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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 August 2010




Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine

MONTHLY MEDIA MONITORING REVIEW
August 2010

Monthly highlights
    • Five rockets hit Israeli and Jordanian port resorts killing one Jordanian and injuring three (2 August)

    • UN Secretary-General names Israeli and Turkish members of the Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident established on 2 August (7 August)

    • Israeli withdraws assistance to the PA to build Ar-Rawabi city in the West Bank (12 August)

    • Lebanon’s Parliament grants fuller employment rights to Palestinian refugees (17 August)

    • The United States invites Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct peace negotiations in Washington the following month (20 August)

    • B’Tselem warns that 95 per cent of the water pumped into the Gaza Strip was polluted and unfit for drinking (23 August)

    • Israeli associations conclude that the education of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem was subject to "ongoing neglect" (24 August)

    • PA Cabinet supports PLO Executive Committee’s decision to accept Quartet’s invitation to resume direct talks with Israel (25 August)

    • Hamas claims responsibility for the shooting death of four Israeli settlers days before the resumption of peace talks in Washington (31 August)

1

Israel continued to launch missiles at Rafah where an aerial attack east of Khan Yunis injured one civilian. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told his Cabinet that Israel held Hamas responsible for the flare-up in violence and would retaliate for any attack against its people. (AP)

Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official, said that the renewal of Israeli air strikes on Gaza were a direct result of the Arab League’s decision to resume direct peace talks. He said that direct negotiations could only lead to further "judaization" of Jerusalem and Israeli crimes against Palestinians, citing air strikes on Gaza. He said that the Arab League decision over-extended its authority, explaining that the decision to resume negotiations must be taken by Palestinians. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told Likud Ministers that US President Barack Obama’s Administration was attempting to win Israel's agreement to a Palestinian effort to hold a trilateral meeting to set the terms of reference, agenda and timetable for direct negotiations with the Palestinians, which may start in mid-August. The Palestinians also wanted to discuss the future of Israel's freeze on settlement construction, which had been scheduled to expire on 26 September. It was expected that Israel would be represented by Isaac Molho, Mr. Netanyahu's envoy for the peace process, and the Palestinians by the Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erakat. The US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, was expected to represent the United States. (Haaretz)

Egypt’s President, Hosni Mubarak, met in Cairo with Israel’s visiting President, Shimon Peres, where they expressed support for direct talks. "The time element is critical and the parties must not miss the window of opportunity that is now being created," President Peres and President Mubarak said in a statement. (Haaretz)

Former Knesset member Dalia Rabin-Pelossof met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Mr. Abbas informed the daughter of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that the Arab League had expressed its support for direct talks. He said that he was demanding that Mr. Netanyahu accept that negotiations over the establishment of a Palestinian State would be based on the 1967 borders, with exchange of territory, and that he wanted the talks to focus on borders and security. (Haaretz)

The Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, Saeb Erakat, said that President Abbas had received a letter from US President Obama. He said, "The letter did not include any threats or warnings. [President] Obama explained that his role would be less if we don't take his recommendation to start direct talks". Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a press release that the letter was "a letter of threats" and that "it uncovered Obama's pro-Israel policies". (Xinhua)

2

Hamas military medical services coordinator Adham Abu Salmiyya said that 42 Palestinians had been injured by an explosion caused by Israeli warplanes targeting the home of senior Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades leader Alaa al-Danaf in Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip. Hamas blamed Israel for the explosion, while the IDF, through an army spokeswoman, denied any involvement. It was unclear if Mr. al-Danaf was hurt in the blast. (Ma’an News Agency)

Five rockets fired from the Sinai desert in Egypt struck the neighbouring Israeli and Jordanian Red Sea resorts of Eilat and Aqaba, killing one Jordanian and injuring three others, Jordanian and Israeli police said. Israeli police sources reported no casualties in Eilat. Egyptian security sources were quoted by the State news agency MENA as saying that the rockets could not have been fired from the Sinai. No group had claimed responsibility for the attack. Eilat’s Mayor, Meir Itzhak Halevi, told Israel Radio that there were no signs that any of the rockets hit Eilat within its city limits. Israeli media reported that three rockets had landed in the Red Sea and two in open spaces. (AP, Reuters)

The IDF arrested 11 Palestinians in the West Bank during operations. (The Jerusalem Post)

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Badran Jabir said that the IDF had destroyed over 30 dunums of farmland in the Hebron village of Al-Baq'a and detained two Palestinians, the landowners. He added that the forces beat and detained his son and son-in-law. A spokesman for Israel's Civil Administration said inspectors destroyed pipes that had been illegally installed to steal water from other sources, adding that no farmland was destroyed in the process. (Ma’an News Agency)

In a statement issued in Ramallah, the PA Council of Ministers said that the success of international efforts to start direct calls depended on their being clear benchmarks and a timetable for negotiations with Israel, in addition to a comprehensive and full settlement to the conflict, especially in East Jerusalem. The Council called upon the international community to intervene directly to force Israel to halt its aggressive practices against the Palestinian people, particularly in East Jerusalem, to promote peace and achieve a two-State solution and to ensure the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right of return. It condemned the continued Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank, including the takeover by settlers of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem. (KUNA)

Palestinian Gaza crossings liaison officer, Raed Fattouh, said that Israel had begun implementing its decision to increase the amount of goods entering the Gaza Strip, adding that two Gaza crossings would be opened for deliveries during the day. He said that approximately 250 truckloads of goods and humanitarian aid were expected to enter the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza, including limited quantities of industrial diesel and domestic-use gas. The Karni crossing, in northern Gaza, would be opened for the delivery of 120 truckloads of wheat and animal feed. (Ma’an News Agency)

A statement from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office announced that Israel would take part in a United Nations investigation into the Gaza aid flotilla incident. The move allowed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to announce an international investigation panel. The statement said that Israel relayed its consent "after political contacts that took place in the past few weeks, with the objective of ensuring that the panel and its written mandate will be balanced and fair". (AP)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on the establishment of the Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident of 31 May 2010, announcing that the Panel would be led by former Prime Minister of New Zealand Geoffrey Palmer as Chair and the outgoing President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe as Vice-Chair. The Panel would have two additional members, one each from Israel and Turkey. The statement said that the Panel would begin its work on 10 August and submit the first progress report by mid-September. (UN press release SG/SM/13032)

Turkey welcomed a United Nations probe into the Gaza aid flotilla and Israel's decision to take part as an "important step". The Turkish Foreign Ministry hailed the UN probe as a "step taken in the right direction" and pledged Ankara's cooperation with the panel. "It is imperative that the investigation is carried out in a swift, objective and transparent manner in line with international standards ... We believe all the panel members will act in an objective and responsible manner," a statement from the Ministry said. (AFP)

The Jerusalem municipality approved the construction of 40 additional housing units in the “Pisgat Ze’ev” settlement in East Jerusalem. (Ynetnews)

Peace Now said that construction of at least 600 housing units had started during the 10-month moratorium declared by Israel, at least 492 of which were in direct violation of the law of the moratorium. Some 2,000 housing units were currently under construction, most of them having been started before the announcement of the freeze in November 2009. (www.peacenow.org.il)

3

A 22-year old Palestinian man was hit in the shoulder and moderately injured by Israeli forces east of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, reportedly while he was gathering cement aggregate at the border area. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces detained seven Palestinians from the village of Azzun, east of Qalqilya, and another from Birzeit, north of Ramallah. (Ma’an News Agency)

Wassel Abu Yousef, a senior official of the PLO, said that David Hale, the deputy of US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, had asked PA President Abbas during their meeting in Ramallah about setting a date for launching direct negotiations with Israel. “President Abbas informed Hale that he rejects setting any dates or appointments and reaffirmed the Palestinian position that settlement must be halted … before moving to direct negotiations,” Mr. Abu Yousef said. Meanwhile, Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee, which held a meeting in Ramallah chaired by Mr. Abbas, told a news conference that the Executive Committee had concluded that the only way to ensure negotiations was “to define a reference for the talks and the complete cessation of settlement activities. (Xinhua)

US State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said, “We want to see the parties [Israel and the Palestinians] in direct negotiations. We have done a fair amount of work through the proximity talks. We have taken the proximity talks as far as they can advance. We don’t want to have either side set preconditions prior to the start of the negotiations. We understand there are questions about how they will proceed, but that’s why we want to get into these negotiations.” (www.state.gov)

Palestinian official Jamal Mohaisen revealed that international and Arab contacts were underway to set the terms of reference for the peace process. "There are many contacts between the Palestinian leadership and international and Arab peace players to ensure that the Palestinian demands to start direct talks will be met," he stated, following a meeting of the party's central committee that was chaired by President Abbas in Ramallah. (Xinhua)

The IDF reported that Palestinian-Israeli cooperation had been increasing at crossings. The expansion of activities was part of the implementation of a decision taken last June by the Israeli cabinet. (dover.idf.il)

Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom crossing for the delivery of an estimated 250 truckloads of humanitarian aid and commercial goods, Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh said. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said in a new report that the number of Israeli settlers had reached 517,774 by the end of 2009, the majority of them (267,325) in the Jerusalem area. (WAFA, www.pcbs.gov.ps)

The Security Council issued a press statement welcoming the establishment of a UN panel to probe the 31 May Gaza flotilla raid. The panel was also welcomed by, among others, the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. (UN News Centre, www.oic-oci.org, www.consilium.europa.eu)

