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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights
31 August 1998
Division for Palestinian Rights



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


August 1998


4

Israel Radio reported that the PA had rejected the latest proposal by Israel on the second troop redeployment in the West Bank. The report quoted Hassan Asfour, Palestinian coordinator of peace negotiations, as saying that Israeli ideas were rejected because they were in complete contradiction with the US withdrawal proposal. (AFP, DPA, XINHUA)

Egypt said it expected the US to go public shortly with details of a plan aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process. (AFP, Reuters)

5

Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to expand the Gush Emunim settlement of Yitzhar, east of Nablus, after two of its members were slain overnight. Mr. Netanyahu approved the expansion at a meeting of his inner security cabinet. The Council of Jewish Settlements in the West Bank met in emergency session and called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to break off negotiations with the PA on further Israeli troop redeployment from the West Bank. (AFP)

During a special Palestinian Council session in Ramallah, PA President Arafat announced that the Palestinian Cabinet would mostly remain the same, with the addition of several newly-created portfolios. (AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)

6

The Jerusalem Post reported that the informal dialogue between Israel and the EU concerning goods manufactured in the occupied territories has now been suspended. The paper said that the Israeli report on such goods was “not a basis for serious discussion.'' Moreover, the EU reportedly may soon implement regulations, which would in effect ban the import of Israeli goods manufactured in territories occupied by Israel - East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (DPA)

Ha'aretz reported that Israeli security and defence officials objected to expanding a Jewish settlement where two Israeli settlers were killed on 5 August. The officials say expanding the settlement would exacerbate tension in the occupied territories. According to the Ma’ariv, they were also concerned that militant settlers would now attack Palestinians in revenge for the Yitzhar killings. (DPA)

Anglican bishops said that Jerusalem should be a capital city for both Israel and an independent Palestinian State. The 750 bishops from around the world at their once-in-a-decade Lambeth Conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution, which said that Jews, Muslims and Christians should have free access to Jerusalem. (Reuters)

The vast majority of Jewish Israelis support an Israeli troop pullback in the occupied West Bank, according to a public opinion poll released by the Steinmatz Centre for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University. At the same time, the majority of Israelis also believed Prime Minister Netanyahu would carry out the pullback, despite the present stalemate in negotiations with the Palestinians. The poll found that 60 per cent of Israelis favoured carrying out the pullback, as opposed to 31 per cent who were opposed to such a move. A smaller number - 44 per cent - thought Mr. Netanyahu would eventually go ahead with the pullback, while 35 per cent thought he would not. At the same time, a small majority - 52 per cent - of respondents said Israel should be tougher in negotiations with the Palestinians. Thirty-five per cent thought Israel should be more flexible, and 7 per cent said Israeli negotiating policy should continue unchanged. The poll was conducted among 504 Jewish adults at the end of July. The margin of error was 4.5 per cent. (DPA)

7

Prime Minister Netanyahu said he was trying to strike a balance on how much territory should be handed over to the Palestinians in the long-delayed Israeli troop withdrawal in the West Bank. Also, Ha’aretz published maps it said showed the rival demands being made by right-wing and centrist elements in Mr. Netanyahu's coalition Government. (AP)

Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah to protest the closure of local roads by the Israeli army. (AFP)

Ha’aretz reported that Israel is to allow Jewish settlements on the occupied Syrian Golan to expand to three times their present size. A national planning commission decided this week to allow settlements containing about 100 homes to be expanded to embrace up to 400 housing units, the newspaper said. Three Golan settlements will be allowed to expand to include 600 housing units, it said. The decision was taken on the basis of an Interior Ministry policy paper supporting the expansion of agricultural communities in Israel and on the Golan Heights, which it annexed in 1981. (AFP)

