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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
30 September 2003

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Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the

Question of Palestine

Monthly media monitoring review

September 2003


1

Khader al-Husari, a 36-year-old member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, was killed when three missiles fired by an Israeli helicopter hit a car in the Gaza Strip. A fourth missile struck another car, witnesses said, adding that two members of the Brigades managed to escape the strike. Twenty-five people were wounded, some critically. “The position of the EU is that these types of actions are not conducive to building more confidence and trust and you should try to avoid them,” Cristina Gallach, a spokeswoman for Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, told reporters. Several hours after the strike, the Palestinian leadership in a statement condemned such practices and called on the international community “to immediately intervene to stop the continued Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people by dispatching international observers to the region to implement the Road Map peace plan.” Israeli security officials later confirmed that the intended target of the attack was not in the vehicle at the time of the attack and had escaped unharmed. (AFP, The Financial Times, IPC, The Jerusalem Post)

At least 16 Palestinian teenagers were wounded, one seriously, as they were throwing stones at Israeli troops in Nablus, Palestinian medics said. Five were wounded by live ammunition, one of them in the head, and the remaining 11 by rubber-coated bullets. (AFP)

Israeli military sources said the IDF had arrested Sufian Istiti, believed to be Hamas' second-in-command in Tulkarm. Palestinian security sources confirmed the arrest but said the 30-year-old blacksmith was merely a pious Muslim and not known for his affiliation to Hamas, adding that Mr. Istiti had been arrested by Israeli undercover forces while he was driving an iron-laden truck and claiming the load was destined for his workshop south of the town. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF staged an incursion into the Deir al-Balah refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip and opened fire there, Palestinian security sources said, adding that the army had also established two roadblocks on the main route through the Gaza Strip. An IDF spokesman denied the troops had opened fire but confirmed that roadblocks had been set up on Saladin Road after four mortar shells were fired at the “Neve Dekalim” settlement, causing no damage or injury. (AFP, www.idf.il)

Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb, telling reporters after the meeting with Mr. Abul Ragheb: “I don’t think that optimism is the word to be used today to qualify the situation. The situation is not good. It is a critical situation, but I do think that we will be able to overcome it. In any case the Road Map is the only programme which is at this point on the table. We have to maintain it and to do the utmost to make it work.” Jordan's Prime Minister's Office released a statement after the meeting, calling on the UN to “shoulder its responsibilities and try to find a new equation to preserve peace in Israel and the Palestinian lands,” noting that this could be done through dispatching international forces to the Occupied Paletinian Territory. “The United States, the European Union and the international community should step in to ensure the restoration of the truce between Israel and the Palestinians as a prelude to relaunching political talks and implementation of the Road Map,” Mr. Abul Ragheb further stated. Later in the day, Prime Minster Sharon cancelled his planned meeting with Mr. Solana “for health reasons,” European diplomatic sources said, adding that Mr. Solana learned the news while on his way to Israel from Amman and immediately turned around and headed back to board a plane for Damascus, the next stop on his Middle East tour. (AFP, DPA, www.pm.gov.jo)

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov told ITAR-TASS that the Foreign Ministers of the Quartet would meet “in the near future,” but gave no specific date for the meeting, saying only that he would travel to Egypt on 4 September and then on to other Middle Eastern countries to discuss the situation. “We need to meet to restore the endangered peace process. My meetings have shown that the situation is very difficult. [Israel and the Palestinians] are unable to ease tensions on their own, allowing the vicious circle of violence to unfold” and “making it very difficult to stop,” Mr. Fedotov said. (AFP, Reuters)

Germany’s Aachen Peace Prize was awarded to Palestinian-born activist Nabila Espanioly and Jewish historian Reuven Moskovitz. The €2,000 (US$2,190) award, founded in 1988, was given for providing “hope on the path to conciliation and peace between Jews and Palestinians,” said Aachen Peace Prize Association Chairman Gerhard Diefenbach. Ms. Espanioly, an Israeli citizen, was cited for her 25-year fight for the rights of Palestinian women and children living in Israel. Mr. Moskovitz, 75, said the acts of violence by young Palestinians and fanatics could not be justified, but were often a result of hopelessness and indignation. “All Israel’s governing politicians have transformed the lives of the Palestinian people into an intolerable hell with their sanctions and expulsions,” said Mr. Moskovitz, and called on Europe to put pressure on Prime Minister Sharon. (AFP, www.aachener-friedenspreis.de)

As more than 1 million Palestinian children, about one third of the population, started the school year, IDF checkpoints and roadblocks meant many were either late or unable to attend class at all. “The military siege imposed on Jenin is disturbing the new school year,” Mohammed Abu Rub, the PA Education Ministry’s senior official there, said, adding: “Many teachers and students cannot reach their schools and others take hours to get there because of checkpoints. We have decided to re-route teachers to the first schools they can reach.” The education chief in the Nablus area, Juman Qaramah, estimated that schools had operated at 75 per cent capacity on the first day of the 2003-2004 school year, with hundreds of teachers from neighbouring villages attempting to enter the besieged city from its western and eastern entrances being turned away by the IDF. Near Qalqilya, students from villages surrounded by the separation barrier were delayed waiting to pass through gates and checkpoints. In the Bethlehem area, Palestinian security sources said a primary girls’ school had been raided by the IDF and teaching staff ordered to present their identity papers early in the morning in the village of Al-Khader. In the divided city of Hebron, under Israeli curfew, Palestinian and Israeli liaison officials coordinated the return to school. (AFP, Reuters)

Some 5,000 Palestinian prisoners, held in six different detention centres in Israel, staged a day-long hunger strike, protesting the eight-month-long solitary confinement of Ahmed Barghouti and Moussa Doudine, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club. The two, member of Fatah and Hamas respectively, were serving life sentences after being implicated in anti Israeli attacks and had been on a hunger strike for 20 days in protest at their treatment. Mr. Barghouti had been in a coma for several days. The Prisoners Club said it would appeal to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to intervene to save the lives of the two men. (AFP)

A Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, shot by Israeli police in clashes in the Old City in October 1990, was awarded NIS 2 million in compensation by the Jerusalem District court. Louis Ahmed Da’ash, currently 32 years-old, was paralysed in 36 per cent of his body as a result of bullet wounds to the chest and stomach. Mr. Da’ash had filed the lawsuit in 1996. During his testimony, Mr. Da’ash, who was not involved in the violence that erupted that day, had said that he was praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque when he heard the sound of gunfire and was hit by police bullets while fleeing the scene of the clashes. (IBA, The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli police arrested a Palestinian suspected of attacking a Jewish visitor in the Al-Haram Al-Sharif (the Temple Mount) complex, along with two other Palestinians involved in the scuffle with the police. Earlier in the day, police detained four ultra-nationalist Israeli Jews who had prostrated themselves on the ground of the complex in prayer and rejected the police's request to cease and desist. The four, including prominent right-wing activist Yehuda Etzion, were forcibly removed from the site and ordered to stay away from it for the next 15 days. (The Jerusalem Post)

2

A 10-year-old Palestinian girl, Sana al-Daur, wounded on 26 August in an Israeli helicopter attack in Jabaliya in northern Gaza, died from her injuries. Khalid Massud, a member of Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who had also been injured in the raid, was declared “clinically dead.” (AFP)

IDF troops shot dead a Palestinian at a checkpoint near Jenin. Military sources said Abdul Qadr Dahani, 28, later identified as an Islamic Jihad member, had aimed a pistol at troops after his taxi was pulled over for a routine stop at Fahameh, south-west of Jenin. An AK-47 assault rifle and magazines had also been found in the car, they added. Palestinian sources denied that the man had been armed, with one of them telling AFP: “The army stopped him. He got out of the car and they shot him.” His companion was arrested. (AFP, DPA)

Defence Minister Mofaz, speaking on Israel Army Radio,said that Israel had made a “historic” mistake by not expelling Chairman Arafat, but would deal with the matter soon, possibly by the end of the year. (DPA)

More than 200 Palestinian politicians, academics and other public figures issued a statement addressed to Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Abbas. Titled “Enough,” the statement urged them to put their differences aside, saying: “Our wounded homeland does not want to see more internal power struggle.” PA Minister of Cabinet Affairs Yasser Abed Rabbo and leading PLC members Hanan Ashrawi and Hatem Abdul Qadar were among the signatories. (AFP, DPA)

PA Minister of State for Security Affairs Mohammad Dahlan told Corriere della Sera,“2005 is too soon, but we will have” a State, adding: “Israel cannot stop the course of history, which calls for a return to the pre-war frontiers of 1967,” Mr. Dahlan said. “I was a child then. I was six, but I remember everything.” (AFP)

PA Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Sha’ath – on an official visit to India – called for international intervention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in order to achieve a lasting peace with Israel. “We feel that an international presence in Palestine today might be really the single most important requirement for peace,” Mr. Sha’ath told The Hindu. (DPA)

Israeli security officials came up with a list of Israeli ministers believed to be most threatened by Hamas seeking revenge for Israel’s assassination campaign against it. Security was being beefed up around several ministers, including Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Yediot Aharnotsaid. (DPA, The Jerusalem Post)

Al-Ayyam reported that Egypt had negotiated with representatives of Hamas and the Abu Mazen Government in an effort to reach a new agreement on a moratorium on attacks against Israeli targets. A Palestinian official told The Associated Pressthat Egyptian leaders had held separate talks in Cairo on 31 August with PLC member Ziyad Abu Amr and Hamas official Osama Hamdan, and then arranged for the two to meet directly. (IBA)

A 14-year-old Palestinian boy was seriously wounded in the stomach and a 12-year-old hit in the leg when Israeli soldiers opened fire to disperse Palestinians throwing stones at two jeeps on patrol in Beit Furik, near Nablus. An IDF spokesman denied that Israeli soldiers had been involved in any shooting incident there, telling reporters: “We’ve made inquiries and checked with all the commanders in the sector, and we deny categorically the presence of Israeli soldiers on Tuesday evening in Beit Furik.” (AFP)

Five anti-tank missiles were fired at an Israeli settlement in the “Gush Katif” block in the Gaza Strip late in the day. One house was damaged and a resident treated for shock. (IBA)

Israeli police and the Shin Bet arrested the brother of Sela Tor, reportedly a central figure in a Jewish terrorist underground behind a series of attacks against Palestinian targets. Gilad Tor, from the “Havat Ma’on” settlement near Hebron, was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the group. (Ha’aretz)

Israel launched a campaign to get the United Nations to declare a moratorium on all resolutions that denounced Israel or demanded that it change its policies without parallel denunciations or demands regarding Palestinian terrorism. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Gillerman presented the idea at a special meeting with the UN ambassadors from 25 European States who either were, or were soon to become, members of the EU. Amb. Gillerman was accompanied by David Granit, Deputy Director-General for International Organizations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who had flown in from Israel for the meeting. The initiative referred specifically to 21 resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that were discussed by various UN committees every year and then submitted to the General Assembly. Israel was proposing that the committees not discuss these resolutions during the current session and that the GA postpone a vote on them until the following year. (Ha’aretz)

Asked about remarks by Defence Minister Mofaz on plans to expel PA President Arafat, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Washington was aware of them but would not speak to them except to say that the US position on Mr. Arafat had not changed. Pressed further on the issue, Mr. Boucher said that the last time the question of Mr. Arafat’s possible expulsion had arisen, the United States had opposed the idea and had been pleased when Israel said it did not plan to do so. “I don’t know when the last time was, but our view was that that was the right decision,” Mr. Boucher said. However, State Department officials reportedly sought clarification from Israel over the Defence Minister's remarks. (AFP)

3

“The Road Map is dead, but only because of Israeli military aggression in recent weeks,” PA President Arafat told CNN in an off-camera interview. “The Palestinians continue to respect the Road Map, and it still exists,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh nonetheless told Agence France-Presse,adding: “We appeal to the Quartet to work towards its application and appeal to the world to support the Palestinian people in the face of Israel, which is trying hard to destroy the Road Map.” (AFP, Reuters)

The IDF said some 10,000 workers and another 1,000 shopkeepers from the Gaza Strip were to be allowed by Israel to return to it for work. However, the office of the PA General Security Services in Gaza City said in an interview that 3,937 workers and no shopkeepers had been permitted to enter Israel, and that Palestinian workers from the southern Gaza Strip had been prevented from entering. (AFP)

The IDF ordered officers on the ground to treat Palestinian civilians “with respect” in a series of instructions handed down by legal officers. Officials from the Judge Advocate General’s office formulated 11 rules for operation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which were conveyed in lectures to commanders. Brig.-Gen. Udi Shani, an army chief in the West Bank, was cited by Ha’aretz as telling his officers that the rules meant that “soldiers must treat civilians of the territories with respect, and they should use their common sense.” The instructions stipulated that “military activity is aimed solely at military targets” and that “the means used should be appropriate to the goal”. Commanders were also told that any Palestinian who surrendered must not be harmed and that any detainee “should be interrogated only by authorized IDF or Shin Bet security service interrogators, not by his captors.” (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said after talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal in Moscow that international peacekeepers could conceivably be deployed in the Middle East to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Russia was willing to examine the idea if the opposing sides were agreed. Mr. Ivanov restated Moscow’s support for the Road Map as the “only plan able to provide a solution to the crisis and meet the interests of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples,” Interfax reported. (DPA)

4

An Israeli soldier was shot dead in an ambush near Jenin. The soldier belonged to a patrol in the West Bank that had arrested a member of Islamic Jihad who allegedly was planning to dispatch a suicide bomber into Israel, according to the IDF. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. (Albawaba.com, BBC, CNN, Ha’aretz)

An Israeli soldier was shot and wounded in the southern Gaza Strip in an attack claimed by both the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic Jihad. The soldier was hit when Palestinians opened fire on an Israeli army position near Rafah, close to the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The Israeli army then set up roadblocks on the main Saladin highway through the region. (AFP)

Israeli troops arrested a Hamas member in Nablus who they said was planning a suicide attack. (CNN)

In an address to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), PA Prime Minister Abbas called for “healing the dispute between the Government and the Presidency.” He also called on the US to lift its boycott on PA President Arafat, calling Mr. Arafat the “constitutional and legitimate president” of the Palestinian people. On the truce that had broken down, he said, “I don’t believe there’s anybody in the world that doesn’t share my opinion that it is the Israeli side who takes the responsibility for where we are today.” Mr. Abbas ruled out resorting to force against militant groups, saying, “We do not deal with the opposition in a militaristic manner, but through dialogue.” He urged the co-sponsors of the Road Map to work harder towards its implementation, saying, “We believe that the Quartet needs to work harder as a way of rescuing the situation and bring life back into the plan approved and accepted by many.” On the US, he said, “The US Administration unfortunately did not exert enough effort and influence on Israel to stop its provocations during the period of quiet which we arrived at following the ceasefire agreement and to implement its commitments towards the Road Map and the advancement of the peace process.” He also announced that he was reappointing Saeb Erakat as Chief Negotiations Minister. (AFP, BBC)

PA Prime Minister Abbas was scheduled to hold a closed-door session with deputies on 6 September. Forty-nine deputies voted for a secret session to be held, while 10 were against the move. (AFP)

