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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights
30 November 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


November 2000


1

Speaking to reporters in London, following his return from a visit to the Middle East, Amnesty International researcher Claudio Cordone condemned Israel's use of helicopters against Palestinian targets and urged Israeli troops to show restraint, particularly against children. “There is a pattern of gross human rights violations that may well amount to war crimes”, he added, and asked for an independent investigation into the violence. (Reuters)

Following his meeting with Chairman Arafat in Gaza City, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder reiterated the EU’s position that “the Palestinians have a right to self-determination and to have their own State” but noted that it would be “wise in such a difficult time as this to avoid unilateral actions of any kind” as “this would be an obstacle to the peace process”. Mr. Schroeder stated that he had been moved by the suffering of the population, especially of the young people, and added that his country had offered to fly 50 seriously wounded Palestinians to Germany for treatment. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Israeli troops shot dead five more Palestinians, bringing the total number of persons killed since the beginning of the violence to some 165. (AFP)

An understanding reached between Chairman Arafat and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres late at night in Gaza concerned “a number of steps, on the basis of the understandings of Sharm el-Sheikh, which were supposed to bring about a renewal of the security cooperation and a cessation of the violence and incitement”, according to a statement issued by Prime Minister Barak’s Office. The statement also announced the freezing of the “responsive measures” that had been discussed during the night by the Israeli Cabinet. A statement issued by Palestinian Authority (PA) Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo called for Palestinians to exercise restraint and to demonstrate only in peaceful ways. (AFP, Reuters)

2

A Palestinian was killed and 14 were wounded by Israeli soldiers in separate clashes in the West Bank and Gaza. (AFP, AP)

3

New clashes broke out throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Israeli army’s armoured vehicles entered the Palestinian side of the Karni crossing, from where tanks had been pulled out the day before. At least two Palestinian men were shot dead by Israeli troops, one in Tulkarm and the other at the village of Hizma near Jerusalem, bringing the number of people killed or declared brain dead over the five weeks of violence to 176, the vast majority of them Palestinian. (AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)

The World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it had launched an emergency food aid operation to help about 300,000 needy Palestinians affected by the recent violence. “Households whose livelihoods depend on employment in Israel have lost their jobs because the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been sealed off since the turmoil started in late September”, WFP spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume said. The agency already had an ongoing programme to help 104,000 special hardship cases in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, people such as the handicapped, old, widows or orphans, but contributions from donors were lagging behind, with only US$1.4 million received so far of the US$4.7 million required. (AFP)

5

Saudi Arabia donated US$30 million to the Palestinian Authority, to help it overcome economic difficulties caused by the protracted Israeli closure, which has kept Palestinian workers from entering Israel. The cost of the closure was estimated at US$870 million, according to official Palestinian sources. The World Bank had estimated in the previous week that the Palestinian economy had lost US$210 million in gross domestic product due to Israel’s closure in the first month of violence and had said the figure could rise to US$630 million if the closure continued until the end of the year. (AP, DPA, Reuters)

The death of another two Palestinians brought the total number of persons killed to some 180, the vast majority of them Palestinian. Overall, the violence that has swept the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 28 September reportedly appeared to be waning, following the recent understanding reached between Chairman Arafat and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and ahead of the Washington meetings scheduled for later in the week. (AFP, AP)

6

Chairman Arafat told CBS television on 5 November that he wanted an international peace-keeping force in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, to protect Palestinians from the Israeli army. The Jerusalem Post reported that the US Administration was testing the waters to see if Israel would meet the Palestinian side half way and would agree to the deployment of an unarmed international observer force similar to the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), in place since 1994. A statement by Prime Minister Barak’s office said the idea would be opposed if raised. Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami rejected any “internationalization” of efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said that Israel was not interested in UN involvement but rather in US mediation. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post – Internet Edition)

The PA called on all Arab countries to absorb Palestinian workers and graduates, thus helping put an end to economic dependence on Israel, PA Labour Minister Rafik al-Natsheh told the Palestinian Council in Ramallah. (Reuters)

7

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told journalists in Ramallah that an international protection force requested by Palestinians should be armed, mobile and operating in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Mr. Erakat said a refusal to dispatch such a force would condemn the Palestinian people to more bloodshed. He said Chairman Arafat would continue to press demands for the creation of such a force, despite Israel’s opposition and the cool reception of the idea by US officials. Chairman Arafat was also expected to push for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry into the clashes at his talks with President Clinton and, on his way to Washington, with President Mubarak and Prime Minister Blair, in Cairo and London respectively. Mr. Erakat noted that it was time for “a big move” and no “partial agreements, or fragmented issues” would work. (DPA, Reuters)

