Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israeli officials disagree about the reason for a lull in Jerusalem settlement activity. As nonviolent Palestinian protests spread, Israel uses new crowd dispersal weapons. Israel expels a fourth Palestinian from the West Bank to Gaza. Palestinian children are reportedly beaten by settlers. Opposition groups warn Hamas its policies may lead to a revolt. Israeli officials predict negotiations within two weeks, but Palestinians say it's too soon. The PA bans Palestinian laborers from working in settlements, but will not fine them. Israeli troops dismantle makeshift settler structures in the West Bank. A Ha'aretz report compares the present situation with the one that led to the 1973 war. Pres. Sarkozy says PM Netanyahu's "foot dragging" on peace is "unacceptable." The Israeli government may be quietly pushing for a "provisional" Palestinian state. US officials say comments by Israel's mayor in Jerusalem undermine peace talks. Israeli officials say they will not honor their commitment to dismantle settlement outposts. Rami Khouri says US Middle East policy is still driven by domestic politics.

Pace of Planning for East Jerusalem Projects Slows
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

After a recent spike in Israeli-American tensions over Israeli building plans for Jewish housing in contested East Jerusalem, there appears to have been a lull in the planning process. Palestinians demand that East Jerusalem be the capital of a future state, and call for an end to settlement construction there. Some municipal officials in Jerusalem have interpreted the lull as amounting to a tacit, if temporary, freeze in the advancement of new plans. Other municipal and government officials say that regular planning meetings have been held up for purely bureaucratic reasons.

Israel tries new tactics against Palestinian protesters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

It's the usual Friday afternoon cat-and-mouse dance between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian protesters in this West Bank village. Young village men, joined by Israeli leftists and international activists, begin blocking roads with boulders and tires; soldiers take up positions at key intersections. Israeli forces fire tear gas canisters; protesters fling rocks. Before long, the military calls in one of its most dreaded weapons.

Israel quietly freezes new building in East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Ilene Prusher - April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

If the Middle East peace process were a stock, it would be one of the riskiest investments on the market. But there are bullish indicators for renewed peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. Both sides seem to be moving toward compromises which, although seemingly minor, might pave the way to the first serious peace talks since the failed Annapolis process that began in late 2007.

Israel expels citizen from Hebron to Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

A 19-year-old Hebron resident was detained by Israeli forces Tuesday night, removed from the West Bank, and expelled into Gaza, security sources said. The young man, identified as Fadi Aiada Al-Azazma, had lived with his family in Hebron for 15 years. His identity card was reportedly issued in Gaza before he moved to the West Bank. According to witnesses, Israeli forces took Al-Azazma from his workplace in Hebron and detained him for hours before deporting him to Gaza via the Erez crossing.

Silwan boys say beaten by settlers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Eleven- and 12-year-old Silwan boys said they were beaten by settlers in the Al-Bustan neighborhood on Tuesday night, with several witnesses corroborating the report. Muhammad Ar-Ruwaeidi, 11, and Mustafa Aj-Julani, 12, were admitted to the Hadassa Hospital in Al-Isawiya with minor bruising, and witnesses said at least one settler was injured in the ensuing fight. Witnesses told Ma'an that several Al-Bustan residents came to the aid of the two boys, who were both sitting near the protest tent of the Al-Kurd family near the home from which they were evicted last fall.

Hamas warned: fear may give way to revolt in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Security forces of the Islamist group Hamas detained Palestinian political activists overnight for distributing leaflets urging them to ease up on the people of Gaza or face a possibly explosive revolt. An official of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) told Reuters several members were arrested late on Tuesday and set free on Wednesday.

Israel's Ayalon sees talks restart within two weeks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Ori Lewis - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

srael expects U.S. mediated peace talks with the Palestinians to resume sometime next month, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said on Wednesday. Ayalon's pronouncement was the latest in a series of statements by Israeli officials expressing optimism at the restart of talks stalled since December 2008. When asked in an interview on Israel Radio when the talks might resume, Ayalon said: "There is no final date yet, but I estimate that it is a matter of some two weeks." Ayalon was speaking from Washington where he held talks with U.S. officials.

