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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
13 December 2004



Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine

MONTHLY MEDIA MONITORING REVIEW
November 2004



1

A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded outdoor market in central Tel Aviv, killing at least three Israelis and wounding 32. The blast went off at 11:15 a.m. near a dairy shop at the Carmel Market. The bomber was identified as Mr. Amer Al-Fahr, 18, from the Askar refugee camp near Nablus in the West Bank. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claimed responsibility for the blast in a phone call to AP. (Albawaba.com, AP, BBC, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Bashar Jabara, a 12-year-old boy from the Askar refugee camp near Nablus, was killed allegedly in clashes with the IDF. Witnesses said the boy was killed after the troops moved into Nablus in the aftermath of the suicide bombing at Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, which was carried out by a resident of the Askar camp. The Israeli army, however, said it was not operating in Nablus. Also in the West Bank, the IDF wounded four Palestinians and arrested 11 others, medical sources said. In the meantime, a convoy of Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles moved into Al-Fari’a refugee camp, south of Tubas, wounding two men. (Albawaba.com, Ha’aretz)

The following statement on the Middle East is attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General:

(UN press release SG/SM/9569)

The Israeli army notified the Egyptian authorities that the Rafah crossing on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip would be closed for security reasons. As many as 100 Palestinians, trying to cross into the Gaza Strip, were stranded at the crossing. (Xinhua)

PA President Arafat condemned the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv and called on both Palestinians and Israelis to avoid killing civilians. “He [Mr. Arafat] condemned the attack in Tel Aviv and said that he condemns the killing of civilians on both sides,” Mr. Arafat’s senior aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh said. PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia also condemned the attack. “We don’t believe that such an action serves our national cause, so we call on everyone to stop targeting civilians,” he said. PA Foreign Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat said, “We urge the international community to exert every possible effort to revive the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, which is the only way to break this vicious cycle of violence.” Mr. Qureia called on PA security forces to return to patrolling the streets of the Gaza Strip. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen took issue with what was termed Israel’s smear campaign against the Agency, crippling its work by destroying its property, blocking aid convoys and keeping Palestinians from work. Mr. Hansen said Israel incited distrust with a barrage of accusations that the Agency was never given a chance to respond to. “We are working under very dangerous circumstances and we don’t need false stories to make these circumstances even more dangerous than they are”, Mr. Hansen told members of the UN Correspondents Association. (AP)

The US Government rejected the list of unauthorized outposts in the West Bank presented by the Israeli Defense Ministry four months ago, calling it unsatisfactory. Israel had listed 23 outposts established since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Government assumed office in March 2001. The Americans believed the number of outposts built during that period was much higher. Israel and the US were now waiting for a report by State Attorney Talia Sasson, head of an interministerial team on the outposts, and the defense minister's advisor, Baruch Spiegel, which would be presented to Prime Minister Sharon in the next few weeks, on the ways outposts were set up and the legal means to evacuate and dismantle them. The Sasson report was also expected to present a clearer picture of the number of outposts as a basis for continued negotiations with the US Government, which had demanded that Israel does not take over any more lands in the West Bank for building purposes in order to leave land reserves for a future Palestinian State. (Ha'aretz)

Israeli forces uncovered an eight-meter-deep tunnel in an agricultural plot south of Rafah near the “Philadelphi route” along the Israeli-Egyptian border and destroyed it. (The Jerusalem Post)

2

The PA is functioning effectively despite the absence of PA President Arafat, Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, stated. “I can tell you that those who are responsible for keeping the Palestinian institutions alive are doing it very well. Everyone is participating constructively,” Mr. Solana told a news conference. (Reuters)

Israeli and Palestinian politicians, mediators and activists have signed a petition calling on the Israeli Government to negotiate its planned disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The petition urged the Government to coordinate the details of the plan with the Palestinian Authority. (Ha’aretz)

Palestinian officials remained optimistic about the health of PA President Arafat, saying he was following the US election with close attention. Mr. Mohamed Rashid, the President’s economic adviser, said, “The President is improving. Doctors are more convinced that the situation is under control”. Rabbi Menachem Froman from the settlement of “Tekoa”, near Bethlehem, sent a letter to Mr. Arafat wishing him a speedy recovery and return to the West Bank. The Rabbi said in the letter that peace between Israel and the Palestinians would lead to peace between Islam and the Western world. (AP, Onasa News Agency, AFX, Xinhua)

Some 1,000 Palestinians staged a demonstration in Hebron in support of PA President Arafat. This demonstration followed a similar protest in Ramallah on Monday night, attended by around 3,000 supporters. (AFP)

The IDF arrested 15 people and dismantled militant cells in Bethlehem that allegedly plotted suicide attacks in Jerusalem, army radio reported. Palestinian security forces said eight teenagers had been arrested in Hebron during a demonstration against the separation wall. (AFP)

Israeli forces razed the home of Amer Abdel Rahim, the 16-year-old suicide bomber, and those of two militants from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who had sent him on the attack that had killed three people in Tel Aviv, the army said. The Israeli army also sealed off Nablus, where Mr. Abdel Rahim lived. (AP, Reuters)

Prime Minister Qureia condemned Israel’s operation in Nablus, during which four Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed. “We expected Israel to deal with the situation in self-restraint and calmness, but Israel’s policy of using violence continued despite the Palestinian leadership’s condemnation of the bombing attack,” said Mr. Qureia. He also accused Israel of “giving the escalation of violence between Israel and the Palestinians excuses, justification and reasons”, he added. (Xinhua)

Around 10,000 Palestinians attended the funeral of Fadi Sarawan, Majdi Mari and Jihad Abu Salhyeh, the three Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members shot dead by Israeli undercover forces. (AFP)

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for blowing up an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza Strip. Saraya Al-Quds, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for attacking the settlements “Rafiakh Yam”, “Neve Dekalim” and “Dugit” in the Gaza Strip with mortar shells. No injuries had been reported in the attacks, according to an Israeli army spokesman. (Xinhua)

The IDF killed more Palestinians in October than in any month since the height of open violence in April 2002. One hundred and sixty-five Palestinians had been killed the previous month, 159 of them in the Gaza Strip. (Ha’aretz, The New York Times)

Some 3,000 pupils protested against a strike by the local staff of UNRWA that had shut down dozens of schools and clinics for the previous three weeks. Meanwhile, around 100 UNRWA employees demonstrated outside the organization’s office in Bethlehem, asking for pay raises and improved health coverage. UNRWA’s 4,000 local workers in the West Bank had been on strike since 11 October. (AFP)

The IDF arrested 16 Palestinians suspected of planning a series of attacks in Jerusalem. (Ha’aretz)

A group of Israeli and Palestinian dignitaries published an initiative called “The Athens Plan" for a coordinated exit from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank. The initiative was drafted earlier in the year during a two-day symposium in Athens, led by Professor Steven Spiegel. Under the initiative, Israel would coordinate its pullout with the Palestinian Authority, which, in turn, would assume responsibility for law and order, completing its security reforms before the disengagement begins. Signatories among the Palestinians were Mohammed Rashid, financial advisor to PA President Arafat; Iyad Saraj, a Palestinian human rights activist; and Mr. Arafat’s aide Abed Alloun. On the Israeli side, signatories included Ha’aretz 's Zeev Schiff; Arab affairs TV commentator Ehud Yaari; the former Director-General of the Treasury, David Brodet; and former Foreign Ministry Director-General David Kimche. (Haaretz, bitterlemons.org)

3

PA President Arafat welcomed US President George W. Bush's re-election, saying he hoped it would help jumpstart the Middle East peace process, Mohammed Rashid, one of his aides told AFP. Mr. Rashid specified that the peace process should proceed based on the “two-State vision expressed by President Bush in order to allow the Palestinian people to realize their national aspirations through a just peace”. (AFP, Reuters)

The Yisrael Beitenu Party, backed by immigrants from Russia, said it would campaign for half of Israel's Arab population to be incorporated into a future Palestinian State. The party said it was the first time such a “separation plan” had been put forward as part of a possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The party wanted Arab-Israeli districts near Israel's 4 June 1967 line with the West Bank to be incorporated into a future Palestinian State in exchange for Jewish settlements in the West Bank becoming part of Israel. “It is unrealistic to transfer the Arabs in Israel from one district to another, but it is possible to move the border and swap land and populations,” the document says. (AFP)

Prime Minister Sharon moved forward with the Gaza withdrawal plan, with the Knesset approving a bill to provide compensation for the 8,800 Gaza settlers to be relocated under the plan. The bill was adopted with the help of the opposition Labour Party in a vote of 64 to 44, with nine abstentions. (AFP, AP, Reuters)

In a leaflet circulated by Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the group claimed responsibility for firing three mortar shells at the settlement of “Neve Dekalim” in Khan Yunis. In another leaflet, the Brigades also claimed responsibility for attacking two Israeli army bulldozers during an Israeli operation in the “Block O” area of Rafah. (Xinhua, AP)

The IDF had shot and killed a Palestinian man in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, hospital officials said. Witnesses said the man was driving his car along the border with Egypt. Troops and armoured bulldozers had been clearing land on the outskirts of the camp and firing machine-guns sporadically, witnesses said. Six other Palestinians were lightly wounded. Palestinian security sources said eight homes were demolished, as well as the Zenoureen Mosque. Mr. Mohammed Lafi, director of the local Islamic Trust, said bulldozers had demolished 90 per cent of the 50-year-old mosque. The army said troops were searching for smuggling tunnels in the area and it was investigating reports of damage to the mosque. (AP)

