Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The murder of four Israeli settlers on the eve of talks rattles leaders. Hamas claims responsibility and Ha'aretz says they have succeeded in embarrassing the PA. Israel seals off Hebron. The PA condemns the attack and arrests scores of Hamas militants. Nahum Barnea says it strengthens PM Netanyahu's hand in negotiations. Tom Friedman says Pres. Obama's efforts at stability in Iraq and Palestinian-Israeli peace are a uniquely ambitious combination and Bloomberg suggests these efforts may be aimed at countering Iran.. Pres. Mubarak says peace is possible. Pres. Abbas reiterates his commitment to peace. DM Barak suggests a compromise on Jerusalem including a "special regime" for tbe old city. US officials again say peace can be reached in a year. New statistics suggest reduced settlement activity in the first half of 2010. Ian Black says neither side seems ready to make serious concessions on peace. Rami Khouri says the US may be waiting until December to seriously pressure the parties. Hussein Ibish says a new book on "the Arab lobby" is comically wrong.

Killing of Israeli Settlers Rattles Leaders
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - August 31, 2010 - 12:00am

The killing of four Israeli settlers, including a pregnant woman, in the West Bank on Tuesday evening rattled Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the eve of peace talks in Washington and underscored the disruptive role that the issue of Jewish settlements could play in the already fragile negotiations. The military wing of Hamas, the Islamic group, claimed responsibility for the attack — in which gunmen fired on a vehicle carrying two men and two women at a junction near the city of Hebron — and described it on its Arabic Web site as a “heroic operation.”

You Ain’t Seen This Before
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Thomas L. Friedman - (Opinion) August 31, 2010 - 12:00am

President Obama is embarking on something I’ve never seen before — taking on two Missions Impossible at the same time. That is, a simultaneous effort to heal the two most bitter divides in the Middle East: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Shiite-Sunni conflict centered in Iraq. Give him his due. The guy’s got audacity. I’ll provide the hope. But kids, don’t try this at home.

A Peace Plan Within Our Grasp
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Hosni Mubarak - (Opinion) August 31, 2010 - 12:00am

IT’S been 10 long years since the Palestinians and Israelis last came close to establishing a permanent peace, in January 2001 at Taba in Egypt. During my career in the Egyptian Air Force, I saw the tragic toll of war between the Arabs and Israel. As president of Egypt, I have endured many ups and downs in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Egypt’s decision to be the first Arab state to make peace with Israel claimed the life of my predecessor, Anwar el-Sadat.

Hamas targets Israeli-Palestinian talks by killing four Israelis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - August 31, 2010 - 12:00am

As Middle Eastern leaders gathered in Washington to inaugurate a new round of Israeli-Palestinian talks, Hamas gunmen killed four Israeli settlers in their car outside the West Bank city of Hebron. The attack appeared to be an attempt to spark violence that could undermine the peace negotiations and was a stark reminder that the Islamist Hamas movement remains an important force in Palestinian politics, no matter how much either the Israelis or the Palestinian Authority's Mahmoud Abbas wish they would go away.

Obama Aims for Middle East Agreement to Counter Iran by Stabilizing Region
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bloomberg
by Gwen Ackerman, Nicole Gaouette - September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama leads Israel and the Palestinian Authority into direct talks starting tomorrow aiming for a big prize: a peace deal that will help stabilize the region and thwart Iran’s bid to expand its influence. Obama is bringing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu together in Washington to seek agreement on security and territorial issues that lie at the heart of their dispute and have defied solution over two decades of negotiation.

Israel seals off Hebron following shootings
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli forces on Wednesday sealed off parts of the southern West Bank district of Hebron in the wake of an attack against Israeli settlers in the area which killed four. Deputy mayor of Bani Na'im Raja Ziadat, a village close to the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement, where the attack occurred, said a curfew was imposed at dawn after troops withdrew. He added that Israeli forces were deployed heavily throughout the district. Israeli forces are denying residents access to the village and barring vehicular travel on the Route 60 bypass road, the mayor said.

PA condemns attack claimed by Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinian Authority has condemned Tuesday's shooting attack that left four Israeli citizens dead near a settlement close to Hebron in the occupied West Bank. "What happened tonight in Hebron was timed to coincide with the PLO's decision to engage in negotiations to end the occupation and achieve freedom and independence for our people," Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said.

