Thursday, May 23, 2013

U.S. Secy. of State John Kerry holds separate talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, on his 4th visit to the region in 4 mos. Kerry meets with Israeli PM Netanyahu, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and separately with Pres. Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, and then with Palestinian pres. Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah. Kerry praises Netanyahu for his “seriousness” in looking for ways to return to direct negotiations and expresses optimism but no concrete strategy for moving things forward. Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secy. Chuck Hagel appoints retired Gen. John Allen as special envoy on security issues in talks between Israel and the PA. Allen’s final post before retirement from the military was as commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. (AP, HA, JP, REU 5/23)

In the Gaza Strip, the IDF conducts an incursion nr. Khan Yunis, moving 300 meters past the border fence and raising land with bulldozers, a common occurrence justified by the military on security grounds. Israeli naval vessels also open fire on Palestinian fishermen off the coast nr. Bayt Lahiya, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village nr. Bethlehem at night; patrols in 2 villages nr. Salfit in the morning, 1 village nr. Salfit in the afternoon, and in 2 villages nr. Jenin, 1 village nr. Jericho and 1 village nr. Qalqilya at night. In East Jerusalem, 5 cars are vandalized with “price-tag” graffiti. (YA 5/23; PCHR 5/30)

Five are killed and more than 50 wounded in clashes in Tripoli between Lebanese gunmen from Sunni and Alawite communities. The death toll since the latest bout of fighting in the city began on 5/19 is now at least 18, with more than 170 wounded. The violence is linked to a Syrian govt. offensive that is being supported by Hizballah fighters. (AP, REU 5/23)