Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Rep. Mike Honda says two states are the only path to peace in the Middle East. Hamas prisoners report that abuses in Palestinian jails ceased in October. The LA Times profiles a major West Bank highway that has been closed to Palestinian traffic. Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni says peace is possible. Reports suggest that a new US plan envisages a Palestinian state within two years, but Israeli FM Lieberman calls this "unrealistic" and orders his diplomats not to "grovel." A Ha'aretz commentary asks settlers what kind of future they are building, and another argues there is very little difference between the occupation and apartheid. PM Fayyad looks forward to a Palestinian state free of fences and settlements, and Pres. Abbas reiterates that a settlement freeze is the precondition for renewed negotiations. A commentary in the Guardian says Israel is using water to harass Bedouins. The National says Israel is ready for another war in Gaza which is "ready to explode," and profiles bereaved physician Izzeldin Abuelaish. Hamas says it would join Hezbollah in any future conflict with Israel. Time Magazine reviews a year of Mideast missteps. Egyptian clerics quarrel over the legitimacy of Egypt's new barrier along the Gaza border.

Two states are the way out
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Times
by Michael M. Honda - (Opinion) January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

As Jews wrapped up their Hanukkah celebrations and Muslims celebrated their ongoing holiday of Muharram, I was reminded of the human element behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many ordinary Israelis and Palestinians are no different than you and me. They want to celebrate life, peace and a world free of conflict. Unfortunately, peace is far from reality in the region. What is the underlying problem in this excruciating conflict? Two peoples claiming their rights and history to a piece of land smaller than the state of New Jersey.

Palestinians End Torture of Hamas Prisoners
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 3, 2010 - 1:00am

NABLUS, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian security forces in the West Bank have stopped torturing Hamas prisoners, ending two years of systematic abuse, Hamas inmates said in jailhouse interviews. The change in practice, said to have taken effect in October, was confirmed by a West Bank Hamas leader, human rights activists and the Palestinian prime minister. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the decision to halt any abuse was part of an effort to make sure a future state is built on the right foundations.

In Israel, a highway that divides
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Foreign Exchange
by Edmund Sanders - (Opinion) January 4, 2010 - 1:00am

Highway 443 cuts through Palestinian territory but has been closed to Palestinians since 2002, after several Israeli drivers were fatally attacked. Now it's reopening, and so are some national wounds. Reporting from Highway 443, West Bank - Cruising down this disputed four-lane highway, with all its twists and turns, is like taking a road trip through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You pass the walls and barriers that keep Palestinians from accessing Highway 443 as it slices through their land. Then there are the hazardous corridors where Israeli drivers have been shot and killed.

Interview With Tzipi Livni
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Charles Levinson, Joshua Mitnick - (Interview) January 3, 2010 - 1:00am

Late last month, Tzipi Livni was back in the news. Despite finishing first early last year in parliamentary elections, Ms. Livni declined to join a right-wing dominated coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu and instead went into the opposition. Then, just before Christmas, Mr. Netanyahu courted her, inviting her into his government. She ultimately refused. The Wall Street Journal's Joshua Mitnick and Charles Levinson caught up with Ms. Livni days before Mr. Netanyahu's offer. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.

Netanyahu: Change in the air over Israel-Palestinian peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Mazal Mualem, Barak Ravid - (Analysis) January 4, 2010 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday added weight to recent speculation that peace talks could soon resume between Israel and the Palestinians, telling lawmakers from his Likud party that he sensed "a change in the air." "In recent weeks I have felt that there is a certain change in the air, and I hope that this will mature, allowing the start of the diplomatic process," Netanyahu told the Likud Knesset faction.

Settlers, tell us, what do you think will happen?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) January 3, 2010 - 1:00am

What constitutes the life of a settler? A house on the cheap; a standard of living above the national average; a job usually subsidized by the government; a fierce religious, nationalist, uncompromising conviction on the justness of his cause; a supportive, heavy-handed social environment; a highway system; transportation arrangements; socially enriching activities; and, at times, a life that comes with the risk of danger.

Are Israel and apartheid South Africa really different?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) January 4, 2010 - 1:00am

The day after the murder of the settler Meir Hai about 10 days ago, Major General (res.) Amos Gilad was asked to comment on the claim by settlers that the attack was able to take place because roadblocks had been lifted on West Bank roads. The security-political coordinator at the Defense Ministry told his radio interviewer that the policy of thinning out internal roadblocks has greatly contributed to the West Bank's impressive economic growth.

Fayyad envisions 'state free of settlements'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - (Analysis) January 3, 2010 - 1:00am

As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas embarks on his round of talks in Egypt in hopes of finding a basis for the renewal of peace negotiations with Israel, his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Sunday that the future Palestinian state will be "free of fences and of settlements." In a conference held near Ramallah, Fayyad urged the international community to intervene in order to "force Israel to stop ignoring international law and the Palestinians' rights."

