Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Coverage continues to be dominated by the controversy over Jerusalem settlements: US anger is intensifying; the consecration of an East Jerusalem synagogue adds to the controversy; Roger Cohen says Obama has every reason to be angry, but Washington Post says the President is picking on Israel; the administration is reportedly pressuring Israel to accept conditions for new talks, is still waiting for a formal response and expresses confidence; Israel says settlement activity in Jerusalem will continue; the PA condemns settlement expansion and child detentions; Special Envoy Mitchell's travel plans are now on hold; PM Netanyahu says Jerusalem settlements "in no way" hurt Palestinians and a Ha'aretz commentary questions his fitness to lead; Hamas announces a "day of rage"; both the JTA and the Arab News say this crisis is "serious." Israeli soldiers reportedly wound seven Palestinians. Ghassan Khatib and Yossi Alpher praise the PA state and institution building program.

Israel Feelings Rising Anger From the U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner, Mark Landler - March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON — An ill-timed municipal housing announcement in Jerusalem has mutated into one of the most serious conflicts between the United States and Israel in two decades, leaving a politically embarrassed Israeli government scrambling to respond to a tough list of demands by the Obama administration.

Rebuilt Synagogue Is Caught in Disputes Over Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — In what appeared to be a case of unfortunate timing, Israel officially inaugurated a rebuilt synagogue in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday, entangling what was intended to be a festive cultural event with the diplomatic row over new Israeli construction in the contested territory.

The Biden Effect
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Roger Cohen - (Opinion) March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

NEW YORK — I’m tempted to see Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel as a parable: Nice guy wanders into mess and truth is revealed. We’ve had, for example, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clarifying the fact that, “Israel and the U.S. have mutual interests, but we will act according to the vital interests of the state of Israel.” Of course, the United States, too, has “vital interests.” They include reaching a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine for which the physical space erodes daily as Israeli settlements in the West Bank expand.

U.S. pushing Netanyahu to accept demands for peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Glenn Kessler - March 16, 2010 - 12:00am

In an effort to get peace talks back on track, the Obama administration is pressing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to reverse last week's approval of 1,600 housing units in a disputed area of Jerusalem, make a substantial gesture toward the Palestinians, and publicly declare that all of the "core issues" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the status of Jerusalem, be included in upcoming talks, U.S. officials said.

The U.S. quarrel with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
(Editorial) March 16, 2010 - 12:00am

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S Middle East diplomacy failed in his first year in part because he chose to engage in an unnecessary and unwinnable public confrontation with Israel over Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Over the past six months Mr. Obama's envoys gingerly retreated from that fight and worked to build better relations with the government of Binyamin Netanyahu. Last week the administration finally managed to strike a deal for the launching of indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks. So it has been startling -- and a little puzzling -- to see Mr.

Israel rejects U.S. calls to halt East Jerusalem plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Paul Richter, Edmund Sanders - March 16, 2010 - 12:00am

Reporting from Washington and Jerusalem A day after trying to ease tensions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday rejected U.S. demands to end the construction of new housing units in disputed East Jerusalem, leaving the two allies in the middle of an increasingly uncomfortable diplomatic feud. The United States wants Netanyahu to order a halt to the construction and make a gesture to Palestinians that could help lead to peace negotiations.

PA condemns settlements, child detentions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 16, 2010 - 12:00am

Ramallah – Ma'an – During its weekly cabinet meeting on Monday, the Palestinian Authority condemned Israeli settlement expansion in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The cabinet said it welcomed the US, EU and Quartet's stance against the announcement that 1,600 Israeli-only homes are to be built in occupied East Jerusalem, further calling on Israel to revoke its decision.

Mitchell Mideast travel in flux amid US-Israel row
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Arshad Mohammed - March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

* Housing announcement has strained U.S.-Israel ties * Some lawmakers rebuke U.S. criticism of Israel By Arshad Mohammed WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) - A U.S. envoy's plans to visit the Middle East were up in the air on Monday, the State Department said, as it waited for Israel to respond to U.S. demands it show that it is serious about peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israeli troops wound 7 Palestinians-medics
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Saed Hawari - March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

* Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops * Senior Palestinian politician warns of new Intifada (Adds Qurie quotes) By Saed Hawari ATARA, West Bank, March 15 (Reuters) - Israeli troops wounded at least seven Palestinians during a confrontation in the West Bank on Monday, Palestinian medical sources said, and a senior Palestinian politician said a new Intifada could break out. Palestinian witnesses and medics said soldiers had fired live rounds at the demonstrators but the Israeli military denied this, saying other measures to disperse the crowd were used.

