Wednesday, February 20, 2013

PA senior negotiation officials Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Eshtaya arrive in Washington D.C. to update the Obama admin. about the PA’s current position on talks with Israel. They are expected to discuss conditions for a resumption of talks—settlement construction freeze and prisoner release— with U.S. Secy. of State John Kerry. The PA officials will also ask Pres. Obama to present his own initiative to restart negotiations. (ToI 2/17; REU 2/19)

Palestinian journalists hold a sit-in protest outside the Ofer detention center as an Israeli military court hears the cases of detained Palestinian journalist Amir Abu Arafah and cartoonist Muhammad Sabanah. Israeli forces violently disperse the protesters, causing no serious injuries. In the West Bank, Jewish settlers from Esh Kodesh settlement outpost vandalize cars in Qusra village nr. Nablus. In a separate incident in the same village, the IDF demolishes an electricity grid in Qusra village nr. Nablus, provoking clashes with local residents. The IDF opens fire and wounds 2. The IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in Hebron and in 1 village each nr. Bethelehem, Hebron, and Jenin. (MNA 2/20; MNA, PCHR 2/21)

Hamas Minister of Economy Alaa Rafati says that Egypt’s crackdown on cross-border tunnels will fail if no alternative methods for importing produce are presented. Rafati says that the authorities in Gaza have told Cairo a number of times that an official commercial route should be opened along the border. (MNA 2/20)