9

The Palestinian Council approved the new Cabinet by a vote of 55-28 with three abstentions. The following is the official list of ministers in the new Cabinet as released by the office of the PA President: Secretary of the Presidency - Tayeb Abdel Rahim (unchanged), Cabinet secretary - Ahmad Abdel Rahman (unchanged), Planning and International Cooperation - Nabil Shaath (unchanged), Culture and Information - Yasser Abed Rabbo (unchanged), Civil Affairs - Jamil Tarifi (unchanged), Local Administration - Saeb Erakat (unchanged), Tourism and Antiquities - Mitri Abu Eita (new), Agriculture - Hikmet Zeid (new), Industry - Saad al-Krunz (new), Labour - Rafiq Natshe (new), Higher Education - Munther Salah (new), Parliament Affairs - Nabil Amr (new), Social Affairs - Intisar al-Wazir (unchanged), Health - Riyad Zaanoun (unchanged), Finance - Mohammad Nashashibi (unchanged), Supply - Abdel Aziz Shahin (unchanged), Transportation - Ali Qawasme (unchanged), Housing - Abdel Rahman Hamad (unchanged), Communications - Imad Faluji (unchanged), Public Works - Azzam al-Ahmad (unchanged), Economy and Trade - Maher Masri (unchanged), Environment - Yusef Abu Safieh (new), Prisoner Affairs - Hisham Abdul Razeq (new), Justice - Freih Abu Middein (unchanged), ministers without portfolio - Bashir Barghuti (formerly Industry and Trade), Talal Sidr (formerly Youth and Sports), Samir Ghoshe (formerly Labour), Hassan Asfour (new), Ziad Abu Ziad (new), Salah Tamari (new). (AP, AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)

10

Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah, PA Minister of Information Yasser Abed Rabbo said the peace process was not heading towards an agreement between the two sides. (DPA)

11

A US Congressional delegation met with Palestinian Council deputies and promised more efforts to understand the Palestinian side in the peace talks with Israel. (AFP)

According to Ha'aretz, a total of 3,228 Palestinians convicted of security offences are currently in Israeli jails. This number does not include Palestinians held under administrative detention, or those jailed in facilities run by the Israeli Army, the newspaper added. Their numbers were not published. Just under 1,400 Palestinians in Israeli jails are serving life sentences, while 351 are serving from 15 to 20 years. A total of 549 are in jail for 10 to 15 years, and 537 are serving sentences of 7 to 10 years. Ha'aretz said human rights organizations and the families of the prisoners have called for the immediate release of about 200 sick prisoners, some of whom have been in jail for 20 years. (DPA, XINHUA)

PA President Arafat said, after meeting South African Home Affairs Minister Mongosuthu Buthelezi, that South Africa had a pivotal role to play in getting the stalled Middle East peace process back on track. (Reuters)

12

The PA President, on his visit to South Africa, accused Israel of bringing the Middle East to the brink of "violence, anarchy, war and destruction." Addressing a joint sitting of both houses of the South African parliament, Mr. Arafat appealed to the international community, and particularly President Clinton, to put pressure on Israel to implement the accords. (AFP, Reuters)

Dozens of Palestinians protested outside the US consulate in East Jerusalem over what they said were moves by the US Congress to recognize the annexed sector of the holy city as part of Israel's capital. Some Palestinians also complained of what they said was a consulate decision to refer on travel documents issued to local Palestinians to "residents of Jerusalem, Israel." A spokesman for the consulate said he was unaware of any new decisions in the Congress concerning Jerusalem and denied any change to the description of Jerusalem residents on official US documents. (AFP)

Israel approved three quarters of the 2,314 items of commodities that Jordan asked it to include in the list of products to be exchanged between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, The Jordan Times reported. The decision was made during a meeting between Jordanian Minister of Trade, Commerce and Supply Hani Mulqi and his Israeli counterpart Natan Sharansky in Tel Aviv. (XINHUA)

14

The Israeli Government authorized another 3,000 Palestinian traders and businessmen to work in Israel. "Authorization has been been given to 2,000 traders and businessmen in the West Bank and 1,000 from the Gaza Strip," Shlomo Dror, Coordinator for Israeli Affairs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip told AFP. He said the new authorizations "bring to 21,000" the total number of Palestinian traders and businessmen permitted to work in Israel. (AFP, CNN)

