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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 January 2012



Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine

Monthly media monitoring review

January 2012

Monthly highlights
    • OIC Secretary-General launches urgent appeal for emergency medical assistance for the Gaza Strip (2 January)

    • Israeli and Palestinian negotiators hold first face-to-face meeting in Jordan in more than a year (3 January)

    • Israeli Government-appointed panel recommends avoiding large-scale prisoner swaps for abducted soldiers (4 January)

    • Jordan, US and Quartet request Prime Minister Netanyahu to consider confidence-building measures to keep PA President Abbas in talks (10 January)

    • Israel’s High Court rejects petitions against Citizenship Law (11 January)

    • UNRWA launches emergency appeal for Gaza and the West Bank (16 January)

    • French Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee report accuses Israel of implementing “apartheid” policies in allocation of water resources in the West Bank (17 January)

    • UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs briefs Security Council on impact of Israel’s continued settlement activity in the West Bank (18 January)

    • Israeli forces detains Hamas legislator in the West Bank (24 January)

    • UN Humanitarian Coordinator launches annual humanitarian appeal for the Occupied Palestinian Territory (26 January)


1

Two mortar shells fired from the Gaza Strip landed on an open field in Israel, causing no injuries or damage. (Ynetnews)

Israeli forces raided three villages in the northern West Bank overnight, detaining four men. They also arrested two Palestinian minors in Azzun, east of Qalqilya. (Ma’an News Agency, WAFA)

At a Likud ministerial meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that when the security fence along the border with Egypt was completed, a fence would also be built along the border with Jordan. (The Jerusalem Post)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Istanbul. Mr. Erdoğan expressed hope that the Palestinians would “attain an all-encompassing umbrella organization with strong democratic representation powers”. (AP)

2

Israeli forces arrested 10 Palestinians across the West Bank. (WAFA)

The restructured Central Elections Commission held its first meeting in Ramallah and, through video conference with Gaza, discussed preparations for national elections by May 2012. (WAFA)

A cross-party committee overseeing national reconciliation met in the offices of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip for the first time. A committee member said that the members agreed on the necessity of releasing all persons imprisoned based on their political affiliation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Israeli authorities decided to demolish the Karni crossing into Gaza and move all commercial traffic to the Kerem Shalom crossing claiming that Palestinian groups had been targeting the crossing by digging tunnels under it. (WAFA)

The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, launched an urgent appeal for emergency medical assistance for the Gaza Strip to address its unprecedented health crisis. (www.oic-oci.org)

3

Israeli forces detained a 19-year-old girl as she returned to Qalqilya after visiting her brother in an Israeli jail, relatives said. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces detained a senior Islamic Jihad member at the Jenin village, locals said. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces detained at least 14 Palestinians across the West Bank. (Ma’an News Agency)

Undercover Israeli forces briefly detained a 6-year-old boy in East Jerusalem, relatives said. The child's grandfather said that the Israeli officers raided the neighbourhood and local youths had thrown stones. (Ma’an News Agency)

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinians had set a 26 January deadline for talks with Israel to resume and warned of "new measures" against Israel if the meeting in Jordan failed to bring a resumption of peace talks. He did not give any details but sources said that the measures could include more action at the United Nations. (AP)

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held their first face-to-face meeting in Jordan in more than a year, searching for a formula to restart long-stalled negotiations. A Palestinian participant said that there were no breakthroughs or plans for further talks. The Foreign Ministry of Jordan said that Israel’s negotiator, Yitzhak Molcho, and the Palestinian envoy, Saeb Erakat, met with envoys from the Quartet. The two later met in the presence of their Jordanian host, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, to exchange positions on the issues of security and borders between Israel and a future Palestinian State. A diplomat who had attended the larger meeting said, “It was a brainstorming session in which both sides, the Israelis and Palestinians, showed eagerness to restart peace negotiations.” (AP)

Foreign Minister Judeh of Jordan said at a press conference that “the Israeli side received the Palestinians' proposals on borders and security and promised that through this continuing dialogue, there will be an Israeli counter-proposal or an Israeli response to that”. He added that it was agreed that further meetings “will take place on a continual basis without prior announcement of the date and time, but they will be in Jordan” and that “public readouts of these meetings will be conducted by myself… in order to preserve the integrity and effectiveness of this process”. Asked about Israeli settlement building, Mr. Judeh noted that the Quartet had called on both sides to refrain from “provocative actions” but added that the fate of the settlements was to be decided in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. (Haaretz, The Washington Post)

European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said in a statement: “I would like to express my deep appreciation to His Majesty, the King of Jordan, and Foreign Minister Judeh for facilitating this meeting in the framework of the Quartet statement of 23 September. I encourage Israel and the Palestinians to build on this promising first meeting and continue to work toward a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.” (consilium.europa.eu)

White House Spokesman Jay Carney said that the Obama Administration was hopeful that “this direct exchange can help move us forward on the pathway proposed by the Quartet”. (The Washington Post)

The Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement:


Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha’ath met with Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahhar in Gaza City to move forward the reconciliation deal. Mr. Sha’ath said in a statement that they discussed political detentions in Gaza and the West Bank and ways to implement the agreement. (Ma’an News Agency)

The PA condemned Israel's move to demolish the closed Karni crossing into Gaza warning that it would tighten the blockade on the enclave. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Israeli Housing Ministry and the Israel Land Administration published three new tenders for the construction of 300 [settlement] housing units in Jerusalem as part of 500 units that the Ministry had announced two weeks ago. (Haaretz)

Israeli authorities handed notices to landowners in Iskaka, in the northern West Bank, on a planned seizure of 169 dunums of their land to expand the “Ariel” settlement and the separation wall. (WAFA)

4

Israeli security forces apprehended two Palestinian “terror suspects” in Beersheba overnight following intelligence received on alleged plans to attack Israeli civilians. One of the suspects was from Jenin and the other was from Gaza. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli gunboats opened fire at fishermen off the coast of southern Gaza, witnesses said. No injuries were reported. (Ma’an News Agency)

Gaza authorities concluded a wide-scale emergency readiness drill, practicing for various fire, mass-casualty and disaster scenarios. (Ynetnews)

Maronite bishops in Lebanon underlined the need to implement a long-standing deal on the disarmament of Palestinian groups outside refugee camps. (The Daily Star)

PA President Abbas will continue to try and engage Israel in peace talks, the PA President’s Spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said, urging the Israeli Government to freeze settlement construction and accept the two-State solution based on 1967 borders so that talks could resume. (Ma’an News Agency, Reuters)

A senior Fatah official, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, said that the meeting in Amman between Palestinian Chief Negotiator Erakat and Israeli envoy Molcho was very disappointing for “us and the Jordanians”. Mr. Erakat meanwhile denied an Israel Radio report that the two sides had agreed to hold another meeting in Amman the following day. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli negotiators shared with the PA representatives a document outlining the Israeli peace process position in which Israel reportedly expressed willingness to withdraw from some Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported. (The Jerusalem Post)

Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said that Hamas considered talks between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel in Amman “a blow for national reconciliation” especially as Fatah and Hamas had agreed in Cairo to deal with Israel-related issues together. Mr. Radwan called on the PLO to stop the talks and prioritize national unity. (Ma’an News Agency, Xinhua)

Iranian Foreign Minister Aliakbar Salehi, in a message to OIC Secretary-General Ihsanoglu, called for an emergency meeting of the Al-Quds Committee to address a recent Israeli bill declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (www.news.az)

“Moscow welcomes the beginning of Israeli and Palestinian direct contacts that can resume the negotiation process,” a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry said. (RIA NOVOSTI)

Imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi said that the movement should focus on building and reforming Palestinian institutions and peaceful resistance as the peace process had failed. (Ma’an News Agency)

In Gaza, a Hamas leader, Ismail al-Ashqar, called the talks "a very big disappointment. … If these negotiations continue, this will totally blow up the Palestinian reconciliation," he said. (AP)

Hundreds of Israeli parents signed a petition over the past two days refusing to allow their children to attend school field trips beyond the Green Line. (Haaretz)

The US Government announced an initial contribution of $55 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for 2012. (www.state.gov)

A new school building, constructed with the financial support of the Government of Japan, was opened in Jenin. (WAFA)

Israeli authorities designated areas in East Jerusalem for national parks in a political move that choked the development of Palestinian neighbourhoods, two Israeli non-governmental organizations, Binkom and Emek Shaveh, charged. (AFP)

Israeli settlers from the “price tag” group resumed their attacks against Palestinian properties as they set fire to a car wash station owned by a Palestinian in the Sharafat village near the “Gilo” settlement in Jerusalem. (PNN)

Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by military patrols, demolished two homes near Jericho. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby, called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to seriously intervene in ending the suffering of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, Palestine’s Ambassador to the Arab League, Mohammad Sbeih, said. (WAFA)

A Government-appointed panel submitted a report to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in which it recommended avoiding conducting large-scale prisoner swaps for abducted soldiers like the one in the case of Gilad Shalit. The report also recommended refraining from appointing special mediators to conduct negotiations and to set up an official unit instead, possibly within one of the existing intelligence agencies, to oversee such efforts. (The Washington Post)

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) handed out temporary administrative expulsion orders to 12 Israeli right-wing activists in the West Bank. The orders were for a time period of between three to nine months. (AP, The Jerusalem Post)

Israel's High Court of Justice rejected a petition against the Nakba Law passed by the Knesset in March 2011, which fined bodies who openly rejected Israel as a Jewish State or marked Israel's Independence Day as a day of mourning. (Haaretz)

5

The head of the investigations and intelligence wing of the Judea and Samaria District in the West Bank, Haim Rahamim, reported that more than 228 incidents of attacks by Israeli right-wing activists were recorded during the previous year, with 65 indictments served on charges of vandalism. He added, however, that police experienced difficulty in gathering sufficient evidence due to the location of crimes. (Haaretz)

