Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Coverage continues to focus on the US-Israel settlement controversy: the US may be rethinking negotiation plans; the New York Times says the administration see an opportunity; Israel rejects US demands to limit construction in Jerusalem, but reports suggest an unannounced freeze may be imminent; Pres. Obama and Israeli Amb. Michael Oren both say there is not a crisis; Mustafa Barghouti says Palestinians should not stay on the sidelines; the Christian Science Monitor says the US must keep up the pressure; a Ha'aretz commentary says Israel needs tough love; Arabs say hopes in Obama are dwindling; Osman Mirghani says Arabs should take advantage of this opening; Francis Matthew says the issue is not just future building but existing settlements. The Forward looks of assertions that Israel's policies are threatening US interests. A rocket fired from Gaza kills a Thai worker in southern Israel, among claims of responsibility include an Al Qaeda-like organization. The first planned Palestinian city in the West Bank gets a US government grant. A Ha'aretz editorial says Israel's closure of West Bank nonviolent protest villages is an attack on free speech. Ali Jarbawi says the PA state and institution building program shows Palestinians are serious.

U.S. Mulls Own Plan for Mideast Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner, David E. Sanger - March 17, 2010 - 12:00am

The angry exchanges between the United States and the Israeli government have rekindled a White House debate over whether — and when — President Obama should propose an American plan to form the basis of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, senior administration officials said Wednesday. The move would be a risky one for Mr. Obama at a time that the coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fragile and the Palestinians are deeply divided. Until now Mr. Obama has deflected calls to put his own plan, with territorial maps, on the table.

Opportunity in a Fight With Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mark Landler - (Analysis) March 16, 2010 - 12:00am

For President Obama, getting into a serious fight with Israel carries obvious domestic and foreign political risks. But it may offer the administration a payoff it sees as worthwhile: shoring up Mr. Obama’s credibility as a Middle East peacemaker by showing doubtful Israelis and Palestinians that he has the fortitude to push the two sides toward an agreement.

Israel Objects to U.S. Construction Demands
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - March 16, 2010 - 12:00am

The discord between the United States and Israel over Jewish building in East Jerusalem deepened Tuesday with Israeli officials saying they would reject demands by Washington and expressing anger over the public upbraiding of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the Obama administration.

For Israel and America, a Disagreement, Not a Crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Michael B. Oren - (Opinion) March 17, 2010 - 12:00am

ISRAEL and America enjoy a deep and multi-layered friendship, but even the closest allies can sometimes disagree. Such a disagreement began last week during Vice President Joseph Biden’s visit to Israel, when a mid-level official in the Interior Ministry announced an interim planning phase in the expansion of Ramat Shlomo, a northern Jerusalem neighborhood. While this discord was unfortunate, it was not a historic low point in United States-Israel relations; nor did I ever say that it was, contrary to some reports.

Palestinians must not stay on the sidelines, official says
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - (Interview) March 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Almost overshadowed in the recent days of diplomatic tussle between the U.S. and Israel is the Palestinian Authority, whose leaders have been watching with concern -- and perhaps a little amusement. It's not often Palestinians get to see the U.S. and Israel clash so publicly.

Rocket fired by Gaza militants kills man in Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

A rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip killed a man inside Israel Thursday, Israeli medics said, in the first death from a rocket attack since Israel's Gaza offensive last year. Magen David Adom of Israel's emergency service said the man killed was about 30 years old and appeared to be a farm worker from Thailand employed in an agricultural community just north of Gaza. Such rocket fire was once common but has become rare since the Israeli military's Gaza campaign, which brought about a steep drop in the number of attacks launched from the Palestinian territory.

Israel crisis: US must keep up the pressure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
(Editorial) March 17, 2010 - 12:00am

The Obama administration appears to be turning down the rhetoric in its heated exchange with Israel over last week’s surprise announcement of 1,600 more Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem. It should not, however, relieve pressure on Israel to show that it is ready to compromise in making peace with the Palestinians.

First planned Palestinian city receives US grant
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

Bethlehem - Ma'an - The US government signed two grant agreements on Monday in support of Rawabi, the first Palestinian planned city outside Ramallah, and to the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Finance. The grants, offered by the US Trade and Development Agency (TDA) Awards Grants, will go toward two projects for technical assistance to develop an IT master plan for the new city, and a tertiary waste water treatment feasibility study for Rawabi and surrounding communities, a statement said.

