Middle East News: World Press Roundup

PLO officials say negotiations will be difficult but an agreement is possible. The settlement freeze issue is unresolved, being debated within the Israeli cabinet, and the US says will be discussed in negotiations. David Makovsky says there is reason for optimism. The CSM says international support is critical. Pres. Abbas appoints a new Chief of Staff. Palestinian students in occupied East Jerusalem face a critical shortage of classrooms. Facing a budget crunch, the PA cuts spending on vehicles. A strike by Israeli diplomats threatens PM Netanyahu's trip to Washington. Aziz Abu Sarah sees hope for the future. The UN says Israel is not cooperating with its investigation into the flotilla attack. Bilal Hassen says the US is not supporting its Palestinian allies. Ghassan Khatib says negotiations still lack clear terms of reference. Yossi Alpher says the negotiations will be useful, but probably not on final status issues. Hussein Ibish welcomes negotiations but says Palestinian state building remains essential.

Talks ‘Doable,’ Says Palestinian Official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - August 23, 2010 - 12:00am

The chief Palestinian negotiator said Monday that he believed reaching an agreement with Israel within a year was “doable,” echoing remarks by the Israeli prime minister a day earlier that a peace agreement would be difficult but “possible.” But the otherwise sharply differing declarations presented as the basis for going into the direct talks, scheduled to start in Washington on Sept. 2, reflect the complexity of the effort required to get the two sides to this point, and the daunting challenges that lie ahead.

End of settlement freeze could derail Mideast talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Times
by Eli Lake - August 23, 2010 - 12:00am

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that are set to begin next week in Washington may be scuttled before they even get going. Israel has yet to commit to extending a freeze on construction of settlements that the Palestinian side says it needs to continue negotiations. That settlement freeze is set to expire Sept. 26. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated in a letter to President Obama that he would not participate in the direct talks if Israel continued construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Mideast peace talks to look forward to?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by David Makovsky - August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

The announcement Friday that Middle East peace talks would be launched Sept. 2 was not exactly met with an outpouring of enthusiasm. Yet progress on security and other issues suggests there is reason to believe peace talks can produce results.

WEST BANK: Big obstacles in road to direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Maher Abukhater - (Blog) August 23, 2010 - 12:00am

Even before direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations kick off in Washington on Sept. 2, the road there is littered with political landmines. The Palestinians stated when they agreed on Friday, under U.S. and international pressure, to resume direct negotiations that if Israel resumed settlement construction in the West Bank, the talks would stop.

How to bolster the coming Mideast peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
August 23, 2010 - 12:00am

When Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the US had invited the leaders of Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct peace talks next week, the secretary of State did not mince words about the obstacles to success. “The enemies of peace will keep trying to defeat us and to derail these talks,” she said Aug. 20. That is why the negotiations will need “actions by all sides” to support the process.

US 'mindful' of Palestinian stance on settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

The US said it remained "mindful" of the Palestinian position on an end to settlement construction, a State Department spokesman said Monday. US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters that Israel's temporary moratorium, which expires three weeks after talks launch, would be up for discussion when leaders meet on 2 September. "We’re very mindful of the importance the issue is within the negotiation. That’s why we want to get in the negotiation. None of these issues can be resolved outside of this negotiation," Crowley said.

Abbas appoints new chief of staff following scandal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree appointing a new chief of staff to replace Rafiq Husseini, who was dismissed in February over a sex scandal, Ma'an learned Tuesday. Dr Hussein Al-A'raj previously served as governor of Hebron, undersecretary of the ministry of local governance from 2004 to 2005, and served as the chief of staff of Palestinian Authority civil servants. Before working in government, Al-Araj lectured at the An-Najah National University in Nablus in the Faculty of Economy and Administrative Sciences.

Dismal lack of classrooms in East Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

The education of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem is subject to "ongoing neglect," a joint report issued by two Israeli rights group said Tuesday. The Association of Civil Rights in Israel and Jerusalem-based NGO Ir Amim say the education system in East Jerusalem remains short of 1,000 classrooms for Palestinian students. According to the report, only 39 schools were built for Palestinians over the past year despite promises made in court to build 644 by 2011.

