Question of Palestine home
30 April 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
Israeli security forces shot dead two Palestinian youths in Hebron and Nablus. Kamal al-Zaro, a teenager, was killed at an Israeli police roadblock in an Israeli-controlled part of Hebron, while Haitham Mansour, 20, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers who opened fire at stone-throwing Palestinians near a checkpoint on the outskirts of Nablus. Some 500 Al-Najah University students clashed with Israeli troops in Nablus as part of the ongoing protests against Israel’s decision to build a new Jewish settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim.
Following two earlier bombings near the Gaza Strip Jewish settlements of Netzarim and Kfar Darom, the Israeli army closed crossing points, leading out of the Gaza Strip, to Palestinians, including the Palestinian Council members. The Council Speaker Ahmad Qorei (Abu Ala), protesting the measure, said: “This is direct interference in the affairs of the Council and the work of the Palestinian institutions. It is a blatant violation of the agreements.”
Prime Minister of Japan Ryutaro Hashimoto expressed concern about rising tension in the region. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Deputy Foreign Minister Shunji Yanai would visit Israel and the Gaza Strip on 3 April.
The Arab League said that its recommendation for member countries to freeze normalization with Israel will go into effect in 10 days. The proposal, which includes suspension of moves to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, the closure of Arab and Israeli missions, the restoration of an economic boycott and withdrawal from multilateral peace talks, will have to be endorsed by Arab Heads of State. Egypt and Jordan, the only Arab States with peace treaties with Israel, are not affected by the decision. The decision applies to Oman, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia and Mauritania, which decided since 1991 to open offices and missions in Israel. The Arab League Secretary-General sent “urgent messages” to the UN Secretary-General, the President of the Security Council, the European Union, and the Russian Federation and the United States, the peace process co-sponsors, informing them of the decision.
(AFP, Financial Times)
President Clinton asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet him on 7 April at the White House.
reported that President Clinton planned to propose to both sides to move up negotiations on the permanent status, set up a specific deadline and conduct the last phase in a Camp David-style setting under US auspices.
Miguel Moratinos, EU special Middle East envoy, told
, that he had relayed to Prime Minister Netanyahu a message from PA President Arafat, in which Arafat agreed to begin accelerated negotiations on the permanent status agreement with Israel in exchange for a freeze on Jewish settlement construction. Moratinos said: “I spoke with Arafat and he said he would agree to speeding up talks on the final status agreement, as Israel is requesting, but other things must also be dealt with”. He added that the other issues included a freeze on the building of a settlement south of East Jerusalem and rapid implementation of outstanding elements of the Oslo interim agreement, including authorization to open an airport and seaport in the Gaza Strip.
Leading Palestinian businessmen decided to set up a multimillion dollar firm to buy and develop Palestinian property in East Jerusalem. Abdul-Majid Shoman, chairman of Jordan’s Arab Bank and one of three businessmen behind the idea, said it aimed to provide funds for improved housing for Palestinians and to revitalize the eastern sector of the city. The project could halt Palestinian emigration caused by economic hardship and prevent Jewish groups from buying up land in East Jerusalem.
David Bar-Illan, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s communications director, confirmed a report of Israel’s TV
that the Government had given approval for more homes to be built for Jewish residents in the West Bank. He added that the report, which put the number of houses in the “thousands” was exaggerated.
Israel criticized the efforts by the Arab Group of States at the United Nations to convene an emergency special session of the General Assembly to consider the issue of Israel’s settlement activity. Israel’s Permanent Representative to the UN David Peleg said: “We definitely feel that another session can only prove sterile. Not only would an emergency special session not advance mutual understanding, but it would become a further polarization”. Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN Nasser Al-Kidwa commented on the initiative by the Arab Group: “We are dealing here with a clear Israeli attempt to impose new facts on the ground, pre-empting the upcoming negotiations on the final status, making those agreements useless.” He said he hoped the session would be convened next week.
