Wednesday, January 23, 2013

White House spokesperson Jay Carney responds to a question about the consequences of the Israeli election for peace efforts by restating the administration’s call for a resumption of direct negotiations on final-status issues. Meanwhile, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, tells a UNSC meeting that courageous steps by Israeli and Palestinian leaders are required to save the two-state solution. At the meeting, Palestinian FM Riyad al-Maliki sits behind a ‘‘State of Palestine’’ nameplate, drawing criticism from U.S. amb. Susan Rice, who says that the U.S. does not recognize the UNGA vote in 11/2012 (see Quarterly Update in JPS 166). After the meeting, Maliki says that the Palestinians’ decision about whether to go to the ICC over Israel’s settlement construction will depend on what the Israeli government does in the E1 area nr. Jerusalem. (AP, REU, UNNC 1/23)

Israeli naval vessels open fire on Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza coast nr. al-Waha, causing no injuries. The IDF also makes a brief incursion into Gaza to a distance of 200 m from the border fence nr. Bayt Hanun to level land. In the West Bank, IDF soldiers open fire on Palestinians at the entrance to al-‘Arub r.c. nr. Hebron, killing 1 woman with a shot to the head. Eyewitnesses say the soldiers were traveling in a civilian car. Also, a Palestinian teenager shot by the IDF during clashes in Aida r.c. on 1/18 dies in the hospital. The IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Ramallah in the morning, in 1 village nr. Ramallah in the afternoon, and in 2 villages nr. Hebron at night; conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village each nr. Hebron and Jenin at night. (MNA, PCHR, WAFA 1/23)

Human rights NGO the Palestinian Center for Human Rights publishes a list of media workers in the Gaza Strip arrested by Hamas security services over the previous 48 hours. Meanwhile, dep. head of Hamas politburo Musa Abu Marzuq says that there is no disagreement within Hamas about Mahmud Abbas heading a unity government. (MNA 1/23)

PA fin. min. Nabil Qassis says that the government’s financial crisis is structural, requiring systematic changes in the budget and culture. He reveals that the deficit has now exceeded $1.4 b. (MNA 1/23)

Jordan holds parliamentary elections, which are boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood–affiliated Islamic Action Front. The boycott is based on claims that the electoral system is biased in favor of rural tribal areas where pro-regime sentiment is highest, in contrast to large, more densely populated urban areas, where pro-Brotherhood views are strong among poor Palestinians. In the election, 1,425 candidates compete for 150 seats, up from 120, in the lower house. King Abdallah has agreed to cede some powers to the new legislature, such as choosing the PM and running day-to-day affairs. There are numerous reports of vote-buying and small-scale clashes in Karak governorate and some districts of Amman. The results see pro-government candidates maintain their dominance of the parliament, though 37 Islamist and other government critics win seats in the legislature. (AKH, AP, NYT, REU 1/23; AP, REU 1/24)

The Lebanese army states that 12 Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace overnight, claiming that the breach of Lebanon’s sovereignty is a violation of UN Res. 1701, which was accepted as the basis for the cease-fire that ended the Israeli-Lebanon war of 2006. (Daily Star 1/23)