Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Fallout from the settlement controversy continues: PM Netanyahu proposes confidence building measures with Palestinians; Special Envoy Mitchell will return to the region; Charles Krauthammer says Pres. Obama is picking on Israel but the Christian Science Monitor says settlements threaten world security; the Quartet calls for a Palestinian state within two years; most Israelis see Pres. Obama as friendly and fair; Anshel Pfeffer says Netanyahu has lost this fight and Doron Rosenblum says he is trying to please his father; Susie Becher says Israelis have to face the fact that dominating all Jerusalem and peace are incompatible; JJ Goldberg says the confrontation was inevitable; the journal of Shas calls present Obama "a stone throwing Palestinian." Israeli forces bomb Gaza. Palestinians say they're going to try to reduce dependence on Western training. Israel's Foreign Ministry is concerned it is being branded an apartheid state. The US imposes sanctions on Hamas-related organizations. The ADL slams Gen. David Petraeus for suggesting Israeli policies harm US interests, but Alan Philps says the US military in general is taking a harder line towards Israel.

Israeli Suggests Steps to Aid Peace Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mark Landler - March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, under intense pressure from the United States to settle a diplomatic dispute over Jewish settlements, called Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton late Thursday to propose what he called a package of “mutual confidence building” steps to be taken by Israelis and Palestinians to help restart peace negotiations. The Obama administration will “review the prime minister’s response and continue our discussions with both sides,” Philip J. Crowley, the State Department spokesman, said in a statement.

U.S. to send envoy back to Mideast as Israel moves to smooth relations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Glenn Kessler - March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

In an effort to defuse a bitter spat with the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday night to propose confidence-building measures to get Middle East peace talks back on track, U.S. and Israeli officials said.

How Obama created the Biden incident
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Charles Krauthammer - March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

And a gaffe it was: the announcement by a bureaucrat in Israel's Interior Ministry of a housing expansion in a Jewish neighborhood in north Jerusalem. The timing could not have been worse: Vice President Biden was visiting, Jerusalem is a touchy subject, and you don't bring up touchy subjects that might embarrass an honored guest. But it was no more than a gaffe. It was certainly not a policy change, let alone a betrayal. The neighborhood is in Jerusalem, and the 2009 Netanyahu-Obama agreement was for a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlements excluding Jerusalem.

Israeli settlements threaten world security
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Nathan Gardels - (Interview) March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Nathan Gardels: Let’s go back to basics. It is clear that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict stands at the center of what motivates so much terrorism against the United States. In this context, the Netanyahu ( Israeli) government’s insistence on expanding settlements – despite President Obama’s high profile promise to stop them in his Cairo speech – does more than undermine US credibility. Isn’t it, fundamentally, against US strategic interests?

Israeli settlement crisis clouds Mideast talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Arshad Mohammed - March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Middle East mediators from Europe, the United States, Russia and the U.N. met on Friday seeking to defuse the latest crisis in peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. "All of us today hope to arrive at some common conclusions which will help to promote the beginning of a dialogue between the two sides," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the start of talks.

Israel, U.S. seek to defuse settlement dispute
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Arshad Mohammed - March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel tried to defuse a dispute with the United States on Friday over plans to expand settlements, saying it would offer the Palestinians "confidence-building" steps to encourage a renewal of peace talks. Relations between Israel and the United States, its main backer, have been frayed by Israel unveiling plans to build 1,600 housing units near occupied East Jerusalem during a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden last week.

Mitchell to meet Abbas and Netanyahu this weekend
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel and the United States have discussed specific steps to try to improve the outlook for Israeli-Palestinian peace following a bitter U.S.-Israeli row over settlement building, the State Department said on Friday. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell would meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the region this weekend.

Palestinians clash with Israeli security
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Amy Teibel - March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinians in east Jerusalem and the West Bank lobbed rocks at Israeli security forces, set garbage bins and tires ablaze and torched an Israeli flag in a new outbreak of violence over contested Jerusalem building plans and unsubstantiated rumors about threats to the city's holiest shrine. Israeli forces responded with tear gas and stun grenades, but no serious injuries were reported.

