9:30 p.m. Israeli newspapers reporting that Israeli troops killed a Gazan with a grenade on the border.
8:45 p.m. According to Reuters, the discussions on an Israel-Gaza settlement are foundering on the specifics of control and reopening of crossings. Hamas says Israel is offering re-opening of 75 percent of crossings and full re-opening after the freeing of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped in 2006. The offer is vague, however: Israel has not defined the "capacity" of crossings, making the 75 percent hard to measure, it has not specified which goods will be allowed into Gaza, and it has insisted on the right to re-close the crossings for security reasons.
Hamas, for its part, is insisting on the right to vet Palestinian Authority security members put on the crossings and requiring that they come from Gaza.
7:35 p.m. Egypt is definitely striking back at Hamas after the failure, in its view, to put suitable proposals to Israel. Hours after the suspensions of talks on Thursday, members of the Hamas delegation were stopped at the Rafah crossing with between $7 million and $9 million and 2 millions euros ($2.5 million) in cash in their suitcases. The money was confiscated as the delegates continued into Gaza.
Hamas is paying its employees in cash while Israel tries to restrict any movement of currency into Gaza.
7:20 p.m. Keeping Abbas on a String. Israel has agreed to allow $43 million of Palestinian Authority funds, or "tax money collectedl..on behalf of the Palestinian Authority" into Gaza to pay PA employees. The amount, however, is less than that requested by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and Israel has offered no response to Fayyad's declaration yesterday of a $600 million reconstruction programme for Gaza.
4:05 p.m. Dumbest Headline of the Day. Reuters reports on this morning's Israeli seizure of a Lebanese ship carrying aid to Gaza (see 11 a.m.): "Israel Seizes Gaza Freighter; No Arms Aboard".
Which, given that this was clearly a ship loaded with medicine, food, and blankets, is kinda missing the point. How about "Israel Seizes Gaza Freighter to Maintain Blockade; Roughs Up Crew"?
3:50 p.m. Ali Yenidunya offers the following analysis of yesterday's Abu Dhabi meeting of foreign ministers from nine Arab countries:
There are two important results from this meeting: Support for Fatah and warning to non-Arab countries in order not to intervene to Arab and Palestinian affairs. After Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hospitability on Tuesday to the exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, this declaration is aimed at cutting the Shi'a penetration in Palestine by giving support to Fatah.
Although the target of this statement is commonly understood as Ahmadinajed by every media organization, this has gone unnoticed by the Turkish public. Some Turkish media have started asked if this declaration is aimed at Turkey’s increasing influence in the Middle East after Prime Minister Erdogan’s walkout in Davos. In response, ‘Arab betrayal’ discourses are being triggered in Turkey, referring to Arab proclamation of independence during the time of the Ottoman Empire.
11:50 a.m. Take That! Egypt, extracting some retribution for the failure to get a suitable proposal from Hamas for transmission to Israel (or for a suitable Hamas reaction to an Israeli proposal), has shut the border with Gaza to anyone and everyone: "The border is closed as of this morning. No humanitarian, media or medical delegations will be allowed through, nor will medical aid deliveries be permitted."
11 a.m. Details are emerging of the Israeli interception of the Lebanese ship with aid for Gaza, and it's not as straightforward as we reported at 5:50 a.m. An Al Jazeera correspondent on the ship reports five Israeli troops boarded the vessel:
They are pointing guns against us - they are kicking us and beating us. They are threatening our lives.
The owner of the ship says the Israelis destroyed all communications equipment and confiscated phones.
8:45 a.m. Egypt, in its version of the negotiations for an Israel-Gaza settlement, says it will be Saturday before Hamas makes its response to Israeli proposals. Hamas said yesterday that Israel had given an insufficient response to its proposals.
It's close to irrelevant who offered the proposals --- nothing will happen before the Israeli elections next Tuesday and while Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas is making his own maneouvres to represent the Palestinian position. The game right now is simply to claim the diplomatic high ground when and if meaningful negotiations do begin.
Morning Update (5:50 a.m. GMT; 7:50 a.m. Israel/Palestine): Israeli forces have stopped a ship, The Lebanese Fraternity, with 50 tons of aid. The ship was intercepted 20 miles off the coast of Gaza.
Indeed, the one area where international co-operation is succeeding on Gaza is control of arms shipments by sea. The US, Canada,and seven European nations met in Denmark on Wednesday to discuss the issue.