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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights
30 June 1999
D i v i s i o n f o r P a l e s t i n i a n R i g h t s



Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine

Monthly media monitoring review


June 1999

1

The EU and Germany, in particular, were keen on helping advance the Middle East peace process according to Moos Bauer, head of the German-Egyptian Parliamentary Group in the German Parliament. Mr. Bauer underlined that the 15-nation European organization was committed to the “Berlin declaration” which supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian State. Meanwhile, EU Mideast Envoy, Miguel Moratinos, said Israel’s new Labour Government must now work on restoring trust among the Middle East peace parties by freezing settlement building and giving negotiations a push. (AP, XINHUA)

The Cyprus Government said it would provide assistance in the field of agriculture to the Palestinian territory. Cyprus’ Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Costas Themistocleous, made the pledge at a meeting with PA Minister for Agriculture Hikmat Zaid, who was on a three-day private visit to Cyprus. (M2 Communications)

2

Israeli contractors have frozen building projects in West Bank settlements for fear the incoming Government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak would slash state subsidies for Jewish settlements and shift state spending priorities to education and housing needs within Israel. Maariv, reported that contractors it contacted had frozen work on 12,000 planned housing units, 3,000 of them in “Maale Adumim” and 2,000 in “Kiryat Sefer,” a religious community near Ramallah. The contractors said they would halt the work until the incoming Government’s policies were known. (AFP)

The PLO Executive Committee and the Presidency of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), chaired by PA President Yasser Arafat, called on the Israeli Government to end its settlement policy and urged Palestinians to participate in a “Day of Anger” against the settlement policy throughout the Palestinian territory. (DPA)


3

About 5,000 Palestinians demonstrated throughout the West Bank and Gaza during the “Day of Anger.” An Israeli soldier fatally shot a Palestinian motorist at a military checkpoint near the Jewish settlement of “Yattir.” One of the injured demonstrators from the village of Bruqin had been wounded with live ammunition and was in critical condition, according to the PA Information Ministry. Protesters lobbed a fire bomb at an Israeli army near the settlement of “Netzarim.” A total of 18 Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers were injured in sporadic clashes. The largest demonstration took place at the “Gush Katif” junction in the southern Gaza Strip where Palestinians blocked the main road. PLO official Faisal Husseini said the protests were a warning to Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak that he must do something to stop settlement activities, otherwise the whole atmosphere would be a poisoned one. (AFP, AP, DPA, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)


4

In a declaration closing its two-day summit in Cologne, the Council of the European Union welcomed the Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak’s decision to restart the Middle East peace process, and renewed the EU’s support for the establishment of a Palestinian State. The fifteen leaders called for both Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks on the final status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as soon as possible. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Labour Party officials said Israeli Prime Minister-elect Barak would continue to provide for basic services or “the natural needs” of existing settlements, but would cut off special privileges. Knesset Member Ran Cohen of the Meretz Party said providing for basic services was to continue the settlement policies of Mr. Netanyahu. (AFP)


6

Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak’s centre-left party, One Israel, issued a draft policy document as Mr. Barak continued to negotiate with various political parties on his coalition guidelines. The document included the following paragraphs:

- Palestinians: the Israeli Government will accelerate the peace process with the Palestinians to reach a final agreement, which will be put to a referendum. The Government will honour agreements already made with the Palestinians.
- Jerusalem: It will remain in its entirety the united capital of Israel.
- Settlements: until a final status agreement is reached no new settlement will be established and the status of the existing settlements will not be changed. The Government will meet the ongoing development needs of existing settlements. Except for security needs, settlements will not be entitled to preferential distribution of state funds. Funding will be based on socioeconomic needs on the same grounds as the rest of the country. A ministerial committee will examine policy towards the settlements and review decisions of previous governments. (DPA, The Financial Times Ltd., Reuters, XINHUA)

A joint Palestinian-Arab committee entrusted with drafting the constitution of a future Palestinian State held its first meeting in Cairo. PA Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Shaath told reporters that the future Palestine would be a republic and that the constitution would cover all the legal, constitutional and legislative aspects of the State. (AFP, AP)


