Middle East News: World Press Roundup

In spite of the last-minute reprieve, funding disputes threaten Gaza's electricity supply. Israeli warplanes bomb southern Gaza. UNRWA issues another appeal for funding. Gaza journalists are caught up in the Hamas-Fatah rivalry. Pres. Abbas says he still waiting for US clarification on new talks. An Israeli man is stabbed in the occupied West Bank. Tensions flare between Israel's Defense Minister and military Chief of Staff. A.B. Yehoshua says peace with the Palestinians is Israel's best response to Iran. The PA says a new corruption scandal is an Israeli conspiracy. Matthew Levitt asks if Gaza is going the way of Somalia and Yemen. Jonathan Freedland says Palestinians should call PM Netanyahu's bluff. Gazan tunnelers dig ever deeper. Tony Karon says Israelis must feel a price for occupation. David Newman says there is ample room for a peace agreement land swap.

Power struggle could portend a cold, dark winter in Gaza Strip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Maher Abukhater - February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

The Gaza Strip's beleaguered residents face worsening power outages, even as winter temperatures drop, because of a financial dispute between the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and Gaza's electricity distributor. The authority says it pays about $30 million a month to provide electricity to Gaza's 1.5 million people. But officials say the Gaza Electricity Distribution Co., which collects payments from Gaza customers, is sending back only about one-tenth of that amount from bill collections.

Israeli warplanes fire on southern Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

The Israeli military confirmed reports from Gaza residents that warplanes struck targets in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, causing damage the the already destroyed airport site in Khan Younis but no injuries. An Israeli military spokeswoman said strikes came in retaliation for projectiles launched into the western Negev in recent days. In a separate statement, the army also warned that it would "continue to operate firmly against anyone who uses terror against the State of Israel. Hamas is solely responsible for maintaining peace and quiet in the Gaza Strip."

UNRWA appeals for more donations to maintain, improve services for Palestinian refugees
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi warned on Tuesday of financial burdens the agency is facing, appealing for 100 million U.S. dollars to support the agency. In a press conference in Jordanian capital Amman, Grandi called for supporting the agency's budget as the current financial support the agency receives does not take into account the increasing number of Palestinian refugees.

Gaza journalists caught up in Hamas-Fatah legitimacy argument
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Fares Akram - February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Raed Lafi, a Palestinian journalist, sometimes find himself using terms and expressions unwillingly when referring to feuding Palestinian governments in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. "We deal with terms that are unnecessarily legal," said Raed Lafi, a Gaza-based journalist working for several Arab newspapers, blaming the political split between Gaza and the West Bank "which has forced us" to abide by specific references.

Abbas waiting for U.S. reply on peace talk offers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested clarification from Washington over its offer to restart indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), a Palestinian newspaper said on Tuesday. The questions needed to be clarified include on what basis the U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell will stand in his mediation mission and when the talks will begin, Abbas told the Ramallah-based al-Ayyam daily. Once the PNA receives the reply, it will invite an Arab League committee to formulate the Arab response to the U.S. proposals, said Abbas.

Israeli soldier killed by Palestinian officer in West Bank knife attack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was killed Wednesday in a knife attack in the West Bank. The soldier was named as Ihab Khatib from Kfar Maghar. Khatib was a non-commissioned officer in the Kfir Brigade. The incident occurred at Tapuach Junction, south of the West Bank city of Nablus. The assailant, named as Palestinian officer Mahmoud al-Khatib, has been apprehended. Al-Khatib, a resident of the village of Ya'abed south of Jenin, serves as an officer in the civilian Palestinian police force.

Defense Minister and IDF chief clash over Ashkenazi's future
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Severe tension has developed between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi - Barak is furious over what he sees as Ashkenazi's efforts to get his term extended for an exceptional fifth year. This issue prompted senior ministry officials to lash out at IDF Spokesman Avi Benayahu on Tuesday. Ashkenazi is slated to finish his four-year term in February 2011. Three weeks ago, however, Haaretz reported that he is angling for a fifth year, claiming the sensitive security situation and the lack of a suitable replacement make this necessary.

