Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Israeli troops on the n. Gaza border twice fire at suspicious movement in open areas e. of Bayt Hanun, causing no reported injuries. Israeli naval vessels fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Jenin in the morning and in Tulkarm town and r.c. in the evening, in both cases firing at stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no reported injuries. OCHA reports that in the previous wk., the IDF demolished 10 tents and 5 animal pens in the Bedouin village of Fasayil al-Wusta and 2 animal pens in the neighboring Bedouin village of Fasayil al-Fauqa, both in the Jordan Valley. (PCHR 12/22; OCHA 12/23)

Fatah and Hamas announce that, in keeping with their 5/2011 reconciliation deal, they have agreed on formation of a new Central Elections Commission to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections. They fail to reach an agreement on formation of a caretaker government to take the Palestinians to elections, postponing further discussion until late 1/2012. (JPI 12/30)

After a UNSC briefing on the Middle East, 14 UNSC mbrs. criticize the U.S. (without naming it directly) for blocking any criticism of Israel’s recent approvals for new settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and of the increasing settler violence, as well as for threatening to veto any UNSC res. supporting Palestinian statehood. British UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, speaking on behalf of the European UNSC mbrs. (Britain, France, Germany, and Portugal), calls recent Israeli settlement and settler actions “devastating” to the 2-state solution, saying “Israel’s security and the realization of the Palestinians’ right to statehood are not opposing goals. On the contrary, they are mutually reinforcing objectives. But they will not be achieved while settlement building and settler violence continues.” Grant also calls on Israel and the Palestinians to send their comprehensive proposals on territory and security to the Quartet as soon as possible. (The Palestinians have already submitted theirs to the Quartet, so this is seen as an added rebuke to Israel, which has not done so.) (HA 12/21, NYT 12/22)