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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
30 November 2003
Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the

Question of Palestine

Monthly media monitoring review

November 2003


1

The Fatah Central Committee nominated the deputy for Hebron, Rafiq Al-Natshe, as its candidate for the position of speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The post had become vacant after Ahmed Qureia stepped down to head the Palestinian Authority's emergency cabinet. Mr. Al-Natshe, 69, was a member of the Fatah Central Committee, an Agriculture Minister in the Government of Mahmoud Abbas and Labour Minister from 1998 to 2002 as well as the PLO representative to Saudi Arabia from 1979 to 1991. “Al-Natshe stood out against the other two candidates, Ibrahim Abu Naja and Rouhi Fatouh,” said Dalal Salama, a Fatah deputy and head of PLC Political Affairs Committee. (AFP, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)

In a morning raid in Qalqilya, Israeli soldiers surrounded the Palestinian Authority's governorate building, police station, and intelligence services compound. Five local Paletinian policemen were arrested. (International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC)

A Palestinian was killed and two others wounded by IDF gunfire in an "off-limits" zone in the Gaza Strip close to the border with Israel. The three men were spotted by Israeli troops near the Sufa checkpoint outside of Khan Yunis. The two injured managed to escape to the Palestinian-controlled area and reported that their comrade had been killed on the spot. The IDF had refused to let a Palestinian ambulance help the man, Palestinian security sources told AFP . “Soldiers fired warning shots for them to disperse, but they came back and the troops fired in the direction of the suspects,” said an IDF spokesman, adding that the men had been “digging holes” close to a security fence. The next day the army searched the entire area and found a 30-kg bomb, as well as a Kalashnikov assault rifle and hand grenades, an IDF spokesman said. (AFP, IBA)

The controversy surrounding the awarding of the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize to Hanan Ashrawi continued. Dr. Ashrawi was to receive the prize from New South Wales Prime Minister Bob Carr, but Sydney Mayor Lucy Turnbull was boycotting the ceremony and had ordered the City of Sydney employees to do likewise, saying Dr. Ashrawi was not a peacemaker but a hardliner. Prime Minister John Howard, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and other members of the Cabinet also said Dr. Ashrawi’s record made her undeserving of a peace prize. But Mr. Carr insisted: “I’ve never been more resolved to attend a function in my life.” Sydney Peace Foundation Director Stuart Reed was also determined that Dr. Ashrawi should be honoured, criticizing the city’s Jewish community, which had “campaigned to vilify her, to ridicule the status of the prize, to pressure the companies that are partners of the foundation to cease their public and financial support and to petition the premier not to give the award.” The Sydney-based Jewish Democratic Society described Dr. Ashrawi as a “convincing advocate of a two-State solution,” and Jews Against the Occupation spokeswoman Angela Budai characterized Dr. Ashrawi as a “Palestinian moderate who has fought for democracy and human rights”. Prof. Baruch Kimmerling, a sociologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, also said: “There are few international figures in the present who deserve a peace prize more than the outstanding Palestinian leader, intellectual and peace activist Dr. Hanan Ashrawi.” (DPA; see 9 October 2003)

Tens of thousands of Israelis attended an evening peace rally in central Tel Aviv, marking eight years since the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. According to the organizers, 100,000 people had gathered at Rabin Square, spilling into the neighbouring streets. The police estimated the turnout at around 70,000. “We will not forget and we will not forgive,” read a banner on a huge balloon in the centre of the square. “To withdraw from the territories is to save the country,” read another. Public figures and politicians, including Labour Party Chairman Shimon Peres, addressed the crowd. (AFP, DPA)

2

Palestinian Authority President Arafat formally asked Ahmed Qureia to form the next Palestinian Government, and Mr. Qureia accepted. Palestinian officials said they hoped Mr. Qureia, who had been serving as head of a 30-day emergency cabinet, would complete the necessary work in a few days. (IBA)

Israel told the PA that it might partially lift its strict closure on the Gaza Strip, allowing a limited number of Palestinian workers into Israel. An IDF statement the next day confirmed the easing of the closure and provided further details of the measure: 10,000 workers and 1,000 traders from the Gaza Strip as well as 3,000 traders from the West Bank, would be permitted to work in Israel; 1,500 workers (aged 21 and over) from the West Bank to work in the “Atarot” industrial area; back-to-back exchanges of goods in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and public transportation in the West Bank to resume. “Only 6,200 crossed today because many did not know they could go through, but tomorrow there will be more. This is an important step after a month of no jobs or money,” said Zainab Al-Ghunaimi, a senior Palestinian labour official in Gaza. (AFP, Reuters, www.idf.il)

Five Israeli soldiers on routine patrol were wounded before dawn after a device had exploded in Nablus' casbah next to their armoured jeep. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in a statement claimed responsibility for the attach. (AFP, Reuters)

Head of the Shin Bet security service Avi Dichter met with Secretary of the Palestinian National Security Council Jibril Rajoub. Palestinian sources said the two had met in the Jerusalem area, and the “exploratory” talks, held in a “positive and constructive” atmosphere, were aimed at paving the way for the Sharon-Qureia meeting. (Ha’aretz)

Prime Minister Sharon arrived in Moscow on his third visit to Russia since taking office in 2001, planning among other things to ask Russia to stop UN Security Council action on the Road Map and to declare Hamas a terrorist organization. “Russia is part of the Quartet so we’d like to ask the Russians to drop their initiative to move the Road Map to the approval of the Security Council,” a senior Israeli Government official said. “It will lead us nowhere. It will dilute the supervisory mechanism, which the Americans are carrying out.” “If this bothers you, we won’t apply pressure,” Ha’aretz quoted President Putin as saying, adding that he also promised to rethink Russia’s position during voting on Middle East resolutions in the UN. Gazeta.ru said nothing was known of any specific agreements reached at the meeting, as the two leaders did not speak to the press afterwards. (Gazeta.ru, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

A nine-months pregnant Palestinian woman was forced to wait at an IDF checkpoint for four hours after Nablus was totally sealed off, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI) said. The woman was only allowed into the town for hospital treatment after the intervention of Israeli anti-checkpoint activists, according to a PHRI statement, which said: “Soldiers prevented passage of other ambulances, while threatening the staff and patients with their rifles. It is clear that this lockdown is devastating and will have severe implications on health and human rights and in some cases already has.” (AFP)

Col. Rashid Abu Shabak, commander of the PA Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip, criticized the US offer of a US$5 million reward for information about the attack on a US convoy in the Gaza Strip on 15 October, saying the PA was continuing its investigation into the case. “We strongly condemn this decision,” he said. “This is an insulting announcement because it deals with a people whose mouth does not water in the face of financial temptations.” Col. Abu Shabak, whose force was entrusted with investigating the attack, said: “We don’t work as mercenaries for anyone. We operate according to our own security vision, which is to serve the interests of the Palestinian people and to provide them with security and calm.” (The Jerusalem Post)

A team of four Israelis and four Palestinians, calling themselve “Breaking the Ice”, was to spend the southern summer trekking Antarctica across the Peninsula and climbing an as yet unnamed mountain in order to name it for Middle Eastern peace. (AFP; see also DF of 28 October 2003)

3

A Palestinian suicide bomber, believed to have been making his way to central Israel, blew himself up when intercepted by Israeli soldiers near the West Bank border. The bomber started running towards the soldiers and detonated the explosives, killing no one but himself, when the soldiers spotted and approached him in the village of Azzun, near Qalqilya and close to the “Shavei Shomron” settlement, several kilometres east of Tel Aviv. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility in a phone call to AFPand identified the bomber as Sabih Abu Al-Saud, a 17-year-old from Nablus. Defence Minister Mofaz said in broadcast remarks that security forces, acting on information about a planned suicide bombing inside Israel, had raided the village: “The suicide bomber blew himself up next to an armoured army vehicle and we have one slightly wounded soldier.” (AFP, DPA, IBA, Reuters)

Two 15-year-old Palestinians were injured by Israeli gunfire. IDF troops opened fire on a group of youths who had started throwing stones when six Israeli jeeps entered the Siris village, some 15 km south of the Jenin. One of the two was hit in the stomach and was in serious condition, medical sources said, while the second was hit in the leg and his condition was listed as moderate. (AFP)

Tarek Hassin, 25, who had carried out a shooting attack on the Trans-Israel Highway on 17 June 2003, killing seven-year-old Noam Leibovitch, surrendered to IDF forces at a roadblock in Qalqilya. Three other members of the same Islamic Jihad cell involved in the attack had been arrested earlier. In Hebron, IDF forces arrested two Palestinians wanted for questioning. (The Jerusalem Post)

Christian Aid condemned Israeli attacks on Rafah, citing reports that in the past two weeks 200 houses had been destroyed there, 18 Palestinians had been killed and 1,700 left homeless. The group’s press release said the huge- scale destruction of Palestinian property and livelihoods in the Gaza Strip by Israel in the name of security was increasing the intense humanitarian hardship for Palestinians. (Palestine Media Centre, www.christian-aid.org.uk)

Some 300 Palestinians demonstrated in Nablus against the Geneva Initiative in a protest organized by the PFLP. Protesters carried banners charging that the so-called Geneva Initiative was “destroying Palestinian national unity” and demanding that one of the document’s main architects, former Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, be removed from the PLO Executive Committee. (AFP)

Ha’aretz reported that the US Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) had recommended to the US Administration that it should apply “clear and intentional pressure” on Israel regarding the settlements, as part of making headway with the Palestinians, as well as helping to calm the situation heating up in Iraq. The recommendation, published the week before in Washington and reportedly reflecting the position of the CIA Director George Tenet, had been written by Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research Carl Ford and submitted to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for discussion. (Ha’aretz)

The Fatah-nominated candidate for the post of PLC speaker, Rafiq al-Natshe, was approved by the PLC, with 53 legislators voting for Mr. Al-Natshe, 10 voting for Burhan Jarraf, deputy for Jenin, and 7 casting a blank ballot. Nine PLC members took part in the election by videoconference from the Gaza Strip, after failing to obtain the necessary travel permits from Israel. “Our priority is to give peace a chance, but we will not cancel our right to continue with struggle, all forms of struggle, if the peace process fails,” Mr. Al-Natshe said after the PLC meeting, adding that democratic reforms and enforcing law and order were among his other priorities. (AFP, DPA)

Ruling out another unilateral truce, Hamas said it could limit the targets of its attacks to Israeli soldiers and settlers if Israel stopped harming Palestinian civilians. “The issue that will be possible to be addressed is continuing the resistance to the occupation while avoiding civilian casualties,” Hamas spokesman Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi told Reuters. “But if the enemy does not accept, then resistance will continue comprehensively.” (Reuters)

Starting 1 January 2004, Israel wwould require journalists to undergo stringent checks by its Internal Security Service (Shin Bet) for accreditation, Director of the Government Press Office (GPO) Daniel Seaman said. The new policy would give Israeli authorities “unreasonable veto power” over who could serve as a foreign correspondent, the Foreign Press Association (FPA) said in a statement, calling on the Government to reconsider its decision and urging its members not to fill in the new forms “pending clarification.” FPA characterized the new measure as “an utter violation of freedom of the press and a dramatic reversal of the openness that has prevailed in Israel for decades.” The new regulations appeared to be “another step in a two-year campaign to harass and intimidate the foreign press.” Reporters Without Borders also denounced the measure. Citing security concerns, Mr. Seaman said he had decided to deliver a list of more than 17,000 accredited journalists to the Shin Bet for security checks, adding that to date, only Palestinian journalists had been checked, but under the new policy, Israeli and foreign journalists would also have to go through a security check, although it would not be as thorough as that given to Palestinians. The GPO had stopped issuing credentials to most Palestinian journalists, many of whom worked for foreign press agencies, shortly after the beginning of the intifada three years earlier. FPA Deputy Chairman Tami Allen-Frost said the Shin Bet’s past blacklisting of some Palestinian journalists living in Jerusalem, who were eligible for cards, showed that there was “almost no transparency” in the service, and that it refused to provide explanations for its decisions. (AFP, AP, IBA)

The European Commission’s 110-page survey of attitudes on Iraq and world peace showed that 59 per cent of those polled saw Israel as a threat to world peace. The Commission carried out about 60 polls a year among the EU’s 375 million citizens. In the Flash Eurobarometer Survey No.151, around 500 people in each of the 15 EU countries were asked whether they considered the 14 countries listed as threats to world peace. The Commission acknowledged that Israel’s anger at the results was “legitimate,” but otherwise refused further comment, beyond stating that EU policies were not affected by such poll findings, with Commission spokesman Gerassimos Thomas saying: “It is not our role or our policy to interpret each opinion poll or to base our policy on it… A poll is a poll, and policy is policy.” (AFP, europa.eu.int, Reuters)

Israel had reacted to the poll even before it was formally released, after the Spanish El Pais newspaper published details from it on 30 October. Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky said it was proof that anti-Semitism lay behind political criticism of Israel. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre suggested that the EU and its members “should play no role in any future peace process.” Ehud Gol, the Israeli ambassador to Italy, currently holding the EU Presidency, said in an interview with Il Messagerothat the poll could have significant diplomatic consequences: “It seems to me that the only aim of this poll was to denigrate Israel at a very delicate time, and I think it will be much more difficult for Europe to fulfil its ambition to play a part in the peace process.” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in a statement: “The result of the survey, based on an ambiguous question, does not reflect the position of the European Union, which has been voiced on numerous occasions.” The Israeli mission to the EU said in a statement: “They have put the Jewish State below the level of the worst pariah States and terror organizations … We are not only sad but outraged. Not at European citizens but at those who are responsible for forming public opinion.” Foreign Minister Shalom said in a statement that the poll had been “conducted in an irresponsible manner and distorts reality,” but denied it proved the existence of European anti-Semitism. “There’s no comparing the amount of media exposure Israel gets in Europe in comparison to Iran or North Korea. The images broadcast from here have an impact but we should not get excited about it,” Ha’aretzquoted Mr. Shalom as saying. Commenting on the criticisms, European Commission spokesman Thomas said: “Our partners feel very comfortable with the European Union and the Commission's policy regarding Iraq, regarding the Middle East peace process. We have trust.” (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

MK Arieh Eldad (National Union) submitted an item for inclusion in the agenda of the Knesset proposing that Israel demolish Palestinian radio stations, take their broadcasting equipment and give their air frequencies to Israeli stations, in particular to “Arutz 7,” the Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported. Mr. Eldad’s proposal was approved by 19 votes to 9, and was to be passed on to a committee for discussion. (PNA International Press Centre)

4

Prime Minister Qureia said he would present a new cabinet to the Palestinian Legislative Council for approval, according to aides, on 8 or 9 November. The main obstacle to forming a Government quickly was reportedly Mr. Qureia’s ongoing dispute with Palestinian Authority President Arafat over the choice of an Interior Minister. The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Hassan Abu Libdeh said Mr. Qureia planned to meet with Mr. Arafat later in the day. “We cannot say that there is an agreement between the Prime Minister and the President about the person who would be in charge of the Interior Ministry,” he said. “Nasser Yousef is at the core of these discussions.” Mr. Qureia headed an emergency government whose term was to expire at midnight. Mr. Arafat's aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh told Reuters that the Palestinian President had “asked Mr. Qureia to continue with his work and to consider the current cabinet as a caretaker until a new cabinet is formed.” (AP, Reuters)

The Shinui party, the second-largest partner in Prime Minister Sharon’s coalition Government, was drawing up a peace proposal to be presented to Mr. Sharon, once it was approved by Shinui members, possibly during the coming week, according to party officials. “Let him [Shinui leader Tommy Lapid] propose and then we’ll see,” Mr. Sharon told reporters in Russia. The proposal included a call to evacuate the “Netzarim” settlement in the Gaza Strip, with a senior Shinui official telling Reuters: “If the ceasefire proves durable, we will replace the settlers in Netzarim with soldiers, with the goal of removing them as well.” The plan in general followed the lines of the Road Map, calling for a stop to tracking and killing of Palestinian militants if the PA agreed to rein in “terror groups” and destroy the “terror infrastructure,” for the removal of settler outposts and for a complete halt to settlement building. The plan, which a Shinui official called “an initiative to renew the peace process,” also called for meetings between Mr. Sharon and an incoming Palestinian Prime Minister. (Reuters)

Ha’aretz,citing Israeli security officials, diplomats, and sources in the Palestinian security services, reported that cooperation between Palestinian security services and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) in preventing terrorism inside Israel had resumed and had been growing in the last few months. A significant number of the terror alerts were the result of information provided by the Palestinians, and more than 30 preventive actions had been taken by the Palestinians between 2 July and 9 October, according to Palestinian reports to the US and other foreign counterparts. (Ha’aretz, IMEMC)

Palestinian Authority officials said two Palestinians had been arrested on suspicion of supplying the explosive material used in the attack on the US diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip on 14 October. The two reportedly confessed to passing on the bomb-making material to a cell of the Popular Resistance Committees. (The Jerusalem Post)

Prime Minister Sharon’s efforts to convince top Russian officials to drop their efforts to turn the Road Map into a UN Security Council resolution reportedly met with only cautious understanding. On the attempts to have Russia add Hizbullah and Palestinian militant organizations to the Russian list of terrorist organizations, Israeli officials said that President Putin and his aides had not offered an immediate response, saying that only terrorist organizations that operated in Russia would be considered as such by Moscow. Mr. Sharon met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, but neither was scheduled to give an official briefing and journalists were rushed out of the guest house where the meeting was taking place. The Russian Foreign Ministry released a short statement afterwards. Ha’aretzreported that Mr. Ivanov had voiced complaints over Israel’s having shunned Russia’s Middle East envoy over his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Arafat. Mr. Sharon also met with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov before flying back to Israel. Russian officials reported that talks with Mr. Kasyanov had only touched on economic cooperation. There was no official confirmation from the Kremlin that President Putin’s positions had changed, with the Kremlin press office refusing to comment on an Israeli official’s statement that “the Russians understand our position better.” (AFP, Ha’aretz, RIA-Novosti, www.mid.ru)

