Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fourteen of 15 mbrs. of the UNSC make statements condemning Israel’s settlement construction plans, while the U.S. vows to veto any resolution on the issue. Four separate statements are made by the 8 council mbrs. from the Non-Aligned Movement, the 4 European mbrs., as well as Russia and China. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Comm. approves the creation of a new Jewish settlement, Givat Hamatos, in the s. of East Jerusalem, not far from Har Homa. In addition, Israel’s Defense Ministry advances plans to build 523 homes in Giva’ot settlement in the Gush Etzion bloc, though this plan is long-standing and unrelated to the recent high-profile construction announcements tied to the Palestinian bid at the UN. (REU, HA, JP 12/19)

The IDF announces that it will issue permits to around 500 Christian Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to visit Bethlehem for Christmas. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in Jenin, Nur Shams r.c. nr. Tulkarm, 1 village each nr. Hebron and Jenin, and 2 villages nr. Nablus. (JP 12/19; PCHR 12/20)

Palestinian government employees begin a 2-day general strike to protest a delay in the payment of their wages due to Israel’s withholding of around $100 m. customs revenue. Around 50,000 workers take part in the strike. Meanwhile, Palestine Monetary Authority chief Jihad al-Wazir says that Palestinian banks will lend the PA $100 m., set to be repaid when the Arab League delivers its promised financial safety net. (REU 12/19; MNA 12/19)

Israel’s Central Elections Comm. votes to disqualify MK Haneen Zoabi, from Balad party, from running in the forthcoming elections, a decision based largely on her participation in the 2010 Gaza flotilla. (HA 12/19)

Palestinian pres. Mahmud Abbas offers to take in Palestinian refugees fleeing from fighting in Syria, and UN secy.-gen. Ban Ki-moon calls on Israel to facilitate their entry. Meanwhile, the UN launches its biggest aid appeal to date for Syria, estimating that it needs $1.5 b. to cope with a ‘‘dramatically deteriorating humanitarian situation.’’ Meanwhile, the Security Council passes a U.S.-and-Russian-drafted resolution on extending the peacekeeping mission in the demilitarized zone between Syria and Israel. The resolution expresses concern at the presence of both government and rebel forces in the zone. (MNA 12/18; AP, Guardian, UN News Center 12/19)