In an interview with Europe One radio, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that for the UN to deploy an international force in the Occupied Palestinian Territory the agreement and cooperation of both parties would be needed, noting that Prime Minister Barak had already expressed his opposition to the idea. The Secretary-General added that, despite the troubles, the peace process was still alive and urged Chairman Arafat not to declare a State unilaterally, as this would complicate things. (Reuters)

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue issued a statement, in which it appealed to Israelis and Palestinians to end the violence and return to the negotiating table; expressed sympathy for those suffering; and stressed that “there can be no exclusive claim to the city” of Jerusalem, which belongs to “the spiritual patrimony of humanity”, and the holy places should be accessible to all, “especially … Jews, Christians and Muslims”. (AFP, Reuters)

A 24-year-old Palestinian demonstrator was shot dead in Bethlehem and 60 others were injured in clashes with Israeli troops across the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The total number of people killed was reported to have risen to some 184. (AFP, Reuters)

The Gaza International Airport was reopened but Palestinian aviation officials complained that Israel was restricting operating hours. (AFP)

The following statement was released by the White House on the composition of the Fact-Finding Committee, announced by President Clinton at the conclusion of the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit on 17 October:
(U.S. Newswire)

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warmly welcomed the appointment by President Clinton, after joint consultations, of a Fact-Finding Committee, in accordance with the Sharm el-Sheikh summit understandings. The Secretary-General expressed his conviction that the Committee would carry out its duties with impartiality and thoroughness, thus making an important contribution towards the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. He said he hoped the Committee would begin its work “in the very near future” and it would pursue its efforts in a sustained manner. Finally, the Secretary-General reiterated his call on the parties to implement all Sharm el-Sheikh understandings in good faith. (UN Press Release SG/SM/7616)

In a letter sent to world leaders Prime Minister Barak warned that a unilateral declaration of an independent Palestinian State would be “liable to create a source of continuous instability in the region, a great potential for threatening moderate neighbouring countries and endangering regional stability and global interests”. He said that a viable Palestinian State could be created through negotiations, on the basis of the ideas discussed at Camp David, but cautioned that Chairman Arafat was about to choose “the unilateral, coupled with violence, way”, in which case Israel would be forced “to take measures to ensure the security of [its] citizens and to protect [its] vital interests”. (AFP, DPA)

The UN General Assembly adopted without a vote resolution 55/18 entitled “Bethlehem 2000”. (UN Press Release GA/9812)

8

Five Palestinian teenagers and one Israeli woman were killed today, bringing the death toll to some 192. (AFP, DPA)

The Gaza International Airport was closed by Israel for the fourth time since 28 September. (AFP)

In a message to Roman Catholic leaders in the Holy Land, Pope John Paul II appealed to Jewish and Muslim leaders to concentrate all their efforts on restoring peace in the Middle East and said both Israelis and Palestinians had the right to live in the area with dignity and security. (Reuters)

The Islamic Development Bank said it had allocated US$55 million in support of the Palestinians, US$5 million as a humanitarian grant and US$50 million in soft loans for development projects. (Reuters)

The European Commission announced that it had authorized the payment of up to 27 million euros (US$23 million) to the PA, to help it meet urgent expenses, such as salaries for public sector employees. The payment would be made under the EU’s “Special Cash Facility” set up in 1998, which gives refundable advances to the PA, whenever the Israeli authorities do not transfer tax receipts in time, as in this case for the month of October. (XINHUA)

The Foreign Ministers of Britain and France, Mssrs Robin Cook and Hubert Védrine respectively, said at a joint press conference in Paris that they were gravely concerned with the situation in the Middle East but shared UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s reaction to the idea of deploying a protection force, that is they could not see how it could be made to work without Israel’s cooperation. (Reuters)

9

The leader of Fatah’s military wing in the southern West Bank, Hussein Abeyad, was killed along with two Palestinian women bystanders in an Israeli helicopter attack on the West Bank village of Beit Sahur. The Israeli army said it had launched the attack against Fatah officials it suspected of being involved in attacks in Beit Sahur and other villages near Bethlehem over the past month claiming the lives of three Israeli soldiers. Fatah’s West Bank leader, Marwan Barghouti, told CNN that the assassination constituted “a very dangerous escalation” by Israel but would certainly not stop the intifadah, which would only end with the end of Israeli occupation. (AFP, Reuters)

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, on a visit to the region, held talks with Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, after which she stated that she was finding “ingredients of … possible constructive components of dialogue” that should be explored. A meeting with Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami was cancelled, following Ms. Robinson’s decision not to hold talks with Mssrs Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, due to Palestinian objections. (Reuters)

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with President Clinton in Washington, Chairman Arafat said that he had reiterated his full commitment to making peace but condemned the killing of Fatah leader Hussein Abeyad as a “dangerous development”. He said he had raised his proposal to set up a UN protection force for the Palestinians but did not mention President Clinton’s reaction. (Reuters, XINHUA)

