Question of Palestine home
Division for Palestinian Rights
31 October 2000
D i v i s i o n f o r P a l e s t i n i a n R i g h t s
Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine
Monthly media monitoring review
Following an emergency meeting of the League of Arab States (LAS) at the level of ambassadors, convened in Cairo at the request of Chairman Arafat, the LAS Secretary-General Esmat Abdel Meguid said that Arab countries would ask the UN Security Council to “create an international investigative committee into the crimes and carnage committed by Israeli troops against the Palestinian people”. A similar request was issued by the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
(AFP, AP, DPA, Reuters)
At least 50 persons were reported killed and some 1,500 injured, most of them Palestinians, as a result of five days of continuing clashes between Israelis and Palestinians, which followed the visit by Likud leader Ariel Sharon to Al-Haram al-Sharif on 28 September. President Clinton spoke to Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat to express his concern about the fighting and to call on them to “exert maximum efforts to restore calm immediately”. Appeals for an end to the violence were also issued
by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the European Commission.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
The death toll continued to rise as clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators resumed across the West Bank and Gaza Strip after a brief overnight cease-fire. 61 Palestinians were reported killed over the previous six days.
Two of the latest victims were shot dead near the “Netzarim” settlement in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli combat helicopters attacked the area with rockets
. (AFP, AP, EFE)
Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat held separate meetings in Paris with French President Chirac and US State Secretary Albright. They also held a three-way meeting with Secretary Albright, which was later expanded to include the French President and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. No formal agreement was signed but an understanding was reached that both sides would work actively to end the violence. They disagreed on the nature of an investigation into the causes of the violence. Chairman Arafat demanded the dispatch of an international commission, a position supported by President Chirac, but vehemently opposed by Prime Minister Barak, who favoured an Israeli-Palestinian team.
(AFP, AP, DPA, The Jerusalem Post – Internet Edition, XINHUA)
Following the end of the multilateral meetings in Paris, Chairman Arafat and Secretary Albright flew to Egypt, where they continued their talks at Sharm el-Sheikh with the participation of President Mubarak. Prime Minister Barak returned to Israel and did not participate in the talks.
Relative calm prevailed across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, following a cease-fire agreement between Israeli and Palestinian security officials. IDF refrained from firing anti-tank missiles and using combat helicopters against Palestinians and started to withdraw from Palestinian-populated areas where the situation had calmed down. For their part, the Palestinians sent additional police officers to areas where clashes had occurred.
(AFP, DPA, EFE)
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, issued a statement calling on Israelis and Palestinians to comply with international human rights standards and urging Israel to “facilitate the visit of any of the special mechanisms of the Commission of Human Rights to the affected areas that wish to do so”.
At least six Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in sporadic incidents of violence in Jerusalem and other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Israel imposed a closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip until the end of the Yom Kippur holiday late on 9 October. Officials on both sides reportedly tried to keep a lid on violence.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters)
President Mubarak announced that he had invited Arab leaders to hold a Summit in Cairo, on 21 and 22 October, in order to discuss the “deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories”. The Arab League Secretary-General, Esmat Abdel-Meguid, confirmed that he was working with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Amre Moussa, on convening a meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers with a view to preparing the Summit.
By 14 votes in favour and one abstention (United States), the Security Council adopted resolution 1322 (2000), in which it condemned the latest wave of violence in the Middle East and the excessive use of force against Palestinians. It urged Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention and called for an immediate resumption of peace talks.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People met at UN Headquarters in New York and discussed the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. The Committee issued a statement, in which it expressed grave concern at the continuing confrontation and the loss of life caused by the excessive use of force by Israel. The Committee reiterated its strong support for the efforts undertaken by the co-sponsors of the peace process, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General and the Presidents of France and Egypt. It welcomed the adoption by the Security Council of
resolution 1322 (2000)
, called for its speedy and full implementation, and reiterated its position that the United Nations should continue to exercise its permanent responsibility towards all the aspects of the question of Palestine, until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people were fully realized. (
UN Press release GA/PAL/845
President Clinton stayed in contact with Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat over the phone. Among those visiting the region offering their good offices were: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who had been shuttling between Mssrs Barak and Arafat in an effort to narrow their differences over the set-up of an international commission of inquiry into the clashes; the EU’s foreign and security policy chief, Javier Solana, together with the EU Middle East peace envoy, Miguel Moratinos; the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov; the British Foreign Minister, Robin Cook; and the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Thorbjoern Jagland. Pope John Paul issued an urgent appeal from Rome for an end to the violence, saying that the loss of life and desecration of holy places had anguished him greatly.