29-year-old Rayif Quran was killed near Jenin when the IDF opened fire on a group of gunmen trying to flee from an ambush, Palestinian witnesses and military officials said. (Ha'aretz)

In the Gaza Strip the Israeli army continued for security concerns its closure of the Rafah crossing for four consecutive days. The closure of the only passage in and out of Gaza had stranded thousands of Palestinians who had wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage during the holy month of Ramadan. Palestinian security sources said Israel had informed the Palestinian side the closure would continue. (Xinhua)

In his first public remarks following the US elections, British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for a revival of the international effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I have long argued that the need to revitalize the Middle East peace process is the single most pressing political challenge in our world today," Mr. Blair said after congratulating President Bush on his re-election. ( AFP)

4

French President Jacques Chirac visited PA President Arafat in hospital outside Paris. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Arab leaders, on congratulating US President Bush on his re-election, expressed one common wish: Mr. Bush’s return to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in a congratulatory message to President Bush he was confident that the US President would now work vigorously on common goals, including a comprehensive Middle East peace. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah also proposed joint efforts to solve the Palestinian problem. There were similar calls from King Mohammed VI of Morocco and from PA Prime Minister Qureia, who said, “Your leadership for a second term provides an excellent opportunity ... Now is the time for the US to take a strong and more active lead in resolving the current conflict.” (Reuters)

At his first press conference since his re-election, US President Bush said resolving the conflict in the Middle East was key to preserving global stability, hoping to see progress in the region in his second term. “I've been working on Middle Eastern peace ever since I've been the president,” Mr. Bush said. “I laid down ... a very hopeful strategy. And my hope is that we'll make good progress.” (AFX International Focus, www.whitehouse.gov/news)

Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli grenades in the Gaza Strip. The men were allegedly planning to plant an explosive device near the refugee camp of Al-Bureij. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)

5

Two cousins, Ahmed, 7, and Mohammed Somerie, 8, were killed in an explosion in the Gaza Strip. The IDF said the boys were killed by a stray mortar round fired by Palestinians. Palestinian hospital officials quoted relatives as saying the boys were killed when an Israeli tank hit the family home in Khan Yunis. In another incident, Israeli settlers said several mortar shells were fired at the settlement of “Kfar Darom”, near Khan Yunis, overnight, damaging buildings and a vehicle, but causing no casualties. (Reuters, DPA, AFP, AP, Xinhua)

IDF troops arrested eight wanted Palestinian militants, members of Hamas and Fatah, in overnight raids in the West Bank. (Ha’aretz)

An Israeli 20-vehicle armoured column entered the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip and opened fire at houses there, Palestinian security officials said. The Israeli force was backed up by an attack helicopter, they said. Israeli army officials confirmed an operation had taken place to uncover tunnels used to smuggle weapons from Egypt. There were no reports of casualties. (AFP, Albawaba.com)

The European Council issued its Presidency Conclusions at the end of its meeting in Brussels on 4-5 November. In it, the European Council expressed “solidarity with the Palestinian people in this difficult moment. It encourages the Palestinian leadership to demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility in ensuring the regular functioning of Palestinian institutions.” The Council considered it “essential that a legitimate leadership continues to resolutely pursue the path towards peace in the Middle East.” It remained committed to the two-state solution as laid out in the Road Map. EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said the EU would work “24 hours a day” to ensure that Palestinians achieved their own State. (AFP, europa.eu.int)

Fourteen Palestinian organizations, including Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, met in Gaza City in a show of unity and in an effort to find ways to ensure calm during PA President Arafat’s absence. “We are here today to reflect our unity,” according to Islamic Jihad spokesman Mohammed Al-Hindi. “We are one nation looking for its freedom and fighting for its land and we are not separate groups fighting here and there.” (Ha’aretz)

6

A Palestinian teenager was killed by Israeli fire in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, according to hospital sources. Alaa Samara, 13, was killed when Israeli soldiers opened fire to disperse stone-throwing protestors. Also in Jenin, Israeli troops dynamited the house of Mr. Saeb Abu Kamal, a local leader of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Palestinian sources said. (AFP, Albawaba.com)

Two Palestinians were killed near the settlement of “Neve Dekalim” in the Gaza Strip in a clash with Israeli troops, Palestinian sources said. The two men were identified as Messrs. Omar Nufal, 26, and Ramzi Al-Jaabir, 29. Both were members of the Islamic Jihad that claimed responsibility for the assault on the settlement. In the West Bank, about a dozen Israeli jeeps entered the town of Jericho and searched several houses, witnesses said. (AFP, Albawaba.com)

Two Palestinians were killed in a car bomb explosion in the town of Qalqilya in the West Bank. Mohammed Saadi, 42, and Mohammed Jiadi, 27, of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, were killed in the blast. The origin of the blast was not immediately clear, but an Israeli military said Israeli forces “were not operating in the area.” Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said Israeli forces had booby-trapped their car. (AFP, Albawaba.com, www.ipc.gov.ps)

Amin Hamdan, a 23-year-old Palestinian farmer, was shot dead in an olive grove in the town of Illar, north-west of Tulkarm, by Israeli troops who had accused the man of ambushing and firing at three Israelis, critically injuring one of them. (AFP)

PA Prime Minister Qureia visited Gaza City and held a meeting with representatives of Palestinian organizations and security forces. Mr. Qureia said providing security for the Palestinians and maintaining national unity were of utmost importance. He also noted all participants in the meeting stressed the importance of the security situation and the need to refrain from the use of weapons under any circumstances, in addition to continuing intra-Palestinian dialogue. PLC Speaker Rawhi Fattouh was with Mr. Qureia at the meeting. (AP, www.ipc.gov.ps)

The Executive Committee of the PLO congratulated US President Bush on his re-election. Head of PA President Arafat’s office Tayib Abdelrahim told reporters, “The Executive Committee sent congratulations to President Bush for his success in the election and we hope to coordinate with the new administration to implement Mr. Bush’s vision for a two-state solution.” (AFP)

7

Four Palestinians were killed in Jenin by Israeli undercover forces. Palestinian sources said Israeli troops opened fire on a Palestinian vehicle, killing all four passengers. Three were members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and one a member of Islamic Jihad. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members were identified as Maher Abu Kamel and Mohammed Masharka, whose family homes had been destroyed earlier in the day by Israeli forces, and Mahmud Sami. The Islamic Jihad member was identified as Fadi Iqbari. All victims were in their twenties. (AFP, Albawaba.com, www.ipc.gov.ps)

8

In Rafah, Israeli tanks stationed near the border with Egypt opened fire at Palestinian houses in the Soufi and Al-Barahma neighbourhoods of the city, critically wounding Ahmad Al Jazzar, 13, according to medical sources. Elsewhere, Israeli troops manning the Abu Holi checkpoint in the central Gaza Strip arrested three Palestinians who had been passing through. According to sources, the troops closed the checkpoint, trapping hundreds of Palestinians. (www.ipc.gov.ps)

Senior Palestinian officials, including PA Prime Minister Qureia, Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee Mahmoud Abbas, and PA Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath, headed for Paris to visit PA President Arafat in hospital. French President Chirac is scheduled to hold talks with the Palestinian leaders. (AFP, BBC, FT.com, www.dailystar.com.lb, www.euronews.net)

Israel has transferred NIS145 million hitherto frozen tax money to the PA. (Ha’aretz)

US Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters en route to Mexico City, “I have been impressed by the manner in which the Palestinian leaders back in the territories have been discussing among themselves how to move forward… I hope that sense of quiet and calm can be maintained, and it gives us something to work with. We are in touch with all the parties. The President has made it clear and I have made it clear to them that we are ready to engage as soon as it is appropriate to engage.” (www.state.gov)

9

IDF troops killed two Palestinians spotted crawling toward the Gaza-Israel border. The two men were discovered to be unarmed, but one of them was said to have been carrying observation equipment. (Ha’aretz, Xinhua)

The IDF demolished the Nablus home of Mr. Wajdi Judi, 27, a local DFLP leader and alleged bombing mastermind, and arrested some 50 Palestinians. (Ha’aretz, WAFA)

The IDF arrested 17 Palestinians after conducting house-to-house searches in Bethlehem, Ramallah, Hebron and surrounding refugee camps. (WAFA)

Palestinians fired a Qassam rocket that crashed into an open area in the western Negev region. There were no casualties or damage reported. (Ha’aretz)

Palestinians fired two mortar shells at the “Gush Katif” settlement block in the southern Gaza Strip. There was extensive damage, but no casualties. Two mortar shells were fired at the “Nisanit” settlement in the northern Gaza Strip. Four settlers were treated for shock. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks. (Ha’aretz, AFP)

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told the House of Commons, “The Palestinian Authority has clear responsibilities better to control security and terrorism from within their own borders. A high proportion of our direct assistance from the UK to the Palestinian Authority is designed to strengthen their security and their security apparatus.” The Prime Minister’s spokesman said Mr. Blair would raise the issue of support for the Palestinian security services during his forthcoming meeting with President Bush. (Reuters)

“[French Foreign Minister Michel] Barnier hailed the security efforts and work of officials in the Palestinian territories since [PA President] Arafat was admitted to a hospital in France," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hervé Ladsous said following the meeting between Mr. Barnier and visiting senior Palestinian officials, including PA Prime Minister Qureia, Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee Abbas, and PA Foreign Minister Sha’ath. (AFP)