10

Fierce clashes were reported throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with “heavy” gunfire in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. Three Palestinians were killed and one Israeli soldier critically wounded. The total death toll neared 200, the overwhelming majority of them Palestinian, with thousands more injured. (AFP, DPA)

The Israeli army announced that it had imposed a closure on the cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah “in the wake of the firing episode [when an Israeli soldier was shot in Bethlehem] and recurring riots”. Earlier in the day, the Israeli army had announced the closure of the Mediterranean territorial waters off the Gaza Strip, between the cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, after an alleged suicide boat attack on an Israeli naval patrol vessel in the area on 7 November. (AFP, Reuters)

Chairman Arafat addressed the UN Security Council on agenda item “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. The discussion at the closed meeting focused on the Palestinian request for the deployment of a UN protection force in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Council also heard, separately, Ambassador Yehuda Lancry of Israel. Following the discussions, US Ambassador Holbrooke said his country would oppose the deployment of a protection force “unless and until it is supported by both parties under whatever form it will emerge”. France had reportedly proposed the deployment of an unspecified number of military observers, a proposal also supported by the UK. Ambassador Lancry stated to reporters that Israel was opposed to any international interference that would by-pass the “direct and bilateral approach with the Palestinians”. (AFP, DPA, XINHUA)

11

The Speaker of the Palestinian Council, Ahmed Qorei, said in Ramallah that, before Palestinians agree to resume the peace talks, Israel must meet a set of requirements, including a complete halt to all Jewish settlement activities, as it was made evident during the clashes that “these settlements were not used as residential areas but military bases and the settlers are armed militias attacking Palestinians daily”. Mr. Qorei also said that, given Israel’s “use of excessive force”, the Palestinian leadership would insist on the deployment of an international protection force in Palestinian areas. (Reuters)

12

Chairman Arafat and the UN Secretary-General met on the sidelines of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit in Doha, reportedly to discuss the Palestinian request for a protection force, as well as the French proposal for an unarmed observer mission. At a separate meeting, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Chairman Arafat called jointly for international observers to be sent into the Occupied Palestinian Territory to assure international protection for the Palestinians. (AFP)

In his address to the OIC Summit in Doha, Chairman Arafat stated that, as long as Israel continued to use force and violence against the Palestinians, the intifadah would continue. He also stated that the Palestinians “welcomed talks but these talks should be based on goodwill and with the intention to enable broad-based solutions”. (DPA)

The OIC Summit in Doha approved a non-binding resolution “inviting” Muslim States to cut ties with Israel over what was seen as attempts at erasing the Arab character of Jerusalem. The Summit also denounced Israel for using helicopter gunships and tanks to quell the Palestinian uprising and called for a UN peace-keeping force to protect Palestinians. The participating leaders affirmed their “determination to cut relations with any country that moves its embassy to Jerusalem or recognizes it as the capital of Israel”. The leaders also “urge[d] the US Administration to revise its biased stance, which prevents the Security Council from shouldering its responsibilities [regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict], representing a dangerous violation of the UN Charter”. (Reuters)

Speaking in Washington after his talks with President Clinton, Prime Minister Barak stated that: “Israel strives for peace, but a peace that will be reached at the negotiating table rather than through the imposing of the will of one or the other side through a kind of international activity”. No breakthrough was achieved at the talks during which, according to Mr. Barak, he and President Clinton talked about ending the violence and carrying out the understandings reached at Sharm el-Sheikh. A senior Israeli official travelling with Mr. Barak said that the Prime Minister hoped to conclude an agreement with the Palestinians in President Clinton’s two remaining months in office. (AFP, Reuters)

14

PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said in Gaza City that there would be no declaration of a Palestinian State in the immediate future. Moreover, Mr. Rabbo noted that it would be “premature” to declare a Palestinian State without complete sovereignty over all the territories occupied since 5 June 1967. (AFP)

Prime Minister Barak met the UN Secretary-General at London’s Heathrow Airport. The Secretary-General reportedly told Mr. Barak that the atmosphere at the OIC Summit in Doha had been “severe” and that moderate Muslim leaders feared instability could spread in the Middle East, if there was no diplomatic solution to the Palestinian issue. The Prime Minister told Mr. Annan that the main message of his meeting with President Clinton was that “the Palestinian incitement and violence must stop in order to return to negotiations”. (AFP, Reuters)

Four more Palestinians were killed, three by Israeli soldiers and one by Jewish settlers. The total number of persons killed in the violence since 28 September exceeded 220. (AFP)

15

A senior PA official stated in Gaza that: “The high Palestinian security council, headed by [Chairman] Arafat, which is responsible for all of the security forces, late yesterday [14 November] issued an order for unknown gunmen not to shoot from Areas A [under full Palestinian control] and from among civilians and civilian buildings throughout the Palestinian territories”. This decision came only hours after Chairman Arafat had a telephone conversation with President Clinton on ways to end the violence. The Palestinian decision was welcomed by White House spokesman Jake Siewert. (AFP)

