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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

August 1997


According to the results of a poll published by Maariv, 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. (AFP)







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. (AFP, 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)


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. (AFP)

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. (AFP)

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. (AFP, Reuters)



According to Yediot Aharonot, 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. (AFP)

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. (AP, Reuters)



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. (AFP)


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)


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)


Israeli authorities demolished three partially built Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem claiming they were “illegal structures”. (Reuters)

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 (AFP, AP)

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." (AFP, AP)

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. (AFP)


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. (AFP, Reuters)



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