Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Both Washington and Tel Aviv claim success in the recent standoff over settlements. Jackson Diehl blames Pres. Abbas for lack of progress, but Stephen Walt blames the pro-Israel lobby. Tensions rise in the occupied territories as at least four Palestinians are killed by Israeli forces, the official version of events is heavily challenged, and the US urges restraint. Strains in the US-Israel relationship are evident in Sec, Clinton's speech at AIPAC. Palestinians say they're looking for a complete settlement freeze before returning to talksm and the EU calls for such a freeze.. UNSG Ban decries the Gaza blockade, The PA distributes aid to the poor and needy. A play in Gaza raises rare criticisms of Hamas. Abbas reiterates Palestinians have a right to resist occupation. A Ha'aretz analysis says there is a danger of another uprising. ATFP Advocacy Director Ghaith Al-Omari warns that Palestinians may be the next to face US pressure. The Arab News says the US faces a final opportunity for peace progress.

Both Sides Claim Success as Diplomatic Row Wanes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - (Analysis) March 20, 2010 - 12:00am

After 10 days of public quarreling over Jewish building in East Jerusalem, the Israeli government and the Obama administration have each declared victory and started to make up. The Americans believe they have extracted important concessions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; the Israelis think they have yielded little. U.N. Chief Urges Israel to End Settlement Building (March 21, 2010)

A familiar obstacle to Mideast peace: Mahmoud Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jackson Diehl - (Opinion) March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

U.S. diplomats had labored for months to persuade Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace negotiations. Just as it appeared they had succeeded, there came a provocation: Israel took a step toward expanding a Jewish settlement in Jerusalem. Headlines appeared around the globe; the European Union protested; Palestinians cried foul. Some threatened to boycott the new talks unless the decision were reversed.

In the fight over settlements, who are Israel's real friends?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Stephen Walt - (Opinion) March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

When Vice President Biden arrived in Israel on March 8, seeking to smooth U.S. ties with the Netanyahu government and jump-start peace talks, he began by reaffirming America's "absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel's security." The nearly simultaneous announcement by Israel that it plans to build another 1,600 homes in disputed East Jerusalem was not the warm embrace he was expecting.

Tensions rise as Israeli soldiers kill 2 Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked Sunday on a trip to Washington to mend U.S.-Israeli ties, tensions built in the West Bank when Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinian teenagers they say threatened them with a pitchfork and ax. The shootings brought the Palestinian death toll to four during the last two days in the Nablus region. On Saturday, two Palestinian teens were shot by soldiers after a clash with Jewish settlers over a water well.

Strains in US 'special relationship' with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - (Analysis) March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Amid unusually high tensions between the US and its closest ally, Israel, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today addresses AIPAC – the strongest Israel lobby in Washington. At issue is just how far the US should push Israel to make difficult choices in the name of peace. Nearly half of Israel supports Quartet call for Israeli settlement freeze US Israel settlements fight marks lowest point since 1970s: ambassador Netanyahu faces 'moment of truth' after US slams Israel 'insult' Clinton call to Netanyahu: Israel settlement move a 'deeply negative signal'

Security sources say settlers behind fire on Israeli patrol car
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian security source cast doubt Monday on Israeli news reports alleging young men opened fire at an Israeli patrol car south of Hebron overnight. The incident, where young men were said to have attacked an Israeli military patrol car near the Nahal Negohot settlement, was reported by several Israeli media outlets, all unsourced. The Palestinian security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said security services learned from the Israeli liaison department that the news reports about shooting in the area were false.

Ban shocked at persisting ruin of Gaza Strip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

On his first visit to Gaza since the end of Israel's Operation Cast Lead, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the ongoing siege "not sustainable" adding that the continued closure "is wrong." More than a year after he spoke in front of the smoldering remains of the UN warehouse in Gaza City, hit by Israeli missiles during the December 2008-January 2009 war, Ban addressed Gazans in Khan Younis, saying they "are striving to provide for their families amid unacceptable, unsustainable conditions."

PA distributes assistance to poor, disabled
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

The Office of the President distributed financial assistance to a number of needy families and people with disabilities on Thursday, in cooperation with the Al-Bireh and Ramallah governorate. The assistance was provided to 40 families, and distributed by the head of the president's Office of Humanitarian Assistance, the director of public affairs and the head of the economic and social affairs section.

