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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights
31 August 2001
Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine

Monthly media monitoring review

August 2001


1

Around 100,000 Palestinians gathered for the funeral of the eight persons killed in the Israeli missile attack in Nablus on 31 July. Three Palestinians attending the funeral were injured by IDF gunfire. In Hebron, during demonstrations against the Israeli missile attack, a 35-year old Palestinian was hit in the chest and killed during an exchange of fire between the IDF and Palestinian militants, Palestinian security officials said. At least three other Palestinians, including a three-year-old boy shot in the hand, were injured during clashes with the IDF. (AFP)

UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson condemned the Israeli attack on Nablus, saying she was deeply dismayed by the action. “This daily violation of the right to life must stop,” she said in a statement. “ The violence will not lead to a resolution of the conflict, but it does cause more suffering and makes the entire situation even more dangerous,” she added. (AFP)

Russia condemned the latest upsurge in violence in the Middle East saying it would send its Middle East envoy to the region after the Israeli attack in Nablus. “It is absolutely clear that violence breeds new violence and a disproportionate use of force only increases mutual hostility,” a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry said. (Reuters)

China condemned Israel for “abusing military force” and called “ on both sides in the conflict, especially on Israel, to take immediate steps and to stop all unilateral actions that are not beneficial to the Middle East peace process,'' a Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying. (Reuters, XINHUA)

With reference to the events in Nablus, a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said “like many other countries, Turkey condemn [ed] this attack, which does not help improve the already critical situation and causes further fury among our Palestinian brothers and a further escalation of tension”. The statement also said: “Turkey expects Israel to stop as soon as possible its practice of using excessive force and believes that a return to the negotiating table is the only way out of the spiral of violence”. (AFP)

Despite widespread international criticism, the Israeli cabinet decided to press ahead with its policy of attacking Palestinian militants considered a threat to state security. Prime Minister Sharon’s office said in a statement that the Government would “continue to reserve its basic right to self-defence,” and had an obligation to “protect the lives of its citizens”. (AFP)

Speaking on CNN television, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he felt the Israeli killing of Palestinians in Nablus on 31 July was “a targeted killing of the kind that we have spoken out and condemned in the past”. “We had a consistent view of it, that this kind of response is too aggressive and it just serves to increase the level of tension and violence in the region”, he added, once again encouraging “both sides to exercise restraint”. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said separately that the US would “continue to work with all the parties in the Middle East ... in an effort to facilitate the peace” and that President Bush had reiterated his “call for all parties to exercise restraint and to put an end to the violence”. (AFP, Reuters)

2

Speaking to reporters after meeting Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in Rome, Chairman Arafat said there was no need for the international community to seek Israeli approval before deploying neutral observers in the Middle East. He said he would appeal to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who chaired last month’s G-8 Summit in Genoa, “to do everything possible” to enable the deployment of peacekeepers. “You have sent troops to the Balkans, into Macedonia, southern Lebanon without approval from the parties involved, why not do the same thing in our region?”, Chairman Arafat asked during the press conference. (AFP, XINHUA)

After talks with Chairman Arafat outside Rome, Pope John Paul II said that the Middle East was mired in “unheard-of violence, which continues to mow down victims”. He again issued a firm call for an end to all forms of violence in the Middle East and urged a return to the negotiating table. (AFP, Reuters)

In an interview with Italy’s La Stampa , Chairman Arafat said the Middle East conflict had reached the point where it could have international repercussions and that outside monitors were needed urgently in the region. He said the Israeli Cabinet, at its 1 August meeting, had approved a plan involving the assassination of high-level Palestinian leaders. Separately, at an airport news conference before leaving Italy, Chairman Arafat called for the immediate cessation of violence in the Middle East and for the earliest possible deployment of international observers in the region, so that the Mitchell Committee recommendations could be implemented. He said the Palestinians remained “committed to the peace process as a strategic option for us, for the interests of the Palestinians and Israelis and all the people of the region”, adding that he remained committed to all agreements reached with Israel. (EFE, Reuters)

After meeting US consul Ronald Schlicher in Gaza, PA Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Shaath said the US was giving Israel “a license to kill” by leaving it up to the Israelis to judge whether the US-brokered ceasefire had actually taken hold. “The US has to end that license”, Mr. Shaath said, adding: "We asked the American consul to get the US to declare the immediate start of the Mitchell plan and to send observers to make sure that this is happening on the ground”. (AFP, Reuters)

Israel has rejected a French request to station EU observers alongside US monitors in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel Radio reported. The request, submitted by the French ambassador to Israel, was turned down “out of hand”, the radio said. (DPA, XINHUA)

A Palestinian was killed overnight in Hebron and another Palestinian was killed and at least one more wounded during an exchange of gunfire with the IDF near Nablus. Israeli tanks stationed in the “Gush Katif” settlement in Gaza fired on the Palestinian village of Khan Yunis overnight, wounding a family of five in a house, hospital sources said. Three girls aged under 13 were hurt by shrapnel. A teenager and two other Palestinians were wounded during an incident involving Palestinians throwing stones and armed Israeli soldiers to the east of Gaza City, near the Karni crossing point with Israel. Another Palestinian teenager was seriously wounded in the head in the Rafah sector in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Two Palestinian civilians and a member of the Palestinian security services were wounded after Israeli tanks moved into the Palestinian-controlled area of Deir el-Balah, in the centre of the Gaza Strip. The three tanks crossed some 800 metres into the area and shelled two buildings after two mortar shells had been fired from there towards the “Kfar Darom” settlement, an Israeli military spokesman said . According to Israel Radio, the IDF ambushed two Fatah militants allegedly planting a bomb at an Israeli observation post near Nablus, leaving one man dead and the other wounded. ( AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Vice President Cheney said to Fox News “If you’ve got an organization that has plotted or is plotting some kind of suicide bomber attack, for example, and they [the Israelis] have hard evidence of who it is and where they’re located, I think there’s some justification in their trying to protect themselves by pre-empting”. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher repeated the long-standing US position that it opposed the Israeli Government's policy of targeted killings. In Response to the Vice President’s remarks, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, senior adviser to Chairman Arafat told AFP “Cheney’s remarks certainly do not serve the peace process but rather encourage Israel to continue acts of killing and assassinations. Such policy would only lead to explosion across the region”. (AFP, Reuters)

Prime Minister Sharon said Israel needed to try a new approach to reach an agreement with the PA. He said that the approach should be based on a process of gradual progress and interim agreements as well as with a long-term goal of reaching a state of non-belligerence. (The Jerusalem Post)

3

The Jerusalem Municipal Council ordered the homes of seven Palestinian families to be demolished, saying they had been built illegally. The buildings in the districts of Shuafat and Anata could be razed as soon as 5 August following a court ruling that they had been built without official authorization. Mayor Ehud Olmert told Israel Public Radio he was determined to push ahead with the bulldozing of “illegal houses” despite the current tension in the area and the risk of violent protests. (AFP)

Israel sharply restricted access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in advance of Friday prayers. Access to the compound was limited to men aged 40 or older with Israeli identity card, preventing any Palestinian living in the Occupied Territory from attending the holy site. (AFP)

The EU has reportedly been pressing Israel to drop its insistence on a total halt to Palestinian violence before the two sides begin steps to resume peace talks. Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, sought to convince the Israelis and the US in intensive telephone diplomacy that a ceasefire could otherwise collapse, raising the danger of a wider Middle East conflict. EU officials said Foreign Minister Peres and Secretary Powell seemed amenable to a more flexible interpretation of the Mitchell report’s recommendations for a phased return to the negotiating table. However, Prime Minister Sharon remained inflexible in demanding 7 days of total calm before moving to a cooling-off period. An EU official close to Mr. Solana said “ to insist on zero violence before the cooling-off period is absurd. It means you have to be in the freezer before you can enter the cooler,” adding that it was necessary to “accept some level of violence, otherwise you give the key to extremists who can cut off the process at any time”. (Reuters)

Germany’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ludger Volmer labeled Israel’s current policy of targeted killings as “unacceptable”, while criticizing Palestinians for continued “terrorist” attacks on Israeli targets. “Every country has a right to defend itself, but the means it uses must remain proportional and international law must be respected,” Mr. Volmer told Info Radio Berlin-Brandenburg. (AFP)

A five-year-old Palestinian boy was critically injured and his grandfather wounded after Israeli soldiers posted at Tulkarm had opened fire on their vehicle. Nine Palestinian youths were injured, one of them seriously, when Israeli troops opened fire with live bullets on a small crowd throwing stones at them near the Karni crossing point on the eastern edge of the Gaza Strip. Palestinian security officials said Israeli tanks had opened fire from the settlement at the nearby Palestinian town of Deir el-Balah, but no injuries were reported. Three other Palestinians, a woman and two men, were injured near Jenin, when Israeli troops, who had been received with stones on entering the village, responded with rifle fire, witnesses said. (AFP)

4

Chairman Arafat’s adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh told AFP that Mr. Arafat had sent urgent messages to the Presidents of the US and Russia, the EU and the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, urging them “to intervene immediately to stop the dangerous escalation of violence in the Palestinian territories, which could drag the whole region into a serious crisis” and calling on them to dispatch international observers to oversee the implementation of the Mitchell report. (AFP)

West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti narrowly survived an Israeli missile attack on his car outside Ramallah. Palestinian sources and Mr. Barghouti himself said he was the target of the attack, whereas Israeli security sources said they had targeted a Palestinian militant in Mr. Barghouti’s entourage, a bodyguard of his who was riding in a different car and was injured in the attack, along with two passers-by. The PA “strongly condemn[ed]” the “attempted assassination” of senior Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and “place[d] on Israel all the responsibility for the consequences of such an escalation”, a statement released by WAFA said. The statement also repeated Chairman Arafat’s call for international protection for the Palestinian people. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

5

Palestinian security officials said two Israeli helicopters fired anti-tank missiles at the Palestinian police position in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. No one was wounded in the attack, but three missiles destroyed two rooms in the post, the officials said. Post commander Fawzi Zagzug said in a press statement that the attack had been aimed at killing him. In a communiqué, the IDF confirmed the strike, but said it was “in response to the firing of two mortar shells during the night at an Israeli military position in the sector”. The army also said there had been 40 grenade attacks against military positions in the Rafah sector in earlier hours. (AFP)