(AFP, CNN, Reuters)
According to the report prepared by the UN Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories Chinmaya Gharekhan, the Palestinian economy lost US$6 billion from 1992 to 1996, mostly due to Israeli closures that prevented Palestinian workers from reaching jobs in Israel. The report found that the GNP for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip fell 8.6 per cent during 1996, when the territories were sealed almost constantly. The result of the closures has been a 36 per cent drop in per capita GNP from US$2,700 in 1992 to US$1,700 in 1996. The losses caused by the closures include lost wages for more than 50,000 day labourers, lost trade revenues and uncollected taxes. According to the document, on a daily basis, the average Palestinian worker was earning 14 per cent less at the end of 1996 as compared to the end of 1995. Between March 1993 and the end of 1996, closures reduced by 20 per cent the total number of days, during which normal economic interactions between Israel and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could occur.
Clashes continued in Bethlehem. Dozens of Palestinians, some using slingshots, threw stones at Israeli soldiers guarding an Israeli enclave in the city. The soldiers responded with tear-gas and rubber bullets. 30 Palestinians (13 to 17-year-olds) from an East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Mukkaber were detained by Israeli police for stone-throwing. They were released after their parents paid 150 dollar fines.
A Tel Aviv University survey found that a majority of Jewish Israelis supports the establishment of a Palestinian State. An even larger majority believes the chances of another Arab-Israeli war are very high. Asked whether they support the establishment of a Palestinian State, if this would remove the main obstacle to real peace between Israel and the Palestinians, 51.3 per cent said “yes”, 44.2 per cent said “no” and 4.4 per cent were non-committal.
(The Jerusalem Post)
A nine-year-old Palestinian boy was run over and killed by an Israeli soldier who lost control of his army truck on the road into Awja in the West Bank. The soldier fled after the accident, but was later found in the settlement of Ma’ale Ephraim.
PA President Arafat said he was ready to hold a summit meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu to save the peace process. He said: “I am not against this meeting, but the problem is how to push forward, and to prevent all the breachings of the peace process, especially confiscating of lands, building settlements, “Judaizing” Jerusalem and many other issues. We are against terrorism definitely.”
PA President Arafat told United States Consul General in Jerusalem Edward Abington that he was not ready to resume security cooperation with Israel unless the peace talks resumed.
Five Palestinian demonstrators were injured by rubber bullets fired by Israeli soldiers in Hebron. The city’s Alia Hospital said 16 Palestinians were treated for rubber bullet injuries. Clashes also broke out in Bethlehem and near a Jewish settlement of Eli, between Nablus and Ramallah.
Israel turned back 37 Palestinians trying to leave the Gaza Strip to make pilgrimage to Mecca. One person, Said Zoroub, 44, was detained on suspicion of belonging to HAMAS. Israeli military said the Palestinians were suspected of planning to use the annual
to make contact with Islamic fundamentalist leaders abroad.
Israel’s Government started a campaign to persuade more Jews to settle in the occupied West Bank. Advertisements by the Ministry of Construction and Housing that appeared in Israeli newspapers this week offered government subsidies of up to tens of thousands of dollars to buyers of apartments in West Bank settlements. The cash help is part of the Government’s decision to turn dozens of West Bank settlements into “priority development zones”. They include Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, and Tapuakh, near Nablus.
The PA issued a statement on the crisis in the peace process. It was issued after a meeting between the PA and the and the PLO Executive Committee. In the statement, the PA called on the United States to act quickly and exert pressure on the Israeli Government to stop the Judaization of Jerusalem and settlement building, especially at Jabal Abu Ghneim.
A Jewish settler opened fire on Palestinians with his M-16 assault rifle after his van was stoned in the village of Kharbatha in the West Bank, located between Ramallah and the settlement of Kiryat Sefer. Two Palestinians were wounded, one seriously. Iyad Eid, 18, was seriously wounded with a bullet in his lung but was in stable condition.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
Israel’s Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordekhai said the military closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, tightened after the 21 March bombing in Tel Aviv, would remained in effect. On 6 April, the closure was eased slightly to allow about 3,000 Palestinian workers into Israeli-controlled industrial zones.
(AFP, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)
Speaking at a NAM foreign ministers’ meeting at New Delhi, PA President Arafat accused Israel of declaring war on the Palestinian people and the Middle east peace process. He also said: “It is regrettable that the Israeli Government should take advantage of the United States veto twice in 10 days to continue on the path of aggression and challenge international legitimacy.”
