Monday, May 16, 2011

As the quarter opens, Israel maintains a tight siege on Gaza, aimed at unseating the governing Hamas authority. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) enforces a 300-meter no-go zone inside the full length of the Gaza border and limits the Palestinian fishing zone off Gaza to 500–1,000 m off Bayt Lahiya and Rafah and 3 naut. mi. elsewhere. In the West Bank, governed by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA), IDF operations and restrictions on Palestinian movement are relatively low. Today, the IDF patrols in Far‘un village nr. Tulkarm in the evening, firing tear gas and stun grenades at stone-throwing Palestinians who confront them, causing no serious injuries; patrols in Jit village nr. Qalqilya late at night. (PCHR 5/19; OCHA 5/20)

In Cairo, Hamas and Fatah open their first round of talks on implementing their 5/4/11 national reconciliation agreement that would reunite West Bank and Gaza institutions and prepare for new elections. (REU 5/16)

In a speech to the Knesset before leaving for the U.S., Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu lays out his conditions for accepting a Palestinian state, but still does not go far enough to satisfy minimum Palestinian demands, stating that “the root of the conflict is not the absence of a Palestinian state,” but rather “the refusal to recognize a Jewish state.” (HA 5/16; NYT, WT 5/17; WP 5/18; JPI 5/27)

Italy upgrades the status of the Palestinian representation in Rome from a delegation to a full diplomatic mission. (HA 5/16)