Friday, January 28, 2011

Paraguay recognizes Palestine as independent state on the 1967 borders. (JP 2/5)

In Gaza, 1,000s of Hamas supporters protest against the PA in light of the Palestine Papers revelations about negotiation concessions, particularly on the right of return. In the West Bank, around 2,000 Palestinians in Hebron and smaller groups in other cities attend Fatah-organized rallies in support of Abbas and against al-Jazeera. Also in the West Bank, a group of 100 armed Jewish settlers hiking nr. Khirbat Safa nr. Hebron is confronted by stone-throwing Palestinian youths, prompting 1 Jewish settler to open fire, killing 1 Palestinian teenager and wounding a 2d, marking the 2d such shooting in 2 days. Jewish settlers fr. Yonatan outpost in the East Jerusalem environs attack nearby Palestinian houses; accompanying IDF soldiers fire tear gas and stun grenades to keep Palestinians at a distance, sparking a fire that lightly damages 1 home. Meanwhile in the West Bank, the IDF patrols in villages nr. Ramallah, Tulkarm; enters Jayyus village nr. Qalqilya, searching 1 home but making no arrests. 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 and Ni‘lin. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, injuring 2 Palestinians. PA General Intelligence units detain leading Hizb al-Tahrir mbr. Mus‘ab Abu Arqub after Friday prayers in Dura nr. Hebron. (WP 1/29, MNA 1/30; PCHR 2/3; OCHA 2/4)

Across Egypt, 100,000s of protesters heed the call to observe a “Friday of rage” in Egypt, launching massive demonstrations after midday prayers. Protesters burn the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) headquarters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Police stations and NDP offices are torched in several of Cairo’s middleclass neighborhoods and poorer quarters, as well as in Alexandria, Suez, Port Said, Damietta, Damanhour, and other areas of Upper Egypt and Sinai; prisoners in several jails are freed. With regular police already largely having withdrawn fr. the street, not wanting to confront protesters, Mubarak sends out security and plain-clothes police who violently clash with demonstrators and target journalists, killing as many as 300 and injuring as many as 2,000. Protesters in Cairo and Alexandria overwhelm the security police by dusk, forcing Mubarak to withdraw them to regroup and send the army and tanks into the cities to impose a curfew; but when protesters ignore the curfew, the army does not act. Later, Mubarak appears on state TV and, in effort to appease critics and quell protests, pledges to speed up his program of political and economic reforms, announcing that he has dissolved his cabinet, appointed a new PM to form a new government, and named military intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman as his 1st ever VP, but protesters vow to remain in the streets until he steps down. The U.S. issues its first warnings that it will review its $1.56 b. in annual aid to Egypt depending on how events unfold in the coming days, pressing its contacts within the Egyptian army to avoid violence. Abbas, however, phones Mubarak to assure him of the PA’s support for Egypt’s security and stability. (IHS Global Insight, Middle East Research and Information Project, NYT, WP 1/29; MNA 1/30)

In Jordan, where criticism of the king is banned, 1,000s of demonstrators inspired by events in Egypt and Tunisia turn out after Friday prayers in Amman and cities across the kingdom to demand the resignation of PM Samir al-Rifa‘i and his cabinet, dissolution of the parliament, and a new round of free and fair elections. (The last parliamentary elections held in 11/2010 were widely criticized as fraudulent.) (NYT 1/29; NYT, WP 1/30; WP 2/1; NYT 2/2)