Following meetings of Miguel Moratinos, EU Middle East envoy with the Israeli and PA officials,
The Jerusalem Post
quoted a senior Israeli government official as saying that Israel would “not agree to direct European intervention in either political or economic process.”
(The Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafic Hariri urged the Russian Federation to help rescue the Middle East peace process. After his meeting in Moscow with Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, he said that Russia should do all it could to give a new impetus to the peace talks.
According to the Peace Now spokesperson Hagit Ya’ari, a movement activist discovered a Jewish military outpost, Nagal Plugot in Gush Etzion, where settlers had moved, hoping to establish new settlements. Two other outposts - Ofni, near the settlement of Ofra, north of Ramallah, and Rehalim, near the settlement of Shilo, on the Jerusalem-Nablus highway - were discovered and reported by
TV earlier. The outpost settlers reportedly live in shipping containers.
(The Jerusalem Post)
The B’Tselem and Hamoked Israeli human rights groups issued a report accusing Israel of quietly trying to deport thousands of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, by revoking their permanent residency status.
The EU agreed to propose to the United States taking a joint initiative to revive the Middle East peace talks. Following a meeting of Middle East department heads of the EU member States with the EU Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos at Brussels, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Yves Doutriaux said: “They agreed to propose that the Netherlands Prime Minister, as current President of the European Union, write to President Clinton to propose a joint American-European initiative.” Doutriaux added that the EU ideas were “complementary to and in convergence with the American.” He said Moratinos had offered a “code of conduct to restore the dynamics of dialogue.”
Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers shot dead two Palestinians and wounded over 70. In Hebron, a Jewish settler shot dead a shopkeeper, identified as Asem Arafeh, 24. Officials at Al-Ahli Hospital identified the second dead man as Mansour Taha al-Sayed Ahmed, 18, and said he died from a metal-coated rubber bullet that penetrated his head. An official at the PA Ministry of Health said that Alia Hospital treated 78 people while Al-Ahli treated 13.
(AFP, AP, MSNBC, Reuters)
Prime Minister Netanyahu left for Israel after a meeting with President Clinton. The meeting failed to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. An Israeli proposal for accelerated negotiations and a Camp David-style summit were reportedly rejected.
(AFP, Reuters, The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service)
The PA President Arafat and Israel’s Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon met in the Gaza City, at the request of the United States, to discuss the breakdown in security cooperation between the two sides. A senior CIA official also attended.
(AFP, AP, MSNBC, Reuters)
Foreign Minister of Egypt Amre Moussa said his country was willing to mediate to break a deadlock in the Middle East peace process if Israel put further Jewish settlement construction on hold.
Hervé de Charette, Foreign Minister of France, urged Europe to make proposals to the Israelis and the Palestinians and to undertake joint action with the US to unblock the crisis in the peace process. In an interview with
, de Charette said: “Europe should make concrete proposals, a kind of ‘global package’, destined both for the Israelis and the Palestinians.” He added that there was for the first time “a pressing appeal from the Palestinians for Europe to play its role.”
In a special statement issued at New Delhi, the NAM called for an emergency special session of the General Assembly to demand that Israel stop all settlement activities. The statement also said that UN member States “should prevent assistance being provided by their governmental agencies and nationals to, and the conduct of trade and financial dealings with , Israeli commercial, private or public establishments involved in activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem” that are contrary to Security Council resolutions.
Clashes erupted in Hebron after the funeral of Nader Said, 24, one of two Palestinians killed by Israeli rubber bullets on 8 April. Israeli soldiers shot and wounded 31 Palestinian with rubber-coated metal bullets. The clashes spread briefly to the village of Dura outside Hebron.
(AFP, AP, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)
Israeli soldiers raided Al-Quds University located in Abu Dis village near East Jerusalem. According to the Islamic Student Coalition, 20 students were arrested.
France urged the United States to take up quickly a EU proposal for a joint peace initiative in the Middle East. Speaking at a news briefing, Jacques Rummelhard, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: “We strongly hope our American allies will respond to Europe’s suggestion for joint action. … Europe believes action must be taken very rapidly. … Taking the initiative to re-launch dialogue and the peace plan is more urgent than ever.”
