Thursday, February 20, 2014

Off the coast of the Gaza Strip nr. Rafah, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats, while separately, Israeli forces fire 2 missiles that land close to the Egypt border fence, causing no injuries. Separately, off the coast nr. Bayt Lahiya, Israeli naval vessels open fire on Palestinian fishermen, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, Jewish settlers attack a school in Burim village nr. Nablus. The settlers, along with IDF troops, subsequently clash with Palestinians, leaving 6 villagers injured. Separately, a Molotov cocktail is thrown at a settler’s car in the same area. The IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in Dahaysha r.c. in Bethlehem and Al-‘Ubaydiyya village nr. Bethlehem at night; patrols in 3 villages nr. Ramallah and 1 village nr. Hebron in the afternoon, and in 2 villages nr. Hebron at night. (MNA 2/20; PCHR 2/27)

U.S. Secy. of State Kerry and PA Pres. Abbas meet for a 2d day in Paris. An unnamed State Dept. official characterizes the talks as “constructive.” PA spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudayna tells Palestinian media that there can be no agreement, whether framework or final, that does not include Arab positions based on international resolutions, in a reference to the 2002 Arab League peace initiative. Meanwhile, senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath says that he held separate, and secret, meetings with diplomats from Italy, Norway, Austria, and the UK, to discuss the ongoing negotiations. (AFP, AP, MNA, REU 2/20)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that amounts of enriched uranium in Iran’s stockpile have decreased significantly for the 1st time in 4 years, and also confirms that Iran is meeting its commitments under the 6-mo. interim agreement signed in 11/2013. Meanwhile, representatives of Iran and the P5+1 countries end talks with a framework for future negotiations and an agreement to hold their next meeting in Vienna on 3/17. However, little progress is made in this most recent meeting on the question of identifying Iranian concessions to be exchanged for a reduction in sanctions. Separately, the UK and Iran resume diplomatic relations, which were severed in 11/2011 when students ransacked the British embassy in Tehran. Bilateral relations will now be conducted directly “through non-resident charge d’affaires and officials,” according to a UK Foreign Office spokesperson. (AFP, AP, REU 2/20)

Egyptian military forces kill 10 suspected militants in a raid on Shaykh Zuwayd in n. Sinai, a death toll that officials claim includes senior mbrs. of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. (AP 2/20)