World News Brief, Friday May 29

Clinton to Israel: Stop settlements; Detailed analysis of Israel-Palestine conflict; Chinese draft strict fuel economy rules; Seoul on alert over North Korea; and more

Top of the Agenda: Israel Settlement Frictions

Speaking to reporters following meetings with Egypt's foreign minister, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton firmly defined (NYT) Washington's position toward Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank--one of the major points of friction in peace negotiations. Clinton said President Obama "wants to see a stop to settlements-not some settlements, not outposts, not 'natural growth' exceptions. That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly." Clinton's statements come ahead of meetings between Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Times says they represent the administration's toughest statement on the matter to date.

Israel responded by rebuffing Clinton (BBC). An Israeli government spokesperson said that Israel would continue some construction in West Bank settlements, adding that the fate of settlements should be decided in peace negotiations with Palestinians. Haaretz says the statements "set the stage for a showdown" between Israel and the United States ahead of Obama's meetings with Abbas today. Abbas, the article notes, has said the issue of settlement construction will top his agenda at the meetings.

Ynet, another Israeli news source, says Abbas is likely to push for implementing Saudi Arabia's pan-Arab peace plan in his meetings with Obama.


- CFR's Crisis Guide on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

- CFR's Steven Cook discusses policy differences between Israel and the United States.

- The BBC explains the challenges posed by Israel's settlements.


- A news analysis in the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram says Obama's first meetings with Netanyahu could signal a shift in Washington that would bode well for the creation of a Palestinian state.

- An editorial in the Jerusalem Post notes that the position of opposition leader Tzipi Livni on settlements doesn't actually differ much from that of Netanyahu.

- TIME questions the extent to which Abbas is still relevant to the peace process.


PACIFIC RIM: North Korea Alert

Yonhap reports Washington and Seoul have increased their alert level toward North Korea and have ramped up surveillance following Pyongyang's decision to scrap the treaty halting the Korean War.

The BBC has a news analysis attempting to gauge North Korea's game plan.

In a new CFR analysis, four experts address the policy options available to influence Pyongyang.

CHINA: Beijing has reportedly drafted new fuel economy rules (NYT) that are even stricter than those unveiled by U.S. President Barack Obama last week.



Pakistan offers bounties for Swat militants.
Overnight GM-Europe talks falter.

This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on