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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 December 1995
CHRONOLOGICAL REVIEW OF EVENTS

RELATING TO THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE

December 1995


















Monitored from the media by the
Division for Palestinian Rights

2 December Five Israeli settlers fired at Palestinian homes in Urif Village, south of the West Bank city of Nablus. (Reuter)

The Palestinian Authority approved a draft of the election law for the forthcoming Palestinian Council election scheduled for 20 January. Reportedly, the final draft would be examined by a legal commission from the Palestinian Authority's justice department and it would be published in local newspapers. (Reuter)


3 December The head of the Palestinian Electoral Commission, Saeb Erakat, announced that more than a million Palestinians have registered to vote for the first Palestinian election. Around 350,000 were from the Gaza Strip, 71,000 from East Jerusalem and surrounding villages, and the rest were from the West Bank. (AFP)


4 December The International Labor Organization (ILO) reported, on the eve of the visit to the Middle East of its Director-General, Michel Hansenne, that peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors could be endangered unless jobs were found for many unemployed Palestinians. Mr. Hansenne said that an estimated 400,000 Palestinians, aged 15 and over, had no jobs and the number was growing at an annual rate of 10 per cent. (Reuter)

The Palestinian Authority issued 33,000 Palestinian passports to residents in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. More than 30 countries acknowledged the passport for entry to their territory, most of them Arab and Muslim countries. (The New York Times)


6 December Representatives of the United States, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel, met in Jerusalem and agreed to press donor countries to help in building up industrial parks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They also agreed that the next donor countries meeting would be in Paris sometime in January 1996. (AFP)


7 December Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters clashed in the West Bank town of Huawarah near Nablus. No reason was given for the clashes. While the clashes occurred, Israel handed over the administrative offices in the town to the Palestinian Authority. In the southern West Bank, Israeli troops clashed with Palestinians protesting land confiscations near al-Khader Village, south of Bethlehem. Two Palestinians were arrested by Israeli troops. (Reuter)

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat met at Erez crossing point on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and discussed the implementation of the agreement on expansion of Palestinian self-rule. Both leaders agreed that Israel would release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners and increase the number of Palestinians working in Israel to 9,500. (AFP)


8 December Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man in Nablus and injured three others during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the city. Israeli authorities declared Nablus a closed military zone. (AFP)


9 December Palestinians in the occupied West Bank staged a protest strike to mark the eighth anniversary of the intifadah (uprising) against the Israeli occupation. Shops and schools were closed. Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops took place in several places in the West Bank. The Israeli authorities sealed off the West Bank town of Tulkarm ahead of the planned redeployment in the town. (Reuter)

About fifty-one Palestinian policemen arrived in the West Bank town of Tulkarm to take control of the town after the Israeli troop withdrawal. About 350 more policemen were expected at a later date. (Reuter)

Heads of Palestinian Authority departments, civil servants, mayors and employees of international organizations were requested to resign from their posts at least 10 days before entering the list of candidates for the Council election. The request was stipulated for by the Palestinian Election law approved on 7 December. (AFP)


11 December Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres held a meeting with President Clinton at the White House in Washington, D.C. and discussed the defence treaty between both countries. Mr. Peres, in a joint press conference with Mr. Clinton, said that Israel wanted to go full speed ahead to resolve the differences between his country and Syria. (The Guardian, Financial Times)

Israeli soldiers withdrew from Nablus a day ahead of schedule, handing over the West Bank's largest city to an advance team of Palestinian police officers. A force of 1,200 Palestinian officers was expected to arrive overnight to take control of the city. (The New York Times)

Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to construct a railway which would link the Gaza Strip with Egypt and with Israel's port of Ashdod. The announcement was made after a meeting in Gaza between senior Israeli negotiator Major-General Oren Shahor and PLO official Nabil Shaath, in charge of the cooperation and planning department. The estimated cost of the project would be $200 million, and preliminary work on it would begin immediately. (Reuter)