Israeli opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, criticised Israel's decision to cooperate with the UN flotilla panel, accusing the Government of exposing the IDF to international scrutiny. (Haaretz)

At a news conference in East Jerusalem, the father of captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, appealed directly to Palestinians in Gaza to put pressure on Hamas for a prisoner swap during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan. (CNN)

4

Israeli shellfire killed a Palestinian militant and wounded another in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials said. The shelling happened near the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis. (Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Israel would respond in kind to any attacks against its citizens. The stern warning, directed at both Hamas and the Lebanese Government, followed four attacks against Israel in the past five days from Gaza, Sinai and Lebanon. (The Jerusalem Post)

Egypt said that "Palestinian factions" had been behind rocket attacks on Israel and Jordan, apparently implying the rockets had been fired from the Sinai Peninsula. According to the official MENA news agency, an official Egyptian source had said that Palestinian factions from the Gaza Strip had been behind the launch of five rockets on Aqaba and Eilat. (MENA, AFP)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak received a phone call from US President Obama during which they discussed the requirements for starting direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. (MENA)

PA President Abbas said that Israel must stop construction of new settlements and agree to the pre-1967 borders for the success of upcoming direct negotiations. “[W]e are not putting any preconditions before the direct talks but are asking Israel to implement international resolutions and agreements regarding these two important topics,” he explained. (Arab News)

Palestinian National Initiative leader Mustafa Barghouti said that talks to secure a unity deal between rivals Fatah and Hamas were ongoing. He said, "Efforts are all focused on ensuring the failure of external pressure on Palestinians to enter into direct talks with the Israeli occupation. The endeavours toward conciliation are the most important to strengthen the Palestinian ability to confront Israeli pressures." (Ma’an News Agency)

The PLO Negotiations Affairs Department released a report on settlements entitled “Israeli Violations of the Road Map: 1 April – 30 June 2010”. The report finds that, while there had been no settlement housing starts during the first quarter of 2010 in the rest of the West Bank, construction began on 147 units in East Jerusalem. Meanwhile, settlement housing completions continued apace throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, with 468 units in the first quarter of the year. (www.nad-plo.org)

The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said that Israeli bulldozers had begun razing 15 graves in the Muslim Mamillah cemetery in West Jerusalem. (Ma’an News Agency, Al-Jazeera)

Egypt allowed 200 tons of medical aid from a Libyan ship into Gaza. Nine more truckloads of food brought by the ship would be sent to Gaza via an Israeli crossing with Egypt. (AFP)

Although Israel had agreed to cooperate with the UN probe on the Gaza flotilla raid, it would not allow the panel to interrogate Israeli officers, civilians or soldiers, according to officials. (KUNA)

Turkey summoned a top US diplomat to complain about what it saw as an attempt to define the mandate of the UN’s flotilla probe, a Turkish diplomat said. The reprimand was delivered over comments by US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice in which she said that the UN inquiry was "not a substitute" for national investigations being carried out by Israel and Turkey. (AFP)

The President of the UN Human Rights Council denied that the body's investigation of Israel's flotilla raid had been made redundant by the announcement of a higher-profile UN probe. Sihasak Phuangketkeow defended the Council’s investigation and urged Israel to cooperate with both. "There's a clear distinction between the two missions and the mandates given," the President told reporters, adding, "I feel very strongly that we have to proceed." (AP)

Activists behind the Gaza "Freedom Flotilla" said that they were planning another, bigger flotilla before the end of the year. Dror Feiler, Spokesman for the Swedish group “Ship to Gaza”, said that the network of organizations involved in the effort was growing and now had support groups from around the world, including in the US, Venezuela, Chile and Malaysia. (AP)

5

Israeli forces arrested 16 Palestinians in the West Bank. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli forces conducted a limited incursion into the Al-Frahen area to the east of Khan Yunis, in central Gaza. Four bulldozers and five tanks razed agricultural lands while Israeli forces opened fire toward Palestinian farmers. No injuries were reported. (The Palestine Telegraph)

Three militants were injured in clashes between Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza. The Islamic Jihad said in a press release that clashes erupted after an argument between one of its fighters and Hamas gunmen in the outskirts of Gaza city. (Xinhua)

Israeli forces arrested 55 Palestinians in the West Bank. Forty-six were released later the same day. (Arab News)

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Israel declined to hold a three-way meeting that would comprise the US, Israel and the PA, to set terms of reference and timetable for direct talks. "Israel ignores all international calls to hold any meetings to discuss peace-related issues," he said. (Xinhua)

A top Israeli diplomatic official said that Saudi Arabia was urging President Abbas to enter direct talks with Israel, and could “sweeten a deal” by offering financial assistance for agreeing to negotiations. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israel's Jerusalem municipality said that tombstones in a twelfth-century Muslim cemetery razed by authorities the previous day had been "built illegally with the aim to take over the plot". (Ma’an News Agency)

According to Mohammad Mustafa, who runs the Palestinian Authority’s main investment fund, the Palestinian economy may grow 20 per cent annually and become less dependent on international donors if there was peace with Israel. (Bloomberg)

The EU and Sweden contributed €14 million for the regular payment of salaries and pensions to more than 81,000 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners in the West Bank and the Gaza through PEGASE, the European mechanism for support to Palestinians. (WAFA)

An illegal Israeli settlement outpost erected near the larger Kiyrat Arba settlement in Hebron was evacuated by Israeli forces, prompting angry Israeli settlers to torch Palestinian lands and throw stones at Israeli forces. (Ma’an News Agency)

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem, said that the Gaza Strip needed about 86,000 new housing units, mostly because of population growth but also to replace the thousands of homes destroyed or damaged as a result of Israeli military operations. "It would require the entry of over 660,000 truckloads of construction materials into Gaza in order to build these units," he said, pointing out that it would be "impossible" to rebuild Gaza "in a timely manner." (IRIN)

According to Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi of the Eiland Committee, the IDF's internal inquiry into the Gaza Flotilla incident, responsibility for May's botched raid on the flotilla rested with the IDF, not the Government. "As an army, we presented our capabilities and said it would work. In reality, it didn't work," he told a closed meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. (Haaretz)

Turkish tugboats arrived at the port of Haifa to transport the Mavi Marmara and two other ships involved in the Gaza aid flotilla back to Turkey after Israeli authorities had granted permission for their return. (Haaretz)

6

PA security officials said that the commander of Hamas' military wing in Rafah, Raed al-Atar, was responsible for ordering the rocket attacks on Eilat and Aqaba. According to Palestinian intelligence, Atar was behind the rocket attacks, authorized by the Hamas leadership in Gaza without the knowledge of the local Hamas military commander. (Haaretz)

According to a statement by Hamas officials in the West Bank, PA security services had detained eight Hamas members and affiliates. (Ma’an News Agency)

Gaza police said that a home-made projectile exploded as militant groups attempted to launch the explosive toward targets in Israel from west of Beit Lahiya in Gaza. No injuries were reported. (Ma’an News Agency)

The IDF said intelligence had shown that Hamas leaders in Damascus had been pressuring its followers in the West Bank to abduct Israeli settlers and citizens. (Haaretz)

Diplomatic sources said that it was not clear when US envoy George Mitchell would return to the region, as he was waiting for a decision by PA President Abbas on direct talks before coming back. (The Jerusalem Post)

Dennis Ross, a special adviser to President Obama, arrived in Israel for a series of meetings that would focus both on the Palestinian issue and Iran. (The Jerusalem Post)

Ten aid trucks comprising the first shipment of relief aid donated by the UAE Red Crescent Authority to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had arrived in Gaza through the Karm Abu Salim crossing, south of the Gaza Strip. UNRWA officials said that arrival of remaining humanitarian assistance would be completed within the following few days. (Emirates News Agency)

More than 1,000 people took part in protests across Israel marking one year since Jewish residents entered the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, resulting in the evacuation of Palestinian families. (Ynetnews)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Middle East peace process. According to a UN readout, "The Secretary-General and Secretary Clinton discussed the Middle East peace process and efforts to move to direct talks … They also discussed the role of the Quartet in the peace process." (Xinhua)

7

Hamas accused Israel of launching the rockets that struck near Eilat and Jordan, as a pretext for further attacks against the Palestinians. (The Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian opposition factions including Hamas and Islamic Jihad convened in Damascus, where they reiterated their objection to any kind of talks with Israel. (Ma'an News Agency)

Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti said that he was attacked by settlers as he accompanied farmers trying to access their land near Hebron. (Ma'an News Agency)

The Mavi Marmara, the Turkish aid ship that was raided by Israeli forces in May, had arrived back in Turkey after its release by Israel. The Islamic charity that organized the flotilla said that the ships might be used for another bid to break the blockade. “If the problem is not solved, many flotillas ... will sail to Gaza," Huseyin Oruc of the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid told Reuters. (Reuters, BBC)

