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20 November 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


November 1999

2

A commemoration held in Oslo to honour the late Israeli Prime Minister Rabin was attended by PA President Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Barak, and US President Clinton. Many other dignitaries were present, including Mrs. Leah Rabin, EU President Ahtisaari, Prime Minister Putin of the Russian Federation, as well as members of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams. US President Clinton met with Messrs. Arafat and Barak separately. During his meeting with Mr. Clinton, Mr. Barak laid out his four “red lines” in making a status deal: keeping Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; keeping most of the settlements in blocks under Israeli sovereignty; refusing to return to the 1967 borders; and rejecting any foreign army west of the Jordan River. PA President Arafat said, first and foremost, he would raise the issue of the expansion of and the ongoing settlement activities. A trilateral meeting among the three leaders was scheduled to follow the opening ceremonies. A major summit is expected in January, and by mid-February, a framework agreement should be reached. (AFP, AP, BBC, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)

While is Oslo, Israeli Prime Minister Barak announced Israel’s line-up for permanent status negotiations: Ambassador to Jordan Oded Eran; military planning head Shlomo Yanai, coordinator for the Occupied Territories Mandy Orr, military legal adviser Danny Reisner; Foreign Ministry legal adviser Allan Baker, and Pini Meidan, representative of the Prime Minister’s Office. (The Jerusalem Post)

The three-way summit in Oslo among US President Clinton, PA President Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Barak, set up new mechanisms for negotiations. A framework agreement is to be set in place by 13 February 2000 and a final accord by September 2000. The US wanted to remain involved during the process, with Secretary of State Albright taking one or two trips to the region during the period. US Envoy Dennis Ross would travel to the region more frequently. A Camp David-style summit is envisioned for January or February, “if enough progress has been made to make us believe that in good faith we can actually get an agreement,” according to President Clinton. Oded Eran would head the Israeli team, while Yasser Abed Rabbo would head the Palestinian team. The negotiating teams were to work four days a week and report directly to their leaders. A hotline was to be set up between Messrs. Arafat and Barak. (AFP, AP, BBC, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post, XINHUA)

GB International announced that it was ready to sign a deal with the PA to explore for natural gas off the Gaza Strip, paving the way for an initial $20 million investment. A spokesperson for the company said that once the agreement was signed, the company would invest in an initial four-year phase of drilling in the Mediterranean waters just off the Gaza coast in partnership with the Palestinian firm Consolidated Contractors Company. The objective would be to market gas to the Palestinian power and industrial sectors. PA officials had said they expected the deal to be announced in a meeting with British Prime Minister Blair and PA President Arafat (Reuters)

A new generation of sons and daughters of veteran Israeli settlers call themselves the “Dor Hahemshech,” or New Generation. The group has already blocked two evacuations and vow to resist further efforts to close outposts in the West Bank in defiance of mainstream settler leaders who agreed to the removal. Although the group has vowed not to resort to violence in its struggle to save the illegal communities, a leader of the

group, Shimon Riklin, said he worried that he could not control some of the their most radical members. (The Los Angeles Times)


3

Israeli Radio reported that the committees on interim arrangements were to meet the following week to discuss further implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement. This included the second batch of Israeli land transfer, the opening of a second safe passage connecting Gaza to Ramallah, and the release of more Palestinian prisoners. The transfer of 3 per cent of the West Bank from Israeli control to joint jurisdiction, and 2 per cent from joint control to sole Palestinian control was expected in the second phase of three redeployments, according to the report. (XINHUA)

Yehoshua Mor-Yossef, spokesperson for the YESHA (Council of Jewish Settlements), said two of the four families at the “Mitzpeh Hagit” settlement had abandoned the West Bank hilltop, but would return to the same spot in a matter of months after Israeli authorities officially approved the settlement. Of the 42 hilltop settlements established in recent months, Prime Minister Barak had decided that 12 were to be taken down. Eleven were to be legalized, and 19 to be allowed to stay temporarily, although building on them would be banned. Palestinians said more than 145 settlements in the West Bank and Gaza were illegal and must be evacuated in order to solidify the peace agreement. (Reuters)


7

Israeli Prime Minister Barak said he had given the green light for the enlargement of the settlement of “Itamar,” which is currently occupied by 70 Jewish families, to ten times its original size. The settlement, which is close to the Palestinian town of Nablus, is going to be expanded from 70 to 700 hectares (173 acres to 1,730 acres). Mr. Barak said the enlargement was an old scheme which was being integrated into a development plan for settlements. Meanwhile, settlers at “Maon” were setting up barricades in an attempt to block the Israeli army which was expected to evict them. (AFP, Reuters)


8

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators held the first round of talks on a permanent peace settlement, with both sides pledging to meet the September 2000 deadline. Israeli chief negotiator Oded Eran said resolution 242 (1967) was accepted as a basis for negotiations, as he tried to explain Mr Barak’s earlier remarks on its inapplicability to the West Bank and Gaza arguing, that the territories did not belong to an internationally recognized sovereign government before the 1967 war. (AFP)

