Question of Palestine home
31 August 1997
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
According to the results of a poll published by
, 30 per cent of 504 Jewish Israelis said they were ready to accept Palestinian sovereignty over parts of East Jerusalem, while another 21 per cent were in favour of shared sovereignty. Out of the remainder, 22 per cent were willing to see a Palestinian capital outside the city, while only 20 per cent rejected any concession over the city. Seven per cent were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of 4.5 per cent.
According to the official Palestinian news agency
, PA President Yasser Arafat addressed a letter to the UNSG Kofi Annan asking him “to do everything possible to force Israel to halt collective punishment against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority”.
Speaking on Spanish state TV, EU Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos proposed the setting up of a new permanent Israeli-Palestinian security committee in order to save the peace process. He said: “The European Union is seeking to present concrete ideas for the creation of a permanent security committee, in which Israelis and Palestinians would work together continuously and not on an interim basis”.
The US called on Israel to ease economic sanctions imposed on the PA in response to the suicide bombing in West Jerusalem. The State Department spokesman James Foley said on the issue: “We believe that it is important to reconcile Israel’s legitimate security needs with the economic well-being of the Palestinian people. We believe it is in Israel’s interest to pursue the security challenge in a way that does not undermine the Palestinian Authority and their ability to uphold their own security obligations.”
The US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recommended “accelerating the permanent status negotiations”. She said: “If the parties have a clear, mutual and favourable sense of the ultimate direction of negotiation, it will be easier for them to overcome setbacks and avoid distractions along the way. This will require accelerating the permanent status negotiations.”
According to the Alternative Information Center (AIC), a total of 3,863 Palestinians have had their Jerusalem IDs confiscated, since the Israeli annexation of the city. A total 689 cards were revoked by the Israeli authorities in 1996.
The US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross arrived in Israel on a mission to revive the Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation.
Violent confrontations between Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops erupted in Ramallah and in Gaza City. Hundreds of Palestinians protested against the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory. Israeli troops responded by firing rubber bullets, slightly wounding a Palestinian man.
The PLO was notified by the State Department that it would have to “suspend” its activities in Washington, D.C. because the US Congress had failed to renew legislation allowing the office to operate. The Congress will remain on holidays through the end of the month.
Israeli authorities demolished five Palestinian houses under construction in East Jerusalem, stating the structures were constructed without permits.
James Rubin, spokesman for the US Secretary of State Albright, said she was planning her first Middle East trip. “The ‘when’ is linked to the kind of trip she wants to have and the kind of results that we see in the area of security that we are going to be watching in the coming weeks,” he said. Rubin added: “It’s possible the trip will not be in August but will be in September.”
(AFP, Financial Times, Reuters)
Israeli and Palestinian security officials met in Ramallah to discuss security cooperation. The meeting, closed to the media, was part of a framework set up by US peace envoy Dennis Ross. It was attended by a CIA official.
(AFP, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)
The PA announced that it would launch a gradual boycott of Israeli goods in retaliation for Israeli economic sanctions introduced following a recent suicide bombing.
(AFP, The Jerusalem Post)
Israel decided to release some PA funds after receiving assistance from it in the investigation of the suicide bombing. According to Israeli Ministry of Finance, some US$34 million had been frozen since the incident. Prime Minister Netanyahu approved the transfer to the PA of about 30 per cent of tax refunds and customs duties. Palestinian officials said Israel was holding up some US$62.5 million of the PA funds.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
Palestinians who were denied the right to build new housing in East Jerusalem and forced by the Israeli authorities to leave the city set up some 20 tents in the middle of East Jerusalem protesting against Israel’s ban on the construction of new housing for them. According to Faisal Husseini, a PA official in charge of Jerusalem affairs, 30,000 new housing units are needed to house the growth of the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem.
Israel further eased its economic blockade of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, permitting limited shipments of construction materials into the Palestinian territory and allowing 800 merchants to enter Israel.
President Mubarak of Egypt ordered the transfer of an “emergency donation” of US$10 million to the PA to help it overcome crisis caused by the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory.
In implementation of its economic boycott of Israeli products, the PA said it has barred from the occupied territory goods worth US$500 million a year in sales.
, Israeli army legal officers and officials from the Ministry of Justice were secretly surveying plots of Palestinian land around existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which could be declared “state land” and thus become eligible for confiscation.. The surveys are being carried out at the request of the Jewish settlers who hope to build on newly designated lands to create a territorial continuity between isolated settlements in the occupied territory ahead of the permanent status negotiations.
In response to the Israeli blockade of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the PA began enforcing a partial boycott of Israeli goods. Trucks carrying Israeli products were turned away by Palestinian security forces who set up roadblocks at the entry points to the self-rule areas.
