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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 January 2011



Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine

Monthly media monitoring review
January 2011

Monthly highlights
    • EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton visits the West Bank (6 January)

    • Chile recognizes Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign State (7 January)

    • The United States threatens to veto Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity (8 January)

    • Demolition of landmark hotel in Jerusalem for settlers’ housing (9 January)

    Guyana recognizes the State of Palestine (13 January)

    • Arab States formally submit draft resolution to the Security Council condemning settlement activity (19 January)

    • Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefs the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East (19 January)

    • Confidential Palestine papers recording Middle East peace talks with Israel and the US leaks to Al Jazeera (23 January)

    • Turkel Commission releases findings exonerating the Israeli Government, the military and the soldiers involved (23 January)

    • Peru recognizes Palestine as a sovereign State (24 January)

    • Ireland upgrades the Palestinian representation to full diplomatic mission (25 January)

1

Dozens of Palestinians and settlers took part in a clash near “Yizhar”, with both sides hurling stones, according to a video. (Ynetnews)

2

Israeli troops shot dead an unarmed Palestinian at a checkpoint near Nablus. (AFP)

Shin Bet reported that two Palestinians had been arrested for a suspected plot to fire a rocket into a Jerusalem football stadium, along with 3 other men who sold them firearms. Israel said the following day that it had charged two local employees of the Consulate General of the United Kingdom in Jerusalem with arms trafficking in this connection. A British spokesman confirmed the arrests. (AFP, Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu challenged PA President Mahmoud Abbas to sit down with him for non-stop negotiations until they finalized a peace accord. Mr. Abbas said that talks could not move without an Israeli settlement freeze. (AP)

3

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that White House Middle East aide Dennis Ross and other US officials would arrive later in the week to renew peacemaking efforts. The PA leadership was saying “no” to the recognition of a Jewish State, to dropping demand for the right of return, and to security arrangements, he complained. Israel had an “arsenal of possible responses” it can deploy in response to a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood, he told the Knesset. He said that he had spoken recently with Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Echenique in an effort to prevent Santiago from recognizing a Palestinian State. He revealed that talks to secure a new settlement freeze had ground to a halt when the US stopped pressing for the ban, not because Israel rejected it. (AFP, Reuters)

"On Thursday, I shall go to Egypt," Prime Minister Netanyahu told senior members of his Likud party in remarks broadcast on Israeli Public Radio. "We have a single aim to strengthen security and to move toward achieving peace." (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli authorities demolished part of a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem. (Ma’an News Agency)

The humanitarian aid convoy Asia to Gaza Solidarity Caravan ("Asia 1") arrived in the Gaza Strip carrying activists of 25 different nationalities. The aid convoy, which had started on 2 December in New Delhi, had travelled by road to Syria, after crossing Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey. The convoy included a ship named Salam, which sailed from the Syrian port of Latakia, bringing humanitarian supplies worth a million dollars, including medicines, foodstuffs and toys. The aid cargo included four buses. (Algerian Press Service)

4

An Israeli military spokesperson said that a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip had landed in southern Israel, damaging greenhouses but causing no injuries. (AFP)

Israeli forces on military boats arrested Palestinian fishermen near the Gaza Strip. In the meantime, Israeli forces, backed up by three tanks and four military bulldozers, intruded in the eastern parts of Rafah, Palestinian sources said. (KUNA)

Israeli forces detained eight Palestinians in the Madama village near Nablus. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israel conducted air strikes in two areas in the Gaza Strip in what the military said was a response to the firing of a Qassam rocket which had allegedly hit outside Ashkelon earlier that day. According to the military, the sites targeted were a "Hamas terror activity centre" in the central Gaza Strip and a smuggling tunnel in the south near Rafah. There had been no reports of injuries. (Ma’an News Agency, IMEMC)

PA President Abbas said that if the peace process continued to stagnate, he feared the nations of the region would become frustrated and no one knew what the results might be. In an interview, he said that the US had yet to offer new suggestions on how to restart the peace talks. He added that in the coming weeks he would continue to meet with Israeli academics, businessmen and politicians in hopes of keeping the peace process on the table. (The Jerusalem Post)

During a visit to an army base in south Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that there was no progress on the Syrian track and that Israel should focus its efforts on jumpstarting the negotiations with the Palestinians. (Ynetnews)

PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said: "Israel will continue to exert pressure on the countries which have recognized or are willing to recognize a Palestinian State," adding that the Ministry was prepared for possible Israeli sanctions. He said that his Israeli counterpart had taken to visiting the same nations he had visited and working to undo advances in Palestinian foreign relations. (Ma’an News Agency)

Palestinian negotiators sent several documents to their Israeli counterparts over the past weeks containing detailed proposals over issues like Jerusalem and the refugees under a peace deal. According to Ma'ariv, Israeli officials had refused to examine the documents and had not responded to their content. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that "at least a decade" would be needed to reach a peace accord with the Palestinians. "I think that we have good cooperation (with the Palestinians) on the economy and security and we must continue cooperation on these two levels and postpone the political solution for at least a decade. […] What we need today is a long-term intermediate agreement," he said in an exclusive interview with AFP. (AFP, IMEMC)

Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev was to go ahead with a visit to the Palestinian territories even though his trip to Israel had been cancelled due to a strike at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which made it difficult to organize the visit. In a statement, the Kremlin said that President Shimon Peres had apologized to Mr. Medvedev for Israel’s inability to prepare for his visit. (Haaretz)

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said in an official statement: "Urgent progress is now needed towards a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace and the European Union will continue to support all efforts towards that goal. There is no alternative to a negotiated solution. We want to see the State of Israel and a sovereign and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security." (www.reliefweb.int)

Quartet Representative Tony Blair said that if substantial talks did not begin soon between Israel and the Palestinians, all parties would face "profound trouble… We are talking about weeks, rather than months, for this process now to be rehabilitated and put back on track", he told CNN. "If we don't go back and give credibility to this process in a meaningful way... we are going to be in genuine and profound trouble." Mr. Blair was in the region meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. (CNN)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that Cairo eyed with deep concern deteriorating conditions in the Gaza Strip and held Israel responsible for the stalemate in the peace efforts. He urged the United States to use its good offices with Israel to break the deadlock in the peace process. (KUNA)

An American delegation headed by former US Attorney-General Ramsey Clark entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing, saying the visit would be a chance to see first hand the conditions in the area. Mr. Clark was Attorney-General under US President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli bulldozers demolished a Palestinian house and shops in East Jerusalem. (KUNA)

Forty-eight Knesset members signed a petition calling for a boycott of Israeli companies involved in building the Palestinian city of Rawabi who had committed to divest from Israeli settlements during their work there. (Haaretz)

A ship which was part of the Asia 1 convoy carrying aid for the Gaza Strip was allowed to dock on Egypt's El Arish port. Some 112 activists, who were accompanying the vessel, entered Gaza via the Rafah border crossing after flying in from Damascus. Egyptian officials transferred 10 truckloads of aid carried by the convoy into the Gaza Strip through the Al-Auja crossing north east of Gaza. (Haaretz, Ma’an News Agency)

Palestinian psychiatrist Eyad El-Sarraj won the 2010 Olof Palme Prize for his "self-sacrificing and indefatigable struggle for common sense, reconciliation and peace" in the Middle East. Mr. El-Sarraj, who in 1977 became the first psychiatrist to practice in Gaza, founded the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, a non-governmental organization focused on improving mental well-being in the Palestinian community. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli troops arrested five activists from a European pro-Palestine movement as they tried to cross the Al Hamra military roadblock in the West Bank. After confiscating their passports and holding them captive for several hours, soldiers moved them into the Al Hamra settlement to be searched and interrogated. (The Palestinian Information Center)

At a meeting with visiting US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman requested the US to outlaw the Turkish group IHH, or Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, which had organized the Gaza aid flotilla. (Reuters)

5

Israeli military officials reported a second projectile launch from Gaza saying that a military-grade shell landed in the Negev, hours after a home-made Qassam rocket landed in the same region. Neither launch had yet to be claimed by Palestinian factions operating in Gaza. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israel's civil administration handed 16 evacuation orders to Palestinians in a community north-east of the West Bank city of Tubas. Israeli forces declared Khirbet Ibziq a closed military zone ordering residents to leave the area within 72 hours. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Palestine Liberation Organization issued a report documenting Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians during 2010. According to the report, 107 Palestinians were killed by Israel and 145 homes were demolished. Among those killed were 10 children, 4 women, 2 political detainees in Israeli jails and 9 Turkish nationals killed during the Israeli attack on the aid ships going to Gaza. Four hundred Palestinians were arrested during invasions of Palestinian communities. The Israeli army confiscated 4,826 dunums of Palestinian land from different parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Israeli Government approved 16,479 new homes in West Bank settlements, with 13,000 already under construction; demolished 145 Palestinian owned homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; destroyed 190 huts, farmhouses and water cisterns; and issued demolition orders to 1334 Palestinian owned homes located in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. (IMEMC)

The Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said that he had met and discussed with Security Council members the draft resolution condemning Israel's settlement building with the backing of Arab States. He said that the resolution could be voted on at the Security Council as early as next week. (AFP)

