Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Special Envoy Mitchell meets with Pres. Abbas. Robert Wright says the UN can create a Palestinian state. Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon says Palestinians must prove they want peace. Occupation forces demolish two homes under construction in occupied East Jerusalem. The EU pushes for an end to settlement activity and says it will recognize a Palestinian state “when appropriate.” Hamas celebrates its 23rd anniversary, and tries to shore up its popularity. Israel refuses entry to Palestinian firefighters being honored for helping with the Carmel blaze. Carlos Strenger says the Palestinian state has been born in South America. DM Barak says Israel is threatened by the lack of peace. Members of Congress say a unilateral declaration of statehood could end US funding to the PA. Carlo Strenger and Akiva Eldar say Palestinian statehood requires recognition of Israel. George Semaan says the Arabs need a new strategy for dealing with Israel. Hussein Ibish says Sec. Clinton's recent speech gives the Palestinians a real opportunity for progress.

U.S. Middle East Envoy Attempts to Restart Peace Process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - December 13, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — After nearly two years of frustration and failure, the Obama administration began its Middle East peace efforts anew on Monday with its special envoy, George J. Mitchell, holding talks here on ways to improve the atmosphere between Israel and the Palestinians and ultimately negotiate over the core issues that separate them.

A U.N. Plan for Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Robert Wright - (Opinion) December 13, 2010 - 1:00am

The blogger Andrew Sullivan has called America’s policy toward Israel “assisted suicide.” That may be an exaggeration, but on Friday it became less of one. The occasion was a speech by Hillary Clinton, much anticipated after the collapse of talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Who's stopping the peace process?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Danny Ayalon - (Opinion) December 14, 2010 - 1:00am

The breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks has predictably resulted in blame laid almost exclusively on Israel. However, events of the last 17 years — since Israeli-Palestinian peace talks began — demonstrate a different story about what has prevented peace.

Israeli forces demolish 2 homes under construction in Jerusalem
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
December 14, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, both under construction, were demolished by Israeli forces on Tuesday morning, as bulldozers executed demolition orders stating the homes lacked permits. The homes, in the Ras Al-Amud and Sur Bahir neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem, were two of an estimated 60,000 with standing demolition orders authorized by the Israeli courts on request from the municipality.

EU keeps up pressure for Israeli settlement freeze
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
by Justyna Pawlak - December 14, 2010 - 1:00am

The European Union pressed the Israeli government on Monday to freeze settlement building, offered the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip more aid and urged Israel to open Gaza's border crossings more fully to increase trade. EU foreign ministers "noted with regret" Israel's failure to extend a moratorium on construction of Jewish settlements, and took a stand at odds with the decision by the United States to drop efforts to persuade Israel to freeze settlement building.

Hamas celebrates 23rd anniversary with mass rally
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Ibrahim Barzak - December 14, 2010 - 1:00am

Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters flocked to Gaza City Tuesday for a mass rally to boost support for the militant Palestinian group on its 23rd anniversary. Streets, cars and buildings were adorned with Hamas' trademark green, and huge crowds of flag-waving supporters clogged the streets to reach the rally where Hamas leaders lauded the group's history of fighting Israel. "Hamas has not failed, Hamas has not collapsed," Prime Minster Ismail Haniyeh told the crowd. "Hamas did not fail to bring together government and resistance."

After setback, US resumes Mideast peace push
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Josef Federman - December 13, 2010 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM — The U.S. Mideast envoy returned to the region on Monday, seeking to revive troubled peace efforts after a major setback in which Washington abandoned efforts to coax Israel to freeze Jewish settlement in areas Palestinians want for a future state. The envoy, George Mitchell, was expected to push the Israelis and Palestinians for progress on key issues at the heart of their conflict. But in a reflection of the difficulties ahead, Mitchell was being forced to meet separately with the sides during the two-day visit, and expectations for a breakthrough were low.

Hamas reaches out, tries to shore up popularity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Ibrahim Barzak - December 13, 2010 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP — Gaza's ruling Hamas movement has politicians sweeping streets to show community spirit, activists distributing chocolates and cards signed "from Hamas with love" and police officers visiting homes and schools to soften the often harsh image of the security forces.