Some 200 Fatah activists demonstrated outside the PLC building, vowing support for Mr. Arafat. (AFP)

Senior Hamas official Ismail Haniya told AFP that talks had taken place between officials of the group and PA ministers, without giving any names. He said, “We need a strategy of dialogue to protect the Palestinian people and their territories.” Hamas leader Abdul Aziz al-Rantissi said he supported a resumption of the dialogue with the PA Prime Minister Abbas which had been cut after the suicide bombing in Jerusalem. He said, “Abu Mazen [Mr. Abbas] took the decision to stop talking to us. We support dialogue.” Mr. al-Rantissi was reported to have said that there was no room to discuss a truce with Israel as that would be viewed as a defeat. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

The Israeli Ministry of Housing and Construction issued a tender for 102 new housing units in the settlement of “Efrat,” located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Peace Now representatives said that with the tender, Israel effectively had announced the death of the Road Map. (Ha’aretz)

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz called on the world to pressure Israel into adhering to the Road Map. (Ha’aretz)

A 12-year-old Palestinian boy was seriously wounded after being shot by Israeli forces who had entered Silat al-Harithiya, west of Jenin. Soldiers on some 10 jeeps and tanks entered the town and imposed a curfew as they conducted searches. The boy was hit in the stomach while throwing stones, according to a medical source. (AFP)

The US reaffirmed its support for PA Prime Minister Abbas but rejected his appeal to drop the year-old boycott of PA President Arafat. The State Department welcomed Mr. Abbas’ recommitment to the Road Map and lauded his demand for full control over the Palestinian security structure. On Mr. Abbas, White House spokesperson Scott McClellan told reporters, “That’s who we have been working with, and we will continue to work with, as we move forward on the Road Map. We have made progress. It has been slow, but it’s progress.” He added, “At the top of the list is the dismantlement of terrorist organizations. And it’s important for there to be a unified security structure under Prime Minister Abbas’ leadership.” State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher said: “The main problem now is terrorism and violence, and the PA needs to take hold of that problem if we are to move forward." He also said that the US was closely watching events in the PLC. He added that the US would keep pressing both sides to meet their commitments under the Road Map – a crackdown on militants by the PA and a withdrawal from some Palestinian areas on the Israeli side. He said, “There is no alternative to the Road Map. Beyond the Road Map is a cliff.” (AFP, Reuters)

The European Parliament condemned as “racist” a law passed by the Israeli Government that barred Palestinians married to Israeli Arabs from obtaining Israeli citizenship. The law disqualified Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from gaining Israeli nationality through marriage and blocked the reunification of families split between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (AFP)

5

A Hamas leader, identified as Mohammed al-Hanbali, 27, and an Israeli soldier were killed in a gun battle when Israeli troops tried to arrest the militant in the town of Nablus. An army spokesperson said Mr. al-Hanbali was the leader in Nablus of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. He added that Mr. al-Hanbali was responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings, and that the army had been on the lookout for him for the past two years. Four other soldiers were wounded, one of them seriously. (AFP, BBC, The Guardian, Middle East Online)

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a top aide of PA President Arafat's, condemned the Israeli raid in Nablus in which a Hamas leader was slain. “This is an Israeli military escalation which we condemn and we have asked the international community and the Mideast Quartet to intervene immediately to stop Israel’s aggressions and send international observers.” Mr. Rudeineh had also criticized the Israeli army incursion in Rafah earlier in the day. Some 3,000 Hamas supporters gathered at the Jabaliya refugee camp denouncing Israeli “crimes” against its militants. (AFP)

Several Israeli army tanks, bulldozers and jeeps rolled into Rafah and destroyed a two-storey house, part of a reception hall and greenhouses, and razed several hectares of agricultural land, according to Palestinian security forces. The house belonged to Omar Bureika, a Palestinian civilian. Seven greenhouses and hundreds of olive trees were destroyed. The incident took place in Rafah’s Tal al-Sultan neighbourhood where there had been renewed exchanges of fire between the army and Palestinian militants. (AFP)

Dr. Mahmoud al Zahhar, a leader of Hamas, blamed the UN and the international community for their silence over what he described as the “oppressive Israeli actions” and “ongoing assassinations of Palestinians.” He said, “Israel does not need any justification for its aggression as there is nobody in this world that can stand in the way of the Israelis. On the contrary, many sides support them in their aggression … even the UN is tarnishing its track record when it denounces Palestinian freedom fighters as terrorists.” (Albawaba.com)

The Israeli army promised a “thorough investigation” into the death of a Palestinian baby shortly after it was born at a military checkpoint because soldiers had refused to let her mother go to the hospital. The incident had taken place in Nablus a week before as the army blockaded Palestinian towns in a bid to prevent militants from carrying out anti-Israel attacks. Rula Shtayyeh was in labour and was trying to get to hospital when soldiers detained her at a roadblock. The baby girl died shortly after she was born on the side of the road. Since September 2000, several pregnant women had given birth while being stuck at Israel checkpoints. Some of the babies had died. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Internationally renowed Israeli crime novelist Batya Gur was briefly detained by the police after she protested their mistreatment of an elderly Palestinian man. Ms. Gur said, “I was taken to the police station for the sole reason that I was protesting the offensive way three young policemen were treating a 75-year-old Palestinian man whom they had waiting standing for a long time.” (AFP, Ha’aretz)

An IDF soldier was killed before dawn on 5 September in a gun battle with armed Palestinians in Nablus. Four other soldiers were wounded in the incident, one of them seriously. A senior Hamas member, Mohammed Hanbali, suspected by Israel of organizing several suicide bombings that killed dozens of Israelis, was also killed in the gun battle. The IDF later blew up the seven-storey building where the incident took place, home to some 100 Palestinian members of 11 families. (Ha’aretz)

6

An Israeli fighter plane dropped a bomb on a house in Gaza City on 6 September, targeting wheelchair-bound Hamas spiritual leader 67-year-old Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, who escaped with a light hand injury by leaving the house moments before it was hit. About 15 others were wounded. The IDF confirmed the strike in a short statement the next day. Israeli TV said the choice of a smaller bomb, 250 kg instead of 1000 kg, may have saved Mr. Yassin’s life as it only destroyed the top floor of the building. Hamas vowed to avenge the strike. “The Palestinian Leadership condemns the awful attempt to assassinate Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his aides,” said a PA statement published by WAFA. Mr. Yassin told the reporters: “Sharon and the Israeli people will pay a high price for the crimes they are committing against our people,” but the Palestinian people would never surrender to Israel, and would raise the flags of victory and the “rapist entity” would be removed. (DPA, IMRA, IPC, Reuters)

EU Foreign Ministers holding informal talks over the weekend at Riva del Garda, Italy, agreed on 6 September that the political wing of Hamas should be classified as a terrorist organization. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, whose country held the rotating EU Presidency, said he hoped the move would send out “a strong political signal” to Hamas. “Details will be decided on implementing the decision ... sending a clear message to the political wing of Hamas,” said European Commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin. “This decision is a worthless formality,” Hamas leader Abdulaziz al-Rantissi said in an interview. The EU move involved the freezing of all Hamas assets in Europe. Diplomats said the Ministers’ political decision was being studied by a so-called “clearing house” of EU specialists in international terrorism. EU Governments had to decide whether only the political wing of Hamas should be included on its list of international terror organizations - which since 2001 included the military arm of Hamas - or whether the ban should also cover individual members of Hamas and charitable organizations suspected of having links with the group. The European Commission stressed, however, that it had already given “generous” financial aid of €245 million to the PA and would not be able to compensate any funds cut off by the blacklisting. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said he had asked his colleagues to reflect on the circumstances under which the EU might be able to reverse its decision, while EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said the next day that it could happen if Hamas became a political party and cut its links with terror. Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood threatened to call for a boycott of European goods unless the EU reversed the decision, which it said was a “new crusader’s war.” (AFP, DPA)

Mohammad Abdallah Abu Al-Hasna, a 17-year-old Hamas member, was shot at night in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip near the border with Israel, and died the next morning from blood loss, as the IDF had not allowed him to be evacuated to the hospital by ambulance. Hamas announced in a statement that he had been taking part in “an observation mission” near the border when he was wounded. An IDF spokesman confirmed the shooting, saying that the Palestinian had been “spotted at night while he was in a closed military zone” near the border. “Soldiers ordered him to stop but he refused to respond to their orders and started digging as if he was placing a bomb,” the spokesman added, confirming further that the army had denied him an ambulance on the grounds that Mr. Abu Al-Hasna could have been carrying explosive devices. (AFP)

Prime Minister Abbas [Abu Mazem] submitted his resignation, saying that his decision was final. Chairman Arafat accepted his resignation. “President Arafat told parliament that Abu Mazen was put in charge of expediting current affairs for a period of five weeks,” a senior Palestinian official told reporters, adding: “The president could ask Abu Mazen to form a new government or appoint someone else.” Prime Minister Sharon’s office released a statement saying Israel was “monitoring the situation” and would not “countenance a situation in which control of the Palestinian leadership reverts back to Yasser Arafat or someone who does his bidding.” (AFP, DPA, www.pmo.gov.il)

7

The US reaffirmed its opposition to Israeli military strikes against radical Palestinians after an attempt on the life of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. “We’ve always been opposed to this policy. And we have cautioned our Israeli friends that as they do these kind of self-defence activities, they have to consider the long-range consequences,” Secretary of State Powell told ABC TV. “To kill one Hamas leader, but to wound nine children or 10 children in the course of this, who will grow up to become Hamas leaders or Hamas killers later” should be guarded against, said Powell, who also stressed that Hamas had yet to put a stop to terrorist activities. On the same issue, US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, appearing on Fox News,said: “We ask Israel to be certain that it’s always thinking about the consequences for tomorrow, that it’s always thinking about building a Palestinian partner.” (AFP)

Israeli helicopters fired missiles on a house in the Al-Nimsawi neighbourhood, east of Khan Yunis, destroying an ammunition depot and causing a series of explosions that left 15 people wounded. Residents said that the house belonged to Abdel Sallam Abu Musa, a well-known member of the Hamas’ armed wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who was among the wounded. The IDF confirmed the strike in a short statement. Earlier in the day, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam said in a leaflet that its members had destroyed an IDF Jeep east of the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, wounding at least three Israeli soldiers. Israel Radio reported that three Israeli soldiers had been injured when their jeep drove over a roadside bomb in central Gaza Strip. (AFP, DPA, IBA, www.idf.il)

Palestinian militants fired six mortar rounds at the “Neve Dekalim” settlement in the southern Gaza Strip without causing injuries, said a military spokesman. An IDF statement later announced a general closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip “due to the current security situation.” “As such, Palestinians will not be permitted to enter or leave Israel,” the statement said, adding: “Passage will only be authorized in humanitarian cases, in coordination with Liaison and Coordination channels.” (AFP, www.idf.il)

Prime Minister Sharon reiterated that Israel intended to liquidate the entire Hamas leadership, telling Yediot Aharonot: “It’s them or us. That is the situation, and we have to recognize it … They are dead men. We won’t give them any rest. We will continue to pursue them because they have only one goal: the destruction of Israel.” (DPA)

The IDF announced in a statement that its forces had demolished the Tulkarm house of an Islamic Jihad member, Mursi Farhanah, who the Israelis said had been involved in recruiting and directing four attempted suicide bombings in Netanya and Afula. (AFP, www.idf.il)

Foreign Minister Shalom told Israel Radio:“I think PA President Arafat’s expulsion is an inevitable result after years of involvement in terrorism,” and expressed support for such a move. He said any decision would await “a strategic discussion” in the Cabinet, and that Prime Minister Sharon would convene a Cabinet meeting “very soon” to discuss the issue. Defence Minister Mofaz was expected to further explore the issue during his visit to Washington the following week. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

The Israeli High Court of Justice instructed the Centre for the Defence of the Individual (Hamoked) to submit a revised petition raising the question of whether the State may hold security detainees in a secret prison, the so-called Facility 1391. The petition said if the State wanted to operate the facility as though it was a regular prison, it must turn it over to military police administration, allow supervision and open it to visits by lawyers and human rights groups. (Ha’aretz, www.hamoked.org.il)

8

An armed Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops in the morning near the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, an Israeli military spokesman said, adding that the man had been wearing an IDF uniform and was aiming in the direction of soldiers. Palestinian security sources and medical sources identified the man as 21-year-old Ahmed Halawa. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said Halawa had been one of its members. According to an IDF statement, a Kalashnikov rifle, cartridges and grenades had been found on the body of the dead Palestinian, further announcing that a 30-kg explosive device had been detonated against IDF forces near the Erez crossing. (AFP, DPA, www.idf.il)

Ahmed Qureia, the PLC Speaker, was nominated to replace outgoing Prime Minister Abbas. His candidature was approved by the Executive Committee of the PLO and by the Fatah Central Committee. Mr. Qureia told reporters he would accept the post only with US and European guarantees that Israel would implement the Road Map: “We are holding consultations with foreign countries on a number of issues.” Those issues included not only implementation of the Road Map, but also an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities, the removal of checkpoints, an end the closure of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and showing due respect to Chairman Arafat. “The elected Israeli Government must change its ways of dealing with the elected Palestinian President,” he told reporters. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was quoted as saying Israel was still following developments and would react to the appointment of Mr. Qureia once it officially went through. EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said the body would “deal with the new Palestinian Government,” with his spokeswoman Cristina Gallach saying: “Ahmed Qureia is very respected by the EU. The EU knows what he has done and knows that he is a man of peace, and that he wants peace with Israel. There is no doubt that the EU will do all it can to support and help him.” White House spokesman Scott McLellan declined to comment directly on Mr. Qureia’s nomination or his call for support, but said it was vital that any new Prime Minister have the power to crack down on militant groups. Late in the day, Chairman Arafat announced that Mr. Qureia had accepted the appointment. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

The Palestinian leadership issued a statement in which it held Israel responsibile for the collapse of the peace process and stressed that “international parties that signed the Road Map peace plan should respect their commitment to reach peace in the region by moving to stop the Israeli offensive and ensure international protection by dispatching international observers to prevent further war against the Palestinian people being launched by Israeli PM Sharon and his army generals.” (IPC)

The following statements were issued at the noon briefing at UNHQ:


Statements attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

Resignation of Abu Mazen

(SG/SM/8852)
Attempt on the life of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin

The Secretary-General is greatly troubled by the intensifying cycle of violence, retaliation and revenge between Israelis and Palestinians. He deplores the tendency of both sides to disregard their obligation to protect civilians under international humanitarian law.

In particular, the Secretary-General condemns Saturday’s attempt by Israel to assassinate the Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. Not only are extrajudicial killings a violation of international humanitarian law; the attack on Sheikh Yassin also involved the use of disproportionate force in a densely populated civilian area. The Secretary-General calls on Israel to cease and desist from such acts and return to efforts at negotiation with its Palestinian partners, as outlined in the Quartet Road Map. He fears that the alternative is still greater bloodshed and loss of innocent civilian life.


