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Entries in Tzipi Livni (12)


The Latest on Israel-Gaza-Palestine (6 February)

Latest Post: Hamas Strengthens Positions, Overtakes Fatah in Palestine

9:50 p.m. Israel has fired several missiles into southern Gaza near Rafah.

9:45 p.m. Hamas official Osama al-Muzaini says there has been no progress in talks with Israel over the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas has demanded the freeing of 1400 Palestinian inmates, including 450 long-term prisoners, for Shalid, but Israel has agreed to only 71 of the 450.

4:15 p.m. Hamas political director Khaled Meshaal has restated the organisation's position on an Israel-Gaza settlement: ""We will not accept a truce unless it was in return for lifting the siege, opening the border crossings and acceleration of the reconstruction of Gaza."

Translation: unless Israel makes unexpected concessions via Amos Gilad in Cairo today, the Hamas delegation returning to Cairo on Saturday will reject any proposed deal. Whether that is effectively the end of the Cairo-based negotiations, or whether they resume after the Israeli elections on Tuesday, remains to be seen.

3 p.m. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency has halted operations after the second seizure of its supplies by Hamas this week.

2:15 p.m. Egypt continues to ratchet up pressure on Hamas and Gaza at the border. The Jordanian Secretary of the Nurses Union, Salman Al-Masa’id, has been arrested and held without charge. Al-Masa'id was part of a Jordanian delegation helping with medical care in Gaza; his "crime" was to remain when the rest of the delegation left earlier this week.

12:30 p.m. An extraordinary development over Israel's "permission" for the Palestinian Authority to bring $43 million into Gaza to pay its employees so they will not show up for their jobs, thus hindering Hamas. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has hailed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as "courageous" for allowing the movement of money.

Remember that $43 million is only part of $60 million the PA wished to transfer, that the PA is supposedly the Palestinian faction being backed by Israel and the US to take over in Gaza, and that Israel has made no move to support the PA's announcement of $600 million in reconstruction aid for Gaza. Despite this, Olmert faced opposition from both Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who argued the money would find its way to Hamas.

11:20 a.m. A prosecutor's office in Ankara has launched an investigation as to whether Israel's invasion of Gaza involves "genocide, torture and crimes against humanity". The enquiry was started after a complaint by an Islamic human rights group naming Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

9 a.m. Diplomatic Development to Watch. A day after a Hamas delegation left Egypt without agreement on proposals for an Israel-Gaza settlement, the chief Israeli negotiator, Amos Gilad, is in Cairo.

7:45 a.m. Two rockets launched from Gaza have hit southern Israel.

7:40 a.m. Irony of the Day. The Israeli blockade of Gaza, supposedly to stem violent attacks, has halted a United Nations programme promoting non-violence amongst Gazan youth. The programme cannot get the paper it needs for leaflets.

UN official John Ging said, "I'm being obstructed in printing out the human rights curriculum that we're all so proud of having developed here and that is more important now than ever before to get on with the teaching of the responsibilities that go with human rights and to focus on making sure that these kids grow up with the right values."

7:30 a.m. A poll of almost 1200 Palestinians increased a sharp rise in support for Hamas and a decline in support for Fatah and the Palestinian Authority after the Gaza conflict. We've posted a summary in a separate entry.

Morning Update (6:45 a.m. GMT; 8:45 a.m. Israel/Palestine): Israel has released 10 activists and journalists who were aboard a Lebanese ship intercepted yesterday as it tried to deliver aid to Gaza. The whereabouts of others amongst the 18 on the ship is still unknown. An Al Jazeera journalist says, "[The Israelis] blinded our eyes, bounded our hands, kept us in uncomfortable conditions for one hour ... they also told us not to communicate with each other in Arabic."

The Latest on Israel-Gaza-Palestine (1 February)

Latest Post: "Israel Needs to Invade the Hague"

10:55 p.m. A total of six Israeli airstrikes, one on a Hamas police headquarters and five on tunnels, now reported.

9:30 p.m. Reuters now reports three Israeli airstrikes, one in central Gaza and two on tunnels near Rafah.

9:04 p.m. Israeli aircraft have attacked a target, reported a Hamas security headquarters, in the central Gaza strip. No casualties reported. Witnesses say the area was evacuated after Israeli forces telephoned warnings.