Abbas: We're committed to peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
(Interview) September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (Ma'an) -- The PLO's decision to return to direct negotiations with Israel reflects its commitment to peace, not fear of pressure from the international community, President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday. Speaking with Ma'an aboard the presidential jet en route to Washington, Abbas said the Obama administration appeared committed to resolving the Palestinian struggle for self-determination by implementing the two-state solution.

Israel hints Jerusalem compromise in peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Joseph Nasr, Matt Spetalnick - September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel's defence minister said on Wednesday the Jewish state would be willing to hand over parts of Jerusalem in peace talks with the Palestinians to be launched by U.S. President Barack Obama. A flare-up of violence in the occupied West Bank and a deadlock over Jewish settlements there loom as potential deal-breakers for Obama, who will host Middle East leaders for dinner at the White House in Washington.

Palestinian forces arrest dozens of Hamas activists
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Mohammed Assadi - September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian security forces in the West Bank detained dozens of Hamas activists on Wednesday in response to a lethal attack on Jewish settlers in the occupied territory, a senior security source said. The Hamas armed wing claimed responsibility for the killing of four Jewish settlers near Hebron on Tuesday on the eve of a new round of U.S.-backed peace talks. "Dozens of Hamas members have been arrested, mainly in Hebron area and across the West Bank," the source said. "We are investigating if they have any links to the shooting attack. There will be more arrests."

Terror attack achieved its goal - embarrassing the PA
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - (Blog) September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

The shooting attack in the Hebron Hills on Tuesday could not have been a surprise. Palestinian opposition groups, especially Hamas, were highly motivated to embarrass the Palestinian Authority on the eve of the start of direct talks in Washington. A short conversation with the members of the Palestinian delegation to Washington Tuesday night shows that the mission was indeed accomplished.

Barak to Haaretz: Israel ready to cede parts of Jerusalem in peace deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by Ari Shavit - (Interview) September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Ehud Barak has always vacillated between peace and security, dovishness and hawkishness, left wing and right wing. Even when he left south Lebanon, offered the Golan Heights to Hafez Assad and the Temple Mount to Yasser Arafat, he didn't do this as a bleeding heart. He always spoke forcefully, talked about the importance of sobriety. He always spoke about how Israel must survive in a jungle. It must do so even now, on the eve of the peace summit in Washington.

U.S.: Direct talks can achieve Mideast peace in one year
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority can be concluded within a year, U.S. special Mideast envoy George Mitchell said Tuesday, hours before the talks were set to begin in Washington. U.S. President Barack Obama considers the possibility of achieving peace in the Middle East a top priority, Mitchell told reporters at a briefing.

In the shadow of attack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Nahum Barnea - (Opinion) September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Last night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu experienced something that happened to many of his predecessors before, and to him too in his previous term as prime minister: He boarded a plane in a relatively peaceful state, but when he landed, the news of a murderous terror attack landed along with him. He boarded the plane in a certain mood, and disembarked from it in a wholly different mood.

Historic absence of housing starts in Judea and Samaria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Tovah Lazaroff - September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

For the second quarter in a row, there were almost no new housing starts in the West Bank settlements, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The report of what is an historic absence of housing starts in Judea and Samaria comes on the eve of the start of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the first such meeting since talks broke down in December 2008. Halting settlement construction has been one of the key demands Palestinians have made of Israel.

Middle East talks: no real desire for change spells little hope of success
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Ian Black - September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

No previous round of Middle East peace negotiations has begun with such rock-bottom expectations as the one being launched in Washington tonight. Neither side expects to be able to reach an agreement unless the US tries to impose one. And few believe that if Barack Obama does attempt that, Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas will be able to live with it – the Israeli premier because of his fractious rightwing coalition and the Palestinian president because of Hamas opposition and wider despair over years of peace "process" without change.

Don't over-expect peace from Washington
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Conventional wisdom says that President Barack Obama will not seriously pressure Israelis and Palestinians in their peace negotiations before the United States’ mid-term congressional elections in November, for fear that the wrath of the pro-Israel lobby might hurt the Democrats and perhaps give the Republicans control of the House of Representatives. Well, conventional wisdom will be put to the test in a serious way this week, as Obama participates in the first session of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Washington on Thursday.

In search of the invisible Arab lobby
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Hussein Ibish - (Book Review) September 1, 2010 - 12:00am

This week HarperCollins released a new book by Mitchell Bard called The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance that Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East, an obvious and ham-handed effort to counter the influential 2007 book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.

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