Abbas: Building freeze needed prior to peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - (Analysis) January 4, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinians President Mahmoud Abbas met in Sharm a-Sheikh with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Following the meeting, Abbas said that a complete cessation of settlement building is needed before peace talks can be taken up again. Abbas also said, "We are not opposed to renewing the peace process and the meetings with the Israelis. We are not putting up conditions, but at the same time, we believe that in order to return to the (peace) process, there needs to be a cessation of settlement building and recognition of the principles of the peace process."

'Recent change of atmosphere may mean time is ripe for talks'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
(Editorial) January 4, 2010 - 1:00am

Peace talks with the Palestinians must resume without preconditions, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday. Speaking at the opening of the Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu said, "My impression is that in recent weeks, there has been a change of atmosphere. I hope that the time is now ripe to move the peace process forward."

Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman tells envoys not to grovel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
(Editorial) January 3, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel's hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has told Israeli ambassadors to stop "grovelling" and defend their national honour. He told a shocked audience of some 150 envoys in Jerusalem to "stop turning the other cheek" whenever Israel was insulted, Israeli media report. The envoys were reportedly given no right of reply at the conference. "We received a monologue without being able to hold a discussion," one unnamed ambassador told Haaretz newspaper. 'A response to everything'

Hung out to dry in the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Seth Freedman - (Opinion) January 3, 2010 - 1:00am

At first glance, the bedouin community of Ras al-Awja seem unaffected by the political turbulence that engulfs the rest of the region. Situated between the sprawling desert city of Jericho and the imposing mountains of the Judean desert, the bedouins' encampment is a hive of activity – not least because the birthing season is in full swing.

Israel calm but ready to pull trigger, analysts say
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - January 4, 2010 - 1:00am

A year after the Israeli offensive on Gaza, the ceasefire continues to hold and 2009 saw Israel register the lowest number of incidents of Palestinian-Israeli violence in the decade just ended, according to a report released last week by the country’s internal security agency Nevertheless, Israeli analysts will not rule out another war on Gaza, even if Israeli leaders are wary of the political cost. The question is not whether, but under what circumstances, renewed conflict might break out, the analysts say.

‘No one can take me away from Gaza’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hamida Ghafour - January 2, 2010 - 1:00am

For weeks the defining image of Israel’s military siege of the Gaza Strip was a distant haze of smoke rising from the ground, sanitised footage that told nothing of the horrors of war. But in the late afternoon of January 16, Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish broke through the silence imposed by the Israeli government’s news blockade and for a few minutes the raw, unfathomable grief of a father whose three daughters and niece had been killed minutes before rang out to the world.

Gaza remains under pressure and ‘waiting to explode’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - January 2, 2010 - 1:00am

A year on from Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s offensive in Gaza, the threads of a possible Middle East peace are so knotted that they look impossible to disentangle. A right-wing government in Tel Aviv has dared to snub the US administration by barely enforcing what has become a partial and very temporary freeze on the expansion of its settlement programme in the West Bank. Israeli generals, meanwhile, proclaim that they are gearing up for an even fiercer repeat of the attack on Gaza last winter that killed around 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

Hamas vows to fight with Hizbullah in next war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
January 4, 2010 - 1:00am

Hamas official in Lebanon Ali Baraka vowed on Sunday to fight alongside Hizbullah in the next Israeli war on Lebanon. “We are guests in Lebanon and our policy will not change,” Baraka said during a memorial service to mark one week since the death of two Hamas members in a mysterious explosion in Beirut’s southern suburbs. “However, we are committed to resisting Israeli occupation” forces,” he added. “Israel should know that if it launched a new attack against Lebanon, we will not stand handcuffed.

Peacemaking in the Mideast: Obama's Year of Missteps
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Time
by Massimo Calabresi - (Opinion) January 1, 2010 - 1:00am

It has taken President Obama just 10 months to achieve something each of his immediate predecessors delivered in their final year in office: failure in the Middle East peace process. Riding a wave of optimism in January, the President on his second day in office named retired Senator George Mitchell as his Middle East special envoy, tasked with kick-starting the dormant negotiations over a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Egypt’s Steel Wall Sparks ‘Fatwa War’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Rachelle Kliger - January 3, 2010 - 1:00am

A religious ruling in support of the construction of a massive steel wall on the Egypt-Gaza border is drawing fire from fellow clerics. The steel wall intended to stop smuggling across the Egypt-Gaza border was declared permissible in a religious ruling, or fatwa, by the Islamic Studies College of the renowned Al-Azhar institution, drawing angry responses from other Muslim figures in Egypt, including from within Al-Azhar itself.

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