A ship carrying supplies to Gaza, with a crew of only female volunteers, was to leave Tripoli this weekend. Organizers said that hundreds volunteered for the trip. The crew consisted of nuns from the United States, a musician, doctors, attorneys and journalists, London's The Guardian reported. (The Guardian, UPI)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement: “I am very pleased to announce today the Israeli and Turkish members of the Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident of 31 May 2010. Israel's Panel member is Joseph Ciechanover. Turkey's Panel member is Özdem Sanberk. Both men have distinguished records of public service. I look forward to meeting them in New York on 10 August when they will join the other Panel members: the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Geoffrey Palmer, who is the Chair of the Panel; and the outgoing President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, who is Vice-Chair. As I said when announcing the Panel, I hope the Panel will fulfil its mandate based on the presidential statement of the Security Council and with the fullest cooperation of the relevant national authorities of the two countries.” (UN press release SG/SM/13050)

8

The Islamic Jihad movement denied that it had decided to fully halt firing home-made rockets on Israel. "Our position toward the issue of launching rockets on Israel has not changed," Dawud Shihab, a Gaza-based Islamic Jihad spokesman, said. (Xinhua)

Israeli forces launched a series of raids across the West Bank entering homes, attacking residents, and delivering summonses ordering citizens to report to intelligence services, police said. (Ma'an News Agency)

PA President Abbas reiterated that he was ready to resume direct talks with Israel as soon as a framework for negotiations was guaranteed. Mr. Abbas said negotiations were at a critical stage and required a road map as well as “awareness of where direct or indirect talks are taking us”. (Ma'an News Agency)

Azzam el-Ahmad, head of Fatah's Parliamentary faction in the Palestinian Legislative Committee, said that the US Administration was not qualified to broker peace talks due to its total bias toward Israel, adding that President Obama had backtracked from his June 2009 speech in Cairo, in which he pledged his support for a Palestinian State. Mr. el-Ahmad added that a PA cabinet reshuffle was to take place within two weeks. (Ma'an News Agency)

Jordan's King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak discussed by telephone the need to achieve "tangible progress" in peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. (DPA)

In Damascus, Iranian senior foreign affairs adviser Ali Akbar Velayati said that Iran would “support resistance groups in Palestine and Lebanon” against Israel and the US. He was speaking in a meeting with the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Maher al-Taher; the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Ahmad Jibril; and the Secretary General of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, Khalid Abdul Majid, IRNA reported. Mr. Velayati also held talks with Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal on regional developments. (Press TV, IRNA)

Gaza Strip hospitals declared a state of emergency after Gaza's main power plant was shut down prompting a severe electricity crisis. The plant had been closed down due to a shortage of industrial diesel fuel, cutting the electricity supply to more than 700,000 people. PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib said that the PA was not responsible for the closure. (DPA, Ma'an News Agency)

The Israeli High Court of Justice upheld a June ruling and ordered the State to seal and fence off a synagogue that had been illegally constructed in the “El Matan” outpost in the West Bank. (The Jerusalem Post)

Dozens of Palestinians and foreign activists began rebuilding areas in the Jordan Valley village of Al-Farisiya, which had been bulldozed by Israel's Civil Administration. (Ma'an News Agency)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed confidence that the UN's Gaza flotilla inquiry would satisfy global public opinion, as the panel's Israeli and Turkish delegates were named. "I believe this committee will direct the important opinion of the international community, and not the committee set up by the anti-Israeli body in Geneva," Mr. Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting. (AFP)

9

IDF soldiers opened fire on a peaceful march in opposition to the security belt east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported among the Palestinians or foreign supporters. The march takes place on a weekly basis along the Gaza-Israeli border. (KUNA)

IDF soldiers raided the villages of Orta, Bait Forek and Dair Al-Hatab around the city of Nablus in the West Bank. No detentions were reported. (The Palestine Telegraph)

PA President Abbas said, "Until now, we did not agree… however, we may face other pressures that we cannot endure. If that happens, I will study this thing with the leadership ... and take the appropriate decision," he told reporters at his office, hinting that he might agree to direct talks with the Israelis. (Reuters)

One generator in Gaza's sole power station was restarted after receiving a limited quantity of industrial diesel, an electricity company spokesman said. (Ma'an News Agency)

The solidarity convoy "Miles of Smiles II" arrived in the Gaza Strip. The group of 45 supporters from seven countries brought in 45 ambulances equipped with medical goods and equipment worth an estimated €1 million. (Ma’an News Agency)

Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments, Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq, had called on Muslims worldwide to visit Jerusalem to assert the city’s Islamic identity. In an interview with the London- based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat, Mr. Zaqzouq attacked the traditional Arab tourism boycott against Israel. (Asharq Al-Awsat , The Jerusalem Post)

Aided by the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee, farmers from the southern West Bank village of Husan reclaimed lands inside an illegal Israeli settlement. One family managed to reclaim all 48 dunums (about five hectares) of their land, most of which lies inside the barbed wire fence surrounding “Betar Illit”. (Ma'an News Agency)

In his testimony before the Turkel Committee, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "I am the first to appear in this distinguished committee. Many will follow me, and I believe we will clarify all the details and get to the root of the truth. I am convinced the investigation will find that Israel and the IDF operated in accordance with international law." (The Jerusalem Post)

Prime Minister Netanyahu told Turkel Committee that Turkey had ignored warnings and appeals "at the highest level" many days before the fatal clash. Mr. Netanyahu also accused Ankara of looking to gain from a high-profile confrontation. (Reuters, AFP)

Israel threatened to pull out of the international Gaza aid flotilla inquiry after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that there was no agreement to refrain from calling Israeli soldiers to testify. Israel said that it had agreed to participate in the inquiry only after receiving assurances that the panel would rely on reports from Israel's own military inquiry, not testimony from soldiers. (AFP, AP)

The Israeli opposition party Kadima blasted Prime Minister Netanyahu for saying that the IDF was responsible for the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla. (Haaretz)

The local council in the Nablus Governorate village of Rujeib had accused Israeli authorities of cutting several villages' water supply by 50 per cent. (Ma'an News Agency)

10

Israeli soldiers injured four Palestinians and five foreign nationals during a demonstration against the closure of three shops in Hebron, in the West Bank, eyewitnesses said. (Ma’an News Agency)

The IDF detained three Palestinians from Tulkarm and Nablus in the West Bank. (The Palestine Telegraph)

After a three-hour meeting between PA President Abbas and US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, Palestinian officials said that they had made progress towards the launch of direct talks with Israel. A senior Palestinian source said, "The US Administration, in coordination with the Quartet and the Israeli and Palestinian sides, is preparing the invitation for direct negotiations." The Spokesman of the PA Presidency, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said, "The next few days will see important developments and very deep discussions in order to crystallize a position on direct negotiations." After the meeting, Mr. Mitchell told reporters: "We've just completed a long and productive meeting with President Abbas and his leadership team. I thank the President again for his personal courtesy and his courage and leadership in a difficult situation," adding, "we will continue our discussions. We are moving this process forward". Mr. Mitchell was to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu that day. (AFP)

US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, was unable to reach agreement on the terms of direct talks in a meeting with PA President Abbas. However, US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley characterized Mitchell's talks as "serious and positive". "We're pushing the parties to agree to direct negotiations and we think after today's meeting, we are closer to reaching that point than we were yesterday," Crowley said. (AP, Israel Radio)

Peter Ford, a representative of UNRWA Commissioner-General, said that the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation and UNRWA had signed a $50 million agreement to rebuild 1,250 refugee homes in the Gaza Strip destroyed during Operation Cast Lead. The Libyan Government agreed at the same time to free Rafael Hadad, an Israeli photographer detained in Libya. Mr. Ford said that hundreds of Palestinian families would benefit significantly from the deal but that Israel should do more. Upon Mr. Hadad’s return to Israel, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who had helped broker the agreement with the assistance of an Austrian mediator, described Libya as a "reliable partner". (Reuters)

In a statement, the League of Arab States announced that it was sending a convoy through the Rafah Crossing to the Gaza Strip to distribute medical equipment and supplies among its hospitals as per the list that the League’s Secretary-General received from Gazans during his visit to the Strip on 13 June. (KUNA)

Israel bulldozed dozens of Muslim gravestones in the Mamilla cemetery in central Jerusalem. The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage reported that the municipality destroyed more than 200 Muslim graves that had been recently renovated in a centuries-old cemetery in mostly Jewish West Jerusalem. The demolition of the graves happened near the site of a planned Museum of Tolerance to be built by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a US-based Jewish human rights group. (AFP, Ma’an News Agency)

In his three-hour-long testimony to the Turkel Committee into the raid on the Gaza aid flotilla, Israel's Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, said that Israel had exhausted all other options before carrying out the raid. He said that he bore full responsibility for military instructions that were given during the incident and that he opposed allowing soldiers to testify in civilian investigations. Comparing them to surgeons, Mr. Barak said that soldiers operated best when not consumed with fears of potential prosecution. He stressed that the Israeli military had adequate means of punishing its offending soldiers. (AP, Reuters)

Turkey's Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, told journalists that Israel should admit sole responsibility for the killing of nine activists during a raid on the Gaza aid flotilla. Mr. Davutoglu appeared to be responding to remarks made to the Turkel Committee the previous day by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that Turkey had ignored repeated warnings and appeals "at the highest level" to halt the flotilla. (Haaretz)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with a four-member panel probing Israel's raid on the Gaza aid flotilla, and stressed again that the inquiry was not meant to determine criminal responsibility. A statement from the office of the Secretary-General said that the panel would spend the coming days determining how they would undertake their task, and in that effort, the Secretary-General had stressed that they should seek the fullest cooperation of the national authorities. (Haaretz, AFP, DPA)