Israel circulated a new draft resolution in the General Assembly's Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) entitled “The situation of and assistance to Israeli children” (A/C.3/58/L.30), similar to the traditional draft entitled “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian Children” (A/C.3/58/L.24), sponsored by Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar and Palestine. Each draft was expected to be put to a vote by the end of the month, and if adopted, would go to the GA for a final vote in December 2003. (AP, Reuters)

Deputy Prime Minister of Italy Gianfranco Fini, asked at a news conference whether he agreed with a UN General Assembly resolution that demanded that Israel stop building the West Bank separation barrier, said: “It’s necessary to put oneself in the shoes of everybody and understand the reasons why Israel thinks that, to defend itself, it should control its territory better … The Government of Israel is an expression of popular sovereignty, it has won elections, and it will answer to its electorate when the next vote comes round. To judge from afar is very easy but also very wrong.” (The Financial Times)

Israeli Admiral Yedidiya Ye’ari revealed that he had relieved the captain of a “Devora” patrol boat of his command for refusing to serve off the Gaza Strip coast. The Devora patrol boats were on constant rotating duty off the Gaza coast, enforcing a blockade. Among the tasks crews performed were searches of Palestinian fishermen in their boats. (The Jerusalem Post)

The Jerusalem Postquoted Palestinian sources as reporting that the IDF was reinforcing its forces in the Balata refuge camp near Nablus, with soldiers setting up lookout posts on the camp outskirts. IDF forces also continued their blockade of the Nur Al-Shams camp in Tulkarm and the Balata camp in Nablus. (The Jerusalem Post, Palestine Media Centre)

Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Yoav Biran met EU Special Middle East Envoy Marc Otte at a luncheon organized by the Italian ambassador to Israel, in what senior Israeli diplomatic officials said was the beginning of a thaw of restrictions on Israeli contacts with envoys who met with Chairman Arafat. A senior diplomatic source was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying that Israel’s policy of not meeting at the ministerial level with foreign diplomats who had met with Arafat remained unchanged, although “the challenge is that we have interests that go beyond Arafat, and we need to find ways of advancing those interests.” In recent weeks, Israel had reportedly received hints of possible European sanctions if Israel continued to boycott Mr. Otte. (The Jerusalem Post)

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs was preparing a list of proposals on alleviating Palestinian suffering, to be presented to Prime Minister Sharon. The recommendations would include the renewal of trade zones with the PA, as well as cooperation on tourism, the extension of fishing rights and raising work permit quotas. (The Jerusalem Post)

5

Adnan Asfour, a senior Hamas leader in the West Bank, revealed that Musa Abu Marzouq, the Hamas representative in Syria, had met recently with Egypt’s intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Cairo: “What Abu Marzouq said to Suleiman was that we would not accept a hudna with Israel, while urging Suleiman to intervene as immediately as possible to end all Israeli military actions against the Palestinian people,” and that after Israel promises to stop its military actions, assassinations and destructions, “we would study what is presented to us and then give our answer.” (AP, Xinhua)

Israeli settlers had cut down some 500 olive trees grown on Palestinian farmland in the West Bank, sources on both sides said. Residents of As-Sawiya, 12 km south of Nablus, said they discovered that hundreds of their trees had been cut down just as they were about to begin harvesting. The villagers had not been able to access their land near the “Eli” settlement earlier as they needed authorization from the IDF. Villagers in Huwwara, 6 km south of Nablus, also said hundreds of their olive trees had been destroyed by Israelis from nearby settlements. the Yesha's Rabbinical Committee released a statement decrying the destruction of trees, asking the authorities to prosecute those who had done it and demanding an immediate stop to all such activity. (AFP, Independent Media Review Analysis (IMRA), The Jerusalem Post)

Ma’arivsaid Defence Minister Mofaz had decided to dismantle, possibly starting the following week, up to 20 of the more than 100 settler outposts scattered throughout the West Bank. According to the newspaper, the decision was prompted by “tough messages” the US Administration had sent to Israel complaining that it was not keeping its promise to dismantle the outposts. The Yesha Council released a statement saying that the plan to dismantle settlements was no more than a gesture to the US as Mr. Mofaz prepared for his forthcoming trip there next week. Settler leader MK Uri Ariel told Israel Radio that if any outposts were uprooted “there would be a reaction, just as there was in previous instances.” (DPA)

The Israeli defence establishment had allegedly asked the Finance Ministry to add hundreds of millions of shekels to its budget in order to fortify certain settlements, Ha’aretz reported. Though the exact amount is yet to be determined – and would not be part of the regular defence budget – it was expected to exceed NIS200 million (US$45 million), the report said. According to the report, while “defensive measures” could include simple items like bullet-proof cars for local security officers, the defence establishment’s goal was also to create “special security zones” around certain settlements, which Palestinians would be forbidden to enter, at a cost of more than NIS10 million ($2.2 million) each. This involved the construction of two fences – an inner and an outer one, separated by a few hundred metres – plus lookout posts and night-vision equipment for guards. (AP, The Jerusalem Post, Xinhua)

Israel announced it was relaxing its blockade of Palestinian towns in the West Bank, excluding Nablus and Jenin. “The movement of private vehicles [between towns] will be possible after the issuance of special authorization” by the military authorities, an IDF statement said, also confirming the re-establishment of public transport between towns. Israel had blockaded the main Palestinian population centres two months earlier after a series of Palestinian suicide attacks in Israeli cities. Police and security forces also arrested some 1,900 Palestinians who were accused of working in the country illegally. Thirteen underwent military questioning, and the rest were returned to the territories. Seventeen Israelis who employed or transported the labourers were also arrested. (AFP, DPA, IBA,www.idf.il)

Hanan Ashrawi, Secretary-General of The Palestinian Iniative for the Promotionof Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) and PLC member, arrived in Australia to be awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. In a lecture at a packed auditorium in Sydney University, Dr. Ashrawi did not mention her critics by name, but said they were “armchair apologists for fundamentalism” on opposing sides of the Middle East problem. She praised the prize’s organizers for being “courageous” in selecting her despite the protests: “You have refused to be deflected, intimidated or silenced, exercising a tenacity and determination that are the rare attributes of moral leadership and genuine service.” Outside the hall a small group from the Australian Union of Jewish Students protested. (AP; see DF of 3 November and 9 October 2003)

The following statement was released by the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General in New York:

(UN press release SG/SM/8985-PAL/1968)

Prime Minister Qureia was expected to visit Russia late in November, Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Khairi Al-Oridi said, giving no details about the aim and agenda of the upcoming trip. Mr. Al-Oridi confirmed reports that high-ranking Palestinian and Israeli officials had resumed contacts to try to achieve a new truce and to put the peace process back on track. (Xinhua)

IDF troops found a weapons cache in an olive grove in Hebron, containing mortars, M-16 rifles and ammunition. (Ha’aretz)

A spokesman for The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) told AP that soldiers arriving for reserve duty the previous week in the area of the “Netzarim” settlement in the Gaza Strip had been told they were to shoot to kill any Palestinians who watched them through binoculars. In a letter to the military’s chief prosecutor, the group said one of the soldiers reported that the order had been given at repeated briefings following the arrival of his paratroop unit on 29 October at “Netzarim,” a settlement ringed by IDF installations. ACRI spokesman Yoav Leff said the association was absolutely convinced of the accuracy of the soldier’s testimony and that the military had promised to look into the allegation. The army denied it had introduced new rules of engagement, saying that Palestinian lookouts were subject to the standard procedure for apprehending a suspect: a verbal warning, a warning shot and, if necessary, a shot to wound the suspect. (AP)

EU Foreign Ministers, angered by an Israeli boycott of the EU's Middle East Envoy Marc Otte because he had met with Palestinian Authority President Arafat, would urge Foreign Minister Shalom to reverse the ban during a meeting in Brussels, on 18 November, said Giancarlo Chevallard, head of the delegation of the European Commission to Israel. If Israel refused, EU officials might reject meetings with Israelis. “It’s not an abstract hypothesis. It’s been talked about,” Amb. Chevallard told AP. “Israel cannot dictate to us who our special envoy should meet with on the Palestinian side. Europeans can hardly accept this state of affairs.” Several EU officials were already refusing meetings with Israelis, though that was not an official policy, Amb. Chevallard said, refusing to elaborate. (AP)

6

Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian woman during an early morning raid in the Nablus casbah. According to witnesses, Emtiaz Abu Ras, 38, had been shot in the neck as she looked out of a window of her house at troops who pursued and opened fire at a Palestinian in an alley. An Israeli military source told Reutersthat soldiers carrying out an operation against the “terrorist infrastructure” in the area had run into heavy gunfire from numerous locations and shot back and had not seen whether anyone was hit. (DPA, IBA, Reuters)

A Palestinian had been killed by IDF troops in the village of Anata near Tulkarm, Palestinian sources said. (The Jerusalem Post)

At least nine Palestinians and a female Israeli settler were wounded in an exchange of fire in the southern Gaza Strip. The incident broke out after Palestinians had fired five mortar shells at “Gadid,” one of the settlements in the “Gush Katif” block near Khan Yunis. The Israeli woman was lightly wounded by the gunfire. Israeli tanks responded by opening fire, wounding four Palestinians, one seriously. (AFP, Albawaba.com)

The Bethlehem governorate told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that Palestinian security services had arrested two would-be suicide bombers: a man from the Islamic Jihad and a woman from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. (DPA)

PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad told Reuters he would “stay at home” until Prime Minister Qureia formed a permanent Government. Fayyad said he viewed the caretaker cabinet as having no legal status: “There is a law and it should be respected. It is a question of principle. The Government’s term was over on 4 November and so was mine. So I will wait until the Cabinet is formed.” (DPA, Reuters)

US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage departed to the Middle East for talks with Saudi and Egyptian officials about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and to visit Iraq. Amb. Armitage had planned on visiting the region in September, and postponed the trip. (DPA)

Palestinian and Israeli politicians met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher to brief him on the Geneva Accord. “The document reflects an extremely positive effort that deserves support by all Arab countries and the international community,” Mr. Muasher told reporters afterwards, adding: “However, we cannot speak about the contents of the plan before it is endorsed by both the Israeli and the Palestinian Governments.” (DPA)

An IDF jeep ran over and seriously injured Makram Sadi, 15, from Kufur Ain near Ramallah. Troops demolished a home in Silwad village near Nablus claiming reasons of security. (IMEMC)

One Israeli was slightly injured after a bomb exploded near the “Gadid” settlement in the Gaza Strip. IDF troops and border policemen discovered a 30-kg explosive device near “Azmona,” another settlement in the Gaza Strip. (The Jerusalem Post)

Gil Avnimelech, a 30-year-old paratrooper stationed to serve with aan IDF reserve battalion based in the “Netzarim” settlement, was sentenced to 28 days in prison for refusing to serve there. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli forces detained Ibrahim Dababse, a Palestinian wanted for his role in the murder of a settler at “Maon Farm,” south of Hebron, on 19 April 1998. Issa Dababse, also implicated in the earlier killing, was shot dead by the IDF on 7 November 2001. (The Jerusalem Post)

7

Israeli troops killed a 10-year-old Palestinian boy in the Gaza Strip. The boy, Mahmoud al-Qayed, was struck by a shell fired by an Israeli tank in the Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Nahal Oz while trapping for birds using a net tied to a string. The boy was hit by two bullets. An Israeli military source said soldiers opened fire at suspicious figures handling an electrical cable in an area where explosives had often been planted against troops, and that one Palestinian had been hit, while two others fled. It was reported that a 12-year-old boy was wounded in the leg. Palestinian medics said four other Palestinians hunting birds, a popular hobby among Gaza youth, had been killed in the same area in recent months. (The Guardian, The Washington Post)

Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinians in two incidents in the Gaza Strip. In central Gaza, Israeli soldiers backed by tanks on the outskirts of the Al-Muazi refugee camp had opened fire on five Palestinians reportedly laying explosive devices and firing mortars at the settlement of “Kfar Darom.” Two were killed in the incident. In southern Gaza, troops shot dead a Palestinian who they said had been planting explosive devices near the fence east of Khan Yunis. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

A 23-year old Palestinian was killed by IDF gunfire in the Balata refugee camp, in Nablus (Ha’aretz)

An Israeli bulldozer removed rubble the army had been using to block a road connecting several Palestinian villages to Ramallah. The massive barrier had been built after six Israeli soldiers were killed guarding the checkpoint in February 2002. At least three of the roadblocks remained around Ramallah. Mustafa Issa, Palestinian Governor of Ramallah, said, “Removing it is good, but not enough. If there is a goodwill gesture, they should remove the others.” (The Guardian, Reuters)

IDF troops operating in Jenin arrested senior Islamic Jihad member Amjad Abeidi, who had allegedly planned the suicide bombing at a Haifa restaurant in October. Mr. Abeidi was transfered to the Shin Bet custody for interrogation. (The Guardian, Ha’aretz)

US Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a letter of support to Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, initiators of the Geneva Accord. According to an aide of Mr. Beilin, the letter said, “The President remains committed to a two-State solution … but we also believe that projects such as yours are important for sustaining hope and understanding.” Paul Patin, US Embassy spokesman, said Mr. Powell’s letter was meant to show support for the Geneva Accord, but was not an official endorsement. Mr. Abed Rabbo had said earlier, “We are not taking away the role of anybody. We are sending a message to the Governments of both sides and to the Governments of the world to start official negotiations because there is no alternative to official negotiations.” (Ha’aretz)

The New York-based Forward weekly published an interview with UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen, commenting on Israeli criticism of the Agency in the UN General Assembly, and on the draft resolution, submitted to the Committee on International Relations of the US House of Representatives (H. CON. RES. 311) proposing that UNRWA “should establish a program for resettling all of the Palestinian refugees under the authority of UNRWA in the host countries or territories in which they are living, other Arab countries, or third party countries willing to assist, and a timetable for implementing the program within six months of the date of the adoption of this resolution.” (www.forward.com,www.unrwa.org)

Prime Minister Sharon’s office released a statement in response to media reports on the uprooting of Palestinian olive trees, saying that Mr. Sharon viewed the events that had taken place with the utmost gravity and had ordered the security forces to take all possible measures to apprehend those responsible and bring them to justice. (www.pmo.gov.il)

About 50,000 Palestinian families in the West Bank were receiving their last vouchers and parcels from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), providing only enough food until the end of the year, when the emergency distribution programme would end. The ICRC had begun its voucher scheme more than a year earlier following Israel’s re-invasion of the West Bank, stressing then it was only a short-term, emergency measure. ICRC stated that Israel, the occupying Power, should ensure that the whole population has access to food and water, medical assistance, employment and education: “The long-term solution is not to support the occupied population with humanitarian assistance but rather to ensure that basic rights under international humanitarian law are respected. Beyond any emergency situation, any basic assistance is not an appropriate response measure.” Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav, Israel’s co-ordinator of government activities in the territories, last month expressed concern at the ending of the ICRC programme, according to Ma’ariv,saying other organizations would have to pay for humanitarian aid while ways were found to relieve Israeli pressure on the Palestinians. “There is a humanitarian imperative for the UN to provide assistance; however, this is occupied territory where Israel has the primary responsibility and we need to focus on that,” said David Shearer, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem. (The Financial Times)

A member of the US House of Representatives’ International Relations Committee, Jeff Flake, introduced legislation (HR 3460 IH) that would prohibit further US financial assistance to the PA until the perpetrators, or suspected perpetrators, of the 15 October attack on a US diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip were handed over to US custody. (Palestine Media Centre, thomas.loc.gov)

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IDF soldiers shot and killed two men spotted crawling towards a security fence on the edge of the northern Gaza Strip and Israel. The army said wire cutters had been found on the bodies. In Jenin, the IDF said troops had shot and killed a Hamas member who had climbed onto an armoured vehicle “intending to harm IDF soldiers and steal their weapons.” Witnesses, however, said one of the men, Mohammed Salah, 19, was killed while standing among the crowd of stone-throwers. Three other Palestinians were wounded in the incident. Half an hour later, IDF troops in the town’s refugee camp uncovered an explosives lab. A fourth Palestinian was killed and three others wounded in the nearby village of Burqin when troops shot at a crowd of stone-throwers, according to Palestinian sources. The army said soldiers had only fired warning shots. Its statement further said that IDF forces had come under fire during the night and shot back, “killing the gunman, Muhammed Shaharma, who was responsible for additional shooting attacks in the area.” The IDF also arrested Amjad al-Obeidi, the Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, said to have been behind the suicide bombing at Haifa’s Maxim restaurant in October. (AP, IBA, www.idf.il)

Palestinian Authority President Arafat and Prime Minister Qureia met with top Fatah officials to finalize an agreement over the control of the security services and the composition of a new cabinet. “I hope we will finish forming [the cabinet] in the next couple of days,” Mr. Arafat said. “We will announce it as soon as possible.” Control over security forces would be split between the Interior Ministry and a 12-member National Security Council (NSC) chaired by Mr. Arafat. Hakam Bilawi would be the Interior Minister, while another candidate, an NSC member and the original choice for Interior Minister for the post, Gen. Nasser Yousef, might stay in the Government as a Deputy Prime Minister, according to US State Department spokeswoman Amanda Batt. (AFP, AP)

Prime Minister of Jordan Faisal Fayez, in a meeting with a 10-member US Congressional delegation headed by Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), called on the US “to retain the political momentum regarding the Palestinian question” and pursue the Road Map as “the best chance for creating an independent Palestinian State,” according to a Jordanian Government statement. (AP, DPA, Petra)

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview in the Arabian Business magazine: “Nobody wants to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolved more than I do. No Arab wants to see that resolved as much as I do. No Israeli wants to see it resolved as much as I do. That is our goal.” (AFP)

Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to speak out against Israel’s construction of a separation barrier in the West Bank, the Middle East News Agency reported. Mr. Moussa sent Mr. Annan a message condemning the structure and asking him to take a clear stand on “Israel’s racist policy of building a barrier.” He specifically highlighted the case of Qalqilya, which had been completely isolated and turned into what he called “a big jail.” A statement issued by the League said the letter came after the residents of Qalqilya “appealed for his help in making the voice of their suffering heard by the international community.” (AFP, DPA)

