• Israel has a military presence just inside the Lebanon border, protecting over 2,000 citizens who reside on the Lebanese side of the town of Ghajar. The United States and United Nations have asked it to leave; Hezbollah, a U.S. diplomat says, would prefer it to stay—it’s a P.R. coup. [WSJ]
• President Barack Obama defended Israel as one of the U.S.’s “strongest allies,” while also insisting, “Both the Palestinians and Israelis have legitimate aspirations.” [Haaretz]
• The U.S. Senate approved a bill that would impose further sanctions on the Iranian elite and on energy companies that do business with Iran (more on this at 10 A.M.). [Reuters/Haaretz]
• Formerly tolerant of them, Israel has begun preventing West Bank Palestinian protests of the security barrier and arresting organizers. In some cases, the protests have resembled “a creeping, part-time intifada.” [NYT]
• Prime Minister Netanyahu told U.S. envoy George Mitchell that he is okay with releasing hundreds of Fatah prisoners as a good-will gesture in the run-up, hopefully, to formal peace talks. [Haaretz]
• The Senate confirmed the appointment of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second five-year term. [LAT]