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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 December 2013




Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine

Monthly media monitoring review

December 2013

Monthly highlights

    • The World Health Organization says shortages in basic supplies in Gaza is rapidly impacting the social health of its population (8 December)

    • Israel, Jordan and Palestine sign agreement to link the Red Sea with the shrinking Dead Sea with provision for water distribution to the three countries (9 December)

    • President Abbas rejects US proposal for Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley for 10 years following the signing of a peace accord (11 December)

    • The American Studies Association endorses an academic boycott of Israeli colleges and universities (16 December)

    • Bill submitted to the Knesset to annex the Jordan Valley (27 December)

    • B’Tselem reports number of Palestinian fatalities in the West Bank in 2013 by IDF-related violence is the highest in five years (30 December)

    Israel release 26 Palestinian prisoners, the third of four groups of the 104 detainees to be freed (30 December)

1

Israeli forces, escorting Jewish Israelis to perform religious rituals near the Golden Gate in Jerusalem, assaulted a number of Palestinian worshippers at the Al-Aqsa compound and detained five men and two women. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces detained 15 Palestinians across the West Bank. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli opposition leader and Labour party Chair Isaac Herzog said that he would push the Government to take “brave” steps in peace negotiations, after holding talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (AFP)

Amnesty International said that for the last month, all of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents had been living without power for most of the time and in the shadow of a public health catastrophe, after their sole power plant had been forced to shut down, causing the failure of several sewerage and water plants. (www.amnesty.org)

2

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Pope Francis in a 25-minute closed-door meeting, with a host of geopolitical and religious issues on the agenda as well as a formal invitation for the Pontiff to visit the Holy Land in 2015. A Vatican statement stated that during the “cordial talks”, the Middle East’s complex political and social situation was discussed, referring in particular to resumed negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, with the hope that a fair and lasting solution, respecting the rights of both parties, will very soon be reached. (AGI, The Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators met the previous week despite an alleged crisis in negotiations, according to a report in Hebrew published on the Walla news site. The report claimed that several meetings were held between both sides in the period since the Palestinian negotiation team announced its resignation. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israel’s Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett said in an interview on Israeli television that Israel should never allow the establishment of a Palestinian State and “give the Palestinians any piece of land”. “You must understand that the solution is a complete separation and dividing the West Bank into three areas”, he said. (IMEMC)

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said that the groundwork had been completed to join about 16 UN specialized agencies in April in 2014 if negotiations with Israel concluded without a deal. (The Times)

Israeli forces demolished four houses and eight agricultural structures in the village of Al-Auja in the southern Jordan Valley, leaving at least 50 Palestinians homeless. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli police ordered Israeli media outlets to turn over all photographs taken at the previous Saturday's Negev demonstrations against the Prawer Plan aimed at the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Bedouins. (Haaretz)

Hundreds of Palestinian youth activists sailed from the shores of the Gaza Strip to protest Israel’s restrictions on fishing in the seas off Gaza. (Reuters)

Some 20 Gaza fishing boats carrying several dozen activists claimed to have broken the naval blockade in a move denied by the Israeli military. The blockade barred fishing vessels from sailing six nautical miles from the shoreline. (AFP)

Reporters Without Borders called on the Israeli Government to release television equipment seized by the IDF from Wattan TV during a raid on its Ramallah office in February 2012. (WAFA)

The Israeli human rights group B’tselem released a video footage of an Israeli soldier deliberately firing tear gas canisters at one of its volunteers in Beit Ummar. The group said that it would send the footage to Israel’s Military Advocate for Operational Matters to demand that the Israeli soldier involved be held accountable. The volunteer suffered bruises and was taken to the Alia hospital in Hebron for treatment. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Western European and Other Groups (WEOG) in Geneva formally invited Israel to join their ranks within the UN Human Rights Council after approving its membership. (AFP)

Raji Sourani, a Palestinian human rights lawyer from the Gaza Strip and founder of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights , was presented with the Right Livelihood Award in Sweden “for his unwavering dedication to the rule of law and human rights under exceptionally difficult circumstances”, the mention said. Mr. Sourani, the first Palestinian to ever receive the award, had been defending human rights for all in Palestine and the Arab world for 35 years. Named a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International during a period of detention in 1988, Mr. Sourani had been imprisoned, both by Israel and the PA on six separate occasions for “standing up to power”. (www.rightlivelihood.org))

3

Dozens of Israeli soldiers raided the town of Hebron, arresting four Palestinians. (IMEMC)

Three Palestinian youths were shot and injured with rubber-coated metal bullets fired by Israeli soldiers raiding the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. (IMEMC)

Dozens of Israeli soldiers raided the village of Kofur Qaddoum in the northern West Bank. One resident was injured, several others suffered from tear gas inhalation and another was arrested. (IMEMC)

Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man in the village of Deir Ballut near Salfit after ransacking his home. (Ma’an News Agency)

Brigadier General Miki Edelstein, head of the Gaza Command of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), told Israelis living in the region that Hamas authorities had been preventing militants from firing rockets into Israel or planting explosives along the border. “Hamas leaders, both military and political, are doing everything to maintain restraint,” Edelstein said. (International Business Times)

While meeting with Arab reporters in Ramallah, Palestinian President Abbas said, “If the negotiations with Israel fail, we'll have the right to appeal to international institutions.” (AFP)

A senior official of the European Union said in a briefing to Israeli journalists in Brussels that the EU might cut off financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if the peace talks were to fail. In that event, the source said that the PA would cease to function and responsibility for the West Bank would revert to Israel. EU officials raised questions about continuing assistance to the PA in the previous months in view of the lack of progress in the talks, according to the official. (Haaretz)

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced that Qatar had promised to transfer $150 million to the Palestinian Government to help ease its sharp financial crises. (IMEMC)

Israeli bulldozers demolished wells and tents belonging to local Palestinian residents in a number of districts across the northern Jordan Valley. (Ma’an News Agency)

A local Palestinian official said that Israel had bulldozed land in the West Bank village of Al-Mazraa al-Qabaliya slated for settler homes. (AFP)

Hundreds of Israeli settlers escorted by Israeli troops arrived at Joseph’s Tomb near the Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus, in the early morning hours. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli settlers brought furniture into a building located near the Ibrahimi Mosque [Cave of the Patriarchs] in Hebron in an attempt to turn it into a Jewish temple. (WAFA)

Thirty-six organizations of the Association of International Development Agencies released a statement calling for an immediate end to the demolition of Palestinian homes and property. Since the resumption of the peace process in July, Israel had destroyed 207 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, displacing 311 Palestinians, over half of whom were children, according to the statement. (Ma’an News Agency, www.aidajerusalem.org)