Israel's Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, said that Israel's leaders were aware of the possibility that the military interception of a flotilla bound for Gaza in late May could turn violent, although lower level military officials had said at the time that the commandos were expecting only passive resistance. (The New York Times)

11

During a meeting with US Envoy George Mitchell, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected the 1967 borders as the basis for peace talks and reiterated his request that direct talks with the Palestinians be initiated without preconditions. (Ma’an News Agency)

According to US State Department officials, peace efforts would "press forward in the coming days". State Department Spokesman J. P. Crowley stressed the fact that neither party had rejected the idea of direct talks, and were rather working through the details of what direct talks would look like. "I would not characterize ... our situation as deadlocked," the Spokesman said, noting both sides "indicate that they are ready to proceed into direct negotiations." (Ma’an News Agency, www.state.gov)

President Abbas was scheduled to meet with his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo, on 12 August. Mr. Abbas would be discussing his meeting in Ramallah with US Envoy Mitchell. (Ma’an News Agency)

According to the IDF, a number of accommodations had been made in preparation for the month of Ramadan. Palestinian families could visit relatives in Israel and Israeli-Arabs could enter A areas in the West Bank from the Jordan Valley. (www.idf.il)

A new IDF decree banned Israelis from entering Palestinian villages along Route 443 in the West Bank, despite these villages being located in the Israeli-controlled Area C. The ban was announced by the Head of Israeli Central Command, Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi, and joined other measures taken by the Central Command as the road was prepared to be opened to Palestinian traffic. (Haaretz)

According to a security source, Egyptian forces took control of 17 tunnels along the Gaza border. Iron and cement prepared for smuggling into the Strip had been found and confiscated. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Palestinian Authority and the de facto authorities in Gaza released prisoners on the occasion of Ramadan. In Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh ordered the release of 100 prisoners, while eight Hamas-affiliated professors from An-Najah University were released by PA security forces in Nablus, said Tayseer Fattouh, General Inspector of PA reform and rehabilitation centres. (Ma’an News Agency)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi completed his first testimony to the Turkel Committee, admitting mistakes and taking responsibility for failings. He opposed, however, the idea of questioning military personnel involved in the raid. He said the raid was "proportionate and appropriate." He said the next time ships tried to break his country's naval blockade of Gaza, Israeli commandos should "neutralize" anyone who tries to stop an Israeli boarding party with "precise fire". (AFP, DPA, Haaretz)

12

Israeli forces fired live ammunition at a Palestinian car east of Qalqilya when it failed to stop. One Palestinian was injured and arrested. (Ma’an News Agency)

PA President Abbas met with Egyptian Chief of Intelligence Omar Suleiman in Cairo, following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mr. Mubarak was expected to join Mr. Abbas alongside Jordan's King Abdullah II, as the PA President continued to brief regional officials on the latest discussions he held with US Envoy Mitchell. (Ma’an News Agency)

Ii a letter to EU Foreign Ministers, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said that a statement to set the basis for direct Israeli-Palestinian talks would be issued if both parties agreed to proceed to direct talks, and negotiations launched in August. The letter said Mr. Abbas was very close to accepting direct talks, adding, “In principle, President Abbas should be in a position to give a definitive answer by Sunday or early next week.” (Reuters)

The World Bank said that it would provide the Palestinian Authority with $5 million to fund its Teacher Education Improvement Project. (www.worldbank.org)

Israeli daily Israel HaYom reported that Israel would stop any assistance offered to the Palestinian Authority to build a new city, Ar-Rawabi, in the West Bank. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was to inform the PA that assistance would be withdrawn despite months of cooperation because the construction did not comply with laws to protect the environment, the paper said. (Ma’an News Agency)

According to Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Prime Minister Netanyahu would most likely give the go-ahead to resume building only within the settlement blocks in the West Bank after the settlement freeze ended on 26 September. (The Jerusalem Post)

PA Minister for National Economy Hasan Abu Libdeh held a meeting with Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour Benjamin Ben Eliezer. The meeting was called by Mr. Ben Eliezer to discuss the PA’s campaign to ban settlement products in the West Bank. “The request for this meeting only indicates the success of the campaign and its impact on the decline in economic strength of the settlements,” Mr. Abu Libdeh said, stressing that the PA was determined to continue with the campaign despite Israel’s threats to reciprocate. (Ma’an News Agency)

Turkey had set up its own inquiry into Israel's raid on the Gaza aid flotilla. The probe would work under the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and would "investigate the attack and the treatment the activists faced" before reporting on its findings, the ministry said in a statement. (Haaretz)

The Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement on the Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May flotilla incident:


13

US State Department Spokesman Phillip Crowley said that Secretary of State Clinton had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on 12 August about the issues blocking direct peace talks with the Palestinians. Ms. Clinton also discussed the issue with the Foreign Ministers of Jordan and Egypt, Mr. Crowley said. (Reuters)

The London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had prepared a “tempting” plan to be presented to the Palestinians during direct negotiations, in which Israel would offer to withdraw from up to 90 per cent of the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem. The newspaper quoted “knowledgeable sources” in Ramallah as saying that the Prime Minister’s plan would be in the form of a new interim agreement, similar to the 1993 Oslo Accords. The Prime Minister’s Office denied the report, calling it “unfounded.” (Ynetnews)

14

A UN delegation arrived in Gaza to follow up on the Goldstone report. The delegation entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing from Egypt. (Xinhua)

15

Hamas accused Palestinian Authority Security Services of detaining three Hamas affiliates in the West Bank. (Ma’an News Agency)

PA Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that the Palestinians had made further progress towards relaunching direct talks with Israel following a meeting with Deputy US Envoy David Hale in Ramallah. "There has been progress up to this point. The official Palestinian position will be made public after the Quartet statement," Mr. Hale said. (AFP)

A forum of seven senior cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, decided that Israel would reject any preconditions set forth by the Quartet in regard to scheduled resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli officials said that Israel would receive an invitation to the direct talks only from the Americans and not from the members of the Quartet. They said that Israel would wait to receive an invitation that would clarify that there would be no preconditions for starting direct talks. (Haaretz, Israel Radio)

Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, Saeb Erakat, said that it was still too early to determine a schedule to resume the talks with Israel. He added that he did not know when the Quartet’s statement calling for the resumption of the talks would be issued and expressed surprise that Israel rejected the Quartet statement before it was made public. (Israel Radio)

PA President Abbas was quoted as telling the Norwegian Foreign Minister in Ramallah that stopping settlement expansion and allocating a clear agenda for the negotiations "are the real entry to start direct negotiations leading to an independent Palestinian statehood with (East) Jerusalem as its capital". (WAFA)

Two secular Palestinian organizations, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, joined Hamas in calling on PA President Abbas not to bow to US pressure to resume direct peace talks with Israel, which they described as dangerous. (Reuters, Al Jazeera)

Several rebuilt structures in a Jordan Valley village were to be razed again, after Israel's Civil Administration handed out demolition warrants. Previously, 120 structures belonging to 28 residents had been demolished in the Al-Farisiya village. The structures had been rebuilt by the Palestinian Authority, but six were razed again by the Israeli Civil Administration. (Ma’an News Agency)

According to a Hamas political adviser, the Gaza government had suggested assisting the local electricity company in collecting consumer bills to provide enough funds for the increased entry of industrial diesel. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli army cranes began removing a concrete barrier that shielded the outskirts of the Gilo settlement in southern Jerusalem because of repeated Palestinian shootings from Beit Jala. Jerusalem city hall stated that, since the barrier was no longer needed for security, it could be dismantled, adding that it had made the decision in consultation with the military. (AP)

A 10-year-old Palestinian girl in Hebron was admitted to a hospital after a group of Israeli settlers attacked and injured her while she was playing in the neighbourhood. (IMEMC)

16

Israeli forces detained six Palestinian men and one woman in the Hebron district. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli troops killed an Islamic Jihad militant, Basem Da’ama, on the border with the Gaza Strip, after an exchange of fire in which an IDF tank commander had been slightly wounded. (Haaretz)

Two Qassam rockets fired from Gaza struck open areas in Israel’s western Negev region, causing no casualties or damage. (Haaretz)

The Israeli Government had ordered the construction of 23 portable structures in eight West Bank settlements that would serve as classrooms for some 600 students, despite the settlement construction freeze. (Ynetnews)

Israeli residents living on an illegal West Bank outpost had uprooted over 200 olive trees belonging to a Palestinian farmer near the Qusra village, in the Nablus district, a Palestinian Authority official said. (Ma’an News Agency)

UNRWA Spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna told reporters in Gaza City: “UNRWA’s working budget is suffering from an 84-million-dollar deficit. … This will force UNRWA to take steps towards closing institutions, schools and clinics in the Gaza Strip beginning in September.” He said that Arab States were to blame in part, having only paid for 1.5 per cent of UNRWA’s budget while they had pledged to pay 7.5 per cent. (AFP)

A Jerusalem court held the State of Israel responsible for killing a 10-year-old Palestinian girl in January 2007. The court ruled that border guards had either been negligent or disobeyed orders in shooting Abir Aramin with a rubber-coated bullet, calling the incident “totally unjustifiable”. The girl was hit in the head by a bullet while walking home from school in the West Bank village of Anata. (Haaretz)