7

Israeli soldiers destroyed a Palestinian house located in the Beit Hanina neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, beating the relatives of the owner when they tried to intervene. One Palestinian man was taken to hospital after being beaten by the soldiers. The house belonged to a Palestinian family living in the United States, who planned to move back to East Jerusalem after the house had been completed. (AFP, AP)

Israel has agreed to allow some 4,000 Palestinians stranded in Egypt on the border with the Gaza Strip for more than 20 years to be reunited with their families in the Gaza Strip within 18 months, according to Israeli officials. A meeting between Mohamed Dahlan, head of the Palestinian Internal Security in the Gaza Strip and Yaakov Orr, the Israeli Army’s chief coordinator in the Palestinian territories, agreed to speed up the refugees’ return by the end of 2001. Between 30 and 50 families should be able to move back each month following the agreement. The Canadian Government is providing the money to resettle the refugees. (AFP, BBC, DPA)

8 Israeli settlers from the “Morag” settlement near Rafah, a town in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, have built 15 housing units on land Israel confiscated from the Palestinians in May. Zeyad Al Sarafandi, Chairman of the Palestinian National Committee to Confront Settlements, said it was obvious that the outgoing Israeli Government was escalating its settlement activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (DPA)
9

Palestinian officials complained of what they called an unjustified closure of the Gaza International Airport as a result of Israeli air force manoeuvres. Palestinian Civil Aviation Brigadier-General Fayez Zeidan said his Israeli counterparts had asked him to close the new airport for more than two hours and for another two hours the following day. The closure forced the cancellation of an incoming Egypt Air flight and a delay of the Palestinian Air flight to Egypt. (Reuters)


15

Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak had promised right-wing politicians that he would not cancel controversial Jewish settlement activities launched by his predecessor. Ha’aretz reported that Mr. Barak told the National Religious Party that he would not stand in the way of a plan to extend a large West Bank settlement, “Maale Adumim,” in order to connect the enclave to Jerusalem. (AFP)


16

Residents of one of the biggest Jewish settlements in the West Bank, “Ariel,” have obtained permission to build 1,000 homes in the enclave over the next two years. The construction would increase the number of settlers in the community of “Ariel” by 25 per cent to 5,000, according to Akiva Azula, head of the “Ariel” Planning Commission. (AFP)
17

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said that the gross national product (GNP) for the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip for 1997 was US$4.9 billion at current prices. Gross domestic product (GDP) for the same areas was US$4.2 billion. Meanwhile, GNP per capita was US$1,763, less than one-eighth of its equivalent in Israel. Atef Alawneh, PA Deputy Finance Minister, said this justified separation of the Palestinian economy from Israel as it was an unbalanced relationship. He also pointed out that agriculture, which at one point contributed over 26 per cent to the Palestinian GNP, in 1997 contributed only 6.4 per cent, indicating less interest in agriculture and should sound a warning bell to Palestinian decision-makers to start paying more attention to this sector. (DPA)


18

US President Clinton delayed moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for at least six months. A White House statement said Mr. Clinton invoked his waiver power in order to protect critical [US] national security interests, most crucially in preserving the prospects for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace. (Reuters)


20


In a statement on regional problems released by the Group of Eight (G-8) leaders meeting in Cologne, they reaffirmed their support for negotiations on a Middle East settlement, based on the complete fulfilment of agreements, the “territories for peace” principle as well as guaranteed and recognised borders. The statement said a stable economic development and better living standards of the Palestinian people were a factor in the provision of peace and the strengthening of stability in the region. The G-8 was sure that peace, security and the provisions for rights of all peoples of the Middle East, including the Palestinians, were vitally important for the long-term and just settlement on a basis of negotiations which would enable the Palestinian people to live freely on its own land. (Itar-Tass, Kyodo)


