World News Brief, Tuesday August 24

Netanyahu says peace talks "difficult" but "possible", as pressure goes on settlements (+ analysis); Gillard and Abbott battle to secure independents' support; Iran opens first nuclear plant; Tens of thousands more Pakistanis evacuated as floods hit the south; and more

Top of the Agenda: Netanyahu Outlines Mideast Peace Demands

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said reaching an agreement with the Palestinians through renewed Mideast peace talks (WSJ) would be "difficult" but "possible." Netanyahu outlined his demands at a cabinet meeting after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement last week that direct peace talks would resume September 2 after having stalled for twenty months. Netanyahu's comments included few concessions, highlighting the difficulties ahead for negotiations. He restated his support for a demilitarized Palestinian state and demanded that Palestinians recognize Israel as the "national state of the Jewish people." He said the recognition would allow Palestinian refugees the right to return to a Palestinian state but not to Israel, a key Palestinian demand.

Clinton invited Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Jordan's King Abdullah to meet in Washington next week (CSMonitor). Analysts remain skeptical that Netanyahu and Abbas have the domestic political will to compromise on an agreement. Netanyahu and the United States must also decide on a settlement expansion policy (Haaretz) before the September 26 expiration of Israel's building moratorium in the West Bank, which Abbas warned could derail talks.


In the Washington Post, David Ignatius says Netanyahu did not affirm the principles set out by the United States, Russia, the EU, and the UN in agreeing to the Washington talks, leaving the terms ambiguous (WashPost).

On, Stephen Walt says Israel and the Palestinians' agreement to talks is more hype than substance, and more inconclusive talks reinforce the "growing perception that the United States cannot deliver."

Progress is possible in the newly announced Mideast talks, but the Obama administration will need to display deft leadership to overcome deep mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians, writes CFR's Robert Danin.


Read the August 20 statement by the Middle East Quartet.

This CFR Crisis Guide examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Pacific Rim: Australian Politicians Battle over Hung Parliament

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott are trying to secure crucial support from independents to form a government after weekend elections delivered the country's first hung parliament in seventy years (SMH).

China: China urged the Philippines to rescue a group of Hong Kong tourists who were kidnapped in Manila (Xinhua) by a dismissed policeman Monday.



- Iran Begins Fueling Bushehr Reactor
- Pakistan Flooding Surges South
- Pace of Eurozone Growth Slows


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