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




Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine

MONTHLY MEDIA MONITORING REVIEW

April 2003


1

The Times (London) reported that immediate “confidence-building measures” for Israeli-Palestinian security had been proposed by Britain in an attempt to assuage scepticism in Washington and Tel Aviv towards reviving the Middle East peace process. British diplomats have reportedly suggested “de-linking” security issues from the initial stages of the peace process. The proposed measures include a provisional ceasefire by the Palestinians with reciprocal measures by the Israelis, cutting off of funding for terrorist groups and measures to shore up the secular Palestinian leadership. The paper said that talks between Mr. Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Palestinian factions such as Hamas could yet lead to a unilateral Palestinian ceasefire. This would strengthen the Palestinian secular leadership and isolate groups such as Islamic Jihad. (The Times)

Monir Mari’i, thought to be a Hamas commander in the Hebron region, was arrested by IDF troops at night. (The Jerusalem Post)

2

An armoured Israeli column supported by two helicopters raided the Tulkarm refugee camp in what an IDF spokeswoman said was a “search and arrest operation” for suspected Palestinian militants as part of ongoing actions “against the terrorist infrastructure” based on intelligence information. Palestinians said the soldiers rounded up all men aged between 15 years to 40 years, about 2,000 overall, in local UNRWA schools for questioning. IDF said the number of arrested was closer to 1,000. The detainees were later transferred in buses to the nearby Nur Shams camp and ordered not to return to their houses in the next three days, the time the IDF said its searches would take. They were allowed, however, to move through the camp and the adjacent town of the same name. The IDF said 11 of the men identified as wanted militants were formally arrested, and while identity checks continued on the others, those not on the wanted list would be quickly freed. “The army’s arrest of this number of Palestinians is collective punishment,” PA minister Saeb Erakat told Reuters. “We urge the international community not to allow Israel to exploit the war on Iraq to escalate its suppressive measures against the Palestinian people.” (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said he hoped to renew negotiations with the Palestinians in the coming year, Yediot Ahronot reported in its YNet online edition. “In the negotiations we will talk about everything – a long list of subjects – in order that our wishes coincide,” the site quoted Mr. Mofaz as saying. He described talks currently taking place between Israelis and Palestinians as “a dialogue, not yet negotiations,” and said new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas could be a partner to dialogue but “we have to see what are his intentions and if he carries out specific tasks.” (DPA)

The IDF announced in a statement that it had demolished the house in Hebron belonging to Omar Hamdan Abu Sneineh, a Fatah member accused of involvement in several anti-Israeli attacks in the area, including a roadside bombing that killed an IDF officer on 9 July 2001 near the “Adora” settlement. (AFP, www.idf.il)

Two illegally built structures were demolished in the village of Beit Hanina, in northern Jerusalem, the Jerusalem municipality said. The two uninhabited buildings were constructed in an “open area,” where all private construction is prohibited. (The Jerusalem Post)

Prime Minister Abbas, speaking to businessmen and private sector traders in Gaza City in his first public statements since being appointed to the post, said his main goal was “to achieve justice and try to make life easier for Palestinians.” “There will always be a single authority that will apply the law on everybody, without any exceptions,” he said, promising his government would work hard to change the “dramatic situation in the Palestinian territories,” and would “encourage multiplicity and democracy.” “But we have to start with applying the law and achieving security and justice,” he said. Mr. Abbas called the war on Iraq “destructive” and said its consequences would “affect the whole Middle East region,” adding: “We will have to protect ourselves from the outcomes of this war.” (DPA)