A Royal Court statement said that Jordan's King Abdullah II had received a telephone call from Prime Minister Netanyahu during which the King urged Mr. Netanyahu to live up to his commitment to peace by removing obstacles that impeded the resumption of direct talks with the Palestinians, adding that "the continuation of the present stalemate will jeopardize the region's stability and security". In a parallel effort, the King would be sending Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh to Ramallah to encourage Palestinian leaders to return to the negotiating table. (DPA)

Responding to Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman comments that reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians needed at least a decade, Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, said: "We, the Palestinians, say that making peace needs only a few weeks". (Xinhua)

According to US diplomatic cables dating back to November 2008 and published by the Norwegian Aftenposten newspaper, Israel wanted Gaza’s economy "functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis". (Haaretz, Ynetnews, The Jerusalem Post)

The Knesset will vote on a proposal initiated by Yisrael Beiteinu to establish a committee of inquiry into groups that were critical of human rights violations committed by the Israeli military. Sixteen human rights groups signed an open letter protesting the initiative, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, B'Tselem, Yesh Din, Machsom Watch, Adalah, Mossawa Center, Ir Amim and Hotline for Migrant Workers. (IMEMC)

During a visit by Hebron Governor Kamil Hamid to the homes of locals who faced settler harassment, a mob of settlers surrounded a home he was in shouting "terrorist", and prevented the delegation from leaving the area. Israeli police reportedly interfered when a fight broke out between the settlers and members of the Governor's delegation. The Governor complained that the police had failed to evacuate the settlers from the area outside the home. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Peace Starts Here campaign of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) won the 2010 “Possibilities” award of the online peace network MEpeace, as part of their annual peacemakers awards. The site – www.peacestartshere.org – invites visitors into the lives of Palestine refugees. One of the main aims of the campaign was to provoke discussion in online forums and social networks about Palestine refugees. As MEpeace describes it, “The project leverages new media for new narratives, encouraging possibilities for conflict resolution.” UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness said: "It's great that the creative work of UNRWA's communications team is being recognized and rewarded. But ultimately, this is about putting the spotlight on a forgotten population, Palestine refugees, humanizing them and celebrating our community. I urge everyone to go to www.peacestartshere(.org) and see for themselves." (www.unwra.org)

Egyptian security sources said that a Libyan convoy arrived at Egypt's El-Arish airport carrying 80 tons of medical aid for the Gaza Strip. Officials said that a delegation of 27 Libyan activists joined the cargo. Egyptian authorities and the Red Crescent unloaded the aid for delivery to Gaza via the Rafah crossing. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli special police forces searched homes of Israeli activists in Tel Aviv who participate in protests against the wall. (Ma’an News Agency)

6

Palestinian medics said that Israeli troops had killed two Palestinians near the Gaza Strip border. An Israeli military spokesman said that the Israeli Defense Forces had opened fire on a group of Palestinians attempting to cross Israel's border fence. (Reuters)

The IDF said that a projectile, probably a mortar shell, had been fired from Gaza Strip. Earlier during the day, the Israeli army said that Palestinian militants had fired seven rockets into Israel without causing any damage. (AFP)

Jihad Jibril Brigades, an armed group affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said that they had fired three mortar shells towards the Israeli Kissufim military base along the Gaza border. An Israeli military spokeswoman said that she was not aware of any attacks in that area. (Ma’an News Agency)

During talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak cautioned visiting Prime Minister Netanyahu against launching a new war on Gaza in light of reports that the IDF had traded fire with militants in Gaza. He said that such threats would impact the security of the region, affirming Egypt's rejection of any new offensive on Gaza. (AFP)

During a meeting with PA President Abbas in Bethlehem, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh conveyed a letter from King Abdullah II, reiterating Jordan’s support and solidarity with the Palestinians in establishing their independent State. (The Jordan Times)

Following talks with Israeli officials in Jerusalem the previous day, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton visited the West Bank in an effort to salvage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Accompanied by PA Prime Minister Fayyad, Ms. Ashton made a tour of the West Bank and later met with PA President Abbas. During the tour, Mr. Fayyad explained to her how the Israeli-controlled areas in the West Bank would impact the development of other areas controlled by the PA. He later told reporters: "It is important for us to continue to draw attention to this as we continue to move forward in our endeavour for statehood.” (DPA)

In a statement, Omar Al-Bsharat, Director of Agriculture in Jericho, said that Israeli authorities had delivered 15 demolition orders to farmers in the Ad-Dweik Al-Foqa area, north of Jericho. The previous day, orders were also handed out in the Ein Assy area in Halhul, north of Hebron. A Civil Administration spokesman said that no orders were handed out but confirmed that demolition orders had been delivered on 3 January for houses that had been built without permits. (Ma’an News Agency)

During a meeting in Amman with representatives from several Israeli professionals and members of Israeli civic institutions, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said that the Israeli civic community must pressure its Government to take the path of peace “through deeds, not words”. (The Jordan Times)

7

Israeli troops mistakenly killed Omar Salim Al-Qawasmi, a 65-year-old Palestinian, in his bedroom in Hebron, during a pre-dawn search of a Hamas suspect who lived in the same building. Soldiers swooped on houses in the West Bank to re-arrest Hamas members freed from Palestinian jails. The Israeli army "regretted the outcome" while Hamas blamed the Palestinian leadership for the killing. Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, Saeb Erakat, condemned the killing and dismissed Hamas’ criticism. About 4000 Palestinians attended the funeral of Mr. Al-Qawasmi. (AFP, Ma’an News Agency, Reuters)

An Israeli soldier was killed and three others were wounded in a friendly fire incident on the Gaza border. (Ynetnews)

The IDF said that a projectile fired from the Gaza Strip had fallen harmlessly on southern Israel. (AFP)

Chile announced its recognition of Palestine as an independent State following in the footsteps of some of its South American neighbours. According to a statement read by Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno, "The Government of Chile has adopted the resolution today recognizing the existence of the State of Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign State." (AFP)

The mayors of “Maaleh Adumim” and “Ariel” had begun campaigns to win construction permits and had asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to lift the freeze that had affected their settlements. They said that while construction had been allowed to resume in West Bank settlements since the end of the moratorium, their settlements had been out of construction permits. Benny Kashriel, Mayor of “Maaleh Adumim”, had sent a letter to Mr. Netanyahu and requested a meeting. The approved State budget had set aside funds for 200 new homes in “Maaleh Adumim” but, according to the Construction and Housing Ministry, the project could not move forward until it had received the approval of the Ministry of Defense. (The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF commander in the West Bank, Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon, refuted Palestinian claims that Jawaher Abu Rahmah, a 36-year-old woman from Bil'in, died as a result of inhaling tear gas at an anti-wall protest the previous week, saying that she died of other medical complications “combined with problems in the medical care she received at the Palestinian hospital". (Haaretz)

A Fatah statement denounced the arrest of six Hamas men detained in Hebron following their release from PA custody the day before. It said that the PA was clear with Hamas, warning the group that the men could be arrested by the Israeli military. It explained that the release of the six men was done in the spirit of unity efforts and after Hamas had "guaranteed that they would be protected" and had pledged to accept responsibility "for their fate". (Ma’an News Agency)

Salim Alam, Director of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign in West London, criticized the Egyptian Government for not allowing the passage of an Iranian humanitarian group “Asian Aid Caravan" for the people of Gaza. He said that the Egyptian Government had a "long record" of being accomplice to Israeli atrocities against the people of Gaza. (MENA)

8

At least six mortar shells were fired from Gaza, wounding three Thai workers in an Israeli kibbutz. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. (IMEMC, Ynetnews)

Israeli troops shot dead a young Palestinian as he ran towards a checkpoint in the West Bank. The Israeli military said that Khaldun Samudi, who according to PA security officials was a member of Islamic Jihad, was "carrying two explosive devices and a knife". (AFP)

PA Political Adviser Nimr Hamad said that the US had threatened to veto a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity. (The Jerusalem Post)

9

"The Government must consider afresh a policy of zero tolerance, exert a heavy price, not let this situation deteriorate," Israel’s National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau told journalists at the weekly Cabinet meeting. "[The fire from Gaza] needs to stop," he added. "It is absolutely clear that the situation in the south is intolerable," said Information Minister Yuli Edelstein. (AFP)

Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, denied rumours that direct talks with Israel had resumed. He said that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were holding separate meetings with the US Administration, but no Israeli-Palestinian meetings were being held. (Ma’an News Agency)

In response to the demolition of the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem to build a complex of 20 luxury apartments for settlers, PA Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that it destroyed any chance of a return to negotiations, calling on the US to "stop Israeli tampering". Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, said: "Israel is demolishing one Palestinian property after another in an effort to cleanse East Al-Quds of its Palestinian inhabitants, heritage and history.” Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh called for "immediate" action by the international community to stop the unilateral Israeli measures. Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that continuing Israeli settlement projects would cause a "new explosion of violence" in the West Bank. The Organization of the Islamic Conference called the demolition a "flagrant violation of international law”. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly criticized Israel for the demolition saying that the move undermined US efforts to restart stalled peace talks. Prime Minister Netanyahu's Bureau issued a statement saying that the Israeli Government was not involved in the demolition, adding that the building of apartments on the site corresponded with Israeli law. (Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Press TV)