David Bar-Illan, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s communications director, said a proposal put forward by the EU to establish a “code of conduct” for the Israelis and the Palestinians, which would include a halt to both anti-Israeli violence and Jewish settlement growth was unacceptable. He said: “Any Government, which has a trace of decency would flatly reject a comparison between murders and construction.” He added that the Europeans, who “have good relations with Arab countries and the Palestinians, should make them understand that negotiations cannot go hand in hand with terrorism.”
According to the poll conducted on 3 and 4 April among 1,200 Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem by the Palestinian Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC), 62.7 per cent of Palestinians said street protests should be intensified, while 28.6 per cent disagreed. JMCC found that 73 per cent of Palestinians supported the peace process (which is down from 78 per cent in a similar poll conducted on 7 March). Prime Minister Netanyahu’s proposal for accelerated negotiations on the permanent status issues was rejected by 68 per cent of those asked, with 11 per cent supporting the idea. To the question of what was the most important issue facing Palestinian society, only 23 per cent chose completing negotiations with Israel, while 40 per cent said improving the economic situation. The poll’s margin of error was 3 per cent.
Around 200 Palestinians took part in clashes with the Israeli troops in Hebron. Israeli soldiers shot and wounded with rubber-coated metal bullets seven Palestinians protesters in Hebron. Clashes also erupted briefly in Bethlehem, where scores of Palestinian students marched towards Israeli army lines and hurled stones. Troops responded with tear-gas and rubber bullets but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Palestinian negotiators Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erakat held two sets of talks in Washington, D.C. with the United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the State Department’s Special Middle East Coordinator Dennis Ross to discuss prospects for the resumption of the Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations. In Washington, Abbas and Erakat joined Hanan Ashrawi, PA Minister of Higher Education, who had been dispatched to the US by the PA President Arafat earlier.
(AFP, The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post, Reuters, USIA)
Pope John Paul II voiced grave concern at violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Accepting the credentials of the new Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, the Pope said: “I renew the expression of grave concern, with which the Holy See and the entire international community has noted the recent heightening of tensions in an already delicate and volatile situations.” He said a “seemingly endless spiral of action, reaction and counter-reaction” was “a vicious circle, from which there can be no escape unless all parties act with genuine goodwill and solidarity.”
The Israeli army eased the closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip imposed after the 21 March bombing in Tel Aviv, allowing 1,300 Palestinian businessmen over the age of 35 to enter Israel. Permission for goods shipments between the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Jordan was also reinstated subject to security checks, and members of the Palestinian Council were authorized to travel between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But some 50,000 Palestinian workers who hold day jobs inside Israel remained barred from entering the country.
Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers in Hebron despite a major deployment of Palestinian police controlling the protesters. Seventeen Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets, with one seriously hurt and hospitalized. A Palestinian woman was also hospitalized after being hit in the head by a stone thrown by a Jewish settler.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahayan of the United Arab Emirates set up a US$3 million fund to provide food assistance to needy Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt Amre Moussa said that the European initiative on the Middle East did not fully reflect Arab views, but was better than what Israel and the United States had to offer. Mr. Moussa said the EU should increase its role in trying to get the Israeli-Palestinian talks back on track. He added: “The EU initiative does not reflect an Arab stand and consequently … needs a lot of additions and amendments. But the European thinking is better than that of the Israelis and United States. It has good, positive ideas.”
Israel eased closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip allowing some 20,000 Palestinian workers into the country.
(AP, AFP, Reuters)
The World Bank said in a statement that it would lend the PA US$25 million to promote housing in the territories under the jurisdiction of the PA. The statement said that a token interest rate of 0.75 per cent had been agreed for the 4-year loan, with no repayments due for 10 years. The World Bank said it planned to start a pilot housing project with the PA in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which would include the establishment of a loan fund. The Bank and the PA will be working together to encourage donor countries to invest in the housing sector.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), meeting at Seoul, Republic of Korea, for its 97th conference, adopted a resolution critical of Israel’s settlement activities. The resolution criticized Israel’s actions as “illegal” and “a major obstacle to peace”. The IPU also deplored “the increasing recourse to violence since the dangerous stalling of the peace process.” The participants called on Israel to “refrain from all actions or measures, including settlement activities, which alter the facts on the ground, pre-empting the final status negotiations.”