10

The PLO Executive Committee and the Fatah Central Committee, along with other Palestinian leaders, held meetings at the muqataa in Ramallah. (DPA)

Israeli troops shot dead three Palestinians in separate incidents. Sources said Israeli troops shot Kadri Ashoor, 24, in Nablus, adding that another man was wounded at the shooting. The IDF continued at predawn its military operation storming several houses and arresting Palestinians. Two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers as they were trying to infiltrate the settlement of “Kkra Azza”, near Gaza City. (Xinhua, AFP)

Israeli military officials said soldiers aboard a patrol boat shot dead a Palestinian swimming toward the settlement of “Dugit” in the northern Gaza Strip. An IDF statement said the man was in a no-go zone off the coast near the settlement. Military officials said no weapons had been found near the body. (AFP, AP, Dow Jones)

King Abdullah II of Jordan called the US President, his first contact since Mr. Bush was re-elected. King Abdullah stressed the need for the US to pursue "a comprehensive and just peace in the region and establish an independent Palestinian State," Petra reported. (OsterDowJones)

11

The Palestinian leadership announced that President Yasser Arafat, leader of Fatah, Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and President of the Palestinian Authority, had passed away at 3:30 a.m. in Paris. (WAFA)

PA Legislative Council Speaker Rawhi Fattouh was sworn in by the Palestinian Legislative Council as Palestinian Authority interim President until elections were held in 60 days. In an emergency session of the PLO, in Ramallah, attended by the Speaker of the PA Salim Za'anoon and President of the High Court, Zuheir Sourani, Mr. Fattouh was named, under the terms of Palestinian Basic Law, interim President for 60 days. During the swearing-in ceremony, Mr. Fattouh said President Arafat's experience enabled him to unite the Palestinian people and strengthen their steadfastness against the Israeli occupation in order to achieve the establishment of an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital. Mr. Fattouh assured the international community of the commitment of the Palestinian people to the peace process as they looked forward to greater support for the Palestinian cause and rights that would guarantee freedom and independence to the Palestinian people. (WAFA)

The PLO Executive Committee elected Mahmoud Abbas as its new Chairman. In a statement issued in Ramallah, Speaker of the Palestinian National Council, Salim Al-Zaa'noon said the Executive Committee had conducted an election process whereby Mr. Abbas was nominated by consensus. (WAFA)

Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi was named head of Fatah. (jordantimes.com)

PA President Yasser Arafat's body arrived in Cairo for the funeral service on 12 November. (Albawaba.com)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the death of PA President Arafat:

(UN press release SG/SM/9585-PAL-2016)

The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued the following statement on the passing of PA President Arafat:
(UN press release GA/PAL/970)

The United Nations today paid tribute to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, stressing his historic acceptance of the principle of peaceful coexistence between Israel and a future Palestinian State and regretting that he did not live to see its realization. The flag at UN Headquarters in New York was lowered to half mast in mourning. It was also announced that the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Rød-Larsen, would represent the Secretary General at President Arafat’s funeral in Cairo. A moment of silence was observed by the General Assembly at its fifty-ninth session to pay tribute to the memory of PA President Arafat. At the meeting, the chairmen of the various regional groups took the podium to pay homage. UN Ambassador Crispin Grey-Johnson of Gambia spoke on behalf of the African States, Ambassador Rezlan Ishar Jenie of Indonesia on behalf of the Asian nations, Belarusian Ambassador Andrei Dapkiunas on behalf of the Eastern European States, Ambassador Eduardo Sevilla Somoza of Nicaragua on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, Ambassador Don Mackay of New Zealand on behalf of the Western European and Others Group, Ambassador Omar Bashir Mohamed Manis of the Sudan on behalf of the Arab States, Ambassador Dirk Jan van den Berg of the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union and associated States, Ambassador Rastam Mohd Isa of Malaysia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Egypt's UN Deputy Permanent Representative, Aboul Atta, Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Chargé d'affaires a.i. of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the UN and the UN Deputy Permanent Representative of Turkey Altay Cengizer on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). Ambassador Paul Badji of Senegal, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the Palestinian people had lost a leader who, for decades, had been a powerful symbol of their national aspiration, unity and steadfastness, and who devoted most of his life to the struggle against the occupation and for the realization of their inalienable rights. The Committee was hopeful that the Palestinian people would remain united and determined to continue along the road of peace charted by President Arafat. (UN News Service)

British Foreign Secretary Straw issued the following statement: “I want to express my deep sympathy and condolences to the Palestinian people on the death of [President]Yasser Arafat. President Arafat played such a dominant role on behalf of the Palestinians over so many decades that it is hard to imagine the Middle East without him. As the leader of his people, he created an international awareness of, and concern about, the plight of the Palestinian people. He displayed unquestionable devotion to his work. President Arafat led the Palestinian national movement through the 1980s and 1990s to an acceptance of Israel, a two-state solution, and negotiation as the means to achieve that goal. He died knowing that the international community had committed itself to a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure state of Israel. As the Prime Minister has made clear, the United Kingdom will continue to do all it can to strive for that outcome.” (www.fco.gov.uk)

The following statement was made by US President George W. Bush, "The death of [President] Yasser Arafat is a significant moment in Palestinian history. We express our condolences to the Palestinian people. For the Palestinian people, we hope that the future will bring peace and the fulfillment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic Palestine that is at peace with its neighbors. During the period of transition that is ahead, we urge all in the region and throughout the world to join in helping make progress toward these goals and toward the ultimate goal of peace.” (www.whitehouse.gov.news)

Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), made the following comments on the occasion of the death of PA President Arafat: “...have learned of President Arafat's passing with great sadness. I wish to express my sincere sympathy to his family and to the Palestinian people. With the passing of Yassir Arafat the Palestinian people has lost its historic leader. More than any other, his life stands for the tragic and turbulent history of the Middle East. A period of grief starts for all Palestinians. The best tribute to President Arafat's memory will be to intensify our efforts to establish a peaceful and viable State of Palestine as foreseen by the Road Map.” (ue.eu.int)

French President Chirac paid final respects to PA President Yasser Arafat at the Paris military hospital. Mr. Chirac told journalists after a 25-minute visit that France will continue to tirelessly act for peace and security in the Middle East and will do so with respect for the rights of the Palestinian and Israeli people. In an earlier statement, Mr. Chirac said Mr. Arafat was "a man of courage and conviction" and promised that France would put its full weight into helping Israel and a future independent Palestinian state exist side by side. “The Road Map, approved by [President] Yasser Arafat, opens that perspective. The international community must bring all its weight to put it into practice,” he said. (AFP)

Chinese President Hu Jintao sent a letter of condolences to Mr. Fattouh, PA Interim President, on the death of President Yasser Arafat. In his letter President Hu said, “His passing away was a great loss for Palestinians, the Chinese people have lost a great friend.” President Hu said Mr. Arafat was a great leader and an outstanding statesman who had dedicated his whole life to the just cause of regaining the lawful rights of the Palestinian people. Mr. Hu expressed the conviction that the Palestinian Government and people will carry forward Mr. Arafat's “uncompleted causes,” continue to advance the peace process in the Middle East and exert unremitting efforts to resolve the Middle East issue through political means. (Xinhua)

The office of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak declared a three-day mourning period. Tunisia followed suit, as flags were flown at half mast and radio stations played classical or religious music. Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karameh said in a statement, “Abu Ammar was the leader and commander of all the Palestinian people and a symbol for the [Palestinian] cause”. Syrian Information Minister Mahdi Dakhlallah hailed the late Mr. Arafat as “an eminent Palestinian resistance fighter and leader who made his mark on the Palestinian stage and contemporary Arab history.” Jordan decreed a 40-day mourning period at the royal court and three days nationwide, as King Abdullah II expressed “deep sadness and pain” in an official statement in which he said “The Palestinian people, despite their deep pain, will know how to overcome their sorrow and pursue their efforts to recover the rights of the Palestinian people and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.” Iraq's Prime Minister Iyad Allawi paid tribute to Mr. Arafat by saying, “I hope that the estimable Palestinian people may find reason for optimism despite their grief and continue in the path blazed by this noble leader.” Saudi Arabia's King Fahd extended his condolences in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency. Three days of mourning were also declared in Yemen, with flags lowered. Iran offered its condolences to the Palestinian people and appealed to them to remain united. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, “...what is important now is that the Palestinian people maintain their unity and integrity and do not allow the Zionist regime to exploit the situation.” (AFP)

In a statement distributed by The Carter Center, former US President Jimmy Carter said Mr. Arafat “was the father of the modern Palestinian nationalist movement. A powerful human symbol and forceful advocate, Palestinians united behind him in their pursuit of a homeland.” He added that while Mr. Arafat provided “indispensable leadership to a revolutionary movement” and played a key role in forging a peace agreement with Israel in 1993, he was excluded from negotiations in recent years.” Mr. Carter expressed hopes that an emerging Palestinian leadership could benefit from Mr. Arafat's experiences, be welcomed to the peace process by Prime Minister Sharon and US President Bush, and be successful in helping to forge a Palestinian State living in harmony with their Israeli neighbours. (The Carter Center)

In a statement, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin said President Arafat “dedicated his entire life to the just cause of the Palestinian people, to the struggle for the exercise of their inalienable right to establish an independent State of their own,” Itar-Tass reported. “The contribution made by Mr. Arafat to the strengthening of Russo-Palestinian friendly relations is highly appreciated in Russia,” Mr. Putin said in the message to PLO Secretary-General Abbas, Interim President Fattouh and PA Prime Minister Qureia. (UPI)