In a statement, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton strongly condemned the demolition of the Shepherd Hotel by Israel. She said, "Settlements are illegal under international law, undermine trust between the parties and constitute an obstacle to peace… Furthermore, we recall that East Jerusalem is part of occupied Palestinian territory; the EU does not recognize the annexation by Israel". (EU press release A 008/11)

10

Security sources said that Israeli jets had struck two training sites for the military wing of Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip and in the north of Gaza City causing no casualties. (Ma’an News Agency, Xinhua)

A spokesman for Hamas said that the group had met with other militant factions in Gaza over the weekend to try and bring "control of the situation on the ground”. (BBC)

Local officials said that Israeli forces had detained at least four Palestinians overnight, with an arrest raid targeting the southern West Bank town of Dura. (Ma’an News Agency)

Palestinian medical sources said that a 65-year-old Gaza farmer was shot dead by the IDF near Beit Hanoun, two kilometres from the Erez border crossing with Israel. The man was identified as Shaban Qarmout. (Ma’an News Agency)

Three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in open areas in the Ashkelon region on Monday. (Haaretz)

PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said that he would seek UN recognition of a Palestinian State in September and was currently lobbying for votes worldwide. "Such recognition would create political and legal pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces from the land of another State that is recognized within the 1967 borders by the international organization," he told reporters in Ramallah. (AP, Haaretz)

The Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said that the objective now was to convince the United States that there was value in adopting the draft resolution condemning and calling for a halt to all West Bank settlements, at the Security Council. He said that efforts were being made towards that end but “we are not there yet". (Reuters)

Former PA Prime Minister and PLO Head of Jerusalem Affairs, Ahmed Qureia, said that Israel's demolition of the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem was a snub to international efforts to achieve peace. Mr. Qureia said that Israel's next target would be a 30-dunum grove opposite the hotel and that it planned to turn the entire quarter into Jewish-only residences, isolating Palestinian areas to the north and east of Jerusalem. (Ma’an News Agency)

Gaza's health authorities warned that Gaza was at risk of running out of insulin and kidney dialysis fluid within days. They had run out of medications to treat leukaemia, blood problems, epilepsy and maternal health problems. (Ma’an News Agency)

Some 165 senior Israeli academics had signed a petition to call for a boycott of “Ariel” University Centre. (The Jerusalem Post)

In a new confidential report, 25 EU Consuls-General in Jerusalem said the settlement activity in East Jerusalem jeopardized the two-State solution and complicated the conflict in the region. The representatives had suggested having EU officials present at the site of imminent house demolitions or evictions and intervene if non-violent Palestinians faced arrest. (The Independent)

Residents said that a horse and a poultry barn were demolished in East Jerusalem's Wadi Joz neighbourhood following Israeli orders. (Ma’an News Agency)

Hamas officials had granted Ashraf Juma, a lawmaker from Fatah, permission to visit several prisons in the Gaza Strip and to meet Fatah detainees. Mr. Juma visited several prisons, including Gaza Central Prison, accompanied by Hamas member Ismail Al-Ashqar. (Ma’an News Agency)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman of the Secretary-General:


11

A missile fired by an Israeli aircraft killed an armed Palestinian identified as Mohammed Najjar, 24, while riding a motorcycle east of Khan Yunis in the central Gaza Strip close to the border with Israel. Another man was wounded in the strike. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that the air strike had been aimed at the Islamic Jihad militant who had planned to carry out an attack inside Israel. (Reuters)

The IDF detained 58-year-old Omar Abdul Razek, a senior West Bank Hamas leader and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Israeli soldiers raided his home in the city of Salfit and confiscated his personal computer, mobile phones and camera. (DPA)

The IDF arrested two Palestinians “wanted” by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, taking them for security questioning. (dover.idf.il)

In a statement issued on its website, the Russian Federation Foreign Ministry urged Israel to stop aggravating relations with the Palestinians and halt the construction at the site of the demolished Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem. "The move was met with great concern in Moscow. We must say that in the current complicated regional situation, this gives rise to additional tensions in Palestinian-Israeli relations and contradicts the positions of the Mid-East Quartet," the statement added. (en.rian.ru)

At a joint press conference in Amman with his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh, Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said that Norway was committed to rallying donor support to help build Palestinian Authority institutions. He said, "Norway is very committed to taking the support of the donor community to that final point, which would be mid-2011," adding, "We will follow that process week by week, month by month to safe arrival. We will do whatever it takes." Mr. Støre said that Palestinian Authority dependency on aid was falling while reforms, growth and confidence in the Palestinians' ability to run the State were rising. (AFP)

The Department of Foreign Affairs of Turkey said in a statement that Turkey "vehemently condemns" the demolition of the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem, an act which "bears a heavy blow to the establishment of an atmosphere of trust" between Israelis and Palestinians. (Ynetnews.com)

Hamas Spokesman Taher Nunu called on militant Gaza factions to stop firing rockets at Israel and to refrain from other attacks on the border. He said that a ceasefire that had been in place for two years served Palestinian interests and prevented Israeli counter-strikes. Visiting the Gaza border, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued a warning saying, "I recommend all these groups not to test us," adding, "If they continue to shoot at us, then there will be more strikes on the other side" of the border. (AP)

A 16-month sentence was handed by the Ofer military court, extending the jail term of Abdullah Abu Rahma, a Palestinian activist who had already served 13 months in prison for organizing protests against Israel's separation wall. (AFP)

12

Hamas was holding "urgent" talks with militant groups to pass on a warning from Arab leaders about firing rockets at Israel, a Hamas leader told AFP. Among those invited were members of Islamic Jihad, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other groups. "Factions agreed to recommit to the national understanding to stop rocket firing" as long as Israel stopped its air strikes and other attacks, one official said. (AFP, Reuters)

PA President Abbas accused the US of lagging in its commitment to seeing the establishment of a Palestinian State. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton defended US efforts in that regard. She said: "We have spent a lot of time and we will continue to spend a lot of time working to build enough confidence on both sides so that they can make decisions that will by necessity mean compromises." In Doha, Ms. Clinton called on Arab States to join the US in asking "what more can we do to help the Palestinian people continue their state-building efforts". (Haaretz)

In an interview broadcast on Al Jazeera, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Erdoğan, called on Israel to remove its Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman, who he said posed an obstacle to Middle East peace. (AP)

Gerhard Conrad, the German mediator negotiating the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, had concluded a two-day visit to the Gaza Strip where he held talks with senior Hamas leaders. Mr. Conrad presented a series of new ideas to Hamas in a renewed effort to reach a deal with Israel over a prisoner swap. (Haaretz)

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told Parliament: "His Majesty the King (Abdullah II) has made it clear that if we fail to achieve the two-State solution, then the alternative will be that the world will have eventually to view Israel as a State that practices racial policies." (DPA)

Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, said that there would be "no backstage channels" and no secret talks [with Israel] and that the condition of the PLO remained a halt to settlement construction in lands occupied by Israel in 1967. (Ma’an News Agency)

Arab residents of East Jerusalem were divided on whether they would want Israeli or Palestinian citizenship should a future Palestinian State be created, according to a survey conducted by Pechter Middle East Polls, in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations. Thirty per cent preferred to become a citizen of Palestine, with all the rights and privileges of other citizens of Palestine, while 35 per cent chose Israeli citizenship. Thirty-five per cent either had no answer or declined to provide it. (Haaretz)

A Palestinian-American businessman's attempt to take control of an Israeli company developing a settlement in East Jerusalem failed when bondholders rejected his buyout offer. Bashar Masri's bid drew opposition from settler activists whom he blamed for undermining the deal. (Reuters)

An East Jerusalem Palestinian was banished from the city for four months for allegedly fomenting protest against settlements there, his fellow activists said. Adnan Ghaith, 34, left his home in Silwan and headed for Ramallah. (AFP)

Onlookers said that Israeli bulldozers dismantled the “Yesh Dam” settlement outpost near Qusra, a Palestinian village south of Nablus. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces destroyed 17 structures near Hebron that provided shelter to some 300 Bedouins, officials said. (AFP)

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre censured Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, telling The Jerusalem Post, "When leading politicians go out and compare and link NGOs to terror, I think it is very dangerous. These messages have enormous impact and create suspicion, mutual suspicion and a climate that democracy should not have.” He said that he was "very concerned" about the recent Knesset action on NGOs. (The Jerusalem Post)

13

The Israeli army arrested eight Palestinians in the West Bank cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, Tulkarem and Jericho. They were detained in interrogation centres in the West Bank. (IMEMC)

Hamas issued a press release stating that some of its members and supporters were arrested by the Palestinian Security Forces in Ramallah, Qalqilya, Nablus and Hebron. (IMEMC)

Ahead of a meeting with Hamas officials in Gaza City scheduled for this evening, Secretary-General of the Palestine People's Party Bassam As-Salihi said that Hamas supported a strict adherence to a ceasefire deal in order to avoid giving Israel a pretext to begin a new offensive on Gaza. He said: “We hope all Palestinian factions will reach consensus and stick to the ceasefire, which includes avoiding launching projectiles at Israel from Gaza. Israel is ready to take advantage of any pretext to free it from its internal and external crises and the people of Gaza would pay a heavy toll if that happens.”. (Ma’an News Agency)

US State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said that US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell had met separately with Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, and Israel's negotiator, Yitzhak Molcho. Mr. Crowley reiterated US opposition to a Palestinian proposal for a Security Council resolution condemning Israel's settlement building. (www.state.gov)