(SG/SM/8853)

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said in a statement closing a two-day Foreign Ministers meeting in Saudi Arabia: “The GCC calls on all Palestinian parties to unify their ranks, which is necessary, and to avoid any difference likely to harm the interests of the Palestinian people,” and blamed Israel’s “policy of violence, assassinations and invasion of cities” for the worsening situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (AFP)

Amnesty International (AI) issued a report, entitled “Israel and the Occupied Territories: Surviving under Siege,” saying some 60 per cent of Palestinians lived below the poverty line of $2 per day and unemployment was close to 50 per cent. The report said Israel’s separation barrier had serious economic and social consequences for more than 200,000 Palestinians. “The barrier/fence cuts off scores of Palestinian villages from the rest of the West Bank or from their farming land. The land in these areas is among the most fertile in the West Bank, with better water resources than elsewhere.” AI also called on Israel to put an end to the imposition of “disproportionate and discriminatory restrictions” on the movement of Palestinians in the Occupied PalestinianTerritory. (AI press release MDE 15/081/2003, DPA, Reuters)

Israel's General Security Services (Shin Bet) and the police released Haggai Avichar, a resident of the “Susiya” settlement south of Hebron, from detention. He had been arrested 10 days earlier for allegedly planning attacks against Palestinians. His release was the fourth such case in the last two weeks. Eight other Israelis, who police claimed were connected to an extremist cell plotting anti-Palestinian attacks, remained in detention. (IBA, The Jerusalem Post)

An unarmed 50-year-old Palestinian was seriously wounded by Israeli gunfire during an army incursion into Tulkarm, according to Palestinian security and medical sources. The man was struck by a shot aimed at young people throwing Molotov cocktails at Army vehicles, the sources said. (AFP)

Hamas and Islamic Jihad said on 8 September they would support PLC Speaker Ahmed Qureia, who had been nominated as the new PA Prime Minister, only if he backed their right to fight Israel. “Any Palestinian Government worth its weight should assert the right of our people to resistance and self-defence and it should protect them from aggression and blockades. We will support such a Government,” Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed al-Hindi said in an interview. Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi said his movement would not oppose the nomination of Mr. Qureia and that it would support a Government that reaffirmed the Palestinians’ right to resist Israel. “It is necessary to choose a path that will serve Palestinian interests, one that is not based on the Oslo accords,” Mr. al-Rantissi said. (AFP)

After meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, US Secretary of State Powell remarked to reporters with regard to the nomination of Mr. Qureia as Prime Minister: “We hope that however it turns out, whoever the Prime Minister is, and I would suspect it is going to be Abu Ala [Ahmed Qureia], that he will make a commitment to fight terrorism. I hope that he will be given the political authority, the security forces and the financial assets that are needed to undertake this task.” Mr. Powell also said he had spoken with Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom about Palestinian political developments, stressing the US position that the new Prime Minister must have full control of the security apparatus. (AFP)

PA Prime Minister-designate Qureia had a telephone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, whose country held the current EU Presidency. Mr. Qureia requested the EU’s commitment to pursue reform and negotiation processes and to exert pressure on all parties involved to promptly return to the negotiating table. Prime Minister Berlusconi guaranteed the EU’s support for the requests and encouraged him to proceed with determination on reforms and on combating terrorism. (AFP, www.ueitalia2003.it/EN)

9

Two Hamas members and a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, were killed during an Israeli operation in Hebron. According to a senior IDF officer, soldiers surrounded an apartment building before dawn to arrest at least three Hamas members after an intelligence tip that they were plotting to carry out a suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem. After evacuating residents, the soldiers opened tank and machine-gun fire at the two lower storeys, witnesses said. Israeli military sources said the soldiers had fired only after the militants shot at them. In a later search of the building soldiers discovered the bodies of two Hamas members. Another Palestinian found injured in the building was evacuated to an Israeli hospital. Twelve-year-old Thaher Siyouri, who was watching the fighting with his family from a balcony of a nearby building, was hit in the head and killed by shrapnel from a tank shell. An 18-year-old girl was also wounded nearby. According to a senior Israeli military official, an Army officer visited the hospital in Hebron where the boy had been taken and concluded, from a look at his head injury, that he had died from falling off the balcony. (AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

An Israeli tank shot and killed a Palestinian suspected of planting a bomb north of the "Karni Terminal", Army Radio reported. The terminal is used to transfer goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip. (Ha’aretz)

A Palestinian suicide bomber carried out an attack outside the Tzrifin Army Base, south-east of Tel Aviv, killing at least seven people and wounding some 15, six of them seriously. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. The blast occurred at the entrance to the base, where soldiers were waiting at a stop for rides home. (AP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a café in West Jerusalem and killed at least three people and wounded some 40 others. The bomber attacked the Café Hillel on a strip with many restaurants and small shops, just hours after the suicide bombing near Tel Aviv. According to Israel Army Radio,a security guard stopped the bomber from entering the café, and he blew himself up just outside. (AP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

(SG/SM/8858)

IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon said Israel could have killed Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and other Hamas leaders if it had used a bigger bomb in an air strike against them in Gaza City on 6 September, in which 15 Palestinians were wounded. “Last Saturday I knew that the bombs I decided to use were not enough to destroy this building. But I knew that a greater bomb would cause collateral damage … That was a dilemma. I preferred to miss and not to [see] dozens of children killed in our action,” Mr. Ya’alon said. He added, “But I believe the message of this air strike has been absorbed … The Hamas leadership now considers its ‘survivability’ even in considering what to do now. They know that if we face a devastating attack [in Israel], they will be an immediate target. So they are in a dilemma.” Mr. Ya’alon also hinted that Israel could start targeting militant leaders from Syria, Lebanon or Iran who supported Palestinian terror cells, saying “all leaderships should be held accountable.” (AP, Reuters)

PA Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia told Ha’aretz that he wanted to achieve a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians and would not be satisfied by an internal Palestinian hudna (truce). Mr. Qureia also said that he would be able to act as Prime Minister only under certain conditions, including an end to the construction of the separation barrier, an end to assassinations, the removal of roadblocks and a freeze on settlement activity. He also demanded that Israel lift the siege on PA President Arafat. Mr. Qureia said he was examining the possibility of forming a new Government with the cooperation of Israel and the Quartet. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi said the European Union was considering an aid plan worth €5 billion over five years to help Palestinians rebuild their economy. Mr. Berlusconi told reporters after meeting his Danish counterpart, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, that EU Finance Ministers were aiming to have an aid package proposal ready by the end of the year. “We discussed this matter at the G8 meeting in Evian … and the figure of 5 billion euros over five years was mooted,” Mr. Berlusconi said. (Reuters)

10

In the village of Rantis near Ramallah, Israeli troops arrested some 20 family members of two Palestinians believed to have carried out two suicide bombings near Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem a day earlier, killing 15 people. The two missing men, 24-and 20-year-old Hamas activists, had been detained by Israel earlier in the year but were released after being held for a few months, according to relatives. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Israeli warplanes bombed the house of Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar in retaliation for the two suicide bombings the previous day. Mr. Zahar managed to escape with minor injuries when his two-storey house was flattened, but his 29-year-old son and a bodyguard were killed. Mr. Zahar’s wife suffered serious wounds and was in stable condition after surgery, according to a hospital official. Mr. Zahar’s daughter was slightly wounded, and another son was missing. Some 20 other Palestinians were also wounded in the attack. Israel claimed Mr. Zahar was a key Hamas decision maker and involved in plotting suicide bombings. (AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

A Palestinian was shot and wounded by Israeli troops who had entered the centre of Ramallah in a convoy of about 15 jeeps. According to witnesses, the Palestinian was wounded when the troops opened fire and discharged tear gas on a group of youngsters throwing stones at their vehicles. The troops had entered the city to arrest a wanted militant they suspected was being sheltered in an apartment in central Ramallah, according to a Palestinian security source. (AFP)

After the Israeli assassination attempt on Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, the military wing of Hamas threatened to change its tactics by attacking Israeli houses and buildings. “The targeting of civilian houses is a violation of all red lines. Therefore, the Zionist enemy will have to shoulder responsibility for the targeting by us of houses and Zionist buildings everywhere in occupied Palestine,” the Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Prime Minister Sharon, who had cut short a visit to India in response to the two suicide bombings, was scheduled to hold security consultations the following day. Two strategic decisions - whether to expel PA President Chairman Arafat or order a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip - would be on the agenda, a security official said. (AP, Ha’aretz)

PLC Speaker Ahmed Qureia accepted the nomination to become Prime Minister and said he would form an emergency cabinet of six to eight members within 24 hours. He said he would call an urgent session of the PLC the following day to seek its approval for the emergency cabinet. “I will include more members later … because at this stage we have to work urgently,” he said. He also said his top priority would be unifying the eight branches of the Palestinian security services. (AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Israeli Finance Minister Netanyahu said his Ministry would provide the funds needed to speed up completion of the separation barrier to guard against future Palestinian attacks. Speaking at a business conference, Mr. Netanyahu deflected claims by building contractors and the Defence Ministry that there was a dearth of funds for the construction and said the budget would not be an obstacle. He said that he would do everything in his power to bring about the quick completion of the barrier and that any cuts in the 2004 defence budget would not hurt the nation’s ability to defend itself against terrorist attacks. He also said the Treasury had decided the previous week to provide an additional NIS500 million (about US$112 million) to complete the separation barrier in the Jerusalem area. (The Jerusalem Post)

The EU Special Envoy for the Middle East, Marc Otte, told reporters after meeting with Mr. Qureia in Ramallah: “Europe wants to encourage the Palestinian Government to continue what Abu Mazen started.” He said the EU wanted to see a continuation of “the security reforms” that had been pursued by Mr. Abbas and his efforts to implement the Road Map. Mr. Otte also reiterated the EU’s opposition to the expulsion of Chairman Arafat, saying, “We do not support anything which would aggravate the situation.” A spokesperson for EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, Cristina Gallach, said in Brussels, “The European Union warmly supports Ahmed Qureia” (AFP, DPA)

On a visit to Bosnia, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that an international force might be needed to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that the Quartet or the UN Security Council must make new demands on both Israel and the Palestinians. “It seems that soon … tough demands must be presented in order [for the two sides] to keep to the peace Road Map, and in order for these demands to be met, we may need to introduce international forces in the zone of conflict,” he told a press conference. “I am greatly concerned with the escalation of violence … Obviously without a more decisive international involvement, a solution cannot be found to stop the cycle of violence,” he added. (AFP)

A survey carried out for Ha’aretz by the Dialogue Institute showed that the average Israeli had turned his/her back on conciliation, patience and moderation and was giving the Government a “green light” to its policy of assassinations. According to the survey, which was conducted to study Israeli public opinion after the failed assassination attempt against Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, 68 per cent of respondents said the assassination attempt had been justified and 59 per cent said they wanted to see a second attempt. Thirty-one per cent of respondents said they wanted to see a “broad military operation,” a sort of Operation Defensive Shield II. The survey questioned a total of 504 people and had an error margin of 4.4 per cent. (Ha’aretz)

Two Palestinians were killed and a third seriously wounded by Israeli army gunfire in the Balata refugee camp outside Nablus. The two men killed were identified as members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Sources said that Mahmud Aissa, 20, died of a gunshot wound in the neck while Mohammed Aissi was hit in the head and stomach. Ibrahim Jawad, 18, was seriously hurt. Circumstances of the incident were not immediately clear. Witnesses said two Israeli tanks were posted on the edge of the camp at the time. (AFP)

A Palestinian civilian was injured by an Israeli tank shell near Khan Yunis. An Israeli army spokesperson told reporters that tanks opened fire on a Palestinian who had tried to cross into Israeli territory near the road terminal of “Kissufim,” near Khan Yunis. A Palestinian security source said shells had been fired by Israeli tanks against Palestinian security positions in the area. (AFP)

Israeli troops demolished 15 houses in Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border, Israel Radio reported. An army response quoted on the radio said the troops had destroyed “several” empty houses which had been used to provide cover for gunmen firing at Israeli troops. Troops in the West Bank demolished three houses, two in Ramallah and one in Hebron. One of the houses in Ramallah belonged to Mahmud Salam Maslah, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades currently in an Israeli prison. In Hebron, soldiers destroyed Abdallah Kawasme’s home. According to the report, he had been involved in several attacks, including suicide bombings. In Beitunia, troops also dynamited the home of Imad Sharif of Hamas. (AFP, DPA, www.idf.il)

Israeli troops took control over the seventh floor of the PA Culture Ministry and an uninhabited structure just 300 metres from PA President Arafat’s headquarters or muqataa in Ramallah as apparent lookouts, according to witnesses. Witnesses also reported Israeli troop movements in the area. (AFP, AP)

President Bush called on the new PA Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia to help halt terror attacks on Israel. Mr. Bush said that if Mr. Qureia wanted a Palestinian State, “his job … is to consolidate power within his administration, to get the security forces under control - all security forces - and then to unleash those security forces against killers.” He also said, “The Road Map is still there. The fundamental question is whether or not people - peaceful people - will be on the road.” (Tribune Business News)

Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham urged Israel and the Palestinians to engage in “constructive dialogue” to halt violence in the Middle East. He said, “We continue to call upon all parties to engage in constructive dialogue, in an effort to put an end to this horrible bloodshed and loss of life.” Canada “remains committed to a just and lasting peace through negotiated and equitable settlement, and will continue to play its part in achieving this objective,” he added. (AFP)

11

A scheduled meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) was postponed because Israel had denied several legislators travel permits. Israel cited bureaucratic reasons, saying requests had not been made early enough. At the meeting, Mr. Qureia was to be installed as Prime Minister and would present his eight-member emergency cabinet. Later in the day, Mr. Qureia told reporters in Ramallah, “The Palestinian leadership and Fatah have decided that I should form a full cabinet as soon as possible.” (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz)

The Fatah Central Committee, which convened a meeting at the muqataa,decided to consolidate the eight different Palestinian security services into one. It also decided that the Higher Security Council, previously formed by Mr. Arafat, would be responsible for security. The Council would include Mr. Arafat, Prime Minister-designate Qureia, the Interior, Foreign and Finance Ministers, security advisers to Mr. Arafat, and one representative each from the PLC and the PLO Executive Committee. Decisions of the Council would be by “agreement.” Mr. Abbas Zaki of the Fatah Central Committee told reporters that Mr. Arafat would command the unified security service, adding that discussions would continue over the weekend. (DPA, Reuters)

Israel’s Security Cabinet met in emergency session and decided “in principle” to expel Mr. Arafat, but not at the present time. The Cabinet said the time was not right to carry out the move. It asked the IDF to prepare a plan for expulsion. Eight of the 11 Cabinet members were in favour of expulsion, while two were opposed. Prime Minister Sharon had not made his view public. Earlier, Defence Minister Mofaz had said expelling Mr. Arafat was the least Israel should do and that killing him should be considered. The Jerusalem Post also endorsed Mr. Mofaz’s view. Former Prime Minister Peres said expelling Mr. Arafat would be a “historic mistake” that would “deepen the hostilities between the Palestinians and ourselves.” Egyptian President Mubarak said expelling Mr. Arafat would lead to terrorism and unknown grave repercussions. In response, Mr. Arafat said, “This is my homeland. This is Terra Sancta. No one can kick me out … They can kill me. They have bombs.” But he added that he would “definitely” not leave. He called on the Quartet to “move quickly to protect peace and the Road Map.” (AP, DPA, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)