The EU representative to the Middle East peace process, Andreas Reinicke, said in Brussels that in a few weeks the EU would start labelling products from Israeli settlements to distinguish them from goods made in Israel proper. He added that, so far, 14 out of 28 EU member countries, including Britain and France, had said that they would support labelling goods from settlements. “You can’t build on land you’re negotiating about”, Mr. Reinicke said. (Haaretz)

Israeli forces detained 110 Palestinians in Hebron over the course of November 2013, according to a report released by the Hebron office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society. (Ma’an News Agency)

Speaking at the annual pledging conference at UN Headquarters, Deputy Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Margot Ellis appealed for $687 million so that it could provide basic services to Palestine refugees in 2015, stressing that its ability to carry out its work remained dependent on the generosity of donors. (UN News Centre)

The Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-OPT) launched its new website including innovative features, such as humanitarian alerts, and an enhanced search engine. (ochaopt.org)

4

A young Palestinian man was shot and severely wounded by Israeli army fire, Palestinian medical sources in Bethlehem reported. (IMEMC)

The IDF detained six Palestinians in the Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem and three people in the town of Qabatiya. On the same day, a young Palestinian man from the Bab Majles area in the Old City of Jerusalem was also detained. (IMEMC, Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces arrested three Palestinians from Hebron. (WAFA)

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat told Palestine Radio: “[US Secretary of State John] Kerry must work to save the talks, to work to stop the deterioration of the talks caused by Israel’s continuing settlement activity and crimes committed in cold blood”. (Reuters)

US officials said Secretary of State Kerry would present the outlines of a West Bank security plan in meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders during the week. (AP)

The Office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, said that he would head a delegation of 75 businesspeople to Palestine on 7 and 8 December to launch the Netherlands-Palestinian Cooperation Forum. He will be accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen. (WAFA)

According to the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, the Israeli Ministry of Defense had announced a plan to allocate some 5,000 acres (20,000 dunums) of land in Area C (under full Israeli military and civil control) to the PA. The transfer would be part of an initiative by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to fund and facilitate Palestinian agricultural and commercial development. The Ministry said that they would issue the appropriate permits within the next three months. (Palestine News Network)

An Israeli group led by Rabbi Yehuda Glick, Chair of the Temple Mount Heritage Fund, entered the Al-Aqsa compound escorted by police, amidst Palestinian worshippers. The group set off fireworks, witnesses said. Additionally, Israeli police imposed restrictions on Palestinian worshippers and checked identity cards at the gates. (Ma’an News Agency)

Malaysia pledged a voluntary one-off contribution of $250,000 to UNRWA. Hussein Haniff, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said that Malaysia would also continue to maintain its level of annual contribution to the Agency. (Bernama)

Norway’s new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, condemned Israel’s detention of Palestinian children as “completely unacceptable” and “a clear violation of international conventions”, as he returned from his trip to Israel. (www.thelocal.no)

During a meeting with Israel’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian sides were the best way to achieve the two-State solution. He said that it was important for the parties to create the conditions for meaningful negotiations, encouraging Israel to take steps to ease the situation in Gaza. (www.un.org)

5

In remarks to reporters after a three-hour meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Kerry affirmed Israel’s security as a top US priority. He said that he and US envoy Gen. John Allen had offered suggestions on security arrangements as part of ongoing peace negotiations with the Palestinians. “I believe we are making some progress, and the parties remain committed to this task,” he said. Mr. Netanyahu on his part said that Israel was ready for peace but “must be able to defend itself, by itself, with its own forces against any foreseeable threat.” (The New York Times)

After Jerusalem, Secretary Kerry travelled to Ramallah for talks with President Abbas. (WAFA)

In an interview with Israel Army Radio, Israel’s Deputy Minister of Defense Danny Danon ruled out any compromise on security in the Jordan Valley, saying that the US had proposed joint control over the crossing points [into Jordan]. He said, “From the Israeli point of view, there will not be any Palestinian presence at the crossing points … an Israeli civilian and military presence in the Jordan Valley is essential”. (AFP)

Palestinians held talks with US Secretary of State Kerry on a possible future peace accord with Israel and emerged with mixed descriptions of how much common ground they had found. One Palestinian official told Reuters that his side had rejected Mr. Kerry’s ideas for future security arrangements, without giving details of the proposals. But Palestinian Chief Negotiator Erakat told Wafa that that report was “completely incorrect”. Mr. Erakat stressed that Secretary Kerry had not presented a final proposal and that talks would continue. (Reuters)

Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said that Fatah was responsible for the outcome of the renewed negotiations, adding that “the Palestinian negotiator [Saeb Erakat] is illegal, and does not represent the national consensus”. He said that the outcome was predetermined in favour of Israel which will hurt the rights and principles of Palestinians. Therefore, the outcome was not binding on Palestinians, he said. “Armed resistance is the successful choice and strategy to achieve the Palestinian national goals,” Mr. Al-Zahhar said, calling on factions to unite and achieve reconciliation. (Ma’an News Agency)

In a speech to mark the 10th anniversary of the Geneva Initiative, former chief of Shin Bet Yuval Diskin said that the failure to reach a deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict posed a bigger existential threat to Israel than the Iranian nuclear programme. (The Guardian)

The EU contributed €11 million to the payment of the November salaries and pensions of some 71,000 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The contribution included €1 million from Holland earmarked specifically for salaries in the justice sector. (WAFA)

6

Dozens of Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces opened fire to disperse those protesting the Israeli occupation and commemorating Nelson Mandela’s death across the West Bank. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces detained two Palestinians in Jenin after raiding their houses. (Ma’an News Agency)

Referring to security arrangements recently proposed by US Secretary of State Kerry, the PLO Executive Committee announced that the Palestinians could not accept any proposals or plans like the ones currently being suggested that would solidify occupation and legalize the division of the Palestinian territories. It warned that there could be no deal with Israel that excluded the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian State. (The Jerusalem Post)

Mohammed Shtayyeh, who had led the Palestinian negotiating team along with Mr. Erakat since talks resumed in July 2013, said that an international conference of great Powers, along the lines of the recent Geneva talks on the Iranian nuclear programme, was needed to avoid another failure in the quest to end the decades-long conflict (The Guardian)

Israeli Minister of Economy Bennett proposed that Israel annex parts of the West Bank under its full military control where most settlers lived. The Ministry of Finance, meanwhile, decided to allocate an extra $26 million to build settler homes in the Palestinian territory rather than implement cuts as earlier planned, according to the website of Israel’s Channel 10 television. (AFP)

Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and fired tear gas grenades towards worshippers, injuring several Palestinians because of suffocation. An Israeli spokesperson claimed that Palestinian youths had thrown stones at the Israeli forces. (Palestine News Network, Ynetnews)

Settlers torched a car belonging to a Palestinian resident in the Jaloud village, south of Nablus, and left graffiti reading “price-tag” on the walls of his home. (IMEMC)

Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti had written an open letter to Nelson Mandela from Cell 28 of the Hadarim prison in Israel, which was published by the PLO a day after the South African liberation leader’s death. “You said: ‘We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians. And from within my prison cell, I tell you our freedom seems possible because you reached yours,” he wrote. Mr. Barghouti was serving five life sentences for attacks on Israeli targets and had been dubbed “the Palestinian Mandela”. (AFP)

Israel’s army exonerated a soldier in the 2011 killing of a Palestinian protester with a rifle-fired tear gas canister. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem criticized the ruling as a sign of military impunity. (Yahoonews)

The PA had asked Israel to cancel half of its 1.1 billion shekel debt to the State-owned Israel Electric Corporation. (Haaretz, Al-Monitor)

The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), representing more than 130 Palestinian civil society organizations, called on the international community to end the continuous Israeli siege and “to save the lives of 1.8 million Palestinians who are living under serious catastrophic conditions due to the shortage of fuel and electricity cuts”. PNGO also criticized the Egyptian army as well as the Israeli regime for preventing the people in Gaza from accessing most of their basic goods like construction materials, food and fuel. (Press TV)

7

Five Palestinians were injured when Israeli forces fired rubber-coated metal bullets at protestors in the village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah. Three Palestinians were detained. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli tanks fired several shells at Palestinian farmers east of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. There were no injuries. (Ma’an News Agency)

A group of Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian house in Hebron and assaulted its residents. They also assaulted children playing on the same street. (Ma’an News Agency)

8

Israeli troops shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian during a clash in the Jelazoun refugee camp near Ramallah. His father said that his son had not been taking part in the clash. (AFP)

A 16-year-old Palestinian was seriously injured when a device left by Israeli forces exploded south of Hebron. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers near the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported. (Ma’an News Agency)

Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs Timmermans cancelled a planned visit to Hebron after Israeli authorities refused to allow him to visit the Old City without an Israeli military escort. (Ma’an News Agency)

The World Health Organization said, “The accumulation of shortages in basic supplies in Gaza is leading to rapid deterioration in the social determinants of health for the population of 1.7 million Palestinians. It is also straining the health system’s ability to continue to provide a good standard of health care. The chronically ill, newborns, transplant recipients, the elderly, persons with disability, emergency patients and the poor are most vulnerable, but the mental health and public health of the whole population is also at risk from increasing stress and declining services.” (www.emro.who.int)

9

Israeli soldiers raided Jenin and arrested five Palestinians. (IMEMC)

US Secretary of State Kerry will return to Israel and the West Bank during the week just days after his last visit, a State Department spokeswoman said, denying that Mr. Kerry was only focused on an interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. (AFP)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called on the international community to support an independent Palestinian State as it opened its annual conference focusing on the crises in Syria and Mali. Outgoing Chairman Mahmoud Ali Youssouf described the Palestinian issue as the “central question” for the world’s largest grouping of Muslim nations as he launched its three-day Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in the Guinean capital of Conakry. “It is incumbent upon us to continue our advocacy for the creation of a Palestinian State recognised by the United Nations,” he said. (AFP)

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar said at a press conference in Gaza that it had renewed its ties with Iran following the election of Hassan Rouhani as President. He said that relations had never been completely severed but had been affected by events in Syria. (The Jerusalem Post)

An Israeli official said that a planned inauguration by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte of a new security scanner at the Kerem Shalom crossing the previous day had been postponed. “Technically there is no problem about the scanner … but the Dutch suddenly imposed political conditions, notably on the percentage of merchandise destined for the West Bank or abroad,” he said. (Ma’an News Agency)

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said in a statement that the Israeli Government had decided to resume the transfer of construction materials for UN projects in Gaza. (www.unsco.org)

Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Habbash denounced the installation of surveillance cameras inside the Al-Aqsa compound by Israeli police. (WAFA)

Israeli forces razed agricultural land and uprooted 40 olive trees in the village of Al-Walaja, west of Bethlehem, to open a bypass road. (WAFA)

Settlers in “Ariel” pumped untreated water into the valleys and plains near Palestinian villages in the Salfit district. (Ma’an News Agency)

The British Government issued an explicit warning to British businesses over the risks of involvement in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including potential damage to a company’s reputation. New guidance published by the UK Trade & Investment, a Government body that worked with British businesses in international markets, stated that there were “clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity”, adding, “Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognized as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory.” (The Guardian)

Representatives of Israel, Jordan and the State of Palestine signed an agreement at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to link the Red Sea with the shrinking Dead Sea. Some water will be desalinated and distributed to the three countries, while the rest will be transferred through four pipes to parched parts of the Dead Sea. Under the agreement, Israel will also provide Amman with 8 to 13 billion gallons of fresh water from the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, and the Palestinians were expected to be able to buy up to 8 billion gallons of additional fresh water from Israel at preferential prices. (The New York Times, AFP)

Joining efforts to stop a polio outbreak in Syria from spreading across the region, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is supporting Palestinian Ministry of Health partners to immunize up to 630,000 children, aged five years and younger, against polio. The campaign, launched in the West Bank and Gaza, would be part of the largest-ever immunization effort in the Middle East, with plans to vaccinate some 23 million children in seven countries against the highly infectious virus. (www.unicef.org)

10

A Palestinian man from East Jerusalem was stabbed and assaulted by a group of Israelis in West Jerusalem. (Ma’an News Agency)

A Palestinian policeman was killed after unknown assailants attacked a police station in Tuqu village, south-east of Bethlehem, medics said. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces arrested five people from Hebron area villages after raiding and searching their homes. (WAFA)

Israeli forces arrested five people from Deheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem. (WAFA)

The Israeli army demolished shelters used by Palestinian shepherds in Yarza village, east of Tubas in the Jordan Valley, according to witnesses. (WAFA)

A Palestinian village in northern Israel was targeted by racist graffiti and vandalism, according to Israeli media sources. The phrase “Stop assimilation, Arabs get out” was found written in Hebrew on a wall in Akbara village near Safed. Police also found 10 cars with punctured tires in the village, presumably linked to the graffiti. Police said that they would launch an investigation. The vandalism followed a similar attack on 8 December in Baqa al-Gharbiya, another Palestinian village in northern Israel. (Ma’an News Agency, Ynetnews)

PLO Executive Committee member Ashrawi called on NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and its chief content officer, Jeff Wachtel, to withdraw support for the production of a drama series due to be filmed in East Jerusalem, due to legal and ethical considerations, stressing that involvement in such projects amounted to “complicity” in Israel’s illegal occupation and branding of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The upcoming drama ‘DIG’ is an action-adventure series set to be filmed entirely in Jerusalem. It was developed by the Keshet Media Group, an Israeli media company, and will consist of six episodes due to be aired in 2014. Most of the series will be filmed in the ‘City of David National Park’ in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, and the project had the full support of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who had promised to facilitate access to the Old City and other landmarks. “It is evident that these efforts coincide with Israel’s intensive and accelerated efforts to annex and ethnically cleanse Jerusalem. The choice to film the series in Palestinian neighbourhoods in Jerusalem is designed to endorse the occupation and the bitter reality experienced by Palestinian Jerusalemites,” Ms. Ashrawi said. “Any business or organization that deals with Israel in Occupied Palestine is in flagrant breach of international law, conventions and consensus, respectively.” (Ma’an News Agency)

