Friday, March 22, 2013

IDF forces shoot and injure 2 Palestinians during clashes in Anata nr. Jerusalem. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Hebron, in al-‘Arub r.c. and 1 village nr. Hebron in the afternoon; conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village nr. Ramallah at night. IDF soldiers violently disperse Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals taking part in nonviolent demonstrations in multiple villages against the Israeli occupation and in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. Protesters are dispersed in 5 villages nr. Ramallah (Abud, Bayt Laqiya, Bil‘in, alNabi Salih, Ni‘lin), al-Haraiek nr. Hebron, 1 village nr. Qalqilya (Kafr Qaddum), and at Ofer prison nr. Ramallah. There are no serious injuries, except in Abud (2 wounded) and in al-Haraiek (1 wounded). (MNA 3/22; PCHR 3/28)

U.S. State Dept. spokesperson Victoria Nuland says that the Obama admin. has unblocked almost $500 million in aid—including $200 million in direct budget support—to the PA, previously frozen by Congress in October 2011 as a response to the UN statehood bid (see QU 162). According to Nuland, the White House also notified Congress in late 2/2013 that it seeks a further $200 million to fund USAID projects for the Palestinians. In response, Palestinian Labor Minister Ahmad Majdalani says that the PA’s financial crisis is not over. (AFP 3/22; MNA 3/23)

Hamas authorities complain to Egypt about Israel’s 3/21 decision to restrict Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza. The government in Gaza also reportedly arrests 2 members of the Mujahidin Shura Council, which claimed responsibility for the 3/21 rocket attack on Israel. (ToI 3/22)

Under pressure from Pres. Obama to restore normal ties with Turkey, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu phones Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize for ‘‘mistakes made’’ during the IDF’s attack on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010, when 9 Turks (including one U.S. dual national) were killed aboard the Mavi Marmara (see QU 157). They agree to dispatch envoys to each other’s countries. After coordinating this diplomatic breakthrough, Pres. Obama leaves for Jordan. (NYT 3/23)

U.S. Pres. Barack Obama meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman for talks primarily on the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis. Pres. Obama pledges to work to supply Jordanian authorities with $200 million extra assistance to care for the estimated 460,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed the border seeking refuge. (REU 3/22)

Lebanese PM Najib Mikati resigns due to divisions within the government about elections later in the year and to protest the cabinet’s refusal to extend the tenure of the national police chief, a figure perceived by the Sunni community as sympathetic to their interests. (AP 3/22)