Former US President Bill Clinton expressed sympathy at the death of PA President Arafat but also expressed regret that Mr. Arafat had not signed up for a peace accord with Israel in 2000. “History will record that Yasser Arafat's greatest moment occurred on 13 September 1993, when he and Israel's Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, shook hands on the White House lawn and signed the Oslo Accords which led to seven years of negotiation, progress and relative peace,” Mr. Clinton said in a statement . “However others viewed him, the Palestinians saw him as the father of their nation,” he added. (AFP)

European leaders saluted PA President Arafat's devotion to the Palestinian cause and expressed hope that his death might create an opportunity to achieve his dream of an independent State. British Prime Minister Blair said Mr. Arafat “led his people to an historic acceptance and the need for a two-State solution.” He said that was something “we must continue to work tirelessly to achieve.” German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said in a statement, “Yasser Arafat's life stands for the varied and tragic history of the Palestinian people and the Middle East as a whole. In it were reflected many people's hopes for peace, but time and again also their disappointments and setbacks.” Mr. Fischer said he would attend Arafat's funeral, as did Mr. Javier Solana, British Foreign Secretary Straw and French Foreign Minister Barnier. Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said, “Arafat's biggest achievement was to give the Palestinian people self-awareness as a people and thereby create the basis for the creation of a Palestinian State”. In a message of condolence, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told Palestinians, “You have set out on the path to independent statehood and an enduring, just and peaceful settlement of the conflict. ... As you continue along this road, you may be assured of the undiminished support of the Netherlands.” Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said, “We hope that all Palestinians will peacefully commit themselves to bringing about the objective of two States, their own and Israel, living side by side in safety, freedom and social development”. (AP)

Asian leaders reacted with sadness to the death of President Arafat, as they paid tribute to his long struggle for the Palestinian people and expressed hope for eventual peace in the Middle East. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed through his spokesman his “deepest condolence for the loss of a Palestinian leader, a man who was also close to the hearts of the Indonesian people”. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi expressed “deepest grief” over President Arafat's death and urged the global powers behind the Road Map to remain committed to the plan. Mr. Abdullah, who chairs the OIC and NAM, said, “[President] Arafat's death is a great loss to the Palestinians and the cause of Palestine would be an understatement.” Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said in a statement, “Mr. Arafat was indeed a pioneer who had laid out the foundation for the establishment of a Palestinian State.” Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam praised Mr. Arafat's lifetime devotion to his people saying, “The Palestinian people have not only lost a great patriot but also a great visionary whose only ambition in life was to achieve a homeland for the Palestinian people.” Pakistan declared three days of mourning and President Pervez Musharaf expressed sorrow at the death of the “great leader”. Afghani President Hamid Karzai described Mr. Arafat as a “great personality whose courage and leadership was respected world-wide”. Thailand expressed its sadness at Mr. Arafat's death and said it hoped his passing away would not undermine attempts to secure a lasting peace in the Middle East. In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard said history would judge President Arafat harshly for failing to embrace an Israeli peace offer four years previously. New Zealand's Foreign Minister Phil Goff said, “There was much both to respect and criticise in Mr. Arafat”. He also said that the Palestinian leader shared with Israel the responsibility for failing to finalize a peace settlement. (AFP)

Four Palestinians were killed by the IDF. Medics at Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital said that 25-year-old Nur Eddin Mortaja, 19-year-old Bilel Deib, and 25-year-old Mohammed al-Khuli were killed by the IDF in an incursion in Gaza City. Mr. Al-Khuli was a member of the Popular Resistance Committees movement, but it was not known whether the other two were affiliated to any faction. Witnesses said Mr. Mortaja died from bullets fired from an Israeli tank in the southern Sheikh Eijlin neighbourhood of the city. In a village near Hebron, 22-year-old Mohammed Jamil Abu Maria was shot dead by Israeli forces when they opened fire at a group of stone-throwing protesters, medical sources and witnesses said. Witnesses said that the shooting happened after clashes broke out at the entrance to the village. (AFX International Focus)

Former PA Security Minister Mohammed Dahlan told AFP , “I am sure that substantial reforms and changes in our domestic and political life will take place for the better and through elections.” "I believe that the time is appropriate and that everybody desires to participate and contribute to this process of reform … maybe in the past, part of the Palestinian leadership was afraid to take up the issue [of reforms] with President Arafat,” added Mr. Dahlan. (AFP)

Hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks at Israeli cars and burned tires as demonstrators in the West Bank vented their outrage over the death of Yasser Arafat, the Israeli army said. The IDF used rubber-coated metal bullets and fired tear gas to break up the rally of about 400 people at Beit Umar, a village near Hebron, the army said. (AP)

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President Bush said during his joint press conference with Prime Minister Blair, “...I believe we've got a great chance to establish a Palestinian state, and I intend to use the next four years to spend the capital of the United States on such a State… The first step of that is going to be the election of a new president, and my fervent hope is that the president embraces the notion of a democratic state… I'd like to see it done in four years.” (www.whitehouse.gov)

The Government of Cuba paid homage to PA President Yasser Arafat in a solemn ceremony attended by dozens of foreign diplomats, Government officials and Palestinians studying in Cuba. (AP)

13

French Foreign Minister Barnier said an independent Palestinian State should be created even faster than President Bush's four-year time frame. “I think it is possible to create, perhaps even with temporary borders, this Palestinian State, which is one of the conditions for peace and security for all the countries in this region,” he told Europe-1 radio. (AP)

More than 1,000 demonstrators marched through Rome and some 3000 demonstrators marched through Paris to protest Israel's separation barrier and to support the Palestinians after the death of PA President Yasser Arafat. “This event is part of an international campaign against the annexation wall in Israel," said Christian Piquet, an organizer of the demonstration in France. (AP, AFP)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit announced that he and Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman would travel to Israel on 24 November, to discuss Israel's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. Mr. Abul Gheit also said he hoped to discuss with US Secretary of State Powell during his visit to Egypt on 22-23 November the need to put an end to Israel's “targeted killings of Palestinian leaders, and to reach a cease-fire for the holding of elections”. (AP)

14

US Secretary of State Powell said in a CNBC interview, "What we're looking for is for the new Palestinian leadership to clamp down on terrorism, speak out against terrorism, and to use their security forces to go after those who commit acts of terror. We're hoping that (the election) goes smoothly, and we're in touch with the Israelis so that they can be of assistance in making sure the Palestinian people do get the opportunity to move freely and to participate in this vote." (AP)

Prime Minister Sharon told his Cabinet he would not rule out the possibility of allowing East Jerusalem Palestinians to vote, meeting participants said. No decisions were made. (AFP)

PA Interim President Fattouh announced that Palestinian presidential elections would be held on 9 January 2005. Candidates would be allowed to submit their papers for the ballot for 12 days, beginning on 20 November. The campaign period would last from 27 December until 8 January, Mr. Fattouh said. (Reuters)

PA Prime Minister Qureia was named head of the Palestinian National Security Council, a Palestinian official told AFP . The decision had been taken by Fatah and the Executive Committee of the PLO at a meeting in Ramallah, the official said. (AFP)

PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas escaped unharmed after a shooting incident in a tent in Gaza City, where he was greeting people mourning President Arafat. “While we were receiving condolences, a huge crowd gathered there and then random shooting broke out, but not in my direction,” he said. Two security guards were killed and six other people injured in the incident. Mr. Abbas is scheduled to meet with local PLO leaders, security officials and Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad. (AP, AFP, Reuters)

15

Hamas militants said they had fired three mortar shells at three different Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip: “Neve Dekalim”, “Nitser Hazani” and “Nahal Oz”. Israel Radio reported there were no damages or injuries in the three attacks. (AFP)

The IDF had withdrawn from the northern West Bank town of Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp, where they had been positioned for more than two weeks, an IDF spokesman said. (AP)

Israel’s Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom told a conference in Cleveland, Ohio, “Israel has every interest that Gaza be ruled in a responsible manner when redeployment takes place… If the new leadership on the Palestinian side acts to combat terror, then we will be able to consider coordinating aspects of the 'day after' with them.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev confirmed that Mr. Shalom's comments constituted a “new policy.” (AP)

The Presidency of the European Union was “very satisfied with the tranquil and peaceful temporary transfer of power [in the PA],” Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot told reporters in The Hague. (AP)

The IDF restored its ban on Palestinian police and security forces carrying weapons in Ramallah. (AFP)

UN Special Coordinator Rød-Larsen briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East in the wake of the death of PA President Yasser Arafat, urging both sides to advance the peace process with a secure Israel. Striking a personal note as he delivered his final briefing as the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative, Mr. Rød-Larsen paid tribute to all his staff and all others working for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. (UN press release SC/8244)

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem criticized the Israeli army for demolishing 628 homes during the current intifada. The organization said that nearly 4,000 people had lived in the houses that were demolished “because of the acts of 333 Palestinians”. Almost half of the demolished houses “were never home to anyone suspected of involvement in attacks against Israel”. (UPI)

Hamas called for local and parliamentary elections to be held in tandem with the presidential elections in January 2005. “We are insisting on the need for legislative and municipal elections in addition to the presidential poll,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zukri said. The Islamic Jihad said it would boycott the 9 January election to choose the head of the Palestinian Authority. “The elected President will have certain restrictions on him. He will have relations with Israel and the US, and consequently we are not going to participate in the election,” Jihad leader Nafez Azzem told reporters before talks with PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas. (AFP)

