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March 1st, 2010
12:54 PM ET

Number of Dubai killing suspects now at 27

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, seen here on a poster, was assassinated in January.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, seen here on a poster, was assassinated in January.

CNN

Another person has been added to the list of suspects in the January killing of a Hamas leader in a Dubai hotel, bringing the number of identified suspects to 27, two sources told CNN on Monday.

Twenty-six of the 27 were carrying European and Australian passports, authorities have said. The sources - an official familiar with the investigation and a police source - did not say which nation issued the passport the suspect used.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a founding member of Hamas' military wing, was found dead January 20 in his Dubai hotel room. Police believe he was slain the night before, allegedly by the secretive Israeli foreign intelligence unit Mossad.

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Filed under: Hamas • Israel • Palestine • Terrorism
November 9th, 2009
03:31 PM ET

Netanyahu calls for immediate resumption of peace talks with Palestinians

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boards a plane in Israel on Sunday ahead of his Washington visit.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boards a plane in Israel on Sunday ahead of his Washington visit.

Elise Labott
CNN State Department Producer

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for an immediate resumption of peace talks with Palestinians Monday before meeting with President Barack Obama.

"My goal is to achieve a permanent peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians and soon," Netanyahu said in a speech to the Jewish Federations of North America. “I say to Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority: Let us seize the moment to reach an historic agreement, let us begin talks immediately,”

Netanyahu said he would work for a lasting peace with the Palestinians, promising "great concessions" as long as they don't compromise Israel's security.

“With the support of the United States, peace can become a reality,” Netanyahu said, hours meeting with President Obama to discuss the peace process and Iran's nuclear program.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Hillary Clinton • Israel • Palestine
November 9th, 2009
01:22 PM ET

Mr. President, take Mideast heat or get out of the kitchen

Obama with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas two months ago.

Obama with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas two months ago.

Aaron David Miller
Special to CNN

When Barack Obama receives his Nobel Peace Prize next month in Oslo, Norway, one thing seems clear: It won't be in recognition of his skill in advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace.

For much of the past year, the administration has wandered around the not-so-Holy Land without clear direction, an accurate understanding of Israelis and Palestinians, or an effective strategy.

But all is not lost. The past 10 months could be, to use the president's words, a teachable moment, and with the right lessons learned, maybe, just maybe, the president could get back on track.

The lessons:

Keep your enthusiasm under control: In January, President Obama came out harder, faster and louder on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking than any of his predecessors. The speech in Cairo, Egypt, and his ultimatum to the Israelis on freezing settlements seemed to suggest that this president was going to be tough and fair. No more business as usual.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the political laws of gravity that make getting anything done on Arab-Israeli diplomacy very hard kicked in, dragging down the president's hopes and words.

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Filed under: Arab Affairs • Israel • Palestine • President Barack Obama
September 25th, 2009
11:25 AM ET

Mideast peace talks going nowhere

Benjamin Netanyahu, left, President Obama and Mahmoud Abbas.

Benjamin Netanyahu, left, President Obama and Mahmoud Abbas.

Fawaz A. Gerges
CNN

Poor Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas! He returned to Palestine empty-handed and politically weakened after the tripartite summit this week with President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The New York summit yielded no signs of a breakthrough either on freezing construction of Jewish settlements or restarting the long-stalled Palestinian-Israeli talks.

By laying equal blame on the Palestinians and Israelis for the diplomatic stalemate, Obama undermined Abbas' position at home and exposed his weakness and overdependence on the Americans.

It is important to understand the context of Abbas' initial reluctance to attend the tripartite summit in New York. He swallowed his pride and accepted Obama's invitation to meet with Netanyahu, even though he had set a precondition of a settlement freeze, as the U.S. demanded, before agreeing to meet Netanyahu.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Israel • Middle East • Palestine
September 24th, 2009
07:31 PM ET

Huge rewards in a Mideast peace

President Obama addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.

President Obama addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.

Bill Richardson
CNN

President Obama, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, announced the next phase in America's efforts to finally end the decades-long Israeli-Arab conflict and remove one of the greatest destabilizing elements to America's national security interests from the Middle East playing field.

Like health care reform, this is a daunting task, and in order for the president to be the last one confronting this, Congress and Americans of all stripes should be supporting him.

The president made it clear that the United States wants permanent status negotiations to begin without preconditions based on the parameters from past negotiations: security for Israel and Palestine, refugees, borders and Jerusalem. The president added that the United States seeks peace agreements on all fronts, including with Syria and Lebanon.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Israel • Middle East • Palestine • United Nations
September 22nd, 2009
09:22 PM ET

Pushing to jumpstart talks, Obama drops demand for settlement freeze

Elise Labott
CNN State Department Producer

Prodding Israel and the Palestinian Authority to restart talks aimed at a permanent resolution of their decades-old conflict, President Barack Obama dropped a US demand for an Israeli settlement freeze, US, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

“Simply put, it is past time to talk about starting negotiations. It is time to move forward," Obama told reporters before a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime

Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "It is time to show the flexibility and common sense and sense of compromise that is necessary to achieve our goals."

Obama met first met separately with Netanyahu and Abbas on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in what he called "frank and productive" talks. The session was the first among the three leaders since Obama took office in January.

