Thursday, March 19, 2015

In Gaza, Israeli forces conduct a limited incursion nr. Rafah to level land. Off the coast nr. Gaza City, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats, causing damage to 2 boats. In the West Bank, Israeli settlers uproot 65 olive trees outside Turmus ‘Ayya village nr. Ramallah; perform religious rites at a site nr. Nablus, sparking clashes with local Palestinians; enter Isaac’s Hall in al-Ibrahimi Mosque in c. Hebron. After suspected Palestinian assailants set fire to an Israeli settler’s trailer nr. Nablus, the IDF imposes a curfew on a nearby Palestinian village and conducts raids and house searches in the area, sparking light clashes with residents. The IDF also conducts house searches in and around Hebron and Tulkarm, arresting 4 Palestinians; patrols in 2 villages each nr. Qalqilya and Jenin. IDF troops set up roadblocks and raid a school in a village nr. Jenin, sparking clashes with residents. Israeli forces destroy 300 olive trees and demolish 600 m of walls nr. Nablus; confiscate 2 water tanks nr. Tubas. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces conduct raids in Anabta village and in al-Tur, assaulting 1 Palestinian and arresting 2; arrest 4 Palestinian women at an entrance to Haram al-Sharif. In s. Israel, Israeli forces demolish several Palestinian bedouins’ homes in 3 villages in the Negev, and they surround a home in a 4th village, preparing to demolish it. (AFP, MNA, WAFA 3/19; AFP, MNA 3/20; PCHR 3/26)

In an interview with NBC, Israeli PM Netanyahu rolls back his 3/16 assertion that he will block the creation of a Palestinian state if chosen for a 3d consecutive term as PM. Later, U.S. Pres. Obama calls Netanyahu to officially congratulate him for his 3/17 victory, but also to discuss his controversial comments. Obama reportedly says that the U.S. will be reassessing its positions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in light of the PM’s new position. (AFP, HA, JP, NBC, REU, TOI 3/19; AFP, TOI, YA 3/20)

On the 4th day of bilateral negotiations between the U.S. and Iran in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Wall Street Journal reports that the P5+1 is refusing to compromise on its demand for staggered sanctions relief. (AP, JP, WSJ 3/19; AFP 3/20)

In the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Comm., chair Corker (R-TN) and ranking mbr. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) agree to delay a comm. vote on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 until after the P5+1 and Iran’s deadline for reaching a political accord at the end of 3/2015. They schedule a vote for 4/14