Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gaza’s power plant begins operating on 4 turbines for the first time since 2006, after Israel (in a gesture to mark Ramadan) allowed the UN Development Program to import new transformers to replace those destroyed by an Israeli air strike in 2006. The improved capacity of the plant and additional Israeli fuel imports to mark Ramadan reduce rolling blackouts across Gaza to 8–10 hrs./day (down from around 12 hrs./day in recent months). The IDF patrols in 2 villages nr. Jericho and Ramallah in the morning; conducts synchronized patrols in 4 villages nr. Jenin at midday; patrols in alNabi Salih in the afternoon, firing rubbercoated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at stone-throwing Palestinian youths who confront them (causing no serious injuries); and conducts synchronized patrols in 2 villages nr. Jericho in the evening. (PCHR 8/2; OCHA 8/3)

PA Fin. Min. Nabil Kassis says the government is finding it harder each month to meet its routine budget expenses because donors, including the U.S. and Arab states, have failed to fulfill their 2012 pledges. The PA had hoped to close a $1.1 b. gap in its $4 b. budget, but is expected to fall short by $250,000, despite increasing taxes and making cuts to subsidies. (WT 7/27)

Republican candidate Mitt Romney begins a 6-day international tour of Britain, Israel, and Poland to point up his foreign policy skills. The theme of the trip is ‘‘the importance of locking arms with the nation’s allies.’’ Aides say that on the Middle East, Romney intends to highlight differences with Obama over plans for the peace process, support for Israel, Iran’s nuclear program, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. (WT 7/26; see QU in JPS 165 for details.)

The International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation (formed by Israeli Knesset mbrs. and mbrs. of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008) sponsors 2 panels on Capitol Hill to mark nearly 20 yrs. since the signing of the 9/2003 Oslo Accord and to discuss how to move the peace process forward. Speakers include former State Dept. adviser to the negotiations Aaron David Miller, Likud MK and avid settlement supporter Danny Danon (who supports annexation of the West Bank except for the Palestinian population, which would be left to fend for itself), right-wing settler leader and former MK Rabbi Benny Elon (who supports annexation of the West Bank and creation of a Palestinian state in Jordan), and Israeli negotiator to the Oslo talks Yossi Beilin (who says: ‘‘My interest is not necessarily a Palestinian state. All I want is a Jewish majority forever.’’), and Jerusalem Post dep. managing editor Caroline Glick (who says Oslo was destined to fail because Palestinian leaders ‘‘raised a generation of kids who value death’’). The only representative of the Palestinian viewpoint, American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) dir. Ghaith al-Omari, praises Oslo for establishing a sense of ‘‘mutual respect’’ necessary for moving talks forward and calls for a quick resumption of negotiations. Elon responds that there will be no progress until the Palestinians understand that the Jewish people ‘‘are back in Zion, back in Jerusalem.’’ (WJW 7/26)