Sunday, February 3, 2013

Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu begins talks with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party over a possible coalition, with the latter expected to present a lengthy list of demands. (HA 3/2)

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erakat says that the PA will not return to negotiations until Israel stops settlement construction and releases Palestinian prisoners. He also says that there would be no EU initiative to resume peace talks without U.S. involvement. Meanwhile, PM Netanyahu’s aide Yitzhak Molho announces he will be stepping down from the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition negotiation team in order to remain as the PM’s special envoy for peace negotiations with the Palestinians. (JP 2/4; HA 2/3)

Israeli naval vessels open fire on Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza coast nr. al-Waha, causing no injuries. The IDF also opens fire on Palestinians collecting gravel close to the border fence in the n. Gaza Strip, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, Nablus governor Jibril al-Bakri says that the IDF has reopened several roads in Nablus that had been closed for 13 yrs. The IDF patrols in Jenin in the morning, in 1 village nr. Qalqilya and 1 village nr. Jenin in the afternoon, and in 2 villages nr. Ramallah, 1 village nr. Jericho, 3 villages nr. Salfit, and 1 village nr. Qalqilya at night; conducts house searches and arrest raids in Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem and 1 village nr. Nablus in the afternoon, and in Qalqilya, Nablus and 3 nearby villages, Bethlehem and 3 nearby villages, al-Bireh. Tulkarm, and Hebron and 3 nearby villages at night. The IDF detains 20 Hamas mbrs., including an individual involved in national reconciliation efforts. (MNA 2/3; AP 2/4; PCHR 2/7)

Israeli DM Ehud Barak tells a security conference in Munich that Israel means what it says with regard to threats to take preemptive action against its enemies. The comment is taken as hint of admission that Israel was behind the air strike in Syria. U.S. officials now say that the attack targeted a weapons shipment bound for Lebanon but also caused collateral damage to a nearby research center, an explanation for the discrepancy between accounts of the target (see 1/30, 1/31). Meanwhile, UK newspaper the Sunday Times reports that Israel is considering establishing a 10-mi. buffer zone inside Syria to protect itself from rebels. (AP, JP, WP 2/3)