Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni meets with U.S. Secy. of State John Kerry in Rome, following a meeting last week in Washington that discussed the possibility of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. U.S. Pres. Barack Obama speaks with PM Benjamin Netanyahu by phone to discuss the peace process. Meanwhile, Israeli authorities approve construction of 296 new settlement housing units in Beit El settlement nr. Ramallah. (JP 5/8; JP, MNA 5/9)
In Jerusalem, Jewish settlers accompanied by Israeli security forces enter the al-Aqsa Mosque compound for the second consecutive day, preventing Muslim worshippers from freely accessing the site. Meanwhile, Israeli police detain Jerusalem Mufti Mohammed Hussein for a few hours over his role in clashes the previous day.
In the West Bank, IDF forces demolish 3 Palestinian homes in al-Auja village nr. Jericho. IDF undercover units conduct a raid nr. Jenin, arresting PA Preventive Security officer Mohammed Ahmed Zakarna, who received an amnesty a few years ago for his participation in the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. The IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Hebron in the morning, and in 1 village nr. Tulkarm at night. IDF troops conducts house searches and arrest raids in Hebron and 1 village nr. Hebron in the afternoon, and in 1 village nr. Hebron, 1 village nr. Jenin and in Tulkarm at night. IDF forces make 2 brief incursions into Gaza to level land and clear lines of sight along the border nr. Jabaliya and Bayt Hanun. (AFP, MNA 5/8; PCHR 5/9)
Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem publishes a report that says Israel killed 87 Palestinian civilians in Operation Pillar of Defense in 11/2012, 80% of whom died in the second half of the operation. (JP 5/9)
Egyptian theologian and prominent Islamist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi enters the Gaza Strip on a high-profile official visit to the Hamas government, welcomed and hosted by PM Ismail Haniyeh (AFP 5/8)
Jordan’s parliament votes in favor of petitioning the government to expel Israeli amb. Daniel Nevo and recalling Jordan’s amb. to Israel to protest recent unrest involving Jewish settlers entering the al-Aqsa Mosque compound (see 5/7) Ultimately, Jordan’s Interior Min. Hussein al-Majali only summons Nevo to convey an official protest. (AFP 5/8)
Professor Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University pulls out of a conference in Israel in 6/2013 hosted by Pres. Shimon Peres, citing the Palestinian boycott call. Israeli FM spokesman Yigal Palmor says that ‘‘never has a scientist of this stature boycotted Israel.’’ (NYT 5/8)
The UN relocates peacekeepers from an observation post in the al-Jamla area of the Golan Heights cease-fire zone, following the most recent abduction of Filipino troops on 5/7. (AFP 5/8)