Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The PA issues a major new state and institution building document. The Obama administration scales back expectations on Middle East peace, but along with Israel and Egypt continues to pressure Palestinians to return to talks. Israel's partial settlement moratorium impacts Palestinian laborers. The term of the Palestinian parliament expires. PM Fayyad says Europe should be more engaged. Settlers attack Palestinians in retaliation for the demolition of an outpost settlement. The PA cabinet regrets the lack of elections. 54 House members urge the Obama administration to seek the end of the siege of Gaza. Special Envoy Mitchell may engage in "shuttle diplomacy." Another diplomatic dispute is brewing over the Goldstone report. The UN expresses frustration on Gaza rebuilding. A settler rabbi is arrested in connection to a mosque arson in the occupied West Bank. Israel plans to absorb 7,000 Indian villagers purportedly from a "lost Jewish tribe" near Myanmar. The Daily Star says anger at Israel's actions is understandable.

PA issues 2010 state-building budget
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Laura Rozen - January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority has issued a 2010 budget document laying out a state-building plan. Palestine: Moving Forward: Priority Interventions for 2010, issued this week by the Palestinian Authority finance and planning ministries, is a Palestinian state and institution building program that complements the diplomatic process the Obama administration is trying to revive, the American Task Force for Palestine's Hussein Ibish told POLITICO.

Analysis: Another goal pared back: Mideast peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Steven R. Hurst - January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON -- The bleak domestic realities washing over President Barack Obama's White House cloak equally dismal prospects for quickly shepherding Israel and the Palestinians back to peace talks. As the politically beleaguered president prepared to deliver his first State of the Union address Wednesday night - the symbolic start of his second year in office - Obama was forced to acknowledge he got ahead of himself when he raised hopes of early success by making Mideast peacemaking a top priority of his new administration.

These Palestinians aren't happy about Israel settlement freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

Theoretically, the 10-month freeze on building Israeli settlements in the West Bank was supposed to benefit the Palestinian cause. But at the run-down cafes that make up a town square of sorts here in the Jalazon Refugee Camp, there’s a different story. It’s just before noon, and the area is full of young men with nowhere to go.

Palestinian parliament expires four years after Hamas electoral upset
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Erin Cunningham - January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

Four years after Hamas won an upset victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, prompting swift international sanctions and a Western-led diplomatic boycott, the mandate for the parliament it dominated officially expired on Monday. According to the Palestinian Constitution, new parliamentary elections should have been held Sunday, Jan. 24, in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But continued political division between the West Bank, governed by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, has delayed the elections indefinitely.

U.S. Pressures Abbas on Peace Talks, Official Says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bloomberg
by Saud Abu Ramadan, Gwen Ackerman - January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

The U.S. is putting pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resume peace talks with Israel while avoiding confrontation with the Jewish state, a senior Palestinian official said. “Washington, along with the international community, is pressuring the Palestinians without obliging Israel to stop settlement construction,” Nabil Shaath, a member of the decision-making Central Committee of Abbas’s Fatah party, said today in an e-mailed statement.

Lots of peace plans, a little progress
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Winnipeg Free Press
by Samuel Segev - January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel and the Arab world on Wednesday will be watching with great interest United States President Barack Obama's State of the Union address to Congress. In a recent interview with Time magazine, Obama admitted that he "overestimated" his ability to persuade both Israel and the Palestinians to resume their peace negotiations. Nevertheless, Obama made it clear that the U.S. will continue to work with the parties to achieve that goal.

Fayyad to Paris: EU has opportunity to strengthen chance for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

Caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told his French counterpart he was concerned about the impending failure of peace talks, during an official visit on Tuesday. Speaking with French Prime Minister France François Fillon, Fayyad stressed his efforts to build the institutions of a Palestinian state, and asked that Fillon help by urging the international community to demand Israel stick to its international obligations.