3

Four Palestinians had been killed and eight others wounded during an IDF incursion into the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian doctors said. The troops left Rafah shortly after dawn. Three mortar shells were fired at the “Gush Katif” settlement in the Gaza Strip, with no injuries reported. Of the Palestinians killed in Gaza, three unarmed civilians were killed by a missile fired from one of the helicopters accompanying some 25 IDF tanks and bulldozers, while a 24-year-old was killed an exchange of fire with troops. Four IDF soldiers were lightly wounded when a tank overturned after an explosive device detonated beneath it. An army spokesman said the IDF force had demolished four structures it called “empty,” before withdrawing early in the morning. He said the army had suspected the buildings hid tunnels used for smuggling weapons across the Egyptian-Gaza Strip border. Residents said five houses had been demolished, which contained furniture and were inhabited, adding that their occupants had left after soldiers had called on them over megaphones to come outside. In Qalqilya, witnesses said a 14-year-old boy had been shot dead by IDF troops firing from jeeps as he stood outside his home. IDF troops in Nablus killed a Hamas activist during an attempt to arrest him. Two soldiers were wounded in the incident. Another IDF soldier was wounded in Ramallah. In East Jerusalem, the IDF demolished at least nine houses, which they claimed had been built without permits – eight of them in the Sur Bahir neighbourhood. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

The following press release was issued by UNRWA:

(UNRWA press release HQ/G/04/2003 of 3 April 2003)

Secretary of State Powell, in Brussels at a meeting with EU Foreign Ministers, said the United States intended to promote the Road Map “as it is” without amendments by either side. Mr. Powell also said, according to a senior US official, who asked not to be named, “Please understand that it can’t just be issued and magical things happen, and it’s not going to be just imposed. It’s going to take a heck of a lot of work to get the sides to implement the Road Map, but President Bush has committed to work very hard.” Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Powell said: “ The Road Map is ready to be delivered, we are anxious to present it to the new Palestinian Prime Minister.” (DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

The IDF issued a statement saying it had charged two of its soldiers with the killing of two Palestinian civilians in separate incidents in 2002. The first case was against a soldier who allegedly fired on a suspect taxi near Ramallah on 3 December 2002, killing a 95-year-old woman. “The soldier is charged with causing death through negligence and with the unlawful use of a weapon,” the statement said. In the second case, an officer was charged with causing death through negligence for shots fired during a clash in a village near Jenin on 4 October 2002, which killed a 15-year-old stone-throwing youth. There have been fewer than 10 indictments on such charges since the beginning of the intifada – despite the death of 105 women and 180 children under the age of 15 during that time, according to B’Tselem. The group pointed out that none of the defendants had actually yet been sentenced. (AFP, BBC, www.idf.il)

4

Former United States Envoy to the Middle East, and head of the US Central Command before that, Gen. Zinni, speaking at Canisius College, Buffalo, New York, on 4 April about the war in Iraq, said it was also vital to deal with the Middle East peace process between the Palestinians and Israel. “The people in this region are desperate for this problem to be gone,” he said. “Only one organization, nation and entity in the world can broker this problem: the United States.” (The Buffalo News)

5

Israeli soldiers shot and killed an armed Palestinian who had infiltrated the “Kiryat Arba” settlement, east of Hebron, and holed up inside a building. The Palestinian reached the southern gate and fired on a security guard, a settler spokesman said. The security guard and other forces fired back. Later, forces surrounded a building where they believed the gunman was hiding. (DPA, the Jerusalem Post)

