Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 1 village and al-‘Arub r.c. nr. Hebron at night. (PCHR 11/21)

At a conference in Sderot, Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman declares that a peace deal with the Palestinians is impossible in the foreseeable future. He also claims that ties with the U.S. are “deteriorating,” and that Israel must “seek other allies with common interests.” Dep. FM Ze’ev Elkin, speaking in Moscow on a trip for talks with Pres. Vladimir Putin, subsequently tries to downplay his boss’ remarks, affirming that “there is no one who can take the place of the Americans.” Meanwhile, senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath says that Palestinian negotiators Saeb Erakat and Mohammed Shtayyeh will remain on a temporary basis until a new team can be formed. (HA, MNA, REU, YA 11/20)

Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of powers resume in Geneva, with hopes of reaching an interim accord on confidence-building steps. Optimism is expressed publicly by the likes of Britain’s Foreign Secy. William Hague, and Russian FM Sergey Lavrov. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech in Tehran, in which he says that Iran will not retreat “one iota” from its nuclear rights but says that his country seeks friendly relations with the U.S. Also in his speech, Khamenei describes Israel as “a rabid dog,” which provokes an angry response from Israeli PM Netanyahu who is in Russia to appeal for tougher terms in a nuclear agreement with Iran. (AP, JTA, REU 11/20)

Israel’s “David’s Sling” missile defense system, co-developed with the U.S. and designed to protect the country from potential attack by Syrian and Hizballah-held missiles, passes a 2nd live test. Israeli defense officials say that the system could be deployed in 2014, a year ahead of the Israeli Air Force’s official deadline. (HA, REU 11/20)

A suicide car bomb attack kills 11 Egyptian soldiers nr. al-Arish in the Sinai Peninsula, wounding 37. Separately, a grenade attack on a checkpoint in Cairo injures 4 policemen. Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities close the Rafah crossing with Gaza due to a technical fault with the terminal’s computers. (AP, MNA, REU 11/20)