Israel refuses entry to Palestinian firefighters being honored for Carmel fire assistance
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jack Khoury - December 14, 2010 - 1:00am

Israeli officials on Tuesday canceled a ceremony planned to honor the Palestinian firemen who assisted in battling the Carmel fire last week, after a number of crew members were refused permits to cross the border. Palestinian Fire Services Commander Ahmed Rizik said that he and his staff were surprised to learn when they arrived at the checkpoint that only seven out of the 10 fireman would be granted entry into Israel, although all of them had been allowed in at the time of the disaster..

A Palestinian state born in South America
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Opinion) December 10, 2010 - 1:00am

It was only a matter of time, the writing has been on the wall. The Palestinians have warned repeatedly that if negotiations did not move forward, they would resort to one of two strategies: to dismantle the Palestinian Authority and hand Israel responsibility for administering the West Bank; or, to ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

Abbas, Mitchell meet amid US efforts to renew peace talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
December 14, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US Mideast envoy George Mitchell were meeting in Ramallah on Tuesday afternoon, amid US efforts to renew stalled peace talks. Mitchell met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday night, and is set to travel to Doha and then back to Washington after the Abbas meeting. Mitchell arrived back in the region on Monday to discuss the core issues separately with each side in the hope that gaps could be narrowed and direct negotiations restarted.

Barak: Without peace deal, Israel will deteriorate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Hilary Leila Krieger - December 14, 2010 - 1:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak Tuesday morning said that without a peace deal with the Palestinians, Israel's situation will deteriorate and the delegitimization campaigns in the third world will increase, Israel Radio reported. Barak called this a danger no less than Hizbullah, in an interview with Tom Brokaw, according to the report. “We will have serious discussions in the coming month on security, borders, Jerusalem, refugees,” the defense minister told reporters in Washington Monday. “The mechanisms will be resolved in the coming weeks.”

Congress: PA funding could hinge on state declaration
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Hilary Leila Krieger - December 14, 2010 - 1:00am

Members of Congress are warning that American funding of the Palestinian Authority could be threatened by efforts to advance a unilateral declaration of statehood. “Pursuing a non-negotiated path to statehood is a fool’s errand. Palestinians want a state, not a declaration. Their only way to achieve that is through direct negotiations with Israel,” California Democrat Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

EU to recognise Palestinian state 'when appropriate'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
December 13, 2010 - 1:00am

The ministers' statement followed a call from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for the EU to recognise Palestine based on the 1967 borders. The EU ministers emphasised the need for a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Brazil and Argentina recently joined the growing number of countries to recognise Palestine. More than 100 states around the world recognise Palestine, their mission at the United Nations says. Collapsed talks The Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said Mr Abbas spoke to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton earlier on Monday.

Palestinians' future is in their hands
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Akiva Eldar, Carlo Strenger - (Editorial) December 14, 2010 - 1:00am

The Israel-Palestine conflict has been endlessly long, tragic, filled with wrong decisions on all sides and there are many ways of telling the story. Saeb Erekat, in his recent article on the Palestinian right of return, chooses to begin his story ("narrative" is the fashionable word) with the assassination of Count Bernadotte, the first UN mediator, by Jewish militants commanded by Yitzchak Shamir, later prime minister, in 1948. The implication is clear: Israelis killed justice from the very outset.

In Need of a Strategy and Not Just Tactics!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by George Semaan - (Opinion) December 13, 2010 - 1:00am

It is one thing for the political process to collapse and for the American administration to fail due to its inability to pressure Benjamin Netanyahu, but it is a totally different thing for Washington to leave the region in a state of chaos and vacuum. While a settlement is impossible, or was rendered so by the Israeli right-wing, the United States is not ready to risk seeing the region slide towards the worst, and must at least give the impression that it is still committed to the peace process.

Not walking away from peace just yet
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) December 14, 2010 - 1:00am

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech at the Brookings Institution on December 10 has again shown that the Obama administration is not willing to walk away from efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in spite of the obstacles and setbacks it is facing. The position Clinton laid out presents an important potential opportunity for Palestinians to make the point that they are ready for and serious about peace, and to test Israel’s willingness.

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