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

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine
Monthly media monitoring review

August 1999


The Israeli revoked a ban on Ziad Abu Ziad, PA Minister of State, giving him free access to Jerusalem. The permit had been revoked after Mr. Abu Ziad was accused of organizing political activities from the Orient House in East Jerusalem. (BBC News)

The PA condemned the shooting of two Jewish settlers in Hebron in an attack Israel said was the work of Palestinian militants. The two Israelis were slightly wounded when their car came under fire near Hebron’s Al-Haram al-Ibrahimi, a holy site to both Jews and Muslims. Israel sealed off the city, preventing Palestinians from leaving and entering the town. It also imposed a curfew on the part of the city still under Israeli control, confining 30,000 Palestinians to their homes. (DPA, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)


A 13-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and seriously wounded by Israeli troops firing rubber-coated metal bullets during clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli Army in Hebron. An Israeli officer was slightly hurt by a bottle thrown by Palestinians in the centre of the town, according to an Israeli military spokesman. (AFP)

A coalition of Muslim and Arab organizations called for a worldwide boycott of Burger King after it opened a new fast food restaurant in the Israeli settlement of “Maale Adumim.” According to Khalid Turaani, executive director of American Muslims for Jerusalem, the boycott was necessary because of Burger King’s failure to respond to concerns expressed by the Muslim community. The boycott would only end if Burger King closed down and released a statement promising not to open any other restaurants in occupied land. (Reuters)

Finnish Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen reiterated the EU’s commitment to further the widely anticipated Middle East peace process. Accompanied by EU Middle East peace envoy Miguel Moratinos, Ms. Halonen visited Jordan, Syria, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (XINHUA)


The PA and the EU signed an agreement in Ramallah for the construction of a new Palestinian parliament building. The EU would contribute 5 million euros for the new building. According to Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei, after signing the agreement with Thierry Bechet, resident EU representative to the Palestinian territory, the new building would serve as a temporary Palestinian parliament. The permanent Parliament would be built in Jerusalem, the capital of the future Palestinian State. (DPA)


Israeli police sealed an opening in the outer wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in a showdown with Muslim clerics over control of the site sacred to both Muslims and Jews. The League of Arab States condemned Israel’s actions against the mosque, stating that Israel aimed to impose its domination and to deny the political and religious rights of the Arabs in Jerusalem, whether Muslims or Christians, and that the actions had been contrary to Israeli Prime Minister Barak’s statements of his intentions to advance the peace process. (AP, AFP, Reuters) 11

Israeli authorities destroyed two Arab homes in the Palestinian neighborhood of Walajeh, west of Jerusalem, in the first house demolitions since the Barak Government began its term of office. Police kept away the families and over 200 protesters as the demolitions occurred. Some ten Palestinians were injured during the clashes that erupted between the residents and the Israeli troops. (Arab Press, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)


Palestinians and Israelis negotiating the implementation of the Wye accords have made some progress on secondary issues, but remained deadlocked on how long an Israeli troop pullback from the West Bank would take. Some progress had been made on the opening of a “safe passage” allowing Palestinians to travel between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as on a go-ahead for the start of construction of a Palestinian seaport in Gaza. A joint Israeli-Palestinian committee has begun working on a list of prisoners to be released. In Jerusalem, Israeli officials had said that US President Clinton sent a letter urging Israeli Prime Minister Barak to carry out further military withdrawals without delay. (AFP, AP, The Jerusalem Post)

Nine Arab countries and the Palestinians met in Damascus to coordinate their positions on issues related to their partnership deals with the EU. Representatives of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, the Palestinians, Syria and Tunisia discussed a draft Euro-Mediterranean charter for peace and security, which was first outlined in Barcelona in 1995. The charter, drawn up between 12 countries of the Mediterranean rim and the 15 EU Member States, is to be finalized before the next Euro-Med ministerial meeting in the second half of 2000. (AFP) 18