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Three Palestinians recently wounded by Israeli troops died from their wounds. Ahmad Marai, 7, sustained serious head injuries in the Jenin refugee camp on 8 November when Israeli soldiers clashed with Palestinian gunmen, and died in Jenin hospital. Samir Abu Assab, 24, who suffered serious leg wounds on 6 November during clashes in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, died in a Jerusalem hospital. In the Gaza Strip, Sobhi Sharir, 62, died following wounds sustained by shots fired by Israeli soldiers on 26 October in Khan Yunis. (AFP)

Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia announced the formation of a new Government, telling reporters in Ramallah: “We have now finalized a line-up for the next Government and I will ask the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council to hold a special vote of confidence on Wednesday [12 November].” Mr. Qureia said the deal to form a 24-member cabinet included a formula to “unify the work of the security services” in a bid to end what he called chaos. “The Prime Minister must have control of all of the security forces and insist that terrorists and military organizations not under the control of the Palestinian Authority be disarmed and dismantled.” Following are the names of the members of the new Palestinian Cabinet:

(AP, DPA, Reuters, www.mofa.gov.ps)

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Prime Minister Qureia said he would meet with Prime Minister Sharon if there were assurances of moves to revive the Road Map. Aides to Mr. Qureia said before any meeting he also wanted pledges from Israel to lift the blockades on Palestinian towns and to observe the truce he was seeking to secure agreement on from Palestinian militants. “For the meeting with Sharon to occur, it must be well prepared for in advance and we must agree on [what] will result from that meeting in advance, so that we can break the current peace deadlock,” Mr. Qureia said in an interview. (Reuters)

Hundreds of Palestinians joined by Israeli and foreign peace activists had demonstrated on 9 November in several West Bank cities and villages against Israel’s separation barrier. In the village of Zabuba, at the northernmost tip of the West Bank, some 600 people staged a protest. A group of foreign activists from the International Solidarity Movement cut a hole in the fence. An AFP correspondent said one of the gates in the barrier had been torn down before Israeli troops broke up the demonstration by firing shots in the air as well as tear gas and stun grenades. Some 200 people had marched in the streets of Tulkarm and continued their protest in the nearby village of Jubara, and were prevented by the IDF from reaching the barrier. Jubara was a tiny village which has been cut off from all shops and schools by the barrier and currently sst isolated between the barrier and the Green Line. Around 300 people held a protest in Qalqilya, one of the areas most affected by the barrier, shouting slogans against the “apartheid wall” and holding banners which read “Stop the Wall” and “Wall against Peace.” (AFP)

the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a report saying Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank would have severe humanitarian consequences for about 680,000 Palestinians, a third of the Palestinian population in the West Bank. Based on a map of the route approved by Israel, OCHA found that the barrier would cut off some 14.5 per cent of Palestinian land from the rest of the West Bank, as only 11 per cent of it would run along the Green Line. “For the rest, the wall’s planned route cuts deep into the West Bank – up to 22 km,” the report said. (Reuters)

Emma Udwin, spokeswoman for EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, said: “We are very concerned about the present routeing and proposed routeing” of the barrier, “because the current routing is not just on Israeli territory.” The Commission was also “following with some concern” the position of the EU envoy to the Middle East, Marc Otte, who had been boycotted by Israeli leaders since meeting with President Arafat in early October, and was “finding it difficult to carry out all of [his] duties in the current circumstances.” The EU planned to raise the two issues at an EU-Israel meeting scheduled for 18 November, Ms. Udwin said, declining to forecast what exactly the EU would say: “Being a whole week away from a meeting is quite a long way from a meeting … We’ll try and sort things out. As things stand we’re not thinking in terms of reprisals.” (AFP, DPA)

Ha’aretz reported that Defence Ministry planners wanted the Jerusalem section of the separation barrier to extend 10 km to the east to include the “Mishor Adumim” industrial area as well as the “Kfar Adumim,” “Ma’ale Adumim” and “Geva Binyamin” (“Adam”) settlements, along with several Palestinian villages such as Hizma and Anata. The barrier might continue as far as the cliffs of Wadi Kelt and the Allon Road, and would be integrated into the “E-1” plan. The plan was still open to revision and had not yet received Government approval, Ha’aretzsaid. According to Defence Ministry plans for the Jerusalem sector published in October 2003, the barrier would run closer to Jerusalem’s municipal boundary, and a Ministry spokeswoman said it represented the Ministry’s latest thinking on the route. When the Israeli Government had approved the barrier’s route on 1 October, it had not included a detailed plan for parts of Jerusalem. Barrier construction had already begun north and south of the city, but the eastern area remained undeveloped. In the meantime, The Jerusalem Postreported that MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) had demanded the establishment of a board of inquiry to investigate the “security breakdown due to which the security fence has not yet been completed.” (AP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory “worsen every day,” UNRWA said in a report published in Geneva. Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said the Agency had to reduce food and emergency activities even though six out of 10 Palestinians lived below the poverty line of two dollars daily. In some areas, every fourth Palestinian child suffered from malnutrition. Nearly one person in three of the more than 3 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank depended on food aid from UNRWA. On the Israeli separation barrier, Mr. Hansen said that once it was completed, about 135,000 Palestine refugees would no longer have access to UNRWA facilities. (DPA)

Pope John Paul II told a visiting delegation of Christian Palestinians in the PLO: “Despite the ... recent setbacks on the road to peace and fresh outbreaks of violence and injustice, we must continue to confirm that peace is possible and that the resolution of differences can only come about through the patient dialogue and persevering commitment of people of good will on both sides … Terrorism must be condemned in all its forms, for it is not only a betrayal of our common humanity, but is absolutely incapable of laying the necessary political, moral and spiritual foundations for a people’s freedom and authentic self-determination.” The Pope asked the delegation to convey his “greetings and good wishes” to Palestinian Authority President Arafat, and said he was again calling on “all parties to respect fully the resolutions of the United Nations and the commitments made in the acceptance of the peace process, with engagement in a common quest for reconciliation, justice and the building of a secure and harmonious coexistence in the Holy Land.” (AP)

Israel’s former ambassador to Germany, Avi Primor, became the first recipient of the “Peace Clock Prize” from the Berlin Committee for UNESCO Work, for his efforts to overcome differences between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as for his work for peace and human rights issues in the Middle East. The prize was to be awarded every year on 9 November – the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – to personalities who had contributed to “overcoming walls between peoples, nations, cultures and ideologies.” The prize took its name from a work of art produced by a Berlin jeweller which featured a clock under the words, “Time breaks down all walls.” The opening of the Berlin Wall was announced at the unveiling of the clock on 9 November 1989. (DPA)

The IDF transfered an alleged Palestinian militant from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip without charge or trial. According to witnesses, Kamal Idris turned up at a Palestinian checkpoint near the “Netzarim” settlement in the Gaza Strip after being taken to the area by the IDF, which said it had expelled him over his membership in a “terrorist group” in Hebron which was responsible for attacks on Israelis. In a statement, the army said a court had issued a permanent ruling rejecting an appeal by Mr. Idris, and he had subsequently been moved to the Gaza Strip. Describing the expulsion as a “residency demarcation,” the army said the move was a “preventive measure” taken against Palestinians who could not be put on trial for fear of exposing intelligence sources who had provided information about them. (Reuters, www.idf.il)

Shadi Abu Anza, 14, was shot and fatally wounded by IDF gunfire in Rafah during the night, which also flattened 20 houses in Block 5 of the camp. The youth died from his wounds the next day. Another 14-year-old was also injured in the incident. (AP, IPC, Palestine Media Centre)

Sheikh Taysir Al-Tamimi, Chief Justice of the Palestinian Islamic Courts and Imam of the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, was arrested by Israeli authorities at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. “Sheikh Al-Tamimi was arrested to be questioned,” a spokesman for the Jerusalem police, Shmuel Ben-Ruby, told AFP,refusing to explain in more detail why he had been detained. WAFAreported that Mr. Tamimi was contacted by telephone in Israeli custody and said he had been arrested at the exit of the compound with four other judges and that he had been taken to the Moskoubia prison at the West Jerusalem police headquarters. IBA reported the next day that Mr. Tamimi was arrested on suspicion of incitement and that he had participated without permission at Friday prayers in East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Postadded that Mr. Tamimi, a Hebron resident, as well as four other judges, lacked “proper permits to be in Israel.” (AFP, IBA, The Jerusalem Post, Palestine Media Centre)

Arab nations would oppose an Israeli resolution condemning Palestinian attacks on Israeli children that was awaiting a vote during the current week in the Third Committee of the General Assembly, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Nasser Al-Kidwa said. Arab delegates, meeting at UN headquarters, concluded the Israeli draft had been written “as a bad joke” and should be voted down. “Frankly, we were not amused,” Amb. Al-Kidwa told reporters after the meeting. “This is an anti-Palestinian resolution, much more than it is a pro-Israeli children resolution. The Europeans say they will abstain. I can’t see anybody voting in favour of this. We hope they [the Israelis] will wake up and forget about this.” The draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian children and was adopted on 6 November by a vote of 88 to 4 against (US, Israel, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands), with 58 abstentions, 15 EU nations and Canada among them. Israeli Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Arye Mekel had told the Committee that the resolution was one-sided because “we believe that all the world’s children are deserving of equal protection, including Israeli and Palestinian children.” Amb. Al-Kidwa said the situation of Palestinian children was unique in that “all of them are collectively deprived of every single right in the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” an international human rights instrument that had entered into force for Israel on 2 November 1991. (AP, Reuters)

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Israel’s High Court of Justice accepted an appeal by Arab-Israeli filmmaker Mohammed Bakri against a ban on his documentary “Jenin, Jenin,” Israel Radio reported. The Israel Film Board had banned the film the previous year because of its “distorted presentation of events in the guise of democratic truth, which could mislead the public.” The Court had ruled unanimously that banning the film infringed freedom of expression more than was acceptable. The movie had been screened three times in Israel before it was banned and would be shown in Tel Aviv on 8 December, Mr. Bakri said. (AP, DPA, Reuters)

Israeli Defence Minister Mofaz, speaking to Israel Army Radioafter a meeting a day earlier with US Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld in Washington, defended the proposed route of the West Bank separation barrier and said he had no immediate plans to dismantle Israeli settlement outposts; defence officials would continue to evaluate the outposts along with Israel’s security needs. Mr. Mofaz further stated: “I have to say that in the past year, a number of outposts were dismantled,” most of them in agreement with settlers. Peace Now said the number of outposts had dropped slightly since the Road Map was unveiled in June 2003, to 101 or 102, but the group’s spokesman Dror Etkes said the population and infrastructure had grown. Ma’arivalso reported that in the meeting with Mr. Rumsfield, Mr. Mofaz said Israel would propose a renewed ceasefire to the new PA Cabinet. (AP, IMRA)

During a closed-door meeting with Likud deputies, Prime Minister Sharon said that Israel must “ease the closure or risk provoking the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, which would force us to take administrative responsibility for 3.7 million Palestinians.” Mr. Sharon also said that Israel would continue to reimburse the PA with customs duties on products imported to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (AFP)

EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana denied Israel could be getting a mixed message because of comments from the current EU Presidency, Italy. “The official message is the message given by me, by the European Union,” Solana said during an interview with two news agencies in Rome. “No third country has any doubt about the European Union's position ... since most of the positions are written beforehand.” (Reuters)

Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa, standing next to visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage at a press conference in Cairo, said he had informed Mr. Armitage “of the Arab view that the situation in Palestine is at an impasse. And that stirs great anger among the Arabs and will lead to serious consequences … We must settle this question in a serious and objective way, and not with the aim of satisfying one party, which is Israel, at the expense of the Palestinians. The situation is blocked until the United States resumes its role as honest broker. The Arab League wants the United States to play this impartial role again and not to be aligned completely with Israel.” “The support of the United States for Israel is something that is a bedrock principle of the United States,” said Mr. Armitage, but “that does not mean that we support every action the Government of Israel takes … We have in-depth and intense discussions with Israel. And we feel that the best and most effective way to have those discussions is official-to-official privately rather than standing up and screaming from the top of some building across the street at the Israelis.” Mr. Armitage also rejected a suggestion that a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would stop a wave of global terrorism. (AFP)

Following the unusually large-scale destruction of about 1,000 olive trees in three Palestinian villages south of Nablus (Einabus, Huwwara and As-Sawiya), Israeli police said it had established a special unit and had filed 85 indictments in 2003. Spokesman Doron Ben-Amo said that attacks had dropped from 350 in 2002 to 192 in 2003, suggesting that “maybe the settlers are beginning to understand that there are laws.” (AP; see DF of 5 and 10 November 2003)

According to a survey conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion directed by Dr. Nabil Kukali, 51.4 per cent of Palestinians opposed the “Geneva Accord” and 32 supported it. (Palestine Media Centre)

Israeli police announced in a statement that Palestinian Islamic Judge Sheikh Taysir Al-Tamimi had been “released and taken to the municipal borders of Jerusalem, where he has no permission to be … He was questioned over incitement to violence and calls to revolt.” The Jerusalem Magistrates Court approved the police request to instruct Mr. Tamimi to appear for questioning whenever he was asked to do so. (AFP, IBA; see DF of 11 November 2003)

EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana criticized Israel’s “bizarre” policy of boycotting officials who met with Chairman Arafat, in particular EU special envoy Marc Otte, saying it contravened the rules of diplomacy. (AFP, ue.eu.int/solana)

PA Cabinet Secretary Hassan Abu Libdeh told Reuters: “The Americans contacted me and said they were not happy with the structure of the new Government, but they will judge it by its actions.” (Palestine Media Centre, Reuters)

12

Laith Mazen Sbaih, 15, from the village of Burqin west of Jenin, died from wounds he had sustained from IDF gunfire on 8 November . (Palestine Media Centre)

An Islamic Jihad member from the Jabalya refugee camp, Nahed Kutkot, 27, was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops in the Bureij refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip. (AFP, DPA)

Two Palestinians were seriously wounded by Israeli gunfire when IDF troops raided Rafah to demolish a house they suspected was being used to smuggle arms across the Gaza Strip's Israeli-controlled border with Egypt, Palestinian security sources said. (AFP)

The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Ramallah confirmed Prime Minister Qureia’s Cabinet. Speaker Rafiq Al-Natshe announced that 48 members had voted for the new Government and 13 against, with 5 abstentions. Deputy Speaker Ibrahim Abu Al-Naja had earlier said that 49 out of the 88 deputies had voted for the new line-up. The Palestine Media Centre reported the 12 PLC members from the Gaza Strip had been prevented by Israeli authorities from attending the session in Ramallah. Three Cabinet nominees, Jawad Tibi, Rawhi Fattouh and Hisham Abdel Razeq, denied Israeli media reports that they had resigned and called upon other Fatah ministers to do the same. Palestinian Authority President Arafat swore in the members of the new Cabinet. (AFP, Palestine Media Centre, Reuters)

Palestinian Authority President Arafat, opening the PLC session, accused Israel of “a criminal war” of incursions and blockades to crush his people’s aspirations and insisted: “We do not deny the right of the Israeli people to live in security side by side with the Palestinian people also living in their own independent State … The time has come for us to get out of this spiral, this destructive war, that will not bring security to you or us.” Mr. Arafat denounced Israel’s West Bank separation barrier as a “new Berlin Wall ... depriving our people of their land, their rights and independent State and sacred Jerusalem.” He also said: “I am telling you and the entire world that my life is threatened day and night by the Israeli Government, but my life is no more important than that of any Palestinian child.” (AFP)

Prime Minister Qureia in a speech to the PLC called for parliamentary, presidential and municipal elections to be held by June 2004: “We urge the Israeli Government to withdraw its forces from our cities and villages so that we can carry out fair and free elections … no later than June.” Mr. Qureia also called for Israel and the Palestinians to end their attacks on civilians and to work together to reach a mutual ceasefire: “I extend my hand to you with sincerity in order to begin serious and prompt action for a mutual ceasefire to halt the bloodshed and to stop violence.” He further urged “our Palestinian people and all Palestinian forces and factions to stop all kinds of mutual violence” and end the “armed chaos” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “Our strategic choice is to stick to peace, to the Road Map and to agreements signed with Israel … We are not terrorists and we never will be. Our struggle must be against the occupation and not against civilians and children.” He also called upon "the parties to the conflict, mainly the Quartet, to hold an international conference under their supervision to attain a final solution to the conflict based on the vision of President Bush with two States.” (AFP, Reuters)

“The Israeli Government is ready to abstain from launching large-scale operations in the territories and limit itself to selective raids to thwart attacks,” Prime Minister Sharon’s adviser Zalman Shoval told AFP. “We want to allow Mr. Qureia the opportunity to prove he can reduce the level of violence and we want to find out if his plan for a ceasefire can lead to the dismantling of the terrorist organizations.” (AFP)

Acting on information, our forces moved into the former prison of Al-Juneid and found a buried cache of 17 Kalashnikov assault rifles and 20 magazines,” an IDF spokesman told AFP. An IDF statement put the number of rifles at 13 and also referred to “dozens of ammunition cartridges.” A Palestinian security source told AFPthat soldiers backed by a bulldozer had entered the prison compound in Nablus after briefly detaining a group of Palestinian policemen at the post. Overnight, the IDF also arrested an Islamic Jihad member near Tulkarm and two wanted Palestinians in Hebron. An IDF soldier was slightly hurt when an explosive device was set off as his IDF tank drove past, close to the borders of Israel and the Gaza Strip. An Israeli worker was wounded by gunfire as he was repairing a fence in the “Morag” settlement in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP, Ha’aretz, www.idf.il)

