Monday, September 9, 2013

In the West Bank, the IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in Qalqilya and 1 village nr. Hebron at night; patrols in 1 village nr. Qalqilya at night. Jewish settlers from Beit El nr. Ramallah throw stones at Palestinian vehicles, while in a separate incident, settlers uproot some 40 Palestinian olive trees in the s. Hebron hills. In East Jerusalem, Jerusalem municipality-owned bulldozers level lands to make a trench between Issawiyya village and French Hill settlement, at the request of the latter’s residents. (MNA 9/9; PCHR 9/12)

Palestinian official Nabil Shaath tells the media that U.S. Secy. of State Kerry had “guaranteed us in writing” that talks would start from the 1967 lines, with State Dept. spokesperson Marie Harf subsequently denying such a document. (NYT 9/9)

The EU announces a €52 million assistance package to help PA development schemes, such as municipal infrastructure projects and private sector-led economic initiatives. The aid is the final part of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument assistance, with the total contributed to the Palestinians in 2013 now standing at €300 million. (MNA 9/9)

Russian FM Sergey Lavrov makes a statement calling for military action against Syria to be averted through a plan for the internationally coordinated destruction of Damascus’s chemical weapons’ arsenal. The dramatic intervention is welcomed as a possible breakthrough by Pres. Obama, who faces opposition in Congress and among the public to any U.S. military intervention. Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid postpones a scheduled test vote for lawmakers to assess the Russian plan. Syrian FM Walid Muallem welcomes the Russian proposal as a way of preventing “an American aggression.” (AFP, AP, REU 9/9)

The Egyptian military’s offensive in the Sinai continues, with security forces killing a further 9 militants and arresting 10 nr. Rafah. In 2 separate incidents in c. Sinai, gunmen open fire and wound 3 soldiers. In addition, Egyptian forces destroy 6 smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border located n. of Rafah, with an Egyptian official claiming that more than 90% of the smuggling tunnels have now been destroyed. As part of the operation, Egypt’s military claims to have seized caches of weapons including a mortar belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (AFP, AP, MNA, REU 9/9)