Israeli helicopter gunships fired missiles at targets in Ramallah and near Chairman Arafat’s HQ in Gaza. The Israeli attacks followed the killing by a Palestinian mob of two captured Israeli soldiers in Ramallah. A statement issued by Chairman Arafat’s office expressed regret over the Ramallah incident but blamed Israel for the worsening situation. Grave concerns over a possible escalation were expressed by, among others, Presidents Clinton and Chirac and Prime Minister Blair. The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, cut short his visit to Lebanon in order to resume contacts with the parties.
(AFP, Kyodo, Reuters, XINHUA)
The Palestine Section of Defence for Children International (DCI/PS) submitted a summary report to Mr. Giorgio Giacomelli, Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights, where it documented the deaths of 24 Palestinian children ranging in age from 18 months to 18 years, as a result of the recent clashes. Five more children were registered as clinically dead after receiving shots in the head. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and the PA Ministry of Health, as of 11 October 2000, a total of 1,148 Palestinian children had been injured by the Israelis.
European Union leaders, holding an informal meeting in Biarritz, France, called on the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership to “show proof of political courage and responsibility so that reason and tolerance prevail over fear, hatred and extremism before the point of no return is reached”. They appealed to the two sides to take part in a Summit “in a constructive spirit” and “resume dialogue with all urgency”.
Palestinians clashed with Israeli police outside Jerusalem’s Old City, in protest against the exclusion from Friday prayers at Al-Haram al-Sharif of all male worshippers aged under 45. Protests against the Israeli air strikes of 12 October were organized at various places and led to clashes in Ramallah and Gaza.
(AFP, DPA, XINHUA)
President Clinton joined Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, with President Mubarak, King Abdullah II, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and EU security and foreign policy representative Javier Solana also in attendance. The aims of the Summit were spelled out at its opening by President Clinton as follows: “We want to end the violence and restore security cooperation. We hope to achieve agreement on an objective and fair fact-finding process on what happened to bring us to this sad point and how can we avoid having it ever happen again. And we want to get the peace process going”.
(AFP, Reuters, US Newswire)
Since the beginning of the clashes on 28 September, at least 108 people were reported killed and some 3,000 injured, the vast majority of them Palestinians.
The Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Nabil Ramlawi, urged the UN Commission on Human Rights holding a two-day special session in Geneva, to investigate into Israeli “crimes against humanity” and “take concrete measures to put an end to such violations and crimes and bring their perpetrators to justice”. The Permanent Representative of Israel, Yaakov Levy, defended the record of Israeli security forces saying that they had “returned fire only when absolutely necessary” and accused Chairman Arafat of launching “a continuous wave of violence” which had plunged the Middle East into crisis. Special Rapporteur Giorgio Giacomelli, back from a five-day trip to the region, said in his report that Israeli forces “appear to have indiscriminately used excessive force in cases where there was no imminent threat to their lives”, blamed Jewish settlers acting as “paramilitaries” for at least five Palestinian deaths, and supported a “mechanism for a speedy and objective inquiry into the ongoing crisis”. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson backed an “objective independent inquiry into the ongoing crisis” but said that consideration was needed over the appropriate entity to conduct it.
The Sharm el-Sheikh Summit ended with the following statement by President Clinton:
“- First, both sides have agreed to issue public statements unequivocally calling for an end of violence. They also agreed to take immediate concrete measures to end the current confrontation, eliminate points of friction, ensure an end to violence and incitement, maintain calm and prevent recurrence of recent events. To accomplish this, both sides will act immediately to return the situation to that which existed previous to the current crisis, in areas such as restoring law and order, redeployment of forces, eliminating points of friction, enhancing security cooperation and ending the closure and opening the Gaza airport. The United States will facilitate security cooperation between the parties as needed.
