Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Washington Post looks at Israel's ties to Pacific islands. Israel claims the senior Hamas official murdered in Dubai was a key figure in arms smuggling, but an Israeli minister denies any responsibility. Pres. Abbas says he is not looking for US guarantees, calls for a three month settlement freeze and warns Israel is creating a single state. The governor of Hebron warns against increased settlement activity. Israel denies reports it disciplined officers over white phosphorus use in Gaza. Palestinians launch their first private equity fund. A Ha'aretz commentary says the Israeli left must wake up before it's too late. The Israeli army seizes a hilltop in the occupied West Bank. An EU official says proximity talks will begin soon. A Guardian commentary says Israel's opposition to Palestinian state building is leading to a new intifada. The Independent says Palestine is slowly dying in the West Bank, and Lord Phillips of Sudbury calls for sanctions to save Israel from itself. A Gulf News commentary says Israeli leaders must evolve, and the Arab News defends the Goldstone report.

Israel and Pacific republics, united by an island mentality
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Howard Schneider - February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

As Israeli diplomacy goes, it was a smooth affair, unblemished by any of the policy disputes or disagreements that often follow diplomats or officials here. The visiting heads of state were eager to tour the country and soak up information in briefings by Israeli officials without breaking stride for the typical trip to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah or, as some do, a request to go to the Gaza Strip.

Israel: Hamas commander killed in Dubai was key arms smuggler
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - January 31, 2010 - 1:00am

Jerusalem Israel declined official comment on Sunday following news of the assassination in Dubai of a key Hamas operative. But analysts and defense officials here say that Mahmoud Mabhouh, who was found dead in his room in a luxury hotel on Jan. 20, was the point man for transferring weapons from Iran to Gaza, and has long been wanted by Israel following his involvement in the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers more than 20 years ago.

Abbas: We don't want guarantees
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Bethlehem – Ma'an – President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in London on Friday that his government was not interested in US guarantees and denied reports that Arab ministers exerted pressure on him in Washington to resume negotiations with Israel. "The US continued to contact us and the Israelis, and they intended to give what they call 'guarantees,' but we said frankly that we didn’t want guarantees," Abbas added.

Hebron governor warns of severe reaction to new settlement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Hebron – Ma'an – Governor of Hebron Hussein Al-Araj warned that renewed settlement building in the area "are pushing Palestinians to react seriously," he said on Sunday evening. Israel is not offering Palestinians motivation to return to negotiations by continuing settlement construction in the West Bank, Al-Araj said, which justifies President Mahmoud Abbas' refusal to return to negotiations while building of settlements and the separation wall is ongoing. "Let everyone know that Israeli settlement construction is still in place, contrary to Israeli allegations," he said.

IDF denies disciplining top officers over white phosphorous use in Gaza war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anshel Pfeffer - February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

The Israel Defense Forces on Monday denied that two of its senior officers had been summoned for disciplinary action after headquarters staff found that the men exceeded their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells during last year's military campaign in the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli government wrote in a recent report.

Palestinians get first private equity fund at $15m start up
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
January 31, 2010 - 1:00am

Two Arab investment companies on Sunday announced the launch of the first private equity fund designed to boost the Palestinian economy. The semi-official Palestine Investment Fund and Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital will provide an initial $15 million, they said in a statement, hoping to raise the total to $50 million this year. The investments would target small- and medium-sized businesses in the Palestinian territories.

Israeli left needs to wake up before it's too late
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) January 31, 2010 - 1:00am

Looking at the way the right acts makes one go green with envy and want to learn from them. Four hundred criminal cases opened against opponents of the 2005 Gaza Strip disengagement, people who threw oil, acid, garbage and stones at soldiers and police, were closed last week and their criminal record expunged. Fifty-one MKs voted in favor of the closure, nine against. That is the true map of Israeli politics (and society). Only about seven percent of the lawmakers believed that this was a worthless and dangerous decision.

IDF to return to strategic hilltop
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Tovah Lazaroff - February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

The IDF has agreed to erect a watchtower on a strategic Gush Etzion hilltop called Shdema, thereby handing a partial victory to settlers who have campaigned for two years to ensure that it remains under Israeli control. Nadia Matar of Women in Green, who has organized weekly Friday protest events at the site for the last two years, said that an IDF commander told of them of the move late last week. On Sunday security sources told The Jerusalem Post that a watchtower would be placed there to increase area security.

'Talks to start with 2-state visions'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Herb Keinon - February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

If Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gives his nod, the “proximity” talks that US Mideast envoy George Mitchell will mediate will start with a basic question – how each side perceives a two-state solution – then move from there, Marc Otte, the European Union’s Mideast envoy, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

Landau denies links to Hamas terrorist’s death
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Ehud Zion Waldoks - February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau on Sunday dismissed allegations that a member of his delegation to the United Arab Emirates in late January assassinated a Hamas military commander in Dubai as “wild.” Landau led a delegation to Abu Dhabi to attend an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) conference. He vehemently denied the Hamas allegations that members of his entourage were responsible for the assassination of top operative Mahmoud Mabhouh.

Mahmoud Abbas: Israel's West Bank occupation leading to one-state solution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Seumas Milne - (Interview) January 31, 2010 - 1:00am

srael's continuing colonisation of the West Bank is leading to a "one-state solution", the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has told the Guardian, while indicating that he may be poised this week to accept a US proposal for "proximity talks" with Israel through American mediators.

False hopes for Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ben White - (Analysis) February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

Over the last six months, there have been numerous reports on the apparent signs of hope in West Bank cities such as Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin. The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has also enjoyed flattering coverage in the likes of Newsweek and the New York Times, with his unilateral state-building strategy praised by a variety of commentators. The Israeli government, for its part, has trumpeted improvements in Palestinians' daily lives – from the easing of restrictions on movement, to a boosted economy.

In the West Bank's stony hills, Palestine is slowly dying
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Robert Fisk - January 30, 2010 - 1:00am

Area C doesn't sound very ominous. A land of stone-sprinkled grey hills and soft green valleys, it's part of the wreckage of the equally wrecked Oslo Agreement, accounting for 60 per cent of the Israeli-occupied West Bank that was eventually supposed to be handed over to its Palestinian inhabitants.

No relief for the Palestinians while Israel enjoys impunity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Andrew Phillips - (Opinion) February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

To visit Gaza for a third time in five years still induces a gut reaction of pity, depression and anger – pity at the hopeless, helpless plight of the Palestinians; depression about their future and, ironically, that of Israel too; and anger at the latter's cynical policies – and impunity.

Israel should evolve
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Stuart Reigeluth - (Opinion) February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

In case there is any doubt: Israel really needs to change its discourse. What we hear from Israeli leaders, what we see in the mass media, it's all distraction, the noxious kind that blinds even those who propagate such a discourse from seeing another reality. On Wednesday, Israeli President Shimon Peres, a slippery politician who follows the flows of power like a parasite, stood at the podium in the German Bundestag (parliament) and adjusted his glasses and thick wad of papers.

War crimes in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
(Editorial) February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

The Feb. 5 deadline for the Palestine Authority and Israel to respond to allegations in the Goldstone Report that Israel committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during last year’s Gaza war will most likely come and pass. Israel roundly rejected the Goldstone Report; Gaza’s authorities accepted its findings in full.

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