Wednesday, January 19, 2011

IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials, wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Nablus and nr Jenin; conducts late-night patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah. (PCHR 1/20, 1/27; OCHA 1/28)

Lebanon introduces a draft of a major United Nations Security Council res. for debate that urges the international community to denounce Israeli settlement activity, using wording that artfully pieces together official U.S. statements on settlements to make it harder for the U.S. to object or veto. The U.S. ultimately urges Abbas to suspend discussion of the draft until a Quartet meeting on 2/5, suggesting the Quartet might issue a statement confirming 1967 borders as the basis of final status negotiations and condemning Israeli settlement construction. (NYT 1/20)

At an Arab economic summit in Sharm al-Shaykh, Arab leaders pledge $2 b. to shore up regional economies and generate jobs in hopes of preventing the spread of antigovernment riots like those in Tunisia. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait each pledges $500 m., with 11 other states pledging the other $1 b. Observers say however (see NYT 1/20) that leaders are acting more out of a desire to secure their leaderships than to reform and develop their economies, noting that none of the similar initiatives agreed at the last economic summit in 2009 have been implemented. By this date, numerous self-immolations (some fatal) and antigovernment protests have taken place in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen since the fall of Ben-Ali on 1/14, citing Tunisia as inspiration. In response to the Yemeni riots, the most severe to date, Pres. Ali Abdullah Saleh has cut income taxes in half, imposed price controls on basic goods, raised salaries for the army, and vowed his son will not succeed him, while the EU has announced an additional $19.5 m. in support to Sana’a for poverty programs. Today, an Egyptian Facebook group begins calling for massive street protests in Cairo on 1/25 to mark a “day of revolution against torture, poverty, corruption, and unemployment.” (WT 1/19; NYT 1/20; NYT, WT 1/25; see also al-Bawaba 1/17; NYT, WP 1/18)