The PA President warned on his return from South Africa that the continuing deadlock in peace negotiations with Israel was creating new danger for the region. Mr. Arafat renewed his call for an Arab summit to deal with the problem. (Al-Quds)

The peace process is in a state of total freeze and the recent Palestinian-Israeli talks did not accomplish anything, the Palestinian Cabinet said in a statement at its weekly meeting held in Ramallah. (DPA)

16

The Israeli Cabinet decided to erect unspecified “physical obstacles” along the 80-kilometre-long border between Israel and the West Bank. Israel Radio reported that the decision was taken because no other measures had managed to curb the rising number of car theft cases in Israel in the past few years. The radio report did not specify what kind of barriers would be built and when construction on the project was due to start. (AFP, DPA)

17

More than 100 Palestinian and foreign students demonstrated at an Israeli army checkpoint north of Jerusalem. The students, some of whom carried flags representing their countries, were demanding freedom of movement for fellow students from the Gaza Strip, and specifically that Israeli authorities allow students from Gaza to attend West Bank universities. Israeli police arrested two students after a scuffle broke out between the demonstrators and police. The students were later released. (DPA)

Palestinian police clamped down on Jewish settler visits and their stay overnight at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus. The site, believed to be the burial place of the Biblical patriarch Joseph, is located in an area under full Palestinian control. Forty Israelis from two radical settlements near Nablus have been holed up in the Joseph's tomb compound for several days. Until recently, settlers and others wishing to study or pray at the site would arrive in the morning and leave in the evening. The Palestinians said they feared the Jewish militants were trying to turn a religious seminary established at the tomb into a new settler enclave like the one that exists in the heart of Hebron. (AFP, AP, DPA, The Jerusalem Post)

18

An Israeli army bulldozer guarded by 20 troops razed the home of a Palestinian family of 15 in the village of Qatanah north-west of Jerusalem. The army ordered two more houses razed. It was the second time in a year that the army demolished the home of the Salem family on the grounds it had been built without government authorization in a zone still under Israeli control. (AFP, AP)

Israeli Minister of National Infrastructures Sharon said at a press conference that Israel had already met US and Palestinian demands for further troop withdrawal from the West Bank. He blamed the Palestinian side for the ongoing deadlock in peace talks. (AFP)

Palestinians accused Israel of denying them water so children went thirsty while neighbouring Jewish settlers watered their gardens and filled swimming pools. Palestinian officials in the West Bank told left-wing Israeli legislators visiting Hebron that Israel was pumping only half of the daily allotment of 17,000 cubic metres (595,000 cubic feet) of water promised to the city and nearby areas under the interim peace agreement. (Reuters)

19

Israeli authorities demolished 12 Palestinian houses which provided accommodation for about 100 people. Eight of the demolished houses were in the Israeli-occupied Samou' village near Hebron while the others were in Israeli-controlled parts of the town itself. Outside one of the houses, Palestinians scuffled with Israeli soldiers. Two Palestinian women were slightly injured. (AFP, Reuters)

20

Israel is to build approximately 5,000 new housing units in the occupied Golan Heights, Ha'aretz reported. The paper said a ministerial committee, headed by Minister of National Infrastructures Sharon, decided, on 19 August, to build about new 2,300 housing units and 2,500 vacation units in four settlements in the southern part of the occupied Syrian Golan. Former Israeli Prime Minister Peres called the decision a “provocation” against Syria. (AFP, AP, DPA)

Israeli and Palestinian officials held three rounds of talks in the last several days but no progress has been made on further Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. (XINHUA)

21

The IDF sealed off Hebron searching for a suspect who stabbed a Jewish settler to death and torched his home. Some 20 Palestinians scuffled with the Israeli troops. A curfew was imposed on Palestinian areas of the city. Before the curfew took effect, dozens of Jewish militants had rampaged through the Palestinian quarter, beating Palestinians. Two Palestinians were hospitalized. (AFP, Al-Quds, AP, Reuters)