In a statement, the Government of Guyana announced its formal recognition of the State of Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign State, based on 1967 borders. (www.minfor.gov.gy)

The POLITICO website reported that the Obama Administration was seeking new ideas from diplomats and officials familiar with the Middle East conflict on how to advance the peace process. One task force had been reportedly convened by Sandy Berger and Stephen Hadley, former National Security advisers to former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively, to offer advice to the National Security Council. In addition, Martin Indyk, a former US Ambassador to Israel, held meetings this week with senior National Security Council Middle East/Iran Advisor Dennis Ross, Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, Israel’s Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, and others. Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer said that the lack of Israeli and Palestinian initiatives compelled the US to develop its own initiative as "there is no other option”. (Ynetnews)

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said at a news conference in Ankara with his counterpart from Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, that Israel’s demolition of a historic hotel in East Jerusalem to make way for new settler homes was unacceptable. “East Jerusalem is a Palestinian territory and it will continue to remain so”, he said, adding that its Muslim-Arab identity could not be altered and inviting the international community to adopt a principled approach. (Hürriyet Daily News)

Israeli Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein sent a letter to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, demanding that the mayor move quickly and "without the interference of unauthorized elements" to implement a court-issued sealing order on Beit Yonatan, an illegally built home erected by Jews in the Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. In the letter, Mr. Weinstein wrote that delaying the implementation of the sealing order could constitute a criminal offence. (Haaretz, Ynet News)

Jewish settlers reportedly plan to build 50 more housing units on the site of the Shepherd Hotel in the Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, in addition to the 20 units already authorized and whose construction began on 9 January. Right-wing activists also said that they planned to turn the main part of the historic building into a synagogue commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. (Haaretz)

Clashes erupted between villagers from Qusra, located south of Nablus, and armed settlers entering the residential area of the village. Three settlers and one Palestinian were lightly wounded during the clashes. (Ma’an News Agency, Ynet News, Haaretz)

Israel's Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon told Israeli Hebrew news site Wallah that hundreds of permits for construction in West Bank settlements were expected in the coming days. The construction permits would be for additional housing and infrastructure in the settlements of Ariel, Efrat and Ma'ale Adumim. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he would not allow the illegally built homes of Eliraz Peretz and Roi Klein, two IDF soldiers killed in action, to be demolished. Both houses were located in settlement outposts in the West Bank, one on private Palestinian land. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that unless a legal solution was found, the State would have to tear down the houses. (Haaretz)

In a statement, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein, said he believed that it was wrong to call for the resignation of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu as a patron of two Holocaust Centres in the country, although he considered Mr. Tutu's criticisms of Israel "unfair”. A petition had been launched in December by three Jewish Capetonians, calling for Archbishop Tutu to be ousted as patron of the Cape Town and Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centres because of his “anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli statements”. (www.capetimes.com)

14

In a statement, the Israeli army said that it would begin collecting weapons from settlers across the West Bank "which are not currently in use and are being held in storage”, in a move to curb weapons theft. According to Yediot Aharonot, the decision was taken due to the calm in the West Bank and the fear that the weapons might be used against Palestinians. The collection was likely to begin in settlements in and around Hebron. (AFP)

Gaza crossings were closed one day ahead of the completion of the scheduled five days a week, a routine applied since “Operation Cast Lead”. Palestinian official Raed Fattouh said that the crossings were set to re-open on 16 January. (Ma’an News Agency)

German Government Spokesman Steffen Seibert said that the Quartet would meet on the sidelines of an annual forum for defence and security policy that would be held from 4 to 6 February in Munich. He said that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton would attend. Mr. Seibert expressed Germany’s hope for an "urgently needed stimulus for the Middle East peace process". (AP)

The Office of French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said that she would be visiting Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Gaza, next week. During the trip, she would also visit Egypt and Jordan. (AFP)

Palestinian Conciliation Committee Chief Munib Al-Masri said that he was saddened by Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal’s comments, published in the Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Al-Youm, that "reconciliation is now less likely than any time before". Mr. Masri said that unity between Hamas and Fatah was the only way to achieve an independent Palestinian homeland. He criticized ongoing incitement by the parties but said that he retained hope that reconciliation would be achieved. He said that he had recently discussed conciliation with PA President Abbas who showed readiness to overcome obstacles and reconcile with Hamas. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Jerusalem Development Authority had recently removed scaffolding in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, near the Western Wall, to make more room in the plaza for Jewish prayer and other events despite opposition from residents. The Waqf had specifically warned against opening the site to prayer gatherings, threatening a strong response. (Haaretz)

UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi condemned in the strongest manner the demolition of homes and partial demolition of a school by the IDF two days ago in the Bedouin herding community of Dkaika, in the West Bank, calling on Israel to cease those actions and ensure refugees’ rights as stipulated by international law, adding that this community had been displaced once before in 1948. (www.unrwa.org)

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, expressed concern over a series of illegal acts by Israeli authorities namely the IDF killing of four Palestinians in the West Bank in the past two weeks as well as the demolition of the historic Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian landmark, so as to make way for the construction of more Israeli settlements. He said: “Together these events demonstrate a general and unacceptable Israeli disposition to use excessive force against Palestinians, who are already suffering from prolonged occupation.” (www.unog.ch)

16

Israeli soldiers had shot a Palestinian man in the leg as he collected gravel along Gaza's northern border, a Palestinian medical source said. (AFP)

A Qassam rocket fired from northern Gaza exploded in an open area near a community in southern Israel. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Three mortar shells were fired at the same area on the same day. (Ynetnews)

According to a statement issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, “Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt is visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority for the first time since his appointment as Minister for the Middle East”. (www.fco.gov.uk)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that Egypt would invite rival Palestinian factions to Cairo to work on reconciliation. (Ma'an News Agency)

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that over the past year the PA had been able to implement more than 2,000 development projects in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (Palestine News Network)

The PA Health Ministry said that it sent two truckloads of medicine to Gaza. The medicine was dispatched from warehouses in Ramallah and Nablus and would be distributed in hospitals across Gaza. (Ma'an News Agency)

Violent clashes erupted in Silwan in East Jerusalem following an Israeli police raid on a residential home. (IMEMC)

The Muslim Committee in Israel, a new NGO that described itself as seeking to preserve Muslim sites in Israel, secured a temporary injunction against the construction of 20 apartment units at the site of the former Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem. The order was issued by an Interior Ministry appeals committee, which planned to hold a meeting on the legality of the project on 19 January. (The Jerusalem Post)

A plan to build 1,400 new homes for Jews on Israeli-annexed land in the West Bank could be approved as early as next week by Israel's Jerusalem municipality, a city council member said. (Reuters)

17

A Palestinian worker was injured when an Israeli police officer opened fire on him in the northern Israeli city of Naharya. (Palestine News Network)

Israeli military vehicles crossed into the central Gaza Strip, witnesses said. (Ma'an News Agency)

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak abruptly announced that he was leaving the Labor Party and forming a new parliamentary faction, setting off a chain reaction that cast new doubts over already troubled peace efforts with the Palestinians. (AP)

Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, said that the Palestinians expect to ask the Security Council this week to declare Israeli settlements illegal and demand a halt to their construction. Mr. Erakat said that the request would likely be submitted by 19 January, when the Security Council would hold its monthly meeting on Middle East issues. (AP)

The US Administration had signalled that it would this week veto a UN resolution on the Middle East even though it reflected the White House's position on Israeli settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (The Financial Times)

Some European countries had asked Palestinians and Arab States to postpone presenting a draft resolution on Jewish settlements to the Security Council, a Palestinian official said. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said that the European States wanted "more discussions" so that the US would not veto the resolution. (Xinhua)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev would embark on a rare trip to the West Bank and Jordan this week in a bid to revive stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. (The Moscow Times)

Palestinians had strongly condemned Israel's opening of a new prayer site in the heart of the Muslim quarter of East Jerusalem. (Al Jazeera)

The Jerusalem city council approved the building of another 122 Israeli settler homes in East Jerusalem, 90 of them in “Talpiot East” and another 32 in “Pisgat Ze’ev”. (AFP)

The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued a statement, in which it said it was greatly alarmed by the recent upsurge in Israeli settlement activity. (www.un.org)

According to an UNRWA statement, the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, John Ging, and the Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Barbara Shenstone, would be leaving the Agency. Mr. Ging was to take up a senior position with OCHA in New York, and Ms. Shenstone was to return to her native Canada. Mr. Ging had served UNRWA for nearly five years and Ms. Shenstone for nearly four years. (www.unrwa.org)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a press conference in the United Arab Emirates: “With respect to the impasse between Palestinians and Israelis, the Quartet has an important role to play in finding a way out and I expect the Quartet to meet soon. I continue to call on Israel to relieve the unacceptable conditions in Gaza and to freeze settlement activity anywhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem.” (www.un.org)

18

Israeli tanks, military vehicles and bulldozers entered two areas of the Gaza Strip prompting fire from armed factions. In a statement, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades announced a joint attack on an Israeli bulldozer. An Israeli military spokesman could neither confirm nor deny any incursion. A spokeswoman later said that there had been four mortar shells fired from Gaza which landed in Israel. (Ma’an News Agency)
Three Palestinians were injured in a blast in the southern Gaza Strip which occurred, according to medical officials, due to the detonation of unexploded ordnance.
(Ma’an News Agency, IMEMC)