Some 150,000 Palestinian schoolchildren stayed away from the first day of school at UNRWA facilities as a result of the Agency’s decision to charge each Gaza Strip student a 50 shekels (US$14) fee. Popular committees in Palestinian refugee camps decided to keep the children out of school in protest to the decision by UNRWA. The PA called for students to attend classes at all schools, while attention was given to the issue. About 300,000 children in the Gaza Strip and 500,000 in the West Bank attended classes. According to UNRWA, it was compelled by financial crisis “to impose mandatory school donations in the Gaza Strip Agency’s schools in order to continue to provide reasonable education services.”
After a peaceful demonstration in front of the Church of the Nativity protesting the Israeli blockade of Bethlehem, clashes broke out between Palestinian youths and the Israeli border police.
The PA appealed to the United States, the EU and the Russian Federation on 25 August to stop Israel’s blockade of Bethlehem, the demolition of houses and alleged plans to send hit squads into the Palestinian self-ruled areas.
The Associated Press
reported that PA Minister of Local Government and chief negotiator Saeb Erakat had sent letters to the US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, EU Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos and the Russian Federation to urge them “to interfere directly with the Israeli Government to put an end to such measures.”
(AP, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)
The Israeli soldiers demolished four Palestinian houses in Bethlehem, which resulted in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. The Israeli soldiers used tear-gas and rubber bullets against the stone-throwing Palestinian youths. As a result of the confrontation, one Palestinian was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet and a Palestinian woman, who collapsed from a nervous attack, was hospitalised.
Dispersing Palestinian street protests over the hardships caused by the Israeli blockade of Bethlehem, Israeli troops filled a girls’ elementary school with tear-gas. About a dozen third- and fourth-graders were treated for tear-gas inhalation.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
The PA Minister of Economy and Trade Maher al-Masri told journalists in Ramallah that the Authority’s budget deficit this year would leap nearly 700 per cent due to heavy economic sanctions imposed by Israel. Al-Masri said that the budget would rise to US$400 million, up from the US$51.7 million forecast in the budget preparations.
Israeli authorities demolished three partially built Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem claiming they were “illegal structures”.
Some 50 Palestinian religious and political leaders from Jerusalem and Bethlehem, led by Bethlehem mayor Hanna Nasser, broke through Israeli army lines in Bethlehem in order to hold a brief joint protest over the Bethlehem blockade. Scuffles broke out between the protesters and the Israeli troops
Israel ended a 28-day blockade of Bethlehem. An IDF spokesman said: "The Minister of Defence and the chief of staff have approved the lifting as of this afternoon of the closure on Bethlehem, which was imposed on July 30 following the Mahaneh Yehuda bombing."
Palestinian refugees demonstrated Wednesday for a second day throughout the Gaza Strip, ignoring calls by the PA to halt protests against deep cutbacks in UNRWA services to refugees. Some 1,000 protesters, mostly students, protested outside schools run by UNWRA in Deir al-Balah refugee camp in southern Gaza. Hundreds more gathered at the Agency’s offices in other refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. According to UNWRA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen, UNRWA received just US$207 million from aid donors and expects to have US$220 million in hand at year-end, which leaves a US$20 million deficit for the year. Other than charging a nominal fee of some US$15 a year for schooling, UNRWA also had to cut international staff by 15 per cent to 135 and cancel the hiring of 250 new teachers needed to cope with 11,000 new students this year.
According to a World Bank report, frequent Israeli closures imposed on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, would negatively affect the Palestinian economy through a real impact and a fiscal impact in the short term and the long term. The report said that losses under “severe closure” could amount to 40 to 60 per cent of income and output, or US$4 to 6 million a day. Some 51,000 Palestinians had been licensed to work in Israel each day until 30 July. The closure meant a US$31.1 million loss in potential income, while restrictions on trade between Israel and the Palestinian territories cost another US$29.9 million.. According to the report, there had been 53 closure days in the West bank and the Gaza Strip since last January, resulting in a loss of about 22 per cent of potential working days.
Scuffles broke out between Palestinians of the West Bank village of Yattah, south of Hebron, and the settlers from the nearby Jewish settlement of Ma’on. The settlers were trying to seize Palestinian land, claiming that it belonged to the settlement.
PA President Arafat said the PA would demand compensation from Israel for economic losses caused by the month-long closure of the Palestinian territories.. “We will demand compensation for our losses in the entire West Bank, and especially in Bethlehem where damage has been greater,” Arafat told a public meeting in Bethlehem.
The IMF called on Israel to resume the full transfer of tax revenues to the PA, which Israel froze after a double suicide bombing in West Jerusalem a month ago. “At present, Israel owes the Palestinian Authority $65 million in clearance revenues,” said Salam Fayyad, the IMF regional representative. “Except for the partial transfer of $12 million about two weeks ago, clearance revenues, which constitute 60 per cent of the Authority's total revenues, have been withheld by Israel since the July 30 suicide bombings,” he added.
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