22

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), Palestinian unemployment fell to 14.4 per cent in 1998 from 20.3 per cent in 1997 due to new jobs for workers in Israel and the Palestinian public sector. Saleh Kafari, PCBS Director of Labour Statistics, said more than 30,000 Palestinians found new jobs in Israel in 1998, mainly in construction, and that the PA had continued to expand. Unemployment was 11. per cent in the West Bank and 20.3 in Gaza. Mr. Kafari added that official unemployment figures underestimated the tough labour conditions of Palestinian areas. There was another 9.5 per cent of the population the Bureau called “the frustrated,” who had looked for work for more than two years and were no longer actively looking. Another 6.5 per cent of the labour force was underemployed, meaning that they were looking for full-time jobs but found only part-time work or were overqualified for their jobs. Employment conditions were particularly difficult for women. Close to 68 per cent of women with a year or more of college were unemployed, compared with 13.6 per cent of men. (Reuters)


23

Senior PA and US officials met to discuss aid from Washington to the PA and the legal status of PLO representatives in the United States. PA Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Shaath, said the meeting would allow discussion, through the subcommittees, on the mechanisms for US aid, economic cooperation, aid to higher education and legal questions posed by the Palestinian representation in the United States. (AFP)

Brigadier Osama Al Ali, head of the Palestinian Liaison Security Committee, said Jewish settlers from “Neveh Dekalim,” south of Gaza confiscated Palestinian land near the town of Khan Younis and built a new settlement called “Tal Katif.” Settlers faced off the area with wire and erected portable homes and several greenhouses. According to Al Ali, the maps of the area agreed upon after the Israelis and Palestinians signed the Oslo Accord, indicated that the land was a “white area” on which no settlements could be built. (DPA)


27

Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak’s coalition guidelines, signed by three parties and agreed by others, left final decisions on settlements in the hands of the Prime Minister himself. The guidelines called for the formation of a ministerial committee comprising of Mr. Barak’s One Israel bloc and officials from right-wing parties to discuss matters of principle relating to the implementation of the government’s policy on settlements. It also said that committee decisions would be unanimous, but that in cases of disagreement, the Prime Minister would decide. (AFP)

The Government of outgoing Prime Minister Netanyahu has authorized the construction of another 1,800 homes for Jews in the West Bank. According to Ma’ariv, Defence Minister Arens gave final approval for the plan to build a new neighbourhood outside the settlement of “Neve Yaacov,” north of Jerusalem. The building site lay just outside the boundary between East Jerusalem and the West Bank. (AFP)


28

Peace activists denounced a group of Israelis who took out advertisements in the press to sell homes in a new Jewish settlement on the West Bank, even though the settlement did not yet exist. The advertisement offered inexpensive homes in a would-be settlement, “Maale Modiin,” to be built west of Ramallah in the West Bank. Mossi Raz, leader of Peace Now, said the settlers hoped to build 300 housing units and called the project a provocation and a slap on the face of Prime Minister-elect Barak, who had pledged not to create any new settlements. (AFP)
29

The Jerusalem municipality ordered the demolition of a building under construction in the neighbourhood of Ras al-Amud in East Jerusalem. Palestinian residents of the area said the building was intended to be a mosque. Municipal sources said they could not confirm this, and that it was being built on land earmarked for expansion of a cemetery. (AFP)

Palestinian police scuffled with Jewish settlers after an argument over a piece of furniture being brought into Joseph’s Tomb, a Jewish holy site, located in the area under Palestinian control but where security remained with the Israelis. The argument erupted when Jewish seminar students attempted to enter the tomb carrying a wooden wardrobe without prior arrangement. Under the Israeli-Palestinian agreements, no item could be brought into the site without prior Israeli-Palestinian coordination. (AP)

The PA said it would ask the World Bank for US$90 million in loans in the coming months. According to PA Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Shaath, the highly concessional loans would be added to the US$180 million in loans already granted to the PA by the Bank. World Bank Vice-President Kemal Dervis, who met with Mr. Shaath to discuss bank projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said freedom of movement for Palestinian people and goods was very important. World Bank President James Wolfenson was scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian territory next July. (Reuters)


30

A Saudi Committee involved in providing aid to the Palestinian people said it had given US$700,000 to the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Committee, headed by King Fahd’s brother Salman bin Abdel Aziz, generated funds, paid over every three months, by taking a percentage of the salaries of some 200,000 Palestinians working in Saudi Arabia. Funds also came from private donations by Saudi citizens and foreign nationals. (AFP)


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