The Palestinian Council condemned the Israeli attack on Marwan Barghouti’s convoy in Ramallah, saying in a statement that “This attempt and previous barbaric crimes in the Palestinian territories, targeting key Palestinian figures and cadres, uncover the Israeli Government’s intentions to go ahead with an all-out war against the steadfast Palestinian people, leaders and cadres”. The Council also denounced Israel for “shrugging off the international public opinion that articulately condemned the assassination operations by this [Israeli] Government” and urged all international parliaments and human rights organizations to stand firmly against such ethnic crimes. (XINHUA)

Israel’s Deputy Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra said that senior Fatah official Marwan Barghouti was not the target of an Israeli rocket attack the previous day but added that Mr. Barghouti “deserves to die… since he is largely responsible for the escalation of terrorist attacks against Israel”. Quoted by Maariv , Israeli Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer also said that Mr. Barghouti was not a target. (AFP)

An Israeli helicopter attack in Tulkarm led to the death of Amer Hudeiri, 23, a member of Hamas. Four passers-by were injured. The IDF claimed Mr. Hudeiri had been preparing suicide attacks against Israelis, whereas Hamas said he was a bodyguard for its local representative and vowed to avenge his death. Another Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli soldiers near Tulkarm some hours later, Israeli radio said, adding that soldiers had spotted two Palestinians on a roadside, apparently trying to plant an explosive device, and opened fire on them, killing one while the other escaped. A Palestinian armed with an M-16 automatic rifle and a pistol opened fire in Tel Aviv, in front of the Defence Ministry, injuring eight Israeli soldiers, an Israeli student and a Romanian. Israeli security forces returned fire and severely wounded the attacker who later died in hospital. An Israeli female settler was killed in an attack on a car near Qalqilya, in the northern West Bank. Two other settlers in the same car were seriously injured and taken to a Jerusalem hospital, while two other passengers were less seriously injured, medical sources said. Following the shooting, Israeli tanks shelled the HQ of the Palestinian security forces in Qalqilya, the Palestinian city closest to the scene of the attack on the settlers. There were no immediate reports of casualties. A Palestinian boy was seriously injured at the Karni crossing in the Gaza Strip, when he was hit by a bullet fired by the Israeli army, hospital sources said. (AFP, DPA, EFE, Reuters, XINHUA)

Israel published a list of its seven most wanted “Palestinian terrorists”, saying they were part of a longer list of people they wanted arrested by PA. The Israeli Defence Ministry said the seven men, from several Palestinian factions, continued to carry out attacks despite Israeli appeals to the PA to arrest them. Israeli Channel Two television’s military affairs reporter hinted the most-wanted list was effectively a hit list, saying the seven “could get hurt in future [Israeli] attempts to foil terrorist attacks”. (AFP, Reuters)

Citing Israel’s “assassination policy”, Palestinian intelligence chief Amin al-Hindi told Reuters that the Palestinians had suspended weekly US-hosted sponsored talks with the Israeli side. (DPA, Reuters)

6

Israeli Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said there could be no military solution to the Palestinian uprising and called for a return to a US-brokered ceasefire. He said it was vital for the Israelis and Palestinians to “return to the political path on the basis of recommendations in the Mitchell report”, adding that the ball was in Chairman Arafat’s court, stressing that he alone was “able to enforce respect for the ceasefire, if he wanted to” ;. He said Israel’s policy of killing Palestinian militants labeled a threat to Israeli citizens was justified, adding that security forces had intercepted another Palestinian heading for a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. (AFP)

The PA refused to arrest any of the seven men on the Israeli most-wanted list made public the previous day. PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said Israel must first take action against its own militants before the PA could consider demands to detain the seven Palestinians. He added that, besides the arrest of the settlers, “death squads” under the direction of Israeli security and military chiefs should also be detained. (Reuters)

Senior Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti urged all Palestinian resistance groups to form a united Government to reinforce the intifada . “We need a national unity Government with representatives from all Palestinian factions and movements, including Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad”, Mr. Barghouti told reporters in Ramallah, adding that this Government “ should adopt the policies of the intifada ”, which should continue until all territories occupied by Israel were returned. “The only key and the short road to peace is by ending the occupation”, Mr. Barghouti stressed and urged Chairman Arafat to call for a UN-sponsored international conference to establish a timetable to return “all occupied areas”, including east Jerusalem, and dismantle all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Rejecting a demand by Israel to hand over suspected terrorists, Mr. Barghouti said “[Prime Minister] Sharon should be handed over to the Palestinians so that he can be tried for his massacres”. (AFP)

Israeli security forces blockaded five large Palestinian towns following the killing of a female settler the previous day. The army sealed off the towns of Nablus, Tulkarm, Jericho, Ramallah and Qalqilya, and had also partially closed the towns of Hebron, Bethlehem and Jenin. The Palestine Monitor, a non-governmental organization, said in a statement that a pregnant Palestinian woman trying to get to hospital to give birth on 4 August delivered her own baby in the back of a taxi after a slew of roadblocks between Jenin and Nablus turned the half-hour ride into a six-hour ordeal. The Palestine Monitor added that on 5 August a Palestinian mobile medical unit was denied access three times by Israeli troops to the remote village it was trying to reach, eventually being forced to navigate dirt tracks to reach its destination. B’Tselem said in a statement that the residents of 218 West Bank villages were “unable to meet their basic needs, including basic hygiene, house cleaning and using the toilet and as a result face significant health risks”. It also criticized the “extremely inequitable division of the water sources shared by Israel and the Palestinians”, saying the average Israeli consumed six times as much as his Palestinian counterpart. About 400 people, including a man trying to get to his own wedding in Jordan, had been blocked near the Allenby Bridge, for four days after Israel closed the crossing point. (AFP)

The Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement urged Palestinians and Israelis to show political will to prevent the further worsening of the situation, which is “increasingly governed by the pointless ‘tit-for-tat’ logic”. “We believe the current deep crisis can be overcome”, the Ministry said, adding that “the ways to settle the conflict are offered in the recommendations of the Mitchell [Committee] endorsed by the sides involved and backed by the international community”. (ITAR-TASS)

“All parties in the Middle East need to take steps immediately to end the violence and restore calm, then we can begin implementing the Mitchell report”, said Scott McClellan, spokesman for President Bush, who is currently in Texas. “Both sides need to really recognize that continuing down this path will only lead to disaster”, Mr. McClellan added. He confirmed that President Bush had received a letter from Chairman Arafat, but gave no details about its contents. (AFP)

“Dismayed” by the escalating violence in the Middle East, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to both the Israelis and Palestinians to stop the cycle of destructive violence and resume peace talks. Fred Eckhard, spokesman for the Secretary-General said in a statement that Mr. Annan urged both parties to focus their energies on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Fact-Finding/Mitchell Committee report. He also said that the Secretary-General deplored acts of terror such as the one committed on 5 August by a Palestinian gunman in Tel Aviv. “He is also disturbed by the fact that Israel continues to use its armed forces for the deliberate killing of pre-selected Palestinian individuals”, the spokesman said, adding that the Secretary-General had already condemned this practice, which violates human rights law as well as general principles of law. “ Israel’s continued use of it can only further inflame an already very dangerous situation”, the spokesman noted, adding that “The Secretary-General appeals once again to the Government of Israel to put an end to it”. (UN Newservice)

Prime Minister Sharon rejected Foreign Minister Peres’ proposal to begin high-level talks on a ceasefire with the PA, the Ha’aretz reported. At a discussion on the matter, Mr. Peres reportedly proposed embarking on a continuous dialogue with Chairman Arafat, as he was worried about the weakening of Mr. Arafat’s position and the switching of the support of large segments of the Palestinian public to Hamas. The Foreign Minister warned that Israel’s demand for seven days of absolute quiet before beginning diplomatic steps gave every individual terrorist a veto over the ceasefire. While he was in agreement with the Prime Minister that diplomatic negotiations should not be conducted under fire, he believed that talks about a ceasefire should involve senior government officials and should not be left entirely to the negatively predisposed defence establishment. Mr. Peres also proposed offering the Palestinians “carrots” for declaring a ceasefire, including measures to ease their economic distress and the opening of a “diplomatic channel”. The Prime Minister responded that he did not object to easing economic restrictions in principle, but this depended on security considerations, as too many times in the past the removal of closures on various towns had led to a renewal of terror attacks in those areas. Overall, Mr. Sharon was not convinced by Mr. Peres and maintained that it was better to continue pressuring Chairman Arafat to stop the violence and arrest terrorists. However, the two were expected to continue their discussion. Meanwhile, the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s planning division proposed that Israel declare another unilateral ceasefire, saying the one it declared in May produced significant diplomatic benefits without causing any harm, and another such declaration would do the same. (Ha’aretz)

PLO representative to the US, Hassan Abdel Rahman said that letters addressed to President Bush and Secretary Powell by the Palestinian leadership called on the US Administration “to pressure Israel to stop Israeli crimes against Palestinians” and to “shoulder its responsibilities and allow the deployment of international observers”. (AFP, Reuters)

7

The IDF has eased the rules of engagement for its soldiers deployed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in view of a growing number of violent incidents. The new rules allow a sharper reaction to shooting at Israeli troops or civilians and to a large extent have returned the situation to what it was before the US-brokered ceasefire. According to Ha’aretz , the new rules would allow Israeli troops in some areas, determined by the commanding generals, “to fire on any Palestinian carrying a weapon under circumstances that raise suspicion they may be combatants against the IDF or belong to a Palestinian force operating against the IDF”. Moreover, “ ;[I]n response to fire coming from an unidentified source, IDF troops have permission to respond immediately, to deter further Palestinian fire”. The paper quoted a senior IDF officer as saying the new rules were not aimed at escalating the violence and did not signal a return to tactics that marked the beginning of the intifada. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

The number of Jewish settlers living on Palestinian territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip increased by 5,000 in the first half of the year, bringing the number of settlers to 208,000, according to the Israeli Interior Ministry. Nevertheless, the Ministry said the growth rate had slowed to 2.4 per cent from 7 per cent for the same period in 2000, and attributed the slow-down to the intifada. (AFP, DPA)