17

Two IDF soldiers were slightly wounded after a mortar bomb launched by militants in Gaza exploded in Israel’s western Negev region. The Popular Resistance Committee’s military wing had claimed responsibility. (Haaretz, Ma’an News Agency)

Peace activists removed part of the buffer zone security fence in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, officials said. As participants removed 10 metres of the fence, Israeli forces opened fire. No injuries were reported. (Ma'an News Agency)

Israeli warplanes carried out four air strikes on the southern Gaza Strip that caused no injuries, Palestinian security sources and witnesses said. (AFP)

A Palestinian man was shot and wounded by Turkish embassy security guards after breaking into the embassy in Tel Aviv and taking hostages. The man was subdued and questioned by Turkish diplomats before being handed over to the Israeli police. The man’s lawyer said that his client was a former member of Israel's Shin Bet domestic security agency and was wanted by the PA. (Reuters, AFP)

A senior Israeli diplomat said that a statement by the Quartet that was expected to lead to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians had been delayed due to disputes between the US and EU. “The Quartet has not been able to come to an agreement, so its statement may only come out Thursday, Friday or possibly just next week … The EU has agreed to the Palestinian stipulations of the talks leading to the creation of a Palestinian State based on pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital within one year, but the Americans have not accepted these preconditions,” the official said. (The Jerusalem Post)

The Qatar Charity donated $118,500 to supply fuel for generators in Gaza's hospitals, the Gaza Ministry of Health stated. The Qatari donation would cover 300,000 litres of diesel, which could run hospital generators for up to 20 days. (Ma'an News Agency)

A former Israeli soldier who posted photographs on Facebook of herself posing next to blindfolded Palestinian prisoners told Israeli Army Radio that she did not “understand what’s wrong” with the photographs, which were taken while she was on active duty. The former soldier, Eden Abergil, who was now a reservist, said that the “pictures were taken in good will; there was no statement in them”. An Israeli military spokesman denounced Ms. Abergil’s snapshots as “disgraceful”. Breaking the Silence, an Israeli human rights group, added one of her images to a new Facebook album of similar photographs taken over the past decade. The group wrote, “This picture is not the ugly behaviour of one person, but a norm throughout the army”. Ghassan Khatib, a PA spokesman, said the images illustrated “the day-to-day life of the Palestinian people under occupation” and suggested “that occupation also corrupts the Israelis”. (The New York Times)

Israeli media had reported that Israel was planning to construct an elevator leading to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City and that the project would be proposed to planning committees, which would make a final decision. The elevator would start at street level and descend 21 metres to a new pedestrian tunnel, which would be 60 to 70 metres in length. The elevator would improve access for visitors with disabilities. (The Jerusalem Post, Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli authorities razed the Bedouin village of Al-Araqib for the fourth time. Residents had rebuilt dwellings that had been demolished to make way for a Jewish National Fund park. (Ma’an News Agency)

The PA Finance Ministry decided to indict four merchants who violated the boycott on products made in West Bank settlements. (Ynetnews)

Lebanon’s Parliament adopted a law granting fuller employment rights to some 400,000 Palestinians in the country, revoking a ban that had barred the refugees from tens of professions for years. “Parliament approved a law amendment lifting former restrictions on employment for Palestinian refugees, who will now have the right to work in any field open to foreigners with benefits including social security from their own special fund”, a senior official said. Like other foreigners, Palestinians would not be able to work as doctors or lawyers, or in the army and police force, all reserved for Lebanese citizens. (AFP)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued his second report to the General Assembly on the follow-up to the Goldstone Report. The report of the Secretary-General, on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Goldstone Report, contains inputs received from the Israeli and Palestinian sides on the efforts which they have undertaken so far to investigate alleged violations. (www.un.org)

Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco briefed the Security Council on “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. (UN News Centre)

18

Israeli forces entered Madama village in the West Bank, shooting flares and firing into the air, a village council official said. According to an Israeli military spokeswoman, the troops entered the area following a report that a Molotov cocktail had been thrown at an Israeli settler’s car. The troops entered the village looking for those suspected in the attack but made no arrests. (Ma’an News Agency)

US State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley denied that there was “any new roadblock at all” in US efforts to restart direct peace talks. “We are working through the details of what is necessary to get the parties into direct negotiations. That is a process that is ongoing. The Quartet is poised not only to help if a statement can be helpful, but also prepared to help with the launch of the direct negotiations themselves. We fully expect that we’re going to get there”, he stated. (www.state.gov)

Egypt was not likely to host direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hussam Zaki was quoted as saying by the Cairo-based newspaper Al-Ahram. (Ma'an News Agency, Al-Ahram)

Palestinian minors suspected of perpetrating even minor crimes against settlers were subject to extreme pressure during detention and interrogation in an effort to extract a confession, the Palestinian branch of Defence for Children International claims. The group represents hundreds of minors in Israeli military courts every year. (Haaretz)

19

The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, claimed to have confronted an Israeli force operating inside Gaza. Following the entry of the force into Gaza territory, the group said that six mortar shells were launched toward them. The statement mentioned no injuries. An Israeli military spokeswoman said troops operating in the area had identified “a group making suspicious movements” and opened fire. (Ma’an News Agency)

Late in the evening, loud explosions and gun shots were heard at the wall by the Qalandia refugee camp near Ramallah. The same evening, the IDF had responded with “riot dispersal mechanisms” when Palestinian teens hurled rocks at the Qalandia checkpoint. (IMEMC)

US State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters: "We think we are very, very close to a decision by the parties to enter into direct negotiations," adding that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had discussed the options with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and Quartet representative Tony Blair, and would also be speaking with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He said Ms. Clinton had also called Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to discuss the PA’s institution-building efforts. (Haaretz, www.state.gov)

A diplomatic source told Reuters that the Quartet envoys had agreed on the details of a statement, which would be issued the following day, inviting Israelis and Palestinians to begin direct negotiations on 2 September. The source said that the Israelis and Palestinians were expected to accept the invitation and that US President Obama would be present at the talks. (Reuters, Haaretz)

Member of the Central Committee of Fatah Movement, Sakher Bseiso, announced that leaders of Fatah and Hamas would be holding a meeting in Gaza on Saturday 21 August in an attempt to end the internal division and achieve reconciliation. The announcement came following a call by Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, for two Fatah Central Committee members, Zakarieyah Al-Agha and Abdallh Al-Ifranji, who were visiting Gaza to offer their condolences on the occasion of the passing of former PA intelligence chief Amin Al-Hindi, to stay in Gaza in order to resume discussions of Palestinian unity. (IMEMC, Ma’an News Agency)

According to Hamas officials, PA security officers had detained two men with Hamas affiliations in Nablus and Qalqilya. (Ma’an News Agency)

According to Palestinian Authority figures, Arab States had cut financial aid to the PA so far in 2010, and the United Nations had warned of a looming Palestinian cash crisis. "The Arabs are not paying. We urge them to meet their financial pledges," said Saleh Rafat, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and one of the few Palestinian officials willing to speak out on the matter. PA Finance Ministry figures showed that the PA had received $583.5 million in budget support so far in 2010. Only 22 per cent came from Arab donors, the rest coming from international donors, including the EU and United States. (Reuters)

Palestinian liaison officers reported the opening of two Gaza crossings for goods transfer, with a total of 320-330 truckloads of goods to be introduced to the Strip. About 200-210 truckloads of commercial goods and supplies for the agricultural sector would be permitted to enter via Kerem Shalom, near Rafah, along with limited amounts of domestic-use fuel and industrial diesel. Some 119 truckloads of wheat and animal feed had been expected to enter via the crossing at Karni, near Gaza City. (Ma’an News Agency)

According to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over the last 10 years, the IDF had increasingly restricted Palestinian access to farmland on the Gazan side of the Israeli-Gaza border, as well as to fishing zones along the Gaza beach. According to the report, since 2008 the IDF had prevented access to land up to 1,500 meters outside the Green Line, and to naval zones up to 4.5 kilometres from the shore. Altogether, the IDF restricted access to 17 per cent of Gaza's territory. At sea, the fishermen were completely barred from 85 per cent of the naval territory to which they were entitled under the Oslo Accords. (www.ochaopt.org, Haaretz)

In a weekly report, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said that Israeli forces had killed one Palestinian and arrested 14 others. (IMEMC, www.pchrgaza.org)

French Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bernard Valero condemned the closure by Hamas of a clinic operated by the French NGO "Help Doctors" in the Khan Yunis Camp in Gaza. (KUNA)

At least four Israeli soldiers were reported to have been detained on suspicion of stealing and selling laptops belonging to activists aboard the ship Mavi Marmara. The detentions came as part of a wider Israeli military investigation into looting of the Turkish ship by IDF soldiers. (CNN, Ynetnews)

Samar Al-Hajj, organizer of the all-female crewed Lebanese aid ship that planned to sail to Gaza to break the blockade, told reporters that the Bolivian-flagged ship would weigh anchor on 22 August and make its first stop in Cyprus. Meanwhile, Cypriot police said that the ship would not be allowed to sail from its ports. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called on the Lebanese Government to take responsibility for halting the flotilla, while Ms. Al-Hajj said that Lebanon's President, Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker had refused to meet with her. (AFP, Haaretz, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli media cited a Channel 10 report that an Algerian ship was heading to Gaza in an attempt to break the blockade. The ship was reportedly organized by the Muslim wise men organization in Algeria, and carried aboard religious and political figures, food, and educational and medical supplies. (Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Five Israeli soldiers were arrested on suspicion of mistreatment of Palestinian detainees, including taking improper photographs. (Haaretz)

