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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, for Wednesday 20h May 2012.

UN Official says opportunity exists for two-state solution: two Israeli oil companies have signed 2 year contracts which will supply all of the gas/fuel requirements of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Israel opened the Karem Abu Salem crossing for two days; and several violent attacks on Palestinians. This and more stay tuned!

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, briefed the UN Security Council in New York yesterday on developments in the Middle East in the last month. Serry noted a number of positive trends which he said, “if sustained would offer renewed hope for progress, but the parties must now also be willing to take the much needed steps to capitalize on the potential for progress,” said Serry, adding that, “the current situation remains fragile and uncertain.”

Two Israeli oil companies have signed 2 year contracts which will supply all of the gas/fuel requirements of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This dependence on an Israeli monopoly for its fuel supply has huge strategic implications for the Palestinian Authority’s freedom of action and the living conditions of Palestinians. And yet the Palestinian Authority is silent about this issue despite the fact that it should be able to import cheaper petrol/fuel from oil-rich neighbours and alleged allies, or tap into gas reserves off the coast of Gaza. Such supply monopolies are a form of power. They provide easy ways to exert political pressure on the Palestinian Authority and ordinary Palestinians and to enforce their compliance with Israel’s interests. And yet 13 years ago off-shore gas fields were discovered off the coast of Gaza. Although small they would supply Palestinians’ needs for 15 years, but have not been developed, a lost opportunity if ever there was one.

Israel opened the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings allowing more than 200 trucks into the Gaza Strip each day. They were loaded with aid as well as supplies for the commercial and agricultural sectors. 12 trucks loaded with cement and construction material, in addition to 52 trucks loaded with gravel will be used in implementing UNRWA construction projects, while 33 trucks loaded with gravel would be for projects run by the water authority. Israel also opened the crossing on Tuesday allowing 225 trucks into Gaza Strip.

A number of violent attacks on Palestinians and their property have been reported.

1. Israeli soldiers stormed the as-Saheb neighborhood south of Hebron, invaded several homes and took pictures of the properties.

2. On Tuesday Israeli soldiers bulldozed more than 30 Dunams of Palestinian farmlands in the al-Baq’a area, east of Hebron, and confiscated irrigation systems used by the local farmers. Local officials said that the flattening of the lands is in preparation for the expansion of the illegal settlement of Kharsina with 500 housing units.

3. On Thursday, the prison administration in Nafa stopped family visits of detainees from Hebron and Bethlehem, claiming that a family tried to smuggle in a mobile phone. The army then stormed sections 13 and 14 resulting in the detainees banging on the doors and returning their meals in protest. The Prison Administration declared the two sections closed until further notice totally isolating the detainees.

4. Six teenage Arab students of the at-Tur School in Jerusalem were injured on Thursday at the Menachem Begin Public Park in the Yarkon area of Tel Aviv, after being attacked by four extremist Israelis who hit them with sticks and hurled stones at them. One of the students was hospitalised. The school had requested a “security permit” that grants protection for school children during trips but it had been refused.

5. The Israeli Navy abducted, on Wednesday, four Palestinian fishermen in Palestinian territorial waters off the coast of Beit Lahia town, in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli journalist, Uri Blau, will be indicted for possession of classified Israeli military documents. Blau, who reports for Israeli newspaper Haaretz, received the documents from Anat Kamm, who was convicted in February of passing the documents on without authorization. All material published in Hebrew in Israel must be checked by military censors prior to publication and the military regularly obtains gag orders from the court system to prevent reporting of events.

That’s all today from IMEMC News. This was the Wednesday 30th May daily roundup of news from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. For more news and updates please visit our website at Today’s report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and William Temple.