A statement from Hamas' armed wing said that one of its fighters had been killed in a mission in Khan Yunis. The statement gave no indication as to the nature of the mission. (Ma’an News Agency)

Homes in the southern West Bank towns of Beit Ummar and Dhahriya were searched by Israeli forces and three men were detained. (Ma’an News Agency, IMEMC)

IDF soldiers opened fire on two Palestinians approaching the fence on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Kfar Aza wounding one Palestinian. According to the IDF, the Palestinians had been attempting to plant an explosive device near the border fence. (Haaretz)

A senior Hamas leader denied Israeli claims that al-Qaeda activists were in the Gaza Strip. Yuval Diskin, the head of Israel's Shin Bet internal security organization, had told a parliamentary committee that al-Qaeda-affiliated activists were most likely behind some of the latest violence emanating from Gaza. But Hamas official Salah al-Bardaweel, in a response e-mailed to reporters, said that "the aim of the Israeli statements in this respect is to antagonize the West and the world against Hamas and the Palestinian people". (DPA)

Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev told PA President Abbas during his first official visit to the West Bank that the Russian Federation had not stopped supporting a Palestinian State, following the 1988 recognition of the Palestinian declaration of independence. "We have supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, since the last century, and we still support it", Mr. Medvedev said, adding, "Everyone will benefit from the establishment of a Palestinian State – the Palestinians, the Israelis, the region, and all the peoples of the Middle East". The Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, Saeb Erakat, described the visit as of "historic importance in light of the support given to the Palestinian position on the negotiations that stalled over Israel's refusal to halt settlements". On the sidelines of the visit, Mr. Medvedev was to sign three agreements with the PA, to foster cooperation in the media, agriculture and sports. (RIA Novosti, Ma’an News Agency, Haaretz, France 24)

In a symbolic gesture, the Palestinians raised their flag over the PLO General Delegation office in Washington for the first time. At a brief ceremony, the Palestinian Ambassador to the United States expressed hope that it would help in the Palestinian quest to win support for independence, with or without a peace deal, with Israel. (AP)

PA President Abbas urged the Quartet members, who were scheduled to meet in Munich next month, to issue decisions that would oblige Israel to return to the negotiating table. Mr. Abbas said that there were only two options: negotiations or violence and terrorism. “We won’t choose violence and terrorism,” he declared. “Therefore, we tell the Israelis that they must choose the path of peace for their own interest and for the interests of their generations.” (The Jerusalem Post)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak received a phone call from US President Barack Obama, who affirmed his commitment to achieving peace between the Palestinians and Israel, according to a statement by the Egypt State Information Service. (www.sis.gov.eg)

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the Middle East peace process was discussed during his meeting with his Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd, British Defence Minister Liam Fox and Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith. "Our joint belief (is) that the parties involved should return to direct talks and refrain from acts that undermine confidence such as settlement building", Mr. Hague told reporters. (World News Australia)

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos allocated some $84 million to boost humanitarian response in 15 neglected emergencies around the world, where people were suffering the effects of hunger, malnutrition, disease, displacement and conflict. The programme to assist people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory would receive $4 million. (ReliefWeb)

"The City of Jerusalem is having a difficult time providing municipal services beyond the security fence, causing that area to become a no man's land," Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "The fence has forced many illegal (Palestinian) residents to gather around it and many are emigrating from the West Bank to these areas. This has led to an increase in crime and illegal construction there," he said. (Ynetnews)

United Kingdom Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt, on a tour of the region, called the latest plans to build 1,400 new settler homes in East Jerusalem "deeply unhelpful". In a statement, the Minister said that the United Kingdom had "always been clear that settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace. Pushing ahead with this plan would be a deeply unhelpful move and hinder efforts to resume talks between the two parties leading to a two-State solution to this conflict, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two States living side by side in peace and security”. (Ma’an News Agency)

UN agencies and EU officials in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had called for the implementation of international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem from forced displacement. (IRIN)

For the seventh day in a row, Karni, the bulk goods crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, had remained closed, following unofficial announcements that the terminal would be shut down permanently. The Kerem Shalom crossing was open for humanitarian aid, commercial goods, fuel for domestic use and industrial diesel fuel as well as for the export of limited goods from Gaza, principally carnations and strawberries. (Ma’an News Agency)

According to the Chairman of the Arab Group, Tunisia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ghazi Jomaa, Arab ambassadors had decided to formally register a draft resolution requesting the condemnation of illegal settlement building in the West Bank at the Security Council before the day ended. (AFP)

Boycott From Within, an Israeli-based boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) group, believed that their efforts had helped persuade French pop star Vanessa Paradis to cancel her performance in Tel Aviv in March 2011. (IMEMC)

A new report by Save the Children warned that children in Gaza were coming under regular gunfire from Israeli soldiers while scavenging in the ruins of buildings bombed during the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2009. Twenty-six children were shot by Israeli troops close to the border last year according to the UNICEF-led working group on children affected by armed conflict. "The blockade must end immediately and there must be a review of policies with respect to the border area", said Salam Kanaan, Save the Children UK’s Country Director in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. "The Gaza blockade has put children’s lives at risk”, he added. (Al Jazeera)

19

The IDF carried out an extensive arrest raid in the northern West Bank, locals said. Fourteen young members of Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were seized in Burqa village, onlookers said. (Ma'an News Agency)

Clashes erupted at the Shu’fat checkpoint into Jerusalem following an argument between a soldier and a civilian waiting to pass. As clashes continued, Israeli police entered the refugee camp adjacent to the checkpoint, closed all entrances and fired rubber-coated bullets and tear gas into areas where angry youths had gathered. Clashes also erupted in the nearby neighbourhood of Ras Al-Amud, with the Israeli police targeting rock-throwers with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. Thirteen Palestinians were injured, including four women who were pregnant. (Ma’an News Agency)

The 2nd Extraordinary Conference of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Conference Member States convened in Abu Dhabi. The chairman of the current session, United Arab Emirates Parliament Speaker Abduaziz al Gurair, lashed out at ongoing Israeli violations against Jerusalem and Israel’s breaches of international law. (KUNA)

Russian Federation President Medvedev reaffirmed Russia's endorsement of an independent Palestinian State during a meeting with King Abdullah II in Jordan. Mr. Medvedev also said that he planned to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres during the annual World Economic Forum in Davos later this month. "It is impossible to resolve the Palestinian issue without consulting with the Israelis", he said. (RIA Novosti)

Following the visit of Russian Federation President Medvedev, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO Saeb Erakat said, "Russia signed with us a series of agreements including agriculture, communications and sports deals." He noted that Mr. Medvedev announced that Moscow would transfer $10 million to the PA and inaugurated the new Russian museum in Jericho which, according to Mr. Erakat, was an important symbol for the Palestinian people. (Ynetnews)

A top Israeli security official warned that a Palestinian campaign to seek UN recognition of a state was likely to stoke new tension with Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported. The paper's website quoted Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet domestic security agency, as telling a parliamentary committee that September "will be a boiling point". (The Jerusalem Post, AFP)

Arab nations have formally submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank. They did so despite objections from the US, which many expect would veto the resolution if it was brought to a vote. The document, sponsored by Lebanon, was circulated today. An additional 122 countries have signed on as co-sponsors. (BBC, AP)

A UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement building would be put to the vote in February with support from the Russian Federation and France, said Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO. He added that the UN Security Council would vote on the resolution after a meeting of the Middle East Quartet. (AFP)

Saeb Erakat had asked the British Government to support the draft resolution on settlements. Mr. Erakat made the request during his meeting with the British Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, who was visiting Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (Ynetnews)

"We believe that continued settlement expansion is corrosive, not only to peace efforts and the two-State solution but to Israel's future itself," US Deputy Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo told a Security Council meeting on the Middle East. "As we have consistently said, permanent status issues can be resolved only through negotiations between the parties and not by recourse to the Security Council. We therefore consistently oppose attempts to take these issues to this Council and will continue to do so as such action moves us no closer to the goal of a negotiated final settlement." Ms. DiCarlo said that a Council resolution "would only complicate efforts to achieve that goal". (AFP)

In the Security Council’s meeting on the Middle East, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said that efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians to engage seriously on final status issues would be at the top of the agenda when the Quartet meets in Munich on 5 February. Mr. Pascoe added, "We are seriously concerned at the continuing lack of progress in the search for a negotiated settlement. Peace and the Palestinian statehood cannot be further delayed.” The briefing was followed by an open debate, during which Abdou Salam Diallo, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, among others, delivered a statement. (DPA, UN press release SC/10157)

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, addressing an Arab economic summit in Egypt, said that Jerusalem faced a "bitter reality" and urged the leaders to implement their previous resolutions on supporting the city. "We are looking to you, brothers, to stand alongside Jerusalem," he said. PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki, in an interview with WAFA, said that the Palestinians had so far received only $37 million of $500 million pledged by Arab leaders at a summit in Libya in 2010. He compared generous financial support from the Jewish diaspora for Jewish settlements in Jerusalem with "great weakness on the part of the Arab and Islamic States". (Reuters)

