Monday, February 11, 2013

U.S. State Dept. spokesperson Victoria Nuland says that Secy. of State John Kerry, appointed on 2/1, is working to try to free up almost $700 m. in aid for the PA held up in Congress. Separate from that figure is an additional $100 m., which has been released but can only be used on anti-narcotics and law enforcement. (AFP 2/11)

Hamas says that the Egyptian army is flooding tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Sinai used for smuggling, and that there is a reinforced troop presence on the border. Meanwhile, Turkish media reports that Israel has agreed to allow Turkish trucks to bring building materials into Gaza for the construction of a hospital that will be opened by PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (HA 2/11)

Israeli NGO Peace Now says that Israel has given final approval to 90 new homes in Beit El settlement nr. Ramallah. (AFP 2/11)

Israeli naval vessels open fire on Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza coast nr. al-Waha, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF destroys 3 structures, including a home, in Bayt Awa village nr. Hebron. The demolitions prompt clashes with residents, and 1 Palestinian is injured from a tear-gas canister to the leg. The IDF patrols in 1 village each nr. Jenin and Tulkarm in the morning; conducts house searches and arrest raids in Bethlehem and nearby Aida r.c., Tulkarm, 2 villages nr. Hebron, and 1 village each nr. Nablus, Qalqilya, and Tulkarm at night. (MNA 2/11; PCHR 2/14)

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank start registering to vote in preparation for legislative and presidential elections, the dates for which have not been set. Once the process is completed, an election could theoretically be called for 3 mos. later. (REU 2/11)

Two Israeli companies sign an agreement to acquire a 30% stake in exploration rights for gas and oil off Cyprus’s s. shore to be carried out by U.S. company Noble Energy. Cypriot commerce min. Neoclis Sylikiotis says the deal marks a ‘‘new era of Cyprus-Israeli strategic cooperation.’’ (AFP 2/11)