Former IDF soldier Eden Abergil, who had posted photographs on Facebook of herself alongside bound Palestinian detainees, allegedly added a comment on Facebook saying she would "gladly kill Arabs – even slaughter them". (France 24, Haaretz)

The United Nations issued a study carried out by OCHA and the WFP on the impact of the Israeli restrictions on Gaza. The report called for the urgent lifting of Israeli military restrictions on civilian access to Gaza’s land and sea, which it said had eroded the livelihoods of Palestinian residents and worsened the plight of a population already under an economic blockade. (The New York Times, UN News Centre)

20

The IDF reported that one Israeli soldier had been lightly injured when Palestinians hurled rocks during a “violent and illegal riot” in Bil’in. (www.idf.il)

The IDF reported that three wanted Palestinians had been arrested overnight in the West Bank. (www.idf.il)

The New York Times reported that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was expected to announce that Israel and the Palestinians would return to direct negotiations, which would have a one year time limit. Also, it was expected that President Obama would invite President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu to Washington in early September to start the negotiations, which would cover final status issues including the borders of a new Palestinian State, the status of Jerusalem, security guarantees for Israel and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. (AFP, The New York Times)

Israeli and Palestinian officials cautioned that their reactions to the expected invitation by the United States and statement by the Quartet, respectively, would depend how these were formulated. At the same time, Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said: "There is no use at all in resuming the negotiations". (Reuters)

Secretary of State Clinton appeared for a special briefing at the State Department accompanied by US Special Envoy George Mitchell, and invited Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct peace negotiations in Washington the following month. Expressing the hope that a comprehensive peace agreement could be reached within one year, she said that the talks would begin on 2 September in Washington, hosted by US President Obama. Ms. Clinton said that President Obama had also invited Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to attend the Washington summit “in view of their critical role in the effort”. Mr. Mitchell said that the United States was waiting for a formal response from the parties, but that this would be bilateral negotiations, in which the United States would only offer bridging proposals. He added that Hamas would have no role in the talks. (AP, Reuters)

The Quartet issued a statement expressing support for direct negotiations, which could be completed within one year, and calling on the Israelis and the Palestinians to “join in launching direct negotiations on 2 September in Washington, D.C. to resolve all final status issues and fulfil the aspirations of both parties”. (UN News Centre)

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, issued a statement, welcoming the decision to move to direct talks. (www.consilium.europa.eu)

Israeli officials announced that the crossings into Gaza would be temporarily closed. (Ma’an News Agency)

ILO and UNRWA both welcomed the decision by Lebanese lawmakers to allow Palestinian refugees work legally in Lebanon. In a joint statement, the two agencies said that they were looking forward to the implementation of the new entitlements, which would need to be complemented by other measures to lift Palestinian refugees out of poverty. (UN News Centre)

The Committee on Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People held its 325th meeting at Headquarters in New York. (UN News Centre)

21

Israeli forces beat with rifle butts a handcuffed 21-year-old Palestinian man from Silwan in East Jerusalem, injuring him. He was later detained. (Ma’an News Agency)

A Palestinian fisherman was moderately wounded when Israeli navy ships fired at Palestinian fishing boats off the Gaza coast. (Xinhua)

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


Egypt’s official Al-Ahram newspaper reported that President Mubarak had welcomed the Quartet’s statement and confirmed his acceptance of President Obama’s invitation to participate in the launch of direct talks on 2 September. (AFP)

The Jordan News Agency reported that King Abdullah II would hold a one-on-one meeting with US President Obama on 1 September before joining a Middle East summit the following day. (Jordan News Agency)

Hamas indefinitely postponed a planned meeting with Fatah officials in Gaza City to discuss a unity deal over the PLO’s decision to re-enter direct negotiations with Israel. (Ma’an News Agency)

22

Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man near Jenin. (Ma’an News Agency)

The international independent fact-finding mission of high-level experts appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council to inquire into the Gaza flotilla incident began a two-week visit to Turkey (22 to 29 August) and Jordan (29 August to 4 September) to interview witnesses and government officials. Technical and legal experts were to accompany the mission, which intended to inspect the ship Mavi Marmara in which nine passengers died on 31 May. The fact-finding mission had just spent two weeks in Geneva, drafting its terms of reference and holding meetings with different Permanent Missions in Geneva, including with the Ambassadors of Israel and Turkey. (www.unog.ch)

Israeli settlers set fire to 20 dunums of farmland south of Nablus. (Ma’an News Agency)

23

Israeli tanks and bulldozers advanced into the Al-Nahda region, east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, amid heavy gunfire. The bulldozers levelled land. There were no immediate reports of casualties. (Jordan News Agency)

Israeli forces arrested 13 Palestinians in the West Bank. (WAFA)

In letters sent to US President Obama, Russian President Medvedev and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, PA President Abbas said that renewed Israeli construction in settlements after the end of the freeze on 26 September would bring the newly-launched direct negotiations to a grinding halt. (Haaretz)

Following PA President Abbas’ warning that a resumption of Israeli settlement construction at the end of the moratorium would lead to a halt in the direct negotiations, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told Quartet Representative Tony Blair that while Israel was pleased with the planned renewal of direct negotiations, preconditions would cause the talks to fail. (Haaretz)

During a press briefing, US State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said that once the direct negotiations began, it would be important for the parties to avoid taking steps that could complicate the situation. He added that the Administration was very mindful of the importance of the issue of settlements, and that the settlement freeze should be addressed in the negotiations. (Haaretz, www.state.gov)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that the planned direct negotiations had no chance of success, that the talks would not be able to restore the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people or their holy sites, and that the Palestinians should only “trust God, their only ally”. (IMEMC)

The Israeli army issued orders to demolish two newly constructed mosques in the Nablus village of Burin and near the Jalazone refugee camp near Ramallah. (Jordan News Agency)

In a major victory for the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, the Norwegian Government announced that it had divested from Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev's company, Africa Israel Investments and its construction subsidiary, Danya Cebus, due to their construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (WAFA)\

Israel balked at a request to boost the amount of electricity it supplies to the Gaza Strip on the grounds that it does not want to cooperate with Hamas. Quartet Envoy Tony Blair made the request at a meeting with Israeli Vice-Premier Silvan Shalom on behalf of the PA, Mr. Blair’s spokesman confirmed. (The Jerusalem Post)

B’Tselem warned that 95 per cent of the water pumped in the Gaza Strip was polluted and unfit for drinking. (www.btselem.org)

24

The IDF reported that an Israeli infant had been lightly wounded and an Israeli vehicle damaged in two separate incidents of Palestinians throwing rocks at vehicles. (www.idf.il)

The IDF reported that five Palestinians had been arrested overnight in the West Bank. (www.idf.il)

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Quartet Representative Tony Blair that Israel hoped that the planned direct negotiations would lead to a breakthrough and welcomed Mr. Blair’s involvement. Mr. Blair later spoke at a conference at the Inter-Disciplinary Centre in Herzliya and said that “the best answer to the de-legitimization of Israel lies in the character of Israel and in the openness and creativity of the Israelis". Speaking at the same conference, Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni said that the planned direct talks were in Israel’s best interest. (The Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian legislators from across the political spectrum were reported to have expressed concern at the decision to engage in direct negotiations with Israel. In an open letter, Palestinian left-wing parliamentarian Mustapha Barghouti wrote that these negotiations without preconditions "are more dangerous than the Camp David talks, since they are not based on the cessation of settlement activity, have no clear guidelines and can only lead to a dangerous failure". (IMEMC)

Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, said that Jordan and Egypt would be participating “actively and forcefully” in the planned direct negotiations, including on the issues of borders and security. (Ma’an News Agency)

Russian Federation Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov met with US Special Envoy Mitchell, the Russian Foreign Ministry's website reported. Mr. Mitchell expressed his gratitude for the Russian Federation’s meaningful efforts to restore substantive dialogue between Israel and the PA. In turn, Mr. Saltanov pointed out the importance of the sides refraining from unilateral actions. (RIA Novosti)

The Saudi Government welcomed the relaunch of US-sponsored direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians aimed at reaching a peace settlement in a year, the official Saudi Press Agency reported. (AFP)

"I appeal to President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah II not to back these [direct] negotiations which are rejected by the Palestinians," Hamas Political Bureau Head Khaled Mashaal said in Damascus. (AFP)

A UN official working with the Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission into the Israeli raid on the a Gaza-bound aid flotilla said that while the mission was speaking with witnesses and Government officials in Turkey and Jordan, Israel was uncooperative. (Haaretz)

In a joint report, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Ir Amim concluded that the education of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem was subject to "ongoing neglect". According to the report, only 39 schools had been built for Palestinians over the past year despite promises made in court to build 644 by 2011, resulting in a shortage of 1000 classrooms. (Ma’an News Agency, www.ir-amim.org.il)

An announcement by Prime Minister Fayyad said that the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company had transferred $2 million to the account of the energy authority in Ramallah, prompting the Israeli supplier company to transfer 320,000 litres of diesel fuel per day for five days for Gaza’s power plant. (Ma’an News Agency, WAFA, Xinhua)