Jean Ziegler, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, made public a study by the Centre for Economic and Social Rights, saying: “Behind the headlines of escalating violence, there is the hidden danger of escalating the physical, social and psychological destruction of an ancient society … largely ignored by world public opinion, the mass media and the international community of nations.” Fact sheets provided by the Centre showed that 22 per cent of Palestinian children under five suffered from malnutrition and 9.3 per cent from acute malnutrition, a three- and eight-fold increase, respectively, over 2000 figures. The Centre’s data, which Mr. Ziegler included in his UN report, said 15.6 per cent of Palestinian children suffered acute anaemia, which could lead to permanent impairment of physical and mental development. Food consumption by Palestinians had fallen by 30 per cent on average per person and 60 per cent of Palestinian households currently lived in acute poverty, with half of them depending on international food aid. Mr. Ziegler pointed to Israel’s closure of Palestinian areas, imposition of curfews and restriction of Palestinians’ freedom of movement as reasons for the problems: “These practices are rooted in an overall policy of occupation that continues to expand Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, isolate Palestinian communities from one another and destroy Palestinian homes and farmland… The Israeli Government has the right and obligation to assure the security of its citizens. As any other sensible human being, I deeply regret the violence that has cost the lives of over 800 Israelis and 2,700 Palestinians in the past three years. But the widespread denial of adequate food and water to people living under occupation constitutes an act of collective punishment prohibited under international law.” He said there was no guarantee that a future Palestinian State would be able to provide food and water to the Palestinian people if Israel continued with its present practices. The Israeli mission to the UN Office at in Geneva criticized Mr. Ziegler’s report, saying it should be dismissed as “unworthy of discussion or distribution as ... a UN document,” and warned: “This will undoubtedly shade Israel’s future decisions with regard to the possibility of engaging in constructive dialogues with other UN special rapporteurs.” (DPA, Reuters, UN News Centre)

Defence Minister Mofaz, speaking at the Washington Institute, said that as it would take years to reach a permanent agreement with the Palestinians, the Israeli Government should work on an interim arrangement: “It will be very difficult from the situation that we are facing today to reach in a month or a few years a permanent agreement, and I believe that we have to go through some interim agreement that will rebuild the trust between the two sides, will give us a proper sense of security for the people of Israel and give hope to the Palestinian people.” (Reuters)

Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN Dan Gillerman presented a draft resolution entitled “The situation of and assistance to Israeli children” to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. “We feel that there should be an end to discrimination against Israeli children and that they should be recognized,” Amb. Gillerman told reporters, calling the draft resolution a “test case to see whether the world body cares for all children.” According to AP,to increase support for the draft, Israel dropped references to “Palestinian terrorist groups,” referring instead to “attacks by terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade directed against Israeli civilians, including children.” Amb. Gillerman said he was not sure when the vote would take place. (AP, DPA)

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement, saying: “Russia trusts that the approval of the new Cabinet led by such an authoritative and respected figure as Mr. Qureia gives a real chance to end violence and terror, to continue reforms in the Palestinian National Authority structures on a democratic basis and to resume the negotiating process under the Road Map for a Middle East settlement.” (AFP, www.mid.ru)

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Taha Dwaik was deported from Hebron to the Gaza Strip for two years, after having spent several months imprisoned in Israeli jails without a trial, according to a Palestinian public security spokesman. The Israeli High Court of Justice approved his expulsion on 12 November. Both Mr. Dwaik and another Palestinian deported on 10 November were among 18 Palestinians ordered expelled by the IDF in mid-October. They had been kept in an Israeli detention camp at the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip since then. Mr. Dweik was taken before dawn to the Erez crossing point, where he was received by the Palestinian general security forces and was taken immediately to Gaza City. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemned the Israeli action, saying it contradicted the Fourth Geneva Convention, which ruled out population transfers within and across occupied territory. Several hours later, Mashraf Bzur, 26, a Fatah activist from Jenin, was transfered to the Gaza Strip and officially placed under house arrest there, an Israeli military source said, adding that he had agreed to be expelled for two years rather than continue his detention. Mr. Bzur formally denied this when he arrived in the Gaza Strip, telling journalists that he had been moved against his will from the Ofer detention camp near Ramallah. (AFP, PA, www.pchrgaza.org;see DF of 14 and 15 October and 11 November 2003)

Israeli forces moved into Tulkarm and the adjacent refugee camp with some 40 jeeps and armoured vehicles, prompting exchanges of fire. An IDF spokesman confirmed what he called a search operation to AFP but said the forces involved were far smaller. In the Gaza Strip an Israeli armoured unit backed up by two helicopters moved several hundred metres into the Palestinian Authority's zone near Khan Yunis. Using loudspeakers, the soldiers ordered the evacuation of buildings they had surrounded, the sources said, then destroyed a house and damaged six others. (AFP)

Prime Minister Qureia chaired the first meeting of his Cabinet in Ramallah. The ministers discussed the strategy for an official resumption of talks with their Israeli opposite numbers for the first time in nearly three months. None of the ministers made any comment to reporters as they entered Mr. Qureia’s offices. (AFP)

Foreign Minister Shalom told Israel Army Radio that Prime Minister Sharon would meet with his Palestinian counterpart Ahmed Qureia within 10 days, reportedly after Mr. Sharon’s trip to Italy during the coming week: “If [Mr. Qureia] will lead the Palestinians towards peace and towards an end to the conflict, then Israel will be ready to go a long way. The first thing that will happen is a meeting between Sharon and Qureia. This is expected within 10 days, in my opinion.” Mr. Qureia told reporters after the Cabinet meeting that preparations for a meeting with Mr. Sharon were under way, but insisted: “We want a meeting which will produce results ... in order to alleviate the suffering of our people and open a horizon so that we can have a real peace. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

Two Palestinian children scheduled to undergo heart surgery in Armenia had been barred by the IDF from leaving the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medics and Israeli military sources said. Rawan Humeid, 2, and Musleh Radwan, 6, as well as Dr. Raed Sabbah, 30, who was to accompany them, were turned back at the Rafah border crossing on 4 November. The doctor explained that he had been planning to fly to Armenia to pursue his studies and had arranged to take the children with him for their surgery, stressing that their families were too poor to go themselves. A spokesman for the Israeli military's civil administration confirmed to AFPthat the doctor had been forbidden from crossing into Egypt, for “security reasons” which were not explained. Dr. Sabbah told AFP: “I was all the more surprised since I was allowed two months ago to go to Switzerland.” (AFP)

Israel has begun construction of a new section of the separation barrier close to the “Elkana” settlement, an AFP journalist witnessed. Three bulldozers, guarded by armed vigilantes and soldiers, had begun to level the land near the village of Rantis, 30 km west of Ramallah. The new 7.4-km section would run from Rantis to the village of Al-Midyah. At times the new section would cut around 2 km into the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (AFP)

Some 1,000 Palestinians joined by Israeli and foreign peace activists from the International Solidarity Movement demonstrated against Israel’s separation barrier in Baqa Al-Sharqiya, as part of a week of protests and activities against the project. A small group tried to force open a gate through to the side of the barrier, but Israeli troops broke up the protest by firing tear-gas grenades. (AFP)

In connection with the "Neve Evez" outpost adjoining the “Ma’ale Mikhmas” settlement, four Palestinians from the village of Mikhmas north-east of Jerusalem petitioned Israel's High Court of Justice against Defence Minister Mofaz, the Civil Administration and the IDF after Mr. Mofaz had decided to grant legal status to the settler outpost built on the land that IDF authorities agreed belonged to the four petitioners. “Neve Erez” was on a list of 10 outposts Mr. Mofaz wanted the Defence Ministry to “legalize” and which would be expanded and provided with infrastructure and budgets. In the petition the Court was requested to order a halt to all construction at the outpost, the removal of the buildings and settlers, and payment of compensation to the Palestinian landowners for the incursion into their property. (Ha’aretz)

Survey No. 116 carried out by the Beit Sahur-based Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion revealed that 35.4 per cent of Palestinians “strongly support” a ceasefire, 30.6 per cent “somewhat support” it, while 29.7 per cent opposed it and 4.3 per cent did not express an opinion. A total of 44.5 per cent favoured ending the intifada and 42.6 per cent wished to see it continued. An easing of the Israeli restrictions affecting the population in the West Bank emerged as a priority, with 64.2 per cent saying it would contribute to reducing the level of violence and 26.6 per cent believing the opposite. According to the poll, 58.3 per cent of Palestinians saw Palestinian Authority President Arafat as the only man capable of signing a peace agreement with Israel, and 72.4 per cent supported him. The poll was based on a sample of 669 Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and had a margin of error of 3.8 per cent. (AFP, IMRA)

UNRWA was to drastically cut its relief activities in Gaza, despite the growing distress of the local population caused by Israeli military operations there. Allocations to needy families in the territories had already been slashed, even as the Palestinians’ economic plight had grown increasingly acute, according to an Agency report distributed on 11 November before a series of votes on UNRWA's work scheduled in the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee in New York. (Ha’aretz)

A publicity drive for the “Geneva initiative” began in Israel. Advertisements in Yediot Aharonot,Ma’ariv and Ha’aretz,symbolically coloured in the blue and white of the Israeli flag, said the plan could usher in a “new era based on peace” and informed readers that the full text of the document would be mailed to every Israeli household starting 16 November. The 44-page draft (including maps), entitled “The Geneva Initiative – a model for a permanent Israeli-Palestinian agreement,” was printed in 1.9 million copies in Hebrew, 200,000 in Arabic and 100,000 in Russian. However, the Israel Broadcast Authority had decided to ban radio advertisements as being politically controversial. The cost of the public relations campaign was estimated at NIS3 million. Campaign spokesmen said on 12 November that the mass mailing was unprecedented and that for the first time Israeli citizens would be able to examine a peace proposal in detail. PA officials and Fatah leaders would also use the coming months to promote the initiative among Palestinians and the international community as a basis for a future peace deal, a Palestinian official stated in an interview. (AFP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Residents of the village of Jubara, near Tulkarm, were ordered by the IDF to carry passes to allow them to stay in their village and cross the fence built on their lands as part of the barrier Israel was building in the West Bank. The order, dated 2 October, turned the areas between the barrier and Israel into closed zones. The procedure did not mention expulsion, but Palestinian officials and villagers said they understood this to be the implied threat. After the residents refused to apply for the permit, the IDF issued them anyway, using a list of residents. No Palestinian could enter or leave without a special pass and no one could live there without a residence permit, to be renewed every year. Israelis were exempted from the regulations. “It really turns the right to live in your own home into a privilege,” said David Shearer, head of the local UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (The Jerusalem Times)

William Burns, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, addressing the George C. Marshall Foundation, said: “The demographic picture is very stark. Within the next decade or so, Jews will be a minority in the area encompassing Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. As Israeli settlements expand and their populations increase, it becomes increasingly difficult to see how the two peoples will be separated into two States. The fact is that settlements continue to grow today, encouraged by specific government policies – and at enormous expense to Israel’s economy. And this persists even as it becomes clear that the logic of settlements and the reality of demographics could threaten the future of Israel as a Jewish democracy. For friends of Israel, the conclusion is hard to escape. Settlement activity must stop, because it ultimately undermines Israeli as well as Palestinian interests.” Burns also called the separation barrier a “significant problem” that “prejudices negotiations and, like settlement activity, takes us further from the two-State goal.” (AFP)

The Al-Qassam Brigades announced that they had destroyed an Israeli tank east of Gaza City, and said they had videotaped the attack. (IMEMC)

IDF troops arrested Yehiyah Dragema, a senior member of Hamas, in the village of Tubas close to Nablus. Troops found a 9mm handgun in his possession. Also in the West Bank, troops operating in the Jenin area, Ramallah and Hebron arrested six wanted Palestinians. (Ha’aretz)

“At the request of the United Nations, the Chinese Government will hold jointly with the United Nations an Asia-Pacific meeting on the question of Palestine from 16 to 18 December,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular press conference. “Its theme will be mobilizing international support for the peaceful solution of the Palestine question.” Some 200 people, including officials and scholars from various countries, would attend the meeting, with parallel discussions among non-governmental organizations hosted by Peking University, he said. (AFP, www.fmprc.gov.cn)

US Secretary of State Coilin Powell spoke with the newly appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia by telephone. “He made the point that performance is what counts and that the Palestinian Cabinet needs to declare its firm opposition to terror and to take tangible, immediate steps against terrorist organizations and that that’s what we would be looking for,” US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told a briefing. Answering a question, Mr. Ereli said he didn’t have “anything new on Assistant Secretary Wolf’s travels.” Reuters also quoted an unnamed State Department official as saying that Mr. Powell had told Mr. Qureia the US was disappointed that he had not won control of all the Palestinian security forces: “He did say that ... we would have liked to see a different structure for the security forces.” According to WAFA,Mr. Qureia told Mr. Powell he intended to meet with Prime Minister Sharon, although “this meeting should be well prepared in order to be successful and succeed in relaunching efforts to implement the Road Map.” He also told Powell that Israel must stop building settlements in the Palestinian territories, as well as halt construction of the West Bank separation barrier. (AFP, DPA, Reuters,www.state.gov)

The White House pressed Israel to make additional changes to its planned West Bank separation barrier and appeared to be leaning towards making small deductions from a US$9 billion package of loan guarantees in response to the construction of the barrier in Palestinian areas. “They have made some adjustments that I think have helped a lot ... and we’ll see what other adjustments they might be able to make,” US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told reporters ahead of talks with Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adding that the barrier “continues to be a problem” because of US concerns that it “somehow prejudges” future peace talks and could “infringe ... on the lives of ordinary Palestinians.” “But the issue of how this relates – one way or another – to loan guarantees ... at this particular point is premature,” she said. Sources close to the deliberations said deductions for the separation barrier were likely, though they would be small in size and come from loan instalments in future years. Israel was allowed to use $3 billion a year in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and could extend it to 2006. (Reuters)

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Four former directors of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) – Yaakov Perry, Ami Ayalon, Avraham Shalom and Carmi Gilon – spoke in an interview with Yediot Aharonot,warning that the country was headed for disaster unless Prime Minister Sharon reversed course and moved quickly to settle the conflict with the Palestinians. “We are taking sure, steady steps to a place where the State of Israel will no longer be a democracy and a home for the Jewish people,” Mr. Ayalon was quoted as saying. The four said Israel needed to withdraw from the West Bank, and immediately from the Gaza Strip, even if that meant clashes with some of the Israeli settlers there. The former security chiefs said Mr. Sharon’s preoccupation with trying to halt attacks by Palestinians before agreeing to peace talks was at best misguided, and at worst a ploy to avoid concessions, including a settlement freeze. “Sharon has spoken often about the need for painful compromises, and there are no painful compromises except evacuation of settlements,” said Yaakov Perry, Shin Bet Director from 1995 to 1998, stressing: “We are heading downhill towards near-catastrophe. If nothing happens and we go on living by the sword, we will continue to wallow in the mud and destroy ourselves.” “For once and for all we have to admit there is another side, and it has feelings and is suffering – and we are behaving disgracefully,” said Avraham Shalom, Shin Bet Director from 1980 to 1986. Carmi Gilon, who resigned as Shin Bet Director in 1996 after the agency bodyguards failed to prevent the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, described the Government as short-sighted: “It is dealing solely with the question of how to prevent the next terrorist attack. It [ignores] the question of how we get out of the mess we find ourselves in today.” The four won praise from PA Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat, who said: “It reflects the realistic policy required from the Israeli side.” (AP, DPA, Reuters)

Prime Minister Sharon denied reports that he would meet with Prime Minister Qureia within the next 10 days. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

The General Assembly's Fourth (Special Political and Decolonization) Committee overwhelmingly approved a series of resolutions, ranging from assistance to Palestinians to condemning Israeli settlements and supporting UNRWA. The US claimed some success in its campaign to cut back on the number of the Assembly resolutions on the Middle East criticizing Israel. The US initiative focused on UNRWA, and after a week of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Arab States agreed to drop three of the seven resolutions on aid to Palestinian refugees, but rejected a US proposal that the remaining four be replaced by a single text drafted by Washington in close consultation with Israel. The Arab Group insisted instead on five separate committee votes – on the four Arab texts, as well as the US draft – and abstained as a bloc on the US text, with Feda Abdelhady-Nasser from the Palestine Observer Mission to the UN dismissing it as “an imposition on the traditional resolutions of the Assembly” and a repetitious text that “does not exactly conform with the intended goal of streamlining.” “The adoption of this resolution is the first such measure ever introduced by the United States and notably was supported by Israel,” said US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli. Deputy Permanent Representative of the US to the UN James Cunningham said he was gratified by the outcome, which he saw as “a first step towards identifying common ground on which Arabs, Israelis and the rest of the General Assembly membership can agree.” The US had been able to both “depoliticize the mandate” of UNRWA and reduce the number of “one-sided” UN texts on the Middle East, he said, adding: “And we intend to continue to press for further significant reductions in the number of resolutions in the months and years ahead.” Other delegates, meanwhile, complained about the time it took to bring to a conclusion the related negotiations so they might proceed to the voting to keep UNRWA in operation for another year. (AFP, Reuters)

The backers of the Geneva Accord initiative submitted an appeal to Israel's High Court of Justice after one of their radio commercials was banned. “We filed an appeal after the commercial was taken off the air by the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA),” [see DF of 13 November 2003] one of them told AFP,stressing that no reason had been given for the ban. On the same day, The People’s Voice, an Israeli-Palestinian civil initiative established by Ami Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh and aimed at promoting peace between the two sides, also filed a petition with the Court against the IBA and another decision by the Authority to stop the commercials. Yossi Beilin and MKs Haim Oron (Meretz) and Yuli Tamir (Labour) hand-delivered a copy of the Accord to the Prime Minister’s residence, where security guards refused to accept the envelope. Messrs. Beilin and Oron and Labour MKs Avraham Burg and Amram Mitzna also presented the Geneva Accord at a meeting of the United Kibbutz Movement’s secretariat, which unanimously decided to adopt and support the plan and called on the Movement’s members to promote and support the Geneva Accord initiative. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

PA Minister of Planning Nabil Qassis, one of three PA Cabinet members to take part in the Geneva Initiative, and his adviser Samih al-Abed discussed the plan with US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and US Middle East Envoy William Burns. “They had very positive meetings. They discussed the Geneva Initiative, mainly how it can boost the Israeli-Palestinian peace coalition and put an end to violence and occupation,” said Ahmad Daud of the Palestine Media Centre. (AFP)

Uri Avneri and Sari Nusseibeh received the Lev Kopelev Prize for Peace and Human Rights in Cologne, Germany. No money was attached to the prize, which was created in memory of Russian-born writer Kopelev (1912-1997). Fritz Pleitgen, chairman of the organizing body, said Mr. Nusseibeh and Mr. Avneri had sought over the decades to reduce the gap between their two peoples. In an acceptance speech, Mr. Avneri condemned violence on both sides, saying: “We are on the brink of the abyss and in both camps there are leaders saying, ‘Forward march’.” (DPA)

