Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Special Envoy Mitchell arrives in the Middle East amid further speculation about the Obama administration's latest peace initiative. Pres. Abbas urges the US to pursue an "endgame" to the conflict. The EU pledges €160 million to the PA. A Hamas leader admits the organization receives financial support from Iran. Palestinians host their first diplomatic meeting in Jerusalem in many years. A Ha'aretz commentary says it's time for the US to start twisting arms on peace, and another says Israel's compassion for Haiti can't hide its cruelty towards Gaza. Jordanian sources claim Iran ordered the failed attack on the Israeli diplomats in Jordan. Israeli settlers are arrested in a West Bank mosque arson attack investigation. Palestinian human rights groups call for internal Palestinian investigations into abuses during the Gaza war. Israel is failing to allow an access road to the first Palestinian planned city in the occupied West Bank. Concern grows about spitting incidents against Christians by Jewish extremists in Jerusalem. Israel continues to target Palestinian nonviolent protesters. Palestinians counter Birthright Israel with Birthright Unplugged. Concern grows about the prospects for another war in Gaza.

US envoy due in Lebanon at start of Mideast tour
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
January 19, 2010 - 1:00am

BEIRUT — US Middle East envoy George Mitchell was due in Beirut on Tuesday at the beginning of a new regional tour aimed at restarting Middle East peace talks, a Lebanese foreign ministry official said. The tour will also take Mitchell to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Syria. The peace envoy was set to meet with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Foreign Minister Ali Shami and a number of other officials before leaving Beirut on Wednesday.

Abbas urges US 'endgame' unless Israel halts settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
January 17, 2010 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas urged Washington on Sunday to declare an "endgame" to resolve the decades-old Middle East conflict if Israel does not agree to halt settlement growth. Abbas, in a statement carried by the official Wafa wire service, said Arab states and the Palestinians would present a unified position to the United States offering two options.

EU pledges 160 million Euro to PA
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 19, 2010 - 1:00am

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and EU Representative Christian Berger ratified a new financial agreement to support the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday. The Financing Agreement, including a 0.5 million Euro contribution from Austria, was pledged to support to the Palestinain Authority's (PA) recurrent expenditures for 2010. The funds will be channeled to the PA’s payments of salaries and pensions and its social protection program via the EU's PEGASE program.

Hamas senior official admits Iran’s financial, political support
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 19, 2010 - 1:00am

Gaza – Ma’an – Member of Hamas' parliamentary bloc, Khalil Al-Haya said that the movement is receiving fianacial, political and moral support from Iran, "without paying any political price," and welcomed every Islamic and Arab relation that would support the Palestinians and their resistance, he said on Sunday.

Palestinians host first East Jerusalem meet since 2001
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - January 19, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority on Monday held its official meeting with a foreign diplomat in East Jerusalem since the closing of its headquarters there more than eight years ago. The Palestinian representatives met with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store at an orphanage near the Mount of Olives, not far from the Orient House, which was closed by Israel in 2001. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier Monday held his own meeting with Store in Ramallah.

U.S. must now start twisting Israeli and Palestinian arms
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoel Marcus - (Opinion) January 19, 2010 - 1:00am

Every time disaster strikes anywhere in the world, I am filled anew with admiration at how ready and willing we are to assist, and how speedy, effective, organized and wholehearted that assistance is.

Israel's compassion in Haiti can't hide our ugly face in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) January 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Who said we are shut up inside our Tel Aviv bubble? How many small nations surrounded by enemies set up field hospitals on the other side of the world? Give us an earthquake in Haiti, a tsunami in Thailand or a terror attack in Kenya, and the IDF Spokesman's Office will triumph. A cargo plane can always be found to fly in military journalists to report on our fine young men from the Home Front Command.

'Iran ordered attack on Israeli convoy'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz, Amir Mizroch - January 19, 2010 - 1:00am

Last week's failed attempt on the lives of Israeli diplomats in Jordan was apparently carried out on instructions from Teheran, sources close to Jordan's General Intelligence Department (GID) revealed on Monday. The sources said the GID was investigating the possibility that the explosives used in the attack had been smuggled into the kingdom by Iranian diplomats. The attack itself was apparently carried out by local al-Qaida supporters who received money and explosives from Iran, the sources said.

