Thursday, March 18, 2010

After 3 days of talks with his 7-mbr. security cabinet, Netanyahu phones Clinton (a day later than the State Dept. had expected) to offer Israel’s own package of “mutual confidence building” gestures to be made by Israel and the Palestinians. Neither side details the offer, but the U.S. says that the offer is sufficient enough to warrant sending special envoy Mitchell back to the region on 3/21 hopefully to launch proximity talks. At the same time, however, Israel’s Jerusalem municipality approves construction of 20 new settlement housing units in East Jerusalem’s Shaykh Jarrah neighborhood. (NYT, WP, WT 3/19; WP 3/20; OCHA, PCHR 3/25)

Ansar al-Sunna fires a rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, killing a Thai laborer working at a kibbutz near the Gaza border, marking the 1st fatal rocket strike since OCL. Another rocket fired by unidentified Palestinians earlier in the day caused no damage or injuries. Israel vows strong retaliation. Meanwhile, IDF troops on the s. Gaza border e. of Khan Yunis fire on Palestinians staging a nonviolent march to the border fence to protest Israel’s imposition of a 300-m no-go zone, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF carries out late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron (searching a number of homes of Palestinians involved in organizing protests against the separation wall, without making arrests). Jewish settlers fr. Eli nr. Nablus uproot 25 nearby Palestinian olive trees. (JP, NYT, WP, WT 3/19; HA, YA 3/20; OCHA, PCHR 3/25)