Middle East News: World Press Roundup

ATFP Advocacy Director Ghaith Al-Omari discusses negotiations on PBS' Newshour. The international onus is now on Pres. Abbas not to leave negotiations, but he is under heavy regional and domestic pressure to do so. Construction has resumed in many settlements, to a barrage of international and American criticism. Richard Cohen says all parties have miscalculated on the settlement issue. Some Palestinian refugees in Lebanon continue to support armed struggle, and the Lebanese government hopes recent reforms will stem radicalism. A Fatah official claims serious progress in reconciliation talks with Hamas. Three Palestinians are killed in Israeli air strikes in Gaza. Gaza's tunnel economy is collapsing. Israel's navy seizes a Gaza-bound boat without violence. Dror Etkes points out that settlement construction barely slowed during the moratorium. Dozens of Palestinian families are threatened with eviction in occupied East Jerusalem. Special Envoy Mitchell is returning to the region. Gershon Baskin says Israel should stop wasting resources on settlements. Gabrielle Rifkind says there are many ways of dealing with the settler issue. Many Israelis have a financial stake in the settlement project.

Settlement Moratorium Expires: Will Mideast Peace Talks Last?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from PBS
(Interview) September 27, 2010 - 12:00am

TRANSCRIPT GWEN IFILL: For more on what's holding these talks together so far, we turn to Ghaith Al-Omari, the advocacy director for the American Task Force on Palestine and a former adviser to President Abbas, and David Makovsky, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the co-author of "Myths, Illusions, and Peace."

In blame game, arrow tilts to Abbas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Politico
by Ben Smith - September 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Israelis and Palestinians have yet to achieve any substantive progress in the nascent peace talks that resulted from President Barack Obama’s high-profile push for negotiations, but a subtle shift in the political balance between the two antagonists seems clear: Israel is now winning the blame game. The blame game always proceeds on a parallel, subterranean track to actual negotiations, the cynical mirror of the process’s insistent optimism. Some prominent figures on both sides barely disguise their assumption that peace talks will fail, as they almost always do.

Construction in West Bank settlements resumes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Joel Greenberg - September 27, 2010 - 12:00am

KARMEI TZUR, WEST BANK - The rumble of a bulldozer preparing the ground for new homes started early Monday morning at this Jewish settlement in the southern West Bank, and residents said it was music to their ears after a 10-month building freeze. "We're very happy," said Erez Naim, who lives near the building site. "For 10 months we were asleep. Now suddenly things are coming back to life."

Obama demands more than Israel can give
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
by Richard Cohen - (Opinion) September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Every so often, the sayings of Casey Stengel come to mind. The longtime manager of the New York Yankees, accustomed to a Prussian professionalism in the hitting and fielding of baseballs, moved over to the astonishingly hapless New York Mets in 1962 and, surveying his new team, uttered an exasperated question: "Can't anybody here play this game?" What applied to those Mets applies now to the Obama administration. In the Middle East, it's no hits and plenty of errors.

World leaders criticize Israel for refusing to extend West Bank construction moratorium
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Reporting from Jerusalem — World leaders Monday criticized Israel's refusal to extend its construction moratorium on the West Bank even after Palestinians threatened to quit Mideast peace talks, but they vowed to prevent the stalled negotiations from collapsing.

Why Palestinian refugees in Lebanon support violence rather than peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Nicholas Blanford - (Analysis) September 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, Lebanon — Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations hung in the balance Monday as Israel ignored international pressure to extend a 10-month freeze on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, under pressure from the United States to stick with the talks, is expected to consult with his partners in the 22-member Arab League next week before announcing a decision. But Mr. Abbas said Sunday, hours before the freeze expired, that Israel had only one choice: "either peace or settlements.”

US 'disappointed' after settlement freeze ends
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
(Analysis) September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- US envoy George Mitchell will hold meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week to discuss the consequences of Israel's decision not to extend a temporary moratorium on settlement building. The US administration is "disappointed" at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. Crowley praised the "restraint" of the Palestinian response to resumed building.

Fatah official: Serious progress in unity talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A Fatah Revolutionary Council member said Monday that "serious progress" has been made in finalizing a unity deal between his party and Hamas following a meeting in Damascus over the week. Faisal Abu Shahla told Ma'an that representatives from the rival parties agreed on three disputed points of four during the Damascus meeting, which have thus far stalled the ratification of the Egyptian-backed unity deal.

3 dead in Gaza airstrike
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel's air force bombed the Gaza Strip late Monday, killing three Palestinians, onlookers said. The dead, three young men in their 20s, were transferred to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, officials said. They were identified as Ala Abu Zbeida, Awni Abdul Hadi, and Muhammad Eid. According to witnesses, the bombardment targeted the Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, with one Israeli jet also firing a missile toward a house in the camp causing no injuries.

