August 17th

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak meets today with President Obama in Washington. A shootout at a mosque in south Gaza between Hamas and extremist Islamist group leaves at least 22 dead. Tensions increase between Israel and Hezbollah. Haaretz profiles a U.S.-based non-profit organization that has invested millions of tax-free dollars buying up land in occupied East Jerusalem. Israel's envoy to the United States is reportedly set to meet with White House officials and U.S. envoy George Mitchell's staff in Washington to discuss a settlement freeze. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak postpones a cement delivery into Gaza. Fatah elects a Jewish Israeli, Uri Davis, to its Revolutionary Council.

August 14th

Israel rules out kidnapping as a possibility after launching a search for a soldier who was feared missing. Oman and Qatar have reportedly told the U.S. that they will renew diplomatic ties with Israel if it freezes settlement activity, while Israel expresses its skepticism about the pledge. At a press conference yesterday President Mahmoud Abbas insists that Palestinians will not agree to a state with temporary borders. A district court refuses a request from Jewish families who have moved into homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem to issue a restraining order against the Palestinian families who were evicted from those homes. As analysis of the recently concluded Fatah party congress continues, an op-ed in The Guardian criticizes the conference for excluding women entirely from the new leadership committees.

August 13th

Human Rights Watch calls on Israel to investigate seven alleged incidents of IDF soldiers firing at Palestinian civilians flying white flags during the Gaza war. Two Israeli civilians are shot and wounded in the West Bank. Settlers in the West Bank outpost of Bnei Adam agree to voluntarily evacuate. Conflicting accounts are reported from the Hamas and Israeli leaderships on the progress of talks regarding the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Israel increases restrictions on foreigners entering the country with ties to the West Bank. Analysis of the Palestinian political scene continues in the wake of Fatah’s recently concluded party congress.

August 12th

Middle East Progress interviews ATFP Advocacy Director Ghaith al-Omari. Fatah concludes its party congress, electing a largely new leadership committee and prompting speculation on a new beginning for the party. The New York Times reports that many Israelis are worried that this tranquil summer may be ‘the calm before the storm.’ Kadima party chairwoman Tzipi Livni voices her opposition to releasing jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. The Israeli organization Peace Now reports that construction is underway to expand an existing Jewish settlement north of Jerusalem. Israel and the US are reportedly discussing the status of the West Bank settlement of Ariel. Israeli officials reportedly visited Jordan last week to assuage concerns that Israel plans to transfer Palestinians from the West Bank into Jordan.

August 11th

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announces that Saudi Arabia will deliver $200 million to the Palestinian Authority. Fatah prepares for what is scheduled to be the final day of their party congress, after electing jailed leader Marwan Barghouti to a top post among the new generation of leadership. A letter to President Obama from 71 US Senators urges him to pressure Arab states to normalize relations with Israel. US Jewish leaders express their support for Boston-based Israeli consul general Nadav Tamir, who has been summoned to Israel following his leaked warnings about deteriorating US-Israel relations.Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak express his optimism regarding peace negotiations, while Mohammed Dahlan reportedly says no negations will take place unless a deadline for peace is announced in advance.

August 10th

The Fatah conference votes another term for President Mahmoud Abbas as party chief, and embraces the strategic goal of peace based on two states, further distancing itself from rival party Hamas. Israeli jets bomb a tunnel on the Gaza-Egypt border. Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai calls for continued settlement construction in the controversial “E-1 corridor” in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian sources report that progress has been made on the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Prime Minister Netanyahu calls the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza “a mistake,” and vows not to remove settlers from the West Bank. Thomas Friedman produces a second article about Palestinian economic development in the West Bank, this time focusing on the new security services.

August 7th

Fatah postpones elections for its decision making body, but extends the party conference for at least two more days. President Obama's decision to bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Irish president Mary Robinson draws criticism from some Jewish American groups. Following international criticism, the Israeli military is considering new measures to warn Palestinian civilians of impending aerial attacks. Palestinian officials report that the U.S. will push for the borders of an independent Palestinian state to be the first issue focused on in any renewed permanent status peace negotiations. A recently released poll shows that more Israelis would prefer Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni over Benjamin Netanyahu for Prime Minister. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will meet with President Obama in Washington next month.

August 6th

Fatah extends its party congress for at least another day, as rival factions remain divided over the issue of a new voting process. While several articles address the challenges facing Fatah's efforts to conciliate the 'old guard' of the party with the reform camp. The Christian Science Monitor looks at how control over East Jerusalem has evolved over time. A former Israeli military commander tells the BBC that Palestinian youths are routinely ill-treated by the IDF while in custody. Special Mideast Envoy George Mitchell reportedly asks the Israeli leadership for commitment to a one year freeze on settlement construction. Controversy continues over the recent evictions of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem. Columnists in Israeli and Arab newspapers exchange accusations that the Arab states and Israel respectively are not willing to take steps needed for movement on Middle East peace.

August 5th

As Fatah convenes its first general congress in 20 years, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas calls for nonviolent resistance and continued commitment to peace negotiations. Thomas Friedman praises the new approach of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Mounting concern over the Israeli eviction of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem leads the US to summon the Israeli ambassador to receive an official US government objection. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers cutting off foreign financial support for Israeli human rights organizations. The Palestinian Authority announces that it will stop sending funds to the Gaza Strip. Settlers in the West Bank claim that an effective settlement freeze has been in place since the beginning of Netanyahu’s government and that no actual construction has been taking place.

August 4th

As the Fatah party holds its first general congress in 20 years, several articles speculate on the possible consequences. Meanwhile, Fatah members not permitted to leave Gaza by Hamas are relegated to watching the congress on television. The Christian Science Monitor assesses the possibility of resignation by Israel's controversial Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. An op-ed in The Guardian discusses how the recent evictions in Jerusalem have added to international opposition to Israeli settlement activity. In Haaretz, Akiva Eldar argues that the recent growth of the Palestinian economy in the West Bank is despite Israel's actions, not because of them. The Obama administration is reportedly anticipating that it may be able to formally re-launch peace negotiations in the coming weeks.

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