1.    Military affairs

a.    Israeli forces disarmed three mines that had been placed along the border with Gaza.

2.    Middle Eastern diplomacy

barak and gatesa.    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited Washington, D.C. for meetings with American counterparts, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. President Barack Obama joined Barak’s meeting with U.S. National Security Advisor General James Jones. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated “The president reaffirmed our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and our determination to achieve comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including a two-state solution.” (stock photo: Ron Sachs/Ministry of Defense/FLASH90)

b.    Unconfirmed reports indicate that Israeli construction in disputed sections of Jerusalem has been temporarily suspended as a gesture to prompt the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

abbasc.    Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas stated in an interview with an Israeli television station that he opposes a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. He added that he was prepared to negotiate with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was “chosen by the Israeli people and elected by the Knesset.” (stock photo: Issam Rimawi/FLASH90)

d.    Abbas made a speech to Fatah party members in Ramallah. He stated “Mr. President [Barack Obama] and members of the American administration, since you believe in this [an independent Palestinian state], it is your duty to take steps toward a solution and to impose this solution.”

e.    Abbas has been invited to Washington, D.C. by U.S. Middle East Envoy George Mitchell for meetings with President Barack Obama. 

f.    Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Arab League will reject a U.S. proposal for the Palestinian Authority to begin ‘indirect talks’ with Israel. The ‘Monitoring Committee for the Arab Peace Initiative’ will meet this weekend. Without Arab League approval, most analysts suggest that Palestinian Authority president Abbas will not commit to negotiations.

3.    Iran

a.    Annual Iranian military exercises have completed. These included test firing ground to sea and sea to sea missiles that Iran claims were locally developed, along with naval operations in the Persian Gulf.

b.    Reports indicate that Iran has dropped its bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council. Unconfirmed Iranian reports suggest that Iran will now seek a seat on either the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women or the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

c.    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with European Union Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton to consult on his discussions with Iranian leaders regarding the P5+1 nuclear fuel exchange proposal.

d.    Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim is visiting Iran for meetings with counterparts. In a joint news conference he stated with respect to proposals to increase sanctions on Iran, “There is no political consensus that Iran has to be isolated or for Brazil to move in that direction… Iran should have nuclear activities for peaceful purposes and the international community should also be given the guarantee that will be no violation and no diversion to military purposes.”

e.    Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez denied U.S. Department of Defense reports that Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods force personnel were present in his country.