16

PA Foreign Affairs Minister Erakat appealed to US President Bush to “make sure we have free and fair presidential election in 60 days”. He added, “If elections are obstructed by Israeli occupation, this will be the path of more chaos. This is your opportunity, this is a historic opportunity, we have a historic moment, Mr. President – seize it.” (Coventry Evening Telegraph)

Former PA Chief of Security Dahlan said he would not run in the 9 January elections and instead endorsed PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas. Mr. Dahlan also said he had little hope the US would be an effective broker. “We have had a very bad experience and a very difficult one with this American Administration”. (AP)

Palestinian lawmakers said they would propose amending the election law in one of the first signs of reform since the death of PA President Arafat. Legislators said the proposal would alter the way lawmakers were elected. The changes aimed to reduce clan loyalties, boost the importance of political parties and draw in opposition groups that boycotted the 1996 general elections. Lawmaker Hassan Khreishah said, “We want to make ourselves dependent on political parties and not on persons”. “Now with the absence of Arafat, we may need to re-organize the role of every party… the role of the Government. I think we are in a new position,” lawmaker Azmi Al-Shuaibi said. “The system can be reformed and the parties can be part of it. The whole idea is to ensure the widest participation in the Parliament to ensure there will be parliamentary blocs and meaningful opposition”, added lawmaker Ziad Abu Amr. (Reuters)

Two Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army fire as Hamas said it fired mortars at settlements without causing any casualties. Palestinian sources said a 19-year-old youth and an elderly man were injured in the Brazil camp in Rafah when it came under heavy tank fire from Israeli positions along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement it fired several mortars at the settlement of “Neve Dekalim” in Khan Yunis. There was no report of casualties. (UPI)

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said it was opposed to PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas becoming President of the Palestinian Authority, and would instead back jailed leader Marwan Barghouti. (AFX)

Prime Minister Sharon said he would consider coordinating the Gaza pullout plan with new Palestinian leaders if they moved to curb attacks on Israelis. He said Israel could liaise with Palestinians on security matters and the areas of the Gaza Strip to be evacuated by the settlers. “If in time we see that there is a Palestinian leadership that is willing to fight terror, we can have security coordination … and perhaps coordination on handing over the territory from which we withdraw,” he told a meeting with officials from the Likud Party. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shalom, during his visit to Washington, pledged that everything necessary would be done to ensure Palestinians could hold democratic elections, including guaranteeing the freedom of movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (BBC, DPA)

A spokesman for French President Chirac said holding elections to replace the late PA President Arafat was the priority in the Middle East. “For the moment, the priority in our eyes is clearly the transition in the Palestinian Authority and a successful election,” according to Mr. Jerome Bonnafont. “The idea of holding an international conference has been supported by Europe for a long time as it seems to us to be a useful way to get everyone around the table and relaunch the dialogue. That remains our view,” he added. (AFP)

17

Some 150 settlers from “Itamar” attacked Palestinian olive harvesters and clashed with Israeli forces in the village of Awarta near Nablus. A group of youths from the settlement were detained for questioning after barring the way of Palestinian farmers who were trying to harvest their olive groves. The IDF, which called for a police back-up, had publicly committed itself to facilitating that year’s olive harvest, in cooperation with Palestinian municipal councils. Meanwhile, “Itamar” settlers offered Palestinian farmers money in return for cancelling the harvest, which takes place within the settlement’s security fence. Both sides were reportedly close to an agreement, but the Palestinians decided to harvest in the field as usual. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Ma’ariv)

Co-founder of Hamas and former PA Sports and Youth Minister Sheikh Talal Sidr, 51, said he would run in January’s Palestinian presidential election. He told AFP he would campaign on a programme of “continuing the policies of Yasser Arafat.” He added, “I believe in the rightness of our cause and I believe in a peaceful solution.” Sheikh Sidr left Hamas in 1997 to serve as PA Minister. He was the late PA President Yasser Arafat’s religious adviser until Mr. Arafat’s death. (AFP)

PA Interim President Fattouh announced the Government would exercise power as specified in the Palestinian Basic Law. (DPA)

British Prime Minister Blair reiterated his commitment to relaunching the peace process, noting there was “no more pressing political challenge facing the world today.” Speaking in the House of Commons he said, “I hope it will be possible to use the opportunities both of an election of a new Palestinian leader and the disengagement of Gaza and parts of the West Bank … Our determination is to make sure that we’ll work with the Palestinians and others in the international community to put together the political, the economic and the security institutions of a viable State.” (AFP, Albawaba.com)

French Foreign Minister Barnier told Le Figaro it was not possible to continue postponing the establishment of a Palestinian State. He also criticized US President Bush for moving too slowly on the creation of the State. “I heard that President Bush says this will happen before the end of his term. I believe this does not need to wait until 2009. After all, the Road Map calls for the creation of a Palestinian State by June 2005.” He called for new joint efforts of the Quartet. (Ha’aretz)

In Paris, the Political Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly discussed the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory following PA President Arafat’s death. The Committee decided to propose to the Bureau of the Assembly to set up an ad hoc committee to observe the elections scheduled for 9 January 2005. (PACE)

The Knesset’s Finance Committee approved the allocation of NIS2.4 million for the construction of public buildings in the “Gush Etzion” settlement area of the West Bank. NIS380,000 had been approved to fund security for settlers in East Jerusalem. MK Haim Oron (Yahad), who had opposed the decision, said they were part of an ongoing scandal. “In the past year, the Government transferred more than NIS32million to fund private police forces to protect Jews in East Jerusalem … It is simply not possible that residents of East Jerusalem should have their own private police with a private budget,” he said. (Ha’aretz)

The PA established a committee to investigate reasons behind the death of the late PA President Arafat. PA Interim President Fattouh told reporters in Ramallah that the Committee Chairman, Health Minister Jawad Tibi, would also head the delegation to France in an attempt to obtain the French medical report on Mr. Arafat. French Foreign Minister Barnier said French law allowed medical records to be released only to “family members,” who were then in a position to decide whether to pass the file on. (BBC, DPA)

18

PA Prime Minister Qureia pledged to maintain order and enforce the rule of law in Palestinian areas as authorities prepared for elections for the PA presidency. Mr. Qureia told reporters in Gaza that all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, recognized that they must work to ensure a peaceful vote. Dozens of blue-clad police officers, responsible for combating common crime, were seen in Gaza City's main square and major streets. (AP)

Three members of the same Palestinian family were missing and believed dead after the tunnel they were digging near the Gaza-Egypt border collapsed, according to residents of Rafah. They said the tunnel caved in as a result of recent heavy rains. Israeli officials agreed to a Palestinian request to help extricate the bodies, an Israeli Army spokeswoman said. (DPA)

Israel released from prison Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the most senior members of Hamas in the West Bank, after he completed a 28-month sentence. Sheikh Hassan went straight from the Ofer military jail to Ramallah, to lay a wreath on the grave of the late PA President Arafat. He told reporters that he would remain a Hamas member and added that there would be no ceasefire with Israel unless the issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails was resolved. (AP, DPA, Palestinian Information Centre)

Five Palestinian groups, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian Struggle Front, the People's Party and Al-Fida Party said in a statement that they would continue consultations to develop a joint stance on the presidential elections, expected to be held by 9 January 2005, and to nominate a single candidate. They also called for holding general elections for a new Palestinian Legislative Council by the end of March. (UPI)

PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas has reached an agreement with Palestinian factions on security in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. A statement issued by the PLO Executive Committee said that during meetings between Mr. Abbas and the factions, he stressed the need to cooperate to end deterioration of security. “This cooperation would achieve security for residents and help enforce law, justice and discipline,” the statement said. (Xinhua)

Palestinian factions expressed support for disarming independent irregular militias operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, but at the same time vowed to continue what they termed was “resistance” to Israel. Sakher Habash, a leader of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said, “We support reining in those groups that are not part of the political factions.” He said a call by PLO Chairman Abbas for militias to be disarmed and the enforcement of law and order referred to “weapons in the hands of gangs and not those in the hands of organized military groups”. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said that while the militant movement was ready to cooperate, “there is a difference between the arms of resistance and the illegal arms.” Wasil Abu Yousef of the PLF warned, “We believe controlling the illegal arms found in the hands of some groups is necessary, but disarming the resistance groups will certainly cause a split because resisting the occupation is legal.” (DPA)

Israeli troops killed three Egyptian policemen they mistook for Palestinian militants along the Gaza-Egypt border. Israel immediately apologized and opened an investigation into the incident. Egypt said the men killed were members of the Central Security Forces. Cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady said Egypt was waiting for more information from Israel, but “until now, we see it as a mistake.” The incident occurred along the “Philadelphi route”, a patrol road along the Gaza-Egypt border. Prime Minister Sharon expressed “deep regret” for the killing of the three Egyptian policemen and phoned Egyptian President Mubarak to tell him the shooting had been a mistake. (AP, Ha’aretz, UPI)

US Secretary of State Powell called for an orderly approach to the Palestinian presidential elections in January 2005 and was ready to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to support efforts to secure peace in the region. En route to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, Mr. Powell told reporters he wanted to meet both sides to discuss moves toward a US vision of Israel and a Palestinian State co-existing peacefully. “It's important for this election of the new Palestinian president for the Palestinian Authority to go well. And this is going to take organizational effort on the part of the Palestinians, and it's going to take assistance on the part of the Israeli Government and the part of the international community to help the Palestinians,” he added. (AP)

