Middle East News: World Press Roundup

PM Netanyahu says Israel will keep some settlements forever, angering Palestinians. The LA Times profiles Tzipi Livni. The Obama administration reiterates its commitment to peace but lowers expectations. Activists fear a new intifada. Gaza clans say Hamas is undermining tribal justice. A former Israeli negotiator says an agreement is impossible. Several commentaries examine the state of the peace process and Israel's policies. Joel Beinin looks at Palestinian nonviolent resistance. Meron Benvenisti says that Israel has imposed a binational reality that cannot be undone. Hussein Ibish analyzes the dangers of political certainty among Arabs and Israelis.

Netanyahu Says Some Settlements to Stay in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - January 24, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Sunday that several Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank would always remain part of Israel, a comment that upset the Palestinians even as the Obama administration’s Middle East envoy was trying to coax them back into peace talks. The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, helped plant a tree in a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem on Sunday. Mr. Netanyahu spoke about the Etzion bloc on Sunday.

Israeli's Livni says reports of her political demise are premature
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders, Batsheva Sobelman - January 25, 2010 - 1:00am

Many people expected Tzipi Livni to become Israel's first female prime minister since Golda Meir. After her high-profile stint as foreign minister, the centrist Kadima party she heads won more votes than any other in elections last year. International leaders praised her as a new-style Israeli politician who could finally make peace with the Palestinians. Yet things aren't working out that way for Livni. Rather than making history, the 51-year-old is fighting for her political life.

U.S. appears to lower expectations in Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - January 23, 2010 - 1:00am

As U.S. envoy George J. Mitchell wrapped up his Mideast trip Friday with little to show for his efforts to kick-start peace talks, the Obama administration was signaling a growing pessimism that Israelis and Palestinians would return to negotiations any time soon. In his first visit since November, Mitchell met separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. But officials on both sides said little progress was made toward restarting talks that collapsed a year ago.

With Mideast peace talks stalled, activists fear a new intifada
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

US peace envoy George Mitchell met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday to try to break a diplomatic impasse that some say could give rise to a new Palestinian uprising, or intifada. After a nearly year-long vacuum in negotiations, Palestinian and Israeli peace activists say that Israel has escalated arrests of protesters to prevent wide-scale demonstrations.

Long the glue of Gaza, clans say Hamas is undermining tribal justice
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Erin Cunningham - January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

The residents of Gaza have a name for the period of tribal lawlessness that plagued their impoverished territory between Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 and the Hamas takeover of 2007. Marred by rampant tit-for-tat murders, kidnappings, theft, and checkpoints run by armed clans, Gazans call these years ayam al-fowda, or the “days of chaos.” Those days are gone, however, after 2-1/2 years of strong Hamas rule successfully disarmed the territory’s rival clans – made up of just one or sometimes several extended families – and restored order again to Gaza’s streets.

U.S. fully committed to Middle East peace: Mitchell
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from China View
January 25, 2010 - 1:00am

AMMAN, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The United States is committed to comprehensive Middle East peace and the two-state solution which stipulates the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state, U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said on Sunday. "President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.S. are fully committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East," Mitchell told reporters following a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Jordanian capital of Amman.

Where next for Israeli-Palestinian peace?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from China View
by David Harris - January 25, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- U.S. special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is in the region once again in a bid to persuade Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Despite the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Mitchell has brought with him some interesting ideas, Israeli and Palestinian analysts said they do not hold out much hope for talks resuming any time soon. ONE YEAR ON

Olmert's negotiator: Full Mideast peace impossible
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn, Barak Ravid - January 25, 2010 - 1:00am

"I do not believe that in the foreseeable future there is a possibility of an agreement with the Palestinians on all the issues, especially on the problematic core issues," says Udi Dekel, who headed the negotiations task force in the previous government. Dekel spoke on Thursday at a conference on the unofficial "Geneva Initiative" peace plan. Other participants included many members of the diplomatic corps.