PNA to reduce dependence on Western training programs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) tends to reduce dependence on U.S. and European officers in training its forces in the West Bank, a spokesman said Thursday. Adnan Al-Dumiri, spokesman for the PNA's forces, said Palestinian officers who received training would start shifting their experience to newly-admitted cadets. "The PNA's dependence on the Americans and Europeans is decreasing," he told Xinhua.

Lieberman on Quartet call: You can't make artificial peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded Friday to the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators' call to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, saying that peace is not something which can be created artificially and with unrealistic timetables. "Peace will be established through actions and not by force," Lieberman told Belgium's Jewish community ahead of his scheduled talks with the ministers of several European nations.

Netanyahu thought he could take Obama, and lost
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Anshel Pfeffer - March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quite right. As he said in his speech at the Knesset on Monday while greeting Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, over the last four decades, every single Israeli government has built Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. No prime minister, from the right, left or center, has ever caved to international pressure and agreed to curtail the development of the capital east of the Green Line.

Jerusalem construction is now a national obsession
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Doron Rosenblum - (Opinion) March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

It is doubtful that anyone in the present administration in the White House, or anywhere in the world, has the patience or desire to get to the bottom of the motives behind the Netanyahu government. But those who nonetheless want to understand what makes the prime minister tick should look at the photographs of the happy and ostensibly non-political event that fell into the lap of the extended Netanyahu family this week: the victory of Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu's son Avner in the National Bible Quiz.

Shas Journal: Obama is 'a stone-throwing Palestinian'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Yair Ettinger - March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

The official Shas journal "Day to Day" published Thursday an editorial depicting United States President Barack Obama as "a Palestinian stone throwing youth in East Jerusalem, and not a strategic leader." The journal editorial was published in response to Obama's interview on Fox News Thursday morning, during which he criticized Minister of Interior affairs and Shas chairman Eli Yishai for the administrative decision to build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood.

Foreign Ministry: Israel must throw off mantle of 'apartheid state'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
(Analysis) March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

A senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday reinforced the need for Israel to shake off the mantle of "the new apartheid state" and redefine itself to the international community, at a conference held at The College of Management – Academic Studies (COMAS) in Rishon Lezion.

US imposes Gaza sanctions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

The US Treasury imposed sanctions on Thursday against two firms in Gaza - Islamic National Bank and al-Aqsa Television - for their ties to the ruling Hamas movement. The Treasury said the sanctions prohibit Americans from transactions with the entities and seek to freeze any assets they may have under US jurisdiction. The Treasury lists Hamas, which rules Gaza, as a "specially designated global terrorist" organization.

Time to face the truth
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Susie Becher - (Opinion) March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

Most of the headlines and commentary since the announcement of the Ramat Shlomo building plans during Vice President Biden’s visit have focused on the crisis in relations between Israel and the United States. There is certainly cause for concern that the current Israeli government has finally pushed the Obama administration too far, but the more serious issue for Israel’s citizens should be the unmasking of Israel’s intentions vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

ADL: Petraeus testimony 'counterproductive'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The Anti-Defamation League said a top U.S. general's analysis of the role of the Israeli-Arab conflict in frustrating the U.S. mission in the Middle East was "dangerous and counterproductive." Gen. David Petraeus, in Senate testimony this week, outlined a number of areas that impeded U.S. interests in the Central Command, the area that he commands and that includes the Middle East. Petraeus first outlined five "major threats," none of them directly related to the Israel-Arab conflict.

A Confrontation That Was Inevitable
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - (Opinion) March 17, 2010 - 12:00am

No, it wasn’t embarrassment that caused a blowup in U.S.-Israel relations when Vice President Joe Biden came to Jerusalem. Nor was it a weakening of America’s bond with Israel. It wasn’t timing, either — at least not the timing of Israel’s announcement of new housing plans in East Jerusalem moments after the vice president arrived. That provided a trigger, but the confrontation was coming anyway.

US military moves towards a harder line against Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Alan Philps - (Editorial) March 18, 2010 - 12:00am

For many years, American diplomats have had to approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a rigidly pro-Israeli position. On a personal level, that is no doubt the way they had been taught to see the world. But careerism required that they never deviate, whatever they learned on the job. The result was that, during the 1990s, all US proposals were put to the Israeli government in advance for approval.

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