US State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher said the expulsion of Mr. Arafat would be unhelpful. He said, “We don’t believe that dealing with Mr. Arafat … through expulsion is going to be helpful at all with the situation,” because “it would just give him a new stage to play on.” (Reuters)

PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad pledged to keep up his reform drive. Mr. Fayyad said, “We have established credibility in the system. Favouritism, monopolies – it is all ending.” He planned to meet Finance Ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations in Dubai on 20 September ahead of the IMF and World Bank meetings, and would use the opportunity to present reform plans and the financial needs of the PA. (Reuters)

The EU decided to increase pressure on Hamas by adding the entire organization to the EU terrorist list, but it stopped short of a crackdown on related charities that allegedly funnelled money to militant groups. An EU diplomat said there was still “no consenus” on the related charities, but the issue remained on the agenda and would not be immediately voted on. Osama Hamdan, Hamas’ representative in Lebanon, said the decision was a “surrender” to the US and Israeli pressure, which he said could lessen Europe’s influence in the Arab World. (The Guardian, Reuters)

Israeli troops, including 15 tanks and jeeps, entered Tulkarm conducting house-to-house searches and imposing a curfew. Palestinian youths began throwing stones at the troops, who returned fire, although it was not immediately clear whether they used rubber-coated bullets or live rounds. An Israeli military source confirmed that “forces went in” in what he called a routine operation. He denied a curfew had been imposed. (AFP)

PA President Arafat was hailed by thousands of supporters as he ventured out of his headquarters in Ramallah after the Israeli Government had decided in principle to expel him. More than 1,000 people also took to the streets in central Gaza City to demonstrate their support for Mr. Arafat. In Tulkarm, a crowd of up to 2,000 people showed their support for Mr. Arafat. In the Balata refugee camp outside Nablus, around 3,000 people staged a rally, while 700 demonstrated in the centre of the town. More than 1,000 demonstrated in the Jabaliya refugee camp, while some 2,000 people took to the streets in Jericho. (AFP)

PA Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia said he could call off efforts to form a new government after Israel’s decision on the expulsion of Mr. Arafat. “If the Government of Israel doesn’t revise its position, if it continues to use the principle of force and violence against the Palestinian people and its leadership, in this case any composition of any Palestinian Government will become an issue without substance,” he said. (AFP)

EU High Representative Javier Solana expressed his “strong concern” over Israel’s decision to expel Mr. Arafat. Christine Gallach, his spokeswoman, said, “We are at a time when we must do everything to avoid acts that could lead to an escalation [of violence] and heightening of tensions.” She stressed the need to “evaluate the consequences” that the expulsion would have on attempts to find a solution to the mounting conflict. (AFP)

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin warned that Israel’s declared intention to expel Mr. Arafat would be a “grave error” which would lead to serious consequences for the region. “The decision of the Israeli Security Cabinet to envisage Arafat’s expulsion [would be] an action so extreme that it would be a grave error,” he said. Mr. de Villepin called on Prime Minister Sharon to rescind the decision “in the light of the consequences which [the expulsion] could not fail to have for the Palestinian territories, Israel and the whole region,” as well as at the international level. (AFP)

A telephone survey conducted by the Dahaf Institute asked a representative sample of 503 Israeli adults what should be done with Mr. Arafat. Thirty-seven per cent favoured assassination, 23 per cent said Israel should expel him and 21 per cent said he should continue to be isolated at his Ramallah headquarters. The survey had a margin of error of 4.4 per cent. (AP)

12

Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli police after Friday midday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem protesting the Israeli Government’s decision to expel Mr. Arafat. About 35,000 Muslims were up on the Al-Haram al-Sharif hilltop for prayers. After the service, hundreds of young men threw stones at the Western Wall below, where Jews were praying, according to Israeli police. Police stormed Muslim-controlled areas and fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinians to disperse the demonstrators. (AP, DPA)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman of the UN Secretary-General:

(SG/SM/8868)

The British Government, in a statement, urged Israel to abandon proposals to remove Mr. Arafat from his Ramallah headquarters. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, “We have repeatedly made clear to the Israeli Government that the expulsion of Chairman Arafat would be wrong. I urge Israel not to allow justified anger at the continuing violence to lead to actions that will undermine both the peace process and Israel’s own interests.” (DPA)

A statement issued by the Russian Federation expressed deep concern over Israel’s decision to exile Mr. Arafat. “The realization of this decision would be a serious political mistake which would have the worst negative impact on the already complex situation in the region,” the Foreign Ministry said. “Such a step would wipe away prospects for a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and result in an uncontrollable chain of events in the worst-case scenario.” (Reuters)

China warned against Israel’s decision to expel Mr. Arafat. “President Arafat is the legitimate leader elected by the Palestinian people," said the Foreign Ministry. “The Israeli Government’s expulsion of Yasser Arafat will further escalate tensions between Israel and Palestine and will not help the Middle East peace process.” (AFP)

Defence Minister Mofaz met with US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer on the decision to expel Mr. Arafat. Mr. Kurtzer reiterated the opposition of the US Administration to exiling Mr. Arafat and said the US was still interested in implementing the Road Map. He also said that the US would continue supporting Israel’s right to self-defence. (Ha’aretz)

IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon and Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter were opposed to deporting Mr. Arafat, a move that Major-General Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash, Head of Military Intelligence, favoured. (Ha’aretz)

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said that an international force should be sent to the Middle East to help calm the escalating tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. “An international force would clearly show the international community’s commitment to the decisions taken.” He also called for an international conference to discuss how peace could be achieved in the region. (AFP)

“If this decision [to expel Chairman Arafat] is carried out, we promise to take on all Israel and strike everywhere without exception. There will be no red line and we will not make any distinction between great and small,” the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said in a statement. (AFP)

The Palestinian Supreme National Security Council met for first time in Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters. The Council, set up on 11 September to oversee the PA security services, includes Mr. Arafat, Prime Minister-designate Qureia, the Ministers of Finance and of the Interior, a member of the PLO Executive Committee as well as Mr. Arafat’s national security adviser. “The National Security Council examined the range of security problems and decided to implement the decisions of the Palestinian leadership,” Mr. Arafat’s aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh said after the meeting. (AFP)

UK Ambassador to the UN Emyr Jones Parry, Security Council President for September, read a statement to reporters, saying: “Council members expressed the view that the removal of Mr. Arafat would be unhelpful and should not be implemented.” The statement was approved during a closed-door emergency session convened at the request of Arab States and the Non-Aligned Movement at the UN. Diplomats said Council members had decided to take no action for the time being on a draft resolution, awaiting the outcome of talks in Geneva among the permanent members of the Council. The Council set a public meeting on the issue for 15 September. The Geneva meeting had been called for a discussion of Iraq, but the new crisis over Mr. Arafat was expected to be added to the agenda. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said after the talks in Geneva: “The permanent members of the Security Council have recognized that both sides have obligations on the Quartet’s Road Map and must fulfil them and that it was essential to go ahead with the implementation.” (SC/7871, SG/SM/8868, Reuters)

13

Quartet envoys met in Geneva on the sidelines of UN talks on Iraq, US officials said. US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns, Russian envoy Andrei Vdovin, EU envoy Marc Otte and UN Special Coordinator Terje Rød-Larsen participated in the talks. “They discussed the current situation and made plans for a Quartet meeting at the ministerial level during the week of the 22 September", on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, “to consider all relevant aspects of the issue and to determine how best to help the parties move forward with the process,” a US official noted. (AFP, Reuters)

Fathi Bulbul, an 85-year-old Palestinian, was shot dead in the morning hours during a clash between Palestinians and Israeli troops raiding the Old City in Nablus. The man was at the window of his home when he was hit by a burst of submachine-gun fire. (AFP, DPA)

The IDF announced that its forces had demolished a house in Silat al-Harithiya, north-west of Jenin, belonging to Bashar Shohanah (Shawarnah), an Islamic Jihad member accused of dispatching a suicide bomber to Israel on 20 August 2003, who had been intercepted by Israeli security forces. The IDF also arrested a Hamas member, Ali Hassan Faradjeh, in a town just north of Jerusalem, who was allegedly planning a suicide attack in the city, according to an Israeli military source. (AFP, www.idf.il)

PA Negotiations Minister Saeb Erakat met US Special Envoy John Wolf in Jericho to discuss Israel’s decision in principle to expel PA President Arafat and the current situation in general, Mr. Erakat’s office said. (AFP)

PA President Arafat said the Middle East conflict was approaching its most difficult point since the signing of the Declaration of Principles, and urged Israel to return to negotiations. “At this moment we are really facing the most difficult moment that we have faced since the signing of Oslo in 1993,” Mr. Arafat told foreign diplomats at his headquarters. “The problem is not just my problem and the threats that Israel has made to eliminate or to remove me. The problem, the real danger, is the intent of the Israeli Government to cancel the Palestinian partner and to eliminate the presence of the Palestinian Authority.” Turning in his comments to Israel, he said, “Come to peace, come to make peace together.” (AP, IPC)

The PLC cancelled a meeting scheduled for 14 September to discuss the appointment of Prime Minister Qureia. The meeting was called off indefinitely, according to deputy speaker Ibrahim Abu Naja, who added: “A new date will be set once the Prime Minister-designate has formed his cabinet.” (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Ha’aretz reported that Defence Minister Mofaz intended to seek Cabinet authorization within a week for the completion of the separation barrier along an area stretching from the “Elkana” settlement to the southern Hebron Hills region. The recently completed plans called for construction in stages, at a total cost of NIS 4 billion. (Ha’aretz)

Five masked men armed with M-16 assault rifles and clubs ransacked the Ramallah offices of the Al-Arabiya TV network. The men confined the employees to a room after threatening them, and then systematically destroyed equipment on the premises, according to one of the employees, who noted that the men gave no reason for the attack, saying only “this is a warning, you must leave.” They claimed to be members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which denied any connection with the raid. Palestinian police pledged to investigate the incident. The organization Reporters Without Borders condemned the raid. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli military sources were quoted as saying that Israeli police sappers operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had destroyed three explosive belts which were to be used in suicide attacks. The belts were hidden inside a washing machine in a butcher shop in Al-Azzariyeh village on the Mount of Olives, just east of the Old City of Jerusalem. They were discovered pursuant to information provided by several Hamas militants arrested over the past few days. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

14

Fifteen wanted Palestinian militants were arrested. Israeli troops on patrol in the West Bank came under fire in separate incidents in Ramallah, Nablus and in the environs of an Israeli settlement near Jenin. (AFP)

Palestinian security sources said that Israeli tanks had destroyed seven houses and partially damaged seven others in an incursion into the Al-Barhma neighbourhood in Rafah, near the Gaza Strip border with Egypt. Two houses were completely destroyed in a similar incursion near the “Morag” settlement in southern Gaza. (AFP, IPC)

“Negotiations are continuing and we are awaiting a unified position from Fatah members about the formation of the cabinet,” Prime Minister-designate Qureia told reporters briefly as he emerged from a Fatah Central Committee meeting chaired by Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. (AFP)

Israeli Trade and Industry Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview with Israel Radio on 14 September that Chairman Arafat’s assassination was one of the “removal” options being considered by Israel. Whether Israel would implement the option was a practical, rather than a moral, question, he added, calling all options “legitimate.” However, Foreign Minister Shalom told reporters the next day that Mr. Olmert was expressing a personal opinion, saying: “It’s not the official policy of the Israeli Government. It never has been.” Mr. Olmert further said in the interview it was also possible “to isolate [Mr. Arafat] totally in the muqataa… In this scenario, he would be cut off from the world. He would be unable to receive anyone and would not be able to communicate by phone.” (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

“We are not taking these threats lightly,” Mohammed Dahlan, Minister of State for Security Affairs in the outgoing PA Government, told Agence France-Presse,calling Israeli threats against Chairman Arafat a “serious error.” PA Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath also denounced the threats as “criminal, insolent and stupid,” while PA Minister for Negotiations Saeb Erakat said the Israeli threats to kill or exile Mr. Arafat resembled the actions of a Mafia organization rather than “a responsible Government.” Secretary of State Powell, in an interview with the Fox News TV channel, warned Israel about the consequences of expelling or killing Chairman Arafat, calling Mr. Olmert’s statement about killing Mr. Arafat “not helpful.” EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said he could not imagine that Israel would try to kill Mr. Arafat, but acknowledged he had received no guarantees the Palestinian leader would not be targeted for assassination. President Mubarak said Israel would be making an “extremely dangerous” mistake by forcibly removing Mr. Arafat from his seat of power, and that killing him “would resolve nothing.” A statement from the External Affairs Ministry of India the next day condemned Mr. Olmert’s remarks as “irresponsible” and said India hoped that the already tense and uncertain situation between Israel and the Palestinians would not be exacerbated by such pronouncements. (AFP, DPA, IPC, meaindia.nic.in, Reuters)

Israeli defence officials said they had revised the planned course of the West Bank separation barrier. The new blueprint, presented by Defence Minister Mofaz to US Ambassador Dan Kurtzer in a meeting the previous week, would exclude the “Ariel” settlement, located about 20 km inside the West Bank, a defence official told Reuters. “Ariel” and nearby settlements would be surrounded by their own separate security fences instead. The new blueprint was yet to be approved by the Government. The Security Cabinet was to convene on 17 September to discuss the construction of the next stage of the barrier. (IBA, Reuters)

A 14-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmed Nayef Abdullatif, from the Kalandia refugee camp was killed by IDF gunfire during a clash between stone-throwing youths and troops near the Kalandia checkpoint on the road between Ramallah and Jerusalem. According to other accounts, the boy was killed when Israeli soldiers opened fire at dozens of Palestinian demonstrators who broke through the outer fence of the “Atarot” airport on the northern boundaries of Jerusalem, just a few hundred metres from the southern outskirts of Ramallah. The IDF said the soldiers had attempted to disperse the people and shot at their feet, and expressed its sorrow at the death of the child. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, IBA, IPC)

In the Gaza Strip, seven Palestinian high school students, 9 to 16 years old, were injured in a confrontation with the IDF near the “Kfar Darom” settlement. The students marched out of Deir al-Balah in support of Chairman Arafat and were fired upon by soldiers as the procession approached “Kfar Darom.” One student was moderately wounded and six others slightly hurt. According to the IDF, the dozens of demonstrators threw rocks at the soldiers and set tires on fire. Late in the day, two mortar shells were fired at an Israeli settlement, causing no casualties. (AP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

The IDF arrested two Palestinian children, aged 8 and 10, after they had broken through a Gaza fence into Israeli territory in the evening. According to the army, the boys had been sent to test the security capacity of the fence around the "Kissufim" area and were picked up after triggering a warning. (AFP)

Minister of Defence Mofaz cancelled his planned trip to the United States at the request of Prime Minister Sharon, due to the “delicate security situation.” (DPA)

The IDF announced it had facilitated the entrance of 500 Palestinian workers into Israel via the Erez Crossing in the Gaza Strip. In addition, families of Palestinian prisoners were permitted to enter Israel to visit their relatives detained in various prisons. (www.idf.il)