After her meeting with Chairman Arafat in Gaza, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said she had been made “very aware of the strong need for international protection” and she was “very concerned about excessive use of force”. Moreover, she noted that there was a “disturbing pattern” to the bullet wounds received by Palestinians shot by Israeli soldiers, with “a disproportionate number of injuries to the upper body, the head and many from live ammunition or rubber-bullets fired at very close quarters”. (AFP)

Arriving in Marseilles for a two-day meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, Nabil Shaath, PA Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, told reporters that the Palestinians expected “Europe to listen carefully to the Arab side, particularly to the Palestinians” and would press the European Union for “active protection” against the “Israeli siege” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Minister Shaath also said that Israel had prevented four members of the Palestinian delegation from going to Marseilles, in “total violation of the Euromed rules and association agreements”. (AFP, DPA)

The UNRWA director in Amman, Maher Nasser, told a press conference that an additional US$39.3 million was needed as part of a contingency plan over the next three months to help the agency “treat the injured and meet the rising humanitarian needs stemming from the spiral of violence”. He said the money was also needed to provide food and medical assistance to Palestinian refugees living in camps in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank “who are suffering from the siege imposed by Israel”. Moreover, the urgent assistance would help “restore homes” of refugees damaged by Israeli shelling, create jobs and purchase more ambulances. According to UNRWA, the unemployment rate increased “from 11 per cent before the crisis to at least 40 per cent under the current circumstance”, with some 124,000 Palestinians estimated to have lost their jobs in Israel. (AFP)

The Palestinian medical co-ordinator at the El-Arish International Airport in Egypt, Zaki el-Hamawi, said that Israel had barred an aid convoy carrying some 22 tonnes of supplies from several Arab countries from crossing the Egyptian border into Gaza. The supplies were subsequently sent back to the airport, to be stored there along with previous aid shipments, which had also been denied entry by Israel. The total amount of food and medical supplies at the El-Arish airport stood at 65.7 tonnes. (Reuters)

At least seven more Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops, bringing the cumulative death toll since 28 September to some 230 persons, the vast majority of them Palestinian; at least 7,000 people had been injured. (AFP)

16

IDF said its helicopters had fired missiles at the local Fatah headquarters in Tulkarm, Salfit and Hebron and at what was described by the Israeli side as “a Fatah munitions base” in Jericho. (AFP, Reuters)

After his meeting with Mr. Ross in Gaza, Chairman Arafat said that he hoped for a resumption of peace negotiations with Israel before President Clinton leaves office in January 2001. He also said he had informed Mr. Ross of the full extent of the suffering of the Palestinians. Mr. Ross vowed that the US would do all it could to restore the peace process and stressed that “there is no military solution, only a political solution”. He also remarked that “there is too much suffering, too many victims, too many casualties, too much pain”. (AFP)

Prime Minister Barak announced on Israeli military radio that Israel had frozen transfers of funds due to the Palestinian Authority under concluded agreements “for as long as necessary” and was preventing labourers from getting to work because of “security considerations”. Chairman Arafat criticised this decision, which he said put the Palestinians “in a critical economic situation” and commented that “it is a part of the war against [the Palestinians] from Barak’s side, as is also a war of rockets, planes, tanks”. (AFP, Reuters)

At the conclusion of a two-day meeting of the EU States with their southern Mediterranean partners in Marseilles, the EU members voiced their “support for the Palestinians’ right to their own State”, which should be “democratic, viable and peaceful” and should be created “in the near future, preferably by negotiation”. (AFP)

17

Israeli army radio reported that the Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors to the United Nations in New York, Mssrs Lancry and Al-Kidwa respectively, held a meeting on 15 November to discuss a proposal for an international force in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. According to the report, the meeting took place in the offices of the Permanent Mission of Egypt to the UN and was initiated by the UN Secretary-General. It was also reported that, on 16 November, on the side-lines of the Euro-Med meeting in Marseilles, Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami raised the possibility of such a force, on the condition that a peace deal was struck first and that the US maintained the central role. (AFP)

Chairman Arafat renewed his appeal to Europe to support sending an international force to the region “to stop the Israeli aggressions as has happened in South Lebanon, the Sinai and the Golan”. (AFP)

Chairman Arafat told reporters in Gaza that he was doing his utmost “to prevent any element from firing from Area A” under full Palestinian control. “Orders have been issued regarding this by the Palestinian National Security Council”, he added. Prime Minister Barak responded, according to a statement from his office, that “Israel is waiting for acts and words are not enough". (Reuters)