President Bush told reporters at Crawford, Texas, that he had written President Mubarak of Egypt a letter assuring him that the US was still “very much involved” in the Middle East peace process and peace in the Middle East remained “a top foreign policy priority”. A similar message had been relayed to King Abdullah of Jordan in a telephone conversation a few days earlier, Mr. Bush indicated. “Our Administration is in contact with the Israelis and the Palestinians on a regular basis. We will continue to do so”, the President said countering allegations that the US was not doing enough to help restore peace. “It is important for both sides to break the cycle of violence”, he added. “Once into [implementation of the] Mitchell [Committee report recommendations], hopefully sanity will prevail”, Mr. Bush said, “[b]ut we haven’t gotten into Mitchell yet and we can’t get into Mitchell until violence has stopped”. In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said US envoys were in continuing contact with the parties, encouraging them to reduce the violence, “[b]ut in the end, [the parties] are the ones that have to stop shooting”. Mr. Boucher emphasized that the Mitchell report recommendations was the only option on the table and there was no “Plan B”. (AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)

8

A Palestinian man was killed when his car exploded near the “B’ kaot” roadblock in the Jordan Valley, in what Israeli authorities claimed was an attempted suicide bombing. (AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)

Turkish Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit told his visiting Israeli counterpart that Israel’s demand for a total halt to violence as a condition for resuming peace talks with the Palestinians was “unrealistic”. “ The end of violence should not be a pre-condition, because the opponents of peace can step up violence and block the reaching of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians forever”, Mr. Ecevit said after meeting Mr. Sharon, and added that “In our point of view, while fighting terrorism from one side, the peace process should be revived from the other”. On his part, Mr. Sharon said Israel was committed to peace and “ready to make painful concessions for peace” but would not make any concessions “ when Israeli citizens and security is at stake”. “No matter how much we want to resume peace negotiations, the condition for the revival of the process is an absolute end to the violence, terrorism and provocation”, Mr. Sharon added. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Seventy per cent of Israelis support their Government’s policy of targeted killings of Palestinian militants, considering this a morally superior way to handle the conflict because they believed it stopped innocent Palestinians being harmed, according to the monthly Peace Index survey published in Ha’aretz . Only 21 per cent chose the opposing view, arguing that the assassinations increased the Palestinian desire for revenge and that it was an immoral policy of extrajudicial executions. Sixty-four per cent of those surveyed said Israel was not using enough force, compared with 9 per cent who thought too much force was being used. At the same time, the survey said 60 per cent of the Israeli public supported negotiations between the two sides but less than 30 per cent supported negotiating through the framework of the Oslo peace accords. Only 34 per cent believed that peace with the Palestinians could be achieved in the next few years, compared with 61 per cent who did not believe so. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

“We think the conditions of life of the settlers [in the Occupied Palestinian Territory] resemble those of the apartheid period in South Africa”, the head of the Danish Red Cross, Freddy Karup Pedersen, told the Danish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, following a visit to the region. Mr. Pedersen also criticised Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian population. (AFP)

The US said it would not formally object to Israel's use of US-made helicopters in targeting Palestinian officials for assassination, even as it continued to criticize the policy as “unhelpful” in efforts to end the violence. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US had no intention of invoking a US law to punish Israel for improperly using US weapons. (AFP, DPA)

9

A bomb explosion at a crowded pizzeria in the centre of West Jerusalem during lunchtime killed at least 15 people and injured 88. Another three persons died later of their injuries. Israeli authorities said the bomb attack was carried out by a Palestinian suicide bomber . (AFP, DPA, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General condemns today's terror attack by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. He deplores all acts of terror and is deeply disturbed by the terrible loss of life. He emphasizes that attacks against civilians violate international and human rights law.

The Secretary-General is alarmed that escalating violence continues to spread death and misery among both Israelis and Palestinians. He urges all concerned to exercise restraint. The violence of the recent days demonstrates that there is no alternative to dialogue between the parties to bring an end to the violence and a return to the political process. (UN Press Release SG/SM/7910 of 9 August 2001)

In response to the bomb attack in West Jerusalem, President Bush “strongly deplore[d] this act of terror” and believed it “once again show[ed] the need to break the cycle of violence” in the region, spokesman Scott McClellan said. In a written statement, President Bush further said “ Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat must condemn this horrific terrorist attack, act now to arrest and bring to justice those responsible, and take immediate, sustained action to prevent future terrorist attacks”. (AFP)

On the same subject, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said in a statement that “Germany strongly condemn[ed] this horrible terror attack and called on Palestinian leaders to do all in their power to end terrorism”. The German Government appealed to both sides to break the chain of violence and counter-violence and return to the negotiating table, he said. France, Great Britain and Turkey also condemned the attack and called for a political solution to the conflict. (DPA)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said Egypt condemned all violence against civilians, “whoever committed it”, and expressed its condemnation of the bomb explosion in West Jerusalem, while calling on the international community to “intervene quickly” to prevent more violence. Jordanian Information Minister Saleh Kallab said in an official statement “ ;we reject and condemn the killing of innocent civilians, no matter under what pretext” and called on the US to step up its efforts to get the peace process back on track. (AFP, XINHUA)

In a statement sent to the press, “Chairman Arafat condemn[ed] the explosion that happened today in West Jerusalem that targeted innocent civilians, in the framework of our condemnation to all attacks on innocent Israelis and Palestinians”, and called on the Israeli Government to declare a joint ceasefire with the Palestinian Authority. Israeli diplomatic sources said Chairman Arafat’s call for a joint ceasefire was merely intended to block a potential military response by Israel to the bomb attack. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa said the West Jerusalem bomb attack was a result of Israel’s “policy of settlement building, the flattening of [Palestinian] land, the official policy of assassination, the Israeli Government’s state terrorism and the absence of an effective role by the international community”. While calling for international observers to be sent to the region, Mr. Moussa added that “the entire international community bears responsibility for the daily deaths of innocent people, due to its reluctance to deal with the Israeli Government’s oppressive policies and practices, which are pushing the region towards the edge of the abyss” . (AFP)

Following the bomb attack, Russia called for renewed efforts to bring peace to the region. “This tragic event quite clearly demands once more the most urgent measures to stop violence and overcome the prolonged Palestinian-Israeli confrontation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that “for this reason we have persistently called for both sides in the conflict to quickly bring about the de-escalation programmes which are the basis of the Mitchell plan” the statement said. (ITAR-TASS, Reuters)

Foreign Minister Peres said he wanted to meet Palestinian leaders to initiate a ceasefire. Mr. Peres said that high-level contacts were vital if the ceasefire was to take effect. The Foreign Minister also said he should be entitled to conduct a dialogue with senior Palestinian officials in the same way top Israeli security officials held talks with their Palestinian counterparts. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Senior IDF officials have accused international observers in Hebron of spying for the Palestinians. The IDF officials said some observers had supplied the Palestinians with intelligence and photos concerning the movement of Israeli troops in the town. According to Israeli public radio, the observers were also accused of having handed over information about the 400 settlers living in the town. The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) rejected the Israeli accusation. A TIPH spokesperson said in a statement that TIPH personnel were fulfilling their duties in accordance with the Hebron agreement, adding that the IDF had never lodged any complaints of that nature with TIPH. (AFP, XINHUA)

US Middle East Envoy David Satterfield told reporters after meeting Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud in Beirut, that “the Mitchell plan was the only way to break the Israeli-Palestinian cycle of violence”. Mr. Satterfield said the US was “playing as active and as effective a role as [they] [could], and he stressed “that the US [was] very involved in restoring peace, stability and political negotiation process between all the sides,” adding that it was “ultimately for the parties themselves to take necessary steps to bring an end to this very dangerous situation”. (AFP)

Following the bomb attack in Jerusalem, Secretary Powell called on Israel and the Palestinians to show restraint. Mr. Powell, speaking to reporters at the State Department, said he had spoken to Chairman Arafat by telephone earlier in the day as well as to Prime Minister Sharon. He also called UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan and EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana in what he said was a bid to “mobilize” the international community to impress on both sides that they had to stop the violence and implement the Mitchell report. Mr. Powell also said he was “ pleased” that Chairman Arafat had complied with President Bush’s call earlier for him to condemn the bomb attack, adding that Chairman Arafat now had to “find those responsible and bring them to justice”. (AFP)

A day after touring crossing points between the Palestinian areas and Israel, Foreign Minister Peres said “there are three million Palestinians who have lived under restrictions for 10 months, and we must understand this is a key problem which could explode in our face” He added that Israel had to come up with “an easing of restrictions for the Palestinians as soon as possible. The Prime Minister [Sharon] agrees, but implementing a move will take time since we do not have any creative solutions at the moment”, Mr Peres told Israeli public radio. (AFP)

10

The IDF seized Orient House in East Jerusalem and nine other offices in the West Bank, in the villages of Abu Dis and Al-Eizariya, while a fighter jet fired three missiles at the Ramallah police station, and Israeli tanks moved almost one kilometre into Palestinian-controlled territory in the Gaza Strip. The tanks moved into the sectors of Karni and Jabala near Gaza City, shelling and destroying houses and a Palestinian security position. No injuries were reported. Israeli Government spokesman Daniel Seamam confirmed the operation in East Jerusalem, saying seven people had been arrested and Orient House closed “until further orders”. The IDF confiscated files and other classified documents of Orient House and replaced the Palestinian flag with an Israeli flag. (AFP, Reuters)

French Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman, Bernard Valero said Israel’s decision to close Orient House was unjustified and was “contrary to the Oslo peace accords”, adding that the decision would only increase tension between the two sides and called for the decision to quickly be overturned. (AFP)

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, advisor to Chairman Arafat said “the occupation of Orient House and the attacks upon other localities nearby Jerusalem [was] the equivalent of a unilateral renunciation of all agreements”, adding that the PA “forcefully warn[ed] about the destructive consequences of the measures taken by the Government of [Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon, notably the occupation of Orient House”. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher also condemned the seizure of Orient House. (AFP, Reuters)

An opinion poll published in Maariv, found 62 per cent of Israelis were opposed to a large-scale military attack against the PA, as well as opposed to a reoccupation of the Palestinian-controlled territory. The poll also found that 76 per cent of Israelis supported the Government's policy of tracking and killing Palestinian militants, but found that only 64 per cent of respondents believed the policy was effective in preventing such attacks. Twenty-five per cent of people surveyed said they thought it increased the violence against Israel. (Reuters)