In an interview Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau, criticized the EU's decision to add the group to its terrorist list, saying: “The EU’s stand is rejected, denounced and condemned because it is a sort of compliance with Israel and submission to American pressures and because it was a departure from the values of justice, human rights, freedom and equality Europe advocates.” However, Mr. Mashaal said the European decision would not affect Hamas and would not cause it to alter its stance in resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, stressing that Europe had made a big mistake with the decision, but still had an opportunity to change it. Mr. Mashaal also condemned Israel’s decision in principle to expel Chairman Arafat, saying all Palestinian factions had rejected and condemned the decision. (DPA)

15

The IDF arrested four wanted Palestinians overnight: two Hamas members were arrested at Al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, and the third in Adna, near Hebron. A member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was also detained in Nablus. The Israel Broadcast Authorityidentified him as Bashar Tabila, a top explosives expert responsible for terrorist attacks in Haifa, Kfar Saba, Raanana and Rosh Haayin. (AFP, IBA)

“The Cabinet decision [to expel Chairman Arafat] is not for immediate action,” Foreign Minister Shalom told reporters in Jerusalem, without elaborating further. (AFP, DPA)

US Treasury Secretary John Snow arrived in Israel to promote among Israelis and Palestinians a vision of economic opportunity as an alternative to conflict. Officials with Mr. Snow said he would be unable to meet Prime with Minister-designate Qureia as he had hoped, but was expected to meet with Palestinian business leaders later in the day and the next day, and see senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Sharon and Finance Minister Netanyahu. Mr. Snow was on a 10-day visit that would also take him to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan before he headed to Dubai for meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. (Reuters)

Israeli Permanent Representative to the UN Dan Gillerman said the Security Council repeatedly condemned Israeli actions while ignoring lethal Palestinian attacks on Israel. “In my opinion the very fact of the [Council] meeting is proof ... of the UN’s real hypocrisy,” Mr. Gillerman told Israel Army Radio. (DPA)

Arab Foreign Ministers will hold a meeting on 22 September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York to discuss a number of regional issues, the League of Arab States announced in a statement. The meeting, the second such gathering of Arab Foreign Ministers in less than a month, was to focus on a joint strategy regarding issues on the agenda for discussion during the GA. League sources said that the meeting, to be chaired by League Secretary-General Amre Moussa and Ahmed Maher, Foreign Minister of Egypt and current Chairman of the League’s Ministerial Council, would also review Israel’s latest threats against PA President Arafat. Arab League permanent delegates were currently meeting in Cairo at the PA's request to discuss Israel’s escalating rhetoric against Mr. Arafat. (AFP, DPA)

Dozens of Israelis from the Taanakhim area protested near Moshav Ram On over a stop in construction of the separation barrier in the area. Labour MK Amram Mitzna was present at the demonstration together with former National Security Council chief Uzi Dayan in a show of solidarity with the residents. Construction of the security fence in the north, from the Salem roadblock to Gilboa, had been halted on Defence Ministry orders, as it had yet to receive official budget approval from the Government to build the section. The section was 42 km long and was due to be completed by the end of October 2003. (IBA)

UNRWA delivered 83 new shelters to refugee families who had been left homeless in the Khan Yunis camp in the southern Gaza Strip. They had all lost their old homes at the hands of Israeli forces since the start of the current intifada. The US$3.2 million project was financed by donations from the Islamic Development Bank, Norway, Japan and the United States, UNRWA said in a statement. (AFP, UNRWA press release HQ/G/14/2003)

The UN Security Council held an open meeting to discuss the Middle East situation, prompted by Israeli threats against Chairman Arafat. UN Special Coordinator Terje Rød-Larsen spoke at the start of the meeting. More than 40 countries joined the debate, condemning a decision by Israel’s security cabinet to get rid of Mr. Arafat through unspecified means. A draft resolution, circulated before the meeting, demanded that Israel not harm or deport Mr. Arafat. (AFP, Reuters, UN News Service)

Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Lady Symons called on Israeli Ambassador Zvi Shtauber and told him that the threat to assassinate Chairman Arafat was “unacceptable.” (AFP, The Guardian)

US officials said the US Government would deduct from US$9 billion in promised loan guarantees to Israel the amount it spent on settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Some officials also suggested that the US could decide to withhold from the guarantees the amount Israel spent on the West Bank separation barrier. Legislation signed by the US President called for the Administration to deduct from the face value of the loan guarantees an amount equal to any Israeli spending on settlement activities. The White House said the proposed deductions would be consistent with past policy towards Israel. President Bush appointed Secretary of State Colin Powell to administer the disbursement of the loan guarantee program, which started on 15 September with an announcement that Israel could begin applying for loans. However, the officials stressed that no decision on withholding any portion of the guarantees, or the amount of such withholding, had yet been made and said one could not be made until 1 October when the US Government’s new fiscal year began. (AFP, DPA, The Financial Times, IBA)

The IDF arrested 16 Palestinian students of the American-Arab University in Jenin at a roadblock outside the school, Palestinian security officials said, without giving other details. (AFP, IPC)

The Central Bank of Jordan instructed banks nationwide to abide by the decision taken earlier in September “to refrain from dealing” with the assets of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and five other leading Hamas figures and five charities linked to the movement, Al-Rai newspaper reported. The directive came in a letter signed by the Central Bank’s Governor, Umayya Touqan, and addressed to Chairman of the Banks Association Zuhair Khouri, providing for “freezing all dealings with the 11 persons and bodies as soon as possible and refraining from dealing with them in future.” The persons concerned were Damascus-based Imad Khalil al-Alami, Khalid Meshaal and Mussa Abu Marzuq, the group’s representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, and Abdelaziz al-Rantissi, a leading figure from the Gaza Strip. The charities concerned were the Switzerland-based Association de Secours Palestiniens, the France-based Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens, INTERPAL in Britain, the Palestinian Association in Austria and the Sanabil Association for Relief and Development based in Lebanon. Bank executives said they believed the blacklisted Hamas leaders did not have “any deposits at the Jordanian banks at present.” (AFP, DPA)

The Arab League held an emergency meeting in Cairo to discuss the “serious fallout” from Israeli threats to expel Chairman Arafat. “We call on the international Quartet to intervene immediately with the US Administration to pressure Israel to prevent the implementation of this decision or use it as a threat,” the Palestinian envoy to the League, Mohamed Sobeih, told journalists after the meeting. (AFP)

16

Israeli troops raided the Singer neighbourhood of the town of Dura near Hebron and shot dead Ahmed Abu Dush, 24, a senior regional commander of the Islamic Jihad. IDF said in a statement Mr. Dush was responsible for the death of 16 Israelis and the injuries of dozens others. Israeli military sources said the IDF had attempted to arrest Mr. Dush but that he sought to escape after emerging with other residents from an apartment block in response to demands made by loudspeaker by surrounding troops. Nine other wanted Palestinians were also arrested, including a teenager in Nablus who was planning a suicide bomb attack in Israel, the military added. (AFP, www.idf.il, IPC, Reuters)

The IDF destroyed two Palestinian houses in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Israeli bulldozers also uprooted hundreds of olive trees and razed vast areas of arable land in the neighbourhoods of Sawahra and Wadi Alnar, south of Jerusalem. (IPC)

Colonel Jibril Rajoub, Chairman Arafat’s national security adviser, suggested a ceasefire with Israel in an interview on Israeli Public Radio. “The Palestinian leadership is ready to proclaim and respect a general ceasefire, but it must be mutual ... Israel must stop its attacks and the closing of the [occupied] territories,” he said, adding: “This indefinite ceasefire must enable the two parties to sit down and discuss a definitive settlement.” Mr. Rajoub stressed that the Palestinian leadership was able to ensure that radical groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, would respect such a ceasefire if Israel halted all its attacks and closures. “Given that Israel caused the collapse of the first ceasefire as a result of its continued assassinations, we call for a truce that will be respected by both sides, foremost by Israel, and by the Palestinian factions,” Mr. Rajoub told Reuters. Israel dismissed the call, with Rana’an Gissin telling AFP: “We are not going to be lulled into this honeytrap of a hudna or ceasefire.” PA Chief Negotiations Minister Saeb Erakat said that the entire Palestinian leadership supported Mr. Jibril’s proposal for a comprehensive and unlimited ceasefire with Israel, Israel Radio reported. (AFP, Reuters)

The IDF demolished the house of Mahmoud Walid Hassan Ali, who, according to the IDF, had been involved in three thwarted attempts to dispatch suicide bombers in 2002. (www.idf.il)

The United States vetoed a draft Security Council resolution demanding that Israel not deport or threaten the safety of Chairman Arafat. Eleven members voted in favour and three abstained on the resolution, which had been sponsored by Council members Pakistan and Syria, along with South Africa and the Sudan. The defeated text also demanded “the complete cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terrorism, provocation, incitement and destruction,” and expressed full support for the Road Map. Bulgaria, Germany and the United Kingdom abstained. The Council meeting followed a day-long session the previous day, which had been attended by more than 40 countries to discuss Israel’s decision to remove Mr. Arafat “in a manner and at a time of its choosing.” Explaining his negative vote, US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte said the draft resolution was flawed since it failed to include “a robust condemnation of acts of terrorism, an explicit condemnation of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade as organizations responsible for acts of terrorism.” Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN, said the United States had lost its credibility as an honest broker in the peace process, adding, “Serious consequences may follow the use of this veto, and the United States will bear the consequences for that.” (AFP, AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters, UN News Centre)

17

A wanted Palestinian was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops in Nablus. The army said troops patrolling the city’s old market area had come under fire from a Palestinian and had shot him dead. Palestinian sources identified the man as Fadi Abu Zant, a 19-year-old member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. An Israeli soldier was slightly wounded in the gunfight. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

The IDF arrested eight Hamas members overnight near Ramallah and three other wanted Palestinians in the Jenin and Nablus areas, a military spokesman said. In Rafah the IDF blew up a tunnel allegedly used for smuggling arms, and an Israeli soldier and Palestinian militants were wounded in an exchange of fire during the operation. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post, www. idf.il)

Prime Minister Sharon postponed a decision on the routing of a new section of the separation barrier, after the United States had warned earlier in the week that Israel might lose part of US$9 billion in loan guarantees over the barrier. The Israeli security cabinet was to have met during the day to decide whether the separation barrier should include several settlements deep in the West Bank. Israeli officials said US Special Envoy John Wolf had raised specific objections to a stretch of the barrier planned to cut into Palestinian territory south of the “Ariel” settlement. Israeli Housing Minister Effie Eitam said the Cabinet meeting had been called off because of growing US pressure. Israeli media said a majority of the 11 members of the security cabinet supported building the next stretch deep in the West Bank, to include large settlements on the Israeli side. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli Finance Minister Netanyahu said Israel should consider a truce proposal made by Chairman Arafat’s security adviser Jibril Rajoub the previous day. “There are grounds to check how serious the Palestinian intentions are, especially if we can take advantage of the situation to build the security fence,” Mr. Netanyahu told public radio. (AFP)

An Israeli court convicted three Israelis from the “Bat Ayin” settlement of attempted murder for trying to blow up explosives in an Arab girls’ school in East Jerusalem. The three were said to have parked an explosives-laden trailer outside the main entrance to the school in the A-Tur neighbourhood on 29 April 2002. A police unit in the area spotted the suspects, and police sappers were called in to defuse the bomb. The device contained two 250-gram bricks of explosives, a clock, a battery, a detonator and a fuse. The three were to be sentenced at a later date and would face up to 20 years in jail. (Ha’aretz)

PA Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia said he would “call on the Israelis to agree to a mutual ceasefire” after forming a new government. A senior Palestinian official said Hamas was signalling it would stop the attacks in exchange for a halt of Israel’s military strikes, including targeted killings of Hamas members. Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin delivered the message recently in a meeting in Gaza City with Zakaria al-Agha, an envoy sent by Chairman Arafat, according to the official. PA President Arafat, in an interview with Israel’s Channel 10,called on Israel to agree to a ceasefire with the Palestinians. “We say: Let’s forget the past and turn over a new leaf, for the sake of our children and yours". Mr. Arafat said contacts were under way with all Palestinian factions with regard to a ceasefire. “Even the Islamic Jihad said they are willing to respect a ceasefire, and we are continuing our contacts with Hamas,” he said. (AP, DPA)

Jordan’s Central Bank revoked an instruction sent on 15 September to Jordanian banks to stop dealing with six leading Hamas figures and five charities linked to the group, Information Minister Nabil Sharif said in statements. “The Central Bank Governor has gone back on its decision and scrapped the letter it had sent to the head of Jordan’s Bank Association concerning a freeze on the accounts of some Hamas leaders and other groups,” Mr. Sharif said. He stressed that the decision to order the freeze had been taken unilaterally by the Central Bank without the knowledge of the Government. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in a report that protracted occupation and conflict had effectively transformed the Occupied Palestinian Territory into a “war-torn economy,” with serious implications for Palestinian development prospects. The report highlighted, among other things, the important role of the private sector as a main source of investments, jobs and income. (www.unctad.org)

According to a survey conducted by researchers at An-Najah University in Nablus, 75.8 per cent of the Palestinians believed that the Road Map would not lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian State, and 68.1 per cent believed that the Road Map as an agreement was no longer viable. About 75 per cent of respondents said they did not believe the current US Administration was “serious in its endeavours for the implementation” of the Road Map. Some 82 per cent of the respondents said they were satisfied with the performance of PA President Arafat. A total of 1,372 people were surveyed, 871 in the West Bank and 501 in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)

Israeli security sources said PA President Arafat’s supporters had pitched tents and were surrounding his Ramallah compound with women and children to act as human shields against an Israeli attempt to assassinate or deport him. The sources said Mr. Arafat’s supporters had asked senior Fatah activists and members of the Palestinian security mechanisms to volunteer their families for a permanent vigil of women and children helping to obstruct any attempt to harm Mr. Arafat. (AP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

18

Israeli soldiers killed Jihad Abu Suheireh, 25, a member of Hamas’s military wing, during a raid in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Soldiers, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, entered the camp in an attempt to arrest Mr. Suheireh, whom Israel accused of having been involved in weapons smuggling, and surrounded the house in which he was hiding. Heavy exchanges of fire ensued, during which Mr. Suheireh was killed. The house was destroyed by rockets fired from helicopter gunships. Three Palestinians were injured, according to witnesses. The IDF said three soldiers had been wounded, one of them seriously. (AFP, AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters, www.idf.il)

The IDF arrested three wanted Palestinians in Tubas, north-east of Nablus. Two of them were accused of having been planning a suicide bombing. The IDF also raided Jenin and surrounding villages and imposed a curfew on the city, and made several arrests in the area. (Ha’aretz, Reuters, www.idf.il)

The Fatah Central Committee convened in Ramallah to choose candidates for 15 of 23 seats in the new Cabinet. The remaining eight Ministers would represent other Palestinian groups or independents. Participants said the Committee had agreed on the new Government’s platform and decided to hold further meetings in the coming days to decide on the final choice of Cabinet candidates. Abbas Zaki, a Fatah legislator, said Fatah was also trying to persuade Hamas to join the Government, so far without success. Moussa Zabout, a Gaza physician with ties to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, said that he had accepted an offer by PA Prime Minister-designate Qureia to join the Cabinet and that Hamas officials had not objected to him taking the offer. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Mr. Arafat’s adviser, said Mr. Qureia was likely to announce his Cabinet by 22 or 23 September. (AFP, AP)