A diplomatic row erupted between Israel and Romania after Bucharest had reportedly refused to allow Romanian construction workers to be employed in the settlements, Israel’s Army Radio said. The Romanian Ministry for Foreign Affairs confirmed that talks were continuing and that Bucharest’s position would be consistent with “respect for international law, the positions of the EU and the protection of Romanian citizens”. (AFP)

According to the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage, Israeli authorities started new excavations under the Al-Aqsa compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, specifically under the Chain Gate on the western side. In a statement, the Foundation said that excavations were some 8 metres below a tunnel that the Israelis had dug under the western part of the compound. Furthermore, added the group, ancient Islamic buildings in the area had been bolstered by steel stanchions “which indicates there are deep excavations under the buildings”. (Ma’an News Agency)

Recalling the EU’s firm opposition under all circumstances to the use of capital punishment, the EU Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah “condemned the death sentence issued by the de facto authorities in Gaza on 8 December and their confirmation of an earlier death sentence on 5 December.” (eeas.europa.eu)

The Palestinian Government decided to internationalize the case of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The Government said after its weekly meeting in Ramallah that it had decided to “raise the issue of sick prisoners held in occupation prisons, especially those suffering from serious diseases, with all international forums”. (The Jerusalem Post)

The Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Abdou Salam Diallo, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations, issued a statement on the passing of Nelson Mandela. (www.un.org)

11

Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, arrested six Palestinians and served two with warrants to report for interrogation. (IMEMC)

Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians during a raid in Hebron. (WAFA)

President Abbas rejected a proposal by US Secretary of State Kerry to maintain Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley for 10 years following the signing of a peace accord, an unnamed Palestinian official told Al-Ayyam. During that time, according to the paper, Palestinian security forces would be trained to assume control over the Jordan Valley. Mr. Kerry’s ideas reportedly also include an “invisible” Israeli presence at the border crossings with Jordan. In addition, Americans would install early warning systems on hilltops in the West Bank. (The Jerusalem Post)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation adopted a declaration at the end of its annual conference of Ministers for Foreign Affairs in Conakry, stating, “We … urge States that have not yet done so to fulfil their responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations recognizing the State of Palestine in the shortest possible time.” (AFP)

Gulf leaders, in a final communiqué issued at the conclusion of the 34th Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, welcomed US efforts to revive the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, while condemning Israeli’s settlement policy and the unjust siege and annexation of Arab lands. (KUNA)

PLO Executive Committee member Erakat criticized the recent visit of Guatemalan President Perez Molina to East Jerusalem that had been coordinated with Israeli authorities. “We will not accept any attempt to legitimize Israel’s occupation policies, particularly in East Jerusalem. The visit of the President of Guatemala … in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry is unacceptable and contradicts Guatemala’s obligations according to the Geneva Conventions, the Rome Statute and the ICJ opinion on the wall, as well as Security Council resolutions 476 and 478,” he said in a press release. (Palestine News Network)

Israel opened the Kerem Shalom commercial border crossing with Gaza to allow the entry of construction materials for international projects and for the export of strawberries and flowers to Europe, a Palestinian official said. (WAFA)

The European Court of Auditors, in a report, stated that “EU Direct Financial Support to the Palestinian Authority needs an overhaul”, which questioned the sustainability of the aid given by the European mechanism for support to Palestinians (PEGASE). The increasing number of beneficiaries and declining donor funding had led to serious delays in the payment of PA salaries in 2012 which had caused unrest. A considerable number of civil servants from Gaza, due to the political situation, were being paid without going to work. Ultimately, the threat to the financial sustainability of the PA can, to a considerable degree, be traced to the obstacles raised by Israel. (www.eca.europa.eu)

Vitens, the largest Dutch drinking water supplier, had decided that it will not work with Mekorot, Israel’s national water corporation. Vitens explained its decision by saying that it had to do with Israel’s violations of international law. (The Jerusalem Post)

Family visits for Palestinian detainees in Israel’s Megiddo jail were cancelled after clashes had erupted between prisoners and Israeli prison guards. (Ma’an News Agency)

Three Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, who had been on hunger strike since 6 November to protest their administrative detention, were transferred to a hospital due to their worsening health conditions. (WAFA)

UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory James Rawley expressed concern over the Israeli authorities’ demolition of 30 Palestinian-owned structures in the Jordan Valley the previous day. The demolitions had resulted in the displacement of 41 people, including 24 children, and affected another 20. (www.ochaopt.org)

12

A 29-year-old Palestinian man from the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem had died of a serious injury he had suffered after having been shot by an Israeli soldier during a demonstration in 2004. (IMEMC)

Israel’s Chief Negotiator Tzipi Livni accused the pro-settler Jewish Home party, which controls the Housing Ministry, of deliberately sabotaging talks by ramping up settlement construction. (AFP)

The League of Arab States said that Arab Ministers for Foreign Affairs were to meet in Cairo on 21 December to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. (www.naharnet.com)

14

A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip was wounded by Israeli gunfire after approaching the border fence, sources on both sides said. (AFP)

Speaking at the end of his second visit to the region in a week, US Secretary of State Kerry said: “Both parties remain committed to fulfilling their obligations to stay at the table and negotiate hard during the nine-month period that we set for that … We’re not talking at this point about any shifts [in the schedule].” (Reuters)

15

Israeli soldiers violently attacked and moderately injured a young Palestinian man from Hebron causing the man to be hospitalized. (IMEMC)

“I’m personally encouraged that very tough issues are beginning to take shape,” Secretary Kerry said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week”. “But we’ve agreed not to be talking about what we’re doing because it just creates great expectations. It creates pressure. It creates opposition, in some cases.” (AFP)

Gaza’s only power plant restarted operation for the first time in seven weeks. Palestinian officials said that a $10 million grant from Qatar had covered the cost of two weeks’ worth of fuel that had started entering Gaza by truckload from Israel. Ihab al-Ghussein, a spokesman for Hamas, said that Qatar was also preparing to send a ship with fuel through an Israeli port that would be enough to keep the plant running for three months. (The New York Times)

An Israeli Government committee had given initial approval to a proposed law that would impose a 45 per cent tax on overseas donations made to non-governmental organizations that supported measures such as a boycotts or sanctions on Israel, or prosecution of its soldiers in international courts. (Reuters)

The Israeli prison administration refused a request from the PA to allow extra blankets and clothes for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails during the recent storm, Minister for PA Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said. (WAFA)

