Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Fallout from the US abandonment of a settlement freeze continues: Palestinians say talks are not possible if construction continues; some analysts think the move hurts chances for peace; others say a deal will be slow and difficult; Israeli and Palestinian negotiators criticize US policy; the US says it does not and will not condone settlement activity; Daoud Kuttab says the US should now use sticks as well as carrots; Ziad Asali says giving up is not an option. Jackson Diehl says the US can either support Palestinian state-building or present its own plan. Special Envoy Mitchell will continue with talks. Bribery is rampant in the occupied territories. Israel launches air strikes against Gaza. UNSG Ban says Israel should end settlement activity. Edwin Bennatan says Israeli policies have created a Palestinian state. Israel offers compensation for flotilla deaths. Asharq Al-Awsat interviews Mohammed Dahlan. Rami Khouri says dissolving the PA is a terrible idea. Ghassan Khatib says the current situation is undermining the Palestinian leadership. Yossi Alpher says UN creation of a Palestinian state could be a good idea.

Why the U.S. Ended Push for Israeli Building Freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

When it became clear a month ago that American and Israeli officials were negotiating a partial, one-time, 90-day Israeli settlement construction freeze in exchange for American military hardware and diplomatic guarantees, few analysts applauded. Related Israel Says It Will Permit More Exports From Gaza (December 9, 2010)

U.S. hurting peace chances by giving up on Israeli settlement freeze, analysts say
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Janine Zacharia - December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

The Obama administration's decision to stop seeking a new Israeli settlement freeze as a way back into talks with the Palestinians has diminished prospects of achieving a peace accord within a year and eroded U.S. credibility in the region, analysts said Wednesday. The decision also represented a belated recognition that even if they had persuaded Israel to renew a construction moratorium in the West Bank for three months, U.S. officials would have faced an even more difficult problem after that expired.

Obama's double-or-nothing moment in the Middle East
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jackson Diehl - December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

The latest collapse of the Middle East peace process has underlined a reality that the Obama administration has resisted since it took office -- that neither the current Israeli government nor the Palestinian Authority shares its passion for moving quickly toward a two-state settlement. And it has left President Obama with a tough choice: quietly shift one of his prized foreign policy priorities to a back burner -- or launch a risky redoubling of U.S. efforts.

WEST BANK: Palestinian reaction to U.S. reversal on settlement freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Maher Abukhater - December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian politicians and analysts said Wednesday that they were not surprised that the U.S. government had failed to get Israel to agree to a temporary settlement freeze as a precondition for resuming Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. To them, It had only been a matter of time before U.S. officials acknowledged failure.

Mitchell will proceed with Mideast talks despite breakdown
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell will head back to the region next week after Obama administration officials vowed Wednesday to continue the push for peace despite a breakdown in direct negotiations.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators fault US focus on settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

The US decision to give up on securing an Israeli settlement freeze has left Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas disappointed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a momentary victory, and observers criticizing the Obama administration's peacemaking strategy. Indeed, analysts and seasoned negotiators see Tuesday's announcement as the end of a mishandled chapter in Arab-Israeli diplomacy, in which Washington's overriding focus on settlements ultimately failed.

Giving up is not an option
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Huffington Post
by Ziad Asali - (Opinion) December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

The Administration has mercifully, and honestly, admitted that the time has come to abandon its policy of seeking a settlement freeze as a path to negotiations. It will pay a political price and will be blamed and endure the gloating of its critics. However, at the end of the day, the US government will be the one that everyone else will look to for providing answers and driving policy. The two-state solution is the unchanging American policy because it is in our own national strategic interest.

Abbas: No talks with Israel in shadow of settlements
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday stood firm on his demand for a halt to settlement building before talks with Israel can resume, as US officials scrambled to rescue the collapsing peace process. "We will not accept negotiations as long as settlements continue," Abbas told reporters in Cairo after more than one hour of talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "We have made this clear to the Americans: without a halt to settlements, no negotiations."

Study: Bribery rampant in Palestinian territories
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

One person in four worldwide paid a bribe during the past year, according to a study released Thursday to mark International Anti-Corruption Day. The study, by the Berlin-based non-governmental agency Transparency International, focuses on small-scale bribery and was put together from polls conducted among more than 91,000 people in 86 countries and territories. In the past 12 months, one in four paid a bribe to one of nine institutions, such as health, education or tax authorities, according to the 2010 Global Corruption Barometer.