According to the Peace Pulse, an index intended to gauge the peace process based on economic, diplomatic and other trends, released in Washington, D.C., 1996 was a year of “precipitous decline” that followed five years of steady progress. There was some progress in 1997, due to the signing of the Hebron Protocol and the Israeli redeployment, but at the end of the first quarter of 1997, the Peace Pulse score was 39.05, the lowest since 1992, when the score was 38.75. In contrast, in October 1995, just before the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, the score was 69.4. The index combines 14 qualitative and quantitative indicators to rate the overall peace process at given historical moments on a scale of 0-100, where 0 is “total war” and 100 is “total peace”. The index was developed by Steven Spiegel, an UCLA political science professor, working in conjunction with the Israel Policy Forum, formed shortly after the signing of the DOP.
(The Jerusalem Post)
The Israeli army stormed and closed down two PA security offices in the West Bank. Jibril Rajoub, chief of preventive security in the West Bank said the soldiers stormed into his offices in the West Bank villages of Hableh and Bidya and closed them down. An army spokesman said that the activities of the Palestinian police in Area B were against the agreements, meaning that the IDF controlled security while the PA oversaw civilian affairs.
Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Jewish settlers in Hebron. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Doctors and residents of the West Bank village of Zurif said three villagers died after Israeli soldiers enforcing a military curfew had barred critically ill patients from reaching hospitals. The dead include a stillborn infant, an 80-yaer old woman who inhaled tear-gas fired by the Israeli troops and a 64-year old man with breathing difficulties. The army denied there was a link between its restrictions and the three deaths.
The PA President Arafat met Israel’s Foreign Minister Levy at Valetta, Malta, in a meeting arranged by the EU on the sidelines of the Euro-Mediterranean Conference. The meeting was mediated by EU President Hans van Mierlo. Marwan Kanafani, spokesman for the PA President, described the meeting as a courtesy call on Mr. Arafat. He added: “There was a cordial exchange of ideas and re-commitments to the peace process. No substance was discussed except that both leaders agreed that there should be a real attempt to go back to the peace process.” Mr. Levy had a separate meeting with PA Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Shaath.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
PA Ministry of Information issued a release concerning the situation with respect to the Palestinian prisoners. The release, entitled Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, said that, 4.350 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons. 295 were administrative detainees and 357 were under the age of 18. The statement criticized torture and corporal punishment of the Palestinian detainees by the Israelis. 113 Palestinians died in Israeli prisons as a result of torture, the statement said.
(PA Ministry of Information)
Palestinian investors were seeking a joint venture with Israeli Palestinian businessmen. The project’s legal adviser Mazen Qutby said six West Bank and Gaza Strip-based insurance companies agreed to set up Al-Fanar insurance company as a private share-holding firm capitalized at US$10 million. He said the company would have its headquarters in East Jerusalem and in Nazareth. The project has received initial approval from the Israeli authorities and was expected to begin work in early 1998. Six Palestinian insurance firms would provide US$4.6 million of the company’s capital. The Arab Bank and APIC (Arab Palestinian Investment Company) have agreed to pay US$500,000 each and the rest will be covered by Israeli Palestinian businessmen.
According to Saeb Erakat, chief Palestinian negotiator, the United States Middle East Coordinator Dennis Ross proposed to PA President Arafat the “continuation of work on Jabal Abu Ghneim in exchange for a complete implementation of the interim accords on Palestinian autonomy.” Erakat said that the Palestinians maintained their refusal to resume peace talks before construction is halted on the Har Homa settlement. PA President’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said: “The talks did not lead to an accord on ways to save the peace process.”
PA President Arafat held talks in the Gaza City with Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation and Middle East envoy Viktor Posuvaluk. Posuvaluk had visited Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. According to diplomatic sources in Beirut and Damascus, Posuvaluk was putting forward proposals drawn up by France and Russia to rescue the peace process.
France called on Israel to lift the closure of the West bank and the Gaza Strip. A Foreign Ministry statement said the closure, besides endangering Palestinian economy, was even more unpopular among Palestinians during the current Id al-Kebir Muslim holiday as it barred worshippers from visiting the Holy Places.