The Voice of Palestine resumed broadcasting from its Ramallah headquarters, which had been rebuilt by the Palestinian Authority after having been wrecked by Israeli missiles on 12 October. (Reuters)

At least four more Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers, raising the total death toll since 28 September to some 240 people, the majority of them Palestinian. (AFP, XINHUA)

19

The UN Secretary-General met with former US senator George Mitchell, who was selected to head the five-person Fact-Finding Committee agreed upon at the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit. The Secretary-General said that they both agreed that the Committee should start its work sooner rather than later and added that he would personally “continue exploring with the parties as to how we can move forward on the suggestion that observers there be deployed”. Responding to a question whether he had discussed with Mr. Mitchell a suggestion that, rather than trying to persuade Israel to accept a formal observer force, it would be easier and quicker to expand the Fact-Finding Committee to include some observers, the Secretary-General said that it was “a bit premature” to get into such details and added that “the [Security] Council action and the mandate they gave me are quite separate from what Senator Mitchell and his team are going to do”. (AFP, Reuters)

In a statement made in Jerusalem Prime Minister Barak reiterated that Israel was opposed to the deployment of international observers in the Palestinian territories. “There is no change in our position, which is that observers can only assist the implementation of an accord after it is signed”, he added. (AFP)

IDF sealed off the commercial crossing, through which food and other basic goods are imported from Israel into the Gaza Strip, allegedly because one of its convoys in the area had come under Palestinian fire. The PA Supplies Minister, Abdel Aziz Shahin, told reporters that “[t]his is a process of political suffocation of Palestinians through economic means and it could lead to destructive consequences for the economic situation in the Gaza Strip”; “[i]t looks like the Israeli side is pushing for an explosion by doing this”, he added. IDF chief Shaul Mofaz stated that “blockades of the territories, reprisals and strikes against leaders have put very strong pressure on the Palestinian Authority, which is in the process of reducing its actions, as we have witnessed by the President of the Palestinian Authority”. (AFP)

20

The PA Minister of State for Bethlehem 2000 Affairs, Nabil Qassis, said planned festivities for Christmas were on hold so long as the violence continued. (Reuters)

Following a bomb attack on a Jewish settler school bus in the Gaza Strip, which resulted in two deaths and several injuries, the Israeli security cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Barak decided on selective strikes against Palestinian targets. Soon thereafter, Israeli combat helicopters and warships carried out at least two waves of missile attacks on targets throughout the Gaza Strip. 15 Palestinian security sites were struck, along with two Fatah buildings, three television and radio stations, 10 homes and the building of the Jordanian representative to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. One Palestinian was reported killed and 120 injured. The Palestinian Authority, which had rejected any connection to the bus bombing as had the Fatah, denounced the Israeli raids as “criminal aggression” against the Palestinian people, their institutions and infrastructure and “appeal[ed] to the Arab nation and countries, to the United Nations and the co-sponsors of the peace process, as well as the European Union, China, Japan and the Non-Aligned countries to immediately intervene to secure protection for [the Palestinian] people and to stop these barbaric attacks against [the Palestinian] people”. (AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)

Following the above events, calls on the Israelis and the Palestinians for restraint and return to the negotiating table were issued by the US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels. The latter also asked Israel to lift financial sanctions against the PA and to avoid the use of excessive force and said the Fact-Finding Committee should begin its work straight away. (Reuters, XINHUA)

The UN Secretary-General had separate meetings in New York with the Israeli Permanent Representative to the UN Yehuda Lancry and the Permanent Observer of Palestine Nasser Al-Kidwa on various options for an observer group that would help calm violence in the Middle East. (AFP, Reuters)

21

Arab countries strongly condemned the previous day’s Israelis raids on the Gaza Strip. Egypt recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv for immediate consultations, because of Israel’s “excessive use of force” against the Palestinians and the resulting “escalation” of the situation. (AFP)

The Jordanian Cabinet upheld its decision of last month to postpone sending its new ambassador to Israel for “as long as Israel has not met two basic conditions: an end to its attacks against the Palestinian people and a demonstration of a true commitment to the peace process”, Foreign Minister Abdel Ilah Al-Khatib said. (AFP, DPA, EFE)

Arab League Secretary-General, Esmat Abdel Meguid, condemned Israel’s “brutal aggression” and appealed to the UN Security Council to take “swift and immediate practical steps” to send a protection force to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He called on the United States, in particular, in its capacity as main sponsor of the peace process, to guarantee the Palestinians’ protection. (AFP)

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed “great anxiety … over the worsening confrontation” and said “there should be coordinated steps by the co-sponsors of the peace process and by other interested parties” to bring the sides together. Concern over the prolonged violent conflict was also expressed and a call for a speedy end to it and the restoration of peace talks was issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. (Reuters, XINHUA)