Palestinian Authority slashes spending on vehicles
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Mohammed Assadi - August 23, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority said on Monday it would implement measures to save on fuel and maintenance for its fleet of 2,000 vehicles, as part of spending cuts spurred by a decline in funding from Arab countries. Transport Minister Saadi al-Kronz told Reuters the cuts taking effect on Oct. 1 would restrict the use of government vehicles to working hours, and seek efficiency measures for further savings on fuel and licensing. Kronz hoped the measures would save millions of dollars each year and minimise a need to purchase new vehicles at an annual cost of about $10 million.

Israelis, Palestinians feud ahead of direct talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
August 23, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli and Palestinian leaders sparred on Monday over Jewish settlements and Israeli calls for security guarantees before the launch of Quartet-sponsored direct peace talks in Washington next week. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement he would demand any Palestinian state established under a peace deal be demilitarised. But he said he was not laying down any terms for the talks set to convene on Sept. 2.

Mideast peace talks: Are Israel, Palestine just going through the motions?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Matthew Rusling - August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

Friday's announcement of a new round of Middle East peace talks has stirred skepticism over whether the negotiations will amount to any meaningful progress. Moreover, some experts said both the Israelis and Palestinians are simply going through the motions in a bid to placate Washington. "In effect you have both sides just doing this to please the United States," said Michele Dunne, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Neither side believes that a negotiated solution can result from the talks, nor are they prepared to make major concessions, she said.

Israel diplomats' strike threatens PM's Washington trip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks set to face serious obstacles as he travels to Washington for a high-profile peace summit – but this time it is his own diplomats, not the Palestinians, who are causing him strife. On Tuesday the foreign ministry's workers' committee sent a telegram to Israel's Washington embassy, instructing staff there not to assist the prime minister during his visit. At a meeting early Tuesday, the committee decided to ramp up labor sanctions it imposed a few weeks ago to demand more pay.

US, Israel seek 'creative' solution for settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli officials confirmed Monday that the government is in quiet talks with the United States in search of a "creative" solution that will allow at least some limited construction to take place after Israel's 10-month moratorium ends on Sept. 26. "Many options are being discussed. It's not that simple," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. In Washington, a US official confirmed the dialogue with Israel and said no decisions have been taken.

Hope for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Aziz Abu Sarah - August 23, 2010 - 12:00am

There many reasons to be pessimistic and at times to despair about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet even when things look hopeless, hope has a way of appearing, offering a vision of what can be rather than what is. Recently, I caught a glimpse of this hope in an unlikely place – the Israeli health care system.

Coalition rhetoric heats up as W. Bank freeze nears end
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Rebecca Anna Stoil - August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

A month before the end of the West Bank new-construction moratorium and on the eve of direct peace talks in Washington, tensions rose Monday among government ministers regarding building in settlements on the day that the freeze expires. “Building will continue as usual, as normal,” promised National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Beiteinu) during a midday interview on Radio Kol Chai. “Everyone will build as he wants to and needs to.”

UN official criticises Israel over flotilla probe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel is not co-operating with the UN Human Rights Council's probe of May's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, a UN official said today. Juan Carlos Monge said the fact-finding mission is speaking to witnesses and government officials in Turkey and Jordan. But Mr Monge said Israel has not granted the team an invitation. Israel's UN mission said today it was not commenting on the investigation. Israeli commandos killed nine pro-Palestinian activists trying to break the Jewish state's blockade of Gaza. Israel says the soldiers acted in self-defence.

When America Forsakes its Palestinian Ally
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Bilal Hassen - August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

US planning, European pressure, Arab complacency, and fragility of the Palestinian negotiator; these are the four factors that have made the racist right-wing government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, seem as if it is the victorious power that can impose everything it wants in the farce of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

Negotiations lack clear terms of reference
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - August 23, 2010 - 12:00am

The recent US-led efforts to resume direct talks, that ended with the two sides agreeing to renew direct negotiations, reminded many observers of US efforts to establish a peace process and Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in the early 1990s, then described as "constructive ambiguity".

Where these negotiations could be useful
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - August 23, 2010 - 12:00am

The resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that is projected for September 2 in Washington serves a number of useful purposes. Sadly, none of them is directly connected to the effort to "resolve all final status issues" trumpeted last Friday in statements by the Quartet and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Direct talks, yes, but with state-building too
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Hussein Ibish - August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

The resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in early September offers significant opportunities and pitfalls for all parties. For the Obama administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement of the talks represents the culmination of almost a year of intensive diplomacy. Whether or not the United States has a backup plan if talks founder is entirely unclear. The administration’s assumption appears to be that direct talks will generate their own dynamics; but if they don’t, it’s not evident what the next American step will be.

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