Israeli forces and bulldozers entered Al-Eizariya in East Jerusalem and destroyed storage containers and confiscated commercial goods belonging to Palestinians. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli soldiers detained three Palestinians during a raid in Hebron. (IMEMC)

Israeli Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Haim Waxman, in a letter addressed to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council, complained about the lack of reaction from the Security Council to a series of recent rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. (Al Arabiya)

US Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators would hold their second round of face-to-face talks on 9 January in Amman. (Haaretz)

Palestinian tax revenues in the amount of $39 million will be transferred to Gaza upon their release by Israel within the next 24 hours to solve a critical shortage of currency, the head of the Palestinian Monetary Authority said. (Ma’an News Agency)

The EU announced a contribution of approximately €47.7 million for the payment of the December 2011 salaries and pensions of almost 85,000 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip funded by the European Commission (€26.2 million) and the Governments of Spain (€20.0 million), Ireland (€1.0 million) and Luxembourg (€0.5 million). (www. europa.eu)

6

A 19-year-old Palestinian woman sustained moderate injuries when ordnance left by the Israeli army exploded east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. (Ma’an News Agency)

Palestinian security forces carried out a raid, coordinated with the IDF, in the Hebron-adjacent Area H-2, which was under Israel’s security control. Eight Palestinians were arrested. The operation was the first joint security operation since 1997. (Ynetnews)

The Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said that the Palestinians would employ new creative ideas to gain membership at the UN despite a US threat to veto such an action. Mr. Mansour presented the President of the Security Council, Baso Sangqu, with a four-page letter detailing Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories and the two discussed several ideas to gain UN membership. (The Washington Post)

Israeli forces escorted hundreds of Israelis to a religious site in the Palestinian village of Kifl Haris in the northern West Bank. An Israeli army spokesperson said, “1,400 Israelis entered Joshus Binun Tomb in the village. There were no disturbances.” (Ma’an News Agency)

Around 100 international activists from Algeria, Bahrain, Britain, France, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia will arrive in the Gaza Strip on 10 January as part of the eighth “Miles of Smiles” convoy bringing medical aid, a coordinator said. (Ma’an News Agency)

7

The IDF fired at four Palestinian fishing boats off the Rafah shores forcing the fishermen to swim to an Israeli gunboat, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported. The men were released a day later. (Ma’an News Agency)

Fighting broke out between youths from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan and Israeli forces when the soldiers entered the area to conduct arrests and the Palestinian men blocked the streets and pelted the forces with stones and empty bottles. The troops fired tear gas, stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets and shot live ammunition into the air. (Reuters)

In a message delivered by PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki to South Africa’s African National Congress, PA President Abbas said that Israeli leaders claimed to accept the principle of the two-State solution but that they made every effort to foil it. He said that the only way to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was to end the occupation and implement the two-State solution. (WAFA)

Former US Middle East Envoy Dennis Ross called on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss a way to open Area C of the West Bank, which was under full Israeli civil and security control, to Palestinian economic activity, in a manner that would help the PA without compromising Israel's security. (Ynetnews)

PA Settlement Affairs official Ghassan Daghlas said that residents of the illegal settlement of “Bracha” raided the Burin village near Nablus, throwing rocks and glass bottles at locals and attacking homes. IDF troops who arrived at the scene beat up several Palestinians and fired tear gas and sound bombs at those protesting the settlers’ raid. An Israeli military spokeswoman said that the army used riot dispersal means to break up clashes between Israelis and Palestinians who had been throwing rocks at each other. She added that three Palestinians and an Israeli had been injured in the clashes. (Ma’an News Agency)

8

The IDF detained four Palestinians who attempted to enter Israel by crossing through the Salem military checkpoint north of Jenin, officials said. According to an Israeli spokesman, the detainees carried 11 pipe bombs, ammunition, a knife and a pistol. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces entered the Umm al-Khair locale adjacent to the settlement of “Karmel”, south of Hebron, handing seven of its Bedouins families demolition orders for their homes for lack of permits. The demolitions were expected to make 60 people homeless. (WAFA)

Fatah and Hamas issued statements accusing each other of attempting to scupper the May 2011 reconciliation deal. On 6 January, four Fatah officials, attempting to enter Gaza for reconciliation talks, had waited for 45 minutes at the border and refused entry by Hamas border guards. Hamas said that the Fatah delegation had refused to wait more than 10 minutes until the border guards were prepared. (Reuters)

At a press conference in Ramallah, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that the PA needed about $750 million to close a budget deficit carried over from 2010. He said that he received only $742 million in international aid in 2011, much lower than the expected amount. Mr. Fayyad said that if he received the money, he would be able to pay late bills owed to the private sector and eventually pay back bank loans. At the same time, Mr. Fayyad defended the new tax laws saying that it would not affect people with low income but would force those in higher income brackets to pay more. He said that current income tax revenues amounted to only 1.5 per cent of the gross domestic product and 6 to 7 per cent of the total revenues which was much lower than the region’s average. (WAFA)

The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said that uniformed Israeli soldiers entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and behaved “aggressively”. The Foundation said that such incidents violated the sanctity of the compound and set a dangerous precedent. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that she was not familiar with any official visit by troops. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights issued a statement saying that an Israeli plan to build a statue for India’s leader Mahatma Gandhi on an East Jerusalem plot was a pretext to seize Palestinian land. The centre denounced the project proposed by Jerusalem Municipality Councilman Meir Margalit, saying that the project came at a time when Palestinian houses were being demolished and residents were being banned from building badly-needed housing. Fatah Revolutionary Council member Dimitri Diliani said that the project was another land grab scheme. (WAFA)

Israel charged five settlers with organizing a riot in an army base in the West Bank in a bid to foil plans to dismantle unauthorized outposts. (Reuters)

The IDF detained nine Israeli activists after they blocked for an hour the path of bulldozers that had been leveling ground for the construction of the separation wall surrounding the village of al-Walaja in Bethlehem, Popular Committees member Shireen Al-Araj said. (Ma’an News Agency)

In the Tel Rumeida area in Hebron, Israeli settlers threatened 12-year-old Muhammad Abu Eisha and his 11-year-old brother Ibrahima with a knife, their father said, adding that the IDF did not apprehend the settlers. (Ma’an News Agency)

9

Israeli forces detained a Palestinian woman at Beituniya crossing near Ramallah after officials said that they found a 30-cm knife in her possession, an Israeli army spokeswoman said. (Ma’an News Agency)

The IDF arrested seven Palestinians, four of them “wanted” by Shin Bet, after their vehicle was pulled over between Taibe and Netanya. (The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF arrested 14 Palestinians in the West Bank. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli authorities charged seven Palestinians from the West Bank with attacking an Israeli-only road that cut past their village, Israeli media reported. (Ma’an News Agency)

The IDF set up a temporary checkpoint sealing the Jenin District village of Yabad for several hours, stopping locals and searching vehicles. Locals said that it was the second day that the village had been closed. (Ma’an News Agency)

The head of the Palestinian National Council, Salim al-Zanoun, informed Islamic Jihad that Jordanian authorities had refused to issue visas for the group to participate in the PLO follow-up committee meeting in Amman on 15 January. (Ma’an News Agency)

In a meeting with the Irish Representative to the PA, James Carroll, and the Belgian Consul-General in Ramallah, Gert Cox, PLO Executive Committee member and Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi called on Europe to play an effective and distinctive role to end the Israeli occupation. (WAFA)

Israeli Foreign Minister Liberman dismissed recent diplomatic contacts with the Palestinians saying that “the Palestinians have no interest in restarting peace talks with Israel and are just biding their time before returning to the United Nations. … From their point of view, they have been dragged against their will into the negotiations in Jordan”. (AFP)

Israeli Foreign Minister Liberman said that some Israeli Arabs should be stripped of their citizenship and placed under Palestinian sovereignty as part of any final peace deal. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Liberman reiterated his stance that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had to involve redrawing Israel’s borders to put some Arab communities under Palestinian sovereignty. In return, Israel would receive West Bank territory. He said that Israel remained committed to peace talks and accused the Palestinians of negotiating in bad faith. (The Washington Post)

Senior Hamas official al-Zahar said that the rise of Islamism in the Arab world will strengthen support for Hamas which would not give up its armed confrontation with Israel. “It all depends on Fatah's policy now. If it wants the unity agreement to be accomplished, we will be ready. If they do not want, then ... the future is ours”, he added. (Reuters)

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said that the PLO meetings with Israeli envoys would harm reconciliation between Palestinian factions. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Jordan for their second meeting in a week aimed at finding a way to return to peace talks. The talks were held in the presence of Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh. Palestinian officials in Ramallah said that they did not expect the meeting between PLO Chief Negotiator Erakat and Israeli envoy Molcho to achieve a breakthrough in the current stalemate, with PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo describing the talks as “exploratory meetings” that were not serious negotiations. Israeli officials, who said that Israel “wanted the process to succeed”, stated that future meetings had already been planned. A Jordanian official said after the talks that the discrepancy between the attitudes of the Palestinians and Israel “persisted”. (The Jerusalem Post, AFP, DPA)

Fatah Central Committee member Sha’ath said that Hamas leaders admitted that there were some in the movement who opposed reconciliation. Mr. Sha’ath, who had just returned to Ramallah following a week’s visit to the Gaza Strip, told Voice of Palestine radio that in spite of what happened on 6 January, the Palestinian leadership was still determined to end the division. He said, however, that: “People can’t tolerate that someone prevents someone else from entering their own country.” (WAFA)

A press release issued by the Office of the Representative of Japan to the PA, Naofumi Hashimoto, said that Japan would be funding the construction and equipment of a new health centre in the Ramallah village of Kobar in an amount exceeding $100,000. The project would facilitate access by almost 5,000 residents to nearby areas for primary health care. (WAFA)

