Sunday, December 9, 2012

At an Arab League meeting in Doha, Palestinian pres. Abbas calls for renewed negotiations with Israel for a 6-mo. period, provided that Israel freeze all West Bank and East Jerusalem settlement construction during that time. Responding to recent public Palestinian criticism over the increasing cost of living, Abbas also calls for an amendment to the 1994 Paris Protocol covering economic relations between Israel and the PA. At the meeting, Qatari PM Shaykh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani says that the 2002 Arab peace initiative (offering full normalization for full peace; see Quarterly Update in JPS 124) should be reviewed, though Abbas urges against withdrawing the initiative. Arab states agree to provide the PA with a monthly ‘‘safety net’’ of $100 m. to help bridge the PA budget deficit. The PA announces that it hopes to pay civil servants’ salaries for 11/2012 in the coming days. (AFP, JP, MNA, REU, ToI 12/9)

Israeli PM Netanyahu criticizes PA pres. Abbas for engaging with Hamas in reconciliation efforts. In Gaza, visiting Hamas leader Mishal says that it is time for Hamas and Fatah to put past mistakes behind them, though free and fair Palestinian elections should come first. (MNA, ToI 12/9)

In the Gaza Strip, the Hamas government releases Abu Hafs al-Maqdisi, leader of Salafist group Jaysh al-Ummah (Army of the Nation). The IDF fires warning shots at Palestinians collecting gravel and rubble close to the border fence nr. Bayt Hanun, wounding 1. In the West Bank, Jewish settlers throw stones at Palestinian vehicles in 2 incidents nr. Bethlehem and Hebron, injuring 1 Palestinian woman. The IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Ramallah in the morning, in 1 village nr. Ramallah and 2 villages nr. Tulkarm in the afternoon, and in 2 villages nr. Ramallah at night. The IDF also conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village nr. Jenin in the afternoon, in Nablus and 2 nearby villages, and 1 village each nr. Bethlehem and Ramallah at night. (MNA 12/10; PCHR 12/13)

The death toll in clashes in Tripoli between Lebanese Sunni and Alawite militias hits at least 17, with over 100 wounded, in the worst case of spill-over violence in Lebanon from Syria’s civil war. (NYT 12/9)