According to Yediot Aharonot, Israel had formally submitted to the Palestinians a proposal for the 13 per cent redeployment from the West Bank, with some conditions. In recent weeks, Israel floated a proposal under which it would withdraw from 13 per cent, but 3 per cent would be declared a nature reserve and the Palestinians would have virtually no say over land use, including construction. (AP)

22

Some 50 Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers in Hebron. The clashes were set off when Israeli soldiers prevented Palestinians from crossing into the Israeli-controlled sector of the city, which has been under curfew since 20 August. One Palestinian youth was slightly injured from a rubber bullet. (AFP, AP, Reuters)

23

Israeli settlers announced that they had created a new Jewish encampment at a popular hiking site in the West Bank as a first step towards creating a permanent, Israeli-controlled tourism centre. The council of West Bank settlers said several settler youths protected by armed guards had set up a camp in Wadi Qelt, a picturesque ravine, which runs to Jericho. (AFP)

The Israeli Cabinet said in a statement, issued at the end of the weekly cabinet meeting, that it would allow Jewish settlers in Hebron to set up permanent structures at a caravan site where a settler was killed on 20 August. The Israeli Army also revealed plans to build fences and other fortifications around 20 West Bank settlements. (AFP, Reuters)

26

According to PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have reached a dead end despite Israeli claims of progress and only energetic US intervention could break the impasse. Also, Maariv reported that PA President Arafat had rejected during the past 24 hours heavy US-Israeli pressure, to accept the recent proposal by Israel on the second redeployment. Mr. Arafat was demanding from Prime Minister Netanyahu to accept the US initiative as written. (AFP, Maariv)

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators ended talks in Oslo aimed at breaking an 18-month deadlock in the Middle East peace process without commenting on the result. Terje Rød-Larsen, one of the Norwegians behind the 1993 agreement, said on 25 August that the parties might continue talks, but not necessarily in Oslo. (AP)

Palestinian health officials said a newborn Palestinian baby died because of delays at an Israeli army roadblock near Hebron. A PA Health Ministry statement said Fadwa Abdel-Salam, 40, gave birth in her car after soldiers at an Israeli military checkpoint forced her to take a longer route to a Hebron hospital. (AFP, AP, Reuters)

The Palestinian Council issued a press release, in which it called on the PLO to request a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the situation in Hebron; called on the PA to declare Hebron a disaster area and call for urgent international aid; called on the co-sponsors of the Middle East peace process to force the Israeli Government to implement the agreements; called on the signatory nations of the Fourth Geneva Convention (especially Switzerland) to intervene in the violation of the rights of residents of Hebron; called on the PNC to raise the issue of Hebron before the International Criminal Court because settlements are a war crime. (The Palestinian Council)

27

Israeli authorities gave final approval for construction of 132 apartments for settlers in the Ras al-Amud neihbourhood of East Jerusalem. "The municipality acted according to the law by giving permission for building plans that had already been approved by the Interior Ministry," Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert told AFP. The City Hall approved the building several days ago but kept the decision secret at the request of the Government in order not to disrupt delicate negotiations with the Palestinians over further troop withdrawal from the West Bank, officials said. (AFP)

Palestinian youths throwing petrol bombs and stones clashed with Israeli troops in Hebron as militant settlers prepared to hold a mass memorial service in the city for a rabbi murdered here a week ago. The clashes broke out in the Shalala and Suq al-Khudar quarters of the town on the dividing line between Palestinian-controlled districts and settler enclaves. (AFP, AP)

The EU sharply criticised Israeli Government plans to build new settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan. “If such plan is implemented it would represent a significant setback to the efforts to resume the Israeli-Syrian negotiations,” the EU said in a statement released in Vienna. The EU also said such plans would “jeopardise the peace process” and reiterated its position that settlements in the occupied territories were “illegal and in contravention of international law.” (DPA)

