Middle East News: World Press Roundup

VP Biden arrives in Israel, reiterates US security guarantees, urges the parties to take risks for peace and is interviewed by al-Hayat. The Washington Post looks at the occupation in Hebron. The PA condemns Israel's announcement of 112 new settlement units near Bethlehem. Israel agrees to allow UNSG Ban and other international officials into Gaza, and will resume issuing visas to international NGO workers. Palestinian opposition groups predict the failure of proximity talks. Israel is accused of mistreating young Palestinian protesters. Alex Fishman says the PA is seeking a large victory in July municipal elections. The BBC profiles Israel's law banning Palestinian spouses from entering the country. Israel's deputy mayor in Jerusalem is considering opening an office in Sheikh Jarrah to help Jewish settlers, and the IPS says the controversy has awakened the Israeli left. The occupation complicates Israel's bid for OECD membership and Seth Freedman says the OECD is falling short of its responsibilities. The JTA profiles PM Fayyad. Osama Al Sharif warns of the dangers of another intifada.

From proximity to peace?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) March 9, 2010 - 1:00am

THE OBAMA administration appears near to a diplomatic achievement it expected long ago: the relaunch of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. It will be a modest start -- not a big conference or a convocation to Camp David but "proximity talks," in which envoy George J. Mitchell will shuttle between the two camps. This is, in one sense, a step backward for Israeli-Palestinian relations, since the two sides have been talking directly to each other, off and on, since 1991. But Mr.

New talks may be Mitchell's moment
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Laura Rozen - March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

For much of the past year as he has shuttled dozens of times to the Middle East and Europe quietly trying to persuade Israelis and Palestinians back to the peace table, U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell has borne the brunt of criticism of both those offended by the Obama administration’s early pressure on Israel to halt new settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and others disappointed that Obama failed to follow through when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to stop the new construction as a precondition for negotiations.

Biden Calls Ties Between U.S. and Israel ‘Unshakable’
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - March 9, 2010 - 1:00am

Calling Washington’s ties to Israel “unshakable,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. opened talks with Israeli leaders on Tuesday, part of a concerted American effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and keep Israel focused on sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program rather than unilateral military action. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Biden visits Middle East; Israel and Palestinians agree to indirect talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Janine Zacharia - March 9, 2010 - 1:00am

Vice President Biden arrived in Israel on Monday to boost U.S. efforts to mediate talks between Israelis and Palestinians amid criticism that the Obama administration has set back the peace process.

In Hebron, renovation of holy site sets off strife
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Janine Zacharia - March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

The Tomb of the Patriarchs -- a site revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians as the burial place of their common forefather, Abraham -- needed bathrooms and a new roof over an outdoor prayer area. To the spokesman for Hebron's Jewish settler community, that should not have been grounds for international scandal. "In any normal country, people would take a site like that and turn it into a nationally recognized monument," David Wilder said.

PA condemns authorization of Bethlehem settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 9, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinian government in Ramallah condemned Israel's authorization on Monday of dozens of new housing units for a settlement near Bethlehem just hours before US envoy George Mitchell arrived in the region. The Israeli government will allow the building of 112 new homes in the illegal West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit settlement, in spite of a declared halt to settlement expansion in November, Israeli media reported on Monday.

Israel to allow international officials to enter Gaza for the first time
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel will allow UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and a senior European Union (EU) official to enter Gaza, said a statement of Israeli Foreign Ministry, in an attempt to ease the international pressure on the Jewish State for besieging Gaza. It is the first time Israel has permitted international officials to cross Israeli border to enter Gaza since the operation Cast Lead in December 2008, according to local daily Ha' aretz.

Palestinian opposition groups: proximity talks are to fail
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Saud Abu Ramadan, Emad Drimly - March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian opposition factions on Monday rejected the resumption of the U.S.-sponsored indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), saying the talks will be a great failure and will never succeed. The left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ( PFLP) accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of "exclusivity in the decision-making, mainly those related to major Palestinian issues," adding talks can never be renewed while Israel continues its settlement activities and rejects the peace principles.

Israel using strong arm tactics against young Palestinian stone-throwers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nir Hasson - March 9, 2010 - 1:00am

Several children in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan were arrested and taken from their homes in handcuffs in the middle of the night over the past few months, as part of a police crackdown on suspected stone-throwers, several teenage residents told B'Tselem and Haaretz. Haaretz and B'Tselem, the Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, collected testimonies from several teens that suggest the police are treating them violently and violating their rights.