Israeli human rights group B'Tselem urged the Government to launch an independent investigation into the Israeli offensive in Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009. "Better late than never: even two years since ‘Operation Cast Lead’, an independent Israeli investigation is crucial to achieve accountability and prevent future violations", B'Tselem said in a statement issued on the anniversary of the end of the Gaza War. (Haaretz)

20

A Palestinian man was shot dead at a checkpoint near Jenin in an exchange of gunfire. According to eyewitnesses and Israeli military reports, the man approached soldiers stationed at the checkpoint and opened fire. (Ma’an News Agency, Haaretz)

IDF soldiers critically wounded an Israeli Arab who approached a military checkpoint near Hebron. (Haaretz)

Several detentions of Palestinians, including children, took place across the West Bank. From the village of Sa'ir, east of Hebron, seven were detained, five of them children, and a teenager, allegedly beaten by Israeli forces, was admitted to the Hebron hospital overnight. North of Hebron, in the town of Beit Ummar, Israeli forces reportedly detained three teenagers. Two Palestinian youths were detained in the city of Nablus and an additional six from the Ramallah and Bethlehem areas. (Ma’an News Agency)

An IDF investigative committee looking into the death of a Bil'in woman, who died after inhaling tear gas fired by IDF forces at the end of December during a demonstration in Bil'in against the wall, had found that her death was caused by poor medical treatment that she received at a hospital in Ramallah. (Haaretz)

US diplomats Dennis Ross and David Hale arrived in Israel in a renewed attempt to revive the peace talks. According to a statement issued by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office, they will discuss Israel's security needs and the importance of maintaining the IDF’s qualitative advantage during negotiations with the Palestinians and in any proposed peace deal. (Haaretz)

French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie began her first official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. She met with Israeli opposition leader, Tzipi Livni of Kadima, and was scheduled to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the parents of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. (Haaretz)

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened to halt diplomatic relations with the PA and requested that the US refrain from giving foreign aid to the Authority. He said that while Israel had taken steps to facilitate peace with the Palestinians, the PA continued to "commemorate terrorists by naming streets and squares after them in their cities." (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli Foreign Minister Liberman warned that Israel would not tolerate ongoing Palestinian attempts to secure condemnation of Israel in the international arena. Mr. Liberman's remarks, in which he warned that there was a "dangerous gap" in relations between the Israeli Government and the PA, were made during talks with his French counterpart, Ms. Alliot-Marie. (AFP)

Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti was quoted as saying: “There is no real partner for peace in Israel now.” Mr. Barghouti said in statements published by an Algerian newspaper: “The Israeli Government is a Government of settlement, occupation, terror, siege and aggression. Peace with Israel is impossible at this phase.” (The Jerusalem Post)

PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki condemned the "land rush" and "Judaization" of Jerusalem, in an interview with Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. (The Jerusalem Post, IMEMC)

PA Minister of Local Government Khaled Al-Qawasmi said that the PA will amend elections law and hold municipal elections in the West Bank only. Speaking in Nablus where he was set to meet with civil society groups on the new elections, the officials said that the Ministry had started holding "extensive consultations" with Palestinian factions and civil society groups with the aim to set in motion new municipal elections. "Current elections law includes holding elections in Gaza and the West Bank at the same time, but as the central elections committee cannot work in Gaza, there will be an amendment on the law to allow holding the elections in the West Bank only," he said. (Ma’an News Agency)

Jerusalem’s municipality ordered the excavation of around 200 graves in the city’s largest Islamic cemetery, according to The Palestinian Information Centre. The Israeli Magistrate court authorized the demolition under the pretext that the concerned graves had been built fraudulently during a restoration plan and that the cemetery had been purchased under an absentee property law. (The Palestinian Information Center, IMEMC)

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt, who had just wrapped up a tour of the West Bank and Israel, said that his country’s Permanent Mission to the UN would "consider any draft resolution carefully" and that the policy of the Government remained a return to direct negotiations. "It's not up for decision immediately", Mr. Burt said. "Our position on settlements that the draft resolution covers is generally pretty well known, pretty well covered ... We hold settlements to be illegal in occupied territories and we have made that very clear when we deal with the Government of Israel." (Ma’an News Agency)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “There is a Quartet meeting of envoys going on in Jerusalem in the next day to discuss the way forward. We continue to believe strongly that the only way that there will be a resolution of the conflict… is through a negotiated settlement. Therefore, we don’t see action in the United Nations or any other forum as being helpful in bringing about that desired outcome. Our position on settlements remains as it has been… We’re working to keep the focus where we think it needs to be and that is not in New York.” (www.state.gov)

“You cannot take international law out of the negotiations. Nor can you set one up in opposition to the other," PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said. "Negotiations are not a substitute for international law and the rights of Palestinians. Yet this is the message the US Administration seems to be sending in its opposition to a Security Council resolution reaffirming the illegality of Israeli settlements,” Dr. Ashrawi said in a statement. (Ma'an News Agency)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with visiting French Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie telling her that Israel would work to end Gaza's dependency on his country, his office said. "During their conversation... [Mr.] Netanyahu said that Israel would strive to disengage from the Gaza Strip with regard to infrastructure utilities like electricity and water," a statement from his office said, providing no further details. (AFP)

A Libyan medical aid convoy arrived in Gaza through Egypt's Rafah crossing. (KUNA)

21

Angry Palestinians mobbed French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie as she visited Gaza in a mix-up over a "war crimes" quote mistakenly attributed to her when she met with the parents of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Her road convoy was stopped by dozens of demonstrators waving signs reading "Get out of Gaza" and hammered on her car with their fists. Others hurled shoes and one jumped on top of her car. Israel's Barzilai hospital said that a member of her entourage was hit in the head by Palestinian protesters. (AFP, AP)

The Palestinian shot and killed by IDF soldiers near the settlement of “Mevo Dotan” earlier this week was a member of Islamic Jihad, military sources said. (Haaretz)

French Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie reaffirmed that the EU viewed the 1967 borders as the basis on which to conduct peace talks, Al-Quds reported. In an interview with the Palestinian daily, Ms. Alliot-Marie also reiterated France's commitment to seeing through the creation of an independent Palestinian State by the end of this year. (AFP, Al-Quds)

After eight days of closure, Israeli authorities announced a brief opening of the bulk goods crossing at Karni but said that the Kerem Shalom crossing would remain closed for the day. (Ma'an News Agency)

The National Prisoners' Committee announced the start of a two-day hunger strike in Israel's Nafha prison in the Negev desert to protest the solitary confinement of PFLP Secretary-General Ahmad Sa'adat and Hamas lawmaker Jamal Abu Al-Haya. (Ma’an News Agency)

"I have spoken about the [Security Council] resolution with my interlocutors," French Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie said on the first day of her four-day tour of Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Egypt and Jordan. "If this resolution is moderate and if it does not block the resumption of negotiations, we will certainly vote for it," she told journalists. (AFP)

The UK would consider supporting a Security Council condemnation of Israeli settlements, a Foreign Office official told Ma'an News Agency, as several left-leaning US groups also urged Washington not to veto the effort. Speaking in Jordan, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said the UK would “consider any draft resolution”. (Haaretz)

Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, said that he had the backing of more than 100 countries for a resolution condemning settlements at the Security Council. He told Ma’an Radio that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah would not postpone efforts to condemn settlements until after the Quartet meeting, despite reports to the contrary. (Ma'an News Agency)

"During former US President George Bush's Administration, Israel and the Palestinians reached an agreement in which the Israeli side would recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian State, which will be formed on the 1967 borders," PA President Abbas told Al Jazeera, while President Obama "has failed" to stop the construction of settlements; Palestinians would go to the Security Council and study different choices if the peace negotiations failed, he added. The PA President, however, had ruled out the idea of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian State without an agreement with Israel. (DPA)

Prime Minister Netanyahu had held a number of meetings with advisers recently in which ideas were raised for an interim settlement with the Palestinians, including the establishment of a State in provisional borders, Haaretz reported. Mr. Netanyahu, however, was hesitating to alter his declared policy of reaching a permanent settlement within a year. (Haaretz)

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton criticized an Israeli military court's decision to lengthen the jail sentence of Palestinian activist Abdallah Abu Rahma, saying he was "a peaceful Palestinian activist committed to non-violent protest against the route of the Israeli separation barrier through his West Bank village of Bil'in". (www.europenews.net)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People: “We need to move beyond the current stalemate and return the parties to meaningful negotiations aimed at resolving all permanent status issues and achieving a historic agreement.” The Committee re-elected the members of its Bureau: Ambassador Abdou Salam Diallo of Senegal as Chairman, Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan and Ambassador Pedro Núñez Mosquera of Cuba as Vice-Chairmen and Ambassador Saviour F. Borg of Malta as Rapporteur. The Committee also adopted its programme of work for 2011. (Division for Palestinian Rights, UN News Centre)

Soul singer Macy Gray had asked her fans on Facebook whether she should cancel her planned concerts in Tel Aviv because of the "disgusting" way the Israeli Government treated Palestinians. International artists, entertainers and academics are under increasing pressure to boycott Israel because of Israeli actions. (Reuters)

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad will launch Viva Palestina Malaysia (VPM), an NGO aimed at seeking a prompt, equitable and sustainable resolution to the conflict in Palestine, in Kuala Lumpur on 22 January. (Bernama)

