Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The occupation poses problems for Israel's bid to join the OECD. Palestinian rights groups press for investigations into Gaza war conduct. The PLO is pushing for a temporary settlement freeze in occupied East Jerusalem. Israel is withholding work permits for NGO employees in the occupied territories. A Ha'aretz commentary says the GOP victory in Massachusetts is a gain for PM Netanyahu. The Israeli government accredits Ariel University in the occupied West Bank. The Vatican says the occupation foments conflict. Fatah members complain that PM Fayyad's policies are weakening their party. Gershon Baskin says Israel's generosity in Haiti contrasts with callousness towards the Palestinians. The UN says the siege of Gaza is creating health risks. The BBC profiles the struggle over occupied East Jerusalem. Israel's press freedom ranking plummets due to Gaza policies. Osama Al Sharif says FM Lieberman is the future of Israeli politics.

Issues Stand Before Israel in Joining Elite Group
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - January 19, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Israel, which has catapulted in the past two decades from a minor state-dominated economy to a market-driven technology hothouse, is in the final stages of accession to the exclusive club of advanced countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But its secretive weapons trade, patent-bending drug industry and occupation of Arab lands are raising last-minute questions.

Gaza war: Palestinians battle bitterly over Palestinian forces' conduct
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - January 19, 2010 - 1:00am

On this day last year, a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel took effect after three brutal weeks of fighting that left close to 1,500 people dead. And while today, the guns are largely quiet, the truth of what happened in that devastating war is still being bitterly fought over – not between Palestinians and Israelis, but among Palestinians themselves.

PA, Mitchell to push for settlement halt in East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – The Palestinian Authority is urging Israel to approve a complete standstill on settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli media reported on Wednesday. The halt would be for a period of between three to six months and will not be approved by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post. "This is not going to happen; it goes against everything Netanyahu says and believes in," a source in the prime minister's office told the daily.

Israel withholding NGO employees' work permits
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

The Interior Ministry has stopped granting work permits to foreign nationals working in most international nongovernmental organizations operating in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, Haaretz has learned. In an apparent overhaul of regulations that have been in place since 1967, the ministry is now granting the NGO employees tourist visas only, which bar them from working.

Obama's lost senate seat is a victory for Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

The Republican upset in the race for the U.S. Senate seat held for nearly half a century by liberal Edward M. Kennedy reflects a huge victory for opponents of U.S. President Barack Obama - and also for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Scott Brown defeated once-favored Martha Coakley for the Massachusetts seat even after U.S. President Barack Obama rushed to Boston on Sunday to try to save her candidacy.

Barak okays university recognition of Ariel College
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yaheli Moran Zelikovich - January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

Five years after the Israeli government decided to declare Ariel College, which is located in the West Bank, a recognized university, Ynet learned that the defense minister has agreed to implement the decision that was part of the political clashes within the coalition.

Palestinians stressed over Mitchell visit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is on his way to the region, and the Palestinians are feeling the pressure. Palestinian sources on Wednesday said that recent talks with American and international sources have shown that the international community does not want the Palestinians to condition the renewal of peace talks on a settlement construction freeze as has been the case so far.

Vatican: Israeli occupation foments Mideast conflicts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

A Vatican document released Tuesday blamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the "occupying" of lands for fomenting most of the conflicts in the Middle East, driving Christians out and making life difficult for those who remain. The document is a guide for discussions for an Oct. 10-24 meeting of Mideast bishops convened by Pope Benedict XVI to discuss the plight of the Christian minority in the overwhelmingly Muslim region. The exodus of Christians from the region and religious discrimination faced by those who remain are main issues on the table.

PA pushing for short e. Jerusalem freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority is pushing Israel to agree to a total construction freeze, in both the settlements and east Jerusalem, of between three to six months, something senior Israeli officials said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will not agree to, The Jerusalem Post has learned. This is one idea that US Middle East envoy George Mitchell is expected to raise during talks with Netanyahu on Thursday. Mitchell, who has not been to the region since early November, is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday and stay through Saturday.

Fayyad is attempting to make Fatah weak, movement's officials say
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's government has been working to weaken Fatah by drying up its financial resources and isolating it in the political and security fields, Fatah officials said on Tuesday. The latest allegation came as members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council continued their deliberations for the sixth consecutive day in Ramallah to discuss the faction's financial status and the crisis with Hamas.

Encountering Peace: Israel - a leader among the community of nations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) January 18, 2010 - 1:00am

Humanitarian disasters around the world bring out the best in Israel and in Israelis. The horrific devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti and the scenes of unbearable human suffering brought about an immediate enlistment of both civilian and public efforts to come to the aid of the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere.

UN warns Israeli blockade puts Gazans' health at risk
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

The blockade of the Gaza Strip is putting residents' health at risk, the UN and aid groups have warned. Medical facilities and equipment are in disrepair, many damaged in Israel's military operation a year ago have not been rebuilt, they said. Some 27 patients died last year waiting to be referred out of Gaza, they said. Israel and Egypt deny entry to all but basic humanitarian supplies, in order to prevent Gaza's Hamas rulers firing rockets at Israel, they say.

Staking claim underneath east Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Jane Corbin - (Analysis) January 18, 2010 - 1:00am

It has been called the 'volcanic core' of the conflict and if there is ever to be peace between Palestinians and Israelis it will have to be made in the alleyways of this ancient city - holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Jerusalem was first divided into east and west in 1948 when the state of Israel was created and then the east of the city was annexed by the Israelis in 1967 following war with its Arab neighbours.

Why Has Israel's Press Freedom Ranking Taken a Crash Dive?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Benjamin Joffe-Walt - (Opinion) January 18, 2010 - 1:00am

For decades it has been a source of honor and dignity for Israel's defenders: the nascent democracy has consistently been ranked well above all other Middle Eastern nations in its level of press freedom. Israel's free press status, confirmed each year by a number of international organizations from the US-based Freedom House to Reporters Without Borders, has withstood a number of wars, political revolts and Palestinian Intifadas.

Futile Missions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Faisal Al Rfouh - (Opinion) January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

The upcoming visit of US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, is unlikely to yield fruitful results because of the differing attitudes of the concerned parties. The Mitchell mission was set up by President Barack Obama just two days after his inauguration in January last year, to facilitate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The US concern for the Middle East crisis seemingly became serious in the aftermath of September 11, as can be witnessed from the number of “special envoys” appointed since then.

Obama's year-one: low marks for all
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

The first anniversary of Barack Obama’s presidency is a good time to review his performance in the Middle East, and the Middle East’s performance vis-à-vis the United States. The exercise is depressing, but useful, especially when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict that remains the central destabilizing factor in the wider region. It is unfair only to measure Obama’s performance, and ignore the Israeli and Arab principal players in this prolonged drama of stalemate and stagnation.

The ugly face of israeli politics
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Osama Al-Sharif - (Opinion) January 20, 2010 - 1:00am

In the world of Israel’s extreme politics, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman comes out as a true representative of a new breed of politicians, whose ideological bigotry is augmented by their blind faith in brutal military force. Lieberman is the ugly face of Israel; an evil man more often than not acting as thug than a politician, a mobster who threatens “enemies” with destruction and annihilation and continues to underline Israel’s impunity status.

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