Tuesday, September 3, 2013

In the Gaza Strip, IDF troops open fire on Palestinian fishermen nr. Bayt Lahiya, causing no injuries or damage to the vessels. IDF troops also conduct a limited incursion in land close to the border fence nr. Khan Yunis before withdrawing. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village nr. Jenin in the afternoon and in 1 village nr. Hebron at night, and patrols in 1 village nr. Jenin in the afternoon and in al-‘Arub r.c., 1 village nr. Hebron, and in 2 villages nr. Jenin at night. In East Jerusalem, IDF troops clash with residents in Abu Dis after protests against the arrest of a cancer patient. Separately, Israeli police ban 10 Palestinians from attending prayers at al-Aqsa mosque when Jewish extremists plan to visit the compound. Police also arrest Shaykh Raed Salah, leader of the n. Islamic Movement in Israel, on suspicion of incitement. Salah refuses bail conditions that would keep him 30 km away from al-Aqsa for 30 days and remains in jail. (JP, MNA, WAFA 9/3; PCHR 9/5)

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators meet for a 5th round of peace talks in Jerusalem. PA FM Riyad al-Maliki tells the media that Abbas is seeking to arrange a meeting with U.S. Secy. of State John Kerry to express doubts about the nature of the talks and dissatisfaction at U.S. envoy Martin Indyk’s limited participation thus far. Meanwhile, Arab League Secy.-Gen. spokesperson Nassif Hetti tells reporters that an Arab ministerial delegation will meet Kerry in Rome on Sunday to discuss the peace process. (AFP, JP, MNA 9/3)

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Cmte. reaches an agreement on a draft authorization for the use of military force against the Syrian govt., with conditions narrower than those requested by Pres. Obama. The draft sets a 60-day time limit on any U.S. action with a conditional single 30-day extension possible. There is also a provision banning the use of ground forces. Speaking to the cmte., Defense Secy. Chuck Hagel says that the pres.’s national security team is now convinced that taking military action against the Asad regime targets would be the right course of action. Hagel also reveals that Obama approved plans in 1/2013 to give lethal aid to Syrian rebels, the 1st time such a decision has been made public. Meanwhile, pro-Israel Jewish community groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Cmte. (AIPAC) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations back the administration’s call for a strike on Syria, following a conference call with Obama’s security advisers. In another development, UN Secy.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon affirms that the use of force is only legal as self-defense or with UNSC authorization. (AP, Guardian, JTA, REU, WP 9/3)

An Egyptian military court in Suez hands down sentences ranging from 5 years to life to around 50 Muslim Brotherhood mbrs. convicted of violence against the army, in relation to the events of 8/14 (when security forces massacred anti-coup protesters in Cairo). Meanwhile, Egyptian helicopter gunships kill 8 suspected militants and wound 15 others in air strikes in the Sinai Peninsula nr. the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip. (AFP, AP, REU, NYT 9/3)