Israeli-Palestinian peace would neutralize Iran threat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by A.B. Yehoshua - (Opinion) February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Since the end of World War II the world has been rife with bloody conflicts in which, or after which, entire population groups have been murdered. One could cite the slaughter of millions by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, or the horrific tribal war in Rwanda, or the brutality in the former Yugoslavia, or the devastation in southern Sudan. But despite all this, the United Nations decided to devote a special memorial day only to the Holocaust of the Jews in Europe.

PA corruption and sex scandal called Israeli conspiracy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority expressed their outrage on Wednesday at Israel's Channel 10 report of a video found depicting one of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' senior advisors in compromising positions with a woman candidate applying to work in his office. According to a PA official, the report was merely an Israeli smear campaign meant to embarrass Abbas.

Can Gaza become a Somalia or Yemen?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Matthew Levitt - (Opinion) February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

The recent arrest of an organized cell in the northern West Bank inspired by al-Qaida’s ideology is a stark reminder of the expanding nature of the threat facing Israel. Today, threats come not only from the enemies it has long known, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad which target Israel at home, but from new and potentially more dangerous ones, such as radicalized individuals in the West Bank or formalized groups such as Jaish al Islam and Jund Ansar Allah in the Gaza Strip, that are ideologically aligned with al-Qaida and are eager to globalize the assault on Israel.

Palestinians may not trust Netanyahu yet. But they would do well to test him
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Jonathan Freedland - (Analysis) February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Tired of the jokes about his wife, perhaps, Northern Ireland's first minister, Peter Robinson, last week cracked a gag of his own. Marking an end to more than 100 hours of talks, he said that the province would be lobbying for the inclusion of negotiating as an Olympic sport in time for the London games of 2012 – and that Northern Ireland would win the gold medal.

Gaza's defiant tunnellers head deeper underground
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Robert Fisk - February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

They are the real resistance. They are the lung through which Gaza breathes. True, missiles must pass along their subterranean tracks, Qassam rockets, too, Kalashnikov ammunition, explosives. But by far the greatest burden of the tunnellers of Gaza is the very life-blood of this besieged little pseudo-Islamic statelet: fresh meat, oranges, chocolate, shirts, trousers, toys, cigarettes, wedding dresses, paper, entire motor-cars in four bits, car batteries, even plastic bottle tops.

The apartheid will end when Israelis have to face its cost
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Tony Karon - (Opinion) February 7, 2010 - 1:00am

The former US president Jimmy Carter set off a firestorm in 2006 when he said that Israel would have to choose between maintaining an apartheid occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and a two-state peace agreement with the Palestinians. That Mr Carter brokered Israel’s most important peace treaty with an Arab country was immaterial; he was branded an enemy of Israel, an anti-Semite and even a Holocaust-denier.

Gaza Energy Crisis Averted - For Now
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mel Frykberg - February 9, 2010 - 1:00am

"The emergency has been temporarily halted after the PA released urgent funds to finance two fuel tankers entering Gaza on Sunday," says Osama Dabou from Gaza’s Power Plant (GPP) authority. "We are expecting several other fuel tankers to enter Gaza shortly. But this is only an interim stop-gap and will only last a short while after which the situation will again reach a critical point," Dabou told IPS.

Nothing sacred about the green line
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by David Newman - (Analysis) January 2, 2010 - 1:00am

Just when there seemed to be a consensus inside Israel concerning a two-state solution to the conflict, we seem to be in danger of losing it altogether. The growing number of settlement-related facts on the ground, the harder it is to make a clean territorial cut, evacuate hundreds of thousands of settlers and demarcate a border of ethnic and national separation. Drawing borders is a pre-requisite for implementation of a two-state solution. The two alternatives, a single bi-national state and continuation of occupation, do not require any form of territorial separation.

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