19

A Palestinian policeman was killed and another wounded by IDF fire in eastern Gaza City, Palestinian medical sources said. (AFP)

PA Prime Minister Qureia urged the United States to honour the Road Map’s 2005 deadline for Palestinian statehood, arguing that the four-year time frame (2009) alluded to by President Bush would give Israel time to take more land in the West Bank. (Ha’aretz)

UNRWA launched an emergency appeal of US$185.8 million for relief operations in the West Bank and Gaza next year. (www.unrwa.org)

The Palestinian leadership rejected Prime Minister Sharon's terms for restarting peace talks, which included an end to incitement against Israel, saying he should drop all conditions for dialogue. “Maybe we have issues of this kind, but they (the Israelis) have them to a greater extent,” PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas told reporters. He suggested that the two sides discuss the matter should negotiations resume. (Ha’aretz)

King Abdullah of Jordan said in a live video transmission to a global media meeting in Portugal, “After Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's death, there is no longer an excuse for the Israelis and some members of the US Administration [not to revive peace talks] on the grounds there is no peace partner." The King added Israel had to give Palestinians an independent State if it wanted to live in peace with its Arab neighbours. He said he would discuss with President Bush ways of reviving peace talks during a visit to Washington, which he said would take place within "the next two weeks.” (Reuters)

20

Two Palestinian teenagers were killed by Israeli army fire in Nablus following clashes between stone-throwers and Israeli soldiers, Palestinian security and medical sources said. (AFP)

Palestinian medical sources reported four Palestinians were shot and wounded by IDF gunfire in Rafah. Palestinian witnesses said Israeli troops stationed near the Israeli settlements “Morag” and “Rafiakh Yam” opened intensive gunfire at local residents' houses. (Xinhua)

The Palestinian presidential election campaign officially opened, giving candidates 12 days to submit the required paperwork. (AFP, AP)

The IDF said its special forces had killed a Palestinian fugitive and two other militants in a car in Beitunia, near Ramallah. Palestinian security officials said the three were members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

21

Israeli troops shot and killed an armed Palestinian who tried to attack a car in the Gaza Strip in which Israeli settlers were travelling, the IDF and Islamic Jihad said. (AFP)

Two Palestinians, one of them a boy, were wounded when IDF soldiers opened fire in the Rafah border area, medical sources said. In the West Bank, nine Palestinians were wounded when IDF troops opened fire towards a group of 600 demonstrators protesting against the separation barrier, just outside Beit Ulla village, north-west of Hebron, medics and witnesses said. (AFP)

Assistant US Secretary of State William Burns said in Jerusalem after meeting with PA Interim President Fattouh: “I am here to stress strong American support for the Palestinian election … We are determined to do everything we can to help in that process and we also support steps by Israel which are needed to facilitate this election,'' he said. "Ultimately the end of occupation is our view for a two-state solution," he added, before going on to talks with PA Prime Minister Qureia and PLO Chairman Abbas. Mr. Burns also met separately with the Israeli national security adviser, Maj.-Gen. Giora Eiland. (AP)

US Secretary of State Powell said in Jerusalem he would work with Palestinian leaders to come up with an American financial aid package in the next few weeks to facilitate Palestinian elections and improve their security forces. Mr. Powell said the administration would try to announce an aid package in time for a meeting of the World Bank, Europeans and other donors to the Palestinians scheduled for 7 and 8 December in Oslo, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. Administration officials said the package was likely to be about US$20 million. (The New York Times, Herald Tribute)

UN Special Coordinator Rød-Larsen said after meeting PA Prime Minister Qureia, "What we need now is a stabilization package, a stabilization programme, leading to the Palestinian elections… We now see eye to eye on all issues as related to what should happen in what we both hope will be a revived peace process." (UPI)

Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the PLO Political Department, said in Damascus after meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa he would meet all Palestinian factions, whether inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory or in any other Arab country, “in order to define our policy in the future”. “The election will not take place unless Israel pulls back so that people can move freely,” he said. “We are going to strengthen our relations [with Syria] to bolster our position in negotiations,” he added. (AFP)

22

Hamas said its militants fired mortars at the settlement of “Ganei Tal” near Khan Yunis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, as well as an IDF outpost near Rafah. (UPI)

Israeli and Palestinian officials would meet to discuss arrangements for the Palestinian election, Prime Minister Sharon told the Knesset after meeting with visiting US Secretary of State Powell. He said he was in favour of allowing East Jerusalem Palestinians to vote in the elections. Mr. Sharon's spokesman later said he would still bring the issue before the Cabinet for a vote. Foreign Minister Shalom told Mr. Powell that Israel would work with the Palestinian Authority to coordinate the handover of territory evacuated as part of the disengagement plan. Mr. Shalom also said Israel would remove obstacles and the Palestinians would have "freedom of movement" in the run-up to the elections, saying Israel would coordinate the arrangements with the Palestinians. Mr. Powell later went on to meet with PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas, PA Interim President Fattouh and PA Prime Minister Qureia and said he had been pleased with what both sides had told him about their willingness to cooperate on holding the elections. He added that both sides must understand the need to end terror and the incitement to terror. (BBC, AP, Ha’aretz, Xinhua)

The European Union announced it would send an electoral observer mission to monitor the upcoming presidential elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It would be headed by former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard. (europa.eu.int, AFP, DPA)

The Fatah Central Committee nominated Mahmoud Abbas as the Fatah candidate for the PA presidency. The Fatah Revolutionary Council was expected to consider and approve the nomination. (The Guardian)

23

Thirteen Palestinians were arrested overnight by the IDF in the West Bank. Five were detained in the Ramallah region, another five in Bethlehem, and three more at Bani Naim, close to Hebron. (AFP)

The World Bank issued a report stating the Palestinian economy continued to be mired in deep recession. It remained severely depressed compared with the pre-intifada period, with closures stifling economic activity and restricting the movement of people and goods. The living standards of the Palestinians have dramatically declined. As many as 600,000 Palestinians could not afford to meet their basic needs in food, clothing and shelter to survive. Young people in particular were hard hit – 37 per cent were without jobs, compared with 14 per cent before the intifada. To revive the Palestinian economy, the report argued a radical easing of internal closures was needed. Ending the Palestinian economic crisis would also depend on opening external borders, so the private sector could trade in international markets. (www.worldbank.org)

The Director of the World Bank office in the OPT, Nigel Roberts, told the press that in order to rescue the Palestinian economy from its current crisis, Israel would need to alter the disengagement plan by permitting Palestinians from Gaza to work in Israel even after 2008. Israel must remove roadblocks and change its closure and curfew policies. The PA must accelerate structural reform to encourage commercial investment, while donor nations must increase their investments in the OPT from US$1 billion to US$1.5 billion a year. (Ha’aretz)

The Quartet met in Sharm el-Sheikh. The meeting was attended by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State Powell, EU High Representative of the CFSP Solana, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Dutch Foreign Minister and Chairman of the EU Ministerial Council Bernard Bot. Following the meeting Mr. Annan told a news conference the Quartet was encouraged by what was happening and reaffirmed their determination to work for the Palestinian leadership to support the elections. “We also believe that this is an opportunity to really come together and move ahead with the implementation of the Road Map and we believe that the Israeli Government is also ready to do this,” said Mr. Annan. (Al-Ahram, UN News Service)

Following a meeting of the Quartet in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said after four years of violence in the region, the time was now ripe to move ahead with a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet had reaffirmed its determination to work with the Palestinian leaders to support elections in January, to work with them on their reform processes and to ensure that the international community gave them the necessary support for the economic and social programmes. Specific help could include the dispatch of election monitors and financial support both from the Quartet and other countries. (UN News Centre)

PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas told the PLC never to give up the late Yasser Arafat's demand that Israel recognize the Palestinian refugees' "right of return". "We promise that we will not rest until the right of return of our people is achieved and the tragedy of our diaspora ends," he told a session of Parliament held to mourn Arafat. (Reuters, Ha’aretz)

Prime Minister Sharon said the Gaza pullout plan would lead to the implementation of the Road Map drafted by the Quartet. Mr. Sharon made these remarks during a meeting with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, who arrived in Israel after attending the Iraq conference in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh. Mr. Sharon also said Israel rejected any new peace initiative before the Palestinian presidential elections to be held on 9 January 2005. (Xinhua)

24

Official sources at Abu Hussein hospital said three Palestinian students were wounded when Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets and gas canisters towards schoolboys in Yatta town, south of Hebron city. Meanwhile, eyewitnesses told WAFA that the IDF, backed by tanks and armoured vehicles, swept into Yatta and besieged some houses shortly before arresting two Palestinians. Elsewhere, the IDF arrested Ramez Hamadneh and Omar Taha, students at al-Najah University in Nablus. The IDF tanks and military jeeps went into Qalqilya where they arrested Essam Al-Je'edy. In Gaza, an Israeli infantry unit moved into the Abu Haddaf area, north of Khan Yunis, and took positions over houses, witnesses said. (WAFA)

Saraya Al-Quds of Islamic Jihad and Abu Ali Mustafa of the Popular Front for the Liberation Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for opening fire at an Israeli soldier in a leaflet sent to reporters. The soldier was shot by a Palestinian sniper east of Deir el Ballah near the settlement of “Kfar Darom” while he was standing in an Israeli army lookout post. Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported two homemade mortar shells landed near two settlements in the Gaza Strip causing no injuries. (Xinhua)

