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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights
31 January 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

January 1997

In an admitted attempt to sabotage the transfer of Hebron to the Palestinian Authority, an off-duty Israeli soldier from the Ma’ale Adumim settlement, armed with army-issue M-16 automatic rifle, wounded seven Palestinians in the city vegetable market. (AFP, Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, Reuters)


In a statement on 1996 economic activity, the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA) said that, due to Israeli closures of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, real Palestinian GDP in 1996 fell to US$1.633 billion from the 1995 figure of US$2.161 billion. Full closures that prevented Palestinian workers from reaching jobs in Israel and curtailed trade resulted in a US$1.8 billion loss over 118 days. According to the PMA, annual per capita income in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was US$652, slightly higher than the officially defined poverty line of US$650; 65 per cent of the Palestinian families were below the poverty line; and the average 1996 unemployment was estimated at 38 per cent in the West Bank and 60 per cent in the Gaza Strip. The PMA statement also said that donor countries, which had pledged US$2.4 billion after the signing of the DOP in 1993, had so far delivered a total of US$985 million. (Reuters)


The Palestinian Authority and Israel invited Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey to join the 30-member unarmed Norwegian contingent of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) force already stationed in Hebron. (AFP)


Palestinian Airways made its maiden voyage from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, carrying some 50 Palestinian Muslims on board. According to Mustapha Sheikh Dib, Palestinian Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, the Israeli authorities had refused to allow Palestinian aircraft to take off from Gaza unless the Palestinian Authority signed a protocol giving full control of the airport to Israel. (AFP)


Palestinian and Israeli negotiators renewed talks on an agreement of troop withdrawal from Hebron, as well as a fixed timetable for withdrawals from the West Bank, breaking an earlier deadlock. There was "cautious optimism" that a deal was imminent after King Hussein of Jordan had met on 12 January with both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Arafat. (AFP, BBC, Reuters)


In the wake of the mediation visit by King Hussein of Jordan to the Gaza Strip and Israel, Israeli and Palestinian delegations appeared to be nearing the conclusion of their negotiations on Israeli withdrawal from Hebron. President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak said the EU was considering a letter of guarantees for the Hebron agreement. (AFP, The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, Reuters)


Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Arafat agreed today on a protocol for the redeployment in Hebron. The agreement also included a “Note for the Record”, signed by the United States mediator, dealing with the staged Israeli redeployment from most of the West Bank by August 1998, and other non-Hebron issues; “Agreed Minute”, spelling out Israeli and Palestinian commitments to each other; and separate US letters of assurance to the parties. Under the agreement, Israeli forces would begin withdrawal from some 80 per cent of Hebron within the next 10 days. (AFP, DPA, The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, Reuter)


The IDF began the redeployment from Hebron by taking down the Israeli flag, dismantling two posts and leaving a token force at their hilltop HQ building. (AFP)


During a ceremony at a Jerusalem hotel, Saeb Erakat, the Palestinian negotiator, and Dan Shomron, his Israeli counterpart, formally signed the “Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron”. The signing ceremony was witnessed by the United States Consul General Edward Abington. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)


For the first time since 1965, PA President Arafat visited Hebron. In a speech before some 60,000-strong gathering he declared Hebron “a liberated city” and said the Hebron protocol represented a “springboard” to the establishment of a Palestinian State. (Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service)


Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met at Beit El, west of Ramallah, to sign a formal document transferring civilian powers. (AFP, Reuters)


According to Yediot Aharonot, the Government of Israel has drawn up plans to reduce from 75,000 to 30,000 the number of legal foreign workers in Israel so their jobs can be taken by Palestinians. (AFP)


Refusing to go back to Libya, some 200 Palestinian refugees, stranded on the Libya-Egypt border, staged a sit-in after Libyan authorities had asked them to return to Libya. They were expelled from Libya in 1995. Egypt has refused to allow them in unless a third country was willing to accept them. (Reuters)


Representatives of some 350,000 Palestinian refugees living in 12 camps across Lebanon, complained in a statement about deteriorating health situation and sanitary conditions in the camps. The statement said UNRWA was “not doing anything to solve the problem” and was “turning a blind eye to calls for solutions” of the situation. (DPA)


Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu said he had a written United States guarantee that Israel alone would define the extent of three further withdrawals in the occupied West Bank areas. Referring to assurances from the US and the European Union, as well as to the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, PA President Arafat maintained that he would be able to negotiate the scope of future Israeli withdrawals. Arafat also challenged Netanyahu’s contention that no documents barred Israel from continuing to build new settlements in occupied areas. (Reuters)


Israel’s governing Likud and opposition Labour parties agreed on a proposal for a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. Their position paper entitled “National Agreement Regarding the Negotiations on the Permanent Settlement with the Palestinians”, recommends a permanent settlement, involving Israeli annexation of most Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in exchange for granting broad self-rule to the rest of the Palestinian areas. It also says that the settlers living outside Israeli sovereignty will get “special arrangements”, under which “their Israeli citizenship and their ties with the State of Israel, as individuals and as a community, will be preserved”. Settlements in the Jordan Valley would be considered as a “special security zone”, which would be annexed by Israel or remain as a base for its troops. No agreement was reached on the nature of the Palestinian entity or its exact borders. Both parties agreed, however, that Jerusalem must remain Israel’s undivided capital and that the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as their future capital, must accept this. In return, they pledged to allow the Government of the future Palestinian entity to have a base within Israel’s border but outside Jerusalem’s city limit. The document was drafted and signed by Michael Eitan (Likud) and Yossi Beilin (Labour). (AFP, Financial Times, Reuters)


Foreign Minister of Belgium Erik Derycke and PA Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Shaath signed an agreement in Gaza City, according to which Belgium will provide three million dollars to build hospitals in the Gaza Strip and seven million dollars to extend electricity to rural areas around the self-rule area of Nablus. (AFP)


The Israeli Government has put another 84 settlements, including Jewish enclaves in Hebron, on priority “A” and “B” lists to receive special government funding. According to Ha’aretz, the decision brought to 123 the number of settlements slated for special financial subsidies, mostly in the area of education. (AFP)


A memorandum of understanding on the Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron was signed in Oslo by representatives of Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. Under the signed agreement, some 150 international observers and administrators will join 30 Norwegians already deployed in the city since last May. The contingents are expected to be in place within a few weeks. The force is unarmed and has no military function. (Reuters)


Scuffles broke out in Hebron between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians when the army tried to prevent Palestinian worshippers from attending Friday prayers at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque, where nearly 4,000 people were already attending the noon prayer sermon. According to witness reports, the Israelis beat a Palestinian youth and detained him while he was trying to force his way into the mosque. Scuffles also occurred in East Jerusalem where Palestinians attended Ramadan prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. There were no reports of injuries. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)
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