Sunday, May 6, 2012

At the annual Likud party convention in Tel Aviv, Israeli PM Netanyahu expresses support for holding early elections in 9/2012, stating that waiting until scheduled elections in 10/2013 could “damage the state,” but he does not official call for early elections, as many had expected. Polls show that Netanyahu would likely win by a large margin and gain the leeway to form a more supportive and stable ruling coalition, leading some analysts to speculate (see NYT, WP 5/7) that a strong 9/2012 victory might embolden Netanyahu to stage an Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iran before U.S. presidential elections in 11/2012. The polls also indicate that the big losers in an early election would be DM Ehud Barak’s Independence party (likely to lose its 1 Knesset seat and control of the Defense Min. portfolio) and the opposition party Kadima (likely to lose half of its 28 seats).NYT, WP 5/7; NYT 5/9)

The IDF makes a brief incursion into the border area e. of al-Maghazi r.c. in c. Gaza, arresting 2 Palestinians who were attempting to cross into Israel to search for jobs. Israeli naval vessels twice fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the s. Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts daytime patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah and 1 each nr. Jenin and Qalqilya; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Tubas; and conducts late-night patrols in Bayt Umar, Qalqilya, Tulkarm and 1 nearby village. (PCHR 5/10; OCHA 5/11)