At a hearing, the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee criticized the Jerusalem Municipality for “losing control” of illegal building in East Jerusalem, especially in areas located on the West Bank side of the separation wall. According to Regavim, a group that had filed a petition in the High Court of Justice, Jerusalem building inspectors had not been to those areas since 2005. (The Jerusalem Post)

Dozens of settlers attacked a Palestinian house and burned a car in the al-Baqa'a area, east of Hebron, according to witnesses. (WAFA)

According to the settler-affiliated website Arutz Sheva, the IDF took down four trailers at the “Givat Gal Yoseph” outpost near the “Shilo” settlement, which was located on the main passageway between Ramallah and Nablus. The previous day, hundreds of Israeli settlers gathered at the Beit El military base near Ramallah to protest the take-down, witnesses said. PA settlement affairs official Daghlas urged Palestinians to exercise caution on the Ramallah-Nablus highway, warning of revenge acts [by settlers]. (Ma’an News Agency)

10

An 8-year-old boy was moderately injured when an abandoned explosive device detonated near his home in southern Gaza. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces confiscated 75 tents belonging to the PA and five vehicles delivering the tents to residents of Khan al-Ahmar near Jericho. The drivers delivering the tents were detained and taken to Beit El military camp, the PA Cabinet said in a statement. Israeli police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld had no immediate comment. Israel was planning to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin community near Ma’ale Adumin settlement and forces had already destroyed homes in the camp. (Ma’an News Agency)

At the request of Jordan, US and the Quartet, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was considering several confidence-building measures to keep PA President Abbas in talks and from pursuing statehood at the UN. Quartet envoys, hoping to extend the meetings beyond the 26 January deadline it had set in October, said that the gestures, which they called a "stabilizing package", would consist of freeing Palestinian prisoners and expanding PA control in additional West Bank territories. (Haaretz, Ma’an News Agency)

PA President Abbas discussed with King Abdullah II of Jordan the latest developments in the peace process and the Jordanian efforts to resume Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, if Israel agreed to stop all settlement activities and accepted the 1967 lines as the borders of the future Palestinian State. President Abbas said that opportunities to resume peace talks with Israel should be seized, expressing hopes that the two sides would meet on 26 January "to refer to the legal foundation that allows them to return to negotiations". (AFP, WAFA)

Speaking to reporters in Ramallah, senior PLO official Ashrawi said that the recent talks had not produced any new developments. "Nothing new has come out of this ... the Israelis continued to hold on to their intransigent position and have not answered the Quartet’s request to present their position on borders and security", she added. (AFP)

The President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, accepted the credentials of the first Palestinian Ambassador to Italy, sources at the Palestinian Delegation in Rome said. Italy had upgraded the Palestinian Representative Office to delegation in May 2011 and had granted the head of the Delegation, Sabri Attiyah, the rank of ambassador. (WAFA)

Israeli authorities were delaying the entry of 2,400 new cars purchased by local car dealers into Gaza worth $100 million, the head of the Union of Car Dealers in Gaza, Ismail Nakhala, reported. (Ma’an News Agency)

Vandals sprayed the walls of a mosque in Dir Istiya, west of Nablus with the words "price tag Gal Yosef" and torched Palestinian vehicles overnight, Israeli police Spokesman Rosenfeld said. Gal Yosef had been the name of an illegal outpost located near the Shiloh settlement that was dismantled by Israeli security forces. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli forces handed demolition orders to three families in Khallet al-Dar locale south of Hebron. (WAFA)

Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by the police, razed a large area of Palestinian land in Issawiya, an East Jerusalem neighbourhood. (WAFA)

Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by military vehicles, entered northern Gaza to raze land. No casualties were reported. An Israeli army spokesman said that the incident was "routine activity". (Ma’an News Agency)

Israel started construction work on 1,850 new housing units in the West Bank in 2011, a 19 per cent rise from a year earlier, Peace Now reported. The rise was attributed in part to a 10-month moratorium on new constructions in the West Bank imposed by Israel in 2010. (Haaretz)

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a report entitled “The humanitarian impact of Israeli settlement policies”. The report stated that since 1967, Israel had established about 150 settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, some 100 “outposts” erected by settlers without official authorization and that the settler population was currently estimated at approximately 500,000. (OCHA)

11

According to PA Presidential Spokesman Abu Rudeineh, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned President Abbas and affirmed US support for the meetings between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Jordan. He said that President Abbas stressed that a serious peace process should be based on the two-State solution and the 1967 borders, in addition to the halt in all settlement activities in accordance with the Quartet's latest statement. (WAFA)

Palestinian Chief Negotiator Erakat said that exploratory talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators would not continue past 26 January if Israel failed to freeze settlement construction. "The Amman talks are intended to obtain a settlement freeze and the use of the 1967 lines as a reference for any future talks and will be given a chance to succeed until 26 January", he said. (AFP)

The Quartet was thwarting the possibility of a Palestinian State by failing to hold Israel accountable, PLO official Ashrawi said. According to a PLO statement, Ms. Ashrawi met with Tony Blair in Ramallah and told the Quartet Representative that the peace envoys must learn from past mistakes and change course. "If it wants to achieve any results, the Quartet must hold Israel accountable, demand that it cease and desist all settlement activities and support our peaceful diplomatic efforts to achieve a viable, independent Palestinian State on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital." (Ma’an News Agency)

India’s External Affairs Minister, S.M. Krishna, who was on a visit to the Middle East and had met with President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, reaffirmed India’s commitment to the Palestinian cause and expressed the hope “that the talks, which are being explored between the two sides, will be continued and they will find a purposeful end in terms of finding a permanent solution”. (http://ibnlive.in.com)

The committee tasked with implementing the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah finalized all administrative preparations and will begin work immediately, committee head Rabah Mhannah said. (Ma’an News Agency)

Jordan's Islamists opposition urged Palestinians to quit "absurd" negotiations with Israel. (AFP)

Hamas and Fatah officials were trying to organize a meeting between PA President Abbas and Hamas leader Haniyeh in the coming days to discuss the "implementation for reconciliation agreements", senior Hamas official Ismail Al Ashkar said.

Hamas leader Haniyeh will brief, in the coming days, Fatah and other parties on his recent regional tour, his spokesman said. (Maan News Agency)

The Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Israel had imposed sanctions on the PA in response to its statehood bid in the UN in September 2011. According to the report, the sanctions included a cessation in the issuance of free-movement passes to senior Palestinian officials, including PA President Abbas. The report further noted the imposition of sanctions on any senior Palestinian official who discussed Jerusalem, settlements or the UN bid in the media. (Ynet news.com)

Fouad al-Shobaki, Director of the Palestinian Customs and VAT department, told WAFA that Palestine was ready to join the World Customs Organization (WCO). Mr. Shobaki stressed that Palestine had established risk management, a special customs programme, customs courts and an auditing process, and had improved remarkably in the customs field in the past two years, which he said would support the efforts to join the international organization. He said that the general customs executives of the Northern Africa, Near and Middle East regions had agreed to support the Palestinian request of membership of WCO. The Secretary-General of the Arab League had agreed to consider the legal status and necessary steps required for the application. (WAFA)

The National Reconciliation Committee will hold its second meeting in Gaza City in an attempt to diffuse recent tensions between Fatah and Hamas. Committee member Saleh Nasser told Ma'an News Agency that the Committee would also discuss key reconciliation issues. “We will work with both movements to end the negative impact between Fatah and Hamas on the Beit Hanoun crossing. We are going to the meeting today hoping to end it with a positive spirit which prevailed in the first meeting,” Mr. Nasser said. Four Fatah officials had tried to enter the Gaza Strip on 6 January for reconciliation talks but said that they were refused entry by Hamas border guards and were left waiting for 45 minutes. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israel’s High Court rejected petitions against the Citizenship Law that prevented Palestinians married to Israeli Arabs from receiving Israeli citizenship or residency. Six judges voted to reject the petitions while five voted to accept them. (Haaretz)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a plan to build 277 housing units in Efrat settlement as part of a series of reprisals for the PA's admission to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in October 2011. Despite the Israeli Government's promise to the US Government to stop giving financial incentives for construction in West Bank settlements, the Housing Ministry recently published a tender for 213 new housing units in Efrat under a programme that offered substantial discounts on land. (Haaretz.com)

Israeli settlers attacked a convoy of vehicles carrying PA security officers, including senior PA security official Major-General Ibrahim Hneihin, shooting at them and pelting the cars with stones on the road between Ramallah and Tulkarem near Shilo settlement. One officer was injured. (Ma’an News Agency)

The US condemned the vandalism of a mosque in the West Bank village of Deir Istiya. (www.state.gov)

The PA Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities organized a workshop in Bethlehem for its top officials and Palestinian conservationists to study and prepare a national charter for cultural heritage. The event was made possible through the sponsorship of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malta, together with the UNESCO Office in Ramallah and the United Nations Development Programme. The national charter would comprise a set of national guidelines and principles for the conservation and management of Palestinian cultural heritage. (Gozonews.com)

Turkey will help Palestinians in the Gaza Strip repair mosques damaged in Israeli strikes and rebuild those torn down, the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, Mehmet Görmez, said. (www.hurriyetdailynews.com)

12

Israeli forces arrested 16 people across the West Bank, according to the Israeli army and local officials. (Ma’an News Agency)

Hamas' popularity rose among the Palestinian public after a prisoner swap deal with Israel. However, polls showed that Fatah was still favoured to win the next elections. If elections were to be held today, 43 per cent said that they would vote for Fatah, a drop of two percentage points from the previous quarter’s survey, while 29 per cent said that they would choose Hamas. Other parties could secure 11 per cent while 17 per cent remained undecided. (AFP)