Settlers attack Palestinians in retaliation for outpost demolition
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Several dozen Israeli settler youths attacked the village of Beit Ilu on Tuesday, north of Ramallah, in response to Israeli forces razing the Gush Talmonim outpost, Israeli media reported. The attack was coordinated by text message, the Israeli daily Haaretz said, and the settlers began chanting "The police destroy nothing that belongs to Arabs." "The rule of evil is persecuting the settlements." "In 24 hours, we will set this place up anew." "We will not be broken."

PA cabinet expresses 'regret' for not holding elections
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

Ramallah - Ma'an - During its weekly cabinet meeting, chaired by caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad held on Monday, members said that elections could be held in June, if the Egyptian document is signed immediately.

U.S. lawmakers to Obama: Press Israel to ease Gaza siege
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

Fifty-four members of the U.S. Congress have signed a letter asking President Barack Obama to put pressure on Israel to ease the siege of the Gaza Strip. The letter was the initiative of Representatives Jim McDermott from Washington and Keith Ellison from Minnesota, both of whom are Democrats. Ellison is the first American Muslim to ever win election to Congress.

Barak, Mubarak talks to focus on coaxing Abbas to negotiating table
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel, Barak Ravid - January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak will leave for Sharm el-Sheik Wednesday morning, to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The visit is expected to be dedicated mainly to efforts to renew talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, negotiations for the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit and security cooperation between Israel and Egypt.

Mitchell to engage in 'shuttle diplomacy'?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell has offered to shuttle between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger did in the 1970s while mediating in the peace talks between Israel and Egypt, a the London-based Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper reported Wednesday, quoting a senior Palestinian official. According to the Palestinian source, Mitchell suggested to the parties that his trips would also include Syria and Lebanon and that he would hold discussions on a possible regional peace agreement.

Israel and Palestinians prepare for battle over UN report
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck, Harvey Morris - January 25, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel and the Palestinian Authority are preparing for a fresh diplomatic battle over the controversial United Nations report alleging that Israel and the Islamist Hamas group committed war crimes in the Gaza Strip. Both sides are under pressure to show they are implementing the report's recommendations before February 5, when Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, is due to issue a progress report on the issue to the UN General Assembly. Israel, in particular, is bracing itself for further condemnation in a forum that Israeli diplomats have long regarded as hostile to their country.

UN impatient as blockade stalls Gaza building
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Tim Franks - January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

There is a place of strange quiet in the cramped and crowded Gaza Strip. It looks, from the roof of a nearby United Nations school, like a film set, or perhaps an army's urban warfare training ground. Ranged across the sandy earth of Khan Younis is a large housing estate: 151 apartments, with space for a further 450. Most are three-quarters complete. All are uninhabited.

Rabbi arrested, suspected in West Bank mosque arson
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

Israeli police have arrested a rabbi on suspicion of involvement in an arson attack on a mosque last month. Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, the head of a Jewish seminary in the settlement of Yitzhar, was arrested after he refused to co-operate, police said. Mr Shapira denies any involvement in the attack, his lawyer was quoted in the Israeli media as saying. Attackers burned the mosque's carpet and a shelf of Qurans, and wrote slogans in Hebrew on the floor.

Israel plans to repatriate ‘lost Jewish tribe’ in India
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - January 26, 2010 - 1:00am

The Israeli government is reported to have quietly approved the fast-track immigration of 7,000 members of a supposedly “lost Jewish” tribe, known as the Bnei Menashe, currently living in a remote area of India. Under the plan, the “lost Jews” would be brought to Israel over the next two years by right-wing and religious organisations who, critics are concerned, will seek to place them in West Bank settlements in a bid to foil Israel’s partial agreement to a temporary freeze of settlement growth.

It's only human to rage at Israeli crimes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
(Editorial) January 27, 2010 - 1:00am

The upcoming trip by an Israeli-Arab member of the Knesset to Auschwitz is the latest chapter in the saga of seeing accusations of anti-Semitism used to smear the Arab and Muslim world. Mohammad Barakeh of the influential party Hadash will make the trek as part of an Israeli parliamentary delegation, which has predictably angered hardline Zionists who reject the idea of an Arab being allowed to participate in an official ceremony at a place with such symbolic meaning for Jews.

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