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said in a statement that he had held urgent telephone talks with Chairman Arafat, Foreign Minister Peres, Secretary Powell and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, adding with reference to the suicide bombing in Jerusalem the previous day, that “the response to the criminal activities of the terrorists must be to multiply efforts, by Israel, the Palestinians and the international community, to renew the talks process”. (DPA, ITAR-TASS, Reuters)

In a statement carried by WAFA , the Palestinian leadership “call[ed] on the Israeli Government to withdraw its security forces from Orient House and the Abu Dis offices without delay, and to respect the accords” relating to Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem. The statement said the “savage occupation will not pass” without a reaction, “will not lead to security and stability”, and called on Israel to “understand the danger of this crime before it is too late”. It also urged the international community to assume its responsibilities towards the Palestinians. (AFP)

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US was “concerned about the Israeli actions against Orient House and the Palestinian town of Abu Dis”. “These actions represent a serious political escalation, undermine faith and confidence in a negotiated settlement of this conflict and increase the risk of further deterioration of the political situation”, he added. “Orient House has long symbolised the importance of political dialogue and reconciliation between Israelis and the Palestinians”, Mr. Boucher said, adding that it was “vital that both parties remain committed to these objectives and avoid actions which threaten fundamental belief in a negotiated settlement”. The US “urge[d] the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority to move quickly to implement Tenet and Mitchell and move toward a resumption of negotiations”. (AFP)

11

In letters addressed to, among others, the presidents of the US, Russia and China and the UN Secretary-General, Chairman Arafat appealed for international pressure on Israel to hand back Orient House. In his letters, Mr. Arafat asked world leaders to “intervene rapidly to put an end to the occupation of Orient House and the [other] Palestinian institutions that have been closed”, PA Minister and senior negotiator Saeb Erakat said. (AFP)

Palestinian Council member and Arab League spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi told a press conference that Israel’s actions in taking over Orient House could expand the conflict throughout the region. “I cannot overestimate the danger inherent in the latest Israeli moves ... its policies are liable to launch the whole region into a new cycle of conflict and violence”, she said. Israeli authorities, who did not allow Ms. Ashrawi to approach Orient House, accused her of inciting violence and warned that they were considering measures to ban her from entering Jerusalem, according to Israeli public radio. (AFP)

Two Palestinians died from their wounds in the Gaza Strip, after having been shot by Israeli soldiers in a clash near the Karni checkpoint, six more Palestinians were injured. (AFP, XINHUA)

12

The following statement was issued by the Office of the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

Following the seizure by the Israeli authorities of the Orient House and other properties related to Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem, the Secretary-General received a letter from the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Yasser Arafat, and has also been in touch with him on the telephone.

The Secretary-General considers this action to be an unwise step, which is leading to even greater friction and further violence. He urges that the occupation of Orient House and the other properties be ended without delay. (UN press release SG/SM/7912 of 13 August 2001)

The Israeli Government said in a statement that “[a]ctivities of a diplomatic or administrative character – by a foreign entity – inside the State of Israel, without its consent, constitute an infringement of Israeli sovereignty”. It accused the PA of having organised “severe offences” in its Orient House base in Jerusalem, including “ detentions, seizure of property, abductions, torture, murder, etc.” and said “[t]hat period has ended: what was, will not recur”. (AFP)

The IDF closed a Palestinian telecommunications centre in Abu Dis, on the outskirts of occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian sources said. Police moved into the centre, expelled some 15 employees and shut the building. (AFP)

Prime Minister Sharon authorized Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to discuss a ceasefire with the Palestinians, Israel Radio reported. The Prime Minister directed a senior Israeli army officer to join Mr. Peres in such meetings. The decision came after Messrs Sharon and Peres held a two-hour meeting following the Cabinet meeting and decided to continue the discussions, the radio said. The two agreed that no political negotiations would take place with the Palestinians before the end of the violence. At a Labour Party meeting on the same day, Mr. Peres said that Israel was not fulfilling its obligations to the Palestinians regarding an easing of economic sanctions on the Palestinian territories. He called for a reduction of Palestinian incitement, easing of the Israeli closure on the Palestinians, a ceasefire agreement, and a reopening of talks between the two sides. “ There’s nothing new in [Mr.] Peres having talks with us. [Mr.] Peres met senior Palestinian officials including President Arafat many times. What we want is for Sharon to revoke his latest orders”, PA Minister Saeb Erakat told Reuters. (EFE, XINHUA, Reuters)

A seven-year-old Palestinian girl died in hospital after being shot in the head by Israeli soldiers during a gun battle in Hebron. Palestinian security officials said Israeli forces had fired tank shells and heavy machine-guns. At least six other Palestinians were hurt in the fighting. The IDF said two police officers had been slightly injured. (AFP, DPA, EFE, Reuters)

Chairman Arafat met representatives of Palestinian factions in Ramallah to discuss Israel’s occupation of Orient House and other East Jerusalem buildings. (Reuters)

13

President Bush told reporters that his Administration “ha[d] been calling on all the leaders in the Middle East to do everything they [could] to stop the violence”. The US was doing “everything in [their] power” to convince the parties but there could be no result if there was no will for peace. In response to a question regarding recent suicide bombings he said he thought Chairman Arafat could do “a lot more to be convincing the people on the street to stop these acts of terrorism”. “We recognize that there could be isolated incidences of terror but these aren’t isolated”, Mr. Bush said, adding that this was “a continuing terrorist campaign and we’ve got to stop the violence”. Regarding the Israeli reaction so far, he said he appreciated the fact “that they do show a moderate restraint”, although not all the time. “These terrorist acts and the responses have got to end in order for us to get the ... groundwork to discuss a framework for peace”, President Bush noted, adding that he wanted European and moderate Arab nations to send a consistent message to the parties about the importance of ending the killings. (AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)

Chairman Arafat met US Middle East envoy David Satterfield in Ramallah. During the meeting, Chairman Arafat stressed the need for Israel to withdraw from Orient House and other Palestinian institutions that Israel had occupied. (AFP)

A statement issued by the Belgian Presidency of the EU condemned the recent suicide bombings and called on the PA to do all it could to arrest those responsible for acts of terror. The statement added that Israel’s closure of Orient House and other Palestinian institutions “[did] not serve the interests of peace and [could] only weaken the Palestinian leadership at a time when it [was] being asked to take a determined stance in the fight against extremism”. The EU said it “want[ed] to see this closure rescinded as soon as possible, with the return of the [seized] archives” and called on Israel to “continue to observe the greatest restraint in the use of military force”. It urged both sides to open without delay a political dialogue to break the impasse and voiced support for the initiatives planned by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. (AFP, Reuters)

14

China strongly urged Israel to withdraw unconditionally from Orient House, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said. She stressed that China opposed Israel’s occupation of Palestinian offices in East Jerusalem and pointed out that the action went against agreements between Israel and Palestine and had escalated the tension in the Middle East. (XINHUA)

Twenty Israeli tanks, APCs and bulldozers, supported by helicopter gunships, moved overnight into Jenin, in what was reportedly the deepest military incursion into Palestinian-controlled territory since the beginning of the intifada. Palestinian gunmen put up fierce resistance as the armoured force headed to the Jenin governor’s office and razed the nearby police headquarters building. The force withdrew after about three hours. At least four Palestinians were wounded, Palestinian security sources said, while the IDF said it had refrained from returning fire and had suffered no casualties. IDF spokesman Olivier Rafowicz stated the operation “was part of a general fight against terrorism”. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Following the Israeli incursion into Jenin, the PA called for the UN Security Council to meet immediately to provide international protection for the Palestinians. PA Minister and senior negotiator Saeb Erakat told Reuters that the Palestinian leadership hoped the US Administration would not block any moves in this direction. He accused Prime Minister Sharon of “ systematically moving away from the peace process” and said the Palestinian leadership had already made contact with Washington, the EU and others following the incursion in Jenin. A similar statement was made to AFP by Chairman Arafat’s advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh. (AFP, EFE, Reuters)

As word of the Israeli assault on Jenin spread, gun battles between Palestinian fighters and Israeli troops flared up south of Jerusalem. Three Palestinians were wounded in Bethlehem, hospital sources said, and heavy fighting erupted between Palestinian-ruled Beit Jala and the Jewish settlement of “ Gilo”, resulting in more injuries. (AFP, Reuters)

France sharply criticised the Israeli incursion into Jenin. “Everything that weakens the Palestinian Authority goes against calls that have been issued for moves that contribute to restoring security and makes dialogue, which is indispensable, more difficult”, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. (AFP)

Prime Minister José María Aznar’s Government was hoping for support in its bid to bring the Middle East parties to the negotiating table in Madrid, the Spanish newspaper ABC reported. So far, the UN, the EU, France, Britain and Russia had welcomed the initiative. Prime Minister Aznar had been pursuing the goal of a Madrid II meeting on the tenth anniversary of the peace process for a long time but had nearly given up hope, the newspaper said, as the leaders of the Middle East countries gave no indication that the conditions for such a meeting were right. However, the chances of such a goal being realized increased as the situation was becoming more precarious. (DPA)

The World Food Programme (WFP) launched an emergency operation to aid 270,000 Palestinians no longer able to meet their food needs because of the Israeli blockade. Over the next six months, WFP would require some US$11.5 million to provide 26,000 tonnes of food aid to the poorest and most needy Palestinians, including daily labourers who had lost their jobs following the Israeli security restrictions. Since December 2000, a WFP US$4 million emergency operation had provided food aid to the most vulnerable 250,000 Palestinians. The new operation would nearly triple the level of assistance. (Reuters)

In a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and UN Security Council President Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa said the Council had the obligation “to effectively and immediately intervene to put an end to the present tragic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem”. He called on the Council “to meet and to take the necessary action in this regard in a speedy and prompt manner”. (AFP)