Qaeda-labelled group claims fatal Gaza rocket
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

GAZA, March 18 (Reuters) - A previously unknown group in the Gaza Strip calling itself Ansar al-Sunna (Followers of the Sunnis) send out an SMS message to media claiming to have fired a rocket that killed a man in Israel on Thursday. The name, which is also used by al Qaeda allies in Iraq and elsewhere, indicated that the group belongs to hardline Salafist tendencies in the Palestinian enclave which have challenged the ruling Hamas Islamist movement. Hamas has been trying to enforce an informal ceasefire between Israel and the territory.

Obama: No crisis in U.S. ties with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya, Barak Ravid - March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

United States President Barack Obama said Wednesday that there was no crisis in ties with Israel, despite a high-profile diplomatic feud over the Netanyahu administration's plans to build 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem. "Israel is one of our closest allies, and we and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away," Obama said in an interview with Fox News. "But friends are going to disagree sometimes," Obama said.

U.S. tough love is the kind Israel needs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Levy - (Opinion) March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel - addicted to the occupation, and showing symptoms of overdose and accumulated damage - has finally found a savior to rescue it from its plight. Israel's redeemer hasn't just stood idly by for 40 years, but has even facilitated the habit. However, it seems that change may at last be in the air.

IDF vs. democracy and freedom of speech
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
(Editorial) March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

The Israel Defense Forces decision to declare the Palestinian villages Bil'in and Na'alin closed military zones on Fridays for the next six months is a serious anti-democratic move. The order issued by the GOC Central Command implementing this restriction is an act against the freedom to demonstrate.

Israel may freeze construction in east Jerusalem's Arab Neighborhoods
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roni Sofer - March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been presented with a new proposal according to which construction in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem that are located behind the Green Line will be reduced, while Jewish construction in Arab neighborhoods will be frozen altogether, Ynet reported Thursday. A similar proposal was brought before the "forum of seven ministers," but was apparently rejected by right-wing members of cabinet. President Shimon Peres, who met with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday, supports the proposal.

Arab world says hopes in Obama are dwindling
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Arabs across the Middle East are unconvinced the United States will stand up to Israel despite Washington's rare public outrage over plans to build new Jewish homes in a traditionally Arab part of Jerusalem. The skepticism is eroding Arab hopes that President Barack Obama will push hard for a long-sought peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians to end a conflict that has fueled anti-US sentiment in the region. America's dwindling credibility could also jeopardize another major Mideast goal - uniting the Arab world against Iran. East Jerusalem Construction

Are Israel’s Policies a Threat to the U.S.?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Nathan Guttman - (Opinion) March 17, 2010 - 12:00am

The dispute between Israel and the United States over building plans in East Jerusalem has left some supporters of Israel with a bitter aftertaste. It was not only the harshness of the Obama administration’s admonition of Israel; it was also the sense that a new element has been introduced to the bilateral relationship: the question of whether Israeli policies adversely affect America’s strategic interests in the region. Related Articles

Waging on Washington’s Anger
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Osman Mirghani - (Opinion) March 17, 2010 - 12:00am

There’s nothing strange about Arab parties rejoicing at the “emergency crisis” between the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US administration after US Vice President Joe Biden was angered by the timing of an announcement by the Israeli government to build another 1600 housing units in Jerusalem. The Obama administration considered it a blow to it and its diplomacy.

Netanyahu dodges real issues
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Francis Matthew - (Opinion) March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Peace talks must focus on Israel's illegal colonies in the West Bank and Golan Heights, not merely future construction The present crisis between the US and Israel bears all the marks of a classic Netanyahu scheme in which he establishes some minor points with a lot of noise to distract attention from the main issue. Unfortunately, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is close to succeeding, so the Palestinian leadership need to keep their nerve and focus on the main agenda.

What is Israel afraid of?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ali Jarbawi - (Opinion) March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

The program of the 13th Palestinian government, commonly referred to as the Fayyad Plan, called for all Palestinian institutions, and Palestinian society as a whole, to unite behind a state-building effort. The program embodies an authentically Palestinian initiative to work pro-actively and constructively toward establishing the state of Palestine through non-violent means over a two-year timeframe, despite the lack of progress in negotiations and continued military occupation.

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