Palestinian chief negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo listed six parameters for negotiations: Israeli withdrawal to June 1967 borders; resolution of the refugee issue based on resolution 194 (III); East Jerusalem, having been occupied in 1967, should be treated in accordance with UN resolutions, with access to holy sites as a right for all; settlement activity was illegal and could not be used as a pretext for the acquisition of territory; an agreement on water should be reached based on right of every people to control their natural resources, sharing of cross-boundary resources in accordance with international law, and compensatory damages arising from action prohibited by international law; and the right of all people in the region to live in security, which should not be used as a pretext for the encroachment on sovereignty of any of the parties. (AFP)


10

The Israeli Government approved a military withdrawal from a further 5 per cent of the West Bank. The Cabinet approved the withdrawal by a large majority vote, with 17 ministers voting in favour. The Palestinians would be given both political and security control over 2 per cent of the land, which is located west of Ramallah and 12 miles north of Jerusalem, and political control over the other 3 per cent. The withdrawal was scheduled for 15 November. (AFP)

The Israeli Army dismantled the hilltop settlement at “Havat Maon,” near Hebron. The Army said they removed some 250 settlers who camped out on the site, and took them to the nearby settlement of “Gush Etzion.” Some 50 people were arrested for disrupting the evacuation. (AFP)

Israel has banned Palestinian journalist Ahmed Qatamesh from leaving the country to address the Danish Parliament on Palestinian political prisoners. B’Tselem, said the action violated his right to free movement and contravened international law. (Reuters)


11

According to the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre, some 58 per cent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip approve the peace process with Israel. Of the remainder, 8.5 per cent were strongly opposed, 9.6 per cent were fairly hostile, 21.8 per cent were indifferent and 2.1 per cent had no comment. PA President Arafat and the PA have both gone up in the estimation of Palestinians since a similar poll was taken in August, with 32 per cent approval against 28 per cent, and 63 per cent against 58.8 per cent, respectively. The poll was carried out the previous month among a representative sample of 1,200 Palestinians aged 18 and over. (AFP)


12

Two days before Israel was to carry out another phase of redeployment in the West Bank, the Palestinian Cabinet expressed dissatisfaction with the areas slated for withdrawal. PA President Arafat reviewed the maps for redeployment and reports said he was not pleased with them and therefore did not approve the maps. A statement from the Palestinian cabinet said the areas to be redeployed should included populated areas. (DPA)


15

Around 1,000 Palesetinians rallied in Ramallah to mark the 11th anniversary of the PLO’s declaration of independence. Palestinian forces drove jeeps past the cheering crowd as bands of scouts played nationalist songs at Ramallah’s al-Sa’at Square. All government offices were closed across the Palestinian territories, but shops which had been decked with Palestinian flags, remained open. (AFP)


17

According to the Centre for Palestine Research and Studies and the BESA Centre for Strategic Studies at the Bar Ilan University, a growing number of Jewish setters believe that a Palestinian State would be created in the next five to ten years. A full 43.8 per cent of settlers said a Palestinian State would be established, up from 30.1 per cent in June 1997. However, one-third of those questioned said they believed the peace

process would fail and that the Israeli Army would return to exert control over the West Bank. Close to 80 per cent said they would not use force to resist any government-ordered evacuation and were opposed to a confrontation with the Army. The survey was conducted in October among 502 settlers and has a margin of error of 4.5 per cent. (AFP)

The Government of Saudi Arabia has decided to provide a grant through the World Bank to fund the construction of two courthouses, one in Ramallah and one in Gaza City. The two modern courthouses would be built and furnished to address the needs for a Palestinian court system. (M2 Communications)


19

Palestinians and Israeli police clashed in East Jerusalem where Jewish settlers attempted to occupy a Palestinian-owned house. Residents of the building and neighbours in the Sheikh Jarrah area blocked the settlers and a fight broke out between the two sides. Jewish settlers had already occupied three Arab houses in the same area. Palestinians said the presence of Jewish extremists in an all-Arab neighbourhood could lead to serious conflicts. (DPA)


24

Palestinian labourers ended a three-day boycott of their jobs in Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. Salem Abu E’beid, who was a labourer ad the Gush Katif settlement bloc and father of six, said they did not want to see settlements but also had to feed their children. The boycott had been initiated by the Islamic and National Committee to Defend the Land, an anti-settlement group that represented all Palestinian political factions in Gaza. The Workers Syndicate Federation in Gaza said Palestinian labourers worked in the settlements in the absence of alternatives, but wages were low and there was no health insurance. (Reuters)


26

The PA said it had lowered prices of certain basic goods following street protests in the Gaza Strip. Some 400 protestors has marched in the town of Rafah the day before, protesting the high prices of basic commodities. PA Chairman Arafat had ordered price cuts after receiving the results of an investigation of a special committee on prices. The committee had focused on the demand for cooking gas, petrol and flour. (Reuters)


29

Israeli Prime Minister Barak said that Palestinian refugees would not be allowed to return to Israel as part of a final peace accord. Speaking to a parliamentary committee, Mr. Barak said the scope and character of a return of refugees to the autonomous Palestinian territories would be discussed. (BBC, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian negotiators threatened to pull out of permanent-status talks if Israel’s settlement activities continued. Palestinian negotiator, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said that if the settlement activities continued without any clear objections from the Israeli Government, the talks would certainly face a real crisis. Mr. Rabbo also handed a letter to his Israeli counterpart, Oded Eran, concerning Israeli plans to build 1,026 new homes in some settlements, including in “Efrat.” (BBC, XINHUA)

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