15

Residents of the Palestinian towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, in the Bethlehem area, said some 25 tanks and APCs had massed nearby after moving into the area overnight. The previous day, Prime Minister Sharon had threatened military intervention in the Bethlehem region, following automatic arms fire from Beit Jala in the direction of the “Gilo” settlement near East Jerusalem. Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said on public radio: “There are red lines that nobody may cross. One of them is shooting at Gilo. There will be no more shooting at Gilo”. The Minister denied that pressure from the US or Foreign Minister Shimon Peres had led to the postponement of the incursion. He said the incursion had been put off because Israel had received information that Chairman Arafat was trying to stop the gunfire on “ Gilo”. The army entered briefly overnight into five villages near Bethlehem, which were under Palestinian civil and Israeli security control; there were no casualties reported, military sources said. “Our forces left the villages of Al-Askara, Harmalah, Avneh, Rakhma and Fourdaif less than half an hour after they entered”, an army spokeswoman said. Palestinian witnesses said Israeli tanks had entered a residential area near the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, only to pull out without incidents. An Israeli military source said a tank and an armoured personnel carrier had entered the area to conduct a search. (AFP, EFE, XINHUA, Reuters)

Undercover Israeli soldiers shot dead Fatah member Imad Abu Sneineh outside his home in Hebron. PA Minister Nabil Amr condemned the killing saying: “ Such state terrorism shall seriously impede the internationally sought efforts to bring calm to the region”. (AFP, Reuters)

Arab information ministers met Chairman Arafat in Cairo to discuss a plan to improve the media coverage of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. “The political goal of the plan ... is to combat negative propaganda and to fight media deception relating to the Palestinian issue” , an action plan discussed by the ministers said. “[It is also] to persuade public opinion, especially in the US, of the importance and necessity of immediate action to save the explosive situation”, it said. According to the plan, part of a proposed US$1.1 million would pay for the publication of advertisements in major international newspapers, while some money would go to finance English-language coverage of the conflict broadcast on Arab satellite channels. PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said there was a need “to go beyond the usual strategies” and adopt “solid measures to support the intifada and outline the Palestinian and Arab positions in the media by high-level officials”, adding that Chairman Arafat wanted a unified Arab appeal to be made to the UN. Speaking to the ministers Mr. Arafat said Israel planned to construct a third Jewish Temple at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, as part of its efforts to strengthen its grip on the city. He was quoted as saying that “ ;[t]he Palestinian people will remain united until the Palestinian flag is hoisted over Jerusalem”. Following the information ministers’ gathering, Chairman Arafat met Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher and Jordanian counterpart Abdel Ilah Khatib. (AFP, Reuters)

League of Arab States Secretary-General Amre Moussa ruled out the possibility of convening a "Madrid II” peace conference modeled on the 1991 one. “Such a conference runs the risk of creating more conflict instead of restarting the peace process. The question is not whether a conference is possible but whether there can be a change in Israeli policy”, he said. (AFP)

Saudi Arabia paid US$40 million and the United Arab Emirates US$14.5 million into two funds set up by the October 2000 emergency Arab summit to support the intifada , the Islamic Development Bank President Ahmad Mohammad Ali said. According to Mr. Ali, the payments took Saudi Arabia’s contribution to the funds to US$210 million and that of the United Arab Emirates to US$57.5 million. Payments from all Arab countries to the two funds currently totalled US$409 million, of which US$240 million has been transferred to the PA, Mr. Ali added. (AFP)

The Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) asked for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council on Israel’s seizure of Orient House in Jerusalem, its raid into Jenin and its “killing and injuring of Palestinian citizens”. Israel’s recent actions were “severely undermining the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to lend stability to its administration” and “also severely threaten[ed] the peace process in Palestine and the Middle East region”, said a letter addressed to this month’s Security Council President Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia. Although the letter did not specifically request that the Council send an international observer force or monitors to the region, the representative of Mali, who chaired the OIC meeting and signed the letter, said the Council would be urged during the debate to take “appropriate action, including an international presence”. (Reuters)

In a telephone conversation, Secretary Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov “agreed to coordinate their policies in a bid to end the violence ... and improve the economic climate in the Palestinian territories”, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said. “Palestinians and Israelis should refrain from hostile acts against each other. Violence breeds violence and this leads to a slide into catastrophe”, the statement further said, adding that “Ivanov and Powell are agreed on the necessity to establish a direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis, and to that end to reduce the tension in the region”. The two men also reaffirmed their support for the Mitchell Committee recommendations. (AFP, Reuters)

US State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the US remained committed to ending the current escalating cycle of violence between Israel and the Palestinians and to assisting the parties in moving to full implementation of the Mitchell recommendations but felt “that action in the UN Security Council [would] not contribute to these objectives”. (AFP)

Foreign Minister Peres told US MSNBC television that Israel did not plan to reoccupy Palestinian areas and that, “considering the provocation” it had shown “a great deal of restraint”. He said Israel would strike at “terrorist” enclaves and then leave immediately. Mr. Peres added that if the Palestinians were to be given a second chance, he thought they would not turn down the peace offer Israel had made last year at Camp David but cautioned that Israel would probably suggest changes to the proposal if peace talks were to resume. (AFP, Reuters)

Arab information ministers ended their one-day emergency meeting in Cairo on 15 August with agreement to launch a public relations campaign that would aim to provide Westerners, especially people in the US and Europe, with “an accurate picture” of developments in the Middle East conflict, with special emphasis on mobilizing support for the Palestinian cause. Every means, including modern technology, would be used to present a “clear picture about what is happening in the occupied territories” with the aim of countering Israel’s “propaganda”. Lebanese Information Minister and Chairman of the meeting, Ghazi Al-Aridi, told reporters after the meeting that participants had agreed to form a committee under Arab League spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi to coordinate the media campaign. He said that members of the committee would conduct open-ended visits to international decision-making centres to try to undo the “lies and distortions being promoted by Israel”. He pointed out that there was complete agreement among the Ministers regarding funds for the initiative. Ms. Ashrawi described the meeting as “a leap in collective Arab action," saying that it had aimed to “lay down a practical scheme, represent the common Arab will and convey a true image about Israel’s intransigence”. The ministers also agreed to step up coverage of the Palestinian uprising in English and other foreign languages. Arab satellite channels would begin airing programmes prepared by the Palestinian television about the intifada . The Arab League would create a page on its website called the “Intifada Library” that would be dedicated to the uprising and “truth” about it. Advertisements would be bought in big Western dailies in order to provide an Arab perspective of the conflict. (DPA, XINHUA)

16

Israeli Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said IDF troops might yet move into Beit Jala, despite the postponement of a previously planned incursion. He told Israeli public radio that “If we have to enter Beit Jala, we will stay there, but not indefinitely … Our aim is not to attack the population of Beit Jala or Bethlehem, but there are terrorist elements there using the towns, and we will not allow Gilo to be fired upon”. The Minister said that postponing the incursion was aimed at “giving a chance to the efforts made by the other side to prevent the shooting” but warned that if shooting did happen Israel “[would] not be able to accept it”. (AFP, Reuters)

17

President Putin told Prime Minister Sharon in a telephone call that Israel and the Palestinians needed to resume peace talks to prevent more bloodshed in the Middle East. The Kremlin press service said Mr. Sharon had told President Putin that the Israeli Government intended to restrict its response to extremist acts to the “necessary minimum.” According to AFP , hours earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in a telephone conversation had called on Israel and the Palestinians to open direct negotiations to end the regional crisis. The Russian Foreign Ministry said they had called on the international community to unite behind the Mitchell Committee recommendations. (AFP, Reuters)

It was reported that Foreign Minister Peres had recently presented US envoy to the Middle East David Satterfield and US Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer with a ceasefire proposal that would allow tensions to ease. Mr. Peres proposed to divide the West Bank and Gaza Strip into areas, and to work on restoring calm and order separately in each area until a total ceasefire had been achieved. According to the initiative, both sides would separately discuss ways to reduce the violence in Nablus and Bethlehem, as well as in other areas. Each area was to have a special “menu” of actions to be taken by both sides. The PA would be required to take steps to restore security and Israel would withdraw its troops and ease the closures on the Palestinian population in those areas. Mr. Peres had reached an agreement with Prime Minister Sharon that restrictions on the Palestinians be reduced as much as possible, security-permitting. He proposed that the Gaza Strip should be the first place to implement his proposal. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

In a statement after meeting in Jericho with US envoy David Satterfield, Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat called on the US not to block a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel. (AFP)

18

During an overnight incursion into a sector of Khan Yunis under Palestinian control, Israeli troops killed a 29-year-old Fatah member. Fellow Palestinians said he was among a group of gunmen who opened fire on the Israeli soldiers when they entered the area in southern Gaza Strip. Ten Palestinians were reported wounded in the fighting, three seriously. The IDF said its forces had entered the area and shot at “a squad of armed terrorists on their way to carry out an attack”. A six-month-old baby was hit by three bullets when Israeli troops shot at a Palestinian minivan near a checkpoint close to Qalqilya. (AFP, Reuters)

19

Samir Abu Zeid, a 32-year-old Palestinian Fatah activist identified as the founder of the Palestinian Popular Resistance Movement, died in a Gaza Strip explosion, along with his six-year-old daughter and five-year-old son. A Palestinian security spokesman dismissed Israeli claims that they had been blown up by a bomb intended for Israeli targets and said debris from an Israeli anti-tank missile had been found in the ruins of their house. Nine other people were injured in the explosion. Earlier in the day, in Rafah, a 13-year-old had been shot dead when a group of Palestinian youths pelted Israeli troops with stones. Two Palestinian men had also been killed, one in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops near Nablus and the other when he tried to skirt round an Israeli roadblock south of Nablus. In the latter case, Israeli media reports said the soldiers had fired against regulations and were being investigated. According to AFP , the latest deaths brought the total number of those killed since the start of the intifada to 726, including 558 Palestinians and 146 Israelis. (AFP, Reuters)

Israeli Deputy Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra told public television that security forces should “liquidate” the fathers of Palestinian suicide bombers to discourage further suicide attacks. (AFP)

A spokesperson for the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) said Israeli and Palestinian security officials had been informed that TIPH had withdrawn from the Israeli-controlled centre of the city, known as H2. “ We cannot go into H2 with our regular patrols. It is because of the settler attacks, physical attacks in the last days and weeks”, the TIPH press officer said, adding that movements would be curtailed until security was assured. A spokesman for the settlers in Hebron said he had no knowledge about assaults on TIPH members but the settler community considered TIPH an enemy force and would be glad to see it leaving. A senior Israeli police source said settlers had apparently thrown stones at TIPH staff and vandalised their cars. (AFP, Reuters)