Gaza's troubled tunnel trade swings into reverse
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Business has become so bad for Gaza's smuggler barons since Israel relaxed its blockade that tunnel traders have given up spiriting goods into the enclave, and some have even turned underground exporters. Smugglers had made fortunes hauling all manner of goods from Egypt through tunnels into Gaza, supplying 1.5 million Palestinians badly hurt by Israel's clampdown imposed in 2007 after the Islamist Hamas group took over the tiny territory.

Israel navy halts Gaza-bound boat without violence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Aisha Mohammed - September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Israeli naval forces on Tuesday intercepted a catamaran carrying nine Jewish activists toward the Gaza Strip, encountering no resistance as they took control of the sailboat and escorted it to shore, the military said. The incident occurred four months after a deadly Israeli raid on an international flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists, one of them a dual Turkish-American citizen, were killed in clashes with naval commandos. The Irene, like the earlier flotilla, had been trying to breach Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.

Settlement freeze? It was barely a slowdown
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Dror Etkes - (Opinion) September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

The official statistics supplied by the Central Bureau of Statistics describe the story behind the 10-month construction moratorium in the West Bank. The story can be called many things but "freeze" is certainly not one of them. What took place in the past few months is, in the best case scenario, not more than a negligible decrease in the number of housing units that were built in settlements.

Dozens of Arab families may be evicted from East Jerusalem neighborhood under court ruling
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Nir Hasson - September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

A Supreme Court ruling Sunday may allow settler groups to move into dozens more homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Justices Yoram Danziger, Esther Hayut and Miriam Naor unanimously rejected an appeal by Palestinians claiming to own a large plot in the western portion of the neighborhood. The court ruled that the custodian general, and other owners, including settler representatives, succeeded in proving they owned the property.

U.S. envoy speeds to Mideast in effort salvage peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Washington's special Mideast envoy, using a slim lifeline from the Palestinians, rushed to the region on Tuesday on an emergency mission to keep peace talks from collapsing just weeks after they began. Israel's decision to resume new West Bank settlement construction after a 10-month moratorium expired on midnight Sunday has provoked Palestinian threats to walk out of the talks. It has also caused new friction between Israel and its powerful U.S. patron, which said it was disappointed with Israel's refusal to relent.

Encountering Peace: Declare victory and stop building
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Let’s face it, the leaders of the settlement movement did not oppose the building moratorium because some young couples couldn’t afford their mortgage. They did not oppose it because a new classroom or nursery school could not be added even if needed as a result of natural growth. They did not oppose it because of the compassion they felt for real-estate developers whose profits were falling.

Fighting radicalism with reform in Lebanon refugee camps
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
September 27, 2010 - 12:00am

In the sprawling streets of the Burj Brajneh refugee camp, in the heart of Beirut, almost 20,000 people struggle to make a living. Mothers try to feed their children with food vouchers from the United Nations, and families live in ramshackle buildings with few of the basic facilities enjoyed by people in wider Lebanese society. Mohammed Al Shuli's grandfather fled to Lebanon in 1948 from his home in what is now the Israeli city of Acco.

Solving the West Bank settler problem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Gabrielle Rifkind - (Opinion) September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

The Israeli construction freeze in the West Bank hangs like a dark cloud over the peace talks. The moratorium expired on 26 September and President Abbas has continuously said he will withdraw from negotiations if settlement activity resumes. Last-ditch attempts to save the talks from an early collapse are taking place behind the scenes. Meanwhile Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has called on the settler movement to show restraint and only allow only small-scale construction to resume. Tensions remain very high.

Abbas pressured to halt peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Hugh Naylor - September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian political factions yesterday urged the president, Mahmoud Abbas, to abandon direct peace negotiations with Israel after it failed to extend a partial freeze on construction of West Bank settlements. But Mr Abbas held back yesterday on a threat to quit the talks after the expiration of the freeze at midnight Sunday. He told reporters in Paris he would not rush to respond to Israel’s resumption of settlement construction, but would first consult with Palestinian and Arab leaders.

Peace might upend wealth of Israelis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Jonathan Cook - September 27, 2010 - 12:00am

With the resumption of settlement construction in the West Bank yesterday, Israel’s powerful settler movement hopes that it has scuttled peace talks with the Palestinians, too. It would be misleading, however, to assume that the major obstacle to the success of talks is the right-wing political ideology the settler movement represents. Equally important are deeply entrenched economic interests shared across Israeli society.

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