PA President Arafat said in an interview with Yediot Aharonot: “I am ready to renew the hudna(ceasefire). I call on Israel to renew the hudna… If the Israeli Government takes a positive position, we can succeed. I tell the Israelis: enough blood, enough of the destruction and of the daily suffering. Our position has always been against killing Palestinians or Israelis.” Mr. Arafat also told the daily that he believed Hamas and Islamic Jihad could be persuaded once again to halt their campaign of attacks against Israel. “Islamic Jihad is already ready, and now we are working on Hamas. So far the results have been positive, there is a positive attitude on their part,” he said. Defence Minister Mofaz told military radio in response to the proposal: “Israel will not make any concessions until the Palestinian Government proves its real intentions to seriously tackle the terrorist organizations.” Meanwhile, National Infrastructures Minister Joseph Paritzky (Shinui) told Israeli Radio: “We shouldn’t reject the Palestinian proposition … We should examine it in detail as it’s in our interest. If not, we will be seen abroad as the ones who do not want to hear anything.” (AFP, AP)

After meeting with Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Shalom in Tel Aviv, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen said he had expressed his country’s concern about Israel’s decision to remove PA President Arafat. “This could only contribute towards harming the peace process,” Mr. Petersen said in an interview: “It is clear that the Israeli side does not have any faith in the structure on the Palestinian side. And I must say that this has not been a particularly uplifting visit from that point of view.” (The Norway Post)

Asked how he would deal with the current situation surrounding PA President Arafat, US President Bush told a news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah at Camp David: “Mr. Arafat has failed as a leader … Prime Minister Abbas was undermined at all turns by the old order, that meant Mr. Arafat … His [Mr. Abbas’] efforts were undermined, and that’s why we’re now stalled. I’m still committed to peace, because I believe the vast majority of people want peace, I’m committed to the Road Map.” (www.whitehouse.gov)

19

Israeli soldiers exchanged fire with Palestinians in the second day of an operation in Jenin. Five civilians were wounded, including a Palestinian girl of four and a boy of 12 standing nearby. Defence Minister Mofaz pledged to keep up the pressure on militant groups. (Reuters)

In Burkin, west of Jenin, IDF soldiers demolished the house of Shadi Tubasi, who had blown himself up at the Mazza restaurant in Haifa in March 2002. In Rantis, north of Ramallah, the home of a Palestinian charged with the suicide bombing outside the Tzrifin army base a week earlier, was also demolished. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Prime Minister Sharon has supported a plan put forward by Defence Minister Mofaz which would suspend construction of a section of the separation wall. At a meeting of Likud Ministers, Mr. Sharon said a high-level delegation, including Mr. Sharon’s Bureau Chief Dov Weisglass and Defence Ministry Director General Amos Yaron, were leaving for the US. The delegation would tell the US that the section between “Elkana” and “Alei Zahav” would not be built, leaving a break opposite the settlement of “Ariel.” Instead, the area left open would be guarded by a bolstered IDF presence, as well as roadblocks and other barriers aimed at protecting the adjacent settlements. A senior government source said generally two options were on the table – extending the barrier wall into the West Bank to include settlements with 30,000 settlers, or enclosing individual settlements with separate fences. (Ha’aretz)

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a top aide of PA President Arafat, accused President Bush of showing “blind support” for Israel and criticizing President Arafat with statements that “encourage Israel to continue with its aggression” toward the Palestinians. Mr. Rudeineh told reporters in Ramallah that Mr. Bush’s statements “do not serve the peace process … nor efforts in implementing the Road Map.” PA Negotiations Minister Saeb Erakat said, “It seems that President Bush for the time being declared the peace process frozen ... But the world knows it is Israel that is responsible for the suspension of the peace process with its building of the security wall and of settlements, with its continuous killings, its closure and siege” of Palestinian towns. (AFP, DPA)

PA Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia said the US should treat PA President Arafat as a real partner, and US President Bush’s refusal to deal with Mr. Arafat only hurt peace efforts. He said, “Arafat is the elected leader of the Palestinian people and represents the will of the people. Thus we want President Bush and the American Administration to respect the will of the Palestinian people. President Arafat is a real partner.” (Ha’aretz)

The resumed tenth emergency session of the General Assembly on illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territory convened on 19 September. It adopted resolution ES-10/12, entitled “Illegal Israeli actions in East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” by a vote of 133 in favour, to 4 against (Israel, US, Marshall Islands and Micronesia), with 15 abstentions. In the resolution, the General Assembly demanded “that Israel, the occupying Power, desist from any act of deportation and cease any threat to the safety of the elected President of the Palestinian Authority”. (DPI press release GA/10152)

20

Israeli troops redeployed on the outskirts of Jenin after a two-day sweep launched to “dismantle terrorist infrastructure.” Four Israeli soldiers and four Palestinians, including two children, were wounded in the operation, during which five “wanted” Palestinians were arrested. (AFP)

Two Palestinians teenagers were wounded, one of them seriously, during clashes with the Israeli army near Nablus. A 15-year-old was in serious condition after being hit in the chest in the Balata refugee camp. The violence broke out when two Israeli personnel carriers and two jeeps entered the camp and retaliated to Palestinian gunfire. A 12-year-old was also wounded, less seriously, when Israeli troops fired rubber-coated bullets on a group of young stone-throwers in the nearby camp of Askar. (AFP)

The Group of Seven (G7) major industrialized countries said in a statement issued after a meeting in Dubai between the G7 Finance Ministers and PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad: “We have agreed to review the prospects for increased financial assistance to the PA in the short term.” Mr. Fayyad said in an interview that the Palestinians needed US$1.2 billion in aid for 2004, of which $500 million would be earmarked for the budget and the rest for humanitarian assistance and development projects. US Treasury Secretary John Snow said, “The United States will continue to provide budgetary support and other aid to the Authority to help ensure that it can effectively conduct normal government functions.” The G7 applauded Mr. Fayyad’s “reform efforts to improve transparency” in the Palestinian budget. (AFP)

Thousands of Israelis staged a peace march in Tel Aviv demanding that their country withdraw from the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The protesters marched from Rabin Square, where Israeli Prime Minister Rabin had been assassinated in 1995, to the Defence Ministry building. Many carried placards demanding that the army withdraw from the Territory to “save” Israel while some chanted slogans against the “liquidations” of wanted Palestinian militants by Israeli forces as well as against anti-Israel attacks by Palestinians. “It’s the first time in several months that Peace Now has organized a demonstration of this size,” according to the group’s spokesperson Yariv Oppenheimer. He said the movement wanted to show that it was defending Israel’s best interests in pursuing peace and ending the decades-long occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (AFP)

21

The IDF demolished a Palestinian home during an operation in Rafah. One Palestinian threw a grenade at soldiers during an operation in Rafah without causing any injuries. (AFP)

The Israeli army allowed around 10,000 workers from the Gaza Strip to pass through the Erez border crossing on 21 September to travel to work in Israel for the first time since two suicide attacks near Tel Aviv and Jerusalem nearly two weeks before. But Israeli sources said only 5,636 had crossed the border, all of them married and aged over 35 years of age, in keeping with security measures set by the army. (AFP)

The Israeli army imposed a curfew in Jenin after some 30 tanks, jeeps and armoured vehicles re-entered the centre of town, Palestinian security sources said. The sound of gunfire could be heard. There were no reports of any casualties. Soldiers took over a house belonging to Mohammad Abu Hamad, the local leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, evacuated the residents and then blew up both the building and a car inside. The car was being used by Mr. Abu Hamad, who was wanted by the IDF in connection with anti-Israeli attacks. The soldiers failed to locate him during the raid. (AFP)

PA Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia met in Gaza with Palestinian factions for talks aimed at forming his new Cabinet. Hamas has publicly refused to participate in the new Government and reportedly backed the nomination of Mousa al Za’about, a physician. Former PA Communications Minister and former leader of Hamas’ military wing Immad al-Falouji said Mr. Qureia had wanted to form as broad-based a Government as possible. He added, “The presence of Za’about in the Cabinet will be a positive step towards representing the Islamic camp in the new Cabinet. This is an important matter which we have always demanded.” Islamic Jihad also announced that it would support the new Government but would not actually participate in it. Mr. Qureia said he would continue to have a dialogue with Hamas and Islamic Jihad after establishing a Cabinet. (Albawaba.com, AP, DPA, Reuters, Ha’aretz)

22

Israeli troops backed by tanks surrounded a house in Hebron, exchanged fire with the occupants, killing one armed Palestinian inside, and then demolished the building. It was unclear whether there was anyone inside when bulldozers began the demolition. The home belonged to Akram Shahin, an Islamic studies teacher whose son, Karim, was a Hamas activist sentenced to six years in prison. The IDF said forces had arrived at the house before dawn and called on the residents to come out. The residents came out and said that a masked, armed man had entered the house, threatening them at gunpoint. The army identified the dead man as Basel Qawasmeh, a senior Hamas militant from the Hebron area. (AP, Ha’aretz)

A Palestinian teenager who was shot by Israeli troops the previous year died of his wounds in Nablus. Saadi Mansu, 16, who was already deaf and mute, had suffered serious spinal injuries when Israeli soldiers shot him in Nablus on 16 December 2002. Mr. Mansur and his friends had been playing with a plastic gun during celebrations for the Eid al-Fitr holidays. (AFP)

The section of the separation barrier which was to include East Jerusalem was to be completed within the next 12 months, according to Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz. “Following the murderous attack on 19 August on a busload of children, the Cabinet decided to include Jerusalem in the fence,” Mr. Mofaz told Israel Radio. (AFP)

PA President Arafat, in a letter given to envoys of the Quartet, declared his commitment to reach a total ceasefire with Israel, according to PA officials. The letter cited conditions, including an international observer force to help enforce US-led peace moves, that Israel had already rejected. Mr. Arafat had received envoys from the Quartet at the muqataa.According to PA Negotiations Minister Saeb Erakat, Mr. Arafat’s letter said he was “committed to a total cessation of violence against Israelis anywhere, provided the Quartet intervenes to revive the Road Map and sends monitors to commit the two sides to implement it.” (Reuters)

Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia vowed after a meeting with PA President Arafat that the next Government would address the issue of illegal weapons. “There is an agreement between all factions that we must put an end to the mess in the Palestinian street, in the Palestinian administration and in the Palestinian minds. And for sure this mess includes the issue of weapons.” (AFP)

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) called for a complete overhaul of Palestinian institutions and shied away from backing Prime Minister-designate Qureia. “From our point of view the solution doesn’t lie in the forming of a Government, but in roundtable discussions to reach the common political denominations between nationalist and Islamist groups,” according to PFLP Secretary-General Ahmed Saadat in a telephone interview. He added, “The politics and relations between the Palestinian groups are not the Government’s responsibility, but that of the PLO,” and that the Government should limit itself to “educational and social concerns.” He also said, “The Government cannot represent the Palestinian people because it operates within the framework of the Oslo accords,” calling the new Government “a pure product of the Road Map.” (AFP)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres said PA President Arafat fully deserved to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He said, “I believe that it was right to give [Arafat] the Nobel Peace Prize because he did three things no other Palestinian leader did. He declared publicly that he recognized the State of Israel – no other Palestinian leader dared do that so publicly. Second, he said he would abandon terrorism, and third he agreed that peace would be based on the borders of 1967 and not 1948.” (AFP)

Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man as he crossed the security barrier between the Gaza Strip and Israel, near the settlement of “Dugit,” according to an army spokesperson, who said, “The soldiers spotted a suspicious shadow and opened fire. It turned out to be an armed Palestinian who fired back.” Palestinian sources, however, said the man had been shot while still on the Gaza side of the border. The dead man was identified by Islamic Jihad as Marwan Ahmed al-Najar, a member of the organization. (Albawaba.com, AFP, Ha’aretz, www.idf.il)

An Israeli Border Police unit, operating undercover in Palestinian disguise, arrested 12 wanted men from the Fatah Tanzim militia in the Rafidiya neighbourhood in Nablus. The undercover troops entered a coffee house in the neighbourhood, overpowering the 12 after they had thrown down their weapons. (Ha’aretz)

Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Special Middle East Envoy, Lord Michael Levy, met with PA President Arafat at the muqataa on 22 September. “Lord Levy delivered a letter from Mr. Blair to Mr. Arafat informing him of the Quartet’s next meeting in New York to relaunch efforts to implement the Road Map,” according to Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a key adviser to Mr. Arafat. PA President Arafat briefed Lord Levy on Palestinian efforts to form a new Government led by Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia. (AFP)

In an interview aired by Fox News,President Bush warned that there would be no Palestinian State unless the Palestinian leadership fough terrorism. “I believe it’s in everybody’s interest that there be a Palestinian State, but it will not happen so long as the interlocutor, the so-called representative of the people, won’t fight terror.” Mr. Bush, however, reiterated the US determination not to deal with Mr. Arafat. (AFP)

Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a TV interview on the Charlie Rose Show,said unless the PA met at least three conditions, progress in the Middle East peace plan known as the Road Map would not be possible. “If it is a Government that does not have political authority independent from the machinations of Yasser Arafat, and if all the security forces are not consolidated under the new Prime Minister and if that Prime Minister is not committed to ending terrorism … then we are not going to be able to move forward on the Road Map,” Mr. Powell said. (Reuters)

US National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice met with Prime Minister Sharon’s Chief of Staff Dov Weisglass and Defence Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron to discuss the separation wall being erected by Israel in the West Bank. Ms. Rice told reporters in a White House briefing, “It is extremely important, if it is going to be built, that as much as possible it not intrude on the lives of the Palestinians and, most importantly, that it not look as if it’s trying to prejudge the outcome of a peace agreement.” When asked whether the meeting had resolved the controversy surrounding the wall, she replied, “This wall is not really consistent with our view of what the Middle East one day will really have to look like.” (AFP, Albawaba.com, The Washington Post)

The head of the Palestinian delegation to the UN General Assembly, Farouk Kaddoumi, failed to receive a US visa in time for him to attend the general debate. A US official said Mr. Kaddoumi’s visa application “is still being reviewed.” A statement issued by the Palestine Observer Mission to the UN called the incident “a serious violation of the obligations of the host country” and accused the US of being “unfriendly to the Palestinian side.” (AFP)

23

In the West Bank, IDF forces arrested six “wanted” Palestinians in the Balata refugee camp. A seventh Palestinian was arrested in Arabeh, north-east of Jenin. (Ha’aretz)

The IDF and the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories eased restrictions on the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. During the week, permission was granted to 10,000 Palestinian workers and 1,000 merchants to enter Israel from the Gaza Strip. Permission was also granted to 5,500 Palestinian workers and 4,000 merchants to enter Israel from the West Bank: 2,000 workers from Bethlehem; 1,000 workers from Tulkarm; 2,000 workers from Qalqilya; and 500 from Jericho. Earlier, permission had been granted for 2,000 Christian residents of Bethlehem to mark the holiday of “The Birth of Mary.” (Ha’aretz, www.idf,il)

