Monday, May 7, 2012

Hours before the Knesset is set to vote on whether to hold early elections, Israeli PM Netanyahu and opposition leader, Kadima party head Shaul Mofaz, make the surprise announcement that Kadima has agreed to join the governing coalition and that they will form a new unity government rather than send the country to early elections (see 5/6/12). The deal is contingent on meet 3 Kadima demands: (1) that Mofaz becomes a vice PM and “special minister in charge of the process with the Palestinians” (already agreed by Netanyahu); (2) that the Knesset passes legislation requiring all Israeli citizens including the ultra-Orthodox to perform military service if they are to receive government benefits; and (3) that unspecified elections reforms are enacted. With Kadima’s 28 Knesset seats, the coalition deal gives Netanyahu control of 94 of 120 seats in parliament and leaves no single faction in a position to topple the government. The deal is also a benefit to Netanyahu from the standpoint that he can keep Barak, a strong ally on the Iran issue, as DM. Kadima is seen (e.g., NYT 5/9) as being “given a life-line.” (NYT, WP 5/8; NYT, WP 5/9; WJW 5/10; JPI 5/18)

Israel’s High Court rejects appeals for the release of Islamic Jihad administrative detainees Diab and Halahleh, who have been on hunger strike for 69 days. The High Court also issues a ruling affirming the legal purchase by Jewish settlers of a Palestinian home in Jerusalem’s Old City, ordering the Palestinian family to vacate; and ruling ordering a Palestinian to vacate his shop in the Old City, ruling it is a historic Jewish property. A lower court in Jerusalem rules that Jewish settlers legally purchased a house in Shaykh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, ordering the Palestinian residents to vacate. (NYT 5/8)

The IDF raids the offices of the Palestinian People’s Party and the Public Comm. against the Annexation Wall in al-Bireh, confiscating computers, cameras, files, and photos. The IDF also conducts daytime patrols in Kafr Qaddum and 1 nearby village; conducts late-night patrols, arrest raids, and house searches in and around Tulkarm (rearresting 1 Palestinian released during the recent prisoner swap that freed captured IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit). (PCHR 5/10; OCHA 5/11)