The Palestinian presence in the largest part of the occupied West Bank had been "continuously undermined" by Israel in ways that were "closing the window" on a two-State solution, according to an internal EU report seen by The Independent. The report argued that EU support, including a wide range of building projects, was needed to protect the rights of "ever more isolated" Palestinians in Area C. With the number of Jewish settlers currently more than double the shrinking Palestinian population in the largely rural area, the report warned that "if current trends are not stopped and reversed, the establishment of a viable Palestinian State within pre-1967 borders seemed more remote than ever". (The Independent, Ynet News)

At a Fatah meeting, PA President Abbas said, “We will continue our efforts in the Security Council,” adding that he also planned to petition the Human Rights Council over Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territory. “We want to make a complaint against the occupation, which violates the Geneva Convention,” he said. (AFP)

US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed recent Israeli-Palestinian talks. “They reviewed the recent meetings between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Amman and the President reaffirmed his commitment to the goal of a comprehensive and lasting peace in the region,” the White House said in a statement summarizing a phone call between the leaders. (Reuters)

PA President Abbas held talks at his Ramallah headquarters with visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre on the latest developments in the peace process. He expressed gratitude for Norway’s support for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and having their own independent State, living in security and stability alongside Israel. (WAFA)

Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh said that the ongoing meetings between Palestinians and Israelis in Amman aimed to pave the way for resuming direct talks on final status issues to end the conflict according to the two-State solution and in line with the framework set by the Quartet. (Petra)

PA Minister of Planning Ali Jerbawi announced that the World Bank had pledged to grant the PA $76 million in 2012. (Ma’an News Agency)

The EU signed a financing agreement with the PA representing its eighth payment under the PA’s “Private Sector Reconstruction in Gaza” programme, the first large-scale initiative in support of the private sector and capacity-building of institutions related to the Palestinian economy in the Gaza Strip, in the amount of €1.1 million ($1.4 million), out of a total package of €22.0 million. (http://eeas.europa.eu)

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel criticized the ruling by Israel’s High Court rejecting petitions on the Citizenship Law by saying that the court "has failed to uphold basic human rights in the face of the tyranny of the Knesset majority". (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli forces demolished several farmers’ residences and agricultural facilities in the Jordan Valley area, according to local residents. (WAFA)

A 13-year-old Palestinian girl in a wheelchair was hit by a settler car near the Ibrahim Mosque in Hebron and sustained slight injuries. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli military forces confiscated computers, mobile phones and camera memory cards from the office and home of Palestinian journalist Amin Abu Warda, who had been held in Israeli detention since December 2011 without any charges. (Ma’an News Agency)

13

Israeli forces shelled an area east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip moderately injuring two people. An Israeli army spokesperson said that forces had opened fire after they “saw a number of suspects approach the security fence and tamper with the ground suspiciously”. (Ma’an News Agency)

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into southern Israel causing no casualties, an Israeli army spokesperson said. (AFP)

PA Presidential Spokesman Abu Rudeineh said that Palestinians would consider halting the [Amman] talks if no progress was reached by 26 January. (AP)

Israelis and Palestinians will hold their third round of face-to-face meetings for the year on 14 January, according to sources on both sides. (Reuters)

Hamas official Muhammad Awad said that Hamas leader Haniyeh would host Hamas and Fatah leaders at his home in Gaza City the following day. (Ma’an News Agency)

A Palestinian official said that Israel had agreed to allow 22,000 tons of aggregate into the Gaza Strip, which had been held at the Karni crossing since 2005. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israel forces raided the village of Nabi Saleh in central West Bank, detaining three Palestinians. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli settlers attacked two Palestinian youths in Hebron, punching and kicking them repeatedly. Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene and arrested the Palestinians while the settlers were not even questioned, according to witnesses. (IMEMC)

Israeli settlers from “Tappuah” in the northern West Bank destroyed around 100 fully-grown olive trees in the town of Yasouf. (WAFA)

14

Kuwait News Agency reported that League of Arab States Foreign Ministers would meet on 29 January to discuss the Palestinian reconciliation deal and settlement construction. (Ma’an News Agency)

Settlers torched a car belonging to a Palestinian woman in Hebron after throwing stones at her house. (Ma’an News Agency)

The eighth “Miles of Smiles” convoy, with 48 members, entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing carrying two tonnes of medical aid and 120 specialized bicycles for the disabled. (Ma’an News Agency)

15

Palestinian officials charged that Israel had stripped PA President Abbas of VIP status and given him a watered-down travel permit valid for just two months. Maj. Guy Inbar, a spokesperson for the Israeli agency that issued travel documents to Palestinians, said that there had been no change in policy and that the permit had been the result of a technical glitch that should be solved soon. (Haaretz)

A Jordanian official said, “The third meeting between Palestinian delegate Saeb Erakat and Israel’s Yitzhak Molcho began on Saturday … in the presence of Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.” Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official refused to disclose the location for the talks, saying only that the session had not been held at the Foreign Ministry in Amman. (AFP)

An Israeli lawmaker from the National Union Party, Yaakov Katz, said that the number of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank at the end of 2011 had risen by 4.3 per cent compared with the previous year’s total of 342,414. He added that there were at present more than 700,000 Israelis living in areas occupied by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. (AFP)

In a keynote address at the high-level meeting of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on “Reform and Transitions to Democracy” in Beirut, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “The Israeli occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories must end. So must violence against civilians. Settlements, new and old, are illegal. They work against the emergence of a viable Palestinian state. A two-State solution is long overdue. The status quo offers only the guarantee of future conflict.” (UN News Centre)

Islamic Jihad leader Khalid al-Batsh said that it was agreed, during a PLO reform committee meeting in Amman, to separate the PLO legislature from the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), in moves intended to make the organization more representative. PLC members can no longer assume positions in the PLO’s Palestinian National Council, which was established to represent all Palestinians, including in the diaspora, according to Mr. al-Batsh. (Ma’an News Agency)

16

The Jerusalem Post reported that the IDF General Staff had ordered the Southern Command to prepare for a possible large Gaza operation that could occur within the next few months. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli forces arrested 21 Palestinians across the West Bank. (WAFA)

British Prime Minister David Cameron told PA President Abbas at a meeting in London that Britain would do everything in its power to promote Jordanian-backed efforts to restart the peace process. “We think that time, some ways, is running out for the two-State solution unless we can push forward now because otherwise the facts on the ground will make it more and more difficult, which is why the settlement issue remains so important,” Mr. Cameron said. (DPA)

Speaking at a press conference with PA President Abbas, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that Israeli settlement construction was “vandalism” and accused Israel of undermining attempts to broker a Middle East peace deal by continued settlement construction. Mr. Abbas was meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron and Mr. Clegg as part of his three-country tour in Europe. (Haaretz)

Israeli Foreign Minister Liberman criticized the decision of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to invite Hamas to attend its 2012 session. “This is just another example of international hypocrisy. … In all international organizations, the 57 Muslim countries and the many non-aligned nations have the majority and consistently take anti-Israel positions,” he told Israel Public Radio. Three PLC members from the Change and Reform Party of Hamas left Gaza for the Geneva meeting on 12 January, marking the first time the parliamentarians would attend a session of the IPU. (AFP)

Acting EU Representative to the West Bank and Gaza Strip John Gatt-Rutter and Chairman of the Palestinian Bar Association Nabil Mushahwar launched a €1.4 million, two-year grant project to support the Association’s legal work. (WAFA)

According to a statement issued by the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Germany and the PLO had signed a 42.5 million cooperation agreement for the support of financial and technical projects. The agreement aims to support financial projects such as solid waste and waste water projects in Ramallah and Tulkarem areas in the amount of 37.5 million and 5 million would finance technical support for civil society at the local government level and to support a programme of professional collaboration. (WAFA)

Senior PA intelligence officer Mohammad Ghannam said that Israeli settlers torched his car in Ramallah. (Haaretz)

The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians said in a press release: “The Committee examined the cases of Palestinian parliamentarians held in Israeli jails. They include a group of 20 members of the Change and Reform Party who were elected in 2006 to the Palestinian Legislative Council. They are all held in administrative detention for periods of six months, which are renewed by the Israeli authorities. The Committee has repeatedly expressed concern at this practice, which denies the members of parliament the opportunity to represent the people who have elected them.” (www.ipu.org)

UNRWA launched a $300 million appeal for the West Bank and Gaza. The agency said that it would devote three quarters of the total appeal to Gaza and that 80 per cent of the funds would go to promoting "food security through food and cash assistance and job creation programmes. Deputy Commissioner-General Margot Ellis said, “The effects of the war still persist today and the humanitarian needs of the women, men and children of Gaza remain widespread and acute”. (unrwa.org)

17

In a meeting at the White House with King Abdullah, US President Obama pledged to cooperate closely with Jordan in order to push Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate a peace accord in a “serious fashion” even as a fresh attempt at talks showed little signs of progress. King Abdullah, whose country hosted the three meetings during the month between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, emphasized that talks were in the early stages. (The Washington Post)

A senior Hamas analyst, Mustafa Lidawi, said in an article that Khaled Mashaal would step down as Hamas [Political Bureau] Chief following the upcoming elections to determine the group’s new political leader. (Haaretz)

Palestinian crossing liaison official Raed Fattouh said that Israel had permitted the export of one truck of flowers and another of strawberries from the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing. (Ma’an News Agency)

IPU Secretary-General Anders Johnsson told Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin that Hamas would not be allowed to participate in IPU meetings and that he planned to keep his commitment and ban the group. He explained that Hamas members had come as part of a delegation which planned to describe Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners and added that IPU itself had no contact with Hamas. (The Jerusalem Post)

A report published by the French Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on the geopolitical impact of water in confrontation zones throughout the world accused Israel of implementing “apartheid” policies in its allocation of water resources in the West Bank. “Some 450,000 Israeli settlers on the West Bank use more water than the 2.3 million Palestinians that live there. … In times of drought, in contravention of international law, the settlers get priority for water,” the report said. (Haaretz)