16

Israeli forces arrested five Palestinians in the West Bank. (IMEMC)

Speaking to Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Mheissen said that President Abbas was unlikely to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu given “Israel’s insistence on thwarting peace talks by expanding settlements and denying Palestinian rights to establish a State on land occupied in 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital.” (The Times of Israel)

The Conclusions adopted by the EU Foreign Affairs Council said: “The EU will provide an unprecedented package of European political, economic and security support to both parties in the context of a final status agreement. In the event of a final peace agreement, the European Union will offer Israel and the future State of Palestine a Special Privileged Partnership, including increased access to the European markets, closer cultural and scientific links, facilitation of trade and investments as well as promotion of business to business relations. Enhanced political dialogue and security cooperation will also be offered to both States.” (consilium.europa.eu)

The US welcomed the announcement made by the EU that it would provide an unprecedented package of political, economic and security support to both Israelis and Palestinians in the context of a final status peace agreement. (www.state.gov)

A senior European diplomat said that following the EU announcement of a support package for Israelis and Palestinians, the Ambassadors to Israel of Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain had requested an urgent meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel. The European message was coordinated with US Secretary of State Kerry: “We gave you an offer which is truly unprecedented ... We are ready to discuss with you right now how the future of EU-Israel relations might look if there is movement toward peace.” The Ambassadors also expressed their extreme concern that Israel would announce new tenders for thousands of settlement units with the release of a new batch of prisoners on 29 December. (Haaretz)

Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki Al-Faisal praised the negotiating efforts of US Secretary of State Kerry but warned that President Obama must be willing to force the parties to accept a lasting resolution: “We’ll see how far [Kerry] gets if the President doesn’t put his full support behind it.” (The New York Times)

Heavy flooding across the Gaza Strip resulted in the displacement of approximately 10,000 people to temporary shelters and homes of relatives, OCHA reported. UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said that large regions of the Gaza Strip were a “disaster area” and called on the world community to lift the Israeli blockade in order to allow recovery efforts to proceed. Hamas official Mustafa Sawaf said that he expected most of the 900 families, who had been evacuated to shelters, to be back in their homes the evening hours. (Ma’an News Agency, www.ochaopt.org)

“No, we do not support the boycott of Israel,” President Abbas told a group of South African reporters. “But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements … because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal.” (The Times of Israel)

The American Studies Association, composed of almost 5,000 American professors, announced that it had voted to endorse an academic boycott of Israeli colleges and universities. (The New York Times)

In his briefing to the Security Council, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Serry said: “If both parties, with continued effective support by the international community, take the bold steps needed to see through what they have started this year, we will reach in 2014 a moment of truth regarding a two-State solution”. Mr. Serry reiterated the UN’s concern about the fragile situation on the ground. With the release of the third group of prisoners approaching, he urged both sides to refrain from steps that would increase mistrust and undermine the prospects for progress in the critical period ahead “when bolder decisions are required to bridge the gaps towards a final status agreement”. He briefed the Council on the impact of current inclement weather in Gaza where more than 10,000 people had been displaced. He highlighted the importance for Israel to reinstate its decision to allow construction materials for the private sector into the Gaza Strip. (www.un.org)

17

Hundreds of heavily armed Israeli soldiers stormed Rashayda village, south of Bethlehem, and conducted a wide-scale military drill, a day after occupying a nearby nature reserve and displacing families in the area. (Ma’an News Agency)

Hamas officially notified President Abbas of its decision to join a national unity Government which would prepare for upcoming presidential and parliamentarian elections. Sources said that President Abbas had previously received phone calls from Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh. (Ma’an News Agency)

The newly-released UNRWA Syria Regional Crisis Response Plan for 2014 would require $417.4 million for adequate response, of which $310 million would support the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees inside Syria, $90.4 million in Lebanon and $14.6 million in Jordan. (www.unrwa.org)

Two Palestine refugees were killed in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus after a shelling. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Israeli military notified 10 residents of the village of Barta’a al-Sharqiyeh, south of Jenin, of its intention to demolish their homes under the pretext that they had been built without permits. (WAFA)

Israeli authorities handed warrants to 10 Palestinian families from the village of Bartaa al-Sharqiyya, west of Jenin, demanding that they evacuate their houses, that were either inhabited or completely ready to be inhabited. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli authorities confiscated 10 dunums of Palestinian agricultural land in the village of Qusra, south of Nablus. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Ambassador of Israel to the US, Ron Dermer, condemned a decision by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli colleges and universities. “Instead of insisting on academic freedom and human rights by boycotting countries which jail professors over their opinions, the organization chose to impose its first boycott ever on Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” Ambassador Dermer said. Deputy Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs Ze'ev Elkin described the Association as a “radical leftist group” with few links to academia in Israel. (Reuters, Ynetnews)

18

Israeli forces arrested nine Palestinians across the West Bank and five others in East Jerusalem. (IMEMC, Ma’an News Agency)

The IDF shot and killed during a firefight a member of the Palestinian security forces, whom they were seeking to arrest in Qalqilya, the Israeli military said. Another Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli troops in Jenin who, according to residents, was an Islamic Jihad militant. (Reuters)

Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi met with President Abbas in Ramallah and discussed political developments in the region. Mr. Wang hailed Palestinian-Chinese relations and said that Palestine was the first country he was visiting as part of his Middle East tour. (WAFA)

Following reports of US pressure ahead of a new round of release of Palestinian prisoners due on 29 December urging Prime Minister Netanyahu to exercise maximum restraint in announcing new settlement construction, Mr. Netanyahu told his Likud Party that “We will not stop, even for a moment, building our country and becoming stronger, and developing the settlement enterprise.” (AFP)

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Erakat said: “If we reach a framework agreement by 29 April, you need 6 to 12 months to draft a full agreement.” Mr. Erakat said that the [framework] deal would need to contain specific details such as the borders of the Palestinian State, the percentage of land swaps to compensate for settlements built on occupied territory and the final status of Jerusalem. (Reuters)

In his Christmas message, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fuad Twal, said that Middle East peace efforts were being hampered by Israeli settlement construction. Patriarch Twal said that, “While the world’s attention has shifted from the situation in the Holy Land to the tragedy in Syria, it must be stated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains crucial to the region and is a major obstacle in the development of our society and stability in the Middle East.” (AFP)

Jordan, the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, demanded that Israel remove surveillance cameras at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. “Jordan rejects Israel’s installation of surveillance cameras on 8 December to monitor Waqf officials and worshippers, particularly women,” Minister of Information Mohammad Momani said. (AFP)

In a telephone conversation, Dutch Prime Minister Rutte told Prime Minister Netanyahu that he totally rejected any boycott of Israel and said that his country would continue working with Israel’s national water company Mekorot. The call was made a week after leading Dutch water company Vitens announced that it would discontinue all joint ventures with Mekorot in protest against its operations in the West Bank. (The Times of Israel)

