Monday, November 21, 2011

U.S. Dep. Secy. of State Burns meets with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss ways of reviving peace talks with the Palestinians. U.S. officials say that they are trying to find ways around Palestinian demands for a settlement freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, but give no details. (NYT 11/22; JPI 12/2)

The IDF makes a late-night incursion into s. Gaza, patrolling in and firing on residential areas of Rafah, causing no injuries and making no arrests. Israeli naval vessels fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, forcing them back to shore. In the West Bank, the IDF raids and searches the home of a PA police officer nr. Jenin, arresting him; patrols in 7 villages nr. Ramallah, in 1 instance firing rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at stone-throwing Palestinian youths who confront them. (PCHR 11/24; OCHA 11/25)

PA Tourism and Antiquities M Hamdan Taha says that now that Palestine has full membership in UNESCO (see QU in JPS 162), it is planning to seek world heritage status for the old cities of Hebron and Jericho. An application for Bethlehem is already in the works and is expected to have a better chance now that Palestine has membership. The PA also plans to seek recovery of artifacts looted by Israel, increase funds for preservation and excavations, and use its status to force Israel to stop calling West Bank sites “Israeli antiquities.” (WP 11/22)

King Abdallah of Jordan makes an official visit to Ramallah (his 1st in 10 yrs.) to hold talks with PA pres. Abbas on their independent efforts to reconcile with Hamas and personally to inform Abbas that Jordan has invited Damascus-based Hamas leader Khalid Mishal (barred fr. visiting Jordan since 1999) for an official visit to Amman. The king stresses that any improvement in ties with Hamas is not intended as a move against the PA or as a gesture to Jordan’s Islamist opposition. The U.S. reportedly has expressed displeasure to Jordan over the Mishal visit and hinted that U.S. aid could be cut if Jordan reconciles with Hamas. (NYT, WP 11/22; JPI 12/2)