20

Israeli border police severely beat a Palestinian construction worker near a checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Palestinian witnesses and medical workers said. The man, from the Bethlehem area, was attempting to cross through fields near the checkpoint with a group of other men in order to enter Israel to work illegally. He was grabbed by his hair by Israeli border police and his head was smashed against a rock, breaking his jaw. He also suffered bleeding inside his ear, medical officials said, adding he had later been transferred to Jerusalem. (AFP)

Israeli bulldozers demolished a nursery school and two apartment blocks in East Jerusalem, which the Israeli authorities said had been built without permits. Dozens of Israeli police guarded at least three bulldozers as they flattened the unfinished buildings in the Beit Hanina neighbourhood. The owner of the complex, Ibrahim Jolani, said the property had been worth US$250,000. He said Israeli authorities put the demolition order on a door of one building overnight so he would not see it, adding that the bulldozers arrived early the next morning. “They came like thieves in the night instead of allowing the owner to appeal to a court”, said Knesset member Ahmed Tibi, adding that the demolitions would lead to more hatred between Palestinians and Israelis. Rabbi Arik Ascherman, of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, who protested at the site, condemned Israel for tearing down Palestinian houses while expanding Jewish settlements on occupied land. “ It’s part of a deliberate effort to prevent Palestinians from living in Jerusalem”, he said, adding Israel had knocked down some 30 houses in East Jerusalem since the start of the intifada. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Foreign Minister Peres was pursuing “new ideas” for a ceasefire with the Palestinians, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said after a meeting with Mr. Peres in Tel Aviv. Neither Minister would elaborate on the proposals but Israeli media reported Mr. Peres was pressing for a graduated ceasefire that would begin in less violent areas of the conflict. Mr. Fischer said creative new ideas were needed to bring the standstill to an end and lead to “the road of negotiations”. “With the Mitchell report ... we have a bridge we should use, both sides, and we want to find ways to overcome this blockade, otherwise we will see further tragedies”, Mr. Fischer said. (AFP, Reuters)

Ten Palestinians were injured, two of them seriously, during incursions by Israeli forces into Palestinian controlled areas in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, officials said. Seven were injured, including one seriously, in Israeli shell and machine gun fire near to the refugee camp in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza strip, security and hospital sources said. An Israeli army spokesman said that the Israeli forces had been responding to Palestinians who had thrown grenades. In the West Bank officials said three Palestinians were also hurt, including one seriously, in exchanges of gunfire between armed Palestinians and Israeli soldiers near southern Bethlehem. The Israeli army said the soldiers were responding to Palestinian gunfire. However, Palestinian officials said that Israeli forces had tried to penetrate 100 metres into a zone under Palestinian control and Palestinian forces had tried to prevent them. Palestinian security officials also said two Israeli bulldozers, escorted by a tank and six army jeeps, had levelled ground inside Palestinian-controlled territory near Gaza City. (AFP)

Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer authorized 5,000 Palestinian workers to enter Israel for the olive-picking season and was considering “more measures aimed at alleviating the pressure on the population” of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, a Defence Ministry statement said. “This policy of alleviating the pressure on the Palestinian population will be carried out jointly with an all-out war against terrorism”, the statement added. (AFP)

The UN Security Council began its consideration of agenda item “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question”, at the request of Mali and Qatar on behalf of the States members of the Islamic Group. Statements were made by representatives of 37 States, Palestine and the Acting Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The Council decided to continue its consideration of the item in the afternoon of 21 August. (Journal of the United Nations, 21 August 2001 (No. 2001/160))

21

Following a meeting with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Ramallah, Chairman Arafat said he was ready to meet Foreign Minister Peres in Berlin for talks “at any moment”. Mr. Fischer called for the immediate implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations and stated his readiness to assist the parties in whatever way. From Budapest, Mr. Peres said he was ready to meet Chairman Arafat “very soon”, following Mr. Fischer’s suggestion. The German Foreign Minister later had a meeting with Prime Minister Sharon in Jerusalem, after which he returned to Ramallah to hold a second, unscheduled meeting with Chairman Arafat. (AFP, Reuters)

Ha’aretz reported that Prime Minister Sharon planned to propose an “armistice” ; agreement to the Palestinian Authority, similar to the ones signed between Israel and its Arab neighbours after the 1949 war. The Prime Minister presented the plan to a delegation of US Republican Party congressmen as the “the maximum possible” that could be achieved. He said a full peace was impossible because the Palestinians did “not recognize our right in the country”, thus Israel needed to preserve its strategic assets in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Mr. Sharon said the proposed agreement would “make it clear that there [was] no solution to the conflict with violence and arms”, and would include a mechanism for arbitrating disagreements between the sides. He also said that for a ceasefire to come into effect, US and international pressure was needed on Chairman Arafat. He therefore implored the congressmen to add Palestinian organizations such as the “ Tanzim” and Force 17 to the US list of terrorist organizations. (Ha’aretz)

At a special cabinet meeting, the Israeli Government approved Prime Minister Sharon’s proposal to transfer 200 million shekels (US$50 million) to the Jerusalem municipality in this year’s budget for the purpose of improving infrastructure in East Jerusalem. The Prime Minister said in a cabinet statement that the funds were intended to “bring East Jerusalem’s public services up to the same level as West Jerusalem’s” and included provisions for more than 100 new classrooms. At the same time, Mr. Sharon defended the seizure of Orient House and said action had been taken “to restore Israel’s full sovereignty over Jerusalem by halting the Palestinian Authority’s activities there”. Such actions would continue and should be strengthened, according to Mr. Sharon, “for the prosperity of Jerusalem as a united city”. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

The UN Security Council concluded its consideration of agenda item “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question”. Statements were made by representatives of nine States, Palestine, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States. (Journal of the United Nations, 22 August 2001 (No. 2001/161))

A report by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Rød-Larsen said that the PA budget deficit could reach US$371 million or 22 per cent of the 2001 budget, due to the restrictions imposed by Israel. The report said that the Israeli blockade that prevented the Palestinians from working in Israel had caused losses in salaries estimated at US$182 million, adding that unemployment had risen sharply, from 73,000 people for the last quarter of 2000 to 189,000. (AFP)

22

Chairman Arafat told the opening session of an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo that Arabs should do more to confront Israeli policies of occupation and settlement. He stressed that the Israeli Government was mistaken if it thought that its military might could “force the Palestinian people to submit to Judaization, occupation and settlement”. Mr. Arafat told the ministers that the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had deteriorated considerably, especially after Israel escalated its “military aggression” in Jerusalem and commandeered Orient House and nine other Palestinian institutions. He said that following the seizure of Orient House, Israeli forces had confiscated important records, files and maps supporting Palestinian claims to land occupied by Israel. He added that the seizure of these institutions represented a clear violation by Israel of the Oslo accords. Chairman Arafat urged the ministers to jointly put pressure on Israel within international organizations and through the US. He reiterated a call for monitors to be sent to help stop the bloodshed. At the end of their deliberations in Cairo, the foreign ministers of the Arab League issued a statement condemning Israel’s “aggressive” policies against Palestinians and calling for Israel’s immediate withdrawal from Orient House in East Jerusalem. They called on the US to stop supplying Israel with offensive weapons and also urged other measures to pressure Israel to end the violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The ministers agreed to try and reactivate a boycott of Israeli products, especially those coming from settlements, and called on Arab countries to “not initiate contacts with Israel”, while authorizing Egypt and Jordan to maintain their links. “We don’t want to give people false hope, the resolutions are not effective and firm, but it’s only one step”, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr Al-Thani, who presided over the meeting, told a press conference, adding that some resolutions would not be made public. He also urged all Arab countries to attend a special boycott meeting in Damascus between 7 and 11 October 2001. (AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)

Israeli troops shot dead four Palestinians in a clash that erupted when an IDF unit intercepted a group of Palestinian activists about to plant a bomb close to a Jewish settlement near Nablus, the IDF said. Mahmud el-Alul, the Governor of Nablus, told the Palestinian radio the gun battle had broken out after comrades tried to rescue a Palestinian who had been wounded overnight. (AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)

A 22-year old Fatah member was killed in his car near Gaza City when Israeli helicopter gunships attacked it with missiles; another Palestinian was seriously injured in the incident. In a separate attack, Israeli missiles also hit two Palestinian checkpoints in the same area, causing extensive damage, Palestinian officials said. (AFP, Reuters)

Israel fired two anti-tank missiles at a Palestinian police station near Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, destroying the building and injuring seven policemen. An IDF spokesman said the missile strike was in response to a Palestinian mortar attack on the “Gush Katif” block of settlements. Palestinian officials said there had not been any recent mortar attack from their side and the Israeli strike had come without warning or provocation. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Prime Minister Sharon reiterated in a statement that all hostilities must cease completely for seven days before implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations could start. According to Yediot Aharonot , Mr. Sharon had told German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer during their meeting the previous day that he should warn Mr. Arafat that “if there is the least shooting against Jerusalem, Israel will respond with a severity which he cannot even imagine”. (AFP)

Labour and Meretz Knesset members, accompanied by peace activists, met with Palestinian parliamentarians outside Orient House and called for its reopening. Labour’s Ofir Pines and Meretz’s Mossi Raz and Zahava Gal-On expressed their support to the reopening of Orient House as soon as possible. Galia Golan of Peace Now said the occupation of Orient House exposed the impotence of the Israeli Government in dealing with the ongoing crisis, adding that their talks with the Palestinians in the interests of peace would continue. (XINHUA)

According to The Jerusalem Post , in statements he made in Israel, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Israel and the Palestinians should return to negotiations culminating in a “Madrid II” conference on 30 October, to mark the 10th anniversary of the 1991 Madrid Midde East Peace Conference. Following a freeze in settlement construction and a complete cessation of Palestinian violence, Mr. Fischer said, an international peace coalition including the US, the EU and Russia should observe the implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations. Regarding the meeting between Messrs Arafat and Peres, he stressed that it should be carefully prepared so that it would pave the way for a new beginning. After that, Israeli and Palestinian officials could meet at the UN in New York, and then in Madrid. (The Jerusalem Post)