15

In clashes, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian boy. Israeli military sources said soldiers on patrol in Beit Furik village east of Nablus were attempting to disperse a rioting crowd and shot a rubber bullet that killed a Palestinian who was about to throw a petrol bomb at them. Local residents identified the Palestinian as 14-year-old Ahmed Hanani and said he had been near other youths who were throwing stones. (Reuters)

PA Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath issued a statement saying Prime Minister Qureia would meet with Islamic Jihad and Hamas representatives before meeting with Prime Minister Sharon. Mr. Sha’ath said the talks would aim at reaching a bilateral ceasefire which would help the implementation of the Road Map. Mr. Qureia told reporters the next day: “God willing, it is going to be very soon. We will move after tomorrow’s meeting” with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman. (DPA, Reuters)

16

Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinians in Rafah. Clashes broke out as Israeli troops attempted to arrest Bassam Abu Libdeh, 33. In a statement, the army described Mr. Abu Libdeh as “a central figure in weapons smuggling” and “responsible for the tunnel infrastructure.” “During the operation, the wanted man and two other suspects, including a gunman, tried to escape,” the army said after the early morning raid into the southern outskirts of Rafah. “Forces pursued them and opened fire, wounding [Abu Libdeh] in the hand and killing one of the suspects.” According to other reports, Mr. Abu Libdeh’s second companion was also killed. The army said it had blown up Mr. Abu Libdeh’s house. Local residents said 15 people had been made homeless. Palestinian security sources had earlier said Mr. Abu Libdeh was a clothing merchant with no known links to militants, but residents and officials in Rafah later said he was a leading figure in a prominent family that sold weapons to militants. Four Israeli soldiers in the area were slightly hurt when an explosive device was detonated against their APC. (DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Ha’aretz reported that US criticism of Israel’s settlement policy and the separation barrier in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had been voiced in a series of telephone conversations between Elliot Abrams, Middle East Director in the US National Security Council and Dov Weissglas, the head of the Prime Minister’s office. Similar criticism had been expressed in meetings between Defence Minister Mofaz and Administration officials in Washington. The US allegedly said Israel had reneged on promises to dismantle settlement outposts in the West Bank and to freeze settlement construction. The criticism was prompted by a tender issued by the Israeli Ministry of Housing and Construction issued for the construction of hundreds of new housing units in the settlements. Officials in Washington were also critical of the hardship the separation barrier was imposing on local Palestinians. Mr. Mofaz said Israel would take steps to eliminate such problems. (DPA)

The IDF in a statement said one of its officers in the West Bank had been dismissed from duty for throwing a stun grenade at Palestinian children: “In a disciplinary hearing the officer was sentenced to 14 days in a military prison by the brigade commander and was relieved of his duties.” In a separate case, acccording to the statement, a soldier had been sentenced to 35 days in prison for kicking a Palestinian during an argument near Qalqilya. (Reuters, www.idf.il)

Pope John Paul II, in his Sunday noon address, urged an end to the spiral of attacks and reprisals in the Middle East and renewed his “firm condemnation of every terrorist action carried out in these recent times in the Holy Land.” Speaking to pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, the Pope urged both Israelis and Palestinians to renew their efforts aimed at peace negotiations and in his first comment on the issue, criticized Israel’s construction of the separation barrier, “The construction of a wall between the Israeli people and the Palestinian people is seen by many as a new obstacle on the road to peaceful cohabitation. In fact, the Holy Land does not need walls but bridges.” Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel criticized the Pope's remarks in an interview with Corriere della Sera,saying: “To politicize terrorism like that is wrong.” (AP, BBC, Reuters)

The Israeli Foreign Ministry announced the lifting of its boycott of the BBC,in the wake of a joint declaration on a commitment to objective coverage of Middle East events and the BBC’s decision to appoint a special adviser on Middle Eastern affairs. The decision to boycott the BBChad been made in July 2003, following the second airing of a programme entitled “Israel’s Secret Weapons.” (Ha’aretz)

17

Israeli troops killed a Palestinian during a raid in the Tulkarm refugee camp. Palestinians said he had been shot during clashes between stone-throwing youths and Israeli soldiers. Israel Radio said he had been shot after opening fire on the soldiers. (DPA, Reuters)

Israel was reconsidering its boycott of European officials who maintained contacts with Palestinian Authority President Arafat. “We believe no one should be in touch with Arafat,” Foreign Minister Shalom said in an interview with The Financial Time,“but we are trying to find a way to separate between political figures and officials.” “We would like to have much more cooperation and much more trust,” EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said before the opening of a meeting between Foreign Ministers of the 25 current and future EU members and Mr. Shalom. “Our aim is to put forward rapidly the implementation of the Road Map. For that we think it’s important that our envoys and myself and all the Ministers have the opportunity to see all the people who have a say in this process, including the Palestinians at all levels,” Mr. Solana told reporters. In a statement drawn up before the meeting, the EU urged Israel to “reconsider its position in view of the negative impact it might have for future dialogue,” adding: “The EU stresses the importance of open and unhindered channels of communication for all EU interlocutors, including Special Representative Marc Otte.” The statement also expressed concern at the route of the Israeli separation barrier, warning that it would render the two-State solution “physically impossible” and also cause “further humanitarian and economic hardship to the Palestinians.” The EU members further warned that the “continued expansion of settlements and related construction, such as the tenders for several hundred new units issued in October, inflames an already volatile situation.” Mr. Shalom in turn urged the EU to demonstrate “a more balanced attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” No joint EU-Israeli communiqué was expected to be issued following the talks. Instead, officials said both sides would set out their own positions in separate statements. (AP, DPA, The Financial Times, Reuters)

Prime Minister Sharon arrived in Rome for a three-day visit, where he was expected to urge Prime Minister Berlusconi, whose country held the rotating EU Presidency, to water down a pending EU condemnation of Israel’s West Bank separation barrier and boycott by Israel of EU Middle East Envoy Marc Otte. Speaking to members of Italy’s Jewish community, Mr. Sharon said: “One can suppose that in the next few days the Israeli Prime Minister and the Palestinian Prime Minister will meet and begin talks,” (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

The Israeli Foreign Minister’s Bureau announced that following discussions during the EU-Israel Association Council Meeting in Brussels between Foreign Minister Shalom and Günter Verheugen, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Israel was listed as “a country of first priority for an upgrade in relations with Europe.” (IMRA)

Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman arrived in Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Authority President Arafat and Prime Minister Qureia, reportedly to lay the groundwork for a meeting between Mr. Qureia and Prime Minister Sharon. “[Mr.] Suleiman’s visit is very significant and the timing is crucial to facilitate the implementation of the Road Map,” PA Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said. Prior to the meeting in Ramallah, Mr. Suleiman met with Israeli officials, including Mossad chief Meir Dogan. According to Mr. Sha’ath, Mr. Suleiman told the Palestinians that Israeli leaders, while not giving any assurances, appeared receptive: “He did say that there is an opportunity that must be taken advantage of. There is a positive atmosphere and a new language. He told us that he is optimistic.” Mr. Suleiman and Palestinian leaders agreed to seek a ceasefire from militant groups, while PA Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath said one of Mr. Suleiman’s aides, Mohsen Al-Buheiri, would travel to Gaza City on 19 November for talks with representatives of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. A senior Palestinian official told Reuters that Mr. Suleiman had obtained a “green light” to mediate a truce during his recent visit to the US. US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage also reportedly discussed the prospects of a new ceasefire with Egyptian officials during a visit to Cairo th week before. “I am optimistic we will achieve something,” Mr. Qureia said. Mr. Suleiman invited all the Palestinian groups for talks in Cairo on 24 November. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, however, put Mr. Suleiman on notice that his mission would go nowhere without guarantees from Israel that it would cease all attacks on Palestinians under any truce. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, senior aide to Mr. Arafat, said after the meeting: “We demand US commitments or guarantees to ensure that the Israelis do not take action that leads to the collapse of a new truce … The Americans must press Israel to stop assassinations and all forms of attacks so that the new truce can survive.” Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, speaking after talks with Italy’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alfredo Mantica, said: “It is necessary for Israel to respect this [truce] when it happens, and that what happened last time does not repeat itself, when the ceasefire collapsed because of Israeli practices.” (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Israeli Infrastructure Minister Yossef Paritzky and Palestinian energy officials signed a deal supplying the Occupied Palestinian Territory with electricity from Israel. The agreement, sponsored by the EU, paved the way for contracts between the Israeli Electricity Company and distribution companies covering the Palestinian territories as well as the development of Palestinian electricity infrastructure. “This agreement was signed despite the surrounding madness, and we hope that it will open the way to the signing of peace and cooperation accords,” Mr. Paritzky told reporters, while the agreement itself stated: “The supply of electricity is separate from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Such deals were expected to lead to a drop in electricity tariffs in the Palestinian territories. (AFP)

Russia was expected to present a new draft resolution in the UN Security Council endorsing the Road Map. Council diplomats said they expected a vote on the draft in the coming days. “Certainly I think we’re close” to an agreement, US spokesman Richard Grenell told AFP. According to IMEMC, the US Administration informed Israel on 16 November that it planned to support the draft. (AFP, www.imemc.org)

Yasser Abed Rabbo, PLO Executive Committee member and co-author of the Geneva Accords, said he had received a letter from Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov expressing his support for the initiative and inviting Mr. Abed Rabbo and a delegation from the Palestinian peace movement to visit Moscow. In an interview with the Al-Qudsnewspaper, Mr. Abed Rabbo also called for the convening of a Palestinian national conference with the aim of adopting the Geneva Accords and launching an unarmed popular resistance campaign against the Israeli “apartheid wall.” (AP, Palestine Media Centre)

The settlers had reportedly reached an agreement with Israel's defence establishment to stop building new outposts in return for a freeze on the evacuation of existing ones, and were focusing on their strengthening and expansion. (Ha’aretz)

Israel refused to lift its blanket boycott of EU politicians who met with Palestinian Authority President Arafat. However, Foreign Minister Shalom announced in Brussels after talks with his EU counterparts that Israel had “decided to have normal relations” with EU Middle East Envoy Marc Otte: “We will be in touch with Marc Otte as a representative of the EU … Otte comes to Israel on a daily basis and is not a political figure. We will have regular contacts with Otte even if we still believe that any contact with Arafat is an obstacle to peace.” (DPA, The Financial Times)

The Russian Federation reintroduced in the UN Security Council the text of a draft resolution endorsing the Road Map. Security Council President Ismael Gasper Martins of Angola told reporters following Council consultations that he expected the text to be adopted “at the latest by the end of the week.” France intends to co-sponsor the text, first introduced by Russia's Permanent Representative Ambassador Sergey Lavrov on 30 October. Amb. Lavrov said earlier he had introduced the resolution because the Council had to show the new Palestinian Government it had UN support for what it needed from the Israelis and to tell Palestinians they had obligations “to implement on the ground, which would be for security improvement.” (Reuters)

Israeli Attorney-General Eliyahu Rubinstein indicated in a statement that, following consultations with the State Attorney’s Office and other officials, he had decided to request a new hearing on the screening of the film “Jenin, Jenin” before an expanded panel of justices because of the sensitivity of the issue and the many legal questions it raised. (Ha’aretz)

18

A Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers at a military barrier along the so-called “Tunnels” bypass road linking Jerusalem to the “Gush Etzion” settlement block and the southern West Bank. He reportedly walked up to the Israeli checkpoint at around 6 a.m. with an assault rifle wrapped in a prayer mat and opened fire at close range, then fled by foot and was picked up by a car that took him to the nearby village of Al-Khader in Area A, under Palestinian Authority control. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. The IDF launched a manhunt for the gunman. Two hours after the incident the IDF reintroduced restrictions on the Palestinians in the area, closing all entrances to nearby Bethlehem. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command (PFLP-GC), in a statement received by AFP in Beirut, claimed responsibility for the attack. (AFP, AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, IMEMC, www.idf.il)

The IDF raided the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip overnight with some 20 armoured vehicles backed by helicopter gunships, setting off a gun battle that wounded nine Palestinians, aged 12 to 35, and one Israeli soldier. Four wounded Palestinians were in serious condition and one critical with a bullet in the head. Troops demolished at least two houses (eight, according to DPA), including one belonging to a man whose 14-year-old son had been killed by army fire 10 days earlier, residents said. The IDF said it had destroyed several abandoned structures consisting only of walls without any roofing, used to provide cover for shooting and grenade attacks on soldiers. Loud explosions were heard, and the army said five explosives were thrown at soldiers who returned fire. The IDF said in a statement that the raid was meant to find and destroy tunnels used to smuggle weapons, and that one such tunnel, “15 metres underground,” had been found. (AFP, AP, DPA)

Prime Minister Qureia told a news conference at a Ramallah hotel that he wanted a truce which would not be temporary, would be more encompassing than the previous one and would include more Israeli gestures. Mr. Qureia also said: “An Egyptian delegation will arrive tomorrow to hand over the invitations to the factions to participate in talks in Cairo. This dialogue will take place very soon and is designed to bring about a ceasefire and spare the lives of civilians.” Yediot Aharonotreported that Israel was inclined to accept a new ceasefire and quoted sources close to Prime Minister Sharon as saying “in practice, Israel has already suspended the assassinations in order to signal to the PA that there is something to talk about.” Meanwhile, an Israeli official denied that the military had suspended “targeted killings.” (AFP, AP, DPA)

Paul Fruh, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, announced that it was ending two emergency aid programmes that provided food assistance to 50,000 Palestinian families. The decision to stop the aid at the end of the month reflected growing impatience by international aid groups, charging that Israel is in control of much of the West Bank but was not providing assistance to the Palestinian population. The Israeli military administration had no immediate comment. The two programmes had begun in July 2002 as a temporary six-month relief effort for impoverished families during a major Israeli military operation, and then were extended for a year and a half at a cost of US$36 million. The programmes gave rice, flour, oil and other staple food items to needy rural families and gave monthly US$90 vouchers for food and essential items to families in towns. The assistance helped the poor, large families, widows and those whose livelihoods had been lost because of the fighting. “We are only supposed to do emergency actions. We cannot run a programme forever,” Mr. Fruh said. “The solution is not to bring them assistance forever. The solution is to allow them to have a normal life, ease the military blockades.” (AP; see also DF of 10 November 2003)

In a statement issued at the fourth annual EU-Israel Association Council , the EU called on Israel to stop building a separation barrier in the West Bank, warning it would only worsen the plight of the Palestinians, and condemned an Israeli ban on contacts with officials who held talks with Palestinian Authority President Arafat. (AFP, ue.eu.int)

Switzerland accredited the first representative of the PA to reside in the capital, Bern, the Foreign Ministry said. Anis Al-Qaq, the General Delegate of Palestine in Switzerland, presented documents of accreditation to Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. To date, bilateral relations between the PA and Switzerland were handled by the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the UN Office at Geneva. (AFP)

Two Palestinians had been arrested by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near Ramallah were accidentally shot and wounded by Palestinian attackers, according to an IDF spokesman. An Israeli soldier was also injured in the attack. The wounded Palestinians were treated at the scene and transported to a hospital in Ramallah, the spokesman said, adding that the attackers had been targeting soldiers “conducting searches for wanted Palestinians near Surda.” (AFP, The Jerusalem Post, www.idf.il)

Israeli operations would cease if the Palestinians ended all their attacks and bombings, an unnamed senior Israeli official told reporters in Rome. Speaking during a visit to Italy by Prime Minister Sharon, the official said: “We would only engage in operations to foil an attack which was about to be committed. We don’t consider that a ceasefire is a solution, but if a real calm reigned, then Israel would not break it.” (AFP)

“In a positive gesture to advance truce talks,” the PA Authority unfroze the bank accounts of charity organizations linked to Hamas which had been blocked since 28 August 2003. The decision was made during a meeting between Palestinian Authority President Arafat, Finance Minister Salam Fayyad and Interior Minister Hakam Balawi. (AFP, IMEMC)

19

Overnight, as related to AFP by a Palestinian security source. the PA had arrested a Palestinian in the Bethlehem area suspected of carrying out the attack at the “Tunnels” checkpoint. Jaber Al-Ahraf [also reported as Jabbar al-Ahmad, 21], a Rafah native, was a member of the Palestinian national security police force and lived in the Al-Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)

A Palestinian tractor driver was shot and seriously wounded by IDF fire near the “Netzarim” settlement’s security fence in the Gaza Strip. The wounded man was treated by IDF medics and evacuated to a hospital. The IDF had set up an inquiry into the incident. Earlier in the morning, three mortar shells had been fired at the Israeli settlement, causing no casualties but damaging a mobile home. Another shell had landed on the roof of a house, without exploding however. (IBA, The Jerusalem Post)

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast briefed the Security Council at a meeting on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.” In a separate meeting in the afternoon, with the Secretary-General in attendance, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1515 (2003), endorsing the Road Map. (BBC, DPA, Reuters, UN press release SC/7923)

The Bureau of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued a statement welcoming the adoption by the Security Council of resolution 1515 (2003). (UN press release GA/PAL/934)

“We welcome this resolution and hope there will be mechanisms to implement it through reactivating the role of the Quartet,” PA chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said. (Palestine Media Centre)

“Israel should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people and not prejudice final negotiations with the placement of walls and fences,” President George W. Bush said in the keynote speech of his three-day state visit to Britain. (Reuters)

Foreign Minister Shalom told Israel Army Radio after President Bush’s speech in London that “the American position is known.” “We have reached a clear and unequivocal decision to build this fence, to prevent the extremists from attacking us,” Mr. Shalom said from Vienna. “We are doing everything we can to put up this fence which will prevent infiltrations.” Prime Minister Sharon, when asked about the speech, told reporters in Rome: “I don’t advise anyone to see it as a sign of new tension. It’s true that there are some subjects upon which we disagree, but this does not create any tension.” (Reuters)