A United States activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) was seriously injured in Jenin when Israeli soldiers shot him in the face during a curfew that had been in place since the previous day. Brian Avery, a 24-year-old member of the Albuquerque-based Arab-Jewish Peace Alliance, was shot in the face after emerging from his apartment building to investigate the sound of gunfire just as an APC rounded a corner. “We had our hands up and we were wearing vests that clearly identified us as international workers when they began firing,” said Tobias Karlsson, a fellow activist from Denmark. “Brian was shot in the face, and it looks like he was hit by a heavy-calibre bullet because of the extent of the wound.” Mr. Karlsson, who didn’t see any gunmen in the area, said he, Avery and a Palestinian medical worker not with the group stood with their hands up as the troops slowly approached. Mr. Karlsson said the three had no communication with the troops and that the shooting was unprovoked. “The bullets hit the ground only 2 or 3 metres away from us. I was showered with fragments, and I turned to see Brian lying down in a big pool of blood.” In Washington, US State Department spokesman Lou Fintor said: “We have seen the reports. The US embassy in Tel Aviv and our consulate in Jerusalem are now following up to find out what happened and determine the identity and welfare of the individual.” Earlier in the day, Israel Radio reported that a Danish peace activist, Lassel Smith, had been shot and wounded in the leg by IDF troops, also in Jenin, during a confrontation between soldiers and Palestinian youths in the city. An IDF spokesman said on 7 April that the initial results of a probe into the shooting showed that soldiers fired four warnings shots, after four people were spotted “who all appeared to be holding objects which looked like firebombs.” “At the same time there was gunfire coming from Palestinian terrorists in the immediate vicinity,” hence “it cannot be determined with certainty that the ISM activist was hit by Israeli gunfire,” the spokesman said, adding that Jenin residents had been warned to stay indoors for over 24 hours before the clash occurred. (AP, DPA, Reuters)

6

Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinians and wounded 16 others in the central Gaza Strip village of Al-Musaddar, east of Deir al-Balah, during a six-hour operation. An IDF spokesman confirmed there was an operation under way in the area overnight to hunt down “terrorists who often fire rockets at the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom, or who attack Israelis with grenades or bombs from this sector.” A Palestinian public security spokesman said about 30 armoured vehicles, backed by helicopters, had entered the village from the nearby “Kfar Darom” settlement, amid heavy shooting. A 23-year-old Hamas militant was killed during the firefight after firing an anti-tank rocket. Later in the day, after schools let out, hundreds of youths threw stones at armoured vehicles, drawing fire that killed 13-year-old Yousef Abu Hadi. Palestinian doctors said all 16 wounded were under the age of 18, and two youths were in critical condition. Residents said that the soldiers forced all male villagers between 15 and 50 years of age to gather at the yard of an elementary school in the village. Fifteen people were arrested. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

The Director of the Jerusalem branch of Peace Now, Eyal Hareuveni, criticized Israeli settlers moving into a new settlement in East Jerusalem, saying he suspected the move had been made during the war in Iraq to avoid criticism from a preoccupied US. “This is a settler group, extremists who want to transfer the Arabs. This is only a recipe for friction and violence,” said Mr. Hareuveni. The settlement in Ras al-Amud would be an apartment complex of 140 flats when finished, and was funded by the Miami-based Orthodox Jewish millionaire Irving Moskowitz. Fifty apartments had been completed and 35 sold, said Arieh King, a member of one of the five families that had moved in, and Mr. Moskowitz’s son-in-law. A man in the parking lot of the enclave insisted a Reuters reporter leave the premises and refused to answer any questions. Commenting on Ras al-Amud on 5 April, Lou Fintor, a spokesman at the U.S. State Department, called it “simply inconsistent” with President Bush’s vision of Israeli and Palestinian States living in peace. (Reuters)

Dozens of Israeli settlers tried to retake the outpost on the so-called “worshippers' lane” leading from the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi), a shrine in downtown Hebron, to the “Kiryat Arba” settlement. The IDF declared the area a closed military zone. Several youths refused to leave the site and six were detained by Hebron police. (Ha’aretz)

“Prime Minister Ariel Sharon emphasized that in the framework of diplomatic contacts vis-à-vis Israel and the Palestinians, Israel will make no concessions regarding the security of the State and its citizens. Prime Minister Sharon stressed that this has been made clear to the leaders with whom he has met in the US, Europe and Russia.” (Cabinet communiqué of 6 April 2003)

Three Israeli high school graduates who signed a public letter to the Prime Minister refusing to be drafted into the IDF were to be jailed this week. Yoel Perlman, Rotem Ronen and Amit Ris described the IDF as an “occupation force.” “The State is asking me to be a thug and I must decline this request,” Mr. Ronen said. Since the letter’s publication, the number signing the refusal to be drafted rose from 62 to about 300 senior high school students. (Ha’aretz)