23

Israeli troops shot dead an 11-year-old Palestinian boy and injured 10 other people when a crowd of youths stoned an army position close to Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. Six Palestinian policemen were injured, two seriously, along with two civilians, in an exchange of fire in Deir el-Balah, where Palestinian security sources said Israeli tanks and armoured jeeps had moved several hundred metres into the town and opened fire at a Palestinian police post. The vehicles later pulled back. The IDF said the incursion was in response to a mortar bomb attack on the “Kfar Darom” settlement, which had caused no injuries. In a separate incident at the nearby El-Bureij refugee camp, Israeli tanks blasted a Palestinian security post, although there were no immediate reports of injuries. (AFP, DPA, EFE, Reuters)

A 46-year-old Fatah member and deputy Palestinian police commander in the city of Nablus, escaped with moderate injuries when his car came under Israeli missile fire; two other people were also injured in the incident. The IDF said it was a pre-emptive strike against a man it blamed for “a long series of shootings and bomb attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians”. “It is a failed assassination attempt and we are happy that is so. We consider it part of a continuous escalation by the Israeli Government against our people”, Issam Abu Baker, a senior Fatah official in Nablus, told Reuters . The previous day an Israeli attack near Gaza City had resulted in the killing of a young Palestinian activist but had failed to hit its intended target, the victim’s father and Hamas member Adnan Al-Ghoul, who escaped unhurt along with Mohammed Deif, leader of the Hamas military wing Izz el-Din al-Qassam, who also rode in one of the cars without apparently the IDF knowing it. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

The State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, was quoted by the official KUNA news agency as saying that his country had paid in full its share of US$150 million into the two funds established to support the Palestinians. The Minister, who had represented Kuwait at the Arab League ministerial meeting in Cairo the previous day, added that the body had urged other Arab countries to honour their commitments to the two funds. AFP reports that, according to the Islamic Development Bank, payments from all Arab countries to the two funds currently amount to US$409 million, of which US$240 million has been transferred to the Palestinian Authority. (AFP)

Russian Middle East envoy Vasily Sredin said both sides should seek a way out of the current crisis. He noted that Israel should “not use force, lift the blockade of [the Palestinian] territories and withdraw its troops”; a halt to Israeli settlement activity could help improve the situation. Mr. Sredin also said the Palestinians “should rule out any violence and firmly clamp down on terrorism”. (Reuters)

China reiterated its call for “utmost restraint on the part of both Israel and Palestine, and especially Israel”, the China Daily quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao as saying. (Reuters)

The IDF moved into the Palestinian-controlled Abu Sneina neighbourhood of Hebron (H1) and destroyed two houses, from which militant Palestinians had reportedly fired shots at and injured two Jewish settlers. A firefight erupted that wounded six Palestinians and an Israeli soldier. IDF helicopter gunships and troop reinforcements were called in. The army withdrew after three hours. After the incursion, an army spokesman said that its purpose was not to occupy the Palestinian neighbourhood. But “if the situation became unbearable, it could happen that we stay here in order to end the shootings.” Israeli opposition leader Yossi Sarid warned the Government meanwhile not to change the status quo in the city. Later in the day, Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said in a public television interview that "this operation signifies that Israel is no longer inclined to show restraint but continues to say to the Palestinians day and night: come back to the negotiating table." (DPA, AFP, Reuters, Jerusalem Post).

Chairman Arafat, on the final leg of an Asian tour to raise international support for the Palestinian cause, began talks with Li Peng, Chairman of the Parliament or National People’s Congress. Later, he met with President Jiang Zemin who vowed that China would “always be a true friend” to the Palestinians. President Jiang reaffirmed his full support for Chairman Arafat’s proposal to send international observers to the Middle East. (AFP, BBC, DPA, XINHUA)

Israel’s Chief of the General Staff Shaul Mofaz ordered enhanced supervision at military checkpoints, following Palestinian complaints of abusive treatment by soldiers. An army officer, an Arabic-speaking military liaison officer and a police officer would be stationed at checkpoints across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which inspect Palestinians entering and leaving Palestinian-controlled areas. The move followed the indictment of four soldiers for beating and humiliating Palestinians at a checkpoint last month and a military inquiry into allegations that Israeli soldiers beat a Bedouin man at a West Bank roadblock earlier in the week. Human rights groups say that several ill Palestinians on their way to hospital have died at checkpoints because soldiers have turned them away. In the latest incident, Palestinian officials said a 65-year-old woman died of a heart attack at a roadblock after being delayed for two hours. (Reuters)

24

Foreign Minister Peres said that the closure of Orient House was only temporary. Mr. Peres told an Arabic TV station, MBC, that the takeover of Orient House was a warning to the Palestinians to stop killing, not an act of revenge. His words contrasted with reports that Prime Minister Sharon had said Israel would hold the building for good. (BBC)

Most Israelis think it will be impossible to reach a peace accord with the Palestinians, according to a poll published by Yediot Aharonot . It found that 59 per cent of the population thought no peace deal could be reached, while 38 per cent still held out hopes for an accord. Three-quarters of the Israeli people were satisfied with the way Prime Minister Sharon was handling the current situation, while 23 per cent disapprove. But at the same time, 66 per cent of respondents said that Mr. Sharon had not found an adequate solution to the security problems faced by Israelis because of the intifada . The poll also found that 53 per cent of Israelis supported an upcoming meeting between Messrs Peres and Arafat, while 43 per cent said they were opposed. The poll had a 4.5 per cent margin of error. (AFP)

Speaking in an interview with the BBC , King Abdullah II of Jordan described the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as a Pandora’s box, a spiral of violence that could always spill over from being an Israeli-Palestinian dispute and become a wider Israeli-Arab conflict. But he said he believed there was little hope of the conflict subsiding on its own, the animosity was too deep-rooted. Instead, the outside world had to find a way to get the two sides to disengage and start talking again and the most positive idea at the moment was the call for international monitors. King Abdullah also said he understood the current American reluctance to get closely involved. He said the Bush Administration felt both the Israelis and Palestinians had taken the previous Clinton Administration for granted and played each other off against the US. (BBC)

25

The IDF briefly took over several small Palestinian security outposts in Rafah, while IDF bulldozers tore down the headquarters of Palestinian Public Security, according to residents and Rafah’s Governor, Majid al-Ajha. Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles came under heavy Palestinian gunfire and shot back with shells and machine guns, they added. A Palestinian police sergeant, Alla Abu Bakra, was killed by machine-gun fire, and seven Palestinians were slightly wounded by shrapnel, hospital doctors said. (AP)

26

Israeli fighter planes and tanks demolished police buildings in several Palestinian towns. A Palestinian policeman was killed and at least 19 people injured when Israeli F-16s and F-15s attacked Palestinian police HQ in Gaza City, Deir el-Balah in southern Gaza Strip and the village of Salfit near Nablus. The attack was in retaliation for the killing of three Israeli soldiers and the shooting ambush on the Jerusalem-Modi’in road the previous day, in which two Israelis were killed. During the attacks in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian reporters said that at least half a dozen IAF combat helicopters hovered near Chairman Arafat’s HQ, but did not fire. An Israeli tank shell near Beit Hanoun, northeast of Gaza City killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy from the Jabalya refugee camp. Israeli helicopters fired seven missiles at a police station in Tulkarm. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Israeli tanks shelled three Palestinian police checkpoints near Ramallah. Four Palestinians were wounded when a shell hit a house. Also, a 27-year-old Palestinian had been killed in unclear circumstances near the fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, Palestinians said. They said he had been hit by a tank shell. The IDF had no immediate comment. One of the night-time air strikes levelled a four-story building in the Gaza City police HQ. (AFP, AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post, XINHUA)

Prime Minister Sharon convened his security cabinet to discuss the latest situation. Foreign Minister Peres and Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer attended the meeting. They decided to continue the policy adopted by the security cabinet following the Jerusalem suicide-bombing incident on 9 August. Under this policy, Israel would respond immediately to all Palestinian attacks, and continue its “targeted killing” aimed at those who are about to carry out “terror” attacks. It would also pursue a policy of “active defence” to safeguard the roads used by Jewish settlers living in the West Bank. (XINHUA)

27

The Israeli army killed the Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Mustafa Zibri, known as Abu Ali Mustafa, in his office in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Palestinian security sources said. Four other Palestinians were slightly injured in the attack, confirmed by the Israeli army, when Israeli helicopters fired two missiles through the windows of the office in an apartment block not far from the Palestinian Authority offices. The IDF spokesperson confirmed the attack and said the PFLP had been responsible for a number of attacks inside Israel. Mr. Abu Ali Mustafa, was the highest-ranking Palestinian official killed in a targeted Israeli attack in 11 months of fighting. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post, XINHUA)

“This is a dangerous stage in the Israeli aggression; it has crossed all red lines,” said the spokesman for Chairman Arafat Nabil Abu Rudeineh. In Damascus, Maher Taher, a member of the PFLP political directorate, said the killing would not go unpunished. In Beirut, a Hizballah statement faxed to foreign news agencies called for the escalation of attacks on Israeli targets in retaliation for the assassination of Mr. Abu Ali Mustafa. (AFP, AP, DPA, Reuters)

Israel will not obtain lasting security unless it recognizes the State of Palestine, President Chirac said in Paris. Speaking before an audience of French ambassadors, he said, “Israel will not obtain long-term security, to which its people aspire so legitimately, without the full recognition of a dignified, viable Palestinian State.” Also necessary for Israel’s security, President Chirac added, was a peace accord made with all Arab States in the region. He went on to say that “Palestinians will not obtain the full recognition of their legitimate rights and their State without forming strong political, social and economic ties with Israel.” Mr. Chirac also re-affirmed the principle of “land for peace”. “To turn away from (this principle) is to turn away from a just and lasting settlement,” he said. (AFP, DPA)

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at a daily briefing that Israel’s assassinations of Palestinian leaders were inflaming an already volatile situation and making it much harder to restore calm. The State Department called on Israel to alleviate “the pressure, the hardship and the humiliations of the Palestinian people.” Mr. Boucher also repeated a call to the PA to stop attacks on Israelis and arrest those responsible for the attacks. (Reuters)