In Gaza, theatre gives critics a rare voice
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Live theatre is rare in the Gaza Strip; public criticism of its Islamist rulers is rare too. So perhaps it was no surprise that a play which gives vent to Palestinian's frustrations with their leaders should be a hit. "The Cord", which opened this month to audiences of 1,000 or more in Gaza's main auditorium, takes aim at all the parties involved in the bitter, sometimes bloody, divisions that have hobbled the drive for an independent Palestinian state.

US urges restraint from Israel, Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Dale Gavlak - March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

The Obama administration is seeking to establish conditions for the stalled Israel-Palestinian talks to resume, U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell said Monday, urging the two sides to exercise restraint. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, said the Palestinians wanted to give "a chance" to indirect talks with Israel mediated by the United States.

Clinton to AIPAC: Settlement activity undermines U.S. role in peace process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians should be serious and substantive, warning that new Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank were jeopardizing progress and undermining U.S. mediation. "New construction in East Jerusalem or the West Bank undermines mutual trust and endangers the proximity talks that are the first step toward the full negotiations that both sides want and need," Clinton said in a speech to AIPAC, an influential pro-Israel lobby group, at its annual conference in Washington.

Abbas: Palestinian people have national right to resistance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said that the Palestinian people had a national right to resistance against Israeli occupation, adding that his government would not acquiesce to any Israeli demands with which it disagreed. Abbas was speaking after a meeting in Amman with U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell, who in turn urged the two sides to exercise restraint. The Obama administration was seeking to establish conditions for the stalled Israel-Palestinian talks to resume," he said. Advertisement

MESS Report / Can anything douse the flames of West Bank unrest?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - (Opinion) March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

The recent deterioration of calm in the West Bank, which involved two unpleasant incidents that occurred in less than 24 hours, are continuing to raise the heat of the West Bank barometer. Advertisement A week after the failed Palestinian attempt to ignite riots in Jerusalem and the West Bank over the building in the East Jerusalem neighborhood Ramat Shlomo, Israel is now fanning the flames with the deaths of four unarmed Palestinians at the hands of Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

'Pitchfork remained on ground during purported attack'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Hanan Greenberg - March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Was a pitchfork attack thwarted? Many serious question marks are brought up by the IDF's initial investigation into the functioning of the soldiers involved in Sunday's incident next to Awatra in which two Palestinians carrying a pitchfork were killed by IDF soldiers. At the end of the debriefings on the incident and on the incident that took place on Saturday in which two other Palestinians were killed during a protest near Nablus, investigation material will be passed on to the military prosecutor, where it will be decided whether the military police will launch an investigation.

EU condemns Israel over e. J'lem intent
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

The European Union on Monday condemned Israel's intent to continue building in east Jerusalem, saying it represents a roadblock to international peace efforts. "The European Union has condemned all the settlement activities," said Spanish Foreign Miguel Angel Moratinos, whose nation holds the EU's rotating presidency. "We ask for a total freeze of settlement activity. We will pursue this policy." EU foreign ministers met in Brussels a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that Israel will not restrict construction in east Jerusalem.

Israeli-Palestinian peace hopes rise as US envoy prepares to get talks moving
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Luke Harding - March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

The US special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, is due to fly to the region on Sunday to try to secure a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian talks amid optimism about a breakthrough. Mitchell had been due to visit Israel on Tuesday but his trip was cancelled – a victim of US-Israeli tensions. It was reinstated after Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, bowing to US pressure, phoned the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, last night to offer concessions.Mitchell is scheduled to see Netanyahu in Israel and the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah.

A message for Palestinians in the Israel-U.S. disagreement?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Eric Fingerhut - March 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Jeffrey Goldberg lamented the other day that the AIPAC policy conference had too many speakers from the center-right and not enough from the left. One exception he did cite was Ghaith al-Omari, advocacy director for the American Task Force on Palestine, who spoke Sunday afternoon on a panel entitled "Prognosticating Peace: Are Direct Israeli-Palestinian Talks in Sight?" And al-Omari had an interesting perspective on the recent flareup in tensions between the U.S. and Israel, believing there was an important message in the episode for Palestinians, as well.

Last opportunity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
March 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Netanyahu is to travel to Washington where he is expected to meet Clinton and possibly President Barack Obama in their first meeting since the extraordinary flare-up that took Israel and much of the world aback. The eruption was ignited by Israel’s announcement of 1,600 more settler homes in East Jerusalem which coincided not only with a visit by Vice President Joe Biden but also with the eve of the proximity talks America had at last persuaded Mahmoud Abbas to enter with Netanyahu.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017