Friday, February 4, 2011

In advance of a major Quartet meeting on 2/5, Netanyahu announces that Israel has drawn up a package of steps (under discussion with Quartet special envoy Tony Blair for months) to encourage infrastructure development and economic growth in the West Bank, Gaza, and Arab areas of East Jerusalem in effort to “enhance stability” by improving the Palestinian quality of life. He stresses, however, that the package has not yet been offered to the PA. (NYT 2/5; OCHA 2/11)

Unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 2 villages nr. Jenin and conducts arrest raids nr. Salfit. Palestinians (accompanied by Israeli and international activists in some areas) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, and Dayr Nizam/Nabi Salih. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters; 2 Palestinians (including 1 journalist) are injured, and 4 unidentified activists are arrested. (HA 2/4; PCHR 2/10; OCHA 2/11)

Despite 2 days of violent clashes initiated by pro-Mubarak elements (at least 8 Egyptians killed and more than 800 injured), massive crowds (100,000s of Egyptians) answer the call to turn out after midday Friday prayers to demand for Mubarak’s immediate removal. The army redeploys around Tahrir Square to create buffers separating pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators to reduce the chance of violent clashes. Though anticipated as the “Day of Departure” for Mubarak, he does not step aside. The U.S. calls on opposition figures and leaders of the military and society to step forward and bless, if not join, talks between the government and opposition parties. Opposition figures say that while they see “encouraging signs” that Mubarak is seeking a face-saving way to step down, they will not negotiate about a transition until Mubarak has gone. (NYT, WP, WT 2/5)