According to an official Israeli report, published in
, Palestine refugees left property valued today at US$6 billion when they left Palestine after the 1948 hostilities. The report said the property, mostly land and houses, was valued at US$1 billion at the time and was left behind by the 700,000 Palestinians who lived on the land that became part of Israel. The report was made available to thousands of arriving Jewish immigrants, notably from Arab countries.
In an effort to revive the peace process, the US Middle East Coordinator Dennis Ross proposed to Prime Minister Netanyahu a six-month freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the Palestinian territories.
PA President’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that the security cooperation with the Israeli side would not be resumed until Israel halts expansion of settlements in the West Bank and ends construction of a new Jewish settlement project at Jabal Abu Ghneim.
Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets and live ammunition at dozens of Palestinians throwing stones in the village of Zurif, located between Bethlehem and Hebron. Five Palestinian demonstrators were wounded in the clashes that erupted when the Israelis brought in a bulldozer to demolish the house of a resident arrested for involvement in clashes with Israelis. After the shooting, Mohammad Hamdan Jebran Al-Hur, 15, was hospitalized in Hebron in serious condition with a live bullet wound in the neck.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
The Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel Meguid called upon the organization’s 12 Asian members to block the establishment of a centre in Israel for management of regional water resources. Abdel Meguid sent messages to 11 member States and the PA urging them to oppose such a project, which is to be discussed at a UN meeting at Beijing, on 13-15 May.
Israeli troops made wide use of mobile army roadblocks to arrest suspected Palestinian militants travelling around the occupied territory during Muslim holidays. At least 40 suspects, mostly university students, were arrested during the period coinciding with the Id al-Adha. Many of those detained were stopped at the roadblocks placed on routes used by Palestinians to travel between the self-rule areas and their home villages in the occupied territory.
According to Palestinian officials, the protracted Israeli closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip resulted in the level of unemployment that has left one in five Palestinians without work. Abu Libdeh, Head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), said that according to a PCBS survey carried out in February, the unemployment rate stood at 19.5 per cent in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This was calculated based on the data showing that 106,275 people out of a labour force of 545,000 were without work. Abu Libdeh said that of the labour force in the West Bank, 17,7 per cent were unemployed, while the Gaza Strip accounted for the rate of 24.1 per cent. “The unemployment rate increased by 40 per cent in Gaza and 17 per cent in the West Bank after the recent closures,'' he said. Abu Libdeh added that 27.3 per cent of Palestinians were underpaid, earning less than US$300 a month.
UN spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt said in a statement that the UN General Assembly would meet in an emergency special session to discuss Israel’s settlement activities. The session is scheduled to meet under the “Uniting for peace” procedure (see DF58 dated 27.03.97 and CR03 dated 02.04.97) and would last two days. The spokesman said: “Since the required amount of favourable responses has been received, the General Assembly will convene on Thursday, April 24, at 10 a.m. to consider the situation in East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories.”
Two Israeli officers of the paramilitary police were dismissed for beating a Palestinian youth during the recent protests in the village of Zurif. In another incident, the army arrested three soldiers who shot at a Palestinian car on 21 April, when they were of duty.
According to Mahmud Abbas, chief Palestinian negotiator, the Palestinians would agree to an Israeli proposal for speeded-up negotiations on the permanent status on two key conditions. In an interview with Egyptian weekly
, Abbas said: “The first condition is that the final-status negotiations run in parallel with talks on the interim phase. The second condition is that the Oslo accord is the principal reference point for the negotiations.”
The UN General Assembly began the 10th emergency special session on Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Some 300 Palestinians confronted Israeli soldiers in a standoff after the Jewish settlers brought bulldozers to the site south of the Khan Yunis refugee camp in an area under the PA control. The area borders the Gush Katif settlement of Kiryat Yam.
Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas on Palestinian protesters demonstrating against an attempt by Jewish settlers to expand their settlement in the Gaza Strip. Some 100 Palestinians marched on the 1.5 acre (0.6 hectare) site along the Mediterranean coast, in which bulldozers from the Gush Katif bloc of settlements began work under Israeli army protection.
Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets, wounding four Palestinians during a clash with about 200 Palestinian protesters over a site between the Palestinian village of Kafr Qaddum and the Jewish settlement of Kedumim. According to Palestinian witnesses, the clashes erupted over Israel’s construction of a road expected to connect five Jewish enclaves and an apparent attempt to expand Israeli settlements.
