Druze and Phalange militia exchange fire in Chouf; US Marines on full alert and deploy in firing positions as IDF patrol confronts Marines at checkpoint near Lebanese...
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government officially takes office. Speaking in the Knesset, Netanyahu says that Israel is ready for a ‘‘historic compromise’’ with the Palestinians. (JP, REU, WP 3/18)
In the West Bank, unidentified Palestinians open fire on and injure a Jewish settler at a bus stop nr. Nablus. The IDF patrols in al-‘Arub r.c. nr. Hebron in the afternoon, and conducts house searches and arrest raids in al-‘Arub r.c. and 1 village nr. Hebron, and 1 village nr. Nablus at night. (AP 3/18; PCHR 3/21)
A UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) fact-finding mission releases its report on Israel’s West Bank settlements, describing them as a ‘‘creeping form of annexation,’’ and calling on Israel to cease construction immediately and ‘‘initiate a process of withdrawal.’’ The report, presented by mission leader Christine Chanet, urges the international community to cut economic links with the settlements. The U.S. refuses to take part in the Council’s debate. Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay states that Israeli settler violence ‘‘continues to be perpetrated with impunity,’’ and further notes that excessive force by the IDF has resulted in Palestinian fatalities. (AFP, HA, JP, UNNC 3/18)
Lebanon reports that Israeli warplanes entered Lebanese airspace earlier in the day. Israel routinely conducts aerial surveillance over Lebanon even though this explicitly violates the 2006 Israel-Hizballah cease-fire agreement laid out in UN Res. 1701. (AP 3/18)
Iran and P5+1 group nuclear experts meet in Istanbul to review proposals put forward during the last round of talks in Kazakhstan (2/26-27). (AFP, XIN 3/18)
U.S. secy. of state Hillary Clinton criticizes Israel’s 11/30 decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, saying ‘‘these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace.’’ The British and French governments also condemn the settlement expansion plan, stating that international confidence in Israel’s desire to make peace is at risk. Meanwhile, PLO Executive Comm. mbr. Hanan Ashrawi refers to the decision as a ‘‘war crime,’’ a hint that the PA may consider taking Israel to the ICC. (JP, REU 12/2)
An independent Palestinian source in Gaza says that Palestinian factions will open reconciliation talks in Cairo in the next few days, under Egyptian auspices. (MNA 12/1)
In the Gaza Strip, the IDF opens fire on 3 separate occasions on civilians and farmers in the area nr. the border fence, wounding 1 nr. Bayt Hanun and 2 nr. Jabalya. Israeli naval vessels fire on 3 fishing boats operating between 2.5 and 3 naut. mi. off the coast, in 1 case arresting 5 Palestinian fishermen. Israel’s recent shooting of Palestinians nr. the border fence prompts Hamas to complain about Israeli violations of the cease-fire, with spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri saying that they are discussing the situation with Egyptian officials. Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades warns that Israeli cease-fire violations (including shootings along the border, firing on Palestinian fishing boats, and continued use of surveillance aircraft over Gaza) may force a response. In the West Bank, the IDF shoots and wounds a Palestinian man in Dura village nr. Hebron, after a military patrol is attacked by stone-throwing youths. The IDF also conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village nr. Bethlehem at night. (MNA, REU 12/1; MNA 12/2; PCHR 12/6)
Turkish FM Davutoglu calls Israel a ‘‘terrorist state’’ at a meeting of regional leaders at the Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum in Istanbul, and urges collective action against Israel. (ToI 12/1)
In Cairo, Arafat briefs Pres. Mubarak on Wye implementation, Pres. Clinton's visit to the region. The pair agree to hold mtg. with Jordan to coordinate plans to press Israel to implement the Wye agmt., hat settlement expansion. Arafat asks Mubarak to revive the Egyptian-French initiative for an international summit on the peace process. (MENA 12/26 in WNC 12/29; SA 1/3, MENA 1/3, 1/4 in WNC 1/5; AFP 1/6 in WNC 1/7)
Claiming that Israel has orchestrated early elections to freeze the peace process, the PA lobbies the U.S. to convene high-level mtg. in Washington in 1/99 to force Israel to implement Wye. (WT 12/27; CSM 12/28; JP 1/4, 1/11)
Iraq threatens to shoot down U.S., British planes flying surveillance in the no-fly zones; fires artillery at British planes in the s. no-fly zone, causing no damage. (WP, WT 12/27; WT 12/28; GIU 1/5, 1/6)
Occupied Palestine/Israel: Agriculture Ministry announces plans to build reservoir in the Jordan Rift Valley in coming year to draw on water from the Jordan River [JP 1/17].
Arab World: Elie Hubayqa resigns as head of Lebanese Forces, flees the country; 11 Muslim factions advance on Jumayyil's forces [NYT, WP 1/17].
Arab World: Israeli soldier wounded in S. Lebanon security zone by roadside bomb [JP 1/17].
Other Countries: New York Times reports Soviet Union has stationed 2 destroyers and intelligence-gathering ships off Israeli coast, apparently to give Libya early warning of any possible Israeli air strike; Soviet surveillance aircraft have increased monitoring of activities across Mediterranean [NYT 1/17].
Druze and Phalange militia exchange fire in Chouf; US Marines on full alert and deploy in firing positions as IDF patrol confronts Marines at checkpoint near Lebanese University; IDF armored car backs into barbed wire fence at another Marine checkpoint; US Embassy expresses concern over incidents to Israeli Government.
Palestinians/ Lebanese: Following week of meetings in Tripoli, Libya, PFLP, DFLP, PFLP-GC, Saiqa and PSF statement rejecting Fez and Reagan plans and any form of recognition or negotiation with the expansionist Zionist entity, adherence to armed struggle to liberate Palestine and all the occupied Arab territories; Lebanese- Israeli-US negotiators, meeting for 51?2 hours at Khalde, discuss ending state of war and security zone, make enough progress to turn issues over to subcommittee of Antoine Fattal, Eli Rubenstein, Christopher Ross, and form another subcommittee to deal with timetable for withdrawal of troops.
Arab Governments: Egyptian President Mubarak says Arabs must act on Reagan plan by end of year, PLO Chairman should recognize Israel, unilaterally if necessary; Syrian Foreign Minister Khaddam tours Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar; King Hussein returns to Jordan from talks with King Fahd in Saudi Arabia.
US and Other Countries: Habib and Draper will divide responsibilities to accelerate the peace process; State Department refuses to qualify last week's statement suggesting possibility of shortening the autonomy period; US says USSR has sent 90 aircraft, mostly MiG-21s, and 12 SA-5 missiles to Syria, which would be particularly effective against E2-C Hawkeye surveillance aircraft used by Israel in Lebanon war; 2 US soldiers in multinational force in Sinai wounded in mine explosion near Ofira; former Presidents Carter and Ford, in joint article, say that Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza is a major obstacle to any moderate Arab initiative for peace in the Middle East, and urge King Hussein to join autonomy talks; West German Foreign Minister Genscher attacks Israeli settlement policy, does not recognize the PLO or support an independent Palestinian state, but supports the June 1980 Venice Declaration that the PLO be involved in the peace process.