18

An IDF strike close to the border fence in the Gaza Strip killed two Palestinians and left another two critically wounded, Hamas police said. An IDF spokeswoman confirmed that troops had opened fire, both from aircraft and tanks, near the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun and said that the strike had targeted a militant cell laying explosive devices near the border fence. "The IDF will not tolerate any attempts to harm its civilians or Israel Defense Forces soldiers," said the army in a statement. (Haaretz, Ma’an News Agency)

An Israeli air raid on the northern Gaza Strip killed two Palestinians and wounded one. (AFP)

Palestinians fired a Qassam rocket from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. No damage or injuries were reported. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli troops arrested 12 Palestinians across the West Bank overnight, a military spokesman said. Palestinians were seized in Deir Estiya and Qalandiya, in Beit Ummar and Yatma, and in Awarta and al-Arrub villages. Nathmi Salman, head of Deir Estiya village council, said that those seized had been taken to an undisclosed location following a raid around 2.30 a.m. in which soldiers had broken into a number of homes and had made the arrests. (Ma’an News Agency)

PA President Abbas met with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton. They discussed the latest developments in the region, especially the Palestinian cause, and the explorative negotiations that had been conducted in Jordan. (WAFA)

PA President Abbas met with the President of Germany, Christian Wulff, in Berlin. The two leaders discussed the latest developments in Middle East politics and Palestinian-German bilateral relations. President Abbas, who was received as Head of State for the first time, arrived in Germany for a three-day official visit. He had met with Minister for Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle and was scheduled to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel the following day. (WAFA)

Hamas Political Bureau Chief Mashaal met Swiss Middle East Envoy Jean-Daniel Ruch in Cairo as part of efforts to normalize relations with European Governments. (AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated that the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was "the persistent [Palestinian] refusal to accept a Jewish State within any boundaries". (The Jerusalem Post)

The European Commission was being urged to consider drafting legislation to ensure that financial transactions by EU Member States did not support Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. The proposal was made in a confidential report by top EU diplomats in the area and leaked to the BBC. The report said that "the systematic increase in settlement activity" undermined a two-State solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It also described a "deteriorating situation on the ground" and argued that Israel was "actively perpetuating its annexation" of Arab East Jerusalem, which it captured in 1967, by "systematically undermining the Palestinian presence in the city". The Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said that there had been no consultation with Israel on the subject and that it was "therefore the result of an extremely dubious methodology". Palestinian officials were reluctant to respond to the report because it had yet to be published. (bbc.com)

PA President Abbas was scheduled to meet with Hamas Political Bureau Chief Mashaal on 1 February in Cairo, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmed said. He said that an Egyptian security delegation would visit the Gaza Strip and the West Bank the following week to monitor the implementation of reconciliation on the ground. (Egyptindependent.com)

The committee formed to implement national reconciliation will finish its work by the end of January, a committee member said. Khalil Abu Shammaleh said that the cross-party committee had an obligation to the Palestinian people to implement the agreement signed by Hamas and Fatah in Cairo in May 2011. A Hamas official said that reconciliation talks had been plagued by a lack of trust between the parties and that the failure to form a unity Government had complicated implementation of other aspects of the deal. (Ma’an News Agency)

Hamas and Islamic Jihad were holding talks about merging their two factions, sources on both sides said. During a meeting with top officials from Islamic Jihad, Hamas leader Haniyeh called for “opening a serious dialogue to achieve the merger of the two movements", his office said in a statement. Islamic Jihad confirmed that talks to merge the two factions were already under way. (montrealgazette.com)

PA Prime Minister Fayyad called for a national debate on the financial situation facing the PA. "We want to help everyone. We do not want theories; we want practical solutions; our people need social and economic security and we are working hard to get rid of the occupation and everyone should help us to obtain our goal," he told Ma'an TV. (Ma’an News Agency)

EU officials called on the Israeli Government to release Palestinian prisoners detained before the Oslo Accords, Ma’ariv reported. According to the report, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton would arrive in the region the following week to pressure Prime Minister Netanyahu to release the 123 prisoners detained before 1993. (Ma’an News Agency)

B'Tselem in a statement denounced an Israeli judge's decision to hold as admissible a confession given to the police by a Palestinian minor even though it had been obtained under duress. (Middle East Monitor)

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos reiterated her concern over the impact of Israel’s continued settlement activity in the West Bank and its adverse effects on economic development and the Palestinians’ access to basic services. “I also spoke about zoning and planning regulations in Area C,” she told reporters after briefing the Security Council. (www.un.org)

19

Israeli forces opened fire on agricultural land near Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip according to witnesses. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces arrested three Palestinians as they tried to enter Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, an IDF spokesman said. A Palestinian security source claimed that the incident had involved only two men who had been detained overnight inside Gaza by Israeli special forces. (Ma’an News Agency, The Nation)

PA President Abbas thanked Thailand for recognizing the Palestinian State. The Permanent Mission of Thailand to the UN in New York announced in an official letter on 17 January that its Government “has officially recognized the State of Palestine and has initiated the process to establish and formalize diplomatic relations with the State of Palestine at the earliest opportunity.” (WAFA)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised PA President Abbas in Berlin for easing the pressure on major nations to recognize Palestine as a State. "We have differing points of view about whether it makes sense to have recognition of a Palestinian State … But that allows us to act in unity on the issue of getting the matter up for negotiation," said Ms. Merkel with Mr. Abbas at her side. “President Abbas has said that as far as he is concerned, this can be postponed for a certain period, and that what it really is about is peace and a two-State solution and borders," she said. He earlier assured the Speaker of Germany's Parliament, Norbert Lammert, that he would be open to a compromise on issues of Israel's security, sources close to the Speaker said. (DPA)

Nabil Amr, a former PA Minister and senior Fatah , warned that Hamas would once again defeat Fatah if and when new elections were held. (The Jerusalem Post)

West Bank businessmen demanded that PA Prime Minister Fayyad rescind a sharp income tax increase meant to make Palestinians less dependent on foreign aid. Mr. Fayyad had argued that the increase would only affect those who earned high income, who would pay up to 30 per cent income tax under the new rate or double the previous amount. (www.washingtonpost.com)

The Egyptian Red Crescent sent 29 ambulances to Gaza, Director Jaber al-Arabi said. The donation came a day after the organization had sent a tonne of medicine to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing and had coordinated the delivery of Kuwaiti medical aid to the besieged enclave. (Ma’an News Agency)

Violent clashes broke out during the eviction of an outpost in the West Bank next to the “Mitzpe Yericho” settlement. (Haaretz)

The Israeli authorities seized 76 dunums of land from al-Khas village, east of Bethlehem, which was to be allocated for the West Jerusalem municipality under the pretext that the land was considered absentee property, according to local sources. (WAFA)

Hamas and the PA should investigate recent brutal attacks against human rights defenders in Gaza and the West Bank and hold those responsible to account, Human Rights Watch said. (www.hrw.org)

According to a new report released by Operation Dove, Israeli authorities had been increasingly neglecting their obligation to protect Palestinian children from settler violence in the South Hebron Hills during the school year. The mandatory Israeli military escort to walk with children to school had not been implemented 95 per cent of the time since the school year began in September. (www.alternativenews.org)

20

The IDF had identified an increase in the participation of members of the PA security forces in anti-Israel demonstrations throughout the West Bank, senior Israeli military sources said. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli forces detained Palestinian parliamentarian Khaled Ibrahim Tafesh, a member of the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform Party. Mr. Tafesh, who had spent 10 years in Israeli jails, was last released in March 2010 after having served one year under administrative detention without charge or trial. (Ma’an News Agency)

In an annual diplomacy speech, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for the opening up of negotiations to new players, a specific timetable and a monitoring mechanism. “We must stop hiding reality. … The Quartet is a failure,” he said. (AP)

Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed gratitude to PA President Abbas for efforts to restore the position of his country in the Holy Land. He expressed hope that the visit of the Palestinian leader “will make it possible to discuss the situation in the Middle East and the renewal of Palestinian-Israeli talks”. (Itar-Tass)

Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev, during talks with PA President Abbas, focused on efforts to kick start stalled peace negotiations with Israel. Mr. Abbas told Mr. Medvedev in his opening remarks at the Russian Federation President's suburban Moscow residence that the Palestinians "will always draw upon your advice and the favourable approaches proposed by the Russian Federation". He added that the local leadership of Jericho had recently named one of its main streets after Mr. Medvedev in honour of his visit there in January 2011. (AFP)

Hamas leader Haniyeh urged PA President Abbas to suspend exploratory peace talks with Israel following Israel's arrest of two Hamas legislators and to stop his cooperation on West Bank security with the Israelis. (Reuters)

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte urged Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to freeze construction in territories beyond the pre-1967 lines saying that the Dutch Government “finds a freeze would be extremely beneficial”. Mr. Rutte’s comments came at the end of his hour-long meeting with Mr. Netanyahu at his residence in The Hague. (The Jerusalem Post)

The Quartet demanded that the Palestinians agree to extend their talks with Israeli representatives past 26 January, according to Wasl Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestinian delegation in Jordan. He said that the Palestinian leadership was under heavy pressure from countries around the globe. (Ynetnews)

Over 100,000 Palestinians received medical care in Israel in 2011 which represented a 13 per cent increase over the previous year according to an annual summary by the Israeli Civil Administration. During the same time period, over 100 Palestinian doctors did their internship at Israeli hospitals. (IDF)

In a letter published in The Independent, 21 academics and public figures criticized the European Commission and London's Natural History Museum for working with an Israeli company with operations in settlements. The company, cosmetics firm Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, was part of a €5.19 million research project. The firm had received more than €300,000 from the European Commission. (Nature)

21

Israeli aircraft struck a site in the southern Gaza Strip after three mortar shells were fired into Israel, causing no injuries or damage. (Haaretz)

Hamas said that its Political Bureau Chief, Khaled Mashaal, had decided not to seek another term but added that the final decision on his future would be left to the 55-member Shura Council, which oversaw the Political Bureau and authorized key decisions. (AP)

