Tension in the West Bank continued to mount on Sunday as the Palestinians prepared to bury the body of Arafat Jaradat, a detainee who died of cardiac arrest at Megiddo Prison on Saturday. The IDF's Central Command bolstered efforts to prepare for violent protest and clashes in Hebron and the vicinity. The Palestinian administrative detainees held in Israeli prisons launched a three-day hunger strike on Saturday, in response to Jaradat's death.

Well-placed sources in Washington and New York have postulated that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry intends to place the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the head of his diplomatic efforts, staving to achieve a breakthrough agreement between the two sides during President Obama's second term in office.

Labor party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich reiterated that she would not join Netanyahu’s next government, despite reports indicating she was involved in coalition talks. “We will lead the opposition and won’t join the government,” she said. “Our path doesn’t cross the path of the one assembling the government: Netanyahu. They are opposite paths.”

The Prime Minister’s Office announced that the public will be given the chance to decide what Sara Netanyahu wears when she and her husband, the prime minister, host U.S. President Barack Obama at their official Jerusalem residence next month.

Minister Ehud Barak recently suggested to Netanyahu that he would write to his Turkish counterpart and apologize for “operational mishaps” that might have occurred during Israel’s May 2010 raid on the Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara, during which nine Turkish nationals were killed. According to a Foreign Ministry source, Netanyahu rejected the idea.

On Saturday, former President Yitzhak Navon and senior army reserve officers called on Netanyahu and Barak to erect a field hospital along the Syrian border to treat victims of that country's civil war.

Two national planning bodies have recently approved an expansion plan for Haifa Port that will dramatically change the look of the city and Haifa Bay in the years to come. Expansion of the port could be critical to the Haifa Municipality's attempts to revitalize the area at the foot of Mount Carmel known as the Lower City. However, concerns over possible environmental implications have been voiced by activists and official bodies.

 

Pope Benedict XVI gave his pontificate's final Sunday blessing from his studio window to the cheers of tens of thousands of people packing St.­ Peter's Square, but sought to reassure the faithful that he wasn't abandoning the church by retiring to spend his final years in prayer. The 85-year-old Benedict is stepping down on Thursday.