Middle East News: World Press Roundup

National Security Advisor Jones will visit the Middle East next week, and reports suggest the administration is considering letters of assurance to Israel and the Palestinians. Officials say there are no plans to cut aid to Israel. David Brooks says Israel's economic success may create greater differences with its neighbors. Work begins on the first Palestinian planned city. Israeli robotics are reshaping contemporary warfare. Fatah leaders review prospects for peace. PM Netanyahu vows Israel will never share Jerusalem, and a Ha'aretz commentary says he needs to prove his interest in peace. A Ynet commentary says Israel is turning into the new Sparta. The JTA asks whether last year's improvements in the West Bank can be maintained in 2010. Hamas struggles to prevent more extreme groups launching rocket attacks on southern Israel. Several commentaries say a new diplomatic framework and more US leadership are needed.

Obama Security Aide to Join Mideast Peace Push
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Matt Spetalnick - (Editorial) January 11, 2010 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's national security adviser will visit the Middle East for high-level talks next week, joining a renewed U.S. effort to coax Israel and the Palestinians to resume long-stalled peace talks. The trip by Jim Jones, a top foreign policy aide, will include a stop in Saudi Arabia and coincides with travels by George Mitchell, the U.S. envoy for Middle East peace, to Europe this week and then to the region later in the month.

Obama admin. considers giving letters to Middle East parties on peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
(Editorial) January 11, 2010 - 1:00am

As it ramps up efforts to get Israel-Palestinian peace talks restarted, the Obama administration is considering sending letters to the Middle East parties, diplomatic sources tell POLITICO. The letters the Obama administration is considering giving to the Middle East parties outline what the U.S. expects from Israel-Palestinian peace talks, a diplomat source said. The letters, signed by President Obama, describe terms of reference that serve as the basis for negotiations moving forward, another source who declined to be identified said.

US says no plan to cut Israel loan guarantees, but it's been tried before
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Dan Murphy - (Analysis) January 11, 2010 - 1:00am

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell touched off a minor furor in the US and Israel over the weekend, after he told PBS interviewer Charlie Rose that "under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel" when asked what tools the US had to prod the country back to peace talks.

The Tel Aviv Cluster
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by David Brooks - (Opinion) January 11, 2010 - 1:00am

Jews are a famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates. Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, but 21 percent of the Ivy League student bodies, 26 percent of the Kennedy Center honorees, 37 percent of the Academy Award-winning directors, 38 percent of those on a recent Business Week list of leading philanthropists, 51 percent of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction.

Work begins on first planned Palestinian city
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Ben Hubbard - (Analysis) January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

ATARA, West Bank -- Work crews have broken ground on what they hope will be the first modern, planned Palestinian city - a step officials say will help build an independent state in spite of the current deadlock in the peace process with Israel. But without Israeli approval of a short stretch of road, the $500-million project may never get off the ground. "We could build the whole city, but the question is, would people live in a city that doesn't have an access road?" said Bashar Masri, managing director of the company behind the project. "Obviously, the answer is no."

Israeli Robots Remake Battlefield
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Wall Street Journal
by Charles Levinson - (Analysis) January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

TEL AVIV, Israel – Israel is developing an army of robotic fighting machines that offers a window onto the potential future of warfare. Sixty years of near-constant war, a low tolerance for enduring casualties in conflict, and its high-tech industry have long made Israel one of the world's leading innovators of military robotics. "We're trying to get to unmanned vehicles everywhere on the battlefield for each platoon in the field," says Lt. Col. Oren Berebbi, head of the Israel Defense Forces' technology branch. "We can do more and more missions without putting a soldier at risk."

Fatah leaders review peace prospects
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
(Editorial) January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah’s Central Committee began discussions with party leader and President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday concerning the latest developments on the resumption of negotiations with Israel. The meetings, according to sources within the committee, are due to end Monday evening, before discussing the Egyptian and Jordanian delegations’ visit to Washington, calling for further efforts on the Middle East peace process.

Netanyahu: Israel will never share Jerusalem with Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - (Analysis) January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Tuesday that Israel would never cede control of united Jerusalem nor retreat to the 1967 borders, according to a bureau statement. The statement came after Egypt's foreign minister said in Cairo last week that Netanyahu was ready to discuss making "Arab Jerusalem" the capital of a Palestinian state. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority could abandon its demand for a freeze on construction in East Jerusalem in exchange for an easing of the siege on Gaza and a halt to Israeli assassinations in the West Bank.

Time for Netanyahu to show Obama he wants peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoel Marcus - (Opinion) January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

We can deny it all we like, but if it looks like a threat and sounds like a threat, then it's a threat. U.S. special envoy George Mitchell, who is coming to Israel next week, suggested in an interview with the U.S. public television network PBS that Washington might withhold loan guarantees to Israel.

The new Sparta
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Eitan Haber - (Opinion) January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

The first instinctive Israeli response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration that the whole of Israel needs to be surrounded by a fence is as follows: Oy vey, that’s the last thing we need. Such response would be completely understandable. Every Israeli child, and even every Jewish child anywhere in the world, has been born with images of fences. These are the fences of the death camps in World War II.

Critical Currents: Disproving skepticism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Naomi Chazan - (Opinion) January 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Yet another process is brewing. George Mitchell's visit to the region is designed to iron out the provisions for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian discussions on all outstanding issues - starting with borders - within a two-year time frame. Should an understanding be reached on the terms of reference, and this is still a big question mark, then this will be the last chance for a two-state solution by agreement.

Can West Bank improvements hold in 2010?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Leslie Susser - (Analysis) January 11, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (JTA) – In Israel and the West Bank, 2009 was the year that ended without a bang -- and people were grateful for it. For the first time in a decade, Israel experienced a year without a suicide bombing. According to official Israeli figures, five Israelis were killed in incidents in or with attackers originating from the West Bank (In all, 15 Israelis were killed in 2009 by terrorism, including nine during the Israel-Hamas war last January). By comparison, 17 Israelis were killed by West Bank terrorism in 2008 and 429 in 2002, at the height of the second Palestinian intifada.

With Palestinians painted into a corner, peace talks hinge on US guidance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - (Analysis) January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH // With pressure mounting on the Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel even without a full settlement construction freeze in occupied territory, the onus has very much shifted on to US diplomatic efforts to ensure that talks are renewed. Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, continues to resist the pressure, which is now coming from Arab countries as well as Washington, insisting that Israel must completely end construction work in settlements before he will return to talks.

Hamas cannot stop rockets into Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Erin Cunningham - (Analysis) January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY // While Israel and the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah trade heated accusations over who is to blame for stalled US-led peace talks, Hamas’s inability to thwart fresh rocket attacks into Israel by other Gaza-based militant groups might also give Israel cause to delay steps to create a Palestinian state. Rebuffing comments made last week by the US peace envoy, George Mitchell, suggesting Israel was to blame for failed peace negotiations, Israeli officials instead claimed that continued rocket fire from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip aimed to provoke Israel.

Fresh attempt
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Hassan Barari - (Analysis) January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

Unlike the early attempt to resume the peace process that began a year ago with much fanfare and no results, this time the Obama administration is gearing up for yet another effort to relaunch the long-awaited peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

Settlements obstacle to peace, says Kingdom
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) January 12, 2010 - 1:00am

RIYADH: The Council of Ministers on Monday denounced the Israeli move to construct more Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying it would obstruct efforts to restart the Middle East peace process. The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, commended the European stand, which rejects Israel’s illegitimate settlement policy.

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