Middle East News: World Press Roundup

VP Biden arrives in the Middle East. A new book traverses Jewish and Arab narratives. Special Envoy Mitchell formally announces new proximity talks, but PM Fayyad says Israel must abide by its agreements and Palestinians say this is the last chance for negotiations. The PA says its budget deficit will fall in 2010, condemns settlement expansion and backs nonviolent protests in spite of Israeli pressure. Israel issues an "exception" for 112 new settler housing units. The Dubai assassination is having global consequences. Israel warns the PA to crack down on protests. The PA is planning to prevent Palestinians from working to build settlements. The Jordan Times critiques the increasing fundamentalism of Hamas rule in Gaza. Uri Avnery says Israel uses history and archaeology for political purposes. Ghassan Khatib says the international community must get involved in the Middle East peace process.

Biden Arrives in Israel on Trip to Restart Peace Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrived in Israel on Monday, culminating a two-month procession of high-ranking Americans seeking to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and persuade Israel to help efforts to impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program rather than pursue military action. Mr. Biden is due to stay through Friday, meeting Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders and giving a speech at Tel Aviv University aimed at expressing American solidarity with Israel.

Palestinian Sees Lesson Translating an Israeli’s Work
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — Six years ago, when violence was the order of the day here, Elias Khoury’s 20-year-old son, George, was killed in a Palestinian terrorist attack. The Khourys are Palestinian, so the murder of George — who was out for a jog and shot from behind by gunmen in a car — produced an apology. Sorry, the killers said, we assumed the jogger was a Jew. Mr. Khoury was not only disconsolate, he was appalled. A prominent Jerusalem lawyer who often fights Israeli confiscations of land from Palestinians, he considered violence a toxin corroding his nation’s core.

Vice President Biden on goodwill trip to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Vice President Biden on goodwill trip to Israel Biden is set to arrive Monday, with a goal of mending relations between U.S. and Israel after a tough first year in which Obama's demands in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict alienated many in Israel. By Edmund Sanders March 8, 2010 Reporting from Jerusalem - Vice President Joe Biden was due to arrive Monday in Israel on a mission to mend relations after a rocky first year for new administrations in both countries.

Mitchell: Israel, PLO accept talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Chicago – Ma’an – US envoy George Mitchell formally announced on Monday that both Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization have agreed to begin indirect peace negotiations. "I’m pleased that the Israeli and Palestinian leadership have accepted indirect talks," he in a statement. "We've begun to discuss the structure and scope of these talks and I will return to the region next week to continue our discussions," he also said. "As we've said many times, we hope that these will lead to direct negotiations as soon as possible."

Fayyad: Peace process only credible if Israel ends violations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Ramallah – Ma'an – Caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Sunday that restoring credibility to the peace process is only attainable if Israel is forced to end violations of international law and resolutions, including the Road Map. Fayyad's remarks were made during a meeting with a Dutch delegation, headed by the speaker of the Dutch parliament, Gerdi Verbeet.

Palestinian Authority sees lower deficit in 2010
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Mohammed Assadi - March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank, March 8 (Reuters) - The Western-backed Palestinian Authority said on Monday its recurrent budget deficit will fall to 16 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year from 22 percent in 2009. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's government, which relies on international aid to meet its needs, forecasts its 2010 recurrent deficit falling to $1.21 billion from $1.45 billion in 2009. "This would be the lowest deficit as a share of GDP since the year 2000, and a major step forward towards enhancing financial sustainability," the authority said in a statement.

Palestinians: indirect talks last chance for peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Jeffrey Heller - March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel disclosed on Monday it would build 112 new homes in a Jewish settlement, a plan Palestinians said topped the agenda in talks they held with a U.S. envoy on restarting peace negotiations. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, described the planned U.S.-mediated, indirect talks with Israel as a "last attempt" to save the Middle East peace process. Both Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to so-called proximity talks, in a boost to U.S. President Barack Obama's quest to end decades of conflict. Negotiations have been suspended since December 2008.