22

The League of Arab States spokesman Talaat Hamed told reporters in Cairo that, following consultations on 21 November arranged by Egypt and involving the groups of Arab, Islamic and Non-Aligned countries, the group of Arab countries at the UN had asked for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to debate “repeated Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and the deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories”. (AFP)

Israeli troops opened fire at two Palestinian cars near the Jewish settlement of “Morag” in the Gaza Strip, killing four Palestinians and injuring two. An IDF statement claimed that the operation, which aimed at arresting “senior Fatah-Tanzim activist” Jamal Abdel-Razek, resulted in his death and that of “three other Fatah-Tanzim activists” when they tried to break through a military roadblock. PA Cabinet Minister Nabil Amr said the Israelis were not telling the truth and with their tanks they had in fact killed civilians, in civilian cars. The Head of Preventative Security in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Dahlan, warned this latest incident would lead to “a new cycle of violence”. (AFP, Reuters)

In a letter to US National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote that it would be “unfair, inappropriate and very problematic” for the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee to go ahead with its work in an atmosphere of violence. (Reuters)

After the talks between President Mubarak and Chairman Arafat, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa said that the Egyptian ambassador’s recall from Israel was “a serious signal that there are limits” and that Egypt “supports and will continue to strive for a just and balanced peace”. Mr. Moussa said Egypt and the Arabs should not make war on Israel, but could not stay silent in the face of “continued aggression”. (Reuters)

The head of the PA’s petroleum commission, Luieh Arandas, said that the Gaza Strip was out of petrol, due to Israel’s refusal to allow the flow of fuel since last Thursday. He described the situation as being “on the verge of a crisis, especially for hospitals, bakeries and ambulances”. (AFP)

The Economic and Social Council endorsed, by a recorded vote of 21 in favour to 19 against, with 11 abstentions, the decision of the Commission on Human Rights to establish, on an urgent basis, a “human rights enquiry commission” to gather and compile information on violations of human rights and acts, which constitute grave breaches of international humanitarian law by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (M2 Communications)

At the request of Libya, chairing the Arab Group in the UN, the Security Council held an urgent meeting to discuss the continuing violence in the Middle East. The Permanent Observer of Palestine, Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, urged the Council to adopt a draft resolution calling for the deployment of UN observers to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “The parties, after all that has happened, cannot put an end to this violence alone”, Dr. Al-Kidwa said. The Permanent Representative of Israel, Yehuda Lancry, stated that “an international force, whether of peace-keepers or observers, is not needed to stop the violence” and reiterated the Israeli view that, by calling for international observers, the Palestinians were “seeking to depart from the Oslo peace process” and from direct bilateral negotiations. US Ambassador Holbrooke said a force could not be imposed but the parties should be assisted in reaching an agreement, which would then be endorsed by the Council. No decision was taken by the Council at this meeting. (AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)

23

Arab finance ministers met in Cairo to discuss ways of implementing a decision reached at the emergency Arab Summit in October to support the Palestinians by establishing two funds totalling US$1 billion. The ministers decided that the funds should be managed by the Islamic Development Bank, supervised by a council of ministers and an executive designated by contributing countries. The deadline for paying the contributions was set at 31 December 2000. By the end of the meeting, a total of approximately US$700 million had been pledged by the following countries: Saudi Arabia - US$250 million, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates - US$150 million each, Qatar - US$50 million, Algeria and Egypt - US$30 million each, Oman and Yemen - US$10 million each, Syria - US$7 million, Bahrain - US$3 million, Jordan - US$2 million and the Sudan - US$1 million. The PA Finance Minister, Zuhdi al-Nashashibi, said the Palestinians “urgently needed” an estimated US$245 million to be able to survive “the serious economic crisis created by Israel’s siege of the Palestinian territories”. (AFP)

The Middle East Council of Churches has called for a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, the Lebanese press reported, quoting a statement issued after a meeting of religious leaders from Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches at the residence of the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir near Beirut. The church leaders expressed “pain” at the “sufferings of the Palestinian people”, which they blamed on “Israeli repression, which kills their children, starves them, devastates their land and property, while they are fighting for their legitimate rights”. (AFP)

Chairman Arafat had a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Albright, who promised Washington’s support in stemming the bloodshed. Chairman Arafat earlier had held talks with EU special envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos and UN envoy Terje Rød-Larsen, with whom he reportedly discussed the Israeli blockade on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the proposal for an international protection force. (AFP, AP)

24

Israel shelled Hotel “Paradise” in Bethlehem, damaging the building and lightly injuring four people, witnesses said, amid clashes with Palestinian stone-throwers in front of the nearby heavily-fortified Jewish shrine of Rachel’s Tomb. Israeli army radio said the shells had been fired at what it described as Palestinian snipers in the hotel. (AFP)

