World News Brief, Wednesday March 17

US-Israel tensions over East Jerusalem escalate as Obama enters fray; Thai protesters spill blood in front of PM's house; Sadr posied to be power-broker as Iraq election results trickle in; McChrystal reins in Special Forces in Afghanistan; and more

Top of the Agenda: Obama Makes Strong Demands on Israel

The Obama administration is pressing Israel to reverse (WashPost) its controversial decision to build housing units in East Jerusalem and to commit to substantive negotiations with the Palestinians to repair the damaged peace process. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out US demands in a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A formal response is expected from Israel Tuesday.

Netanyahu is struggling to balance (NYT) an increasingly unhappy US ally with the restive right wing of his coalition government. In remarks to parliament Monday, Netanyahu said construction of housing settlements in Jerusalem were not negotiable. The Obama administration's criticism of Israel has angered pro-Israeli groups in Washington and prominent lawmakers.

US envoy George Mitchell postponed his Mideast trip (WSJ) Tuesday, to be rescheduled at an undetermined time. The feud is heightening tensions between Palestinians and Jews in East Jerusalem, where three thousand Israeli police officers were deployed Tuesday.


In Der Spiegel, Gregor Peter Schmitz, Christoph Schult, and Bernhard Zand say Israelis and Arabs are losing faith in Obama's leadership in the Middle East.

On the American Interest, CFR's Walter Russell Mead says the Obama administration had no choice but to respond strongly to Israel's announcement; otherwise it would have looked weak and irresolute.


Read US Vice President Joseph Biden's March 2010 statement on Israel's housing announcement.


PACIFIC RIM: China Changes Accounting to Lower Deficit

China's finance ministry changed the accounting for some government spending (WSJ) this year, allowing it to report a planned budget deficit below 3 percent of GDP.

Thailand: Hundreds of Thai protesters, known as the Red Shirts for the color they wear, lined up to donate blood to be spilled (TIME) in front of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's house one day after demanding new elections.



l-Sadr Gains Ground in Iraq Election
Afghanistan's US Special Forces Reined In
US Agencies Investigate Mexico Killings


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