Israeli public radio reported a senior Israeli official as stating that a group of prisoners would be released at the beginning of September, and a second batch on 8 October, which is observed by Palestinians as Prisoner Day. Israeli officials would establish the criteria for release of the prisoners after consulting with the PA, whose representatives had visited detainees in prison. The PA stated that Israel still held 2,115 Palestinian detainees, while international humanitarian organizations said that at the end of January, Israel had 3,539 Palestinian political and criminal detainees in its prisons. (AFP, BBC News)

Israeli negotiator Gilad Sher said that at this stage, there would be no change on the criteria for release of prisoners, which meant the release of criminals along with “security” prisoners. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian side would insist on the release of 650 political prisoners without the inclusion of “even one criminal.” The Palestinians said the Wye agreement meant the release of 750 security prisoners and not criminals; an understanding which was made verbally, while the Israelis insisted that the agreement talked only about prisoners without specifying their background. (AP, DPA, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)


Israel lifted a five-year ban on Palestinians driving down a street in the centre of Hebron, a move welcomed by traders but condemned by Israeli settlers. Shuhada Street, which passes through the quarter inhabited by the settlers, had been closed following the February 1994 massacre of Palestinians in the Mosque of Abraham. (AFP, Reuters)

Saleh al-Kafri, a labour expert at the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, said Palestinian unemployment had fallen to 12.6 per cent in the second quarter of 1999 from 13.6 per cent in the same period last year, due to new jobs for Palestinian workers in Israel and in self-ruled areas. He added that unemployment had been easing since 1995 when the PA was set up and the public and private sectors expanded. However, he said, the unemployment rate in Palestinian areas remained one of the highest in the world. (Reuters)

Israel and the PA signed a postal agreement regulating communication ties between them. The agreement would regulate the transfer of postal items between Israel and the PA and the direct exchange of mail between the PA, Egypt and Jordan. According to Israeli Communications Minister Ben-Eliezer, the accord was very significant and showed that progress was being made in the peace process, and that it would be important for the economy of the “inhabitants in the Palestinian Authority.” (AFP)


The Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing has issued tenders for the construction of more than 1,000 new houses in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The tenders were for 594 houses at “Givat Zeev” and for 461 in “Maale Adumim,” two settlements near Jerusalem. According to Peace Now, Housing Minister Yitzhak Levy had issued tenders for a total of 2,572 new buildings in the six weeks since he took office as a member of the Barak Government. (AFP)


Israeli and Palestinian negotiators reached agreement on two side issues delaying implementation of the Wye accords. Agreement was reached for a “safe passage” route allowing Palestinians to travel between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It would come into effect on 1 October. Also reached was an agreement allowing Palestinians to begin constructing a port in Gaza on 1 October. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said Israel had agreed to release Palestinian prisoners in two stages but failed to agree on the number of prisoners to be released in each stage. A joint committee would follow up on issues related to the detainees in Israeli jails and suggest further releases. (AFP, DPA, XINHUA)

Israel took measures to increase the number of Palestinians allowed to enter its territory to work, lowering the age limit of those eligible for work permits. The minimum age for male workers had been reduced from 23 to 21, and the minimum age for businessmen had been reduced from 25 to 23, according to Shlomo Dror, spokesman for the Israeli military administration. Mr. Dror said the new rules would enable more than 10,000 Palestinians currently working in Israel illegally to obtain work permits, which would guarantee them the minimum Israeli wage of $700 per month. At the moment, many of them were underpaid. The Israeli Defence Ministry also announced that it would allow Gazans over the age of 44 to travel to Jerusalem to worship on Fridays. The number of family reunification permits would also be increased. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)


Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa called for an Arab summit to be held as soon as possible to promote economic cooperation and to coordinate the Middle East peace process. He added that the Arab summit was important and there should be no attempt to delay its being held. (AFP)


Jordan said it was ready to relinquish its religious authority over Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority. Jordanian Prime Minister Abdul-Raouf al-Rawabdeh said their interest in Jerusalem was due to their being part of the Arab and Muslim nation, and that they were not an alternative to their Palestinian brothers. Jordan has been the custodian of holy sites including the al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques in the walled Old City, Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina. (Reuters)
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