22

Medics in the Gaza Strip said that an Israeli strike had killed a 20-year-old man and wounded three others. The Israeli army ascribed the explosion to a botched rocket attack. (Ynetnews)

Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak received French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, who was touring the region to discuss ways to revitalize the peace process. (MENA)

PA President Abbas apologized to French Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie over the hostile reception in Gaza, during their meeting in Amman. Ms. Alliot-Marie said afterwards that Israel had the responsibility to ease the blockade on Gaza in accordance with its commitments. France was ready to host another donor conference for Palestinians if the peace process was resumed. "France is committed to three principles: the creation of a Palestinian State, guaranteed security for Israel, and Jerusalem as the capital of two States with free access to holy places for all those who come to practise their religions," she said after meeting PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki. (AFP, The Jordan Times)

23

Israeli soldiers had shot and injured two Palestinian workers in the West Bank, medics said. Israel's military said that the workers had sped through a checkpoint. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Israeli army raided the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh and arrested a 14-year-old boy. (IMEMC)

An Israeli Government official said that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was putting together an interim peace plan that would grant the Palestinians limited independence in an attempt to blunt their efforts to win international recognition of an independent State. Mr. Liberman drafted a map which would "freeze the existing situation in the territories with minor changes," a ministry official told Haaretz. No settlements would be evacuated and the Palestinian State would comprise up to 50 per cent of the West Bank. Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, said that the PA completely rejected the proposal. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that Mr. Liberman's proposal “confirms the [Israeli] embarrassment caused by the international movement to support the right of Palestinians to an independent State on 1967 borders." (AP, Haaretz, Ma’an News Agency)

Jordan's King Abdullah II, in a meeting with French Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie, “underlined the importance of the role of France and other EU countries in spurring the deadlocked peace negotiations”, a statement from the Royal Court said. “France is determined to do whatever is possible to bring the Palestinians and the Israelis back to the negotiating table,” Ms. Alliot-Marie told a joint press conference with her Jordanian counterpart. (DPA)

Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, called the “Palestine papers” leaked by Al Jazeera a “bunch of lies”. Chief Negotiator Ahmed Qureia said that “many parts of the documents were fabricated as part of the incitement against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian leadership". According to the documents, the Palestinians in 2008 had offered to let Israel keep all but one of the settlements in East Jerusalem. (The Guardian)

Settlers assaulted international activists while they were escorting Palestinians to their pasture to graze their herds in the South Hebron Hills. (IMEMC)

An Israeli inquiry into the Gaza flotilla raid had released its findings, exonerating the Government, the military and the soldiers involved. The Turkel Commission said that "the actions carried out by Israel on 31 May 2010 to enforce the naval blockade had the regrettable consequences of the loss of human life and physical injuries" but that "the actions taken were found to be legal pursuant to the rules of international law". (The Washington Times)

Israel had used "excessive" force in its assault on a ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza that killed nine Turkish activists, according to the findings of a Turkish inquiry. The commission called on Israel to pay compensation to the families of the victims. (Cumhuriyet)

24

Peru announced its recognition of a "free and sovereign" State of Palestine, Foreign Minister José Antonio Belaunde said, joining a wave of Latin American countries who had taken the same step. (AFP)

According to the Egypt State Information Service, President Hosni Mubarak met with PA President Abbas for talks on the latest developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Mr. Abbas briefed Mr. Mubarak on the outcome of the recent visit by Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, to the US, as well as Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev's recent visit to Ramallah. They also discussed Palestinian and Arab efforts regarding the UN Security Council draft resolution on settlement activity. (www.sis.gov.eg)

When asked about the so-called “Palestine Papers”, which had been recently leaked, US State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said: “We don’t deny that this release will, at least for a time, make the situation more difficult than it already was. But again, we are clear-eyed about this. We always recognized that this would be a great challenge. But it… doesn't change our overall objective.” (www.state.gov)

PA President Abbas denied offering secret concessions to Israel and said that reporting of purportedly leaked documents had presented Israeli positions as those of his own negotiators. (Haaretz)

UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry said in a statement: “I welcome robust political debate but some of the commentary I have seen conveys an inaccurate impression. I can personally attest to the commitment of the Palestinian leadership to secure the legitimate rights and interests of the Palestinian people based on international law and UN resolutions.” (www.unsco.org)

In Rabat, Morocco and the PA signed a memorandum of understanding to boost bilateral religious cooperation. (Agence Maghrebe Arabe Presse)

During a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Liberman, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the construction of settlements was illegal, an obstacle to peace and should stop. He underlined the need for Israel and the PA to find a way back to negotiations as soon as possible. (www.fco.gov.uk)

Israel’s High Court of Justice criticized the State over stalling tactics during a hearing on unauthorized construction in “Beit El”. Court President Dorit Beinish told the State representative: “You say you intend to demolish but you do nothing.” (Ynetnews)

Turkey's President, Abdullah Gül, lambasted an Israeli inquiry which had cleared its military and Government of any wrongdoing in the Gaza flotilla raid as having "no value or credibility". Mr. Gül said that the findings illustrate "Israel's spoiled attitude that has no regard for the world or for international law." (AP)

“They [Turkel Commission] are morally and legally blind,” said Ran Yaron, of Physicians for Human Rights. Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, rejected the commission’s finding that the blockade did not constitute illegal punishment of Gaza’s civilians. Survivors of the attack roundly criticized the report, calling it a “whitewash” and a “farce”. Hamas dismissed the report as a “cover-up”. (AFP, IMEMC)

The leaders of the Gaza flotilla were ramping up plans for "Freedom Flotilla 2". In interviews with The Washington Times, activists said that they expected it to far exceed the original in the number of boats, passengers, groups involved and nations represented. (The Washington Times)

Former PA Chief Negotiator Nabil Sha’ath warned that Washington risks losing any credibility as a peace broker if it vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a halt to Israeli settlement building. The Palestinians will address the Security Council "whether or not the United States wants it", Mr. Sha’ath told reporters in Doha. (AFP)

The new membership of the UN Committee of Independent Experts, established by the UN Human Rights Council to follow up on Israeli and Palestinian investigations pursuant to the Goldstone report, will meet for the first time in Geneva from 24 to 28 January to define its plan of action and establish contacts with relevant parties. (www.unog.ch)

25

Israeli soldiers arrested 10 Palestinians in the districts of Jenin, Tulkarm, Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron, including a 10-year-old child. His brother, also a child, was arrested on 22 January and was being held at an interrogation centre. (IMEMC)

Ireland upgraded the Palestinian representation there to a full diplomatic mission to be headed by a Palestinian ambassador, PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said. (Ma’an News Agency, IMEMC)

Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, accused Al Jazeera of participating in a campaign aimed at overthrowing the PA. His claims were made two days after the Doha-based satellite channel began releasing more than 1,600 documents known as the "Palestine Papers". Speaking to AFP, Mr. Erakat accused Al Jazeera of trying to provoke the Palestinian people into "a revolution against their leaders in order to bring down the Palestinian political system." (AFP)

In a statement from the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, Saeb Erakat, Head of the Department, said: “Even though many ideas have been discussed by the two sides as part of the normal negotiations process, including some we could never agree to, we have consistently said any proposed agreement would have to gain popular support through a national referendum. No agreement will be signed without the approval of the Palestinian people.” (Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO)

PA President Abbas told thousands who gathered at his Ramallah headquarters that he had "nothing to hide". Mr. Abbas was responding to the leaked “Palestine Papers”. Thousands of Palestinians flocked to the headquarters waiting for Mr. Abbas' return from Egypt, cheering slogans in his support and raising his picture. Mr. Abbas said, "We challenge anyone to show us one document we have not shown to the Arabs and the leadership here." The President questioned the timing of the leak, as the Palestinians planned to ask the UN Security Council to pass a resolution condemning Israelis settlements. "We get our legitimacy from you," Mr. Abbas told the crowd. "No one can force us to give up one inch of our land or the refugees or Jerusalem." (DPA)

Former PA Chief Negotiator Nabil Sha’ath said that the secret documents leaked to Al Jazeera were authentic. (Ynetnews)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak renewed his demand for a just solution to the Palestinian issue saying that such a solution has taken too long. “Solving the Palestinian issue does not only lead to a lasting peace; it is also the way to remove the arguments and excuses of terrorism and extremism within our region and around the world, and the way to put the Middle East countries on a new path of regional cooperation for the benefit of their people,” he said, according to an interview published by an Egyptian magazine. (WAFA)

Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings for the access of goods and fuel into Gaza and the export of flowers. (Ma'an News Agency)

Israeli archaeologists had finished work on a controversial tunnel running from a site close to Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, officials said. "After works which lasted seven years, the last part of the tunnel, which is 600 metres long and was used for draining rainwater during the Second Temple period, has been cleared," a spokesman for the Israel Antiquities Authority said. (AFP)

Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar urged Palestinian refugees to protest following alleged revelations that Palestinian negotiators were open to accepting the resettlement of only a nominal number in Israel. (AP)

As revealed in the "Palestine Papers", Palestinians have expressed shock and dismay at the US suggestion to settle Palestinian refugees in Argentina and Chile rather than let them return to their ancestral land in Israel. Representatives of the Palestinian diaspora said that the plan to ship displaced Palestinians from the Middle East to a new homeland across the Atlantic clashed with their fundamental right to go home. "It's completely unacceptable. It contradicts our inalienable right to return to our own homeland," said Daniel Jadue, Vice-President of Chile's Palestine Federation. (The Guardian)