- Second, the United States will develop with the Israelis and Palestinians, as well as in consultation with the United Nations Secretary-General, a committee of fact-finding on the events of the past several weeks and how to prevent their recurrence. The committee’s report will be shared by the US President with the UN Secretary-General and the parties prior to publication. A final report shall be submitted under the auspices of the US President for publication.
- Third, if we are to address the underlying roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there must be a pathway back to negotiations and a resumption of efforts to reach a permanent status agreement based on the UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and subsequent understandings. Toward this end, the leaders have agreed that the United States would consult with the parties within the next two weeks about how to move forward.”
A statement issued by Prime Minister Barak’s Office said that he had ordered his security forces “to do everything required to implement the [Sharm el-Sheikh] declaration and contact their American and Palestinian counterparts in order to act jointly to achieve this goal forthwith, while strictly upholding our obligation to defend Israel’s citizens and soldiers”.
A statement issued by the Palestinian Authority (PA) confirmed its commitment to apply the final declaration of the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, calling for an abstention from anything, which can lead to tension and violence and to work to calm the situation.
Following meetings between Israeli and Palestinian security officials, Prime Minister Barak ordered the lifting of the blockade around cities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and decided to reopen the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, the Allenby Bridge linking the West Bank with Jordan and the Gaza international airport, a statement issued by his office said.
Sporadic incidents of violence continued in the West Bank and Gaza, mainly near Jewish settlements, resulting in dozens of new injuries, mostly among Palestinians.
Israeli government spokesman, Nachman Shai, told a press briefing that the “countdown” for implementing the Sharm el-Sheikh ceasefire agreement had begun at 15:00 hrs on 18 October and “a cessation of all kinds of hostilities in the territories” was expected within 48 hours. He added that Israel would apply the summit conditions “point by point” and expected the Palestinians to do the same. Should the violence continue, “tough decisions” would have to be taken, he said responding to a question.
(AFP, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post – Internet Edition)
The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, said the European Union must increase its “political presence” and pursue its economic commitment in the Middle East, playing a more important role at this most delicate moment in the peace process. Mr. Solana added that he had presented proposals on the three main subjects at the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, often in concert with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and underlined the important role that the Secretary-General had played saying that perhaps it pointed to “a return of the UN” to the region after many years.
A Palestinian man was killed by armed Jewish settlers in the village of Askar near Nablus. Zahi al-Ardah, 34, was shot in the stomach by a group of settlers who opened fire from a nearby hillside, witnesses said. Eleven other Palestinians were wounded, including a policeman who was shot in the hand, and a civilian who was hit in the chest.
The IDF opened the Karni crossing on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip to Palestinian commercial vehicles, the IDF spokesman’s office said. However, the Karni crossing was only opened to vehicles, which carried goods in and out of the Gaza Strip, but not for passage to Palestinian workers who work in Israel. The Erez checkpoint – the passageway for most Palestinian workers – remained closed, according to a statement issued by the office.
(Ha’aretz, Voice of Palestine, XINHUA)
Prime Minister Barak discussed with senior Defence Ministry officials and IDF commanders proposals for “unilateral separation” as a last resort if violence continued and escalated. Reportedly the proposals included erecting border fences around Palestinian-ruled areas, planting minefields and guarding the perimetres with tanks. PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo told a news conference that the Palestinian people would oppose the plan as they perceived it as “a declaration of war” that would destroy Palestinian economic life. “There will be roads for Palestinians and roads for Israelis, similar to that, which we witnessed in South Africa. … This will not be a temporary procedure but a permanent policy to impose a permanent isolation that will separate and divide Palestinian territories into enclaves,” Mr. Abed Rabbo said. Peace Now Director-General Gaby Lasky charged that the plan suggested by Prime Minister Barak was a gross attempt to mislead the public, as it did not call for the dismantling of settlements. “After its implementation thousands of IDF soldiers will remain in the West Bank and Gaza, and their sole mission will be to protect the settlements and the access roads leading to them. This will continue to perpetuate the occupation and the constant friction with the Palestinians,” she said.
(Al-Ayyam, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post – Internet Edition, Reuters, XINHUA)
Arab Foreign Ministers began their meeting in Cairo aimed at finalizing the agenda and preparing a draft final statement for the Arab emergency Summit. Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa said at the opening of the meeting that there was “no alternative to a return of East Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty, and we will not accept non-Arab sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa mosque compound."