Israel's Netanyahu says Jewish building in East Jerusalem "in no way" hurts Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

JERUSALEM — Israel's Netanyahu says Jewish building in east Jerusalem "in no way" hurts Palestinians. ___ March 15, 2010 10:36 AM EDT Copyright 2010, The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

U.S.-Israel flap: What comes next?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Laura Rozen, Ben Smith - (Opinion) March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

Bibi can hear us now. A drumbeat of angry statements from senior administration officials has produced a domestic crisis for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a sense of crisis in the U.S.-Israel relationship. The unusually angry words from Cabinet members and top White House officials – including “insult” and “affront” – were a rare public display of unresolved tensions over the question of settlements and what some U.S. officials see as Netanyahu’s attempts to sabotage a peace process.

Police chief: Jerusalem violence won't spark third Intifada
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Fadi Eyadat, Jack Khoury, Liel Kyzer - March 16, 2010 - 12:00am

Police Commissioner David Cohen on Tuesday toured Jerusalem's Old City after clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, and said he did not believe the recent violence would spark a third intifada. Dozens of Palestinians clashed with Israeli police in East Jerusalem after Hamas declared a "day of rage" to protest Israel's consecration of an ancient synagogue in the city one day earlier. Palestinians hurled stones at police and burned tires and trash bins in several areas of East Jerusalem, which Israel captured along with the West Bank during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Row with U.S. questions Netanyahu's fitness to lead
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yoel Marcus - March 16, 2010 - 12:00am

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declares at a cabinet meeting that the media exaggerated in describing the grave crisis with the United States and throws in a few more phrases from the "it'll all be fine" department, it is clear that he has neither learned nor forgotten anything. You didn't have to read Thomas Friedman's devastating column in The New York Times to know that there is a limit to the Americans' patience and their willingness to let us pour mud on their heads and call it rain.

U.S. confident Mideast peace talks to continue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - March 16, 2010 - 12:00am

The U.S. is confident proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians will continue, despite recent tension over Israel's plan to construct 1,600 new housing units in an East Jerusalem neighborhood, State Department official Philip J. Crowley said on Monday. "They have begun," Crowley said referring to indirect peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. "I'm confident that there will be another round of proximity talks." He added, however, that the administration wants to make sure that both sides are committed to making progress.

US waiting 'formal' Israeli response
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

The US State Department said Monday it was waiting for a "formal" Israeli response to its concerns, declining comment on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks in support of settlements. Netanyahu earlier Monday indicated that construction of Israeli settlements would continue in east Jerusalem, despite a tense phone call last week from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging him to stop.

U.S.-Israel crisis: This time, it's serious
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Last summer, when the relationship between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations was getting off to what appeared to be a rocky start, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was at pains -- twice -- to deny that he had been "summoned" to the State Department for a dressing down. One such "meeting" was actually a friendly phone call, he said, and the other was a routine getting-to-know-you meeting. The distinction was key, he told journalists: When the State Department actually "summons" an envoy, "That's serious."

US-Israel crisis - this time it's serious
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Barbara Ferguson - March 16, 2010 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON: Tension between the United States and Israel went up a notch on Monday when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said construction in occupied East Jerusalem would continue as usual. "Construction will continue in Jerusalem as has been the case over the past 42 years," Netanyahu told members of his Likud party.

MIDEAST: U.S.-Israeli Tensions Escalating Quickly
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Jim Lobe - (Interview) March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

The crisis touched off by last week's announcement of Israel's plans to build 1,600 new homes for Jews in Arab East Jerusalem during a high-profile visit by U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden appears to be escalating rapidly. Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to Washington and a historian who has written widely on ties between the two nations, called the growing contretemps "the worst (bilateral) crisis in 35 years" in a teleconference with other U.S.-based Israeli diplomats Saturday night, according to a number of published accounts.

A pillar of state-building
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Opinion) March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

The program of the 13th Palestinian government, entitled "Ending the Occupation and Establishing the State", might have been similar to the programs of previous governments were it not for its political context. The two-year program, which has become known as the Fayyad Plan, is meant to prepare the ground for statehood through the necessary developments and improvements in building the institutions of a state. The plan gained political momentum, first on the international level, because it was received as a possible alternative to the decaying peace process.

The best option
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

Under prevailing circumstances, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's unilateral state-building plan is the best option available for all those truly concerned with advancing a two-state solution that maintains Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Not only must Fayyad succeed in the coming year, but the international community must endorse and recognize his achievement and encourage Israel to follow suit.

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