More than 100 Israeli and Palestinian activists gathered in Jericho for the annual convention of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum – an umbrella organization that unites over 100 organizations, groups and initiatives working to end the conflict and promote a two-State solution. Israeli Co-Chairman of the forum, Ron Pundak, called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to recognize an independent Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders, and Jerusalem as the joint capital of both States. Mr. Pundak deplored the fact that "Al Jazeera tried to weaken the peace supporters by presenting the [Palestinian] Authority as if it had surrendered and capitulated to the Israeli side”. (Ynetnews)

26

A Palestinian man was beaten and detained by Israeli forces at a village near Ramallah. He was later released. (IMEMC)

PA President Abbas told Israeli President Shimon Peres, whom he telephoned to express his condolences on the passing of the President's wife, that “we must not kill the peace process. ... We have to stand like a wall against those provocative forces that seek to de-legitimize the Palestinian Authority and thereby derail the peace process.” (The Jerusalem Post)

France is eager to organize a second international donor conference to support the emergence of a Palestinian State. The "Paris II" conference would aim to "support the construction of Palestinian institutions" in the same way as in 2007 when the international community raised pledges of $7.5 billion to help prepare for a future Palestinian State. The second conference would also help with ongoing financing of the Palestinian economy and its development. (KUNA)

According to a report by B'Tselem, Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank had tripled in 2010, with a leap in the number in the Jordan Valley. Israel demolished 86 homes across the West Bank in 2010, compared with 28 a year earlier, leaving 472 people homeless, almost half of them children. (AFP)

27

A 13-year-old Palestinian was killed in an explosion in the southern Gaza Strip. The boy was apparently playing with an unexploded shell left behind during the Israeli military assault on Gaza, Emergency Services Spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya said. (AFP)

An Israeli military court censured two soldiers convicted in the shooting of a handcuffed Palestinian in the foot with a rubber-coated steel bullet, but did not jail them. The soldier who fired the shot in the 2008 incident filmed by B'Tselem, received a six-month suspended sentence and was demoted to the rank of private, according to court documents. The officer who gave the order to shoot received a three-month suspended sentence and cannot be promoted for two years. The court also ruled that he could not serve in a command position for one year. (AFP)

Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, said that he had asked the US, Britain and France to help bring three of their nationals in for questioning about the massive leak of confidential Palestinian documents. He said that the three included a former British intelligence officer, an American employee of Al Jazeera and a French citizen, and added that he was not accusing them of wrongdoing but would like them to appear before an investigative committee. (AP)

The EU committed to provide the PA with about €300 million in funding for its general budget and development projects in 2011, during an annual meeting between the PA Minister of Planning and Managerial Development, Ali Al-Jarbawi, and the Head of Operations of EU Assistance to Palestinians in Jerusalem, Sergio Piccolo. (WAFA)

An Israeli settler shot and killed an 18-year-old Palestinian, Uday Maher Qadous, from the village of Iraq Burin, south-west of Nablus, who was working on his farmland near the village. (AFP)

A group of settlers from “Yizhar” entered a Palestinian’s house in the village of Ainabus near Nablus and burned his car. In a village near Bethlehem, settlers from “Beitar Ilit” severely beat a 60-year-old Palestinian farmer. (WAFA)

28

Israeli soldiers arrested two Palestinian minors from Bil’in who had approached a barrier separating the village from settlements. An Israeli military spokesperson confirmed that two Palestinians suspected of throwing rocks had been arrested in the village. (Ma’an News Agency)

Paraguay’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement: “The Republic of Paraguay expressly reiterates the recognition of [the Palestinian] State as free and independent with the borders of 4 June 1967… [Paraguay] reaffirms its conviction that negotiations between Israel and Palestine should re-start with the goal of reaching peace and security for both nations.” (AFP)

Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said that Israel had turned down an EU-backed initiative, under which ships would have used Cypriot ports to ferry aid directly to Gaza, some 240 miles (386 kilometres) away. Cyprus and Greece had unveiled the initiative after the flotilla raid by Israel. (AP)

Israel’s Jerusalem municipality delivered two demolition orders for a house and a sheep barn in Al-Tur in East Jerusalem. (WAFA)

A 17-year-old Palestinian was killed and another youth was wounded after Israeli settlers reportedly opened fire at Palestinians in the village of Khirbet Safa, north of Hebron. According to Palestinian reports, the incident occurred after dozens of settlers from “Bat Ayin” had descended on the village and confronted some of the locals. (Haaretz)

29

Cyprus supported a freeze on Israeli settlements, said Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou after meeting with his Palestinian counterpart, Riad Malki. (Cyprus Mail)

30

Palestinian mourners had clashed with Israeli troops who used tear gas and rubber-coated bullets after the funeral of a youth shot dead by settlers on 28 January, Palestinian witnesses and the army said. (Reuters)

Israeli forces had opened fire on Palestinians working in northern Gaza near the border with Israel, medics said. A Palestinian, who was collecting gravel, sustained a gunshot wound and was transferred to a hospital. (Ma’an News Agency)

A “wanted Palestinian terror suspect” had been arrested by soldiers in the Bethlehem area, the IDF said. Israeli forces had detained at least five young men from Jenin after raiding their houses, officials said. (Ma’an News Agency, Ynetnews)

Egyptian security forces had beefed up their presence along the border with the Gaza Strip in a bid to stop Hamas operatives from infiltrating, Israeli Defence officials said. (The Jerusalem Post)

Three Palestinian security prisoners reportedly escaped back to the Gaza Strip via a smuggling tunnel. Officials in Gaza said that the group included at least one Hamas member. (Haaretz)

An Israeli woman was lightly hurt by stones hurled at her car near Ramallah, the IDF said. (Ynetnews)

The following statement was issued by Cyprus: “The President of the Republic of Cyprus, replying to a letter of the President of the Palestinian National Authority, referred to the decision of the Cyprus Government of 1988, on the issue of recognition of the Palestinian State, which remains valid. Concerning the borders of the future Palestinian State, the position of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus is in line with the EU well known position that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, unless otherwise agreed by the two parties. The Cyprus Government stresses, in this context, the utmost importance of the resumption of talks between the two parties as soon as possible for a solution of the Palestinian issue through negotiations.” (www.moi.gov.cy)

Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad said that PA President Abbas was looking into holding presidential and legislative elections despite the national division. Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah, Mr. Al-Ahmad said that a meeting would be held to discuss the elections. Fatah would support a Government decision to hold elections, he said. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that the unrest in Egypt was "the best illustration of what we have been claiming for many years – that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the central factor to cause destabilization among moderate Arab States." (Ynetnews)

Local and regional representatives were in a unique position to help tackle issues such as the Middle East conflict, a gathering of Euro-Mediterranean municipal leaders heard. Palestinian and Israeli mayors were among the participants in the Euro-Mediterranean Assembly of Regional and Local Authorities (ARLEM) held in Morocco. (www.theparliament.com)

Gazans were stockpiling fuel. The witnesses in Rafah said that the daily passage of goods through the cross-border tunnels had ground to a halt. (AFP)

31

Grad rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip landing near the southern Israeli cities of Ofakim and Netivot. A Qassam rocket also exploded in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. Four people suffered from shock in Netivot and caused damage to a road and a parked car. (Ynetnews)

In Hebron, Israeli forces arrested Muhammad Natsh, 53, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council from the Hamas-backed Change and Reform bloc, security sources told WAFA. He had been released from Israeli prison five months prior after serving eight years. The Israeli army arrested a total of 22 Palestinians in raids in the West Bank. (WAFA)

Palestinian hospital officials said that a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, who was shot in the head by an Israeli settler near Hebron on 28 January, had died in the hospital. (AP)

A group of Israelis assaulted a Palestinian from the Old City of Jerusalem, according to a family member. He was hospitalized after being severely beaten while on his way home from his night work. (WAFA)

PA President Abbas called on the Quartet to issue a decision at its forthcoming meeting in Munich to declare that the Palestinian State would be established on the 1967 borders, with minor modifications, with East Jerusalem as its capital. (WAFA)

At a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on the first day of a visit that included a joint German-Israeli cabinet meeting, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, urged Mr. Netanyahu to seek a swift revival of peace talks with the Palestinians citing regional unrest as a cause for urgency. (AFP)

At its 16th annual summit in Addis Ababa, the African Union called on all countries to recognize a Palestinian State on the 1967 borders. AU Commission Chair Jean Ping welcomed the PLO delegation to the summit and said that the African countries supported national rights for Palestinians. (Ma’an News Agency)

Kuwait became the second Arab donor country to join the UNRWA Advisory Commission after the current Chair, Saudi Arabia. UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi, said: “Kuwait has been a consistent supporter of UNRWA for many years and through the Amir’s very generous contribution, in addition to a recent increase in its annual contribution to $2 million it has qualified itself as a major donor.” (www.unrwa.org)

Palestinian delegates to the 2010 talks with Israel had rejected out of hand Israel's demand to hold on to swathes of West Bank settlements, documents given to AFP showed. (AFP)

The cornerstone for a new East Jerusalem settlement of “Beit Orot” was erected. Initial construction on Mount Scopus would provide for 24 new housing units. (Haaretz)


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