The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process issued a report entitled “The Impact on the Palestinian Economy of the Recent Confrontations, Mobility Restrictions and Border Closures”. According to the report, total economic losses incurred since the outbreak of violence on 28 September were estimated at US$186.2 million, exceeding the total amount of donor disbursements to the PA in the first half of the year. Losses to the Palestinian Authority each day the violence continues were around US$9.8 million, the report said.
The UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution, sponsored by Algeria, condemning “grave and massive violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel,” and establishing a “human rights enquiry commission” to gather information with the aim of preventing similar occurrences in the future. The Commission passed the resolution by a vote of 19 in favour to 16 against, with 17 abstentions. The resolution also asked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territory to take stock of the situation. Other provisions of the resolution requested the Commission’s experts to carry out immediate missions to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Specifically, it requested visits by the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions, torture, violence against women, religious intolerance, racial discrimination, and the right to housing, as well as members of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the Secretary-General's Representative for internally displaced persons.
(Reuters, UN News Service)
Ten Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers – the heaviest toll in two weeks. Five of the dead were shot in gun battles in Nablus. Palestinian protesters were also killed in Ramallah, Jenin, Tulkarm, Qalqilya and the village of Salfit, where a 13-year-old boy was shot in the heart. In Jerusalem, baton-wielding Israeli police clashed with Muslim worshippers after barring Palestinians under 40 from attending Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque.
(DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)
The resumed tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, by a vote of 92 in favour, with six against and 46 abstentions, adopted resolution ES-10/7 entitled “Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory”.
UN Press Release GA/9793
The emergency Summit of the League of Arab States (LAS) concluded its work in Cairo. In a final declaration read out by the Secretary-General of the LAS Esmat Abdel-Meguid, the participants said they held “Israel responsible for any steps taken in regard to relations with Israel by Arab countries, including their cancellation.” The declaration asked the UN to consider forming an international force to protect Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. The Summit also called on the UN to investigate the causes of the violence. The participants called for the establishment of an international court similar to the Rwandan and Yugoslav war crimes tribunals. Also, two funds were established, one of them worth US$200 million to aid the families of Palestinians killed in the recent violence, and another one worth US$800 million to “preserve the Arab and Muslim nature of Jerusalem.” Saudi Arabia contributed 25 percent of both funds.
(AFP, AP, EFE, Ha’aretz, Kyodo, Reuters, XINHUA )
Amnesty International accused Israel of using excessive lethal force against Palestinian demonstrators. Amnesty said in a report that Israeli security forces consistently breached international human rights standards and their own rules of engagement, which allow the use of firearms only when life is in imminent danger.
Israeli Air Force Commander Major-General Dan Halutz said in an interview published by
The Jerusalem Post
that his force would consider changing “tactics and responses” against the Palestinians should the violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip further escalate. He added that, in the future, his airplanes would take increasingly severe retaliation against “a wide range of targets.”
(The Jerusalem Post – Internet Edition, XINHUA)
In an interview to the Russian public
TV channel Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the Middle East peace process could only work if “UN resolutions are strictly respected, that is if Israel returns all the territories it occupied after the 1967 war to the Palestinians.”
reported in its 30 October issue that the IDF had a plan to reoccupy large parts of Palestinian-controlled territory if the Middle East peace process collapsed. According to the magazine, Israel did not intend to take the land permanently but would use it as a “bargaining chip” in future negotiations under the secret plan codenamed “Field of Thorns”.
Israel closed Gaza International Airport for the second time since 28 September.
During his meeting in Jericho with visiting EU Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat urged European countries to step in immediately to end the violence, provide international protection to the Palestinian people and form an international fact-finding committee. Mr. Erakat also held talks with US envoy Dennis Ross.