19

Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the northern Gaza shore in four separate incidents and confiscated 24 fishing nets. (IMEMC)

In reaction to the IDF killing of two Palestinians in the West Bank, President Abbas said that Israel was escalating the situation on the ground and undermining US peace efforts. “The President condemns the crimes perpetrated tonight by the Israeli military,” said Nabil Abu-Rudeineh, spokesperson for President Abbas. (Ynetnews)

Israeli Chief Negotiator Livni recommended to Prime Minister Netanyahu not to announce new [settlement] projects during the next wave of Palestinian prisoners release due at the end of the month, warning that such announcements could lead to a collapse of the peace talks. (www.israelhayom.com)

Israeli and Palestinian sources said that in an unofficial memorandum sent the previous week to President Obama, President Abbas outlined his reservations about the security ideas he had heard from Secretary of State Kerry. (Haaretz)

In a meeting with journalists, resigned Palestinian negotiator Shtayyeh said that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish State was a new demand that had not been raised during the initial talks and interim agreements between the Palestinians and the Israelis, adding that there was a fundamental difference between “a State for the Jews” and a “Jewish State”. (Palestine News Network)

A Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that US Special Envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk had met with President Abbas in Ramallah and had presented modifications to an earlier plan of security arrangements for the West Bank. (Xinhua)

In its 2014 emergency appeal of $95 million to be launched by UNRWA, the Agency said that it was expecting close to a million people who would need food aid in the Gaza Strip for the coming year. (Reuters)

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt said in a statement that Egypt would continue to provide “every means of support” to the Palestinian people and that Egypt was making necessary arrangements to transport to Gaza fuel that had been purchased through a Qatari grant. (Daily News Egypt)

In a statement, the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah expressed concern about the demolition of 30 Palestinian-owned structures on 10 December, including residential structures, in the Jordan valley, that had resulted in the displacement of 41 people, including 24 children, (www.eeas.europa.eu)

20

Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians from Yabud village, south-west of Jenin. (Palestine News Network)

Israeli forces detained two Palestinians following a raid in the village of Kafr Qaddum, east of Qalqilya. (Ma'an News Agency)

A Palestinian was shot and killed more than a mile inside Gaza by the Israeli military who said that he had been part of a group that had damaged the fence and had fired a mortar into Israel. (UPI)

The Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Egypt, Barakat al-Farra, said that President Abbas was to travel to Cairo and would meet the acting President of Egypt, Adly Mansour, on 28 December. (Ma'an News Agency)

The European Commission published a restricted call for proposals worth €4.7 million under the EU Partnership for Peace Programme (Middle East Peace Projects), which aims to help create the conditions for the peace process to advance and provide a solid foundation within society for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. (EU Neighbourhood Info Centre)

21

Israeli gunboats fired two shells toward Palestinian fishing boats in the Sudaniya area in the north-western Gaza Strip, a witness said. No injuries were reported. (Ma'an News Agency)

Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a Palestinian in the southern Gaza Strip. Palestinians said that young men were hunting birds near the fence with Israel when they were shot at. An Israeli military spokesman said, “Terrorists attempted to conceal an explosive device.” (AFP)

At an emergency meeting called at the request of President Abbas, League of Arab States Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said that there could not be one Israeli soldier in the territory of a future Palestine. But a resolution he read at the end of the meeting did not repeat the harshly critical language about a US security proposal from a report circulated to the Arab delegates ahead of the gathering. Arab countries reaffirmed overwhelming support for the Palestinians in their negotiations with the Israelis with the objective of establishing the independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with a specific time frame. (KUNA, Reuters)

Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah met with President Abbas during at the Arab League meeting. They discussed Kuwaiti-Palestinian relations and the latest regional and international developments. (KUNA)

A meeting between Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine was held in Gaza with a discussion about national Palestinian reconciliation, one of the leaders of the factions said. (Ma’an News Agency)

22

A bomb that Israeli police said was planted by Palestinians exploded on a public bus near Tel Aviv shortly after it was evacuated, resulting in no serious injuries. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad “welcomed” the attack but did not claim responsibility. (AP, Ma’an News Agency)

The Israeli army arrested three Palestinians, including a teenager, from Hebron, in addition to two others from the Jerusalem area, according to local sources. (WAFA)

US Secretary of State Kerry will present Palestinian and Israeli leaders with a framework peace agreement by the end of the month, Arab League official Mohammad Sbeih said. President Abbas told the League that “once he receives the American proposal, he will not respond but will present it to Arab nations to make a joint decision”. Mr. Sbeih said that President Abbas had articulated his position on the peace agreement as follows: he would accept a Palestinian State with the entirety of East Jerusalem as its capital, with limited land swaps of equal value; he would accept an incremental withdrawal of Israeli troops during three years; he would reject any permanent Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley but would welcome an international peacekeeping presence; he would refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish State; he would reject any interim agreement, calling instead for a permanent solution; he would reject any proposal that required Palestine to be an unarmed State but would not get involved in an “arms race”. (Ma’an News Agency)

“Price-tag” attacks must be classified as acts of terrorism, said a group of Israeli Jews and Arabs as they rallied in front of the Prime Minister’s office during the weekly Cabinet meeting. The rally was organized by Tag Meir, a grassroots organization. (The Jerusalem Post)

Two Palestinian men ended a 38-day hunger strike after Israeli authorities had agreed to send them to court, nearly two months after being held without trial, family members said. (Ma’an News Agency)

23

A rocket fired from Gaza hit a southern Israeli community near Ashkelon without causing damage or injuries, Israeli police said. (AFP)

Israeli forces detained 12 Palestinians across the West Bank in overnight raids, an Israeli army spokeswoman said. (Ma’an News Agency)

An Israeli police officer was stabbed near the “Adam” settlement, north of Jerusalem. Security forces launched a manhunt to locate the suspect, who they believed had escaped in the direction of the nearby Palestinian village of Kfar Jaba. (The Jerusalem Post)

In an interview with Voice of Palestine radio, Chief PLO Negotiator Erakat ruled out the possibility of extending the nine-month deadline set by the US for completing the peace talks with Israel, adding that earlier statements attributed to him on the subject had been “misunderstood”. (The Jerusalem Post)

President Abbas said in his Christmas message that millions of Palestinians were still denied the right to worship in their homeland. “We celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem under occupation,” he said. He stressed that contrary to allegations, Christians and Muslims were a coherent part of Palestinian society. (WAFA)

Israel refused entry to five Arab Tourism Ministers who had planned to attend Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, PA Minister of Tourism Rula Maaya said. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israel’s High Court of Justice panel had asked farmers from the West Bank village of Yatta to withdraw a petition against settlers who allegedly seized their lands. The State Prosecutor’s Office argued that the Palestinians should pursue civil legal action instead. (Haaretz)

