Thursday, February 27, 2003

The IDF raids a branch of the Arab Bank in Azariyya, East Jerusalem, confiscates documents related to bank accounts belonging to Jerusalem residents allegedly linked to Hamas. A roadside bomb explodes nr. a Jewish settler bus in the West Bank, causing no injuries. A Palestinian dies of injuries received on 2/23. (HA, JTA 2/27; PCHR 3/6; LAW 3/13)

The Knesset approves (68–48) Israeli PM Ariel Sharon’s (reelected on 1/28/03) new coalition government. The 68-seat coalition includes the right-wing, pro-settler National Religious Party (6 seats), opposed to creation of a Palestinian state; the right-wing, secular nationalist Shinui (15 seats), which supports unilateral separation; and the ultraright-wing National Union Party (7 seats), which represents Jewish settlers, opposes talks with the Palestinians, and advocates expelling PA head Yasir Arafat and Palestinians from the occupied territories and annexing the land. Acting FM Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) becomes finance minister, acting Finance M Silvan Shalom (Likud) becomes FM; Likud’s Tshai Hanegbi (previously under criminal investigation by Israeli police) becomes internal security minister; Mofaz remains DM. Sharon says that the economy will be his 1st priority, the peace process his 2d; that the Palestinians would have to give up the right of return, agree to Jerusalem remaining the unified capital of Israel, and halt all violence if they want a comprehensive peace. (HA, MM, NYT, WP 2/27; NYT, WP, WT 2/28; MA 2/28 in WNC 3/3; WT 3/1; MEI 3/7)