The Israeli authorities banned a conference on economic development in the Palestinian self-rule areas that was to be held in East Jerusalem. According to Internal Security Minister Moshe Shahal, the conference was in violation of the peace agreement signed between the Palestinians and Israel. The conference was organized by the head of the Palestinian Economy Department, Ahmed Korei, at the Catholic hostel Notre Dame de France, on the border of the old city in Jerusalem. (AFP)


12 December Palestinian and French finance ministry officials signed an aid agree- ment of $75 million francs ($15 million) in Paris. The aid package would mostly cover construction of the Gaza port planned to handle vessels of less than 10,000 tonnes. (AFP)


13 December PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat announced officially that elections for the Palestinian Council would be held on 20 January 1996. (The New York Times)


14 December More than 45 countries and representatives of international organiza- tions attended a two-day meeting on the question of Palestinian refugees, hosted by the Swiss Government in Geneva. The meeting, which took place from 12 to 14 December, was held in the framework of the multilateral peace process. The participants discussed family reunifi- cation, professional training and job creation, public and child health, as well as social and economic infrastructure. While Saudi Arabia pledged $20 million to aid Palestinian refugees, the United States pledged $3 million for employment creation and training projects. Kuwait also promised one million dollars in aid to provide assistance to Palestinian refugees. (Reuter, AFP)

Mrs. Leah Rabin, widow of the slain Israeli Prime Minister, who was in Italy for commemorations honoring Yitzhak Rabin, said that in a private conversation with Pope John Paul II, he acknowledged for the first time that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel as well as the capital of three world religions. The Vatican did not officially confirm the Popes private remarks to Mrs. Rabin. (The New York Times)


15 December Japan decided to send a 111-man lightly-armed unit on a United Nations peace-keeping mission to the Golan Heights on 15 January 1996 to stay until the end of August. The Japanese unit would joint the UN Disengagement Observer Force, to replace a Canadian team. (Financial Times)

US Secretary of State Warren Christopher and senior aides indicated that Syria was prepared to move ahead quickly on peace negotiations with Israel. Mr. Christopher and his negotiating team disclosed few details of the response from Syrian Leader, President Hafez Assad, to new proposals from Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Mr. Assad expressed his willingness for peace in a telephone call to President Clinton. (The Washington Post)

PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat paid his first visit in 28 years to the West Bank city of Nablus and officially declared his candidacy for presidency of the Executive Authority. (The Washington Post)


16 December Israeli troops withdrew from the West Bank town of Qalqilya, the fourth Palestinian town to be evacuated and handed over to the Palestinian Authority. Some 450 Palestinian police arrived in the town and took control over it. (AFP)


PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat decreed that six of the 83 seats of the Palestinian Council will be reserved for Christians. Out of the total number of seats, 34 would be handed out in the five electoral districts of the Gaza Strip and 49 across the 11 constituencies in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. (AFP)


17 December UN Coordinator in the Gaza Strip Terje Larsen warned of social and political unrest in the Gaza Strip if economic problems and high unemployment were not immediately addressed. Mr. Larsen appealed to Arab Gulf countries to reopen their labor markets to Palestinian workers to reduce unemployment in the Palestinian self-rule areas. (Reuter)


18 December In his first tour of the Arab Gulf States since the Gulf crisis in 1990, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat visited Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE) seeking closer political and economic ties. Mr. Arafat met with Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Later in the day, Mr. Arafat met with the President of UAE, Sheikh Zayed ibn Sultan al-Nahayan and the latter pledged to finance the construction of homes and subsidize the medical needs of Palestinians. (Reuter)


20 December Israel completed a bypass road around Bethlehem town in the West Bank. The bypass road was built to allow more than 20,000 Israeli settlers to skirt the Palestinian self-rule areas. (Financial Times)

Israel and Syria agreed to renew peace talks at a secluded location in Maryland under United States auspices on 27 December. The talks would be closed to the press. (The New York Times)