Ha’aretz reported that Prime Minister Sharon had decided to delay the final authorization for the location of the separation fence from Rosh Ha’ayin/Elkana to the "Judean Desert". Mr. Sharon was not scheduled to raise the subject during the Cabinet meeting. Ha’aretz quoted political and security sources as saying the delay had been caused by concerns over a possible dispute with the US Administration at a sensitive time, as well as by financial difficulties, and that, for political and economic reasons, it would be decided to build the fence to the west of the large block of settlements in the northern West Bank, thus excluding “Ariel,” “Immanuel” and “Kedumim,” contrary to Defence Ministry recommendations. Mr. Sharon met with senior Defence Ministry officials on 2 April, including Defence Minister Mofaz, for talks on the fence’s construction. The Defence Ministry recommended that two indents, or “spurs,” in the area of “Kedumim” and “Ariel,” be included, encompassing some 40,000 Israelis and 2,500-3,000 Palestinians. Another option was not to include inside the fence the settlements, encompassing them in what were termed “broad security zones.” The second option would lower the cost of the fence, since the line would be shorter. However, there would be additional costs in securing settlements east of the fence. (Ha’aretz)

An IDF statement said its troops had arrested Masalma Tabet, an Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade member from Tulkarm. He is suspected of involvement in the murder of two Israelis in 2001, among other offences, and had been on the Israeli security services’ wanted list since shortly after the start of the intifada. The statement also said that three other Palestinians involved in the attacks had been killed, including one “in an organized operation.” (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, www.idf.il)

7

Israeli soldiers found the body of a Palestinian, armed with a knife, near the fence of the “Netzarim” settlement in the central Gaza Strip in the morning. The IDF sources said soldiers on duty the previous night had opened fire on two “suspicious” figures spotted several dozen metres from the fence and thought to be trying to infiltrate the settlement. (DPA)

IDF paratroopers arrested five senior member of Islamic Jihad in the Balata refugee camp outside Nablus. Rifles and explosive devices were found in the apartment where the five were hiding. Troops blew up the apartment after completing the search. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

The Greek European Union Presidency released a statement, expressing concern with the Israeli operations in Tulkarm, calling them “unacceptable” and saying they took the form of collective punishment and fuelled hatred and violence. “We comprehend Israel’s need to secure the safety of its citizens,” said the statement, “but we are convinced that this will be effectively achieved only by the immediate, reciprocal and parallel implementation of the Road Map by the two parties.” (Ha’aretz, www.eu2003.gr)

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a report analyzing Israel’s relations with Europe and urging the Government to launch a special diplomatic initiative to prevent a further deterioration in the wake of the Iraq war. The report recommended a proactive strategy which would see Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom pay visits to European capitals. The report also suggested Israel make goodwill gestures toward Prime Minister Abbas. (AFP)

Former Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said in an interview on Israel Radio that “there is almost no value to a fence without a border.” (IMRA)