Egyptian intelligence officials and Prime Minister Qureia met in the Gaza Strip with the leaders of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Mr. Qureia said the talks were aimed at achieving Palestinian unity: “We are on our way to a Palestinian understanding on what is demanded from us, and then we will have a discussion with the Israelis.” Hamas spokesman Ismail Haniyye said a ceasefire would depend on Israel: “We are ready to release the civilians from both sides from the circle of conflict if the Zionist enemy commits to stopping the aggression.” Islamic Jihad officials also said the group was willing to halt the violence if Israel reciprocated. But the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades remained divided. One of the group’s branch leaders ruled out a truce. However, a senior leader in Nablus, Abu Mujahed, said most commanders were willing to accept a ceasefire: “Generally we have found that almost all of them want a truce.” During the coming week, militant group leaders were to meet with Egyptian mediators in Cairo. (AP)

Ha’aretz reported that MK Yossi Sarid (Meretz) was considering publishing classified material regarding the use by IDF of special, very powerful munitions with an unusually large radius of fragmentation during helicopter attacks it had carried out on the Nuseirat refugee camp on 21 October, in which 10 Palestinians had been killed and dozens wounded. (Ha’aretz)

US Senator Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.) introduced a resolution (SJ 24 IS), stating that “before the United States recognizes a Palestinian State, the US Embassy must be moved to Jerusalem, and Jerusalem must be declared the undivided capital of Israel.” (AFP)

Israel's High Court of Justice ordered the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to start airing public announcements on the Geneva Accord Initiative, overturning its decision to ban such advertisements. IBA had stopped broadcasting the advertisements on 12 November, just hours after they began airing, saying they violated regulations for political campaigns, prompting supporters of the plan to petition the High Court. (The Jerusalem Post)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon responded to allegations by journalists and lawmakers that the IDF had used a weapon guaranteeing high casualties in the 20 October airstrikes in the Nuseirat refugee camp, in which, according to Palestinian count, 14 had been killed and some 70 wounded, and then had released false information about the type of weapon used. Gen. Ya’alon said in a statement: “Perhaps, due to the operational and security sensitivity of the matter at hand, we erred in the way we chose to define the operational means we used.” Details of the attack remained under censorship, including the type of weapon used, although in a briefing a day after the attack, the military said the strike had been carried out by Apache helicopters firing Hellfire missiles. The allegations arose after MK Yossi Sarid (Meretz) had threatened during a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee to reveal confidential information following Defence Minister Mofaz's refusal to describe the type of weapon used . (AP, IBA, www.idf.il, see DF of 19 November 2003)

20

Palestinians reported that an Israeli undercover unit had kidnapped a leading Fatah figure in Nablus, saying the Israeli forces had jumped out of a car on one of the major streets of Nablus, grabbed the man, forced him into their car, and quickly driven off. Eight Palestinians had reportedly been arrested throughout the West Bank overnight. (IBA, The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF staged an incursion into Tubas, south-east of Jenin, Palestinian security sources said. After arriving in a convoy of 20 jeeps, the soldiers surrounded part of the town suspected of providing shelter to militants from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Speaking through loudspeakers, the soldiers ordered the militants to give themselves up and threatened to blow up the houses where they were hiding. Exchanges of fire between the army and Palestinians gunmen were heard in the area, the sources added. “Our soldiers have simply searched the sector. There is no incident to report at Tubas,” an IDF spokesman told AFP. (AFP)

IDF troops shot and killed an armed Palestinian who was spotted crawling in the direction of the “Netzarim” settlement in the Gaza Strip. (The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF said a reservist tank commander in an area of the “Netzarim” settlement in the Gaza Strip had refused repeated orders from a battalion commander to fire a tank shell at a Palestinian planting a mine along an IDF patrol route. The tank commander was reported as saying he could not see the target clearly and would be endangering a nearby house if he fired the tank’s main weapon. The Palestinian escaped, and the mine was later defused. The IDF was investigating the incident. (The Jerusalem Post)

Eldad Fresher, Senior Deputy Accountant-General of Israel, observed to Reutersin connection with the issue of the possible deductions from the US loan guarantees to Israel: “According to [US] legislation, the Americans should deduct investments [made by Israel] beyond the Green Line. So, obviously they will deduct something but we don’t know what it will be.” (Reuters)

The IDF released a statement announcing that the army's Civil Administration had been issuing permits to 4,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and 1,000 from the Gaza Strip (men aged 45 and over, women aged 35 and over) who wished to attend the last prayer nights of the month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Thursday would mark the Laylat al-Qadr feast, or Night of Destiny, during which the Koran was revealed to the prophet Mohammad. The last Friday of Ramadan was celebrated by many Muslims as “Jerusalem Day.” (AFP, www.idf.il)

After the adoption of the Security Council resolution 1515 (2003), Prime Minster Sharon’s Office released a statement, saying: “The Government of Israel accepted the Road Map along with 14 clarifications that it decided upon and this is the one and only diplomatic plan that Israel is prepared to carry out. The peace plan known as the Road Map, as accepted by Israel, can be carried out only through negotiations and agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. Judging in relation to the plan's implementation will be in the hands of the United States. Israel will not accept any other intervention in implementing the plan.” Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN Arye Mekel said Israel was ready to implement the Road Map “provided we have a Palestinian partner committed to eradicating terror and pursuing a peaceful negotiated settlement as its top priority.” First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Ehud Olmert told Israeli Public Radio: “It is possible that we will hold talks with the new Palestinian Government on the basis of the Road Map, but ... Israel does not feel that it is bound by the resolution.” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, senior adviser to Palestinian Authority President Arafat, said: “We appeal to the Quartet to take practical measures by declaring sanctions against Israel for its refusal to implement the Road Map. The fact that Israel insists on conditions and the fact that it is not applying the Road Map prove that it is looking to sabotage all efforts at finding peace in the region.” Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN Nasser Al-Kidwa said the Palestinian leadership was ready to take the first step in the Road Map by issuing “a declaration reaffirming its recognition of the State of Israel and declaring a cessation of violence against Israelis everywhere. The Israeli side simultaneously is expected to issue a declaration accepting the independent sovereign State of Palestine and declaring the cessation of all acts of violence against Palestinians everywhere.” However, Amb. Al-Kidwa said the Road Map had “no future” as long as Israel continued building the separation barrier and expanding settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (AFP, AP, DPA, IMRA, www.pmo.gov.il)

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a press release on the adoption of Security Council resolution 1515 (2003), calling it “a logical development of the consistent efforts by the international community, with the United Nations playing an active role, to launch the process of implementation of the Road Map to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - currently a document [brooking no alternatives] by which the parties have assumed concrete obligations.” Russian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Saltanov, responding to a question from a reporter about a letter from Foreign Minister Ivanov to Yasser Abed Rabbo on the Geneva Accord Initiative, said: “We do not think that these ideas and suggestions are contrary to the Road Map, which is currently the sole real programme for moving forward towards a settlement based on the concept of coexistence of two States, Israel and Palestine, in peace and security. But at the same time, the Road Map does not detail possible solutions to cardinal final-status problems, such as Jerusalem, refugees and borders. In this connection, in our view, when the implementation of the third stage of the Road Map begins, which presupposes the start of official talks between the parties on the final status questions, the “Geneva Accord,” as well as the Ayalon-Nuseibeh statement, may turn out to be called for … By and large, our assessments of the “Geneva Accord” and of the Statement of Principles of Ayalon and Nuseibeh are shared by the partners in the Quartet.” (www.mid.ru)

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher was quoted by Petra as saying: “It is an extremely important resolution, because it gives a clear indication that the world community entirely backs the Road Map and calls on all parties to honour their commitments. The resolution keeps alive the hope of the two-State choice by the year 2005 and foils any attempt to belittle the Road Map plan or express reservations over it.” (DPA)

Prime Minister Qureia said in an interview with NRK public TV in Oslo it was possible that he and Prime Minister Sharon might draw up a peace deal within six months. “I am ready to talk with [Mr.] Sharon to conclude an agreement if it is possible,” Mr. Qureia said. “I am not sure if that is possible at this time. Maybe. This is what we want. If we want to, we are ready. We can do it in a very short time. We can do it once and forever. I think in six months we can close the deal and put an end to the conflict.” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Roed-Larsen, in response to Mr. Qureia’s remarks, said: “I think it will take twice as long to find some sort of solution. And when I talk of a solution, I’m not talking of a final solution but a territorial compromise. On the Israeli side, it will mean leaving the settlements in exchange for a durable ceasefire.” (AFP)

21

Zalman Shoval, senior adviser to Prime Minister Sharon, confirmed that Mr. Sharon was preparing a unilateral initiative with regard to the Palestinians, which he planned to present to the public “soon.” Mr. Shoval said the plan could include humanitarian, but also territorial and economic measures which would create a “de facto situation of separation” between Israel and the Palestinians. Ha’aretz said the initiative was a response to growing criticism of Israeli inactivity in the Palestinian sphere, and described it as a package of “positive unilateral steps,” which would be “parallel, but not contradictory” to the Road Map. Mr. Sharon had hinted at his plan in a speech at a Tel Aviv conference the previous day, when he said Israel was committed to the Road Map, adding: “We do not rule out unilateral steps.” (DPA, Reuters)

Islamic groups in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank denounced the Geneva Accord initiative. “Foreign occupation is destined to be erased, as is the monstrous Geneva Agreement,” Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed Al-Hindi said during a mass rally in Gaza called to denounce the document. “They must be punished and prosecuted. Who gave them the right to speak on behalf of our people inside closed restaurants and air-conditioned hotel rooms?” Hamas political leader Nizar Rayan told a crowd of thousands: “We will continue to condemn it and collect people’s signatures and take to the streets until we bring it down just like Oslo.” Speakers criticized the document’s call for Palestinian-Israel security coordination to curb militant groups, a key requirement of the Road Map. “The Geneva Agreement is a betrayal,” chanted the crowd. (Reuters)

Egyptian mediators had met with representatives of 13 Palestinian factions in Gaza on 19 and 20 November 2003. Prime Minister Qureia repeated that an agreement had been reached to hold truce talks for a week in Cairo, beginning 2 December 2003. Palestinian Authority President Arafat was hopeful, saying “A good outcome will result from these meetings.” Saeb Erakat said the key was reciprocity, noting that the Road Map required both the Israeli and Palestinian sides to declare they were halting violence. (AP, IBA)

Carl Arrindell, acting as a spokesman for the family of gravely wounded peace activist Tom Hurndall, 22-year-old member of the International Solidarity Movement, told The Associated Pressin London that the family had received a check earlier in the week from Israel’s Defence Ministry for about UK£8,300 (US$14,000). The money was intended to help defray the cost of airlifting Mr. Hurndall home after he was shot by Israeli soldiers on 11 April 2003 in the Rafah refugee camp. The check had been returned by the bank due to insufficient funds, Mr. Arrindell said. “It’s quite stunning,” he said. “Initially we were just in disbelief.” The Defence Ministry initially said there had been a “technical problem” with the check, but later on 21 November said fresh inquiries showed it had cleared. Ha’aretzsaid the check had been accompanied by a letter saying it was being sent “without any admission of liability by the State of Israel and/or the Ministry of Defence” for the shooting of Mr. Hurndall. Witnesses said Mr. Hurndall was shot as he tried to help Palestinian children out of the path of an Israeli tank. He had been in a coma since the shooting and his condition was described as irreversible. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, speaking as the current head of the Non-Aligned Movement was quoted by the Malaysian National News Agency Bernama as saying that the Movement welcomed Security Council resolution 1515 (2003): “This long-awaited action by the Council is a significant development and would provide the necessary impetus for the parties concerned to implement their obligations under the Road Map and to move the process forward.” Mr. Syed Hamid said the Non-Aligned Movement was looking forward to the full compliance with the resolution by both Palestine and Israel to expedite a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict. (AP, Bernama)

Israel’s Channel 2 TV said Prime Minister Sharon planned to dismantle some Israeli settlements by the summer of 2004 to help make way for a Palestinian State. The report came shortly after Israeli political sources said Mr. Sharon was planning a package of conciliatory moves towards Palestinians which could include “territorial” ones. Officials refused to comment, but a source in the Prime Minister’s office indicated: “There is such talk, but for now it only concerns settlements in the Gaza Strip. A lot could happen by next summer.” “We’ll believe it when we see it,” PA Labour Minister Ghassan Al-Khatib said. “Such Israeli declarations are public relations moves because genuine moves are through the implementation of the Road Map,” PA Cabinet Minister Saeb Erakat told Voice of Palestine. (DPA, Reuters)

22

Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian who appeared to be planting a bomb near the border of the northern Gaza Strip and Israel, military officials said. Soldiers reportedly later found a 20-kg bomb nearby. Local Palestinian sources identified the dead man as Hamas member Ahmad Assaf, 20. (AFP, Palestine Media Centre, Reuters)

Ibrahim Jalamna, 11, was killed by IDF troops who responded with live ammunition to stone-throwing, Palestinian medical sources and witnesses said. Israeli military sources quoted by Reuterssaid soldiers had fired at an armed man inside a stone-throwing crowd who had fired shots at them, adding: “The connection between this event and the report of the boy’s death is being checked and investigated.” About 300 people at the mosque to which the body was carried called for revenge to be carried out by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. (AFP, Reuters)

Two Israeli watchmen in the suburbs of East Jerusalem near Abu Dis were shot dead by Palestinian gunmen. The two men were among five employees from Tamnun Security, a private firm allegedly guarding a section of the separation barrier around East Jerusalem. The company later said its guards had been hired to prevent the theft of equipment at the construction site and not to prevent incursions, which was the job of the IDF and the border police. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying its “Jenin Brigade” had carried out the attack to mark Jerusalem Day the previous day. “If [the PA] really wants to relaunch the peace process, it must stop such acts of terror,” said Israeli Government spokesman Avi Pazner, accusing the Palestinian Cabinet of “a lot of vain rhetoric and not enough action.” (AFP, IBA, IMEMC)

Hundreds of Palestinians joined by Israeli and International Solidarity Movement activists demonstrated near Barta’a, west of Jenin. The town of 4,000, which straddled the Green Line, had been cut off from the West Bank cities, which were vital to its economy, by the separation barrier. Some 300 Palestinian protesters supported by foreign activists gathered on the West Bank side of a gate in the barrier, chanting slogans against the construction of the structure. Around 1,000 Palestinians and Israeli peace activists were on the western side of the gate, but a heavy IDF deployment prevented them from crossing the barrier through the gate. (AFP)

23

Three Palestinians were transferred late in the day by Israel from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, bringing to six the total number of such punishments meted out so far in November. The transferees were part of a group of 18 Palestinians ordered to be expelled by the IDF in mid-October, and were identified as Ala Fuad Hassomah and Ibrahim Bakher, both members of Hamas, and Ahmad Mushkah, an Islamic Jihad member. The three all had their appeals against deportation rejected by Israel’s High Court of Justice on 20 November, a military source told AFP. “Even if Israel transfers all Palestinians anywhere in the world, it will not help it,” Mr. Mushkah told reporters on arrival at the Erez crossing. (AFP, Reuters)

IDF soldiers arrested 12 “wanted” Palestinians in northern West Bank and the Jordan Valley. A PFLP member was detained in Beit Rima, north-west of Ramallah, and a Hamas member was picked up in Ramallah, according to sources. Witnesses identified the PFLP activist as Hazem Taher al Khatib and said that shots had been fired during the arrest operation, without causing any injuries. (AFP, IBA)

Prime Minister Sharon appointed a team of senior ministers to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians. The team included Defence Minister Mofaz, Foreign Minister Shalom, Industry and Trade Minister Ehud Olmert and Justice Minister Yosef Lapid. Mr. Sharon met with the four prior to the Cabinet meeting and decided that talks with the Palestinians would be based on the Road Map, although Israel would also study which steps to take to advance the process. (DPA)

Defence Minister Mofaz had ordered the Israeli Air Force to take aerial photographs of the West Bank to update information on settlement outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Israel Radioreported. Mr. Mofaz wanted to know which outposts had been evacuated, which had been re-established since their dismantlement and which had been established without government approval. According to the report, Mr. Mofaz had also ordered the IDF immediately to evacuate any new outposts. (DPA)

Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Sharon was considering dismantling isolated Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as part of a series of unilateral good will gestures towards the Palestinians. The settlements facing dismantling were on the Palestinian side of the separation barrier being built by Israel across the West Bank or in areas considered difficult to defend. Mr. Sharon was quoted by Ma’arivand Yediot Aharonot as saying: “These are steps that can be taken without undermining security and their purpose is to make things easier for us and not for others … I just wanted the Israeli public to know that its Prime Minister has not stopped thinking about how to get out of the impasse with the Palestinians.” Palestinians voiced deep suspicion of what the Israeli media dubbed “the Sharon Plan.” PA Minister of Negotiations Affairs Saeb Erakat told reporters that Mr. Sharon appeared to be releasing such statements for public consumption in reaction to widespread international and Israeli criticism for allowing the settlements to persist, but Palestinians were only interested in deeds, not words. Mr. Erakat called on Israel fully and accurately to implement the Road Map. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior aide to Palestinian Authority President Arafat, said: “Sharon’s statements are an attempt to mislead the world, especially after the Security Council adopted the implementation of the Road Map, and are also an attempt to waste time.” Prime Minister Sharon’s office released a statement after the Cabinet meeting, saying that Mr. Sharon did not rule out unilateral steps and emphasized that his position was “not yet fully formed.” (AFP, AP, DPA, Reuters, www.pmo.gov.il)

In an official leaflet distributed by Hamas, the movement said that the Geneva Accord initiative was “suspect” and failed to present an optimistic future for the Palestinian people. It urged the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, as well as the Palestinian people, to announce openly and frankly that they were rejecting the Initiative and all its components. (DPA)

“The Geneva Accord is a culmination of all previous accords that have been passed” and could give a new lease of life to the Road Map, former US President Jimmy Carter was quoted as saying in an interview posted on the Swissinfoweb site. Mr. Carter confirmed that he would be present in Geneva on 1 December for the official launch of the Initiative. Mr. Carter also strongly criticized President Bush’s Middle East policy, saying: “President Bush is the first US President since the foundation of Israel who has taken a position strongly biased to the Israeli side. There have been a few weak statements from the Bush Administration on settlements and the fence but no real effort to do more.” (AFP, www.swissinfo.org)