Two Palestinians were moderately injured when a tunnel under the border between Gaza and Egypt collapsed. (Ma’an News Agency)

22

A Palestinian armed with an axe attempted to attack Israel soldiers at the Qalandiya checkpoint, north of Jerusalem. Border policemen and security personnel opened fire at the attacker, wounding him lightly in the leg. (Haaretz)

A 16-year-old Palestinian girl, Hanin Kamal, died of wounds sustained during the Israeli offensive on Gaza in 2008, according to Palestinian medical sources. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli authorities informed a Palestinian farmer in Nablus that they would confiscate 20 dunums of his land and ordered the destruction of two wells in the area. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli Cabinet Ministers voted to extend legislation prohibiting Palestinians married to Israelis from obtaining Israeli citizenship. (The Telegraph)

23

The Israeli Air Force struck a suspected weapons manufacturing site in central Gaza, two smuggling tunnels in northern Gaza and a tunnel in the southern part. Palestinian media reported several injuries. (IMEMC, The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli police said that they arrested two Hamas lawmakers, Khaled Abu Arfa and Mohammed Totah, who had been hiding inside the compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Jerusalem. Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that the men had been wanted for “Hamas activities”. (AP)

Israeli forces apprehended nine Palestinian men across the West Bank. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Council of the European Union said in its conclusions on the Middle East peace process: “The EU welcomes the efforts by Jordan to facilitate direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians as part of the Quartet process. The EU calls on both parties to come forward with comprehensive proposals on borders and security, as envisaged in the Quartet statement on 23 September. A bold and decisive demonstration of political leadership is needed from both sides to encourage the momentum and ensure real progress.” (www.consilium.europa.eu)

A tripartite meeting of the OIC Secretary-General, the Jordanian Foreign Minister and the PA Foreign Minister was held in Amman. (www.oic-oci.org)

Permanent Representative of the US to the UN Susan Rice said that the change of five Security Council members will not help the PA in winning full UN membership. (The Jerusalem Post)

PA President Abbas called on the Quartet to make further efforts to implement the Road Map of which Palestinians completely upheld their obligations. (WAFA)

PLO Executive Committee member Sha’ath discussed the latest political developments with the Representative of Norway to the PA, Hans Jacob. (WAFA)

The Council of the European Union appointed Andreas Reinicke, currently Germany’s Ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic, as EU Special Representative to the Middle East Peace Process. Mr. Reinicke will take office on 1 February 2012, with his mandate running until 30 June 2013. (www.consilium.europa.eu)

Al-Hayat reported that Hamas leader Mashaal was planning a trip to the Gaza Strip along with PA President Abbas in an effort to support reconciliation. (The Jerusalem Post)

PA Prime Minister Fayyad signed a €10 million water project agreement with the French Minister for Cooperation, Henri De Raincourt. The project would benefit more than 150,000 residents in the West Bank. (WAFA)

Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad said that the Gaza Government constructed 25 new administrative buildings and refurbished another 25 which were damaged during the Israeli 2008-2009 military offensive. (Ma’an News Agency)

Human Rights Watch said in an annual report: “Serious human rights violations continued in 2011 in the occupied Palestinian territories. … Israeli military attacks in Gaza and policing operations in the West Bank resulted in the deaths of at least 37 civilians. Israel continued to block exports from, and many imports to, the Gaza Strip, hindering the rebuilding of Gaza’s devastated economy. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israel demolished a record number of Palestinian homes under discriminatory practices, imposed severe restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement, continued to build unlawful settlements, and arbitrarily detained peaceful protesters, including children. Palestinian armed groups in Gaza launched hundreds of rocket attacks at Israeli population centres in 2011, killing two civilians and seriously injuring at least nine others; indiscriminate mortar attacks seriously injured at least four civilians in Israel. Another attack fatally injured an Israeli youth in a school bus. (www.hrw.org)

The Israel Law Center, an Israeli activist group, sent letters to the landlord of the General Delegation of the PLO to the US in Washington, D.C., Endeka Enterprises LLC and Verizon Communications, Inc., warning both companies that providing premises and services to the PLO could violate anti-terrorism laws. (The Jerusalem Post)

A former Israeli peace negotiator, Uri Savir, said that thousands of young Jewish and Arab activists from across the Middle East planned to hold an online peace conference on Facebook. US Secretary of State Clinton, actress Sharon Stone, Barcelona football coach Pep Guardiola, National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern and others were set to address the YaLa - Young Leaders Movement. (AP)

24

Two rockets fired from Gaza exploded in an open field in the Eskhol Regional Council. No damage or injuries were reported. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition and tear gas at a peaceful demonstration near the northern Gaza border with Israel. Some 50 rounds of live ammunition were fired directly at the Palestinian and international demonstrators who were protesting Israel’s ban on Palestinians accessing their land hundreds of metres within the vicinity of the borders. (WAFA)

An Israeli military court ordered the detention of Palestinian Parliamentary Speaker Aziz Dweik for six months without charge. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces detained Narmin Saleh, a teacher at the Sanjal School, after blindfolding her and raiding her home in Arura village near Ramallah. Ms. Saleh was taken to the Russian Compound, an Israeli interrogation centre in Jerusalem. (Ma’an News Agency)

IDF soldiers arrested four “wanted” Palestinians in the West Bank. The suspects were transferred to security forces for interrogation. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli forces detained Narmin Saleh, a teacher at the Sanjal School, after blindfolding her and raiding her home in Arura village near Ramallah. Ms. Saleh was taken to the Russian Compound, an Israeli interrogation centre in Jerusalem. (Ma’an News Agency)

IDF soldiers arrested four “wanted” Palestinians in the West Bank. The suspects were transferred to security forces for interrogation. (The Jerusalem Post)

In an interview with The Washington Times, PA Prime Minister Fayyad dismissed reports that he would consider a presidential bid even if PA President Abbas made good on his pledge not to run again. (The Washington Times)

An EU press release announced that EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton was to travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory from the following day to Thursday, 26 January, subsequent to the recent start of face-to-face meetings between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Amman. (www.consilium.europa.eu)

In the lead-up to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton’s visit to the region, PLO Executive Committee member Ashrawi said that the EU must hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law and peace. (WAFA)

Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Vitaly Churkin, in a Security Council open debate on the Middle East, said that the PA could count on Moscow’s support on the right of the Palestinians for membership in international organizations and that the Russian Federation would continue its effort to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Mr. Churkin urged Israel to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip and halt its settlement activity in the West Bank. He also voiced alarm over the recent arrest by the Israeli military of a number of Palestinian officials. (The Voice of Russia, Itar Tass)

Hamas and Fatah took a first practical step towards elections and possible unity by opening an office for voter registration in the Gaza Strip. The Central Elections Commission-Palestine began work in Gaza after Hamas had given the organization access to its offices, CEC Chief Electoral Officer Hisham Kuhail said. (AFP, The Washington Post)

Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Security Council in an open debate on the Middle East situation, including the Palestinian question, and urged Israel and the Palestinians to redouble efforts to resolve all their permanent status issues, end the conflict and establish an independent and democratic Palestinian State that will exist peacefully alongside Israel. Actions on the ground, however, continued to contribute to tensions, he told the Council. Settlement activity, including in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, had continued during the reporting period and violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians also remained troubling. (UN News Centre)

The Israeli authorities were turning a blind eye to the establishment of two PA police stations on the border of Jerusalem as a goodwill gesture to PA President Abbas. (The Jerusalem Post)

PA Prime Minister Fayyad, in a meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton, stressed the need to intensify efforts to ensure that donor countries met their financial obligations towards the PA to help it overcome its financial crisis. (WAFA)

Lebanon’s Social Affairs Minister, Wael Abu Faour, became the first Lebanese Cabinet member to make an official visit to a Palestine refugee camp in six years when he toured the Burj Barajneh camp, accompanied by the Director of UNRWA affairs in Lebanon, Salvatore Lombardo. The Minister also signed a memorandum of understanding with UNRWA, which would enable the agency for the first time to work in coordination with the Social Affairs Ministry to provide services to some of the most vulnerable people in the camps. (The Daily Star)

Following the detention of Bassam Rehan, 25, by Israeli forces at the Erez crossing in northern Gaza while on his way for surgery in the West Bank, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said that Israel's detention of invalids seeking treatment outside Gaza breached international law. (Ma’an News Agency)

The IPU committee on the Middle East met to discuss the imprisonment of members of the Palestinian parliament. The Palestinian delegation had urged IPU and all parliamentarian bodies in the world to denounce Israel’s policy of detaining elected representatives of the Palestinian people. The previous week, IPU had called on Israel to stop the detention of Palestinian parliamentarians. (Ma’an News Agency)

25

The IDF and the Shin Bet recently arrested 19 young Palestinians suspected of orchestrating a series of attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank. (Ynetnews)

Palestinian Chief Negotiator Erakat, during a meeting in Jordan with head of the Israeli negotiating team Molcho, was said to have refused to let a senior Israeli officer present the Israeli position on security arrangements and had reportedly said that if the Israeli side was interested, it could pass them the written document. (Haaretz)

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton called for the “exploratory talks” between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Jordan to continue. She added: “Our political message is clear; the siege on Gaza must be lifted and people and goods must be allowed to move freely. We want the economy to grow in Gaza and we want people to be able to build a better economy but this requires serious negotiations.” (AP, WAFA)

"If we determine the borders, it is possible to return to negotiations, but the Israelis don't want to determine the borders," PA President Abbas said in comments published by WAFA. President Abbas said that the Palestinians would now enter "a phase of evaluations and consultations with His Majesty King Abdullah II" of Jordan at the end of which there would be talks with the Arab League Follow-up Committee, scheduled for 4 February. (AFP)

