Tuesday, January 28, 2003

The IDF sends tanks into Jenin, clashes with residents, killing 4 Palestinians, wounding 1 Palestinian journalist; 2 IDF soldiers are also wounded. The IDF demolishes 7 Palestinian homes in Rafah, 2 in Balata r.c.; bulldozes Palestinian land nr. Jabaliya r.c.; fires on stone-throwing Palestinians protesting the curfew in Nablus, killing 1 Palestinian; fires on residential areas of Tal al-Sultan. (AP, HA, PM 1/28; LAW, PCHR 1/29)

Sharon and his Likud party win a landslide election victory largely at the Labor party’s expense. Likud gets 38 seats (up fr. 19 in the 2/01 elections; higher even that top projections, which figured Likud would take 32 seats), Labor gets 19 seats (down fr. 25), Shinui comes in 3d with 15 seats (up fr. 6), and the ultra-Orthodox Shas party gets 11 seats (down fr. 17); Meretz, 1 of Israel’s clear-cut peace parties, gets 6 seats (down fr. 10); the far-right National Union party, not represented in the last Knesset, gets 7 seats. Yisra’el Ba’Aliya party head Natan Sharansky quits the Knesset, Meretz head Yossi Sarid resign fr. as party chmn. in light of their parties’ poor showing. During the day, Israeli police detain 4 Israeli Arabs for leading a 15-car caravan around the Galilee, calling for an election boycott. Voter turnout was 68.5%-- lowest in Israel’s history. Sharon has 42 days to form a majority coalition. The new Knesset will have 40 freshmen MKs. (HA, MM, WP 1/28; HA, MM, NYT, WP, WT 1/29; AYM, al-Quds 1/29 in WNC 1/30; JP, MM, WJW, WP 1/30; JPI 1/31; PR 2/5; MEI 2/7; MM 2/18)

Bush gives State of the Union address, focusing on Iraq; says Saddam Hussein has missed his “final chance” by showing “utter contempt” for the UN inspectors; claims Iraq is hiding and amassing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs; including an active nuclear weapons program), deceiving inspectors, aiding al-Qa`ida; says the U.S. seeks to work with an international coalition to remove Hussein but will go it alone if necessary, adding that “The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to humanity.” Regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, he says only that the U.S. will continue to work for a “secure Israel and a democratic Palestine.” (NYT, WP, WT 1/29; MM 1/30; MA 1/30 in WNC 1/31; MEI 2/7)