During talks with President Putin in Moscow, Chairman Arafat had the opportunity to speak over the telephone with Prime Minister Barak, as did the Russian President. In the course of this “tele-Summit”, Messrs Arafat and Barak “pledged to analyze” new Russian proposals to stop the violence, the Kremlin announced. First Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Avdeyev said Russia “proposed some ideas to go beyond the Sharm el-Sheikh accords, to implement them and to broaden the range of searching for peaceful settlement”. (AFP, AP, DPA, Itar-Tass)

Following his meeting with PA Labour Minister Rafiq al-Natshe, the ILO Director-General Juan Somavia called on international organizations to support an emergency employment plan for Palestinians facing rapidly deteriorating living conditions. ILO would implement, on an emergency basis, self-employment finance projects with France’s support, while Italy had agreed to provide US$500,000 in support of an ongoing technical cooperation project for the development of vocational training in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (AFP)

26

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa stated that “[a]lthough the current situation is still the same, there is definitely an Israeli desire to end the current situation between it [Israel] and the Palestinians – even if this requires a wider vision [by Israel] of the existing problems”. He was speaking after talks held in Cairo between President Mubarak and Prime Minister Barak’s top security adviser Danny Yatom. (Reuters)

27

The head of the PA petroleum commission Luieh Arandas told reporters that on 24 November Israel allowed again the flow of petrol and gas to the Gaza Strip “on an intermittent basis”, which meant that the flow could be stopped at any time, as indeed happened on 25 November. (AFP)

Israeli troops killed five men near Qalqilya. The death toll since 28 September reportedly reached some 290 persons. (AFP, XINHUA)

In an interview with Itar-Tass, the Ambassador of Palestine to Russia, Khairi Al-Oridi, said that during their meeting on 24 November President Putin and Chairman Arafat had considered proposals on providing international protection to the Palestinian people and convening a high-level Israeli-Palestinian meeting, as well as a multilateral meting, in which Russia, the United States, the European Union, Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Egypt would participate. The precise Russian proposals have not been made public thus far. (Itar-Tass)

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, on a report to the United Nations General Assembly following her visit to the Middle East, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said “[t]he thrust of the report is urgently calling international attention to the bleak human rights situation in the occupied territories, the need for an international monitoring presence … and the need for measures to be taken to reduce the terrible violence”. The report also called for a halt to construction of new Israeli settlements, which Ms. Robinson said had become “flashpoints for stone-throwing and shooting by Palestinians with severe retaliation by Israeli military”. She called on both Israeli security forces and the Palestinians to spare civilian lives and property, and renew their efforts to halt the “current dangerous escalation” of violence. (Reuters)

Israeli MK (Meretz) Mossi Raz cited official figures to the effect that Israel intensified its settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory during the month of October. “The lands administration sold 607 parcels of land for construction in the settlements during the month of October” he said, and added that since the start of the year 2,700 plots of land had been sold for Jewish settlements at an average monthly rate of around 250. Mr. Raz noted that “[t]his is a grave error by the Government [of Israel], which should on the contrary be freezing construction”, as ‘[t]he pursuit of settlements has drained the hopes of Palestinians in the peace process and a halt to this activity is vital to put an end to the violence”. In a statement, Peace Now urged Prime Minister Barak to stop the construction of Jewish settlements, which it termed “the main obstacle on the path to an agreement [with the Palestinians]”. (AFP, XINHUA)

Former US Senator George Mitchell, chairman of the Fact-Finding Committee mandated by the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, told a press conference in New York that the Committee had convened for the first time and had held meetings with Israeli and Palestinian envoys on the situation in the region. Mr. Mitchell met the UN Secretary-General to draw up plans for the committee’s work, which “will be guided by the goal of breaking the cycle of violence so that the parties can resume their efforts toward peace, which was the primary objective of the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit”. The committee would soon visit the region, but no exact date had been set. (AFP, DPA)

By a vote of 84 out of 120, in its third and final reading, the Knesset approved the bill requiring an absolute majority – or 61 votes – for any change to Jerusalem’s municipal borders and the transfer of areas inside them to a “foreign element”. (AFP)

A delegation from the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which included the Foreign Ministers of Iran, Malaysia, Morocco, Qatar and Senegal, requested the UN Security Council to urgently deploy a UN force to protect Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. After the private meeting with the Security Council membership, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, the Foreign Minister of Qatar, who headed the delegation, told reporters that they had urged the Council “not to spend a lot of time, because every minute we are talking there are people either wounded or killed in that area”. He added that there was frustration in the Muslim world at the slaughter which began two months ago. The Israeli Permanent Representative to the UN, Yehuda Lancry, repeated his country’s objection to the deployment of a 2,000-strong UN observer force demanded by the Palestinians but indicated that there was some room for negotiation and added that he thought the UN Secretary-General could explore some formulas in this regard. (XINHUA)