The PA reported that Israel had rejected a request to build four water wells in the Jenin area. The refusal came amid an ongoing water crisis in the West Bank, which had seen some towns, cities, and villages without a reliable supply for weeks. (Ma’an News Agency)

The spokesperson of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton issued a statement which said: "The High Representative is concerned by the conviction of 39-year-old Abdallah Abu Rahma in an Israeli military court on charges of incitement and organising and attending demonstrations … The EU considers Abdallah Abu Rahma to be a Human Rights Defender committed to non violent protest against the route of the Israeli separation barrier through his West Bank village of Bil'in”. (www.consilium.europa.eu)

The “Yesha” settlers’ council sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu calling on him to have Defense Minister Ehud Barak immediately sign on 26 September orders allowing the building of West Bank settlement projects that had already passed through all the relevant planning committees. (The Jerusalem Post)

British charity Viva Palestina was to send "the largest convoy to date" to Gaza with aid on 18 September, the group said. The land convoy would travel through Europe and the Middle East, before arriving in Gaza in early October. Two other convoys from Doha and Morocco would also join the group, organizers said. (Ma’an News Agency)

25

The IDF reported that a mortar shell fired from Gaza had landed in Israel. No injuries or damage were reported. (www.idf.il)

Eleven Palestinians were reported to have been detained by Israeli forces in the West Bank. (www.arabnews.com)

A university student from Tulkarm was detained at the Israeli “Enav” checkpoint, witnesses said. (Ma’an News Agency)

The PA Cabinet expressed its full support for the decision taken by the PLO Executive Committee in response to the Quartet’s invitation to resume direct talks with Israel. (WAFA)

Speaking at a reception held for diplomats in Ramallah, PA President Abbas said that the planned direct negotiations with Israel were "a historic opportunity" to achieve peace and he called on the Israeli negotiators to grasp this opportunity. (Ma’an News Agency, Ynetnews)

PA President Abbas met with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman to coordinate ahead of the summit in Washington in September to launch direct negotiations. Mr. Abbas was scheduled to leave for Yemen on 26 August, where he would reportedly meet with President Ali Abdullah Saleh and other Yemeni officials to address ongoing preparations for direct talks with Israel. (Ma’an News Agency)

Two US officials had been scheduled to arrive in the region to begin preliminary negotiations ahead of the following week's diplomatic summit in Washington. They were Daniel Shapiro, a top US National Security Council staffer handling Israel and neighbouring countries, and David Hale, deputy to Special Envoy Mitchell. They would meet separately with Isaac Molho, adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu and head of the Israeli negotiating team, and Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO. (Haaretz)

“It’s clear that with two sides so different in their nature, outlook, and approach, it’s difficult to talk about reaching a peace agreement within a year,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Israel Radio. “I think the more we lower expectations, the healthier it will be”. (www.bloomberg.com)

The preparatory committee of the International Conference on Jerusalem was to hold a meeting at Arab League headquarters in Cairo to discuss preparations for the conference planned for Qatar in 2011. It comprises Jordan, Qatar, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Algeria. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that there was no reason why building should not restart in the major West Bank settlements after a 10-month freeze expired. (Haaretz)

Former Governor of Bethlehem, Salah Ta'mari, said that Israeli officials had denied him permission to travel to Jerusalem to receive medical treatment for a persistent heart condition. An Israeli spokesman said Mr. Ta’mari had been asked for further documentation of his condition. (Ma’an News Agency)

Some 500 Israelis, escorted by the Israeli army, drove by bus deep into the West Bank to visit Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus. (Ma’an News Agency)

26

Fifty armoured vehicles from the Russian Federation that were to be delivered to the PA had been held up in Jordan by Israeli border officials, the Palestinian Ambassador to Russia said. (Ma'an News Agency)

During preparatory talks ahead of the following week’s summit in Washington, D.C., the PA told the US Administration that they expected the US to support their insistence on a ban on all settlement construction after the expiration of the freeze on 26 September, including a ban on construction in East Jerusalem and all major settlement blocks. (Haaretz)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu proposed to the US administration that he hold a face-to-face meeting with PA President Abbas every two weeks to try to forge covert understandings and set principles to solve every issue. Mr. Netanyahu also began forming Israel's negotiating team for the direct talks in Washington. (Haaretz)

"No negotiator who would give up Jerusalem has a national mandate," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told guests at an iftar dinner. Palestinian negotiators were not mandated to surrender Jerusalem or any part of Palestine, he said. (Ma'an News Agency, Haaretz)

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, discussed with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit the latest developments of the Palestinian-Israeli situation. (KUNA)

Testifying before the Turkel Committee, Israel’s top military prosecutor, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, said that the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza was in keeping with international law and had been imposed due to "pure military considerations" and not as a part of "economic warfare" against Hamas. (AP, Haaretz)

Following the statement by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, expressing concern at the imprisonment of [anti-wall activist] Abdallah Abu Rahma, a spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry deplored as “highly improper” Ms. Ashton’s “interference” in Israeli legal proceedings. (The Guardian, www.euobserver.com)

Clashes erupted between Palestinian residents of the Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers trying to enter the gates of the Al-Ein Mosque. Israeli Border police arrived and fired tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets at the Palestinians. (Haaretz, Ma’an News Agency)

About a hundred members of Peace Now protested at a junction near the West Bank settlement of “Talmon.” They were demonstrating in favour of continuing the West Bank settlement freeze. (Ynetnews)

Palestinians hurled three Molotov cocktails at Israeli cars that were travelling in the “Ariel” area. No injuries were reported and no damage was caused. (The Jerusalem Post)

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on 30 August on his way to Washington, where he would attend the launching of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. (AFP)

A programme was initiated by the IDF to give Palestinian children from the West Bank a chance to visit Israeli tourist sites. The aim was to show Palestinians a different side of Israel, a senior officer in the IDF’s Central Command told the Hebrew daily Maariv. In 2009, 5,500 Palestinian children had participated in the programme, the newspaper said. (Maariv, UPI)

A second night of clashes was reported in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan. The clash was reportedly sparked when teenage residents threw stones at guards outside settler homes in the neighbourhood. (Ma'an News Agency)

Two Israeli actors announced that they would not travel with the country’s national theatre company to perform in a new cultural centre nearing completion in the West Bank settlement of “Ariel.” (The New York Times)

The international independent fact-finding mission of high-level experts appointed by the President of the UN Human Rights Council to inquire into the Gaza flotilla incident had concluded a one-week visit to Turkey. During the week, the three high-level experts interviewed witnesses and government officials who provided first hand information on the incident that took place on 31 May 2010. In addition, technical and legal experts accompanying the mission held meetings with forensic and judiciary officials and also inspected the ship Mavi Marmara. The fact-finding mission would visit Jordan from 29 August to 4 September to interview witnesses based in Jordan and in neighbouring countries. (www.unog.ch)

Witnesses and demonstrators in the West Bank village of Ni'lin said that five Red Crescent medics, an Israeli camerawoman and a Palestinian cameraman were detained during a protest against the separation wall. (Ma'an News Agency)

Israeli police detained Palestinian Legislative Council member Sheikh Hamed Al-Betawi on his way to prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque, family members said. He was later released and told to leave Jerusalem. (Ma'an News Agency)

28

Two Palestinians were injured by Israeli fire near the border fence separating Gaza from Israel, medics said. The men had been collecting rubble north of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza to make cement. (Ma'an News Agency)

A protest against Israeli settlements in the Hebron area was met with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets when Israeli forces attacked the non-violent demonstration. (IMEMC)

Egyptian police in the Sinai Peninsula seized 190 rockets from which explosives were to have been removed for smuggling into the Gaza Strip, a security official said. (AFP)

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, said that she could not attend the following month's Middle East peace talks because of a China trip, and that she had no place there anyway. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that the EU should be at the table when the Israeli and Palestinian leaders resume direct peace talks in Washington. "It would be a shame if there was no European representation," Kouchner said, suggesting it should be Ashton. (AFP)

The PA and the EU were to launch the third 2010 quarterly payment of social allowances to over 49,700 vulnerable Palestinian households across the West Bank and Gaza. (WAFA)

29

Egyptian authorities discovered five secret tunnels used for smuggling goods at borders with the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, a Palestinian teenager was killed the same day when a tunnel under Gaza's southern border with Egypt collapsed. (Xinhua)

The IDF raided a number of houses in Bethlehem. (The Palestine Telegraph)

A mortar shell fired from Gaza landed in the western Negev. No injuries or damages were reported. (The Jerusalem Post)

The Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said that violent clashes followed an Israeli military incursion east of Rafah, in southern Gaza. (Ma'an News Agency)

PA President Abbas and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak had met secretly in Jordan, Israel Radio reported. They reportedly discussed easing security conditions in the West Bank as a confidence building measure, and preparations for direct talks. (KUNA, The Jerusalem Post)

Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa said that he had little hope that direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians would be successful. (Reuters)

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland was chief among essential components for a peace deal. (AFP)

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with Jordan's King Abdullah to offer assurances that Israel was committed to a lasting peace with the Palestinians. "Peace is a strategic objective for Israel," Barak told the King. "We expect the Palestinians to come to the peace talks with openness." (Haaretz)

