchange proposal, its leaders will continue the negotiations. The announcement came as sources close to Hamas talked about divisions in the movement over the proposed prisoner swap agreement. The sources said that Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip appeared to be more flexible, while the movement's senior leadership in Syria was refusing to make any concessions.

Smuggling fuels Gaza's stalled economy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
by Heather Sharp - December 31, 2009 - 1:00am

The day Israel launched its 22-day offensive on Gaza , a year ago, Osama and his family lost most of their $70,000 life savings. The Gaza accountant, who gives only his first name, had put his money into a local investment scheme - even selling an apartment and his wife's jewelry to do so. The scheme initially produced excellent returns, which Osama understood came from trade through the smuggling tunnels from Egypt to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Communal Groups Back Somali in Bid To Block Israel Lawsuits
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - December 30, 2009 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON — American Jewish organizations that fought to establish the jurisdiction of U.S. courts for suits against terrorist groups are taking an opposite tack in suits involving human rights abuses. Jewish groups have filed briefs siding with a former Somali official now living in Virginia who is alleged to bear responsibility for atrocities committed during his tenure.

Stalled peace process widens Fatah-Hamas divide
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - December 31, 2009 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY // Just under a year ago, as Israeli tanks rumbled out of a devastated Gaza Strip accompanied by a final volley of homemade rockets, it was hard to imagine that there could be any return to the political status quo ante or that the division between the West Bank and Gaza would continue for long.

Gaza: where there’s a will to help, there’s a way
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
December 31, 2009 - 1:00am

ABU DHABI // This week, a convoy of 18 ambulances completed a long and arduous journey from Abu Dhabi to the Gaza Strip. The “caravan of ambulances”, as the UAE Red Crescent Authority’s secretary general adviser, Dr Saleh al Taei, described the convoy, set off from the capital to Jeddah, then sailed to the Egyptian port of Nuweiba, before moving on to Al Arish and finally to Rafah on the Gaza-Egyptian border.

Backlash over Gaza onslaught chastens Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Vita Bekker - January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

There is little doubt that the wave of nationalism among Israelis following the country’s devastating onslaught a year ago in the Gaza Strip helped Benjamin Netanyahu gain the premiership in last February’s elections. The offensive, launched in a bid to curb rocket fire on Israel’s southern communities from Hamas-ruled Gaza, highlighted the security threats faced by Israel and shifted more voters to right-wing parties such as Mr Netanyahu’s Likud that had pledged aggressive action against Palestinian militants.

Q&A: ''Israeli Settlements Killing Two-Nation Solution''
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Jerrold Kessel, Pierre Klochendler - (Interview) December 30, 2009 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, Dec 30 (IPS) - In the absence of any progress towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians, leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are adopting a reasonable approach as a way of building up international pressure on Israel to get it back to the negotiating table.

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