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer arrived in Israel for a three-day visit. He was to meet first with his counterpart Silvan Shalom before going into talks with Prime Minister Sharon to discuss prospects for the Road Map in the wake of the Iraq war. He was then to meet Labour opposition leader Amram Mitzna, Justice Minister Tommy Lapid and President Moshe Katsav before going on to Ramallah to meet Chairman Arafat, Prime Minister Abbas, and Palestinian Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) on 9 April. However, Israeli Justice Minister Yosef Lapid cancelled a meeting with Mr. Fischer planned for 8 April, after Mr. Fischer requested that it not take place in the Justice Minister’s office in East Jerusalem. “He [Lapid] cancelled the talks... unless [Fischer] comes to our office in East Jerusalem,” Tsahi Moshe, media adviser to Lapid, said. “He said that the Germans won’t determine our sovereignty in Jerusalem. He [Fischer] is welcome to come here – this has nothing to do with him personally or Germany.” Earlier in the day, when asked about the Foreign Ministry report (see previous item), Justice Minister Lapid told Israel Public Radio: “It is no secret to anybody that the Europeans are hostile to us and to the United States, but I don’t think the Americans are ready to let us down." The Europeans think the Americans and Israel are the world’s nemesis, but I hope they will understand that it is not the case. “It is in our interest to support Abu Mazen (Prime Minister Abbas),” he added. Mr. Lapid also called Mr. Fischer “Israel’s friend.” A European diplomat confirmed to Ha’aretz that there had been a disagreement over the venue, but pointed out that EU officials had made it a policy not to meet Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem, and that alternative meeting places had been found in the past. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Jerusalem municipality bulldozers demolished four Palestinian houses in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya, the city said. The four single-family houses, three of which were inhabited, were constructed in areas where private construction was prohibited. The demolitions, which were originally ordered by former Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert in December 2002, were carried out after multiple appeals to the Israeli Supreme Court were rejected. Residents threw stones at the police force, which responded with tear gas and stun grenades. No injuries were reported. One of the homeowners barricaded himself in his house and threatened to blow himself up with a propane gas canister he opened, but police pulled him away and his home was razed. Four activists from the Committee against House Demolitions tried to stop the demolitions but were kept away from the site. One was later arrested by police after the group tried to lock themselves in a house slated for destruction. The demolitions come just four days after the US Consul-General of Jerusalem personally urged Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski to stop all home demolitions in the city due to the political sensitivity of the issue. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post; see also 4 April above)

Issawiya resident and PFLP member Hussein Darbas, 20, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on five counts of attempted murder. Mr. Darbas had fired several times at buses on the Jerusalem-"Ma’aleh Adumim" road and tried to attack a Jewish couple in the parking lot of the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus. No one was injured in any of these incidents. (Ha’aretz)

Two Israeli guards at the West Bank security barrier were stabbed, with one of them seriously wounded, by two Palestinians near Kibbutz Metzer just across the Green Line from Tulkarm, police said, adding that the attackers evaded a search by Israeli troops and fled back into the West Bank. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Bader Yassin, a 25-year-old member of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was killed at night near his house in the village of Salfit, south of Nablus, by an Israeli undercover unit wearing civilian clothes which quickly fled the area. Witnesses said soldiers tried to arrest Mr. Yassin and shot him dead when he tried to escape. An IDF spokesman said troops had fired only after he refused orders to stop. (AFP, Reuters)

Some 20 Israeli tanks backed by two helicopters raided Jenin late at night, prompting exchanges of fire with Palestinians. Israeli troops imposed a curfew, but it was not known if there had been any casualties. Israeli forces had only just left Jenin earlier in the day, after occupying it since 4 April. (AFP)

A statement by French Foreign Ministry spokesman François Rivasseau said: “We deeply regret the Israeli Government’s recent decision to authorize the installation of several families of settlers in the Ras Al-Amud neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.” Mr. Rivasseau called it a “bad signal ahead of the parties receiving the Quartet’s Road Map,” which “sets out specific measures regarding settlement that the parties will have to respect.” “We consequently call on the Israeli authorities to reverse their decision,” the statement concluded. (AFP, www.diplomatie.gouv.fr)

Palestinian Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) criticized an official Israeli request for visiting German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer not to meet Chairman Arafat in Ramallah. “The Israeli request is part of a series of ridiculous Israeli requests,” said Mr. Qurei, adding that it was part of Israel’s attempts “to impose its control” on countries that support Israel. Mr. Qurei said he expected to meet Mr. Fischer on 9 April in Ramallah “to discuss the peace process and the current situation in the Palestinian territories including the Road Map… We will tell Mr. Fischer that the Palestinians would reject any Israeli changes or amendments to the text of the Road Map peace plan.” (DPA)

