Thursday, March 14, 2013

IDF troops manning a watchtower nr. Tulkarm shoot and seriously injure a Palestinian teenager. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Jericho in the morning and in 1 village nr. Jenin at night; conducts house searches and arrest raids in 4 villages nr. Hebron, 2 nr. Jenin, and 1 each nr. Salfit and Tulkarm. (MNA 3/14; PCHR 3/21)

In an interview with Israeli television, U.S. Pres. Barack Obama says that Israel can no longer rely on a ‘‘a few [Arab] autocrats’’ to maintain regional stability and security, and that the Jewish state has ‘‘an interest in being able to speak to the Arab street.’’ Meanwhile, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes confirms that Obama will not introduce a new peace initiative during his Middle East visit next week. In a meeting in Moscow with Russian pres. Vladimir Putin, Palestinian pres. Mahmud Abbas says he hopes that peace talks would resume later this year, though the chances remain slim. (AP, Guardian, REU 3/14)

The Palestinian Central Election Commission announces that the 36 West Bank municipalities where voting was postponed from the original 10/20/12 and 11/24/12 elections (see QU 166 and QU 167) due to court decisions, resignation of council members, and other factors will hold local elections on 6/1. (MNA 3/14)

The International Monetary Fund warns that the PA’s fiscal situation is ‘‘increasingly precarious’’ and urges action from donors to help reduce the significant budget deficit. The IMF projects a financing gap of about $400 million for 2013 and notes that unemployment increased to almost a quarter of the labor force by the end of 2012. (AFP, REU 3/14)

U.S. Pres. Barack Obama tells Israeli media that Washington considers a nuclear Iran to be a ‘‘red line’’ with all options on the table to stop it. Obama says that U.S. intelligence believes that it would take over a year for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. (AP 3/14; HA 3/15)

An anonymous Western diplomat says that following the recent detention (3/6) and release (3/9) of 21 UN observers by Syrian rebels, the UNDOF has stopped conducting patrols. (AP, REU 3/14)