Israel quietly halts settlement building permits; Netanyahu to freeze Jewish construction, settlers furious
Last Friday, Hamas forces and the Jund Ansar Allah (Soldier of God) movement fought a day-long gun and artillery battle that killed about 30 in the southern Gaza town of Rafah after the group's spiritual leader, Sheikh Abdel Latif Moussa, declared an Islamic emirate in Gaza and denounced Hamas. Mr. Moussa was killed in the fighting, centered on the mosque where he and his followers had gathered.
It was the first time an Al Qaeda-inspired group had directly challenged Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip but it may not be the last. Fueled by the failure of Hamas to address the area's growing poverty and isolation, and Hamas' relative recent restraint in its confrontation with Israel, analysts say such organizations are growing in the territory. Yahoo
Israel has quietly moved to halt new housing projects in the West Bank, while outwardly rebuffing U.S. pressure to stop construction in its settlements, Israeli government officials, peace activists and settlers said Tuesday.
It isn't the full settlement freeze the Obama administration has been demanding, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued a denial — but it indicates that Israel is seeking a compromise in what has become a rare public disagreement with the U.S., its most important ally. Yahoo
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and U.S. President Barack Obama will discuss on Tuesday a new initiative which would see a demilitarized Palestinian state set within amended 1967 borders and Jerusalem as its shared capital with Israel, according to the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi. Hareetz
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is in Washington today to discuss with US President Barack Obama the details of an upcoming US Middle East peace plan. Some of the rumors of the deal are said to include a newly created Palestinian state which would be set within amended 1967 borders, it would be demilitarized, and Jerusalem would be shared by both Israel and Palestine. The report also stated that Palestinians would give up on the right of return in exchange for monetary compensation.
On the day of Mr. Mubarak's US visit, it is being reported that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has stopped issuing settlement building permits. Many in Israel see this as a gesture of weakness as a result of US pressure and the return of the old Netanyahu.
Mr. Obama told reporters that he was very pleased with the progress and direction of the peace process. "The Israeli government has taken discussions with us very seriously," Obama said, adding that he was "encouraged by what I am seeing on the ground." jpost.com
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