A 16-year-old Palestinian was shot dead near the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel. A 55-year-old Palestinian man was killed at his house in Hebron by gunfire, while a 13-year-old Palestinian boy died at Shifa hospital of a gunshot wound in the head he had suffered four days earlier in Gaza. At least four Palestinians were injured in the village of Beit Jalla, near the “Gilo” settlement on the outskirts of Jerusalem, by fire coming from Israeli tanks during the night. Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops continued in Hebron and at least two locations in the Gaza Strip. The death toll since the beginning of the clashes reportedly reached 137, the vast majority of them Palestinian and about one quarter aged 18 or under.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
Israeli authorities allowed Gaza International Airport to re-open, after a day’s closure.
President Clinton called Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak and proposed the holding of separate meetings with them in Washington with the objective of ending the confrontation. Although no preconditions for hosting such meetings were set by the US side, the meetings were expected to take place “within the context of seeing progress on full implementation of Sharm [el-Sheikh]”, according to White House National Security Council spokesman, P.J. Crowley.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
President Putin called for restraint in the Middle East in late-night telephone conversations with Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat. The Russian Middle East envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Sredin, was expected to visit the region in the coming days.
Yossi Ginossar, an envoy of Prime Minister Barak, met with Chairman Arafat and Gaza Preventive Security Chief Mohammed Dahlan, Israel Radio reported. According to an Israeli source the envoy carried a request to halt the violence.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters)
Palestinian Council Speaker, Ahmed Qurei, told a press conference in Ramallah that the Palestinians were ready to go back to the negotiations once Israel withdrew its forces from around the main populated areas in the Occupied Territory, stopped its aggression and the situation returned to what it was before September 28. He noted that there was a need for “a new formula, a new structure, a new way with the negotiations with Israel” and appealed to the United Nations, the United States, China, the Arab world and Russia to protect the Palestinians and to implement UN resolutions. Regarding the unilateral “separation” suggested by Israel, Mr. Qurei said that the Palestinians would fight against it with all means, because it would amount to continuing the occupation and annexing the settlement blocks.
Prime Minister Barak’s security adviser, Danny Yatom, said Mr. Barak would not go to Washington for meetings so long as the clashes continued and noted that President Clinton had not extended any formal invitation but had just put forward an idea. Chairman Arafat’s adviser, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said a meeting between Chairman Arafat and President Clinton was always welcome but the Palestinian side had made it clear that it was still too early for a meeting between Mssrs Arafat and Barak to take place.
The Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations in New York, in his capacity as chairman of the Arab Group and also on behalf of the League of Arab States, sent a letter requesting the UN Security Council to convene an urgent meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and to establish “a United Nations protection force to be deployed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, to provide needed protection to the Palestinian civilian population”. A call to this effect had also been made on 25 October by the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations.
Thirty-three Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli security forces throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Israeli police spokesman in Jerusalem, Shmuel Ben-Rubi, announced that the age limit for Palestinians to be allowed to attend Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque had been lowered to 35 years, from a previous 45 and then 40 years. He also said that the age limit would be lowered further next week “if the calm remains”.
The UN Security Council, meeting in informal consultations, deferred a decision on a Palestinian request supported by the Arab and the Non-Aligned countries regarding the dispatch of a UN protection force to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem.
The Council would continue to discuss the matter in the coming days, according to its President, Martin Andjaba of Namibia, who reportedly stated that there was no opposition to the idea of a protection force for the Palestinians, “except that the request needs some serious discussion by the Council” and added that he would consult the UN Secretary-General on the matter.
Prime Minister Barak had a telephone conversation with President Clinton on ways to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Israel was reportedly looking into the possibility of renewing the peace process but first wanted to see that the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings were implemented on the ground.
Citing figures from the Palestinian Red Crescent, UNICEF said in Geneva that the number of children killed in the clashes stood at 43. UNICEF also said that water in a number of villages in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was getting scarce, as a result of Israeli security measures, while closures were keeping many farmers away from their fields.
A Gallup poll published in the Hebrew daily
found that 57 per cent of Israelis backed the establishment of a Palestinian State, up from 46 per cent three months ago, while 36 per cent opposed it, down from 41 per cent. However, 70 per cent of those surveyed said they supported Prime Minister Barak’s decision for a “time out” in the peace process and some two thirds backed the idea of a “unilateral separation” between Israel and the Palestinians if there was no peace accord. The number of those in support of the peace process had dropped to 59 per cent, from 68 per cent last month, the poll found.