No fines now for Palestinian settlement workers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Mohammed Daraghmeh - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinians who violate a new ban on working in Israeli settlements will be given time to find other employment before facing punishment, a top official said, reflecting just of how hard it will be to enforce the measure in the job-strapped West Bank. The law, which also prohibits the sale of Israeli settlement products in the West Bank, was signed this week by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Violators face up to five years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

Israeli forces demolish settlers' 'Obama's Shack'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Danielle Cheslow - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli security forces demolished a handful of illegal structures in West Bank settlements Tuesday, including a wooden bunker that hard-line Jewish activists had defiantly named after President Barack Obama. Israeli forces also clashed with Palestinian protesters opposed to construction of Israel's West Bank separation barrier. In one incident, paramilitary border police wrestled a teenage boy to the ground, then fired pepper spray directly into his face to subdue him. The youth, screaming in pain, was then arrested.

PNA says too early to begin indirect peace talks with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

A Palestinian official on Wednesday said it was still early to start indirect peace talks with Israel which the United States had offered. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is still talking with Washington over its proposal. When the talks complete, Erekat said, the PNA will brief the Arab League (AL) on their results to make a decision. Last month, the AL and the PNA had approved the U.S. proposal, but Israel's announcement of building 1,600 houses for Jews in disputed East Jerusalem made the Palestinians balk at going ahead.

Netanyahu is incapable of making peace - but does Israel care?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - (Opinion) April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Dinner at the home of a foreign diplomat, earlier this week. Two high-ranking visitors from the diplomat's home country listen as an Israeli delegation paints a less than encouraging picture of the Middle East. The Israelis - academics, journalists and a former negotiator in the peace process, all of them somewhere between the center and the left on the political map - are united in their prognosis: Things aren't what they were.

Sarkozy: Netanyahu's foot-dragging on peace process is unacceptable
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has told his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres that he is disappointed with Benjamin Netanyahu and finds it hard to understand the prime minister's diplomatic plan. Sarkozy made his comments at the Elysee Palace two weeks ago. The latest criticism follows the diplomatic crisis between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama and the subsequent fallout between Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Pushing for a provisional Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

The announcement of upcoming "proximity talks" between Israel and the Palestinians raises a number of questions - what exactly will they talk about? What else can be renewed in the peace process, where everything seems to have been tried while peace remains elusive? What trick does George Mitchell, the mediator of the hour, have up his sleeve that was kept from his frustrated predecessors?

US officials: Barkat undermines talks effort
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Yitzhak Benhorin - April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Tuesday with senior US administration officials in Washington, who expressed their surprise over Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's behavior. His conduct, they said, completely contradicts to the atmosphere the government is trying to create in order to renew negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel won't honor outpost pledge
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Tovah Lazaroff - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Despite a 2002 road map commitment and years of pledges by successive prime ministers including Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel has no intention in the foreseeable future of dismantling any of 23 unauthorized West Bank outposts built after March 2001, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Settlement ban fear of Palestinian labourers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Tim Franks - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

It may only be April, but on the exposed hillside settlement of Har Gilo it already feels very hot. Perhaps for that reason not many people are out and about in this small, middle-class, Jewish enclave in the West Bank between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. And most of those who are walking around have, perhaps surprisingly, Palestinian faces. They are a group of construction workers, who laugh when you mention the Israeli government's self-declared "freeze" on building in settlements.

Uphill battle to build Palestinian nonviolent movement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Dina Kraft - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Rami Burnat sits in his wheelchair toward the back of a sprawling courtyard where Palestinian speakers take turns championing the cause of nonviolent resistance. Burnat, 29, has been disabled ever since a bullet pierced his neck in clashes in late 2000, shortly after the second intifada began. Still an activist, Burnat is among a small but growing number of Palestinians trying to mount a new kind of intifada against Israel: a nonviolent one.

US domestic politics will drive Mideast policy
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

I was able to follow US-Mideast diplomatic developments at close range and consult with many knowledgeable players and analysts, I sense that the Arab-Israeli peace process in the Middle East (now focused on the energetic attempt to launch Palestinian-Israeli “proximity talks”) is as much about political process in the United States as it is about diplomatic moves abroad.

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