Israel to resume issue of visas for foreign NGO workers in West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - March 9, 2010 - 1:00am

Bowing to international pressure, the Interior Ministry has announced it will resume granting work permits to foreigners working in most international non governmental organizations in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. As Haaretz reported about six weeks ago, the Interior Ministry stopped issuing work permits to non governmental organization workers as of September 2009 and told them they would have to make do with tourist visas, which do not permit employment.

Fayyad’s White Intifada
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Alex Fishman - (Opinion) March 9, 2010 - 1:00am

At this time, senior Palestinian figures no longer want the VIP cards issued by Israel to about 300 elected officials and heads of Palestinian security arms. These cards enable them, among other perks, to stay in their air-conditioned Mercedes and quickly pass through IDF roadblocks in the West Bank, while their people watch on angrily and enviously.

J’lem deputy mayor weighs opening Sheikh Jarrah office
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Abe Selig - March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Deputy Jerusalem Mayor David Hadari (Habayit Hayehudi) is weighing the possibility of opening up an office in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in an effort to “assist neighborhood residents,” he told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. Hadari said he would tour the area on Tuesday to explore logistical and financial aspects of setting up an office in one of the homes where Jewish families currently live. “I’m going to Sheikh Jarrah first of all, to strengthen the Jewish residents there,” Hadari told the Post. “I want to see if there is any way I can help them.

Families fight 'racist' Israeli citizenship law
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Heather Sharp - March 9, 2010 - 1:00am

"To leave my children, I would die. I couldn't do it," says Lana Khatib. Five years ago, Israel's controversial citizenship law marred her first year of marriage and still looms large over everything from supermarket shopping to her fears the family might face the prospect of separation. Adnan, who is three, and one-year-old Yosra squabble over their toys. Born and raised in Israel, they are too young to understand that their parents both consider themselves Palestinian, but their father Taiseer is an Israeli citizen while their mother is from the occupied West Bank.

OECD is ushering Israel in too easily
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Seth Freedman - (Opinion) March 9, 2010 - 1:00am

Despite all the diplomatic disquiet over Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, actions speak far louder than words when it comes to Israel's international status. In May, the country seems set to be ushered into the OECD, following years of campaigning from successive Israeli governments. Such a move would be another step in welcoming Israel in from the cold, and demonstrates certain states' willingness to overlook Israel's questionable behaviour as an occupier in favour of enhanced fiscal and political ties.

Salam Fayyad: The Palestinian with a plan for statehood
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Leslie Susser - (Analysis) March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Pundits and politicians have taken recently to comparing Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to Israel's founding father, David Ben-Gurion. No less a figure than President Shimon Peres, one of Ben-Gurion's foremost disciples, is the latest Israeli leader to offer the accolade. The reason is simple: Like Ben-Gurion, Fayyad is building institutions of statehood.

Israel given one year to tell truth about settlers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - March 7, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel has been told that its accession to an exclusive club of the world’s most developed economies is all but assured when the 30 member states meet in May. But a draft report of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), seen by The National, concedes that Israel has breached one of the organisation’s key requirements on providing accurate and transparent data on its economic activity.

Biden to Al-Hayat: Bold Steps Required to Advance the Peace Process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Joyce Karam - (Interview) March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

On the eve of his highly anticipated trip to the Middle East, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden emphasized in an interview with Al-Hayat the need for “bold steps” from Palestinians and Israelis to make progress on the Peace Process, and promised a “sustained and active” American role in the upcoming proximity negotiations. Mr. Biden talked about the lack of trust for the Iranian leadership and expected from China, a member of the P5+1, to “fulfill its responsibilities” on the issue of sanctions.

The perils of a new intifada
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Osama Al-Sharif - (Opinion) March 8, 2010 - 1:00am

If last Friday's incident at the Al Haram Al Sharif compound means anything it is this: Israel's right-wing government is out of control and is bent on executing a malicious scheme to undermine Palestinian rights.

Israeli Left Emerges From Coma Amid Atrocities
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mel Frykberg - March 9, 2010 - 1:00am

On Saturday night over 3,000 Palestinian, Israeli and foreign peace activists, waving Palestinian flags and shouting "Free Sheikh Jarrah", gathered in the East Jerusalem suburb in support of Palestinians threatened with home demolitions and evictions. Progressive members of the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, called for the removal of illegal Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem and for the rights of Palestinian residents to be respected.

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