Benjamin Netanyahu is to be sworn in as Israel’s prime minister today (1), prompting speculation about how the new Israeli government will interact with the Obama administration in Washington (3) (5) (6) (7) (15). The Israeli military closes their investigation into allegations of misconduct by soldiers in the Gaza war (2). In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Peace Now urges an end to settlement construction (4). Palestinian Authority officials announce that Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will stay on until a new government is formed (8), as national accord government talks resume in Cairo (9) (10). Two Palestinians are killed in a clash with the IDF on the Gaza border (11).

March 30th

The National Journal examines the rapidly approaching crisis in the viability and credibility of negotiations towards a two state agreement (1), while an op-ed by Saeb Erakat, chief Palestinian negotiator, urges swift action to save the peace process in light of the new Netanyahu government (5) (6). The Arab League tells Israel that it must move towards the Arab Peace Initiative or it will be rescinded (2). Several senior Israeli military officials meet with the press in an attempt to explain civilian deaths in Gaza (3). A senior Israeli intelligence official admits that smuggling of weapons into Gaza has continued despite the recent war (4). Haaretz reports that construction activity in West Bank settlements has increased since the Israeli general elections in February (7).

March 27th

Ben Caspit, chief political commentator for Ma'ariv, examines the coalition government taking shape in Israel (1). The Media Line reports on the troubled state of the Palestinian health care system (2). The Israeli military denies claims that it used white phosphorous shells unlawfully during the Gaza war (3). Israel is suspected to be behind an airstrike earlier this year against alleged smuggling convoys in Sudan (5). Following continued criticism of IDF conduct (7), an Israeli soldier faces disciplinary action for a reckless shooting during the Gaza war (6). Palestinian officials report that Israel has revised the list of prisoners it might release in exchange for captured soldier Gilad Shalit (8).

March 26th

BBC News reports that a West Bank settlement, unauthorized by the Israeli government, appears to be receiving state funding (1). Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows to continue peace talks, but makes no mention of a Palestinian state (2). Human Rights Watch reports that Israel's use of white phosphorous shells in the Gaza war may constitute a war crime (3). Indirect talks regarding the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit resume between Hamas and Israel (4) (13). A pair of op-eds discuss the current state of the Israel lobby in the U.S. in the wake of the Freedman affair (6) (10). Several opinion articles offer assessments of the prospects for peace and the urgency of action (5)(11) (12) (15).

March 25th

President Obama fields questions about Israel and Palestine during a press conference yesterday (1). Israel's Labor party votes to join the governing Likud party in a coalition government (2). Likud leader and Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu vows to continue diplomatic talks with Palestine (4) (10), despite reports that the party plans to build 3,000 new housing units in the controversial E-1 settlement area that could close off Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank (11) (12). As more IDF soldiers go public with information about misconduct in Gaza, Israeli army rabbis are criticized for portraying the offensive as an opportunity to 'fight to expel non-Jews' (3). Israeli police block Palestinian cultural celebrations in occupied East Jerusalem (5).

March 24th

In an op-ed for The Daily Star, ATFP President Ziad Asali argues in favor of free and open Palestinian elections scheduled for next January and calls for the establishment of a new Palestinian Authority government in the meanwhile (1). Protestors clash with police at a demonstration by right-wing Jewish Israelis in the town of Umm al-Fahm (2). The Labor and Likud party leaderships form an agreement, moving Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu one step closer to forming a coalition government (3) (7) (8). More information comes out regarding the roadside bomb in Lebanon that killed a senior PLO official and three others yesterday (5) (11). Responding to international pressure, Israel decides not to limit food aid to Gaza (10). A group of UN human rights experts report that during the Gaza war the IDF used an 11-year old Palestinian boy as a human shield (13) and the UK newspaper The Guardian publishes a major investigation into Israeli military abuses during the war (4).

March 23rd

An editorial in the Middle East Times considers the concept of "political malpractice" proposed by ATFP President Ziad Asali (1). A car bomb placed outside a mall in the Israeli city of Haifa does not explode (2) and Palestinian Authority sources suspect that an Iran-backed group is responsible (10). A roadside bomb kills a senior Fatah official and four others outside a refugee camp in Lebanon (4). The Israeli military condemns appalling messages on t-shirts commissioned by groups of Israeli soldiers (6) (8), as reports of misconduct in the Gaza war are confirmed by eyewitness Israeli troops (7). Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu continues efforts to form a coalition government, opening formal talks with the Labor party (5) (14) (15).

March 20th

An Israeli settler leader reportedly calls for the assassination of Palestinian President Abbas during a fund-raising speech in New York City (1). Concern grows about the radical views of possible new Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman (2). Fallout continues regarding Israeli soldiers’ disturbing accounts of the war in Gaza (3) (10) (13). Israel’s emerging new cabinet may find itself at odds with the US government (4) (8). A UN official accuses Israel of war crimes (5), while the PA accuses Israel of ‘ethnically cleansing’ East Jerusalem (6). Talks regarding captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may resume (7). The United States lays out its conditions for dealing with a Palestinian national accord government (9). Raghida Dergham argues that moderate forces must go on the offensive against extremism across the Middle East (12). Australian journalists interview Hamas leader Khaled Mishal (14). Israeli authorities block a Palestinian cultural festival in East Jerusalem (15).

March 19th

Israel seizes ten senior Hamas leaders in the West Bank (1). Several veterans of the Gaza war come out publicly about the serious misconduct by IDF forces (2) (3) (4). The controversy continues over the withdrawn appointment of Charles Freeman (5) (9). After days of Egyptian brokered negotiations, Hamas and Fatah may have agreed on some basic tenants of a national accord government (10). The New York Times looks at how the Gaza war has isolated Israel internationally (11).

March 18th

Hamas is reportedly not budging in both sets of Egyptian-brokered negotiations with Israel and Fatah, respectively (1). While Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announces that negotiations regarding the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit have failed (2). Egypt urges the United States and the European Union to reevaluate their boycott of Hamas (3). Avi Isacharoff looks at the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (4). The U.S. joins the Palestinian Authority in inaugurating a new, U.S. funded, training center for Palestinian security personnel in the West Bank (7). Egypt opens the Rafah border crossing to allow aid into Gaza (10).

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