King Abdullah II of Jordan held talks with PA President Abbas on efforts to bring about peace between Palestinians and Israelis. The King briefed the Palestinian President on the outcome of his visit to the US the previous week and on his talks with US officials which had focused on peace efforts. He affirmed to Mr. Abbas that Jordan would do its utmost to create an appropriate climate for launching negotiations that would address all final status issues. (Petra)

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a news conference that he would travel the following week to Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “I will be there to encourage both sides to re-engage in earnest and create a positive atmosphere for moving forward,” Mr. Ban stated. (UN News Centre)

"With the escalation of settlement activities in and around Jerusalem, the arbitrary arrests of Palestinian representatives and lawmakers, continued annexation of Palestinian land and natural resources, and the eviction and deportation of Palestinians, Israel was thwarting all efforts to resume talks and to honour its obligations under international humanitarian law," senior PLO official Ashrawi said during a meeting with EU High Representative Ashton. (Ma’an News Agency)

PA President Abbas met with EU High Representative Ashton in Amman, where the two discussed efforts to push peace talks forward. The meeting was also attended by EU Director for North Africa and the Middle East Christian Berger and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Erakat. “I don’t think there’s an impasse,” Ashton told reporters following the talks. “President Abbas is thinking carefully about how to move forward.” (AP, The Jerusalem Post, WAFA)

PA officials said that a fifth exploratory meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Amman scheduled for later during the day would be the final meeting. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)

King Abdullah II of Jordan alluded to a possible deterioration in Amman's relationship with Israel unless it "demonstrates it is willing to make considerable moves" to reignite the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. King Abdullah expected Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's Government to "make significant concessions which will allow the Palestinian leadership to justify their return to the negotiating table”. (Al-Quds al-Arabi, Ynetnews)

Exploratory peace talks with Israel ended with nothing to show for them, PA President Abbas said, pledging to consult with the Arab League about the next moves and leaving open the possibility of an extension. (AP, ABC News)

Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti said at Jerusalem’s Magistrates Court that the Middle East conflict would end only when Israel withdrew to the pre-1967 lines and a Palestinian State was established. On entering the courtroom, Mr. Barghouti said, "I call on the great Palestinian people to embrace unity and cohesion and to establish a national unity Government and also to embrace popular, peaceful resistance to end the occupation." Mr. Barghouti was called to testify as part of a US civil lawsuit against the Palestinian leadership in connection with the second intifada. (AFP)

Israeli forces demolished a residence that housed orphans in Khirbet Umm al-Khair, a locale near Hebron. The demolition of the house left the orphans without any shelter. The Israeli authorities over the past several months had demolished a large number of houses, animal barns and sheds in the area to expand a nearby settlement. (WAFA)

Palestinian Foreign Minister Malki told Voice of Palestine radio that the PA intended to call for a Security Council vote on the Palestinian application for UN membership regardless of the outcome. (WAFA)

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton and UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi signed a 55.4 million financing agreement for the Agency’s General Fund. (UNRWA)

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Palestinian residents of Ya’bad village near Jenin and IDF forces clashed when the troops entered the village, raiding schools, according to local and security sources. The IDF also fired gunshots and tear gas canisters causing several suffocation cases among the residents. (WAFA)

Undercover Israeli soldiers arrested a number of Palestinian youths in the East Jerusalem town of Issawiya where fierce clashers were also reported. The Israeli soldiers also assaulted a disabled Palestinian before detaining him. (WAFA)

Israeli forces arrested 11 Palestinians across the West Bank, including three minors, according to local sources. (WAFA)

In an effort to prevent future soldier abduction attempts, the IDF recently introduced new regulations requiring soldiers to report to their officers before entering the West Bank and sending at least four soldiers for each mission. (www.israelhayom.com)

Israeli police began implementing a new method of searching Palestinian vehicles for explosives through the use of nausea-inducing chemicals at a Bethlehem checkpoint, international aid workers reported. (Haaretz)

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Israeli President Shimon Peres said that once negotiations with the Palestinians resumed, "maybe peace will come sooner than we think. ... We are nearer than most of us are thinking." Also during the forum, PA Prime Minister Fayyad said that it was hard to be hopeful about prospects for peace at this stage. “I do not think the conditions are actually ripe or right for the meaningful resumption of political process," he said, adding that in his assessment, since the Oslo Accords, "the political process ... has never been this lacking in focus." (AP)

US Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney said that the Palestinians were not interested in a two-State solution; they were rather interested in the elimination of the State of Israel. Mr. Romney made this response when asked by a Palestinian-American Republican at a CNN-sponsored debate in Jacksonville, Florida: "How would a Republican administration help bring peace to Palestine and Israel when most candidates barely recognize the existence of Palestine or its people?" (Haaretz)

In Jerusalem, PLO Executive Committee member Ashrawi told EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton: “The real test of Europe’s commitment to peace and justice lies in enforcing concrete measures articulated in the Council of the EU statement adopted in 2009 that calls for an to the end to the occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.” (WAFA)

"It's not surprising that the sides need some time to pause and to reflect," US Department of State Spokeswoman Nuland said, adding, "Our hope is that this will only be a little short period and that they will be able to get back to the table relatively quickly. And that's what we are urging them to do." In Ramallah, a Palestinian official said that US President Obama had urged the Palestinians to continue talks with Israel. (Reuters, The Daily Star)

Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan told Ma'an News Agency that "elections cannot be held under two Governments as the national unity Government has not been formed." Fatah leader Thiab al-Loh said that elections needed to be prepared in advance and that at the moment “we are not ready". The delay in forming a unity Government was a major obstacle to elections, he said. (Ma’an News Agency)

The 2012 Humanitarian Appeal for the Occupied Palestinian Territory was launched in Ramallah by UN Humanitarian Coordinator Maxwell Gaylard. The appeal seeks $416 million. (www.ochaopt.org)

According to an OCHA report, almost 1,100 Palestinians, half of them children, were displaced due to home demolitions by Israeli forces in 2011, over 80 per cent more than in 2010. (www.ochaopt.org)

Israel allowed 300 truckloads of goods to enter Gaza and two trucks of flowers and strawberries to be exported, Palestinian border crossing official Fattouh said. Twenty-two cars will also be allowed to enter Gaza together with communications equipment and cement for international projects. (Ma’an News Agency)

The wall between Jerusalem and the West Bank deterred staff and students from attending Bethlehem Catholic University, officials from the school said. In recent meetings with Vatican officials, they urged the Holy See to continue speaking out because “their words do have an impact”. (Catholic News Agency)

Israeli authorities said that prisoners from East Jerusalem set their mattresses and piles of clothing on fire in their cell in Ma'asiyahu Prison in Ramla. Four prisoners suffered serious injuries and four more suffered smoke inhalation and burns. Two wardens were slightly injured. (The Jerusalem Post)

Jailed Fatah leader Barghouti was sent to solitary confinement after having made critical comments about Israel to journalists, the Palestinian Prisoners' Society said. (Ma’an News Agency)

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A shell fired by an Israeli tank hit a private house in the neighbourhood of Sajaiyeh, east of Gaza City. (Ynetnews)

The Israeli police arrested a Palestinian man in possession of nine crates of M-16 bullets in the Hadera area. The man confessed that he was delivering the munitions to Fatah operatives in the West Bank. (Ynetnews)

Israel presented Palestinians with its ideas for the borders and security arrangements of a future Palestinian State in a bid to keep talks alive, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. According to the Palestinians, the previous day’s verbal presentation by Israeli negotiator Molcho was a non-starter, envisaging a fenced-off territory of cantons that would preserve most settlements, not including Jerusalem and the Jordan valley. One PLO source said, “He killed the two-State solution, set aside previous agreements and international law,” noting that no maps had been presented. An Israeli official said that the presentation was in line with a Quartet framework to clearly set out the borders and security by the previous day to relaunch negotiations. The official said that Mr. Molcho had presented guiding principles that “most Israelis will be under Israeli sovereignty and obviously most Palestinians will be under Palestinian sovereignty''. He said, “We think it is very important that these talks continue. They are only at a preliminary stage, but they contain potential and obviously in less than a month it would have been illogical to talk about a breakthrough.'' (Reuters)

PA security forces detained five Israeli settlers in Nablus, officials said. The settlers, who held US passports, tried to enter Joseph's Tomb, Palestinian officials said. They were questioned and handed over to Israeli liaison officials. (Ma’an News Agency)

PA Minister for Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe called for a boycott of Israeli military courts for continuously ruling to confine thousands of Palestinian detainees under administrative orders without charges. Mr. Qaraqe appealed to human rights groups to put pressure on Israel to end administrative detention laws as they were arbitrary, unconstitutional and violated international law. (IMEMC)

UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory Maxwell Gaylard, in a statement, called for an immediate end to the demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank. The statement came after Mr. Gaylard’s visit the previous day to the Anata village on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (www.ochaopt.org)

Heidi Kühn, founder of the humanitarian organization Roots of Peace, said that the group had requested Israel’s assistance in removing landmines from the West Bank telling Prime Minister Netanyahu on 23 January that "the Holy Land is not ‘holy’ when there are landmines in the ground." She said that Mr. Netanyahu had promised his Government’s help if the organization assisted with mine removal within Israel. (Ma’an News Agency)

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Zakariya al-Agha, a Fatah official in the Gaza Strip, said that his party was ready for the scheduled elections. Mr. al-Agha said that Fatah hoped that President Abbas would consider running again for the presidency despite his repeated statements that he would not seek another term. (Ma’an News Agency)

Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore met with PA President Abbas during the third day of his visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The two discussed the ongoing peace efforts being led by the Quartet and the current exploratory talks facilitated by Jordan. After the meeting, Mr. Gilmore said, "I have no doubt of the strong commitment on the Palestinian side to peace and a negotiated outcome. It is now incumbent upon us all in the international community to continue working with both sides to identify what positive steps can be taken to ensure we do not face another crisis in the peace process." (Irish Examiner)