Palestinians: Netanyahu's claim to West Bank destroys peace efforts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff, Barak Ravid - January 24, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority has condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for laying Israel's claim to certain West Bank land during a tree planting ceremony in a settlement bloc earlier Sunday, saying the move undermined efforts to return to the negotiating table. "This is an unacceptable act that destroys all the efforts being exerted by Senator [George] Mitchell in order to bring the parties back to the negotiating table," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh said, referring to U.S. President Barack Obama's special Middle East envoy.

Outlook for peace process grim
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Omar Karmi - January 24, 2010 - 1:00am

Samer Arar, 26, was not impressed with the visit on Friday of George Mitchell, the US Middle East envoy. Mr Mitchell was in Ramallah for talks with Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO leader, in a renewed, and so far fruitless, US effort to get a peace process between Palestinians and Israelis going again. A waiter in a restaurant in central Ramallah, Mr Arar said Mr Mitchell’s efforts were “for nothing”.

The Obama Administration and Verbal Backtracking
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Walid Choucair - (Opinion) January 25, 2010 - 1:00am

Not a day goes by without US efforts to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations track appearing to be serious and possibly headed for producing a result, without the issue appearing difficult and nearly impossible to achieve the following day. Ever since US President Barack Obama tasked special envoy George Mitchell with responsibility for advancing peace negotiations, the region has appeared to be stuck in this cycle, which, as time goes on, increases the complications related to resuming the negotiations.

Threatening posturing
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Opinion) January 25, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel is not only talking down peace prospects in the Middle East, it is also behaving aggressively towards Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, and has made clear its intention to strike at Iranian nuclear capabilities. A few days ago, an Israeli minister said that the battle against Hizbollah, in southern Lebanon, is not over. He was clear in describing the Israel war against Lebanon in the summer of 2006 as unfinished business, saying that it is only a matter of time before his country will wage war again on Lebanon.

Editorial: Obama and Mideast
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) January 25, 2010 - 1:00am

US President Barack Obama hit the mark when he acknowledged that the Middle East peace process has not moved forward; that “we overestimated our ability to persuade” the Palestinians and Israelis “to start engaging in a meaningful conversation;” and that “what we did this year didn’t produce the kind of breakthrough that we wanted.” But in the Time magazine interview marking the first anniversary of his inauguration, Obama’s next comment was odd: “If we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high.”

The Liebarak of Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) January 25, 2010 - 1:00am

The business is registered in the name of Benjamin Netanyahu. But the reality is different. Netanyahu has never been more than a slick patent medicine salesman. That is a type that appears frequently in American Westerns and sells an elixir that is good for everything: From the flu to lunacy. The main weapon of the vendor is his tongue: His stream of words builds castles in the air, blows up glistening bubbles and silences all doubts.

Building a Different Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Nation
by Joel Beinin - (Opinion) January 15, 2010 - 1:00am

Like every other woman in her village Umm Hasan wears a headscarf. Her husband and other male relatives are not on the scene. But this is not an obstacle to her animated interactions with the sixteen Israelis and foreigners she has never previously met but welcomes into her home. Among the visitors are a German and a Serb who are making a film about Palestinian hip-hop. Everyone has come to participate in the weekly demonstration against the separation barrier organized by the local Popular Committee.

The Inevitable Bi-national Regime
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Meron Benvenisti - (Opinion) January 22, 2010 - 1:00am

Translated by Zalman Amit and Daphna Levitt. The occupation of the territories in 1967 resulted from military action, but the military element quickly became secondary, while the “civilian” component,-settlements,-became the dominant factor, subjugating the military to its needs and turning the security forces into a militia in the service of the Jewish ethnic group. Eventually, settlements themselves were no longer as meaningful as they once had been.

The perils of certainty
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) January 23, 2010 - 1:00am

Among the most dangerous aspects of the political culture surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on both sides are glib assertions of inevitable victory and the uninterrogated assumptions that inevitably lie behind them. It's an obvious point, but was brought home to me with some force yesterday when a friend pointed out the following passage from a particularly foolish Arab-American blog:

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