In a statement made on his behalf at the dedication of a new hospital in Gaza City, Chairman Arafat expressed support for political separation between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of the 4 June 1967 border lines but “totally rejected” the Israeli plans for mere geographic or economic separation, which would turn the Palestinian-controlled territories into “cantons” fully controlled by Israel and would lead to a “total explosion of the situation”. He stressed that the only way out for the Israeli leaders was to commit themselves to the references of the peace process, including all UN resolutions, otherwise there would be no security or stability in the Middle East.
Estimates for the Occupied Palestinian Territory’s economic growth in 2000 dropped from 7 per cent a month ago to only 4 per cent or less, according to a statement by the Director of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR), Muhammad Stayyeh. He explained that, due to the ongoing total Israeli closure, the economy was functioning at only 25 per cent of its normal rate and another 120,000 people had been added to the 70,000 already unemployed, because of the stop of Palestinian labour flow to Israel. Mr. Stayyeh urged Arab countries to speed up implementation of their recent summit decisions for financial aid totalling US$1 billion and complained about the lack of action by European donors to rescue the Palestinian economy. PA Trade and Economy Minister Maher Masri estimated daily losses to the Palestinian economy at US$10 million, not including the damage caused to the infrastructure and not counting revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the PA but so far withheld.
The Minister said that all goods imported by Palestinian companies, a total of 800 containers, were still held at the Israeli ports.
After talks with Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in Cairo that Europe was willing to play a part in peace efforts, as indicated by the presence of EU common foreign and security policy representative Javier Solana at the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, but European efforts would complement rather that replace US ones and their emphasis would continue to be on the “economic input to fostering stabilization”.
In a declaration at the end of an EU-Russia Summit in Paris, President Putin and EU leaders issued a joint call on Israel and the Palestinians to halt violence and prepare for a resumption of peace talks. They also said they would work together to help achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Chairman Arafat stated in Gaza City that the PLO Central Council would hold a meeting before 15 November to decide on statehood. On 29 October, PA Minister for Planning and International Cooperation, Nabil Shaath, had been quoted by the
daily as saying that the Palestinian leadership had decided to postpone the declaration of an independent State and leave the date for such a declaration open “so as not to give Israel a new date she can exploit”.
Speaking at the opening session of the Knesset, Prime Minister Barak said that he believed peace was still possible in the Middle East but Israel had no partner ready for compromise at this time. He said that his Government “was ready to leave no stone unturned to reach peace”, as in the case of the failed Camp David Summit, and accused Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian leadership of choosing the path of violence. He reiterated that, if there was a reduction in violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he would accept an invitation from President Clinton to hold talks on the Middle East crisis.
The latest death toll from the clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians since 28 September reportedly stood at 151, the vast majority of them Palestinian.
Israeli helicopters fired missiles at Fatah buildings in Ramallah and Nablus, in the West Bank, and in Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip, late on 30 October. Only limited damage and no casualties were reported.
Israel said the strikes were part of a new policy of “pinpoint operations” against Palestinian gunmen intended at preventing further guerrilla attacks and warned it could inflict “even harder blows” against the Palestinians. In a statement carried by
, the Palestinian leadership appealed “to the United Nations, the international community, the Arab world, the European Union, China, Japan and the sponsors of the peace process to immediately intervene and use all of their authority against these aggressions and this dangerous Israeli military escalation that risks the security and peace in the Middle East”.
Gaza International Airport was closed for the third time since the outbreak of violence. The Israeli authorities cited security concerns, which were rejected as “unjustifiable” by the airport’s Director-General, Suleiman Abu Halib.
(AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)
Palestinian Council Speaker, Ahmed Qurei, proposed that an international conference be convened to end the violence, with the participation of the United Nations, the USA, the EU, Russia, China and Arab States. “If Israel wants a genuine peace, then this is the only mechanism to conclude an agreement for which success is guaranteed”, he told a news conference in the West Bank.
The Deputy Head of the Russian Presidential Administration, Sergei Prikhodko, stated that the Russian leadership had been in “daily contact” with Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat urging both sides “to show restraint and meet their commitments”. Israeli Acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami said he had asked Russia to exert its influence on Chairman Arafat towards ending Palestinian protests at talks with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in Paris.
* * *