24

Israel Radio reported that the Israeli Air Force attacked targets in Gaza after an IDF civilian employee was shot dead by Palestinians at the Gaza-Israel border. According to Palestinian reports, two people were killed in the air strikes, including a 4-year-old girl, and six were injured. (The Jerusalem Post, Ynetnews)

Israeli troops erected three military tents near the main road between Jenin and Tulkarm, with Israeli soldiers deployed in the area. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli army arrested nine people, all of them in their twenties, in Nablus and Hebron, according to local and security sources. (WAFA)

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Erakat condemned in a statement Israel’s recent air strikes on the Gaza Strip, calling the incident a “war crime… which aims to initiate a bloody escalation”. (Ma’an News Agency)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern about the escalating violence in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank in a statement issued by his spokesperson and called for maximum restraint by all parties to prevent further bloodshed. (www.un.org)

The Bank of Palestine will be providing $50,000 to UNICEF in Palestine to help children and families in the aftermath of the severe winter storm that had hit Gaza, while Bank of Palestine staff on the ground would volunteer their time to help with the distribution of relief supplies, a UNICEF press release said. (WAFA)

A decision had been made by the Israeli Prime Minister’s office to delay the announcement of the sale of new land for construction in settlements by some two weeks. An Israeli political official said that the decision was the result of US and European pressure not to link settlement announcements with the forthcoming prisoner release in the following week, as it could derail the ongoing talks. (Ma’ariv)

President Abbas said that the next batch of veteran prisoners would be released from Israeli prisons by the end of the month. (Ma’an News Agency)

25

The Spokesman for the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, Abu Ahmad, said that Israel had violated a ceasefire with Gaza over 1,400 times since December 2012. He said that the killing of a child on 22 December marked the biggest violation of the Egyptian-brokered truce to end a week-long assault [Operation Pillar of Defense] on the Gaza Strip in 2012. Mr. Abu Ahmad said that his movement did not want to end the ceasefire because “it benefits our people” at the present, “but we will not keep it forever”. (Ma’an News Agency)

Dozens of Palestinians hurled stones at IDF forces patrolling near the West Bank town of Tulkarem. The IDF responded with riot control equipment and one Palestinian sustained light injuries from gas inhalation. (Ynetnews)

Prime Minister Netanyahu convened his diplomatic-security cabinet for a meeting to discuss the escalation along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. (The Jerusalem Post)

Hamas authorities accused Israel of punishing the entire Gazan population by closing the Kerem Shalom crossing indefinitely, the sole commercial crossing between the two sides. (Xinhua)

The IDF delivered notices to residents of Beit Ummar, a town north of Hebron, ordering them to stop rehabilitation work on their seven old houses. (WAFA)

An Israeli official reported that Israel would likely announce new plans for construction in settlements next week. (AP)

A trio of Israeli stage actors refused to perform in an acclaimed play at a theatre in the “Ariel” settlement. (AP)

26

A rocket launched toward Israel from the Gaza Strip landed in the Palestinian territory. (The Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian security forces said that four Palestinian teenagers were arrested by Israeli forces in the Silat al-Harithiya village near Jenin for throwing stones and approaching the separation wall. Separately, an Israeli army spokeswoman said that Israeli forces detained one Palestinian overnight in Tulkarm. (Ma’an News Agency)

A spokesman from the office of President Abbas denied a report in Israeli media that the President maintained a secret channel with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for several years. (Ma’an News Agency)

A team of Russian forensic experts said that former Palestinian leader had Yasser Arafat died of “natural causes”, and ruled out radiation poisoning as cause of death. The Ambassador of Palestine to the Russian Federation, Faed Mustafa, said that there already was a decision to continue the investigation. “We respect their position; we highly value their work but there is a decision to continue work.” (AFP, Le Monde, Haaretz)

According to Israel’s TV Channel 10, an unnamed European Union diplomat said that the EU would strongly object to any new announcements of Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. (The Jerusalem Post)

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Erakat said that at a meeting with US Envoy Indyk, Palestinian President Abbas had appealed to the United States to stop the Israeli Government from issuing new settlement decisions in order to save the peace process and the American efforts. (AP)

UNRWA condemned the latest demolitions in the West Bank that had displaced 68 people. The majority of those displaced, 46 persons, had been Palestine refugees and almost half were children, including a five-year-old girl who was paralyzed from the waist down. The demolitions had taken place in Ein Ayoub, near Ramallah, and Fasayil Al Wusta, near Jericho, with 61 persons displaced in Ein Ayoub, and 7 persons, all refugees, displaced in Fasayil Al Wusta. (www.unrwa.org)

An Israeli settler ran over a Palestinian child in the northern West Bank town of Deir Istiya near Salfit. Yasser Ibrahim Abu Zeid, 7, sustained serious injuries and was taken to an Israeli hospital in Petah Tiqva. (Ma'an News Agency)

The IDF destroyed dozens of dunums of agricultural land, south of the West Bank town of Qalqilya, uprooting almond, citrus and olives trees. (WAFA)

27

The IDF entered Silwad village, north of Ramallah, firing live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas, while Palestinian youths threw rocks and empty bottles at them. Four Palestinians youths were injured. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Israel Air Force struck a weapons manufacturing site in central Gaza and a weapons storage site in north of the Strip, wounding two Palestinians. The air strikes were in response to rocket fire on southern Israel the previous day. (The Jerusalem Post)

The Gaza Strip electricity company said that the lack of fuel from Israel due to the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing meant that electricity supplies to Gaza would be limited to six hours a day as opposed to the usual 12 hours a day. Israel closed the crossing on 23 December following cross-border incidents earlier in the week. (AFP)

Israeli bulldozers levelled Palestinian land in the area between Ras Atiya and al-Dabaa villages, south of Qalqilya, in preparation for confiscation. Large numbers of Israeli troops had also been deployed to prevent Palestinians from approaching the area that measured some 15 dunums. Israel declared the land private property and owned by Israelis. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Army Radio said that Israel would be revealing plans to build 1,400 settler homes in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem to coincide with the release of the third batch of Palestinian prisoners due on 29 December as part of the commitment to resume US-brokered peace talks. Some 600 new housing units would be built in the settlement of “Ramat Shlomo” in East Jerusalem, the remaining 800 in different settlements in the West Bank. (AFP)

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Erakat said that the Palestinian Authority would take Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for war crimes and violation of international law if Israel went ahead with an announcement of new settlement construction in the coming week. The Palestinians would also seek membership in 63 international organizations, including the ICC. (www.telegraph.co.uk)

Member of Knesset Miri Regev (Likud) indicated that Israel should not accept any agreement that would provide for the Palestinians to assume control of the Jordan Valley. “Negotiations should be conducted about peace, not about land,” she told Israel Radio the day after submitting a bill to annex the Jordan Valley. She said that Israeli law should be applied to settlements in the Jordan Valley in order to transmit Israel’s message that it will not give up on its security presence in the area. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the Almagor, the Terror Victims Association, against the scheduled release of a third batch of 26 Palestinian prisoners. (Haaretz)