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) condemned Israel’s assassination of the Secretary-General of the PFLP, Mustafa Zibri, calling it “an act of escalation, which puts an end to all efforts to save the peace process” the OIC said in a statement from its headquarters in Jeddah. The OIC urged the international community to intervene “rapidly to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people and bring the Israeli Government to implement UN resolutions.” (AFP)

28

Warning that the current violence in the Middle East threatens to expand, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today repeated his call for talks between the parties. “I am worried that if we do not contain the crisis it could spread,” Mr. Annan said today in Austria during a press encounter held jointly with the country’s Foreign Minister, Benita Ferrero-Waldner. He noted that tensions in the region had reached levels “not seen in many years.” Responding to questions, the Secretary-General also called attention to the human toll exacted by the current “tragic” situation. “We have innocent people suffering and I think the international community has an obligation to do whatever it can to bring an end to this misery,” he said. Mr. Annan said the clashes underscored the need for dialogue. “In my judgement it is when the killing is going on, when you are living that tragedy, that you must talk,” he said. “I do not see how you can bring the situation under control if the protagonists do not come around the table.” In that regard, he expressed support for efforts by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to bring the parties together. (UN Newservice)

Four Israeli bulldozers accompanied by tanks razed 14 Palestinian houses and damaged another 20 in an overnight 100 metres incursion into Palestinian-controlled area in the southern Gaza Strip near Rafah, Palestinian security officials said. Twenty-two Palestinians were injured in the incursion, four of them critically. An IDF spokesman said the operation came after a series of attacks against the IDF and attempts to smuggle arms from Egypt through tunnels. Overnight the IDF also moved 300 metres into the Palestinian-controlled town of Beit Jala and took control of five unoccupied buildings from which fire on the “Gilo” settlement originated, according to Israeli radio. A Palestinian security officer was killed and seven other Palestinians were wounded during the operation. Israel called it a “limited” operation but it was not clear how long the troops would stay. Palestinians said the reoccupation by the IDF of Palestinian areas risked sparking a regional war. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

A Palestinian security official was killed and four other Palestinians wounded when a tank hit a Palestinian checkpoint at Dura, southwest of Hebron. The four injured people who were guarding the checkpoint were members of Force 17. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

US Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer in a meeting with President Moshe Katsav, said Israel’s military incursions into the Palestinian-controlled areas could lead to a further escalation of the conflict. The US ambassador also expressed US concern about Israel’s targeted killings of prominent Palestinians. (XINHUA)

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in a statement that Israel’s decision to send troops to seize positions in Palestinian-controlled areas was “excessive, disproportionate and threaten to stoke the cycle of violence”. Secretary Straw accused the Israeli Government of undermining established border agreements and said it should “withdraw its forces immediately” from Palestinian land. “The use of fighter aircraft in residential areas, the destruction of Palestinian Authority security buildings by missiles, and assassinations of Palestinians, can form no part of a meaningful strategy aimed at achieving peace” he added. (The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Israeli Radio reported that according to a decision taken by the security cabinet “future Israeli liquidations [would] not target members of the Palestinian Legislative Council or the Cabinet.” The radio also said the decision to kill Abu Ali Mustafa had been taken several weeks ago. (AFP, DPA)

EU Commission President Romano Prodi called for Europe to play a larger role in the search for peace in the Middle East and said the region was surrendering to fear. His comments came as Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero left for a two-day visit to the region, during which he was scheduled to hold talks with Chairman Arafat, Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Peres. (Reuters)

Israeli tanks penetrated about 100 meters into the town of Deir el-Balah overnight. The incursion was accompanied by an exchange of heavy gunfire between Palestinians and the IDF. Eyewitnesses said Israeli bulldozers destroyed farm land and Palestinian houses, but no casualties were reported. In Rafah, a Palestinian teenager was left clinically dead after being shot by the IDF, hospital sources said. (AFP, Comtex Scientific Corporation, Reuters)

The US State Department called on Israel to withdraw its troops from Beit Jala. “The Israelis need to understand that incursions like this will not solve the security problems, they only make matters worse,“ State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, adding “as a consequence, we believe the Israelis should withdraw their forces from this area.” Mr. Boucher said the US was particularly concerned about the positioning of Israeli tanks near an orphanage affiliated with a Lutheran church, and continued to urge the Palestinians to stop shooting attacks at “Gilo”. France also added its voice calling on Israel to withdraw its troops from the Palestinian-controlled town. “The Israeli presence in Beit Jala is a contravention of existing agreements and adds to the tension. We call on the Israeli authorities to bring it to an end immediately,” Foreign Ministry spokesman François Rivasseau said. (AFP, Financial Times Limited, The Jerusalem Post)

29

The PA and Israel have agreed on the conditions for an Israeli withdrawal from Beit Jala, Israeli and Palestinian officials announced. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman also said the two sides had reached an understanding on the conditions for an Israeli troop withdrawal. But she denied that an agreement had been sealed. PA Information Minister Yassir Abed Rabbo said the two sides had agreed on a ceasefire in Beit Jala and an Israeli pullout from the town under European observation. Mr. Rabbo said that an agreement on a ceasefire and pullout came after Chairman Arafat and Foreign Minister Peres had spoken three times over the telephone. (AFP, Comtex Scientific Corporation, Ha’aretz, XINHUA)

After an overnight shooting by Palestinians at one of its posts in the Gaza Strip, the IDF sent tanks and bulldozers several kilometres into the southern Rafah area to seize a main road and seal off the town. A Palestinian policeman was shot dead during the operation and several Palestinian security positions were destroyed. The IDF had no comments on the incursion. A second Palestinian man was shot and killed in the Tulkarm region during an incident with the IDF where four other Palestinians were injured. (Reuters)

A Palestinian father of two was killed and two others injured in a drive-by shooting attack by Israeli settlers, near the settlement of “Anatot”, northeast of East Jerusalem. The man’s father and brother were wounded in the incident Palestinian sources said. (XINHUA)

The following statement was issued on 29 August by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General is greatly dismayed by the further escalation of violence in recent days in the occupied Palestinian territory and in Israel. There have been a number of troubling incidents and developments involving further loss of life on both sides.

The Secretary-General is concerned that such Israeli action as the killing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Abu Ali Mustafa, and the military incursion into the Palestinian village of Beit Jala, only further inflame the passions in the region and complicate the search for a way out of the present crisis. He reiterates his condemnation of the practice of targeted and extra-judicial killing of Palestinian personalities, and urges Israel to withdraw its troops from all areas under Palestinian authority.

The Secretary-General welcomes reports of an agreement between Foreign Minister Peres and President Arafat regarding Beit Jala, reached with the help of the European Union. He considers the withdrawal from Beit Jala as an essential step to prevent further escalation.

The Secretary-General appeals to all to exercise restraint and to stop the cycle of destructive violence. The growing tragic loss of life on both sides underlines the urgency of resuming a dialogue between the parties, as there is no alternative to a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. (SG/SM/7925 29 August 2001)

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the US objected to Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory as a ”fundamental issue” ; because such incursions were trying to reverse agreements made over the past eight years. Mr. Boucher also said that Secretary Powell had called Chairman Arafat the previous day and assured him that the Administration was pressing Israel to withdraw its troops from Beit Jala. Mr. Powell also urged Mr. Arafat to do everything he could to stop the violence and to help resume security cooperation with the Israeli side, Mr. Boucher said. (Reuters, XINHUA)

A member of Force 17 was killed and 15 other Palestinians, including children, were shot and injured by the IDF in Hebron, eight of them when the IDF opened fire on a bus. An IDF spokesman told AFP that Palestinian forces had shot at Israeli positions in the centre of town. (AFP)

30

The IDF withdrew from Beit Jala just before dawn, withdrawing to positions outside the town, but threatened to move back in and take control over a much more extensive territory if shooting at the Gilo settlement resumed. A large Israeli troop contingent remained on alert in areas surrounding Beit Jala. (AFP, Comtex Scientific Corporation, DPA, The Financial Times, Ha’aretz , The Jerusalem Post, Newsday, Reuters)

The Foreign Ministers of France and Germany welcomed the ceasefire accord reached for Beit Jala, and urged Washington to play a more active role in resolving the Middle East conflict, and called on both the Israelis and the Palestinians to “renew dialogue.” Foreign Minister Védrine added that he regretted Washington’s “wait-and-see” attitude towards the Middle East saying that a US commitment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was “more than ever necessary.” British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also welcomed the Israeli withdrawal from Beit Jala, adding that he “made clear that [he] did not believe that it was appropriate for Israel to have gone into the area in the first place.” (AFP)

A Palestinian civilian was killed by a bullet to the chest when clashes between Palestinians and the IDF erupted east of Tulkarm, hospital sources said. Four others were also injured. In the Gaza Strip, a four-year-old Palestinian boy was seriously wounded when he was hit by live bullets during an exchange of fire near the Karni crossing point. In a separate incident, Palestinian security sources said Israeli bulldozers demolished six houses in the Brazil refugee camp during an incursion. Four Palestinians were wounded in the incident. (AFP)

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher welcomed the Israeli withdrawal from Beit Jala at a daily briefing and said the US thought it was “ particularly important that the Israelis and Palestinians [had been] able to resolve this problem directly”, adding that the US encouraged both sides “to work closely to resume security cooperation” which was viewed as a key element to ending the violence. (Reuters).

The IDF prevented Commissioner-General, Peter Hansen from entering Rafah through the checkpoint at the entrance to the city. When trying to approach the Israeli soldiers to discuss the matter, the IDF threatened to open fire. Mr Hansen and his team later managed to enter Rafah via a dirt road. The IDF subsequently expressed regret over the incident. (AFP)

31

Another Israeli tank and bulldozer incursion into the Palestinian-controlled area of Rafah took place overnight. Nine Palestinians were injured, three of them seriously. Nine houses were destroyed and another ten were damaged. Earlier, the IDF fired on a Palestinian position near the settlement of “ Netzarim” killing a Force 17 member. (AFP)

In Ramallah, the apartment of Qais Abdul Karim, also known as Abu Laila, DFLP leader in the West Bank, came under attack early in the morning. A huge explosion destroyed the apartment. No one was injured in the attack, as the apartment was empty at the time. A DLFP spokesman in Gaza City called it a “new assassination attempt” under Israel’s policy of “ liquidating” Palestinian activists. (AFP, DPA, XINHUA)


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