Arab World: The Egypt-Hamas collision course
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - January 14, 2010 - 1:00am

Hamas representatives who visited Cairo in November and December for talks on a possible prisoner exchange agreement with Israel and reconciliation with the rival Fatah faction asked government officials about the nature of the construction work that had been taking place for several weeks along the border between the Gaza Strip and Sinai. The Egyptians, according to one of the Hamas representatives, sought to allay the group's concerns by assuring them that this was only routine "engineering" work.

Israeli settlers arrested in mosque arson investigation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
January 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Police carried out a pre-dawn raid on the Yitzhar settlement, near the Palestinian town Yasuf, where the mosque was attacked last month. They are investigating whether there is a link between those arrested and the arson attack, police sources said. The floor of the mosque and a stand holding copies of the Quran were burned in the December attack. Of the 10 people arrested on suspicion of damaging Palestinian property four were minors and would be released soon, Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.

Call for Palestinians to investigate Gaza 'crimes'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
January 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian human rights activists have called on authorities in the West Bank and Gaza to investigate allegations of war crimes carried out by their forces. The accusations come from a United Nations report into the Israel's Cast Lead offensive in Gaza last year. Palestinian militants are accused of attacking Israeli civilians, as well as torturing and executing suspected Palestinian informers. The internal investigations must be launched by February, the groups said.

How Israel put the brakes on another Palestinian dream
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
January 16, 2010 - 1:00am

The West Bank scene is all too familiar: yellow cranes lifting boulders, bulldozers scooping up soil, drills transforming a hillside set in a biblical landscape of rolling olive groves. But this is not another Jewish settlement under construction. Small Palestinian flags wave from the bulldozers, a hint that this is a nationally significant project, the start of the first planned city in modern Palestinian history.

Spitting on Christians in Jerusalem draws rabbinic rebuke
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by Ben Harris - January 17, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- From his ceramics gallery along Armenian Patriarchate Road, Garo Sandrouni has a sweeping view of one of the Old City of Jerusalem's longest thoroughfares, stretching from Jaffa Gate deep into the Jewish Quarter. Jewish worshipers heading to and from the Western Wall jostle for space along the narrow passage with Armenian priests and seminarians, and Sandrouni says about once a week he finds himself breaking up fights between them.

Take a tour of the West Bank – through Palestinian eyes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Mya Guarnieri - January 15, 2010 - 1:00am

Banners strung from lampposts across Jerusalem welcome the winter participants of Birthright, a programme that brings college-aged Jews, most of whom are American, to Israel for a free 10-day tour. Funded by wealthy Jewish philanthropists and the Israeli government, the trip takes participants to sites that have historical importance to Jews, such as the Western Wall, in hopes of strengthening their connection to Israel.

So who is Israel’s one true friend? Clue: it isn’t the US
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Tony Karon - (Opinion) January 16, 2010 - 1:00am

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, an old American slogan says. By that measure the US has hardly been a real friend to Israel over the past decade. It has enabled a pattern of Israeli behaviour so reckless as to endanger Israel’s prospects of ever achieving peaceful coexistence with the states and peoples around it. An aggressive drunk often reserves his most toxic invective for those of his friends who tell him the truth: that his behaviour is intolerable, is dangerous to himself and others, and can’t be allowed to continue.

Israel targets Palestinian anti-wall activists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - January 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Jamal Juma’ could not help but laugh at one of the accusations he said he had been threatened with while in Israeli detention. “They said they would indict me for links to Hizbollah. They didn’t like it when I started laughing,” Mr Juma’, a lifelong communist, said on Sunday, five days after his release.

Bereft and Healing, a Father Returns Home to Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Jeffay - January 13, 2010 - 1:00am

“The blood of my daughters was a price that saved others’ lives,” said Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish. One year later, the Gaza physician is trying to make sense of the deaths of his children, killed by Israeli missiles during Israel’s military campaign. Related Articles Guileless in Gaza What Happens to Gaza When the Fighting Stops? Timeline: The Gaza Strip, From Disengagement to Operation Cast Lead

MIDEAST: Harsher Gaza War Looming on Horizon?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mel Frykberg - (Analysis) January 19, 2010 - 1:00am

During the last week the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have carried out a series of raids and air strikes across the Gaza Strip which have left five Palestinians dead, three of them confirmed Islamic Jihad operatives, and a number wounded. The IDF action followed a renewal of rockets being launched at Israel from within the coastal territory. To date this is the most serious escalation in violence between Palestinian resistance fighters and the Israeli military since Cast Lead.

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