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Filed under: Elise Labott • Israel • Palestine • President Barack Obama
August 13th, 2009
10:52 PM ET

Pain and hope – 'Daughters for Life'

Program Note: Watch Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish's interview TONIGHT on AC360° 11p ET

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish
Daughters for Life

Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish came to the world's attention during the recent offensive in the Gaza Strip, when the respected obstetrician, holed up with his family in their home, gave daily interviews from the battle zone on Israeli television and radio.

Then, on Jan. 16, the last day of the offensive, Israeli fire killed three of his daughters. "My God, my girls," Abuelaish wailed that night on Israeli television, decrying the loss of Bessan, 20, Mayar, 15, and Aya, 14, as well as his niece, Nur Abuelaish, 17. Now he is trying to use his fluent Hebrew and English - and his pain - to appeal for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. What follows is an edited transcript of an interview he did with The Times' Marjorie Miller.

I had returned home on Dec. 25 from Tel Hashomer, the hospital where I work in Israel. That day, they had opened the border for humanitarian aid for the first time in more than a month, which made me realize something bad would happen. At 10 a.m. on the 26th, the airstrikes started.

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Editor's Note: A foundation, with an international mandate, is being established to provide leadership development and educational access to women throughout the middle-east. The foundation honors the memory of Dr. Abuelaish's daughters and serve as a living legacy. For more, check  Daughters for Life 


Filed under: Global 360° • Israel • Palestine
August 12th, 2009
11:19 PM ET

My friend Izzeldin

Program Note: Tune in tomorrow for more on Izzeldin's story in 'Generation Islam,' as Christiane Amanpour reveals the struggle for hearts and minds of the next generation of Muslims. Tomorrow 9 p.m. ET.

A building damaged by an airstrike in the southern Gaza strip during the conflict in January.

A building damaged by an airstrike in the southern Gaza strip during the conflict in January.

Isabel Maxwell
Israel Insider

Back at the end of October last, I was in Tel Aviv at the international conference celebrating the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Peres Center for Peace activities, which I attended in my capacity as a member of the Board of Governors. There were 40 international guests including many Palestinians and Palestinian students too, who were highly participatory and I felt encouraged for the first time since the Lebanon War of the summer before.

Little did I know then that within three short months, Israel would plunge into Gaza, and that I would become a telephone witness to the unspeakable tragedy of one recently widowed Gazan doctor, whom I had befriended 10 years before when he was a resident at Soroka Hospital and I was receiving an award from there and getting involved with helping fundraise for the hospital.

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish with the author, Isabel Maxwell, taken at UCLA in April earlier this year.

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish with the author, Isabel Maxwell, taken at UCLA in April earlier this year.

By now most of the readers of this column will know the public story: the doctor from Jabalaya who was trained by Israel and treated Israelis and Palestinians alike at Soroka Hospital. A peace activist, whose three daughters of his eight children, were horrifically killed last Friday when his house was bombed during an exchange of fire between an Israeli tank and Hamas. There was Bisan, aged 20 who had taken over her mother’s role and was also a student – she had been thrown from a bed to the floor. Mayar, 15, and Aya, 14, were also dead, along with Noor, a 17-year-old cousin. Shatha, 17, who was badly wounded in the eye, was a straight-A student, and another niece was badly wounded too.

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June 16th, 2009
10:45 AM ET

Obama can succeed in Mideast

Julian E. Zelizer and Melissa Lerner
Special to CNN

At a time when the Obama administration is dealing with a barely stable economy while trying to address long-term health care, two wars, the environment and the threat of terrorism, many ask whether it is wise for President Obama to try to resolve a problem that has frustrated so many presidents before him.

With the latest events in Iran, there is even more reason for skepticism that progress towards Arab-Israeli peace is possible.

Despite conventional wisdom, when presidents have become personally active in shaping American policy in the region and resolved to make the Mideast conflict a top priority, they've often succeeded in improving Arab-Israeli relations.

Jimmy Carter oversaw the Camp David Accords, which resulted in the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty that secured calm between the two countries for three decades.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Iran • Israel • Middle East • Palestine • President Barack Obama
June 4th, 2009
01:04 PM ET

A meeting in Damascus

Obama's address Thursday at Egypt's Cairo University has been highly anticipated.

Obama's address Thursday at Egypt's Cairo University has been highly anticipated.

Joe Klein
Time

About an hour after Barack Obama's excellent Cairo speech, I met with Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas, at his office here to talk about the speech and the Israel-Palestine conflict. We spoke for several hours and I will have a fuller accounting of our conversation in my print column next week. Meshal speaks some English, but he feels more comfortable using an interpreter. He listened to my questions in English, asking occasionally for translation of a word or phrase, and gave his answers in Arabic. He never raised his voice or used militant language, but he never yielded on his basic position either.

"Undoubtedly Obama speaks a new language," he told me. "His speech was cleverly designed... The essence of the speech was to improve the U.S. image and to placate the Muslims. We don't mind either objective, but we are looking for more than just mere words. If the United States wishes to open a new page, we definitely would welcome this. We are keen to contribute to this. But we [believe that can not happen] merely with words. It must be with deeds, by changing the policy on the ground."

Meshal went on: "A Palestinian listening to the speech would have a simple question: where are the true actual issues that touch our lives? A Palestinian listening didn't hear anything about the Israeli war in Gaza or about Israel's war crimes." He mentioned the alleged use of depleted uranium and white phosphorous. "A beautiful discourse lacks credibility if it doesn't address Gaza."

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Israel • Palestine
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