The Geneva Initiative unveiled a campaign, partially funded by USAID, in which Palestinian leaders would speak to the Israeli public in video clips, to tell Israelis that there was a Palestinian partner for an agreement. PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat, Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the PLO Yasser Abed Rabbo and Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub had already recorded short messages. All the messages began with a personal address to the Israeli public, including the word “shalom” in Hebrew, and concluded with “I am your partner. Are you my partner?” (The Jerusalem Post)

Israel was in an uproar over a refusal by Israeli theatre artists to perform in West Bank Jewish settlements. More than 50 Israeli actors and playwrights signed a letter addressed to the managements of six Israeli theatres protesting plans to stage productions in a new performing arts centre scheduled to open in the settlement of “Ariel” in November. The letter led to threats by members of the Israeli Knesset of economic consequences for the theatres, which were partly state-financed. For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu complained that the artists were playing into the hands of international efforts to delegitimize Israel. (The New York Times, Haaretz)

Israeli businessmen had expressed fears that the European campaign to boycott Israeli products could widen after a sharp decline in exports. The Israeli newspaper Maariv published a report on the dangers of the growing economic boycott of Israeli products in Europe, in which it affirmed that there had been a rise in the number of European companies withdrawing their investments in Israeli companies for political reasons. (Maariv, The Palestinian Information Center)

PA President Abbas warned that he would not back down from his threat to pull out of new peace talks with Israel if it resumed construction in West Bank settlements. Mr. Abbas said in a televised speech that "Israel will be held accountable for the failure of the talks if settlement construction should continue." (AP, Haaretz)

The Israeli cabinet would not vote on extending a partial freeze in West Bank settlement construction before the start of the peace talks in Washington, a senior cabinet minister told Reuters. Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said in an interview that Prime Minister Netanyahu promised him his cabinet would vote on the issue only after the Jewish High Holidays, which would fall after the peace summit is held. (Reuters)

30

The head of Germany’s Representative Office in Ramallah presented the Palestinian police with 290 two-way radios for patrol cars. (www.auswaertiges-amt.de)

Yitzhak Molcho, an aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel's chief negotiator, was due to depart for the US to hold preparatory talks ahead of the trilateral summit between President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. Mr. Molcho was scheduled to meet Special US Envoy George Mitchell to coordinate the summit's closing remarks and discuss the planned speeches by Prime Minister Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Abbas at the ceremony opening the talks. (Haaretz)

President Obama was to begin his one-year effort to achieve Middle East peace at a dinner at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, PA President Abbas, Egypt President Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah. (The New York Times)

"What kind of State does Mr. Netanyahu have in mind when he says 'Palestinian State'?" PA Prime Minister Fayyad said in a press briefing. "We are approaching that moment of reckoning," Mr. Fayyad added. (Reuters)

The PA Cabinet endorsed a major new document entitled “Homestretch to Freedom; The Second Year of the 13th Government Program Palestine: Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State.” The new document detailed plans for the second year of the project. (www.pmo.gov.ps)

"The American Administration needs strong backing from the European Union for the peace process to continue," Egyptian President Mubarak said after meeting French President Sarkozy. Mr. Sarkozy said that Europe planned to further promote the push for peace at a Euro-Mediterranean Summit planned for 20 November in Barcelona. "After months of stalemate, a hope exists. This chance must be seized," he said. "I believe the US role is very important but cannot be the only one." (Reuters)

US State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said that core issues, including the [settlement] construction freeze, would be put on the table during the upcoming Washington Summit. Meanwhile, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs also commented on the nearing negotiations, but refused to address the settlement freeze. (Ynetnews)

Clashes reportedly broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents of the flashpoint neighbourhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, following a wave of detentions. (Ma'an News Agency)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said he had never told the US Administration that a settlement freeze would be renewed after the start of Middle East peace talks, an official said. "We have not presented any proposal to the Americans on an extension of the freeze ... the Government has not taken any decision on the issue," the official quoted the premier as saying at a meeting of his Likud party. (AFP)

Residents of the “Elon Moreh” settlement near Nablus had attempted to install mobile homes on their property, Israel's Civil Administration confirmed. Inspectors seized the units. Palestinian officials had previously reported that at least five new homes were being constructed in the settlement. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Israeli Prisons Authority was fully denying more than 40 per cent of the Jenin prison population the right to family visits, the Palestinian Prisoner Society reported. (The Palestinian Information Center)

Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, chairman of the group known as The Elders, expressed concern over the weekend about the conviction of Palestinian activist Abdallah Abu Rahma by an Israeli military court. “I am deeply concerned about the conviction earlier this week of Abdallah Abu Rahma,” Mr. Tutu said in a statement. “When I met him with my fellow Elders last year, we were very impressed by his commitment to non-violence and the wise leadership he showed.” In the statement, Tutu urged Israeli authorities to release Mr. Abu Rahma “immediately and unconditionally, and to overturn his conviction.” (The Jerusalem Post)

The "Irish Ship to Gaza" campaign launched a fundraising drive to buy a ship for a second attempt to breach Israel's sea blockade of Gaza. It aimed to send between 30 and 50 Irish people, including public figures, journalists, and activists, to join a Gaza flotilla. Between 10 and 15 cargo ships, as well as passenger vessels were expected to take part, organizers said. (Reuters)

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Four Israeli settlers were shot dead in their car near the “Kiryat Arba” settlement near Hebron. Hamas claimed responsibility. (Haaretz)

Hamas had completed a series of experiments on its advanced Fajar rocket, which had a range of almost 80 km, Israeli experts said. (Ynetnews)

Prime Minister Netanyahu was well-prepared for the upcoming peace talks in Washington and was determined to implement an agreed-upon two State solution, said Israeli President Shimon Peres, speaking at the World Jewish Congress gathering in Jerusalem. (The Jerusalem Post)

US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, told reporters that direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations could be concluded within a year. “We recognize the importance of the direct bilateral meetings between the two leaders. We hope to proceed promptly after 2 September with meetings on an intensive basis, about every two weeks,” Mr. Mitchell said. “We welcome the full participation of Hamas and all relevant parties once they comply with basic principles of democracy,” he said. (Haaretz)

Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told Voice of Palestine Radio that he ruled out the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine freezing its membership in the PLO in protest at the resumption of the direct talks with Israel. "There are some differences in points of view within the PLO … but these differences haven't [escalated] to disputes," he said. (Xinhua)

In an op-ed in The New York Times, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak expressed Egypt’s readiness to resume its efforts to address “the many difficult issues surrounding Gaza", including mediating a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, ending Israel's blockade and fostering reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. He wrote that "the biggest obstacle that now stands in the way of success is psychological: the cumulative effect of years of violence and the expansion of Israeli settlements have led to a collapse of trust on both sides. For the talks to succeed, we must rebuild trust and a sense of security." To that end, President Mubarak advocated the deployment of an international force in the West Bank for a limited duration. (The Gulf News, The New York Times, www.sis.gov.eg)

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would not be successful if Palestinians were not granted their full rights. (KUNA)

The Government of Japan announced a donation of $6.88 million towards food aid as part of UNRWA’s social safety net programme for 2010 and 2011. (www.unrwa.org)

The World Bank said that the Palestinian economy had achieved 7 per cent real growth in the first half of 2010. “The PA’s three-year programme of reforms to help re-start economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza and to improve the welfare of citizens has resulted in improved security and more efficient service delivery and there is evidence of increased investor confidence. However, recent economic growth will not be sustainable in the absence of private sector-led growth, which is dependent on easing movement and access restrictions within West Bank and to the international markets,” the World Bank said. (www.worldbank.org)

More than 150 Israeli academics said in an open letter that they would no longer lecture or work in settlements in the West Bank. (BBC, Haaretz)

Israeli settlers broke car windows and cut down olive threes near Nablus after the killing of four Israelis. (Ma’an News Agency)

A village mayor in Salfit said that 10 Israeli settlers had opened fire at three Palestinian teenagers as they tended to their land in Deir Istiya. No injuries or damage were reported. (Ma’an News Agency)

"The UN Human Rights investigators arrived last night and met today with four Jordanian activists who were on board the Mavi Marmara ship," said Alaa Borqan, who was in charge of public relations at the Jordanian trade unions. "They will meet in Amman with the majority of the 33 Jordanians who were on board the ship." The three members of the mission mandated by the Human Rights Council had interviewed unspecified witnesses in London and Geneva, and had met Turkish and Israeli ambassadors in Geneva. (AFP)

The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued a statement welcoming the decision to resume direct Israeli-Palestinian permanent status negotiations. (UN press release GA/PAL/1173)

“We condemn this murderous act [the killing of 4 Israelis] and call for those responsible to be brought to justice,” Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in a statement issued in Jerusalem. He urged all sides “not to allow the enemies of peace to affect the negotiations about to be launched, and to progress with determination and courage on behalf of both peoples, towards a final settlement.” (UN News Centre)

According to the Bernama News Agency,sixteen Malaysian non-governmental organizations, part of the Lifeline For Gaza coalition, were collecting RM 7 million for a humanitarian aid mission to Gaza in November. The chairman of the coalition, Dr. Noorazman Mohd Samsuddin, stated that the money collected would be used to buy a vessel for the mission, medicine, educational tools, building materials for wells, operating theatres, and dialysis and trauma centres. (WAFA)


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