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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 August 1996


August 1996

Monitored from the media by the
Division for Palestinian Rights

2 August The Israeli Cabinet voted unanimously to ease a four-year freeze on expansion and construction of settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. An Israeli Government spokesman said that although the Cabinet gave a green-light for gradual growth in the 144 settlements, no sign of the scale of construction it contemplated was given. The Palestinian Authority denounced the Israeli decision. (Washington Post, Los Angeles Times) 4 August The Israeli authorities gave a member of the Palestinian Council, Mr. Hatem Abdel-Qader, 24 hours warning to explain the function of an office he was operating in East Jerusalem. Israel police spokesman Eric Bar-Cohen said that the notice was a warning that the office would be closed by police within 24 hours if Mr. Abdel-Qader did not close it himself. (Reuter)

5 August Mr. Arafat sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu protesting Israel's decision to ease restrictions on Israeli settlement in the Palestinian territories. In the letter, Mr. Arafat called upon Mr. Netanyahu to retract the decision and warned that such a decision would jeopardize the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A copy of the letter was made available to the United States, Russia, and some European and Arab countries. (AFP)

6 August Mr. Stuart Eizenstat, Undersecretary for Interna- tional Trade at the US Commerce Department met with Mr. Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah and discussed the economic situation in the Palestinian territories. After the meeting, Mr. Eizenstat told reporters, that the United States would pass a provision which would allow all Palestinian goods to be exported to the US on a duty free basis with no quotas, and no limitation of any kind. (Reuter)
7 August Mr. Arafat held talks with King Hussein of Jordan, at the Red Sea resort of Aqaba, on the latest development in the peace process and means to resolve obstacles facing it. (AFP)

8 August Hundreds of Palestinians began an open-ended sit- down protest against an Israeli attempt to confiscate land for the building of a new road to Moraj settlement near Rafah in the Gaza Strip. The confiscation order concerns more than 17 hectares (42 acres) of land. Mr. Arafat warned that any expansion of the settlements would deal a severe blow to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. (AFP)

10 August Mr. Arafat met with the Egyptian President Mr. Mubarak in Cairo. The two leaders expressed their deep concern at Israel's decision to ease restrictions on settlements in the Palestinian territories and pledged future meetings and cooperation to revive the peace talks. (AFP)

11 August Mr. Arafat chaired a two-day meeting of the Central Committee of the Fatah movement in Cairo to discuss efforts to counter Israel's decision concerning the settlements issue. The participants decided to ask the United Nations to take concrete measures in dealing with the Israeli policy on settlements. (AFP)

12 August According to a report issued by the Palestinian Health Ministry on the situation in the Palestinian territories, 16 Palestinians have died since last February because they were prevented by the Israeli authorities from receiving adequate medical treatment from Israeli hospitals. (AFP)

13 August Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Murdechai announced that the Israeli Government had approved 300 mobile homes to be placed at educational and public institutions in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Mr. Murdechai also stated that he had approved a new procedure aimed at progressing the stages of approval for building in the Palestinian territories. Mr. Arafat condemned Murdechai's announcement and called it a new breach of the Middle East peace process. (Reuter, Financial Times)

14 August The Palestinian-Israeli Civilian Committee convened in Jerusalem for the first time in six months. The meeting focused on how Israeli and Palestinian authorities would share responsibility for security checks on passengers and cargo at the Palestinian airport in the Gaza Strip. Both sides agreed to create two working groups to draft agreements on technical and security matters concerning the airport. The two working committees would meet again the following week. (The Washington Post, Reuter)

19 August Israeli and Palestinian authorities agreed on security measures for the export of flagstones made in Gaza to Israel. The agreement would allow the Palestinians to send five truckloads of flagstones into Israel on a daily basis. (Reuter)

20 August The Israeli housing ministry drafted a plan for the construction of 20,000 housing units, 5,000 of which would be in the West Bank. Housing Ministry spokesman Amir Dobkin said the new homes would be built by the private sector but that government funds could be used for infrastructures. The plan would be presented to the government for approval later this year. (Reuter)

21 August Mr. Jamil Tarifi, in charge of the civilian affairs for the Palestinian Authority and Mr. Oren Shahor, the coordinator of Israeli activities in the Palestinian territories, met in Jerusalem and agreed to help Palestinian officials overcome delays in crossing army checkpoints. The two officials agreed to travel to the Allenby Bridge on the Jordan River to see first hand the delay in crossing for Palestinian travelers and goods. (AFP)

22 August The Israeli authorities prevented Mr. Arafat from flying by helicopter to the West Bank town of Ramallah for a meeting with former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. The spokesman of the Palestinian Council called the ban a flagrant violation of an agreement allowing Mr. Arafat to fly between the self-rule areas. Later on in the evening Mr. Arafat met with Mr. Peres in the Gaza Strip for the first time since the Israeli election in May. Both leaders pledged to protect the peace process. Mr. Netanyahu condemned the meeting before it was held, charging that Mr. Peres was undermining the negotiations. (The New York Times, Reuter)

25 August The Palestinian Authority closed two offices in East Jerusalem after Israel charged that their activities were in violation of the peace agreements. (Reuter)

26 August The authorities of Jerusalem municipality seized the house furniture of Hatem Abdel-Qader, a member of the Palestinian Council, from East Jerusalem, who was accused of opening a Palestinian Authority office in his home. It was reported that the raid was carried out upon orders from Mayor Ehud Olmert. According to the Israeli authority Mr. Abdel-Qader owed the city property taxes but Abdel-Qader said that the move came despite an agreement with the municipality to pay the tax by installments. (Reuter)

27 August Israeli Finance Minister Dan Meridor and Palestinian Trade and Economy Minister Maher Masri met in Jerusalem and agreed to establish a joint economic committee aimed at easing the plight of the Palestinian territories. It was reported that the first task of the committee would be to formulate a joint programme to be presented at the international meeting of donor countries scheduled for 6 September in Paris. (AFP)

28 August Israeli Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon approved plans to establish a new railroad link between the Israeli port of Ashdod and the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials said that the railroad would initially carry both passengers and freight from Ashdod to the Erez crossing into the northern Gaza Strip and would allow increased trade between Israel and the Palestinian territories. (AFP)

29 August Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators held their first meeting in Jerusalem. The meeting was attended by Dan Shomron, a former Israeli army chief of staff who was recently named to head the Israeli steering committee for talks with the Palestinians, and his counterpart Saeb Erakat. Both negotiators met without any accompanying delegation and no statement was made available to the public. ((AFP)

30 August Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, the Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee, met in Tel-Aviv with Mr. Dore Gold, Netanyahu's adviser, in efforts to defuse tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It was reported that the meeting made no progress on any issue. (Reuter)

31 August Mr. Arafat warned the Israeli Government of a Palestinian national uprising against the Israeli occupation if peace moves failed. Addressing high school students in the West Bank town of Nablus on the first day of the new school year, Mr. Arafat said that one of our options is to return to the intifada. He also called on Palestinian Christians to stage a mass prayer on Sunday at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in East Jerusalem, to protest against Israel's plans to expand settlements in the Palestinian territories. (Reuter)

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