Thursday, February 23, 2012

Israeli and Palestinian officials issue opposing statements on the content of Israel’s principles on borders presented in the Jordanian-sponsored exploratory talks last quarter. Israeli officials say the principles “effectively means a withdrawal from 90% of the West Bank,” similar to proposals made by Israel at the 2008 Annapolis conference. Palestinian officials counter that Israel never presented maps or discussed percentages, stating “If they wanted to say 90% they should have said 90%.” (WT 2/24)

Jerusalem Post reports that Naftali Bennett, former head of PM Netanyahu’s office and a former head of the YESHA settlers council who has recently launched a new group called One State Israel, has started circulating his proposed solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict to Israel’s political and military elites, who reportedly give it “high praise.” His “Israel Stability Initiative,” which he describes as “a practical plan for managing the . . . conflict,” calls for: (1) Israel unilaterally extending sovereignty over West Bank area C (60% of the West Bank); (2) granting citizenship to the 50,000 (by his estimate; as of 8/2011, OCHA put the figure at 150,000) Palestinians in Area C; (3) full PA “autonomy” in and freedom of movement among West Bank areas A and B; (4) no right of return for Palestinian refugees and no access for Palestinian refugees to areas under PA control; (5) a “full Israeli security umbrella” covering all of the West Bank; (6) the permanent separation of Gaza from the West Bank; and (7) heavy Israeli investment in economic projects in the West Bank that reinforce separation, such as joint industrial zones and separate road networks. (JP 2/23; YA 2/24; Foreign Policy online 5/1; see also OCHA, “Displacement and Insecurity in Area C of the West Bank,” 8/2011)

Unidentified Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In retaliation, Israeli warplanes and IDF troops on the s. Gaza border fire on open areas e. of Khan Yunis, causing no reported injuries. Late at night, after unidentified Palestinians fire another 2 Qassam rockets into Israel (causing no damage or injuries), Israeli warplanes make 3 air strikes on a group of armed Palestinians operating nr. Gaza City and on a Hamas training base in n. Gaza, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, IDF troops nr. Hebron uproot 690 trees and bulldoze 22 dunams (d.; 4 d. = 1 acre) of agricultural land, a well and water tank, and 800 meters (m) of fence surrounding the fields, located in Surif village; and demolish a mosque, a school, and 19 shelters in Khirbat Janba bedouin community; conducts daytime patrols in Qalqilya, Tulkarm, 4 villages nr. Ramallah, and 1 nr. Jenin (accidentally damaging 1 home and a water network when an IDF vehicle gets stuck); conducts afternoon and evening patrols in Qalqilya and 1 nearby village, Tulkarm and 3 nearby villages, and 1 village nr. Salfit; conducts late night patrols nr. Qalqilya. In Jerusalem, Israeli police arrest 7 Palestinians for jeering a group of Jews touring the Temple Mount/alAqsa Mosque compound. (JP 2/23; JP, WT, YA 2/24; PCHR 3/1; OCHA 3/2)

PA pres. and Fatah head Abbas holds separate meetings in Cairo with Hamas leader Mishal and Hamas’s acting PM in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh (marking their 1st meeting since 2007). Afterward, Fatah officials stated (Jerusalem Post 2/26) that Abbas has agreed to Mishal’s request to suspend talks on implementation of the 5/2011 Fatah-Hamas unity deal until Hamas resolves its internal disputes. (REU 2/23; JP 2/26)