Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry warns that ‘‘the two-state solution is now on life support’’ and that 2013 is a ‘‘critical year.’’ Meanwhile, U.S. Secy. of State John Kerry says that Pres. Barack Obama will not bring a new peace initiative with him on his planned visit to the region in 3/2013. (HA, REU 2/26)

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB) claims responsibility for a single rocket fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, which causes no casualties or damage. The group says the rocket is in retaliation for the death of Arafat Jaradat in Israeli detention. Israel responds by closing the Erez and Kerem Shalon crossings. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in and around Hebron and al-Fawar r.c. during the day, causing no serious injuries. The IDF also conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village nr. Nablus in the afternoon, and in and around Bethlehem and Aida r.c. and in 1 village nr. Hebron at night. Meanwhile, more than 200 activists and residents of Bayt Safafa in East Jerusalem protest plans for an extension of the Begin Highway that will run through the neighborhood. (HA, JP, REU 2/26; HA 2/27; PCHR 2/28)

The Palestinian Authority announces that it has paid the remainder of 1/2013 salaries owed PA civil servants. (MNA 2/26) The U.S. Senate confirms Chuck Hagel as the new defense secy. in a 58-41 vote. Only four Republicans voted to confirm his nomination, reflecting the controversy over Hagel’s appointment (see JPS 167). (REU 2/26)

Iran and the P5+1 group (permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) begin two days of talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the first such meeting since 7/2012 (see QU 165). (AP, REU 2/26)