Al-Quds reported that the Palestinian Dialogue Conference to be held in Cairo early December would conclude with a document of honour drawing up Palestinian principles and declaring a ceasefire with Israel. The report said the most important part of the conference would be studying the possibility of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad becoming members of the PLO Executive Committee and all its institutions. (DPA)

24

Prime Minister Sharon met with Likud MKs to discuss his intention to carry out unilateral measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Chairman of the Likud faction, Gideon Sa’ar, said he had decided to close the meeting to the press to enable the faction to hold a serious discussion on the Prime Minister’s plans. However, Mr. Sa’ar added that when the Prime Minister actually took a concrete plan to the faction, the meeting would be an open one. In the meeting, Mr. Sharon reportedly refused to detail the meaning of “unilateral steps for our own good” and denied reports that he intended to alter the planned route of the West Bank separation barrier. But he did not rule out a renewed discussion of the route so that it would be possible to complete the construction on a tighter schedule and at a lower cost. (Ha’aretz, IBA)

Commenting on the so-called “Sharon Plan,” Prime Minister Qureia told AFP: “We hope that there will be serious and tangible steps, steps that will have a positive impact on the peace process and the whole situation and that it will not be mere public relations.” He also told Reuters: “We would welcome an Israeli move to uproot settlers from settlements built on our lands if it was part of a package that leads to the full implementation of the Road Map and the dismantling of the fence … We are prepared to implement all our commitments as stated in the Road Map and exert the maximum effort to stop the violence, impose law and order and achieve a ceasefire, but this has to come together with the Israeli measures.” “[The separation barrier] is a unilateral act to determine the borders of the Palestinian State. We completely and utterly reject it, and it has to be dismantled,” Mr. Qureia also said. He told Al-Jazeera that for a truce to be reached, Israel had to stop building the barrier and must demolish every millimetre which had already been constructed beyond the Green Line. Israel also had to stop all settlement construction and expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, dismantle settlement outposts and lift the siege imposed on Jerusalem by building a fence around it. Israel moreover, had to withdraw its forces to the positions occupied before the outbreak of the intifada in September 2000, lift its blockade of Palestinian Authority President Arafat and Palestinian cities and release Palestinian prisoners. Mr. Qureia said no date had been set for a meeting with Mr. Sharon, which he noted needed to be properly prepared for and held not solely for the purpose of providing a photo opportunity. Mr. Sharon said in response: “I won’t make any gestures just to hold a meeting. If he doesn’t want one, then there won’t be a meeting.” (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Israel agreed to place a special geographic symbol on Israeli products exported to EU countries, to identify their production locations. The mark was designed to meet EU demands to distinguish Israeli goods produced in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that, according to the EU, were not eligible for tax breaks. Industry and Trade Minister Ehud Olmert announced the step during a meeting with EU leaders in Brussels. Mr. Olmert noted, however, that the move did not express an Israeli willingness to make a distinction between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and said the move would not affect Israel’s diplomatic position on the issue. (Ha’aretz)

Palestinian sources reported that United States officials had handed the Palestinian Authority a list of demands, including the collection of illegal arms, banning public shows of power, and closing down tunnels used for smuggling weapons. The Palestinian Security Council the day before had ordered security forces to “take firm measures to ensure law and order” and formed a committee to draft a plan to ensure that the PA met security commitments stated in the Road Map. (Ha’aretz, IMEMC)

Extra-regional pollsters, reading a summary of the Geneva Accord to Israeli and Palestinian interviewees, found that 53.3 per cent of the Israelis and 55.6 per cent of the Palestinians supported it, whereas 43.9 per cent of Israelis and 38.5 per cent of Palestinians said they would oppose such a deal. The summary did not specifically include the statement that the Al-Haram Al-Sharif would be under Palestinian sovereignty, saying instead: “Each side would govern its holy sites.” The poll covered 610 Israeli citizens by telephone and 631 Palestinians interviewed in person, and had a margin of error of 4 per cent. “This poll is a timely reminder of the fact that majorities on both sides are prepared to embrace an agreement that meets their respective core aspirations and interests,” said Edward Djerejian, a former US Ambassador to Israel and Syria and Founding Director of the Texas-based Baker Institute for Public Policy, which conducted the poll together with the International Crisis Group. (Ha’aretz, IMEMC)

Israeli settlers announced their own "peace plan" in the making. Ben Tzvi Lieberman, a senior member of the settlers’ Yesha Council, said that an alternative plan was needed as the Road Map and the Geneva Accord Initiative were “very bad solutions.” Their plan called for a bi-national State led by a Jewish Prime Minister and a Palestinian deputy, the dismantling of the PA, and an offer of Israeli citizenship to all Palestinians. The plan would involve “the eradication of terrorism, the abandonment of the principle of land for peace, autonomous administration for the Arabs and a final regional accord which would exclude the creation of a Palestinian State or the dismantling of settlements,” Mr. Lieberman told Israel Public Radio. The plan had been drawn up by 14 MKs, including some from Likud, and settler leaders. It sought to “preserve the Jewish character” of Israel by ensuring a Jewish majority in parliament. The plan envisaged an expanded State of Israel, encompassing both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, divided into 10 cantons – three Palestinian and seven Israeli (two and eight, according to AFP)– with each one receiving equal representation regardless of the size of its population. Secretary-General of the Yesha Council Adi Minz confirmed that the plan was being formed, but would not describe its content, saying: “Within a couple of weeks we will publish the details.” Both Mr. Minz and Mr. Lieberman also announced the launch of a campaign against any plans to dismantle isolated settlements, such as “Netzarim.” (AFP, DPA, The Jerusalem Post)

Peace Now called the settlers’ plan “disconnected from reality,” saying: “The only peace which can be achieved through this plan would be between the settlers themselves and between the Settlers’ Council and the extremist right-wing factions.” A spokesperson for the initiators of the Geneva Accord Initiative said: “At the same time that most of the Zionist camp is gathering around a plan that will guarantee the future of Israel as a democratic Jewish State, the settlers are proposing that the Palestinians be given the right to vote and be elected to the Knesset. This will change Israel into a bi-national State and change the Zionist enterprise. We call on all the people on the right who still believe in the Zionist enterprise to sharply criticize the Yesha Council and put it where it belongs, on the fringes.” “To give the Palestinians the vote, is crazy, it is political suicide,” said Rabbi Daniel Shiloh, a leading member of the Yesha Council of Rabbis. Eventually, he reasoned, the Palestinian electorate would demand “one man one vote." And that will be the end of us. If this is the basis of the plan, then we do not support it,” he declared. Israeli ultranationalists circulated a petition on 26 November, saying that “all of the Land [of Israel] must be under the sovereignty of the State of Israel” and rejecting “all agreement to partition of the Land [via] autonomy, self-government, cantons or territorial strips for Arabs.” The petition was signed by leading rabbis among the settlers, prominent settler leaders, including Haggai Ben-Artzi, brother-in-law of Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as the Land of Israel Loyalists faction within Likud. (AFP, DPA, The Jerusalem Post)

25

Israel formally protested to Russia over a Russian draft that became UN Security Council resolution 1515 (2003), seen by the Israeli Government as an attempt to usurp Washington’s leading role in the Middle East peace efforts. Russian Ambassador Gennady Tarasov was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, where its Director-General, Yoav Biran, “expressed Israel’s dissatisfaction and objections” over the initiative, a Ministry statement said, quoting Mr. Biran as saying: “Only direct dialogue will lead to an agreement, and not activity at the UN or other international forums.” (Reuters)

Israel's Labour Party announced the main principles of its "peace plan." The plan, approved by Labour’s political committee, wnvisaged the creation of a Palestinian State and Israel’s return to its 1967 borders, with some adjustments made for security reasons or to include Israeli settlements. Jerusalem would be the capital of both the Israeli and the Palestinian States, but Israel would keep sovereignty over the eastern parts of the city annexed in 1967. The plan ruled out a right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants and said that if peace talks failed, there should be a “unilateral separation” from the Palestinians and Israel should continue building its West Bank separation barrier, albeit ensuring that its route encroached less than it currently did on Palestinian land. (AFP)

Israel's Minister of Industry and Trade Ehud Olmert told Israeli Public Radiothat a compromise solution had been reached with the EU in a long-running dispute over the labelling of exports produced by Israeli settlers: “We have decided to label on the products the town in which they were produced … The mention of the town should not be interpreted in any way as a political concession over the borders of Israel, which will not be determined by an arrangement over a type of customs with the European Union.” However a spokeswoman for European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy in Brussels denied there had been any agreement, saying: “Mr. Olmert made proposals to resolve the issue of rules of origin. Mr. Lamy told him he would discuss the issue with his colleagues before making a decision.” Foreign Minister Shalom did not confirm the agreement either. “It is not only a technical issue, it looks more like a political issue ... because 99.9 per cent of our exports to the EU come from within the State of Israel and not from the territories,” he told reporters. By demanding more accurate labelling “the EU is making a decision about the final status of the agreement between us and the Palestinians,” Mr. Shalom said. “We believe the EU should leave this in the hands of the Israelis and the Palestinians.” EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten expressed frustration the previous week at perceived Israeli foot-dragging on the “rules of origin” dispute, telling reporters: “I think patience has been given new meaning by the way that we’ve tried to deal with this issue. It’s tiresome all round, it’s particularly tiresome for Israeli exporters. It doesn’t affect a huge amount of our trade, but it’s an aggravation for everybody, it’s an irritant.” Seven million dollars worth of goods, out of EU-Israeli trade amounting to US$22 billion in 2002, was believed to come from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. (AFP; see also DF of 24 November 2003)

The US decided to deduct US$289.5 million during 2003 from loan guarantees currently available to Israel over disagreements over Israeli activity in the Palestinian territories, the Israeli Embassy in Washington announced in a brief statement, adding that the amount had been “suggested” by Israel and would be deducted from US$1.4 billion in guarantees still due during the current fiscal year. The cuts were believed to equal the amount Israel was spending on parts of the separation barrier that cut into the West Bank, as well as other Israeli construction there. The State Department had notified Congress in October that the guarantees would be reduced for “activities inconsistent” with understandings reached with the US. An Israeli diplomat told AFP the decision had been taken earlier in the day following a meeting in Washington between US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Dov Weissglas, the head of the Prime Minister’s office. US National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack called the decision “a reflection of close and continuing consultations between our two Governments.” Palestinian officials welcomed the decision, but said it was insufficient to force Israel to stop building the barrier or to end continued settlement construction. “We want steps from the Americans that will definitely stop the settlements and the wall, to give peace a chance,” PA Cabinet Minister Saeb Erakat said. “I’m afraid that this step, as a message, will not deter Israel.” (AFP, AP)

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A nine-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead by IDF troops early in the evening near the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian sources, the boy was killed when Israeli troops directed gunfire at targets adjacent to the camp on the Egyptian border. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinians near the “Gush Katif” settlement block in the Gaza Strip. Palestinians said the three were cousins, unarmed, who had been driving on the road leading south from Deir al-Balah to the village of Al-Qarara, after learning the IDF had opened the road for 24 hours for the ‘Id al-Fitr holiday, when soldiers at two lookout posts opened fire on their car. The incident occurred 300m from the house where they just had had their holiday meal. Israeli military officials said soldiers in the area had spotted four men entering a 150 m no-entry security zone to the sides of the main road leading to “Gush Katif,” at least two of whom had been armed with semi-automatic assault rifles, while the other two had been “carrying equipment.” The soldiers opened a manhunt of nearly one hour in search of the four, two of whom escaped, while the two others jumped in a getaway car in which a driver had been waiting. The soldiers opened fire on the car, instantly killing two of the Palestinians, both aged 32, and seriously wounding the third, a 40-year-old man, who died shortly afterwards at a Palestinian hospital. The next day the IDF admitted in a statement that the three were unarmed, saying that its forces had identified a cell of armed terrorists heading towards a special security area of the ‘Kissufim’ route that is off limits to Palestinian movement and then “pursued the terrorists and identified a suspicious vehicle fleeing from the scene,” opening fire on it. However, “during an initial investigation, it appears that three unarmed Palestinians were killed, two of whom belonged to the Islamic Jihad organization.” (DPA, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post,www.idf.il)

The IDF announced that its forces had demolished the house of Walid Abido, an Islamic Jihad member who had shot and killed an IDF soldier in Hebron's casbah on 9 June 2003. (www.idf.il)

Italy, holding the current Presidency of the EU, was scheduled to host an international donors’ conference for the Palestinians in Rome, most likely on 15 and 16 December, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told lawmakers. “I trust the Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath will attend,” Mr. Frattini said. Israel would probably send a delegation, but it was not clear yet at what level, a diplomatic official said in Rome. Italy had requested a ministerial-level delegation. The conference had been initially scheduled for November, but was postponed because of the delays in forming a new Palestinian Government. Prime Minister Berlusconi had been proposing a “Marshall Plan” for the Palestinians for over a year, a proposal by the G-8 and EU envisaging a five-year US$5 billion plan to reconstruct the Palestinian economy. A Foreign Ministry official said the conference was not specifically linked to the "Marshall Plan" idea, but, he added, “the two things go in the same direction.” (AP)

Israel withdrew the draft resolution on “The situation of and assistance to Israeli children” it had presented to Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. “It is with regret that we withdraw the draft resolution and we will not ask the Committee for a vote,” Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN Dan Gillerman told the Committee, saying some countries had proposed “hostile amendments, which distorted and perverted the focus and intent of the draft resolution.” The amendments submitted by Arab and Islamic countries replaced “Israeli children” with “children in the Middle East region.” The amended text would stress “the urgent need for Middle East children to live a normal life free from occupation, deprivation, terrorism, destruction and fear.” In a separate news conference, Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN, called the Israeli draft an attempt to divert attention from the unique situation of Palestinian children, who were deprived of every right included in the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child, beginning with the right of statehood up to the right of physical protection: “The case is broader and has no comparison with Israeli children. That is why it did not have any chance. What we need is a different set of policies. We need to end Israeli occupation.” (AFP, Reuters)

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, responding to questions about the US deductions from Israeli loan guarantees at a regular briefing, said the figure of US$289.5 million was based on Israeli budget figures and had been suggested by Israel: “I’m not in a position to give you the calculation or the breakdown of this. The amounts the Israeli Government spends on settlement activity, or on the fence, and which parts go where, I have to leave it to the Israelis to explain.” Asked if the deductions covered the full cost of Israeli spending on the two categories of construction, he said: “Obviously not, because the fence cost a lot more than $289.5 million.” He said the US would not have made deductions, for example, for parts of the barrier which run along the Green Line because it would consider those parts a legitimate security measure. (Reuters, www.state.gov)

Israel’s Channel 2TV reported that a third of the money deducted from the loan guarantees, or about US$96.5 million, was attributed to the barrier construction, with the remainder a penalty for settlement construction. The deduction was “a fairly painless rap on the knuckles,” said Israeli political commentator Yossi Alpher. (AP)

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrimah Sabri, said he had issued a religious decree, or fatwa,which would bar Muslims from working in any capacity on the construction of Israel’s West Bank separation barrier, telling AF: “The wall is built on stolen land and whatever is built on stolen land is illegal and the participation of anyone in building this wall – whether they are contractors or owners of heavy machinery – should be forbidden. Any Palestinian participating in this is, from a religious view, committing a sin and his money is immoral.” (AFP)

US officials invited the Israeli and Palestinian organizers of the People’s Voice Initiative to meet with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, according to the plan’s coordinators. Sari Nusseibeh and Ami Ayalon would meet with Mr. Powell on 12 December in Washington, said Dimitri Diliani, Mr. Nusseibeh’s spokesman. US officials did not immediately comment. The backers of the Geneva Accord Initiative also expected to meet with Mr. Powell in the coming month, although no date had been set, said Yossi Beilin, chief Israeli proponent of the plan. An unnamed senior US official said Mr. Beilin and former Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo would meet with US officials while in Washington, noting that a meeting with Mr. Powell on 5 December had not yet been finalized. (AP)

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IDF troops arrested overnight six Palestinians: two in the village of Dura near Hebron, two in the Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah, one in Huwwara, near Nablus, and one near Qalqilya. (IMEMC)

Prime Minister Sharon said Israel would be forced to make territorial concessions as part of future peace efforts. He also warned Palestinians that they did not have “unlimited time” to reach a negotiated settlement, adding that if he felt the Palestinians were not serious about negotiating a peace deal, he might take unilateral steps: “Maybe they can get things now that they won’t be able to get then.” “This is an unprecedented, arrogant statement. It is rude and it lacks any vision,” PA Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath said. “He should declare that he is committed to the Road Map and implement all the Israeli commitments that are in this Map.” Mr. Sharon also vowed to speed up work on the separation barrier and confirmed that Israel would not remove all West Bank settlement outposts as some outposts were vitally important to Israel’s security: “Whatever is illegal will be removed ... what is necessary will remain.” When asked if he would meet with Prime Minister Qureia under the terms he had set so far (see DF of 24 November 2003), Mr. Sharon said: “The answer is ‘no’.” (AP, Reuters)

Deputy Defence Minister Zeev Boim told Israel Army Radio: “ Illegal outposts were built in the past three years, this is not a secret. I am saying that some of them are towns, that the process of legalizing them is near the end, and this is the difference.” Other outposts would be dismantled, Mr. Boim said, adding that dozens had been removed in the past three years. The radio reported that the Government was planning to remove 12 outposts, but Mr. Boim refused to confirm the number. On the same day, Defence Minister Mofaz held talks with advisers on the issue. Yediot Aharonot reported that Mr. Mofaz was expected to approve the removal of 36 outposts. The Government said it had already taken down 43 outposts, a figure reportedly challenged by US officials. Israel would also expand existing settlements and allow the “natural growth” construction there, Mr. Boim said, citing as an example a small settlement west of Hebron: “Negohot is a legal settlement in every way and therefore if it needs to build public buildings that are meant to serve the population there, if there is a need to expand the town, then we do these things.” “I think the Americans understand ... they would like to freeze the issue of settlements, and there is such a clause in the Road Map as well, [but] the Prime Minister came and said, ‘Look, people are living there,'" Mr. Boim said, adding that Israel always said it would allow construction in existing settlements. (AP, DPA, Reuters)