8:55 p.m. Reuters has further detail and analysis of the visit of a Hamas delegation, including political director Khaled Meshaal, to Iran (see 5 p.m.). CNN is reporting the praise of Meshaal for Tehran's support.

7:42 p.m. Tomorrow's discussions in Cairo, with Egypt moving between Hamas and Palestinian Authority/Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, could be interesting but far from productive. Hamas is talking up the idea of a 12-month cease-fire proposal to be presented to Tel Aviv; indeed, a spokesman for Gaza prime Minister Ismail Haniya has indicated that the plan has already been submitted to Israel for its response: events are "moving in a positive direction".

Hamas' initiative can be read not only as a manoeuvre with the Israelis but also an attempt to assert leadership of the Palestinian movement. That is why Abbas, rather than emphasise the cease-fire proposal, responded today with an attack on Hamas. Talks were impossible with them, he said, because they had rejected the Palestinian Liberation Organization: "They... have taken risks with the blood of Palestinians, with their fate, and dreams and aspirations for an independent Palestinian

7:40 p.m. GMT: A series of mortars --- 10 according to the BBC --- have landed in southern Israel, along with the rockets we reported earlier today.

7:30 p.m. GMT: Some more details on the Iran front, this time with attention to the evolving Turkish-Iranian relationship. Iran’s Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani called Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and thanked him on behalf of Iran’s people and Parliament. The former Speaker of the Parliament Gulan Ali Haddad Adil also thanked Erdogan in the Parliament and ended his speech with “long live Erdogan” in Turkish.

Ayatollah Nasir Mekarim Sirazi stated that PM Erdogan prevented a new war and contributed to the peace process: “If the ones who are responsible from Nobel Prize have fairness and courage, they will give it to Erdogan.” He added that Erdogan’s stance gave power and morale to the Palestinian resistance. (entry by Ali Yenidunya)

5 p.m. GMT: This will put the cat amongst the pigeons, both in diplomacy and in public reactions. Hamas political director Khaled Meshaal has met Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini in Tehran, giving a detailed account of "victory" over Israel in the Gaza conflict. Meshaal saw Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad later in the day.

2:20 p.m. GMT: We've covered the Israeli battle with Turkey, or at least Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for the dominant position on the Israel-Palestine issue.

The contest continues today, with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni pushing Ankara to take a tough stance on both Hamas and Iran: "Despite the street demonstrations, despite the difficult images from Gaza ... Hamas is everyone's problem. And most countries in the region, in the Middle East, have understood this more than the Turks." Other countries should "understand that Iran is everyone's problem".

1:05 p.m. GMT: Al Arabiya reports, from Palestinian sources, that Hamas will agree to a one-year cease-fire on Monday, when a delegation visits Cairo. According to the sources, "Palestinian Authority forces [would} manage the crossing,...the Hamas Government would be able to send inspectors there and the two sides would cooperate and coordinate their activities".

The opening of the crossings would not be linked to the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held in Gaza since 2006, although his case would be mentioned in the announcement.

10:40 a.m. GMT: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has vowed a "disproportionate response" after four rockets were fired into southern Israel this morning.

10 a.m. GMT: Peter Beaumont in The Observer:

Gaza's 1.5 million people are facing a food crisis as a result of the destruction of great areas of farmland during the Israeli invasion.

According to the World Food Programme, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and Palestinian officials, between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked by the three-week Israeli attack, which followed two years of economic siege.

8 a.m. GMT: Three Qassam rockets have landed in the western Negev in Israel this morning.

Morning Update (7:25 a.m. GMT; 9:25 a.m. Israel/Palestine): The tour of US envoy George Mitchell continues, relatively quietly. He was in Jordan on Saturday and arrived in Saudi Arabia late last night, where he met Foreign Prince Saud al-Faisal and will speak with King Abdullah.Yesterday Abdullah called for Palestinian unity, “The competition between them is a big mistake. It will do them more harm than that done by Zionism. I appeal to them again to stand united in order to strengthen their cause."

No significant signs so far of what Mitchell will take back to Washington, although it is clear that Washington needs --- both for the Israel-Palestine process and for wider regional issues --- to establish a secure footing with the Saudis.

Papers in the Arab world are buzzing with the story, after Syrian leader Bashir al-Assad's meetings with US delegations this week, that Damascus wants "better ties" with Washington.
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