OIC Secretary-General Ihsanoglu, in a speech at a symposium in Amman, said that the Islamic Development Bank had earmarked $15 million to support the housing sector in occupied East Jerusalem, in addition to a package of other pledges to develop the health and education sectors of the city. (OIC)

EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah were highly critical of the “inflammatory speech” by the Mufti of Jerusalem on 9 January. The missions pointed out that all parties were under an obligation to “immediately cease incitement”. “Jerusalem is a city sacred to three religions and all religious leaders should be working for dignity and justice for people of all faiths,” they added. (Agence Europe)

The EU issued a statement expressing its concern about the arrest at the ICRC office in East Jerusalem of Palestinian Legislative Council member Mohammed Totah and former Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Khaled Abu Arafeh, and the recent arrests of PLC Speaker Aziz Dweik and PLC members Khaled Tafesh and Abduljabbar Foqaha. (EU)

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Israeli forces raided Beit Ummar near Hebron and detained three Palestinians. (Ma’an News Agency)

PA President Abbas convened the Fatah Central Committee to discuss contacts with Israel after a series of preliminary talks. Opening the meeting, he said that he would consult with the leadership of his party and the PLO, as well as the Arab League Follow-Up Committee, on the next steps for the Palestinians. (France24)

In a statement, 12 PLO parties called on the PLO Executive Committee to end the exploratory talks in Amman. The PLO factions said that their leaders should not re-enter negotiations in protest of Israel's continuing settlement building on occupied Palestinian land. (Ma’an News Agency, Reuters)

German Foreign Minister Westerwelle, urged the Palestinians and Israel to resume direct talks as the only way to reach a two-State solution. "It is necessary that the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians should continue because there is no alternative for a negotiated two-State solution," Mr. Westerwelle said at a press conference after talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh. (DPA, Trend)

Pope Benedict XVI called for peace in the Holy Land as preliminary talks to relaunch negotiations between Israel and Palestine ended in a deadlock over the last few days. (Ynetnews)

The Deputy Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmad Bin Hali, said that the League had re-scheduled to 15 February the meeting of Arab Ministers to discuss the recent Palestinian-Israeli exploratory talks. (WAFA)

Israeli and Palestinian leaders blamed each other for the impasse in newly-launched peace efforts, raising doubts about whether the dialogue would continue just weeks after it had begun. PA President Abbas accused Israel of spoiling the low-level talks saying that it had failed to present detailed proposals for borders and security requested by international mediators. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the Palestinians had "refused to even discuss" Israeli security needs. (AP)

King Abdullah II of Jordan said that Palestinian unity achieved through reconciliation would strengthen the Palestinian people’s position and restore their legitimate rights. At a meeting in Amman with Qatari Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al Thani in the presence of Hamas leader Mashaal, the King underlined Jordan’s support for the PA in its efforts to realize the aspirations of the Palestinian people. (Jordan Times)

After meeting in the Gaza Strip with the head of the Central Elections Commission, Hamas leader Haniyeh said that elections were the only way to peacefully transfer power. (Ma’an News Agency)

PA Prime Minister Fayyad announced that he was putting on hold his plan to raise taxes. At the beginning of January, Mr. Fayyad announced a number of economic austerity measures which included tax hikes and early retirement for public servants in a bid to reduce what was forecast as a $1.1 billion budget deficit in 2012. Earlier during the month, hundreds of people marched in the West Bank city of Nablus to protest the measures. (AFP)

The Israeli Cabinet approved housing benefits in “communities in national priority areas” which included some 70 settlements in the West Bank. (The Jerusalem Post, www.pmo.gov.il)

Israeli police shut down two organizations in occupied East Jerusalem – the soccer club and charity fund in the Silwan neighbourhood – for alleged connections to Hamas. (Ma’an News Agency)

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Several Israeli tanks and two military bulldozers advanced 200 metres into the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, firing live ammunition and bulldozing farmland. Israeli soldiers detained two residents east of Rafah. (IMEMC)

Indictments were filed with the Jerusalem District Court against five Palestinian teens from East Jerusalem for hurling Molotov cocktails at security forces in the Silwan neighbourhood. (Ynetnews)

Israeli forces arrested 14 Palestinians from various areas of the West Bank. (WAFA)

Maariv reported that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s special envoy Molcho had suggested, during exploratory meetings with Palestinians in Amman, that Israel would agree to abandon control over the Jordan Valley in exchange for intensive security measures at the Jordan River. (Ma’an News Agency)

Low-level Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will continue for another month, Israel Army Radio reported after Palestinian officials in Amman announced their intention to continue the talks until March. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed that he was ready to go to Ramallah to meet President Abbas and open negotiations. "We are completely serious about talks with the Palestinians but unfortunately the Palestinian side refuses," he said in a live chat in Arabic on his official Facebook page. (Ma’an News Agency)

During a visit to the West Bank, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird told PA Foreign Minister Malki that it was “profoundly wrong” to take the case for Palestinian statehood to the United Nations, and it was far preferable to resume negotiations with Israel than insist that Israel halt settlement construction before resuming direct talks. “Unilateral action by either side is not helpful. … But the two sides would be better off talking [to each other] rather than not talking,” Mr. Baird said. As for Hamas, Mr. Baird said, “We have no interest in interacting with Hamas. It is a terrorist organization.” (www.theglobeandmail.com)

The cross-party committee overseeing national reconciliation was holding its fourth meeting to establish sub-groups to take forward the reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah. The "public freedoms committee" will hammer out a number of tenets of the unity deal signed in May 2011, including political prisoners, passports, closure of institutions, travel bans and freedom of political expression. (Ma’an News Agency)

Secretary-General of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council Amin Maqboul said that PA President Abbas and Hamas Political Bureau Chief Mashaal were expected to agree on the structure of a national unity Government during their meeting in Amman on 2 February. (Ma’an News Agency)

Hamas Political Bureau Chief Mashaal had effectively abandoned his long-time base in the Syrian Arab Republic and had no plans to return. (The New York Times)

A continuation of Turkey’s cooperation with Hamas may be clarified in the near future, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said in reference to the possibility that Turkey could host a Hamas office. “Turkey is one of the strongest supporters of the Palestinian cause. And Hamas is an important political formation which participated and succeeded in elections,” Presdient Gül said. (Daily News)

Hamas leader Haniyeh began a tour of foreign countries including Qatar and Iran. He would meet with the Emir of Qatar, his aide Yousef Rezqah said, who added that "The political situation and the internal Palestinian reconciliation will be discussed in the meeting." Mr. Haniyeh will also focus on "the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip amid the long-awaited Qatari pledges to aid different projects such as a sports city and supporting the services sectors, mainly health and education". (DPA)

The 2011 olive harvest in the West Bank was the most peaceful in years, according to statistics collected by the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). In total, COGAT and Israel’s Civil Administration of the West Bank recorded a 52 per cent drop in violence throughout the olive harvest season in 2011 compared to the previous year. Sources in COGAT said that the drop in the level of violence had been the result of the Civil Administration’s efforts to increase coordination with the Palestinians ahead of the season and to ensure farmers did not harvest their fields without first coordinating with the IDF. (The Jerusalem Post)

Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, started a three-day visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel in his first visit to the region to discuss development issues, according to a World Bank press release. Mr. Zoellick will meet with PA Prime Minister Fayyad as well as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and will give a talk at the annual Herzliya Conference on “The Future of the Global Economy”. (WAFA)

A bill seeking to retroactively legalize Jewish settlements and outposts built on Palestinian land was due to come up for a vote in the Knesset during the week, despite the Cabinet's opposition. (Haaretz)

Israeli bulldozers demolished two houses in East Jerusalem, rendering 13 members of Palestinian families homeless. (www.gulfnews.com)

Dozens of Palestinian villages in the West Bank established unarmed “civil guard” units to protect their homes and mosques from attacks by settlers. The units would consist of men who would rotate shifts throughout the night to protect mosques and homes inside the villages from so-called “price tag” attacks by settlers and right-wing extremists. (The Jerusalem Post)

A settler took over Palestinian land in the village of Nazlat Zeid near Jenin by enclosing the land with a fence. (IMEMC)

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Israeli forces shot and moderately injured a Palestinian farmer east of Gaza City. (Ma’an News Agency)

A Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel exploded in an open field and no injuries were reported. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli forces fired tear gas and sound grenades at a memorial march in Beit Ummar near Hebron, held to mark the first anniversary of the death of a local teenager shot dead by settlers and to demand that the killer be brought to justice. An Israeli military spokeswoman said that about 40 people "rioted" in Beit Ummar and threw stones at soldiers. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces detained a Hamas leader from Jenin, locals said. Muhammad as-Sayyed, a lecturer at Al-Quds Open University, was in poor health and almost blind, locals added. (Ma’an News Agency)

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held separate talks with King Abdullah II of Jordan and Foreign Minister Judeh. Mr. Ban praised Jordan for hosting five sets of preliminary talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators during the month. “This momentum created after two years should be sustained. … Both sides should return to the dialogue table with a sense of strong political will and courage,” he told a press conference after his talks with Mr. Judeh. (AFP)

In an interview in Amman, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he expected "a gesture of goodwill by both sides". But it would be "more important for the Israelis to show such a gesture of goodwill to create the favourable atmosphere," so President Abbas can justify staying in talks, he said. He said he would definitely raise the issue of settlements with Prime Minister Netanyahu, adding that restrictions on their construction may be one of those gestures of goodwill. "There should be no surprise from the Israeli side," he declared. He said he would urge President Abbas to return to talks. (AFP)

Israeli forces detained a Hamas leader from Jenin during a raid on his home. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israel rearrested Iman Salam, a Hamas militant who was released in the October prisoner swap, in his village of Dura in the southern West Bank. An Israeli military spokesperson said that Israel had new information that he had returned to “his activity in the Hamas terror organization”. (DPA)


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