The Jewish settler population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory grew by 5.7 per cent in 2002, according to Israeli Government figures. The number of settlers living in occupied land increased to 220,100 in 2002 from 208,220 at the end of 2001. The new figures reflected a continued upward trend in movement to the settlements that saw population grow by 5 per cent in 2001. Overall, Israel’s Jewish population had grown by 1.4 per cent in 2002 to 5.1 million. Births accounted for 3.1 per cent of the 5.7 per cent growth among the settlers, primarily aged 20 to 40, a Central Bureau of Statistics official said, with 2.6 per cent of the growth coming from newcomers to the settlements. (Reuters)

Ha’aretz announced a special report on the cost of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Israeli Territory, to appear in its Rosh Hashana supplement on 26 September. The report had been compiled over the past three months by a team of 15 reporters who met with top treasury officials, economic experts and politicians, collected numerous documents, and drew information from the few existing studies dealing with settlement funding. The report stated that in recent years, in a very conservative calculation, Israel had spent at least an extra NIS2.5 billion annually in non-military outlays on settlements, spending at least NIS45 billion since 1967, for average annual surplus costs of more than NIS10,000 per settler. The main budget items in question included transfers to the local authorities (about NIS700 million), the Housing Ministry (NIS440 million, with a 2003 estimate of NIS500 million), and roads (about NIS400 million). Income tax benefits for settlers cost about NIS130 million, although those benefits had been cancelled in the summer of 2003. The study found that the State had invested about NIS80 million annually in electricity infrastructure, NIS50 million in water infrastructure, NIS40 million in industry, and NIS30 million via the Mifal Hapayis national lottery. At least NIS100 million annually was spent on education, and another NIS75 million on the health system. In addition, the Interior Ministry transferred to the local authorities two types of special budgets for the settlements: an Oslo grant (about NIS35 million per year) and an intifada grant (another NIS35 million). Total annual extra costs came to about NIS2.25 billion. Two significant budget items whose scope was unknown were land acquisition and allocations for several hundred non-profit organizations. The 2003 economic plan had led to cutbacks of more than NIS150 million, although it was still unclear whether they would ultimately be implemented. (Ha’aretz)

Meir Sheetrit, Minister without Portfolio at the Israeli Finance Ministry, stated in an interview while in Dubai at the IMF and World Bank annual meeting that nothing, including cuts in loan guarantees, would stop Israel from completing the West Bank separation barrier, saying: “We have the intention to build the fence as fast as possible to protect ourselves, and I hope that the United States would not punish us for that.” (AFP)

The Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER) issued a press release strongly condemning the deportation to Bethlehem on 23 September of Ali Amin Salem Shqeirat, 42, a resident of the Jabal Al-Mukabber neighbourhood, south of East Jerusalem, with the Israeli authorities citing “illegal residency.” JCSER called the deportation “a dangerous precedent that may affect thousands of Palestinians married to female Jerusalemites and living in Jerusalem without Israeli authorization, while awaiting the Israeli Interior Ministry’s approval of their family reunification applications.” (www.jcser.org)

24

About 20 Israeli tanks and APCs entered the Rafah refugee camp before dawn, prompting exchanges of fire with Palestinians. An-Najar hospital in Rafah said an unarmed 15-year-old Palestinian, Mohammed Hamden, had been killed by a tank shell. Eleven people were also injured, three of them seriously. Israeli military sources said the force entered the camp to search for tunnels used to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip. Palestinian security sources said the force, accompanied by bulldozers and military engineers, destroyed three houses before withdrawing. The Israeli sources said only two houses in the camp were destroyed by Palestinian booby traps. (DPA, Reuters)

Israeli soldiers forced their way into an UNRWA-run Qalqilya hospital in pursuit of a Palestinian gunman, according to hospital staff. The soldiers ordered the staff into the yard, searched room by room, but were unable to find the gunman, who was believed to have been wounded in an earlier shootout near the separation barrier in the area. A staff member told DPA the soldiers destroyed the doors to two rooms, damaged furniture and equipment and threw food supplies on the kitchen floor. A statement by UNRWA also indicated that a number of windows had been broken. Agency spokesman added that staff members had been forced to lie on the ground and that the soldiers had also broken into the operating room, thereby de-sterilizing it. UNRWA said its statement was based on “only snatches of conversations with its staff” because the soldiers were preventing them from using their phones. An IDF spokesman said that the army had coordinated the entry into the hospital in advance with the hospital management, and vehemently denied any doors were broken into, saying members of the hospital management who accompanied the soldiers throughout the one-hour search had opened and closed each door with their keys “in an orderly manner.” “Nobody was ordered out their rooms. Everything was done quietly, in good spirits and in coordination,” he said. (DPA)

Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin held his first news conference since Israel failed to kill him and his two aides in a bombing strike on a house in Gaza City where he had attended a meeting on 6 September. “There is no possibility under such circumstances to speak about a hudna because our enemy is still going on with its aggression against our people. Let the enemy stop the aggression and then we will be ready to talk,” Sheikh Yassin said. (DPA)

The IDF announced in a statement that its forces had demolished the house in the village of Rantis, north-west of Ramallah, belonging to Ramez Aslim, who had carried out a suicide bombing in Hillel Café in Jerusalem, killing seven Israelis. (www.idf.il)

UNRWA appealed for cash to finance its programmes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Owing to the donor community’s limited response to a June 2003 appeal, UNRWA had cut the number of food distributions in Gaza by a quarter and could only cover 12 per cent of house reconstruction “for the thousands of refugees whose homes have been demolished by the Israeli army,” the Agency said in a statement. Other programmes such as job creation, counselling for traumatized children and distribution of shoes and school uniforms had had to be either cancelled or cut back. “Currently 60 per cent of our appeal is not funded. I think the international community must consider not only the humanitarian consequences of this, but also the psychological, social and political consequences of not meeting even half of the refugees’ needs,” said UNRWA Director-General Peter Hansen. So far, only US$38 million of the US$103 million pledged at its June 2003 appeal had been financed – almost entirely by the United States. (AFP, Reuters, UNRWA press release HQ/G/16/03)

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktoum, Defence Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that hosted the IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Dubai, and the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Dubai told reporters: “No, we should not open to Israel because the Palestinians are suffering. Until an agreement is signed, we can do nothing about that.” Sheikh Mohammed reiterated that the Israeli delegation to the World Bank and IMF meetings had come at the invitation of the two institutions, and not the UAE Government. Referring to the head of the Israeli delegation, Minister Without Portfolio Meir Sheetrit, Sheikh Mohammed said he had seen him at a reception for delegates on 22 September: “I did not meet him, I saw him at a reception, and I will not meet him.” Mr. Sheetrit arrived in Dubai with a 40-member delegation, including officials from the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank. It was the first visit to the UAE by Israeli officials, one of whom was initially expected to be Finance Minister Netanyahu. When Bank of Israel governor David Klein addressed the meeting, several Arab delegations boycotted his speech, while the delegates from the host country moved back a couple of rows. (AFP, IBA, Reuters)

Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom, attending the fifty-eighth session of the UN General Assembly in New York, told reporters that his Government was not planning to deport Chairman Arafat in the immediate future. On the issue of the West Bank security barrier, Mr. Shalom admitted there were still differences with Washington: “There is no doubt the Americans disapprove of the line we have fixed.” Mr. Shalom also said he had discussed with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan the removal of at least 20 resolutions being considered in the General Assembly. (AFP, DPA)

The PLO opened a Permanent Mission in Japan. Waleed Siam, Head of the Permanent General Mission of Palestine in Japan, criticized President Bush, saying it was strange that the US, while advocating democracy, could seek to undermine PA President Arafat, who had been elected democratically. (Reuters)

Twenty-five Israeli air force pilots, believed to be regulars and reservists (27 Israeli reserve air force pilots, according to Dow Jones Newswires), said they refused to carry out missions over the Palestinian territories, Israel Radioreported. The pilots had submitted a petition to Air Force Head Gen. Dan Haloutz, the radio said, but gave no further details. (AFP, Dow Jones Newswires)

PA President Arafat’s adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh told AFP: “The American speech at the UN was partial. It does not help the peace process nor does it help the implementation of the Road Map.” (AFP)

An Israeli undercover unit, reportedly using vehicles with UN and Palestinian licence plates, stormed Abu Rabah Café in Qalqilya and arrested more than 30 Palestinians. (IPC)

The "College of Judea and Samaria", Israel’s largest public college, held its annual graduation ceremony on the "Ariel" campus, with 586 students receiving their degrees. Minister of Defence Mofaz attended the event, saying in his address: “Ariel will be part of the State of Israel, and it’s very important for the city and the college to grow as quickly as possible.” He also added, “The people of Ariel will be defended the same as everyone else in the country.” (Independent Media Review Analysis (IMRA))

25

In the Gaza Strip, two Palestinian militants and a three-year-old girl were killed during a raid by Israeli troops. A column of about 35 Israeli armoured vehicles, including tanks, backed up by a helicopter gunship, moved into the Al-Bureij refugee camp in a pre-dawn raid. Soldiers surrounded the house of Islamic leader Jawad Shahin and a gun battle erupted. Soldiers later bulldozed the building. The two dead Palestinian men were identified as Mohammed Akel, a member of Hamas, and Vanur Armana of Islamic Jihad. Family and hospital sources said that the little girl, identified as Dina Issa, had died of “fright” during the large-scale operation. One Israeli soldier was also killed and six other Palestinians were injured. Troops had moved into Al-Bureij to arrest Islamic Jihad and Hamas militants. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz, Reuters, www.idf.il)

In Hebron, Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinian militants, identified as Diab Shwiki and Abed El-Rahim Kik Talhami, members of Saraya al Quds, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad. Residents said the Israeli army, backed by tanks and armoured vehicles, had raided the neighbourhood to arrest Palestinian militants. The soldiers besieged a building and then called upon the militants to hand themselves over. The two militants refused and exchanged fire with the soldiers. The soldiers then stormed the building and shot dead the two Palestinians. A third Palestinian was seriously wounded in the gun battle. (AFP, AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, www.idf.il)

A Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli troops near the settlement of “Morag” in the Gaza Strip. Israeli military sources said troops guarding “Morag” had opened fire on two suspects approaching the settlement. The man was not immediately identified. (AFP)

PA President Arafat met with the parents of Rachel Corrie, an activist from the International Solidarity Movement who had been crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza Strip six months earlier. Mr. Arafat received Cindy and Craig Corrie at the muqataaand decorated them both with the Bethlehem 2000 medal, which had been also awarded to Rachel after her death. “I consider Rachel a martyr of the Palestinian people,” said Mr. Arafat, who has two posters of Rachel on the walls of his office. (AFP)

A group of 27 Israeli Air Force pilots, whose refusal to take part in missions over the Palestinian Territory had generated a bitter public debate, faced the threat of dismissal. Prime Minister Sharon warned the pilots not to become embroiled in politics. “The army carries out the instructions of the political echelon, and it will continue to act against terrorists and murderers whose sole purpose is to strike at crowded population centres inhabited by innocent civilians. This is a very severe matter, which will be dealt with soon and appropriately.” One of the pilots, whose name was given only as Alon, said, “I was proud to belong to the organization called the Israeli Air Force, and today I am ashamed. This is an organization that carries out actions that in my eyes are immoral and patently illegal. It is an organization that has no qualms about dropping bombs – it doesn’t matter if they are 250, 500 or 1,000 kilos – on the densest neighbourhoods in the world, causing massive killing of civilians.” Former President Ezer Weizman said the call to refuse orders was a “cancer” and should be removed “before it spreads” while military commentator Alex Fishman noted that “today, in light of the pointlessness of military operations, in light of the absence of political moves to back the military actions, people are beginning to ask questions. And these are the very best people we have. So we can ground them and we can lock them up. But we cannot ignore the questions they ask.” (AFP, DPA)

On 25 September, UNRWA protested to Israel over a raid on its hospital in Qalqilya, calling it a “serious breach” of both the United Nations immunities and international humanitarian law. (IPC, UNRWA press release J/06/2003;see DF of 24 September 2003)

Israel Air Force commander Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz issued orders grounding seven pilots (nine, according to IBA) who had signed a petition in which they refused to take part in missions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which they said were “illegal and immoral.” Gen. Halutz said the pilots were still on active duty and would be called in to meetings with their base commanders, and if they refused to retract their statements, they would be dismissed from active service. A military spokesman also said other signatories were no longer even attached to units flying such missions, but they were to be grounded anyway. A widespread discussion of the pilots’ action continued. Former Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amos Lapidot said while the pilots were in a minority their unease was widely shared. “It’s a minority but it’s not just limited to those 27,” he told AFP. “Others feel this in their stomach.” (AFP, IBA)

US Secretary of State Colin Powell called on Israel to dismantle settlement outposts in the West Bank during a meeting with Foreign Minister Shalom on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York. Mr. Powell insisted that the Israeli Government “continue dismantling” outposts in line with the Road Map, which, he said, was “not dead [but] still alive, and ways must be found to implement it.” Mr. Shalom had also promised to consult the US before his Government would decide whether to expel PA President Arafat from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, a senior State Department official said, adding that he expected the status of Mr. Arafat to come up again at a Quartet meeting the next day. In the meantime, Ha’aretzreported that US Road Map Monitor John Wolf had left the country for an unspecified length of time on what was officially described as a vacation. He had met with Dov Weisglass, the Prime Minister’s Bureau Chief, on 24 September, before leaving. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

26

Two Palestinians injured in Israeli raids died from their wounds, Palestinian medical sources said. Ibrahim Abu Aroub, 23, had been critically injured in the head on 19 September in eastern Jenin’s Har Assarqia neighbourhood during clashes that broke out between rock-throwing youths and Israeli troops on the second day of the army’s massive sweep for militants. Izzat Salem Abu Sweireh, 67, had sustained serious neck and lung injuries when Israeli troops raided the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on 18 September. (AFP)

Israel reimposed a strict closure on the Occupied Palestinian Territory ahead of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah). The Israeli police in Jerusalem also restricted access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City where thousands of Muslims pray every Friday, fearing celebrations marking the third anniversary of the intifada might spill over. The police would only allow “Muslims over 40, Israeli Arabs, East Jerusalem residents and women of all ages” to enter the compound, spokesman Shmuel Rubin told AFP. (AFP)

IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon predicted in an interview for the Jewish New Year that the intifada would be over in a year. “The main goal of the army next year will be to put an end to the confrontation with the Palestinians,” he told Israel Army Radio. (AFP)

Prime Minister Sharon told Yediot Aharonot that Israel was determined to “remove” PA President Arafat one day and that a decision to that effect by Israel’s Security Cabinet cancelled a personal promise to President Bush made by Mr. Sharon several years ago not to harm the Palestinian leader physically. “You have to keep in mind that it is very difficult to ensure that he won’t be harmed if we seize him,” Mr. Sharon said. He further said that although American concerns would be taken into account, “I repeat and emphasize: the fundamental decision to remove Arafat has been adopted by Israel.” (AP)

