Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In Washington for talks with Pres. Obama, King Abdallah of Jordan tells reporters that he is convinced that Israel and the Palestinians are each making sincere efforts to find a way to jumpstart serious peace talks, but cautions there are serious obstacles to overcome and time is running out. Separately, State Dept. spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says that the U.S. knows that the 1/26/12 target date for restarting final status negotiations is “out there, [but] we do not want to see it be a rigid sort of straitjacket that chills the atmosphere.” In Israel, PM Netanyahu tells lawmakers in a closed mtg. that “the Palestinians have no interest in entering peace talks.” (WP 1/17)

IDF troops on the n. Gaza border nr. Bayt Hanun fire warning shots at Palestinians and international activists staging a nonviolent march to the border fence to protest Israel’s imposition of a no-go zone; no injuries are reported. The IDF makes a late-night incursion into al-Shuka village in s. Gaza to arrest a mbr. of the Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigade. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Tulkarm in the morning and afternoon; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron, Nablus. (WT 1/15; PCHR 1/19; OCHA 1/20).

Hamas officials announce that the movement’s leadership has decided to evacuate their families and most personnel fr. Syria in response to the deteriorating security situation; 3 senior officials (Musa Abu Marzuq, Muhammad Naser, and Izzat Rishiq) will remain in Damascus. Meanwhile, Hamas’s former rep. in London, Mustafa Lidawi, says that Hamas leader Mishal plans to retire as politburo head (a position he has held since 1996) when the organization holds elections in the coming months to allow “a fresh leader to steer Hamas towards a new strategy,” but other Hamas officials deny he has made a final decision. (Guardian, WT, al-Watan 1/18; NYT 1/30)

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) formally apologizes to Israel for allowing a Hamas mbr. to take part in a dialogue in Geneva (ca. 1/14) on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners as part of a Palestinian delegation and vows that Hamas mbrs. will be barred fr. future IPU events. Israel had threatened (1/16) to withdraw fr. the IPU in protest. The IPU is a nongovernmental organization with permanent observer status at the UN. It was formed in 1889 to arbitrate conflicts but has evolved into an organization that promotes democracy and interparliamentary dialogue. (JPI 1/27; see also AFP 1/16)

Israeli hackers bring down the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency and the Abu Dhabi Securities and Exchange websites, release the email addresses and passwords of 89 Saudi university students, and steal and threaten to release the Facebook login information for 30,000 account holders in Muslim countries in retaliation for the 1/16 denial of service attacks on the TASE and El Al and the 1/6 leak of Israeli credit card information. One of the Israeli hackers, Anonymous 972, issues a statement saying “Usually we do not like to hurt innocent sites, but there is now a cyber war, and every war has victims. . . . Every time an Israeli site get[s] hacked, the same thing will happen to Saudi sites.” The Israeli hacker who claims to have the Facebook information, Hannibal Hacker, also claims that he could publish bank account details of 10 million Arabs and the credit card details of 4 million Arabs if cyberattacks on Israel continue. (ZDNet 1/19; HackRead 1/25; JPI 1/27)