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In a press statement, Faisal Husseini, the senior Palestinian official in charge of Jerusalem affairs, said the law adopted on the previous day by the Knesset regarding the status of Jerusalem was principally aimed at blowing off the Middle East peace process and ran completely counter to the basis of the peace process and the relevant legitimizing resolutions. (XINHUA)

Following consultations between Palestinian and Israeli officials on 27 November, the Rafah crossing linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt was reopened on 28 November for the first time since 8 November. According to Palestinian sources, this was a temporary measure, the crossing would remain open only for a few hours every day and no Palestinian employees were allowed to return to the crossing. (XINHUA)

Prime Minister Barak told Israeli army radio that the Israeli side was “preparing and working on the possibility of a permanent agreement or a gradual permanent agreement, which can be seen as a long-term interim agreement, in which parts are carried out in later stages”. Palestinian Council Speaker and negotiator Ahmed Qorei responded that the Palestinians were looking for “a final, complete deal” and would not accept a partial one. Reportedly, Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami also said he preferred a full agreement rather than an interim deal. (Reuters)

In a report obtained by Reuters, UNRWA said that about half the injuries sustained by Palestinian stone throwers were to the upper part of the body and documented instances of close-range shooting at eye level. The report entitled “Al-Aqsa Intifada: Analysis of Palestinian deaths and injuries from September 28 to November 16” said that about a third of Palestinian protesters killed were aged 18 or less. It also noted that “[t]he most disturbing trend of this Intifada is the evolution over the weeks of the increasing use of live ammunition over rubber bullets… The percentage of injuries caused by live ammunition was between 60 – 70 per cent of all injuries during November 7 – 9”. IDF responded by saying that Israeli troops fired live ammunition only in self defence and that the report failed to take into account a dramatic increase in armed attacks against Israeli targets. (Reuters)

In a letter addressed to the UN Secretary-General and to the Security Council, the Iraqi Foreign Minister Said Al-Sahaf asked for part of the revenue from Iraq’s UN-supervised oil sales to be set aside to “support the struggle of the Palestinian people in defence of their nation”. (AFP, EFE)

A statement issued by the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the report issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 27 November contained “problematic elements that are unacceptable” to Israel. “The Israel Defence Forces are only responding to violence … while exerting maximum restraint and self-control for the purpose of minimizing the number of civilian casualties whenever possible”, the statement maintained. It also said that calls by Mrs. Mary Robinson for the dismantling of Jewish settlements ignored the fact that, under interim peace deals, settlements were to be discussed in negotiations on a final peace treaty, while calls for the deployment of international monitors before the reaching of an agreement were rejected by Israel. (Reuters)

Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah El-Khatib, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa and senior Palestinian officials Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erakat met in Aqaba “to coordinate positions and to consult on the best ways to support the Palestinian people to end the aggression and end all the Israeli measures taken in the last two months”, according to Mr. El-Khatib, who also said that they all agreed on the urgent need for the immediate dispatch of a fact-finding committee along with international peacekeepers to defuse the situation on the ground. The meeting followed a series of bilateral meetings recently held between Chairman Arafat, President Mubarak and King Abdullah. Consultations and coordination would be intensified in the coming days, according to Mr. El-Khatib. (DPA, Reuters)

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In remarks published in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami said he believed it was still possible to reach an Israeli- Palestinian peace deal in the remaining months before Israeli general elections expected in the first half of 2001. Mr. Ben-Ami also said that the Palestinian demand for Israel to freeze Jewish settlement activity was reasonable but insisted that it should come as part of confidence-building measures by both sides ahead of the resumption of talks. The Israeli Government was studying the release of some Palestinian prisoners, he added, as well as other confidence-building measures including the opening of international crossing points linking the Occupied Palestinian Territory to the outside world, allowing raw materials to enter Palestinian areas and resuming the transfer of tax revenues on Palestinian imports to the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Ben-Ami rejected Palestinian demands to have international forces deployed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and was quoted as saying that “international observers are needed after an agreement is reached and not before”. (Reuters)

Prime Minister Barak proposed an “extended interim accord” including the transfer of a further 10 per cent of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority “to ensure territorial continuity” and recognition of an independent Palestinian State, while putting off the issues of Jerusalem and refugees for up to three years. Chairman Arafat’s senior advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that any delay on a final peace deal was “rejected completely” by the Palestinian side, as “[a] just peace should be based on comprehensive solutions including Jerusalem and refugees for without that there will be no peace and security in the region”. Mr. Abu Rudeineh also said that the third redeployment from the West Bank called for under the Oslo accords should cover 90 per cent of the area captured by Israel in 1967. He added that the Palestinians were still waiting for a political decision from Israel to see “whether they are ready for peace or they are still wasting time and looking for excuses to waste more time”. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)



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