Thursday, September 27, 2012

PA pres. Mahmud Abbas addresses the UNGA in New York, announcing as expected that his government will seek non-member observer state status for Palestine (see Doc. B4 in JPS 166). Abbas also refers to current Israeli policies as ‘‘ethnic cleansing,’’ singling out settlement construction and home demolition for particular criticism. Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) criticize the speech for not offering anything new, but Fatah praises it as ‘‘historic.’’ Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu also addresses the assembly, notably literally drawing a ‘‘red line’’ on a cartoon of a bomb to illustrate his claim that Iran would be capable of making a nuclear weapon within a year. In contrast, U.S. officials play down the notion that Iran is on the brink of achieving a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Iran is making progress in building a research reactor capable of potential weapon material, and Israeli media describe the Netanyahu government as urging the EU to impose further sanctions on Iran in light of the economic damage achieved by sanctions to date. (AP, HA, MNA, REU, ToI 9/27)

Israel approves a proposal to allow 5,000 additional entry permits for Palestinian construction and agricultural workers, bringing the total number of work permits issued by Israel to West Bank Palestinians to over 45,000. Israel also allows, for the 1st time since 2007, 3 truckloads of furniture to be exported from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, destined for PA-run schools. This marks the 3d time in 2012 that Israel permitted the passage of goods from Gaza to the West Bank. Meanwhile Egypt informed Palestinian officials of their intention to ease travel through the Rafah crossing over coming days. (JP, MNA 9/27)

In the West Bank, Jewish settlers fr. Beitar Ilit settlement nr. Bethlehem dump sewage water on agriculture lands in the Fukin valley. Jewish settlers fr. Brakha settlement nr. Burin village s. of Nablus cut down over 60 olive trees. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 2 villages nr. Jericho, 2 villages nr. Ramallah, and 1 village nr. Jenin in the morning; patrols in 1 village nr. Qalqilya and 1 village nr. Ramallah in the afternoon; patrols in 3 villages nr. Ramallah, 1 village nr. Tulkarm (firing sound bombs), and 1 village nr. Hebron at night; conducts a house raid and summons in Qalqilya in the morning and house raids in 1 village nr. Hebron at night (beating 2 residents, arresting another 2, and firing tear-gas canisters at homes) at night. (PCHR 10/4)

U.S. and Lebanese government officials allege that Hizballah has sent military advisers to help the Asad government in Syria. UNRWA estimates that the total number of refugees fleeing Syria will reach 700,000 by the end of 2012. (REU, WP 9/27)