8

Seven Palestinians were killed and scores wounded in a late-night Israeli air strike on Gaza City. Said Al-Arabid, a senior member of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, was among the dead. Palestinians said an Israeli warplane had targeted a car in the Zeitun neighbourhood in southern Gaza City, and afterwards several helicopters had flown over the area, firing a missile into the crowd. Doctors at Al-Shifa Hospital told AP that 47 had been wounded, eight critically, and that all of the wounded were civilians, ranging in age from 6 to 75 years old. The Israeli military refused to comment. (AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement denouncing the “disproportionate” use of force by Israel after the Israeli air raid in Gaza killed seven Palestinians, among them several children and a Hamas militant leader, and wounded 48. The seven were killed when Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at the militant’s car in Gaza City’s Zeitun neighbourhood. “The inappropriate and disproportionate use of force discredits the fight against terrorism and is used by extremists to justify their crimes,” the statement said. France also “strongly condemned” the air strike south of Gaza City, spokeswoman Cecile Pozzo di Borgo said. Both France and Russia called for the immediate implementation of the Road Map. (AFP, Reuters)

The IDF announced in a statement that its soldiers had demolished a house in Beit Imrin village, north of Nablus, belonging to the family of a Palestinian who had killed six Israelis in a shooting spree in the northern Israeli town of Hadera on 17 January 2002, before being shot dead himself. (DPA, Ha’aretz, www.idf.il)

Speaking in Belfast at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Blair, President Bush said the Northern Ireland peace process, advanced by Prime Minister Blair, was a possible model for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, noting that he was “willing to spend the same amount of energy in the Middle East.” “Our Governments are working to help bring about a settlement in the Middle East that protects the rights of Israelis and Palestinians, that promotes the peace, that promotes security, that promotes human dignity,” said President Bush. “It’s a hopeful time in the Middle East, as far as I’m concerned. I believe we can make substantial progress. I’m pleased with the new leader of the Palestinian Authority. I look forward to him finally putting his Cabinet in place so we can release the Road Map.” (AP, Reuters, www.number-10.gov.uk)

“The Palestinian State Security Court no longer exists,” Palestinian Authority Interior Minister Hani al-Hassan announced at a Palestinian conference on human rights, in response to the opening remarks made by Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) representative, Dr. Mamduh Al-Akar, who presented the existence of the Court as a violation of human rights and Palestinian law. The European Union and the Palestinian Council had demanded that the court be abolished. The conference was held as the PCHR released its eighth annual report on the state of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (Ha’aretz)

A spokeswoman for Israel’s "Civil Administration" in the West Bank announced: “In recent weeks, under the auspices of the IDF Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, 14 factories have been reopened in Nablus,” producing tools, sweets, aluminium and plastics, employing up to 500 people, and making an estimate profit of some NIS 20 million (US$4 million) a month. “This initiative came from a desire to ease conditions on the civilian population in Nablus,” Lt.-Col. Ra’ad Mantsur, a commander and liaison officer, said. He hoped the factories would “jump-start the economy, directly providing livelihood for hundreds of families, and indirectly affecting thousands.” (IMRA, The Jerusalem Post)

An Israeli delegation headed by the Prime Minister’s Bureau Chief Dov Weisglass has put off a trip to Washington to discuss the Road Map. The team was to have left on the night of 7 April, but instead will go at the beginning of next week. An Israeli source said only timing, not content, was behind the delay. (IBA)

9

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan:


Palestinian militants fired a Qassam rocket, which hit the yard of a house in Sderot, just north-east of the Gaza Strip. No one was injured. Another Qassam rocket, anti-tank missiles and mortar shells were fired at the “Gush Katif” settlement block. Hours later IDF troops, backed by 14 tanks and APCs, entered Gaza near the town of Beit Hanoun. Palestinians reported three dead – a 19-year-old member of Hamas, a Palestinian police officer and a 17-year-old – and 15 wounded during exchanges of fire sparked by the incursion. An Israeli military source said troops had searched for launch sites used to fire rockets and mortar bombs at Gaza settlements and the town of Sderot. Troops had found one rocket launcher primed to fire, the source added. An IDF bulldozer leading the troops into Beit Hanoun was hit by two explosive devices planted on the road, but there were no injuries. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