28

Israel’s Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya'alon, ordered the resumption of operations for the following day at the Kerem Shalom crossing, which was closed on 24 December following the killing of an IDF employee by a Palestinian sniper near the Israel-Gaza border. (Israel Hayom)

The Israeli prison service published a list of 26 Palestinian prisoners slated to be released in two days as a third group of prisoners who had been detained before the Oslo Accords of 1994. (Ma’an News Agency)

29

Palestinian medics said that two Palestinians were wounded by Israeli tank fire near the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza. A spokesman for the Israeli army said that they were not familiar with such an incident. (AFP)

According to sources quoted by the Saudi daily Al-Watan, US Secretary of State Kerry will present, during his forthcoming visit to the Middle East, a new framework for a peace deal. The proposal would call for Israel to recognize the 1967 lines as a basis for the future Palestinian State, and the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people. The mutual recognitions would then serve as the foundation of the framework agreement aimed to be signed by the end of January, the details of which were expected to be ironed out in the coming months. (www.i24news.tv)

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Erakat condemned the Ministerial Committee on Legislation’s vote in favour of a Knesset bill to place the Jordan Valley under full Israeli sovereignty. He said that the vote showed the Israeli Government’s “indifference” toward international law. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Ambassador of the State of Palestine to the Russian Federation, Fayed Mustafa, said that Palestinian-Russian relations would further improve in 2014 as a result of the scheduled visit of President Abbas to Moscow in January. Three agreements would be signed during the visit between the Russian and Palestinian Ministries of Health, the Interior, and between the Russian and Palestinian customs agencies. The agreements would entail training staff, participation in events and mutual cooperation. (Ma’an News Agency)

According to a Palestinian official, the Gaza Strip’s only power plant had restarted operations after Israel resumed fuel deliveries, two days after a lack of supplies had halted electricity production. (The Daily Star)

The EU Ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, lodged a protest to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the decision to build 1,400 new housing units in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements. (Haaretz)

30

According to information published by B’Tselem, the number of Palestinian fatalities in the West Bank in 2013 as a result of IDF-related violence was the highest in five years, with the number of Palestinian victims in the West Bank reaching 27 and 9 in the Gaza Strip. (Palestine News Network, The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF detained 22-year-old Hasan Atif al-Kamil in the Wadi Maali neighbourhood of Bethlehem and confiscated his computer. (Ma'an News Agency)

The IDF continued to besiege the town of Yaabad near Jenin for the sixth day in a row closing the town’s entrances with military checkpoints and preventing residents from moving in and out. (Ma’an News Agency)

During a keynote speech at an economic conference, Israeli Minister of Defense Ya’alon openly referred to proposals made by US Secretary of State Kerry to replace Israeli security presence on the ground in the West Bank with an array of advanced remote surveillance capabilities. “No amount of drones or satellites can replace boots on the ground – of both IDF battalions and the Shin Bet – when it comes to containing Palestinian terrorism”. (The Jerusalem Post)

A report compiled by PA security forces stated that chances of a third intifada were very high, recommending the formulation of contingency plans in preparation for the possibility of violent uprisings. “There is a lot of rage on the ground over the difficulties in the peace process and the continued settlement construction,” a senior Palestinian security official said. Under these conditions, “An intifada is very likely,” he said. (Israel Hayom)

Israeli authorities released 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners, held since before the Oslo Accords − the third of four groups of 104 detainees to be released under the ongoing peace talks. Five of the released prisoners were Israeli Arabs returning to East Jerusalem. Ha’aretz reported that after the latest release, 32 pre-Oslo-era Palestinians remained in Israeli jails. Palestinian President Abbas, at a ceremony in Ramallah welcoming home the freed prisoners, said that “There won’t be a final agreement with Israel until all the prisoners are released.” (AFP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Ynetnews)

Israeli TV Channel 10 reported that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was prepared to view US Secretary of State Kerry’s framework agreement, including the provisions for talks on the basis of the pre-1967 lines, as “a basis for negotiations”, according to a Likud source. (The Times of Israel)

Palestinian Minister of Health Jawad Awwad, following his meeting in Ramallah with a delegation of the International Islamic Relief Organization, said that the Organization was set to fund projects to develop the health sector in Palestine. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Municipality of Jerusalem handed out notes ordering residents to demolish a newly-built mosque, Palestinian homes and parking garages, under the pretext of ‘unlicensed construction’. A period of 30 days was given to file a petition against the order at Israeli courts. (WAFA)

According to a press release issued by Operation Dove, five settlers from the outpost of Havat Ma'on attacked four Palestinians in the neighbouring South Hebron Hills village of At Tuwani while they were ploughing a field. (WAFA)

UNRWA Spokesman Gunness said that at least 15 Palestinians had died of hunger since September in a besieged refugee camp in Damascus. He warned of deteriorating situation in the Yarmouk camp where some 20,000 Palestinians were trapped, with limited food and medical supplies. “Since September 2013, we have been unable to enter the area to deliver desperately needed relief supplies,” Mr. Gunness said. (AFP)

31

Dozens of IDF vehicles raided the town of Sielet Ath-Thaher, south of Jenin. Israeli soldiers broke into Palestinian homes and searched them, handing one resident a military order for interrogation. (IMEMC)

The Ambassador of Palestine to the Czech Republic, Jamal Al-Jamal, was killed in a blast at the Palestinian residence in Prague. Czech police said that the blast may have been caused by mishandling an explosive device securing a safe, and that the incident was not being treated as an attack or a terrorist incident. The safe that exploded was used almost daily for storing cash, and Embassy staff was not aware of any explosive safety device in it, the Embassy spokesman said. (Reuters, The Guardian)

The IDF arrested two students from the Greens school, south of Bethlehem, while they were on their way home. (IMEMC)

Following a performance in Jerusalem, a bus carrying members of Israel’s Habima National Theater Company was attacked by rocks on Highway 443 en route to Tel Aviv. (The Jerusalem Post)

An IDF patrol operating along the Gaza Strip border came under fire from an unidentified source. There were no reports of injuries or damage. (The Times of Israel)

Israeli Channel 2 reported that Hamas authorities tested new long-range rockets that can reach Tel Aviv. (The Jerusalem Post)

Peace will only come when Israel’s “security and settlement interests” were ensured, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, adding “settlement interests” for the first time into his usual formula about Israel’s security needs. (The Jerusalem Post)

During the daily press briefing at the US State Department, Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said that Secretary of State Kerry expressed his appreciation for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to release the third tranche of prisoners, adding that “The Israeli Government’s commitment to release Palestinian prisoners helped enable the start, and the continuation of the final status negotiations, and we believe this is a positive step forward in the overall process.” (www.state.gov)


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