Ha’aretzreported that the heads of United Nations and other international agencies operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had recently warned Israel that they might stop their activities there due to closures. In a letter to the Israeli authorities, the agencies’ directors said that Israel’s recent security measures in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were making it impossible to provide humanitarian relief, and that many agencies found this unacceptable. (Ha’aretz, IMEMC)

Senior Israeli and Palestinian officials met with Prime Minister Blair’s personal envoy to the Middle East at the start a two-day conference on the Road Map. Lord Levy met the delegation at the Prime Minister’s Downing Street office, where they had “a general discussion on the situation in the Middle East,” according to a Blair aide said, who gave no further details. The delegation, including Prime Minister Sharon’s son Omri Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Arafat’s security adviser Jibril Rajoub, were scheduled to meet at Ditchley Park near Oxford. The talks were to focus on renewing peace talks and implementation of the Road Map. PLC member Ziad Abu Zayyad, who was participating in the talks, told APin a telephone interview he did not expect a significant breakthrough. He said five Palestinians and seven or eight Israelis were taking part. Britain’s Foreign Office said the meeting had been organized by Labour Friends of Israel and the Yitzhak Rabin Centre for Israel Studies. British officials stressed that the conference was not a government initiative, but said Middle East Minister Baroness Symons would attend a session on 28 November. At a news conference in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Sharon said such meetings were frequent. (AP, Ha’aretz)

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IDF soldiers shot in the head and killed a Palestinian security officer near the perimeter fence around the “Nissanit” or “Dugit” settlement on Gaza’s northern border with Israel. Palestinian witnesses said Sayed Abu Safra, 35, was trying to rescue a mentally retarded man who had wandered into the area. Israeli military sources said soldiers guarding a cluster of three settlements had fired towards a crowd of about 40 Palestinians to prevent them from approaching the fence. (AFP, AP, Reuters)

In the evening, a 20-strong Israeli military convoy staged an incursion into Atara, south-west of Jenin, imposing a curfew and conducting house-to-house searches, Palestinian security sources told AFP,adding that gunshots were heard in the area. (AFP, IMEMC)

Ma’arivquoted unidentified Israeli officials as saying that Prime Minister Sharon would annex areas of the West Bank – such as the settlement blocks of “Gush Etzion” or “Maale Adumim” – while dismantling some Gaza Strip settlements. Mr. Sharon’s adviser Zalman Shoval did not confirm the report, but suggested Israel would hold on to some areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and leave others, if it were to take unilateral steps in the absence of a peace deal. When asked whether he could promise the 60 families who live in the Gaza Strip settlement of “Netzarim” that they would not be removed, Mr. Sharon said: “I won’t give any promise to any person about any place.” The reply was a departure from his past statements that “Netzarim” was as important to Israel’s security as Tel Aviv. (AP)

The Israeli military was considering replacing soldiers guarding settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with private security firms, according to an army publication. The current edition of the official IDF weekly BaMakhanereported that private guard companies would take over from army reservists if the plan was accepted. The magazine said the main reason for the plan was budgetary. (AP)

Prime Minister Qureia told reporters in Ramallah that his office chief, Hassan Abu Libdeh, would meet with Dov Weissglas, the head of Prime Minister Sharon’s office, on 30 November to prepare for the summit. (DPA)

Secretary-General Kofi Annan released a report (A/ES-10/248 ) to the General Assembly, stating Israel was “not in compliance with the Assembly’s demand that it ‘stop and reverse the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’.” The report acknowledged Israel’s “right and duty to protect its people against terrorist attacks” and stated that “that duty should not be carried out in a way that is in contradiction of international law, that could damage the longer term prospects for peace by making the creation of an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian State more difficult, or that increases suffering among the Palestinian people … In the midst of the Road Map process, when each party should be making good-faith confidence-building gestures, the barrier’s construction in the West Bank cannot, in this regard, be seen as anything but a deeply counterproductive act.” (AP, DPA, Reuters, UN News Service)

Israel's National Infrastructures Minister Joseph Paritzky (Shinui) told the German edition of The Financial Times: “We have to ensure progress and that will come by curtailing the settlements, a change in the security zone and abolition of the road barricades. If the [peace process] is to go further, we have to eliminate many, many of the settlements. We must do the right thing and this is the right thing.” (DPA)

The Jerusalem Postreported that a US academic centre had recently assembled a group of Israelis and Palestinians to draft a plan for resurrecting the Road Map. The plan had emerged from a two-day conference held on 7 and 8 November at Jordan’s Dead Sea Marriott and was organized by UCLA’s Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations, which designed projects to maintain dialogue between parties when official negotiations break down. The Pentagon-backed National Defense University’s Near East-South Asia Center for Strategic Studies was overseeing the contract with the Burkle Center. Its Track Two Mideast Program had been funded by the US since the mid-1990s as a line-item in the Defense Department budget, in the annual amount of US$1.5 million. An executive summary of the plan reads: “This document was prepared by a group of Israelis and Palestinians who are committed to focusing on the immediate and present ways of restoring the ceasefire and resurrecting the Road Map. In this purpose, it differs markedly from other recent private Israeli-Palestinian efforts that focused on a permanent settlement.” The primary recommendations include: (a) an indefinite ceasefire between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, to be monitored by a United States-Israel-Palestinian trilateral committee; (b) future construction of the separation barrier should be “basically along the Green Line;” (c) a Middle East association on terrorism, consisting of the United States, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the Iraqi Governing Council, should be established, with headquarters in Cairo; (d) connecting phase I and phase II of the Road Map, a pilot programme (included in an addendum called the “Road Map Reinforcement Package”) should be implemented in the Gaza Strip, which would be based upon the evacuation of Israeli settlements following the achievement of a period of stabilization and full cessation of terrorist attacks; (e) the Palestinian Authority would “take practical steps” to prevent militant groups from carrying out attacks, dismantle illegal militias, close weapons workshops, and curb weapons smuggling; (f) Israel would be encouraged to release more Palestinian prisoners, lift roadblocks, increase the number of Palestinian work permits to 50,000, and dismantle settler outposts; (g) Israel should accelerate the transfer of collected duties to the Palestinian Authority, and the international community should establish an emergency fund of about US$1 billion for the Palestinians. A three-stage economic Road Map was presented to help improve the economic situation in the Palestinian Authority. (The Jerusalem Post)

Anis Al-Qaq, the newly appointed Palestinian Authority representative in Switzerland, made the following remarks to journalists concerning the Geneva Accord initiative: “Because it has not been done between officials, we cannot adopt it officially. If many players – Israel, the Quartet, or the United States – are willing to move ahead and adopt it officially, we would move to adopt it.” Mr. Al-Qaq praised the effort as a “positive sign,” saying: “For the first time there is a detailed plan showing what could be the result of the negotiations.” (AFP)

A two-day conference between Israeli and Palestinian officials in Madrid scheduled for the coming weekend, entitled “An International Solution for Palestine,” was expected to be attended also by the United States, the European Union and Jordanian officials. Israel would be represented by Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar, Labour MKs Dalia Itzik and Danny Yatom, and Hadash MK Ahmed Tibi. The Palestinians would be represented by former Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan and Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath. Other participants were to include former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, former EU envoy to the Middle East Miguel Moratinos, and several Spanish Government officials, Israel Radioreported. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

Palestinian Authority President Arafat’s adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh told AFP that Mr. Arafat had sent written messages to world leaders, including Prime Minister Blair, President Chirac, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as well as the leaders of Spain, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, and South Africa, with an appeal “to act to relaunch the peace process.” (AFP)

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An Israeli Foreign Ministry statement said the criticism expressed in the Secretary-General’s report (A/ES-10/248) to the General Assembly on Israel’s separation barrier was “an award to those trying to use terror in order to promote their political goals.” “The UN once again was cynically used in order to condemn Israel for building a security fence which is a self-defensive measure,” the statement continued, adding that it was not only a right but an obligation for the Israeli Government to defend its citizens by all means available. “Israel strongly rejects the propaganda campaign, which tries to present the true purpose of the fence in an unsuitable way,” the statement said. (AFP, DPA)

Palestinian Authority President Arafat could not be left out of any resolution of the Middle East conflict, former European Union Envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos said in an interview published in Publico(Lisbon). “I habitually say that Arafat is the problem, but that he is also the solution,” he said. “You have to recognize what Arafat represents for Palestinians. He is not only a leader who was democratically elected in 1996, he is also head of the Palestinian nationalist movement.” Mr. Moratinos also said in the interview that many people in Israel were beginning to revise their attitude towards Mr. Arafat. (AFP)

Prime Minister Qureia said he saw no need to meet with Prime Minister Sharon if Israel did not show willingness to compromise on the barrier and a number of other contentious issues: “If they have an honest desire to seriously study these issues, the meeting will take place. If the Israeli Government says it will continue building the wall ... then there is no need for any meeting.” (AP)

United States envoy Assistant Secretary of State William Burns met with Prime Minister Qureia in Amman. According to a statement issued by the United States Embassy in Amman, Mr. Burns repeated the United States' commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian State provided the Palestinians ended “the terror and violence” against Israel. The next day, Mr. Qureia told reporters after a meeting with Jordanian Prime Minister Faisal Al-Fayez: “There will be discussions with President Bush to get the United States involved in the peace process in a way which is much bigger and more extensive than now.” Mr. Qureia added he had explained to Mr. Burns the Palestinians’ demands for resuming peace talks: “We are ready to comply with our commitments and our obligations under the Road Map ... We want the US to press the Israeli Government to stop the violations which harm the process, like the barrier and the racial separation, the settlements and the siege imposed on the Palestinian people.” Later the same day, both Mr. Qureia and Mr. Burns held separate meetings with King Abdullah II. (AFP, AP)

IMEMC reported that the municipality of Jerusalem and the Israeli Ministry of Housing and Construction had prepared a plan for the construction of 5,000 houses on land belonging to Palestinians, mainly from Beit Sahour. This was the fourth phase of the construction of the “Har Homa” settlement, which separated East Jerusalem from Bethlehem and the surrounding areas, and blocked the geographical unity between Palestinian areas. (IMEMC)

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades denounced the Geneva Accord initiative, saying in a statement obtained by AFP that those who had drwwn it were “Israeli collaborators and play[ed] to the tune of Zionism and the Americans.” (AFP)

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A Qassam rocket fired overnight at the “Neve Dekalim” settlement in the Gaza Strip by the armed wing of Hamas caused serious damage to a house, sources on both sides said. (AFP)

Yusuf Abu Matar, 33-year-old member Islamic Jihad, was killed when his car exploded for unexplained reasons in the Rafah refugee camp. Palestinian security officials in Gaza said they suspected that Mr. Matar had been killed in a targeted strike by Israelis. The IDF had no comment on the incident. (AP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

The IDF said in a statement that its forces in Hebron had demolished the house of Hamas member Ahmed Bader, accused of planning terrorist attacks as well as recruiting, training and dispatching terrorists who had carried out a number of attacks resulting in the death of a significant number of Israelis and the wounding of hundreds of others. (www.idf.il)

Prime Minister Qureia urged the United States to play a greater role in Middle East peacemaking, pledging that the Palestinians were ready to honour their “commitments and obligations” under the Road Map. His remarks followed a meeting with United States envoy William Burns and another with Jordanian Prime Minister Faisal Al-Fayez. (AP)

Palestinian Authority Minister for Negotiations Affairs Saeb Erakat told Voice of Palestinethat his upcoming meeting with Dov Weissglas, Director of Prime Minister Sharon’s Bureau, would focus on what the Israelis had to offer before the long-awaited meeting between Messrs. Sharon and Qureia, stressing that that two of Mr. Qureia’s demands – that Israel halt settlement construction and cease building its separation barrier in the West Bank – were not conditions but requirements under the Road Map. (DPA)

The IDF announced in a statement that “as part of the ongoing easing of restrictions for the Palestinian population,” its forces had “facilitated … the entrance of 15,000 Palestinians (above the age of 28 and married) to work inside Israel” and, three days earlier, had opened the eastern checkpoint in Qalqilya, “thereby facilitating the movement of vehicles and individuals on foot … to villages east of the city and the rest of [the West Bank].” (AFP, DPA, www.idf.il)

Ha’aretzreported privately voiced reservations by Israeli Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon about Prime Minister Sharon’s proposal to take unilateral steps if peacemaking with the Palestinians failed. Gen. Yaalon believed that the unilateral removal of settlements would confer “support to terror” in the face of the three-year-old intifada and should be carried out only as part of a comprehensive peace arrangement, and also that the IDF should first pull out of “quiet cities” in the West Bank as a way of rewarding the Palestinians and pave the way for a future peace deal. (Reuters)

The Israeli police said it had arrested two Israeli settlers in the West Bank suspected of hewing dowm more than 650 Palestinian olive trees with chainsaws and machetes in the area of Einabus village, south of Nablus. Yitzhak Sandroi, 22, from “Yitzhar” (“Kedumim,” according to AFP,“Mitzpe Yitzhar,” according to IBA)and Michale Panno, 18, from the “Mitzpe Yitzhar” outpost, were arrested as a result of a complaint lodged in October, according to West Bank Police commander Shachar Ayalon. The arrests had taken place at the end of the previous week and police had asked a court to prolong the young settlers' detention by another five days. In a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Pos,“Yitzhar” spokesman Yossi Peli said, “We are very happy that from now on [the Palestinians] will not be able to approach too close ... Anyway, the trees grow back and ultimately we hope to harvest them in place of the unwanted inhabitants of the area.” (AFP, IBA, The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF Central Command decided to evacuate six uninhabited outposts in the West Bank, beginning during the coming weekend. Defence Minister Mofaz told United States envoy William Burns that six to 10 small West Bank settlement outposts would be dismantled, a Government source told Reuters. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

An IDF court found Hamas members Mohammad Arman and Walid Anjas from the northern West Bank guilty of involvement in a suicide attack in Jerusalem’s Moment café on 9 March 2003, resulting in the deaths of 11 people; of planning a suicide attack in the city of Rishon Letzion, which had killed 16 people on 7 May 2002; and another one in the cafeteria of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University on 28 July 2003, which had left nine people dead. The Yehuda Military Court in the army’s Ofer camp gave each man 36 life sentences, saying the two had acted as a “liaison cell” between the group in Silwan, East Jerusalem, which had carried out the attacks, and the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)

Prime Minister Sharon expressed support at the Cabinet meeting for Industry, Trade, and Labour Minister Ehud Olmert’s decision on labelling exports to the EU originating in the settlements, despite opposition from Foreign Minister Shalom, who charged that Mr. Olmert had overstepped his authority. (The Jerusalem Post)

Prime Minister Sharon met United States envoy William Burns and expressed Israel’s intention to continue building the separation barrier. (IBA)

Islamic Jihad leader Mohamed Al-Hindi told reporters that the Palestinian dialogue planned in Cairo would not begin on 1 December due to technical problems, adding that the Islamic Jihad had not yet formed a delegation for the talks and it was not known who would represent the movement at the meetings. Mr. Al-Hindi expressed the hope for a positive atmosphere, and said it was not necessary that the intra-Palestinian dialogue lead to a hudna(truce). He welcomed statements by Prime Minister Qureia and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher that a hudna would not be offered to Israel without some kind of reciprocity. Mr. Al-Hindi would be unable to attend the meeting in Egypt because Israel prevented him from leaving the Palestinian territory. “From what I know, the dialogue has been postponed until 4 December to allow all the delegates to travel to Cairo,” Hussein al-Sheikh of Fatah said in an interview. (AFP, DPA)

Prime Minister Sharon’s office issued a press release, giving notice of a meeting between its Director Dov Weissglas and Palestinian Authority Cabinet Secretary-General Hassan Abu Libdeh, with Saeb Erakat and Shalom Turgman also attending, to discuss issues in advance of the meeting between the two Prime Ministers. “The meeting was held in a positive atmosphere and both sides agreed to meet soon in order to prepare for the meeting between the two Prime Ministers,” the press release said. (www.pmo.gov.il)

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in a statement claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on the “Neve Dekalim” settlement. (AFP)

A spokesman for the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in Damascus denounced the Geneva Accord initiative as containing dangerous concessions that harmed Palestinian national rights, and criticized recent Palestinian-Israeli meetings in a number of European capitals, saying they marked “a return to the policy of secret channels and ... represent a violation of national unity.” (AP, DPA)

“It should be clear that meeting with those who are going to dance around the golden calf in Geneva is making a mistake, because it is encouraging terrorists and harming the Road Map which the international community and especially the United States have sponsored,” Ra’anan Gissin stated in an interview, going on to say: “One should bear in mind that in some democratic States such as the United States, those who are responsible for this initiative and thought it appropriate to sign an agreement with foreign agents without any official mandate would be prosecuted.” (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Some 300 angry Palestinians, many refugees from a nearby camp, demonstrated near the Rafah terminal to protest the Geneva Accord initiative, chanting “No to treason.” The demonstrators scuffled with members of the 50-strong delegation as it crossed from the Gaza Strip into Egypt to board a plane to Geneva to participate in the official signing ceremony. (DPA, Reuters)

Four Palestinian negotiators of the Geneva Accord initiative said they would not attend the signing ceremony without an official approval for the accord. In an overnight meeting, Palestinian Authority President Arafat turned down a request by two of the officials – Qaddura Fares, a Cabinet minister, and lawmaker Mohammed Horani – to be given a letter supporting the accord. The other two officials who refused to go to the ceremony were Minister of Prisoner Affairs Hisham Abdel Razek and lawmaker Khatem Abdel Khader. Mr. Fares told Israeli Public Radio:“We remain convinced that this initiative is good, but we cannot go to Geneva without our movement’s backing.” The four reversed their decision when Mr. Arafat later backed the group’s participation. (AP)

WAFA reported that the Palestinian National Security Council, presided over by Palestinian Authority President Arafat, had authorized Security Adviser Jibril Rajoub to attend the Geneva Accord initiative's signing ceremony. (IMEMC)


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