Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Special Envoy Mitchell meets with Pres. Abbas. A Ha'aretz commentary asks who is to blame for stalled talks, as Obama administration officials say they underestimated the obstacles. Controversy continues to surround Israel's aid effort in Haiti. Hamas asks media to stop describing it as "deposed," and one of its leaders denies he said it recognizes Israel. PLO officials say Israel is imposing a one-state reality. UNSG Ban says the Middle East conflict is intensifying. The Jerusalem mayor defies a court order to remove Jewish settlers from a Palestinian house. Settlement construction is continuing in spite of the "freeze." A commentary in The National says there are lessons for Gaza in Haiti's devastation. Rami Khouri speculates about Europe's role and George Hishmeh says Israel needs introspection. PM Fayyad leads a civil society effort against settlement activity. Gaza faces a dangerous fuel crisis. Jeffrey Goldberg interviews Elliot Abrams on West Bank development.

US envoy meets Abbas amid pessimism over peace deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
by Nasser Abu Bakr - January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank — US envoy George Mitchell met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Friday to push Middle East peace efforts despite President Barack Obama's admission that his drive for a deal may have been overambitious. Mitchell's talks in Ramallah, the political capital of the occupied West Bank, came a day after meetings with the Israeli government and talks in Syria and Lebanon, two countries the envoy said should play a key role in achieving a comprehensive Middle East peace deal.

For Israelis, Mixed Feelings on Aid Effort
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - January 21, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — The editorial cartoon in Thursday’s mass-circulation Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot showed American soldiers digging among the ruins of Haiti. From within the rubble, a voice calls out, “Would you mind checking to see if the Israelis are available?”

In Israel, Mitchell presses on with patience honed in N. Ireland
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - January 21, 2010 - 1:00am

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell arrived here Thursday for a new round of shuttle diplomacy aimed at restarting Israeli-Palestinian talks, amid President Obama’s admission that he had been too optimistic about the prospects for peace. Mr. Mitchell, here for the first time since last November, met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv and was scheduled to hold talks later Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and on Friday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas government: Don`t call us `deposed`
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Gaza – Ma'an – The Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip issued an appeal to the media on Thursday, asking editors not to describe it as the al-muqalah government, translated as "dismissed" or "deposed." While Ma'an English describes the government in Gaza as the "de facto government," most local and international Arabic news agencies use the "dismissed" or "deposed" to describe the technical position of the Hamas-lead authority.

Dweik: Hamas doesn't recognize Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Bethlehem – Ma'an – Palestinian Legislative Council speaker Aziz Dweik on Thursday denied reports by Israeli news outlets that he said on Wednesday Israel has a right to exist. "The media reports in question were inaccurate," he said in a statement, adding that since his release from an Israeli prison last year, Israeli news outlets have repeatedly misrepresented his views.

Erekat: Israel imposing 1-state solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat on Thursday blasted statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel would never withdraw from eastern areas of the occupied West Bank. Erekat termed the statements a direct challenge to the international community, casting Israel’s readiness for peace further into doubt, by imposing further conditions on negotiations and announcing Israel's intention to continue its occupation irrespective of the outcome.

UN Chief: Mideast conflict worsening amid stalled talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon on Thursday urged Palestinians and Israelis to resume peace negotiations, declaring that failure to do so could destroy any chances of progress. "In the absence of talks, confidence between the parties has diminished," the UN chief said at a meeting of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in New York.

Mayor defies court order to evacuate Jews from East Jerusalem home
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has gone on the offensive against the municipal legal system, state prosecutor and outgoing Attorney General Menachem Mazuz following Mazuz's order to the police to immediately evict the Jews living in a building in East Jerusalem's predominantly Arab Silwan neighborhood. Mazuz's order, which follows a court decision, came in a letter directing Police Commissioner David Cohen to evacuate the residents of Beit Yonatan, but Jerusalem city manager Yair Ma'ayan has announced that the municipality does not intend to have the order enforced.

Akiva Eldar / Whose failure is the Mideast peace process?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Analysis) January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Exactly a year after trumpeting the appointment of former senator George Mitchell as his special envoy to the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama is holding Israel and the Palestinians equally responsible for the stalemate in the peace process. In an interview with Time magazine marking his first year in the White House, Obama said neither side has been willing to make the bold gestures necessary to move the process forward.

Clinton: Peace up to Israel, Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON - "With respect to the Middle East, I think that you know we're absolutely committed. It doesn't matter whether it's round two or round 20," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday in reference to the stalled peace process. During a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Clinton said, "We believe that this is a situation that deserves constant, persistent attention; that the absence of such attention perhaps created some of the difficulties that we are now encountering.

'Construction continues despite freeze'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Construction is continuing in the Samaria community of Kiryat Netafim despite the government's ten-month building moratorium in West Bank settlements, Army Radio reported Friday morning. According to the report, development has continued on some 15 illegal structures. The report said the ongoing construction appeared to be in defiance not only of the freeze, but of a High Court of Justice ruling of a year ago.

In Haiti’s misery, a lesson for Gaza: history does not wait
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Alan Philps - (Opinion) January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Since the earthquake struck Haiti 10 days ago, an arresting satellite picture has flitted across television screens. It shows the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which is divided between Haiti, the western third, and the Dominican Republic, to the east, the bigger part of the island. From space, Haiti is grey-brown, all of its forests having been cut down for timber or fuel. But the Dominican Republic is lush and green, visibly flourishing. The two parts of the island seem to come from separate continents, though all that actually divides them is their frontier.

Will European action follow rhetoric?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Just as the United States apparently is gearing up for phase two of its foray into Arab-Israeli peace-making diplomacy, some Europeans seem to be awakening from their long slumber on the issue. Several symbolic or rhetorical gestures in recent weeks indicate that the European Union wants at least to raise its voice and profile on Arab-Israeli peace-making. Its approach is intriguing, given Europe’s potential to play a more activist role in promoting the rule of law as the basis for any negotiated agreement.

Israel facing the looking glass
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by George S. Hishmeh - (Opinion) January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

The row between Israel and Turkey when Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon undiplomatically “rebuked” the Turkish ambassador to Israel during a humiliating encounter over a Turkish television programme critical of Israel reminds me of the saying: “The [black Israeli] pot calls the [shiny Turkish] kettle black.”

MIDEAST: Civil Society Takes On Israeli Settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Jerrold Kessel, Pierre Klochendler - January 21, 2010 - 1:00am

Salam Fayyad turned civil society activist this week. In Salfit, on the West Bank, the Palestinian prime minister threw onto a giant bonfire goods made in Israeli settlements. The fire was lit by municipal officials as part of a new Palestinian Authority (PA) campaign to ban anything produced by settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories. Fayyad told the campaigners, "We must all, officials and public, join together in cleaning our markets of settlements products."

Gaza Faces ‘Catastrophic’ Gas Shortage
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by Rachelle Kliger - January 21, 2010 - 1:00am

An impending shortage of cooking gas in the Gaza Strip is likely to cause a humanitarian disaster unless Israel allows more into the coastal enclave, say industry representatives. With winter temperatures in Gaza dropping, petrol and gas vendors say Palestinians are getting only a third of the gas need for heating and cooking.

Elliott Abrams on The West Bank Resurgence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Atlantic
(Interview) January 21, 2010 - 1:00am

In my continuing mission to understand the Obama Administration's understanding of the Middle East peace process (such as it is), I turn now to Elliott Abrams, the key Middle East policymaker on President Bush's National Security Council. Unfortunately, I got sidetracked by bigger questions than those that concern George Mitchell's travel schedule.

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