Israel strikes Gaza after militant mortar attack
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip on Thursday, hours after a mortar shell fired by militants wounded an Israeli man at an agricultural community close to the border between the two territories, the army said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the strikes were aimed at three separate targets in the Gaza Strip, two of which militants confirmed were sites they used for training. No casualties were reported.

ANALYSIS-Big Bang approach to Mideast peace won't work
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Crispian Balmer - (Analysis) December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Washington's failure to revive direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians should finally dispel any lingering illusion that the decades-old Middle East conflict can be resolved in open negotiations. The best that can be hoped for are piecemeal, staggered accords, perhaps thrashed out in secret and probably implemented over many years, analysts and diplomats say.

UN chief urges Israel to freeze settlements despite failure to reach deal with U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Shlomo Shamir - December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

The UN Secretary-General publicly chastised the government of Israel on Wednesday for refusing to extend its ten-month moratorium on construction in the settlements of the West Bank that expired in September, calling it a snub to the international community. A spokesperson for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to renew its freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, framing it as an obligation that Israel is avoiding.

U.S. official: Obama does not and will not condone Israel's settlement activity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

The United States does not and will not accept Israel's continued West Bank settlement activity, a top U.S. official said on Monday, stating that the fact that Washington no longer supports a temporary settlement freeze did not mean it condones continued building. The comment by State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley came as U.S. officials had confirmed that negotiations between Jerusalem and Washington over a new partial moratorium on settlement construction and on the terms of the guarantees proposed by U.S. President Barack Obama have hit a dead end.

Israel’s mistakes created a State of Palestine
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
(Blog) December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Irrespective of whether we agree with it or like it, this is what is going to happen. A Palestinian state is going to emerge on the West Bank, Gaza, and in East Jerusalem, and most of the countries of the world are going to recognize it. It will be accepted into the United Nations, and Israel is not going to be able to do a thing to prevent it.

Israel offers compensation for Gaza flotilla deaths
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Imad Abu-Sumbul - December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

Israel has proposed paying compensation to relatives of Turks it killed during a raid on a Gaza-bound ship, in exchange for Ankara's help in indemnifying the Israeli navy against lawsuits, officials said today. The offer, broached by envoys in Geneva over the weekend, included measures to improve relations between the countries, but appeared to have fallen short of Turkey's demand that Israel formally apologise for the deaths of the nine pro-Palestinian activists in May.

Asharq Al-Awsat Talks to Fatah's Mohammed Dahlan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Salah Jumaa - (Interview) December 8, 2010 - 1:00am

Fatah Commissioner of Information, Mohammed Dahlan confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that "members of the Fatah Central Committee are united behind President Mahmoud Abbas." He also revealed that "informers" had poisoned his relationship with Abbas, although this has not reached the level of a "dispute." Dahlan called for peaceful and creative steps to be taken in order to strengthen the perseverance of the Palestinian people, whilst he also predicted the outbreak of a third Intifada should the peace process remain stalled.

Now that the carrot has not worked
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

At the beginning of the latest US-Israel crisis over the issue of settlement freeze, the Americans considered both carrot and stick to “encourage” the Israelis to do the right thing, in accordance with international law.

Dissolving the Palestinian Authority is a terrible idea
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Rami Khouri - (Opinion) December 9, 2010 - 1:00am

The latest pronouncements of the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, that he would consider dissolving the Palestinian Authority (PA) if the current stalled peace negotiations with Israel do not move ahead, is more bizarre than brazen. It is understandable that he is frustrated and groping for alternatives to his current failed policy, but what he proposes is simply silly and regrettable.

Peeking into the abyss
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Ghassan Khatib - (Blog) December 6, 2010 - 1:00am

There have been contradicting reports about the outcome of ongoing American efforts to resume the peace process, which was launched by the administration in Washington at the beginning of last September and then was undermined by the resumption of full-scale Israeli settlement activities. Since then, two parallel sets of political activities have been underway. First are American contacts with Israel to try to bring about another settlement freeze that might allow talks to continue between Israel and Palestinians.

Still not too late to change course
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Blog) December 6, 2010 - 1:00am

In these early days of December, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took time off from his seemingly endless negotiations with both the Obama administration and his own coalition over the terms for a renewed settlement-construction freeze. Netanyahu was totally immersed in Israel's biggest-ever natural disaster, a mega-fire on Mt. Carmel. Friends, neighbors, even semi-enemies--countries as diverse as the Palestinian Authority, Turkey and the United States--all gallantly helped Israel fight the fire.

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