During a five-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian self-rule areas, Vatican Foreign Minister Jean-Louis Tauran visited the Gaza Strip and met with Nabil Shaath, the head of the Palestinian International Cooperation and Planning Department. Earlier Minister Tauran met with Faisal Husseini, the head of the Orient House (PLO Headquarters) in East Jerusalem. The meeting took place in the office of the imam of Al-Aqsa mosque next to the Dome of the Rock in the Old City. Vatican officials reaffirmed that formal Vatican policy of not recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem had not changed. (AFP)

Hundreds of Palestinians from Qalqilya blocked Israeli soldiers from building a fence between their town and Israel. According to Palestinian residents the fence would cut across their land. The work was temporarily stopped. (AFP)

The Israeli authorities, aided by Shin Bet (Israeli secret police), arrested 15 Palestinians believed to be members of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas. According to Israeli police, the group was exposed in the area of Tulkarm which planned to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians. (Reuter)


21 December The Israeli authorities withdrew their soldiers from Bethlehem town and handed its control to the Palestinian Authority. About 850 Palestinian police took control over the town. (Financial Times)

Talks between representatives of the Palestinian Authority and the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in Cairo, ended without agreement. According to a joint communiqué issued by the negotiators, Hamas would not urge supporters to boycott the election and would not do anything that would embarrass the Palestinian Authority. PLO officials interpreted that part of the communique as an indirect commitment against violence, while Hamas insisted no such pledge was given. (The New York Times, Reuter, AFP)


22 December Thousands of Palestinians danced and cheered as Mrs. Arafat lit the first Christmas tree in Manger Square in Bethlehem for the first time under Palestinian Authority control. (The Washington Post)

French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette paid his first visit to the Gaza Strip where he met with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. Minister de Charette stressed that France was keen to provide economic support to the Palestinians, and would help to ensure that promises of aid were kept when international donor countries meet in Paris as scheduled on 9 January 1996. He was the first foreign minister to visit Bethlehem under Palestinian Authority rule. (The Washington Post)


23 December On the eve of Christmas, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat arrived in Beth- lehem to greet Palestinians celebrating the holiday and to participate in the observance. (The Washington Post, The New York Times)


24 December Armed Palestinians shot and injured an Israeli soldier when they opened fire from a speeding car on an army patrol in the north of the Gaza Strip. The incident was under investigation. (AFP)

Registration of candidates for elections to the presidency and the 88-seat Palestinian Council was closed at midnight. While only two candidates were registered for the presidency, some 670 candidates, including 28 women, were registered for the Palestinian Council. About 295 candidates were from the Gaza Strip, and 375 from the West Bank. (AFP)

Israeli television reported that the Israeli Government would soon allow Arabs to return to two villages, Iqrit and Kufr Birim, in northern Israel. The Governments decision would allow the two villages residents to rebuild on 600 dunams, far less than the original 12,000. Unlike most refugees, the residents of Iqrit and Kufr Birim remained in Israel close to their homes, which were eventually demolished in 1951. (Reuter)


27 December The Japanese Government decided to send a team of 50 observers to monitor the Palestinian election. The team would also disburse $800,000 to the Palestinian Authority to be used to buy voting equipment and to conduct the polls. (Reuter)

Israeli troops began to withdraw from the West Bank town of Ramallah, the last town to be completely handed over to the Palestinian Authority. (AFP)

The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, met with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in the Gaza Strip and signed several economic and cultural cooperation agreements with the Palestinian Authority. Earlier, President Nazarbayev met with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and signed four accords on bilateral cooperation in the areas of health, agriculture, protecting investments and the environment. (AFP)


30 December PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat paid his first visit to Ramallah. (AFP)


31 December Three residents from the Gaza Strip affiliated with the Islamic Resis- tance Movement, Hamas, registered as independent candidates in the election for the Palestinian Council despite the group's decision to boycott the election. (Reuter)

Prime Minister Shimon Peres proposed at a cabinet meeting to increase the number of Palestinians working in Israel from 50,000 to 100,000. Mr. Peres also proposed that Palestinians should be barred from entering Israel only on strict security grounds. No decision was taken at the cabinet meeting. (AFP)


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