In Damascus, UN Special Coordinator Rød-Larsen said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had said he was ready to reopen negotiations with Israel without conditions. “President Assad has reiterated to me today that he has an outstretched hand to his Israeli counterpart, that he is willing to go to the table without conditions,” Mr. Larsen said after talks with Mr. Assad. Mr. Larsen said it was very encouraging because the UN believes there would not be a lasting peace unless there was a comprehensive peace. “We have to address all the tracks in the Middle East peace process," he said. Mr. Larsen also met Syrian Foreign Minister Sharaa in Damascus. (AFP)

The Israeli High Court of Justice rejected a petition by Palestinian villagers to reroute a small section of the separation barrier, allowing work on the barrier to be restarted to the east of Jerusalem, in Tzur Baher village. The petitioners had insisted that the route of the barrier be changed so it would not run through their land. The Court ruled that the route of the barrier had been agreed upon between the Defense Ministry and neighbourhood leaders as the least damaging option to land owners in the area. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Visiting UK Foreign Secretary Straw met with Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom. At a joint news conference after their meeting, Mr. Straw told Mr. Shalom he was much encouraged by Israel's statements of support for the Palestinian elections. Mr. Straw also said he was optimistic about the situation, agreeing with US Secretary of State Powell that “there is an entirely new opportunity here and a real determination by the collective Palestinian leadership to work to the implementation of the Road Map.” (AP)

Israel’s Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra and Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Mitri Abu Eitah signed a joint statement saying, “They would cooperate in promoting tourism to the Holy Land in international markets, will take effective measures to assure the safe and smooth passage of pilgrims and tourists visiting the Israeli and Palestinian areas, and will provide the appropriate atmosphere for the private sector on both sides … we call upon all tourists entities and Christian communities all over the world to start organizing tours to the Holy Land”. (UPI)

Human Rights Watch called on Caterpillar Corporation to suspend bulldozer sales to the Israeli military. The international human rights group said Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers were the army’s “primary weapons” in home demolitions, destruction of farmland and destroying Palestinian roads and sewage pipes. “Caterpillar betrays its stated values when it sells bulldozers to Israel knowing that they are being used to illegally destroy Palestinian homes,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East Director of Human Rights Watch. (AP)

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Egypt's President Mubarak met in Madrid and called for steps “to strengthen the unity of the Palestinians and start in-depth political negotiations as soon as possible”. The leaders, holding a joint press conference, said following the death of PA President Arafat there should not be any excuses for failing to advance the peace process. (EFE News Service)

Members of Parliament and British activists met to show solidarity with the Palestinians and called for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory. Members of the opposition criticized Prime Minister Blair’s policy toward Israel, which they charged defied international law. MP Jeanny Tong from the Democratic Party said, “The Middle East peace process is going through difficult times, necessitating the biggest pressures on the British Government because we simply are not happy with the way it is dealing with that process." She also said Europe should impose economic sanctions on Israel if it failed to follow the Road Map. (DPI)

Three Palestinian factions claimed responsibility for shelling three Israeli settlements, in response to Israeli attacks on the Palestinian people. Islamic Jihad’s military wing, Saraya Al-Quds, claimed responsibility for firing two homemade rockets at the settlement of “Sderot”; Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for attacking the settlement “Kissufim” with rockets; and the National Resistance Brigades and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for an attack against the settlement of “Neve Dekalim". (Xinhua)

Israel's Foreign Minister Shalom said Israel would allow international observers for the 9 January elections for the PA presidency. (Al-Hayat, The Daily Star)

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The IDF uncovered a tunnel used for weapons smuggling under the border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip, ending in the home of a Palestinian militant. A spokesperson said it was the 22 nd tunnel that had been discovered in the Rafah region since the beginning of the year. (AFP)

Two members of Hamas were killed in Hebron and one wounded in exchanges of fire with Israeli troops. The victims have been identified as Murad Qawasmeh and Omar Himuni. Witnesses said the shootout occurred shortly after troops dynamited a house in which the three had been hiding. (AFP, Reuters)

Musa Ghreiz, commander of Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, was killed after Israeli soldiers fired a tank shell at him as he tried to cross one of the streets in the neighbourhood of the town of Al-Sallam in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian witnesses said at least ten Israeli army tanks and three bulldozers stormed the town under the cover of helicopters. The bulldozers destroyed one Palestinian house and razed several cultivated lands in the area. (DPA, Reuters)

UK Foreign Secretary Straw met in Ramallah with PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas, PA Prime Minister Qureia and other Palestinian leaders. Mr. Straw said resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a priority because of its impact on other violence in the region. He also pledged full support for the elections due in January 2005 and offered to send observers during the elections. He said it was important the voting “can be properly monitored”. Mr. Straw also visited the grave of the late PA President Yasser Arafat, where he laid a wreath and signed the book of condolence. (The Guardian, AFP, Reuters)

In an interview with Ma’ariv, Israeli President Moshe Katsav said, “If the Palestinians end terror, Israel must stop building the separation fence.” (AP)

The Fatah Revolutionary Council approved the candidacy of PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas as the Fatah candidate. Mr. Abbas had been nominated by the Fatah Central Committee on 22 November. According to senior Palestinian official Tayeb Abdel-Rahim, of the 109 Council members present, 107 had voted for Mr. Abbas and two had abstained. (Reuters, AFP, Daily Star, Al-Hayat)

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The Fatah movement decided to hold on 4 August 2005 its first internal elections in 16 years, according to senior Fatah official Amin Maqboul. The proposed elections would choose new members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the Central Committee and other leadership institutions of the party. Many young leaders in Fatah had complained that the party had not convened the General Conference since the 1989 gathering in Algeria. (AP)

UN Special Coordinator Rød-Larsen, visiting Lebanon, called for taking advantage of current opportunities to achieve peace. “There is a real chance at present to reactivate the peace process and, at the same time, we find strong momentum to lay the pillars of peace,” Mr. Larsen told a news conference in Beirut. (UPI)

Violent acts by Palestinians had plummeted in the aftermath of the death of PA President Yasser Arafat, an Israeli official said. Attacks and shootings had declined by 70 per cent in the past two weeks. (DPA, Ma’ariv)

A young Palestinian was forced to play his violin to pass an army roadblock as Israeli soldiers laughed, according to the Israeli human rights group Machsom Watch. A member of the group took a video of the incident and posted it on its web site. She said hundreds of other Palestinians were waiting behind him for their turn to go through. (The Daily Telegraph)

Special Envoy Omri Sharon, son of Prime Minister Sharon, was to hold private talks with senior Palestinian security officials the following week in Britain. (The Daily Telegraph)

George Papandreou, leader of the Greek main opposition party PASOK, arrived in Ramallah to pay his respects at the tomb of the late Yasser Arafat. He later met with PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas and PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia. He held separate meetings with Israel's Foreign Minister Shalom and Labour Party leader Shimon Peres. (Athens News Agency)

Senior official Sheikh Hasan Yousef said Hamas would call for participation in the presidential elections if the PA set a date for the legislative elections. (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)

Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti said he would not run for President of the Palestinian Authority and called for support for the PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas, senior Palestinian official Kadoura Fares said . Mr. Fares, speaking at a press conference after meeting with Mr. Barghouti in his prison cell, said the Fatah leader also urged Palestinians to keep up the intifada and fight for liberty. (Ha’aretz)

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PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas has started his presidential campaign by promising a general referendum on peace, Fatah sources said. Mr. Abbas told the movement's leaders he was committed to holding a general referendum on any final status agreement reached with Israel. Mr. Abbas said the referendum would include agreements concerning borders, water, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. He told the Fatah Revolutionary Council he was committed to the national principles to achieve Palestinian aspirations in establishing an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital and finding a just agreement to the refugees in line with General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948. (UPI)

Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility in a leaflet for attacking the Israeli village Nahal Oz, east of the Gaza Strip. (Xinhua)

Yasser al-Madhun, a Palestinian lecturer, was killed in an explosion at his university office in Gaza City. The cause of the blast was unclear. In a separate incident, Palestinian medical and security sources told AFP a four-year-old girl was seriously wounded in the back of the neck and a six-year-old boy was injured by Israeli fire in the Rafah refugee camp. Medical sources said a six-year-old boy and another young girl, whose age was not revealed, were injured earlier in Musbah, near the settlement “Muraj”, in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, IDF sources said a powerful bomb packed with explosives was found on a road in Rafah, not far from the Egyptian border. The device was detonated by a bomb disposal unit. (AFP, UPI)

PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas, PA Prime Minister Qureia and PA Interim President Fattouh arrived in Cairo to meet President Mubarak and other Egyptian officials. The Palestinian leaders were to discuss the 9 January 2005 elections, a current power-sharing formula and measures to be taken to strengthen the Palestinian Authority. (AP)

The IDF destroyed the house of Alaa Kateesha, a Palestinian in an Israel prison in Hebron, Palestinian security sources reported. They also said the IDF entered the Balata refugee camp in Nablus and arrested three Palestinian residents. Israeli troops also imposed closure on the streets and established several checkpoints on the roads of Bethlehem. Meanwhile, medical sources said a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was wounded by several bullets in the abdomen, hand and leg and was in serious conditions when Israeli troops stormed Aseera Al-Shamaleya town, near Nablus. (Xinhua)

