Monday, July 2, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announces plans for a 2-day visit to Israel before he formally accepts the Republican nomination. He plans to meet with Israeli PM Netanyahu, PA PM Salam Fayyad, U.S. amb. to Israel Daniel Shapiro, and leaders of Israel’s Labor party. He has visited Israel 3 times previously, most recently in 1/2011. (NYT, WP 7/3)

An Israeli drone makes a predawn air strike on a Palestinian rocket-firing team nr. Dayr al-Balah, missing them and causing no injuries, but damaging 2 homes. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Qalqilya during the day; raids and searches a Palestinian home nr. Jenin in the afternoon; and conducts latenight arrest raids, house searches in Tulkarm, and nr. Bethlehem and Qalqilya. (PCHR 7/5; OCHA 7/13)

Hamas authorities suspend the CEC’s work a day before voter registration is scheduled to open across Gaza, accusing Fatah authorities of having intimidated Hamas supporters in the West Bank to keep them from registering there. Fatah spokesman Fayiz Abu Aita calls the Hamas action a ‘‘suspension of the reconciliation process.’’ (NYT 7/3)

In Israel, public debate intensifies regarding a 2/2012 High Court decision to order the 2002 Tal Law, exempting ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from military service, to expire on 7/31 and to move toward a universal draft. Fearing a coalition split over the issue, Israeli PM Netanyahu disbands a committee he had charged with forming the new policy on national military service. Instead, he orders the leaders of the parties in his coalition to draft the policy proposal, stating that if no agreement can be reached by 7/31, he will instruct the IDF to ‘‘draft according to its needs’’ but take ‘‘into consideration the various publics so as to prevent a rift in the nation.’’ Kadima head Mofaz, who joined the coalition based on a pledge by Netanyahu to move toward a universal draft, calls the move a ‘‘crass’’ violation of their coalition agreement. (NYT 7/3; WT 7/4; WP 7/5)