Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The US abandons efforts to secure a settlement freeze, and considers reviving indirect negotiations. Palestinians criticize the move, say talks are in crisis and explore international recognition for a Palestinian state. The CSM looks at why Argentina and Brazil have recognized Palestine. The UN says it is concerned about Hamas' closure of an NGO in Gaza. Three Palestinians are wounded by Israeli shelling in Gaza. Israel will allow flower exports from Gaza. The US will hold separate talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials. The Israeli military resumes use of tear gas canisters that have caused death and injuries. An effort to provide an alternative to Israeli-owned hummus at Princeton fails. The National says Turkey is driving Latin American recognition of Palestine.

U.S. Drops Bid to Sway Israel on Settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Mark Landler - December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

After three weeks of fruitless haggling with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Obama administration has given up its effort to persuade the Israeli government to freeze construction of Jewish settlements for 90 days, a senior administration official said Tuesday. The decision leaves Middle East peace talks in flux, with the Palestinians refusing to resume direct negotiations absent a moratorium, and the United States struggling to find another formula to bring them back to the table. It is another setback in what has proved to be a star-crossed campaign by President Obama.

U.S. abandons push for renewal of Israeli settlement freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Karen Deyoung - December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

The Obama administration has abandoned its effort to persuade Israel to renew a settlement construction freeze, which U.S. diplomats had hoped would invigorate moribund peace talks with the Palestinians. With senior Israeli and Palestinian negotiators scheduled to hold talks in Washington next week, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton due to deliver a major Middle East speech Friday, it was unclear what direction the administration's policy will now take.

US admits defeat on Israeli settlement freeze. Can it still broker peace?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

The US admission that it has given up on securing an Israeli settlement freeze, coupled with Latin American's growing support for Palestinian statehood – with or without a peace deal – has pushed the faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace process to the brink. Late yesterday, a senior US diplomat said that the Obama administration, which had made a settlement freeze the kingpin of its peacemaking efforts, had dropped its bid to secure a second moratorium from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose right-wing coalition partners had strongly opposed such a measure.

UN concerned over closure of Gaza NGO
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

The United Nations expressed concern Tuesday over Hamas authorities' closure of the Sharek Youth Forum, a large independent NGO in Gaza. "I am very concerned about the recent forced closing of Sharek Youth Forum in Gaza. Sharek is an important NGO partner of the United Nations in its work on behalf of children and the youth in Gaza," said Maxwell Gaylard, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Palestinian territories.

Medics: 3 injured by Israeli shelling in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Israeli tank shelling injured three Palestinians Wednesday east of Gaza City, medics said. The three hurt in the incident, near the Karni crossing, were not identified. An Israeli military spokesman said that "an IDF force fired tank rounds toward a number of suspicious individuals who approached the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. "The men were approaching the fence with the intention of planting explosive devices," he added. "The force confirmed that the suspects had been hit and there were no injuries to IDF soldiers."

Abbas says peace talks with Israel in crisis?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said peace talks with Israel were in crisis after Washington's decision to drop its demand for a new freeze on settlement building in the occupied West Bank. "There is no doubt that there is a crisis," Abbas said after his meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou in Athens. Abbas said he hoped the European Union would get involved in relaunching the negotiations. "We hope that the time will soon come when the EU will play a role alongside the United States."

Palestinians criticise U.S., peace process in crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alternet
by Tom Perry - December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinians said on Wednesday "Israeli obstinacy" made Washington give up on efforts to freeze Jewish settlement and questioned whether the United States could ever help them attain independence. Senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo said that with its bid to revive direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations now at a dead-end, the United States was proposing a return to indirect talks to try to unstick a peace process in deep crisis.

Israel allows Gaza to add flowers to farm exports
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alternet
December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel has allowed the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to export flowers through Israeli territory, in addition to strawberries it permitted earlier, officials said on Wednesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement Israel's security cabinet had approved an "additional easing of restrictions to permit and expansion of commercial exports from the Gaza Strip," without giving details.

US mulls reviving indirect Middle East peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alternet
December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

The United States is weighing a return to indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace talks following its failure to revive direct negotiations because of disagreements over Israeli settlement construction, two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said on Tuesday.

Palestinians question US ability to forge peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Josef Federman - December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

A top Palestinian official on Wednesday questioned Washington's ability to forge Middle East peace after a new breakdown in American attempts to revive negotiations. The U.S. failure to persuade Israel to renew a limited freeze on construction in West Bank Jewish settlements, announced late Tuesday, was the latest setback for the Obama administration in its quest to broker a peace deal by September. That goal, a top priority of the president, appears increasingly in doubt.

Palestinians seek unilateral statehood recognition
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Karin Laub - December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

The Palestinians' Plan B — an alternative to the elusive peace deal with Israel — is gradually taking shape: convince as many countries as possible to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, and use that to lobby the United States not to veto recognition by the U.N. Security Council.

U.S. to hold separate peace talks with Israel, Palestinians: official
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

A senior Palestinian official revealed on Wednesday that the United States informed the Palestinian leadership that it wants to hold separate peace talks with Israel and the Palestinians. "We received an oral letter from the American Administration expressing its desire to hold separate talks with Israel and the Palestinians over the peace process," Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary General of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee told Voice of Palestine Radio.

IDF resumes use of prohibited tear gas canisters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chaim Levinson - December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel Defense Forces soldiers recently resumed the use of prohibited tear gas canisters to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank.

Middle East peace talks 'crisis' over settlement row
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC World News
December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

His comments come hours after the US admitted that it had failed to get Israel to renew its settlement curbs. Mr Abbas suspended talks in September after a 10-month halt on Israeli building in the occupied West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, expired. The US has vowed to find other ways to bring the two sides together. The peace talks resumed in Washington in September after a break of almost two years, but broke down just weeks later over the settlement issue. US sweeteners

Sabra staying as only Princeton hummus
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

A Princeton student referendum on whether to ask the university's dining services to provide an alternative brand of hummus to Sabra was defeated. Some 1,014 students voted against the referendum and 699 students were in favor during the three days of voting last week, according to results announced Dec. 3, the Daily Princetonian student newspaper reported.

The peace process is not captive to Israeli intransigence
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Editorial) December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Seasons may change, but renewal is never a guarantee. This is especially true for Middle Eastern peace, where an autumn of possibility has given way to a winter of discontent. Latin American support for a Palestinian state may be one way to help break the ice. This week Argentina and Uruguay joined the BRIC heavyweight Brazil in recognising an independent Palestine. Bolivia and Ecuador are expected to follow suit.

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