Tuesday, April 30, 2013

U.S. Secy. of State John Kerry welcomes the Arab League’s expression of support for reviving peace talks made the previous day, describing it as a ‘‘very big step forward.’’ An Israeli official welcomes the development, but says that the framework will not be a starting point for talks. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni says that the Arab League proposal represents encouragement for the Palestinians that they have regional support for a negotiated agreement. PLO Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat says that the Arab League’s support for land swaps is nothing new. Meanwhile, Israel’s Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel says that his party, Bayit Yehudi, will not back a 2013 budget that does not include full funding for West Bank settlement construction projects. (NYT 4/29; MNA, JP 4/30)

In the Gaza Strip, the IDF makes an air strike nr. Rafah assassinating Hitham al-Mishal, whom Israel accuses of being a Salafist militant responsible for arms manufacturing. In response, Hamas urges Egypt to ensure that Israel stays committed to the truce deal signed at the end of Operation Pillar of Defense in 11/2012 (see QU 167). Israeli naval vessels open fire on Palestinian fishermen twice, once off the central Gaza coast nr. Dayr al-Balah and once off the south Gaza coast nr. Rafah, in the latter case causing damage and 1 injury. IDF forces also make a brief incursion into central Gaza nr. Juhr al-Dikto level land and clear lines of sight along the border fence. In the West Bank, a Palestinian fatally stabs a Jewish settler from Yitzhar at a Tapuach junction bus stop. In retaliation, Jewish settlers riot and attack Palestinians across the West Bank, including blocking roads and throwing stones at passing vehicles. Overall, the Palestinian civil defense report 57 fires across the West Bank caused by settlers, with damage to hundreds of olive and almond trees. In the most serious incident, Jewish settlers from Yitzhar settlement attack a mosque in Urif village and try to set it on fire; and stone a bus carrying Palestinian schoolchildren, injuring 2. The attack on Urif sparks clashes between IDF forces and Palestinians, leaving 4 Palestinians injured. Meanwhile, the IDF patrols in Hebron and 2 villages nr. Ramallah in the morning; conducts house searches and arrest raids in Tulkarm in the afternoon, and in Bethlehem and Tulkarm at night. (HA, MNA 4/30; MNA 5/1; PCHR 5/2)

UNRWA estimates that 235,000 Palestinian refugees have been displaced inside Syria during the ongoing civil war. (AP, WAFA 4/30)