A bomb exploded in downtown Tel Aviv during the morning rush hour, injuring 21 people, all but one of them lightly. The PA condemned the bombing and called for a revival of the stalled peace process to prevent further violence. (AFP, DPA)

28

At least five Palestinians were injured in Hebron when clashes erupted between hundreds of Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers who fired rubber bullets. The clashes began after Israel earlier in the day had lifted the military closure imposed on Hebron following the killing of a rabbi a week ago. The closure was accompanied by a curfew that restricted some 30,000 Palestinian residents of the Israeli-controlled area of the city to their homes. (AP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)

According to Yediot Aharonot, a poll conducted by the Dachaf Institute showed that 52 per cent of those questioned were in favour of evacuating extremist Jewish settlers from parts of Hebron, without Kiryat Arba, while 42 per cent were opposed. Forty-eight per cent of those questioned also supported at least a partial withdrawal from Jewish settlements in all the Palestinian territories after a final agreement with the Palestinians, the survey showed. Forty-five per cent said Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip constituted a security threat to Israel, while 33 per cent said the settlements improved security. The settlers in Hebron were held by as many as 55 per cent of those questioned to be a security risk, while only 25 per cent said the settlers - living among 130,000 Palestinians - had a positive influence on Israel's security. Dachaf questioned 501 Jewish adults. The survey’s margin of error was 4.5 per cent. (AFP, DPA)

The Palestinian Cabinet rejected Israeli ideas to turn three per cent of the West Bank into a special status nature reserve out of the 13 per cent slated for further redeployment. The Palestinian officials said that the US initiative for Israel's withdrawal from 13 per cent of the West Bank is not subject to negotiation and that Israel should openly and unconditionally accept it. (DPA)


29

Three Palestinian youths were injured in a clash with Israeli troops in Hebron. (DPA)

The Palestinian leadership issued a statement condemning Israel's plans to build homes for Jews at the Hebron enclave of Tel Rumeida. "The Palestinian Cabinet and PLO Executive Committee ... warn Israel against strengthening the Jewish settlement at Tel Rumeida, which will only add fuel to an already explosive situation," it said in a statement after meeting in Ramallah overnight. (AFP)

The United Kingdom told Israel to halt Jewish settlement activity in the Palestinian territories, saying it was against international law. "We urge the Israeli Government not to proceed with existing plans to expand settlements and to prevent illegal activities by settlers," the Foreign Office said in a statement issued by the British Consulate General in Jerusalem. (AFP)

30

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have reached an agreement on the handing over to the PA of 3 per cent of West Bank desert territory to be defined as a “nature reserve”, Israel Radio reported. The draft accord was reached between Israeli negotiator Itzhak Molcho and his Palestinian counterpart Abu Ala. (DPA)

Israeli police in Hebron set up a special unit to investigate complaints against Jewish settlers, Israel Radio reported. The radio said the unit would investigate dozens of cases involving settlers assaulting local Palestinians and causing damage to Palestinian-owned property. Ha'aretz reported, on 30 August, that an internal report from the Hebron police station said public disturbances by Jews in the area had risen by 20.5 per cent during a period when disturbances by Palestinians had declined by 16 per cent. The paper did not say which period was reviewed. (DPA)

The Israeli army lifted a 10-day curfew imposed on the Israeli-controlled areas in Hebron, enabling 20,000 Palestinians with work permits in Israel to return to their work, Israel Radio reported. (AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)

31

Israeli troops closed a PA office in the Israeli-controlled sector of Hebron, saying it had been opened without Israeli permission. (AFP, AP)

Prime Minister Netanyahu told his Cabinet that he was willing to withdraw from 13 per cent of the West Bank but he would do so only if the Palestinians fulfilled the other terms that relate to Israel's security. Mr. Netanyahu’s spokesman said these included a commitment by PA President Arafat to convene the PNC to annul sections of its charter that call for Israel's destruction. (Reuters)

Al-Quds reported that the Israeli security forces set up 13 new electronic gates to replace existing structures in Hebron and in the area surrounding the tomb of Abraham. (AFP)


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