A Jerusalem Court upheld a decision to hold Noam Federman, a radical Jewish settler and a former leader of the banned Kach movement, without trial on the grounds that he was behind a terrorist group responsible for attacks on Palestinians. The court ruled that he should remain in administrative detention for six months. Mr. Federman, who had been under house arrest in an Israeli settlement in Hebron for several months while police investigated an extremist Jewish group, was ordered detained by Defence Minister Mofaz. On 19 September, the Court charged settler Shahar Dvir Zelinger with belonging to the network and storing weapons stolen from the IDF, but did not charge him with direct involvement in any attacks. Police displayed to the media a large arms stock allegedly stashed by members of another unidentified group near the unauthorized settlement of “Adi Ad” in the northern West Bank. Ballistic tests proved that the weapons had been used in seven attacks that had killed eight Palestinians in the West Bank and wounded dozens, Israeli state TV reported, quoting sources close to the investigation. The cache included a light machine gun, three anti-tank rockets, automatic rifles and a large quantity of ammunition and grenades. (AFP)

The World Bank’s Chief Economist for the West Bank and Gaza Sebastien Dessus told AFP that the Palestinian economy would take many years to recover from the intifada as its tight links with Israel suffered a lasting blow which would force major restructuring. Losses to date amount to about US$5 billion or the equivalent of one year’s worth of revenue. High unemployment, rampant poverty and utter dependence on foreign aid had come to characterize the Palestinian economy. “More than 50 per cent of Palestinians live in poverty with less than ten shekels (US$2) per person per day and the purchasing power has diminished by almost half over the past three years,” Mr. Dessus said, adding that a good measure of the soaring unemployment was that one Palestinian worker now supported six to seven people compared with less than five three years ago. The jobless rate was currently running at around 40 per cent, with many people simply giving up looking for work: “People are never sure they’ll reach their place of work, keep their jobs or manage to sell their products.” Mr. Dessus also warned that “even if the situation were to improve with the lifting of closures and sieges, first it would take many years to go back to pre-intifada income levels and, second, the situation will just not be the same anymore. Most Palestinian exports, both labour and goods, were going to Israel before the intifada and I doubt this will be the case anymore. Trust was lost ... maybe irreversibly.” (AFP)

A principals-level Quartet meeting at the United Nations in New York discussed the implementation of the Road Map. Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and an EU delegation comprising Foreign Minister Franco Frattini of Italy, which currently holds the EU Presidency, Chris Patten, External Relations Commissioner of the European Commission, and Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. It was their first meeting since the Road Map was launched earlier in 2003. “Each party must do more to address, immediately and simultaneously, the core concerns of the other, as described in the Road Map,” Mr. Annan said in a statement after the meeting. (AFP, Reuters, UN News Service)

A Palestinian gunman infiltrated the “Negohot” settlement, 10km south-west of Hebron, where residents were celebrating the beginning of the Jewish New Year. According to an IDF statement, the gunman knocked on the door of a house in the settlement and shot a resident who opened the door, seriously wounding him. A resident of the house and a reserve soldier returned fire. The wounded resident managed to shut the door, but died a short while later from his wounds. The Palestinian continued firing at the house, killing a seven-month-old infant and slightly wounding her father and mother. An IDF reserve force in the area joined the firefight, killing the attacker, who was identified as 22-year-old Dura resident Mahmoud Hamdan. In a statement faxed to AFP in Gaza, Islamic Jihad said: “This attack was part of the revenge for the enemy’s crime in killing two Islamic Jihad leaders in Hebron and it was also to mark the start of the fourth year of the intifada.” (AFP, DPA, Reuters, www.idf.il)

Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Nasser Al-Kidwa told BBC TV on 26 September: “We are ready to declare a unilateral ceasefire, but that has to be coupled with an Israeli declaration, declaring also an Israeli ceasefire. Only then will the Palestinian side be able to take further action on the ground. Otherwise it would be like asking people to keep quiet while they are being killed by the Israelis.” Interviewed by Al-Jazeera TV, Amb. Al-Kidwa also voiced disappointment with the Quartet's statement earlier in the day, which equated the Palestinians and the Israelis in assigning responsibility for the recent escalation of violence, and which avoided the new ideas debated during the Quartet meeting in New York. (AFP, IPC)

27

Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia met with the Fatah Central Committee (FCC) in Ramallah to present his new Cabinet for approval. Of the 24 names on the final list, at least 15 were reportedly Fatah affiliates, 12 had served as ministers in Mahmoud Abbas’ Cabinet, and 12 were joining the Government for the first time. Long-standing Fatah member Gen. Nasser Youssef was nominated as Interior Minister, replacing Mohammed Dahlan. At least two members of the outgoing Cabinet – Finance Minister Salam Fayyad and Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath – kept their posts. The Cabinet also included two women, four representatives of organizations other than Fatah, and one Islamist close to Hamas. The PFLP and Islamic Jihad refused to join the Government, but two days later Mr. Qureia visited PFLP Secretary-General Sa’adat, held in Jericho prison, to discuss the composition of the new Cabinet. The FCC approved 23 Ministers, with the remaining one to three slots to be filled in the coming days. The preliminary list of 23 Ministers was published by The Associated Press. The Cabinet was to be presented to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for approval. The PLC would vote on the final approval in the next few days, said Cabinet Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo the next day. “The process is in its final phase,” Saeb Erakat told Reuters. “We expect the Cabinet to be finalized by the end of the week.” (AFP, AP, International Middle East Media Centre (IMEMC), Reuters)

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov appointed Alexander Kalugin, a career diplomat and Arab specialist, as his new special representative for the Middle East with a mandate to pursue contacts in the region, according to an announcement on the Ministry’s web site. The statement said his predecessor Andrei Vdovin had been transferred to another diplomatic post, giving no further details. (Reuters, www.mid.ru)

28

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) claimed responsibility for a mortar attack during the day on the industrial zone of the “Gush Katif” settlement block in the Gaza Strip that inflicted no casualties. (AFP)

Thousands of Palestinians rallied to mark the intifada’s third anniversary. “We affirm our determination to continue the intifada until occupation ends and we demand that the Palestinian Authority and the new Government resist pressure from the Americans and the Zionists aimed at ending our right to resist,” Hamas said in a statement. “Resistance is the only language that the enemy understands and the only means to free Palestine from occupation,” said a statement from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. In Nablus, some 5,000 Palestinians marked the anniversary by marching from al-Najah University to the town centre, carrying Palestinian flags and those of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and chanting slogans of defiance. “Get rid of the occupation, not our leaders,” was the common refrain. Late on the day before, hundreds of Palestinians also marched in Bethlehem to mark the anniversary by marching along a main city artery before congregating at Manger Square in front of the Church of the Nativity with candles and Palestinian flags. (AFP)

29

The IDF lifted a complete closure imposed on the Occupied Palestinian Territory on 26 September for the Jewish New Year. Its announcement said it had been done “in accordance with security assessments.” IMEMC followed up on the announcement by interviewing Palestinians who move daily from one West Bank city to another, and found that all the interviewees agreed that both the imposition and the lifting of the closure had gone virtually unnoticed, as the closure of the Occupied Palestinian Territory had in fact continued without visible change for the past two years. (AFP, IMEMC)

Israel agreed to change the route of the separation barrier around East Jerusalem in order to avoid damaging the Al-Quds University campus after Israeli Defence Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron met with Sari Nusseibeh, the University President, Dr. Nusseibeh’s office said. The agreement was “a result of the continued peaceful resistance which has taken place on the university grounds for the past 30 days, and especially of the pressure exerted by US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and US Middle East Envoy John Wolf,” Dimitri Diliani, a spokesman for Dr. Nusseibeh, told AFP. “In the meeting today, the army decided to alter its plans for the apartheid wall and moved it westward in order to minimize damage to the University campus,” Mr. Diliani said. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, addressing a meeting of the Likud faction, announced that the West Bank separation barrier would be built “east of ‘Ariel’ and east of ‘Kedumim,’” despite the US Administration’s opposition to the route. “If we reach a certain point when the issue again arouses differences, we will again meet and sit with the Americans,” said Mr. Sharon. (Ha’aretz)

PA President Arafat published an article in the Al-Quds newspaper to mark the 33rd anniversary of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s death, describing him as “a martyr of Palestine” and calling on Palestinians to follow his example in their struggle against Israeli occupation. (AFP)

Dr. Kamal Al-Shirafi, the PA Health Minister, stated in a press briefing marking the third anniversary of the intifada, that the death toll of Palestinians killed during the past 36 months was estimated at about 3,338, including 594 minors younger than 18 years old and 410 assassination victims. An unknown number had been killed and buried with no hospital notification. The number of the wounded was estimated at 46,647. “Fifty-four Palestinian pregnant women in labour were obliged to give birth at the military checkpoints, while 31 babies have died immediately after delivery,” Dr. Al-Shirafi stated. “The number of patients who lost their lives while awaiting access at the Israeli checkpoints was about 99, including children, women and elderly people.” (IPC)

On the third anniversary of the intifada, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights submitted a memorandum to the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949, summarizing violations of the Convention over the last three years and calling for immediate action to protect Palestinian civilians. (pchrgaza.org)

On 29 September, EU Foreign Ministers issued a statement after their meeting in Brussels, welcoming the designation of Ahmed Qureia as the new PA Prime Minister and saying it stood ready to assist his new Cabinet. The statement further urged Israel not to expel Chairman Arafat, saying it would be “counterproductive to the efforts at reaching a peaceful solution to the conflict.” (IPC)

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Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia told reporters in Ramallah: “The size and composition of the Government has not been decided yet, we’re still consulting within Fatah, with President Arafat and with various Palestinian factions.” Mr. Qureia was also reported to consider a “limited” Cabinet of just 12 or 13 ministers. The Al-Ayyam daily had said earlier the Cabinet was likely to be just 12-strong although its size could increase in the future. According to the Palestinian Basic Law, Mr. Qureia is scheduled to present his Cabinet to parliament by 2 October, but he indicated that he had asked PA President Arafat for a two-week extension, telling reporters: “We still have two more weeks to go.” (AFP, DPA)

In his latest report for the UN Commission on Human Rights, South African law professor John Dugard, serving as the Commission’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, said the route of the West Bank barrier ran well east of the Green Line at a number of points. “The evidence strongly suggests that Israel is determined to create facts on the ground amounting to de facto annexation,” the report said, adding: “Annexation of this kind, known as conquest in international law, is prohibited by the Charter of the United Nations and the Fourth Geneva Convention.” “The time has come to condemn the wall as an unlawful act of annexation in the same way that Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights has been condemned,” Mr. Dugard said, stressing: “This is likely to lead to a new generation of refugees or internally displaced people.” In response to the Israeli contention that the barrier was part of its self-defence measures, “proportional, as well as within its right to self-defence,” Mr. Dugard concluded: “The construction of the wall within the West Bank and the continued expansion of settlements, which, on the face of it, have more to do with territorial expansion, de facto annexation or conquest, raise serious doubts about the good faith of Israel’s justifications in the name of security.” (AFP, Reuters, UN News Service)

The IDF announced in a statement that its forces had demolished a house in the village of At-Tabaqa, on the outskirts of Dura, near Hebron, shared by Mahmoud Hamdan and his mother. Mr. Hamdan had carried out the 26 September infiltration into the “Negohot” settlement, where he had killed two Israelis, including a seven-month-old infant, before being killed by Israeli troops. The demolition sparked clashes between the soldiers and Palestinian stone-throwers, six of whom were injured. An IPC correspondent reported that the Israeli forces had arrested Mr. Hamdan’s mother and his five sisters. Ha’aretz also disclosed that, contrary to numerous reports in the Israeli media, Mr. Hamdan had not recently been released from an Israeli prison after being convicted of planning to carry out a suicide attack. The paper found that he had been convicted on one count - belonging to an enemy organization (namely, the Palestine Liberation Front) - and had been released at the end of July 2003 after serving a 13-month sentence and paying a NIS2,000 fine. Another Palestinian prisoner testified under interrogation that Mr. Hamdan had told him he was willing to carry out a mission for Fatah. The military prosecution therefore included a clause relating to planning a suicide mission in its original charge sheet, but removed it from the second version after a ruling that a person could not be convicted for expressing a willingness to commit a crime. It also appeared that he had joined Islamic Jihad in prison or immediately after his release. (AFP, IPC, Reuters, www.idf.il; see DF of 29 September)

The US Administration was to inform Congress that Israel would be penalized financially for settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory but that no decision had yet been made on the amount of the penalty, an anonymous US official told AFP.The State Department would meet a 30 September deadline to report on a programme in which Washington had pledged US$9 billion in loan guarantees to Israel, but would tell lawmakers that the White House and the State Department were still discussing the amount of the deductions with Israel. In addition, no decision had yet been made as to whether to penalize Israel further with deductions in the amount it spent to build the West Bank separation barrier, the official said. (AFP)

Yesh Gvul, the movement of Israeli soldiers refusing to serve in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, filed a petition with Israel's High Court of Justice, demanding that it revoke decisions by the IDF Chief Prosecutor and Israel’s Attorney-General not to investigate the Air Force’s planning and execution of an air strike on a residential building in Gaza City on 23 July 2002 in which 16 Palestinians were killed, including 12 civilians, nine of them children. The petition, which was also signed by a group of intellectuals, including writers S. Yazhar, Sami Michael, Amos Kinan, and Natan Zakh, said Air Force Commander Dan Halutz, Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, the then Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer and Prime Minister Sharon must take responsibility for the consequences of the strike. “There’s no question in our mind that it’s a question of evidence,” Yesh Gvul activisit Ram Rahal told AFP. “The military did not deny the action, its consequences or its responsibility. There is no basis of argument over the facts. The question is whether the Supreme Court will see it in the realm of a war crime.” Mr. Rahal said he expected that the Court would grant the group a preliminary hearing by the end of the year. Deputy Education Minister Zvi Hendel (National Union) announced his intention to remove from the education curriculum works by the writers who had signed the petition. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, IBA, IMEMC)

The Yesha Council demanded changes in the route of the West Bank separation barrier to include “Talmon,” “Dolev,” and other settlements. The Council claimed that there were few Palestinians in the area, north-west of Ramallah, while the Israeli settlements were growing rapidly. The Council further complained that the route drawn up by the defence establishment crossed highway 443 between Jerusalem and the “Modi’in Ilit” settlement at two separate locations. (IBA)

“After reviewing information that our Government has received and after studying similar steps taken by the United States, the European Union and Canada, we have decided to freeze Hamas-related assets,” said a spokeswoman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry, adding that the Government had taken its decision also in part based on United Nations resolutions on freezing terrorist-related assets. (AFP)

An Israeli Court sentenced to 12- and 15-year jail terms three members of a Jewish anti-Palestinian terrorist group who had planned a bomb attack on a Palestnian girls’ school in the suburb of Al-Tur in East Jerusalem. The District Court of Jerusalem ruled and found the defendants guilty of attempted murder. Shahar Dvir Zeliger and Ofer Gamliel were sentenced to 15 years in prison each, while Yarden Morag, who cooperated with investigators, was jailed for 12 years. Two of the men, who lived in a settlement near Hebron, had been arrested in August 2002, and their statements under interrogation had helped police to track down the mastermind behind the planned attack. At the time of their arrest, the group reportedly had already parked a trailer with an explosive device in the crowded square between the school and a hospital. According to the judges, the defendants confessed most of their involvement. They had been found guilty by the Court two weeks earlier. (AFP, DPA, IBA)


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