PNA condemns Jewish settlement expansion, backs popular protests
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Saud Abu Ramadan - March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on Monday condemned the Israeli decision to build 112 housing units in the settlement of Bitar Elit south of Jerusalem, and insisted to continue supporting the popular protests against the Israeli measures in the West Bank. Ghassan al-Khatib, spokesman of the Palestinian government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, said in a press statement that "this settlement was built on a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in 1967 war, no matter if it is in the West Bank or near Jerusalem. "

PNA vows to continue support West Bank struggle despite pressure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on Monday said it supports peaceful struggle against Israel despite Israeli threats of more pressure to stop demonstrations in the West Bank. "The PNA encourages the peaceful resistance and government officials regularly participate in that resistance which would continue as long as the occupation continued," Ghassan Al-Khatib, a PNA spokesman, told Xinhua.

Israel approves construction of 112 apartments in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel has approved on Monday the construction of 112 apartments in the West Bank, said the Ministry of Defense. This is a "continuation of the construction site" in a West Bank settlement, the ministry told Xinhua via an e-mail. The program, which was approved in former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's term, has already started before last November's order of settlement freeze, according to the ministry. "An exception is generated due to infrastructure problems and safety properties," said the ministry.

Israel OKs new settlement work despite slowdown
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - March 7, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel authorized the construction of 112 new apartments in the West Bank despite a pledge to slowdown settlement building, the government disclosed Monday — a decision that enraged the Palestinians a day after they reluctantly agreed to resume peace talks. Word of the new construction in the Beitar Illit settlement came amid a flurry of activity by the U.S. to try to salvage peacemaking.

Hamas slaying in Dubai ripples worldwide
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Brian Murphy - March 7, 2010 - 1:00am

If there's a signature moment in the plot to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, it's likely his short elevator ride from the hotel lobby to Room 230. The Hamas commander and a woman hotel clerk enter the elevator and, just before the doors close, two men slip in. They look like any tourist here for the Persian Gulf winter sunshine: baggy shorts, tennis rackets, sneakers and baseball caps. Al-Mabhouh — still wearing the winter jacket he traveled in from Damascus to Dubai — barely gives them a glance.

Netanyahu: No peace deal until Palestinians accept Israel as Jewish
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanuahu on Monday welcomed the Palestinians' approval of indirect peace negotiations mediated by the U.S., but reiterated that any permanent settlement would require recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a long-term guarantee of Israel's security. The United States announced earlier Monday that Israel and the Palestinians have formally agreed to indirect peace negotiations brokered by its special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell.

MESS Report / Israel threatens PA: 'fight violence or we will'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel has conveyed messages to the Palestinian Authority over the past few days that it must contain the popular protests that have recently erupted in the West Bank, stop PA officials from participating in them and keep them from turning violent, Palestinian sources told Haaretz. They said Israel also told the PA it must reduce incitement regarding the Temple Mount and Jerusalem and curtail its campaign against the use of Israeli products.

PA moves to ban Palestinians from working in settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 7, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority is moving to prevent Palestinian workers from taking jobs in settlements, as officials Ramallah repeatedly declare their refusal to resume direct negotiations until all Israeli construction in the West Bank is halted. Palestinians vehemently oppose the settlements Israel has built on land they want for a future state. But with unemployment high in the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians work in settlements. Palestinians have been key to building homes for settlers and also work in factories.

Pointless move
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Opinion) March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Hamas is reportedly banning male hairdressers from styling women’s hair in Gaza. If true, it is a sad indictment of the Islamist movement’s rule today that it has come to this. Indeed, it sometimes is very hard to recollect that Palestinians voted for Hamas not out of any sense of growing religiosity, but because the movement promised change and reform and seemed to mean it.

History as tool of occupation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Uri Avnery - (Opinion) March 7, 2010 - 1:00am

History as tool of occupation During the first years of the State of Israel, an official of the Ministry of Religions (as it was then called), a certain Shmuel Zanwill Kahana, toured the country and discovered holy sites right and left. He found graves of Muslim sheikhs and announced that they were, actually, the tombs of our forefathers. They were declared holy places and taken over by his ministry.

Time for the international community to show its hand
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

With the PLO deciding to accept the American invitation to proximity talks, helped in no small measure by the Arab League's backing, the stage is set for another round of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians under US auspices. The question remains, however, about the extent to which the Israeli government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu is ready and serious regarding this new phase and to what extent Israel's stated keenness to hold negotiations without conditions is merely a public relations exercise.

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