Monday, February 6, 2012

Fatah PA pres. Abbas and Hamas leader Mishal end 2 days of talks in Qatar on forming by Fatah-Hamas consensus a transitional government of independent technocrats with a limited mandate to take the Palestinians to new presidential and parliamentary elections and to lead reconstruction of Gaza, as agreed under the 5/2011 national unity deal. To overcome international concerns about Hamas’s participation and differences between Fatah and Hamas regarding who should serve as PM (Hamas strongly opposed current PA PM Salam al-Fayyad), the sides agree that Abbas would lead the transitional government, serving as both pres. and PM. They stress that the new government “will be a technical one more than a political one” and that diplomacy will rest with the PLO. A meeting of all Palestinian factions is set for 2/18 to endorse the plan. Israeli PM Netanyahu immediately denounces Abbas for “joining forces with the enemies of peace.” The EU and U.S. say they look forward to continuing their support of the PA, provided the new government is committed to the Quartet principles of nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to existing peace agreements. (NYT, WP 2/6; AP, NYT, WP 2/7; see also MNA 2/5)

Unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In response, Israeli warplanes make late-night air strikes on open areas nr. the Gaza border n. of Bayt Hanun, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah and 1 nr. Salfit; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Tulkarm and nr. Jenin and Nablus. Just outside East Jerusalem nr. al-Tur, Israeli border police and an undercover unit bulldoze 20 d. of Palestinian land, demolishing 2 walls, 3 natural caves, and a water network supplying several Palestinian homes. Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron escorted by IDF troops begin planting trees on 150 d. of nearby Palestinian agricultural land that the IDF previously declared a closed military zone. (PCHR 2/9; OCHA 2/10)