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Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades issued a leaflet claiming responsibility for shelling the settlement of “Neve Dekalim” in the southern Gaza Strip. The Brigades claimed the attack was a response to the Israeli shelling on Khan Yunis. (Xinhua)

A group of Israeli paratroopers landed in the town of Al-Sawahra and arrested a member of Hamas, Amen Al-Shkeirat Shkeirat, who was accused by the Israeli Government of having killed two Israeli soldiers. (Xinhua)

Prime Minister Sharon expressed his willingness to meet PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas. Mr. Sharon said, “When they would like to meet, we will meet.” Mr. Abbas said, “After the elections, I'm ready to meet at any time with Sharon”. (AFP)

PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas, accompanied by PA Prime Minister Qureia and PA Interim President Fattouh, had separate talks in Cairo with President Mubarak and UN Special Coordinator Rød-Larsen. Presidential Spokesman Maged Abdel Fattah said President Mubarak and the visiting Palestinian leaders had discussed how to "preserve unity within Palestinian ranks, prevent violent internal dissension and support the electoral process happening peacefully." After the meeting, Mr. Abbas announced legislative elections would be held in the Palestinian territories in May. (AFP)

Speaking during a news conference in Cairo after meeting Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul Gheit, UN Special Coordinator Rød-Larsen said he was “cautiously optimistic” about a resumption of peace negotiations on both the Palestinian-Israeli and Syrian-Israeli tracks. He told reporters the situation was one of potential opportunity and warned if the current “fleeting moment” passed without results, the situation could fall upon dark times again. (DPA)

According to the State Information Service poll, PLO Chairman Abbas was the clear front-runner in the upcoming presidential elections, with more than twice the level of support of his closest rival, according to a poll released Sunday. The poll showed Mr. Abbas receiving 41 per cent of the vote, followed by human rights activist Mustafa Barghouti, with 20 per cent, while several other candidates trail with single-digit support, according to the poll. The State Information Service is affiliated with the PA. (AP)

Thirteen Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, said in a statement, following a meeting held in Ramallah, they were calling to speed up preparations for the PA presidential elections and approve the amended election law. The statement called upon the PA to resume dialogue and agree on the highest common denominator for the benefit of the Palestinian people. (UPI)

IDF forces took up positions in Rafah following armed confrontations with armed Palestinians, killing two Palestinians, including a doctor, and injuring five others. Meanwhile, Al-Nasser Salah ad-Din Brigades claimed responsibility for shelling the Israeli town of “Sderot” and “Erez Industrial Zone” and Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for launching Qassam rockets on the settlement of “Netzarim”. (Xinhua)

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UN Special Coordinator Rød-Larsen said an international donors meeting to be held in Oslo on 7 and 8 December would be important not only for symbolic reasons, but also because the Palestinian Authority was in dire need of budgetary support. He told a news conference after talks with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, “They [PA] will need about $650 million before June next year and this meeting will be crucial in order to contribute to the underpinning of the PA." (Reuters)

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades announced in a statement the group’s support for PLO Executive Committee Chairman Abbas. (AP)

PLO Chairman Abbas, PA Prime Minister Qureia and PA Interim President Fattouh met with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Prime Minister Faisal Fayez in Amman. During the talks, King Abdullah II pledged to lobby for support of Palestinian statehood during a visit to Washington in December, the official Petra news agency reported. (AFP, Xinhua)

Hassan Yousef, a senior Hamas leader in the West Bank, proposed halting armed attacks against Israel during the electoral campaign for the Palestinian Authority presidential election. He told UPI Hamas would consider a formal truce with Israel. Mr. Yousef also said he would not rule out a halt to suicide bombings against Israeli targets during final negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, as Hamas had a desire to participate in Palestinian decision-making. (UPI)

An Israeli drone plane fired at least one missile at a building belonging to Islamic Jihad in Khan Yunis, Palestinian security sources reported. The Israeli plane fired one missile at a two-story building in a residential area, causing some damage to part of the building. Mr. Abu Hazem Al-Najjar, a leading figure in the movement, said no injures were caused in the attack on the building, which was used as an educational institution. (Xinhua)

The IDF continued its military actions in Rafah after two Palestinians were killed overnight, residents said. They said Samir Abu Taha, a 13-year-old boy, was missing and believed to have been buried under the rubble of the collapsed houses hit by Israeli shelling near the border between Rafah and Egypt. (Xinhua)

The IDF attacked Moayad Rajem, a Palestinian journalist taking photos near the school of Tarek Ben Ziyad in Hebron, Palestinian security sources said. Meanwhile in Nablus, the IDF stormed several Palestinian houses and turned two buildings into army outposts, arresting four Palestinians. In Bethlehem, the IDF continued razing land in the area of Wadi Kofeen, west of the city, in order to expand the settlement of “Atareet”. (Xinhua)

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was observed at United Nations Headquarters New York, at the United Nations Offices at Geneva and Vienna, as well as in several other cities, in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977. At Headquarters, a solemn meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was held in observance of the Day, inter alia, addressed by the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Security Council and the Secretary-General. (UN press release GA/PAL/973)

The following message was issued by the Secretary-General on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People:

(UN press release SG/SM/9620)

Two armed Palestinians attacking an IDF post were shot dead by Israeli troops on the "Karni-Netzarim" road in central Gaza, sources on both sides said. The two men were identified as Khamis Al-Ghazaleh of Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and Mohammed al-Kharrubi of Salah ad-Din Brigades. An Israeli military source confirmed troops had shot and killed the two Palestinian gunmen. (AFP)

An Israeli soldier was killed and another injured when a cross-border tunnel collapsed in Rafah, Israeli military sources said. Israel Army Radio said the incident occurred along the “Philadelphi route”, an army-controlled buffer-zone along the border with Egypt, off-limits to Palestinians. It was one of the cross-border tunnels which Israel said Palestinian militants used to smuggle weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. (AFP)

Two Hamas militants were killed in an exchange of fire with the IDF near the Al-Muntar (Karni) Crossing in the eastern Gaza Strip, while the third managed to escape, said a Hamas leaflet. (Xinhua)

Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters, “My sense is that all the parties, particularly the members of the Quartet, are determined to put much more energy into the peace process … We also hope that the parties themselves are ready to reengage, and reengage in a sustained manner. So the signs are good.'' (UN News Centre)

Israel’s Foreign Minister Shalom said after a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart Nabil Sha’ath on the sidelines of a EU-Mediterranean meeting in The Hague, “We'll do everything we can in order to remove any obstacles that they might face in their preparations to have their elections.” Mr. Shalom said he and Mr. Sha’ath had agreed to “try to be as positive as we can in order to find ways to narrow the gaps, even while we disagree about the substance.” “We hope that we now stand on the brink of a new chapter in Arab-Israeli relations,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, whose country holds the EU presidency and hosted the two-day EU-Mediterranean meeting of foreign ministers. (AP, www.eu2004.n.)

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A Qassam rocket landed near the Israeli town of Sderot. There were no injuries or damage reported. (Ha’aretz)

Palestinians fired three mortar shells at the “Gush Katif” settlement bloc and an IDF outpost in the southern Gaza Strip. There were no casualties. (Ha’aretz)

A 12-year-old Palestinian child on his way to school was wounded by the IDF in the city of Rafah, Palestinian security and medical sources said. (Xinhua)

Nearly half of the Palestinian population were living below the poverty line on US$2 a day or less, the World Bank said in its report entitled "Four Years - Intifada, Closures, and Palestinian Economic Crisis." The report blamed the dire state of the Palestinian economy on Israel’s policy of imposing closures and restrictions on PA areas. The World Bank report said unemployment had risen to 27 per cent. (AFP, www.worldbank.org)

The PA asked donor countries to turn down an Israeli request to finance the paving and upgrading of roads in the West Bank that would take the place of the main roads, which the IDF prevents Palestinians from accessing. The representatives of the donor countries, including the US Consul General, said they did not intend to finance any project against the will of the PA. (Ha’aretz)

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine nominated Taysir Khaled to run in the January presidential election. Mr. Khaled had been held by Israel without trial for four months and released in June 2003. (Reuters)

Officials of the US State Department said the Bush Administration would give US$20 million in aid directly to the Palestinian Authority to help it pay utility bills to Israeli companies, freeing up the PA’s scarce resources for the January presidential election. When the State Department had initially planned to give the money to the PA to support the election, key congressional leaders raised objections, arguing adequate safeguards had yet to be put in place to ensure the PA spends the money properly. The aid was expected to be announced during an international donors’ meeting for the Palestinians on 7 and 8 December. (Reuters)

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the Israeli army had killed 53 Palestinians and wounded 314 others in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 28 October and 27 November 2004. Among the casualties were three women and 11 children killed, and 16 women and 39 children wounded, the Ministry said. (Xinhua)

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Health Organization, and non-governmental organizations such as Oxfam, Care and Save the Children launched an appeal for US$302 million in emergency aid for the Palestinians. David Shearer, head of OCHA in Jerusalem, said humanitarian conditions continued to worsen and Israel, as the occupying Power, was not fulfilling its obligations under international law to provide the necessary assistance to Palestinian civilians. The appeal said poverty was expected to rise despite a planned Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005, in part because of a wave of house demolitions carried out in connection with Israeli army strikes against militants. “We will need more emergency projects in Gaza if the disengagement plan is implemented,” Mr. Shearer said. US$150 million of the appeal was designated for economic recovery and infrastructure. Another US$98 million would go to food supplies, and other funds to health, education and agriculture. (AP, Reuters)





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