Following two days of meetings, the 10th emergency special session of the UN General Assembly convened to consider illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, concluded its work. The Assembly adopted a resolution entitled “Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, in particular in occupied East Jerusalem”. The resolution (ES-10/2), sponsored by 33 States, was adopted with 134 votes in favour, 3 against (Israel, Micronesia, United States), with 11 abstentions (Australia, Canada, Germany, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Norway, Romania, Rwanda and Uruguay).
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
The PA asked for a higher level of United States mediation in the peace negotiations with Israel. The General Secretary of the PA President’s office Tayeb Abdel-Rahim said: “The current crisis in the PLO-Israeli peace process requires the involvement of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright if the US intends to find solutions. … I am not doubting anyone, but I am saying that the US Administration should be more neutral and must adhere more to the basis of the peace process.”
According to an annual opinion poll conducted by Tel Aviv’s Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies, 51 per cent of the 1,216 people polled at the end of February and beginning of March said they backed a Palestinian State, while 49 per cent opposed the idea. The poll has a margin of 2.8 per cent. The survey found that 77 per cent of Israelis believed that a Palestinian State would be created within 10 years as the final outcome of the Oslo process. It also found that 75 per cent of Israelis felt their security had improved since the signing of the first Israeli-Palestinian agreement in 1993.
Labour Member of the Knesset Yossi Beilin held talks in Jericho with PA President Arafat. Mr. Beilin presented a three-point initiative for restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Under the plan, both sides would avoid unilateral acts that violate the letter or spirit of the Oslo agreements. The following was proposed by Mr. Beilin: 1) Israel would stop building Jewish settlements; 2) both sides would make a supreme effort to prevent violence and terrorism; and 3) Israel would immediately withdraw from West Bank rural areas, as approved by the Cabinet in March, agree with the Palestinians on a second pullback due in September, and enter into permanent-status talks with them.
(AFP, The Jerusalem Post - 29.04.97)
Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian youth identified as Issam Akaneh, 18. The incident occurred in the village of Haras, west of Hebron, where an Israeli patrol opened fire when Palestinians threw stones. Two Palestinians were wounded in the incident.
According to Eissa Qaraqeh, an official of the Prisoners’ Club, a Palestinian rights group, some 400 Palestinians had been arrested in April, most of them in or around Hebron. Part of the 400 were still under interrogation, while the rest were transferred to administrative detention.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip held a demonstration near the settlement of Kfar Yam in the Gaza Strip in protest against work begun by the IDF to construct earth ramparts around Gush Katif settlements. The Palestinians protested against the expropriation of land belonging to the Mawasi tribe, who live near Khan Yunis. After the IDF erected the ramparts, Palestinians brought bulldozers and knocked them down. The IDF later reconstructed them and brought in extra forces. The Khan Yunis Municipality held an emergency session, with the participation of Palestinian Council members, to discuss the “Israeli take-over of Palestinian land in the Gaza Strip”.
(The Jerusalem Post)
Israel eased a closure on the Palestinian territory to allow in 5,000 Palestinian workers. The easing will allow some 650 workers of the PA, including doctors, teachers, religious leaders and tourism workers, to travel between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and to enter east Jerusalem. Some 700 Palestinian merchants were granted permission to enter Israel.
Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian man at an Israeli roadblock just outside the West Bank village of Hizmeh near Jerusalem. According to Jibril Rajoub, head of preventive security in the West Bank, the man was shot by Israeli undercover units.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
An IDF spokesman said 28,000 workers from the West Bank and 27,000 from the Gaza Strip would be permitted to enter Israel for day jobs. Work permits would be issued to workers who are married and over the age of 29. According to the spokesman, candidates for the work permits must pass stringent security checks.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
, Israel’s Ministry of Defence approved a US$300 million plan that would entail wide-scale expropriation of Palestinian lands for the construction of roads in the West Bank that would allow Jewish settlers to by-pass Palestinian-ruled areas. The project involves paving some existing dirt roads and laying major new ones, including a second north-south road through the Jordan Valley and a throughway cutting across the northern West Bank. No budgetary approval has yet been granted for the proposal.
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