An explosion wounded 20 students, three of them seriously, at a Palestinian high school in the village of Jaba’a near Jenin. According to Israeli police, an unknown Jewish group calling itself “Revenge of the Infants” earlier had claimed responsibility for the blast. Palestinian sources said that one of the pupils may have been playing with an explosive device they had found. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Speaking after meeting German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Ramallah, Chairman Arafat told reporters he had granted Premier-designate Mahmoud Abbas a two-week extension to form a cabinet. Mr. Arafat said he and Mr. Fischer had discussed the Road Map and some of the first steps it demanded: Palestinian democratic reforms, including the establishment of an empowered Prime Minister, and a freeze in Israeli settlement construction. “It is of the utmost importance to come forward with a reform government and to accelerate the reform of institutions,” Mr. Fischer, on a three-day visit to the region, told reporters. After the meeting, Mr. Fischer met Mr. Abbas at his office, before meeting with members of the Palestinian ministerial reforms committee. He had earlier met with Nabil Sha’ath, PA Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, and Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), Speaker of the Palestinian Council. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Dozens of Israelis and Palestinians marched along the fence surrounding Jerusalem’s Kfar Shaul psychiatric hospital, the site of the Deir Yassin massacre, to commemorate its 55th anniversary. Among those attending the ceremony was Abdel Aziz Barakat, 81, who lost 17 members of his family in the 1948 massacre and told participants about the coexistence of Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem until 1939. (Ha’aretz)

The Israeli High Court of Justice rejected a petition to have three Palestinian suspects returned to Israel. The Palestinians had been deported after an agreement was reached on ending a lengthy standoff at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which had followed an attack on the “Nokdim” settlement in February 2002. Families of the victims of the attack petitioned the High Court to have the suspects returned to Israel so they could be put on trial for murder. Prosecutor Yochi Gnessin said there was not enough evidence tying one Palestinian to the murder of two Israelis, and he did not have sufficient evidence to put another on trial. Ms. Gnessin said that although there was evidence linking the third Palestinian to the attack, the agreement to deport him should not be cancelled because it included a commitment by the three not to take part in terrorist attacks in the future. (Ha’aretz)

Four 17-year-old girls from Nablus and the adjacent Balata refugee camp were arrested on suspicion of preparing suicide bombings, the IDF said. The girls were friends and attended the same school. Their teachers said there had been rumours that the girls were planning an attack, but relatives said the girls were just talking. A teacher also said girls in the school frequently spoke about carrying out suicide attacks against Israelis, and teachers tried to dissuade them. Relatives said Israeli soldiers came to their houses in the middle of the night to take the girls away to an IDF base for interrogation. (AP, The Jerusalem Post)

10

Undercover IDF soldiers shot dead a member of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and wounded four others in a brief attack by a petrol station in Tulkarm. Witnesses said the soldiers had jumped out of a van and opened fire on a car in which four Palestinians were travelling, killing the driver. A spokesman for the Brigades said three other men had escaped and that soldiers had arrested four bystanders. (DPA, the Jerusalem Post)

An Israeli helicopter gunship fired up to four missiles at a car in Gaza City, killing Mahmoud Zatme, 30, a leader of Islamic Jihad’s armed wing in Rafah, and wounding 12 other Palestinians. (DPA, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters, The Times (London))

Two armed Palestinians cut through the perimeter wire and slipped into an IDF base near the “Bekaot” settlement in the north-eastern West Bank, at around 5 a.m. local time (0200 GMT), without being spotted. They opened fire on soldiers sleeping in a tent, killing two and wounding nine, before an officer managed to kill one of them. The other gunman, wounded in the leg, dropped his weapons and attempted to flee, but pursuing soldiers shot him dead. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said in a statement that two of its members from Nablus had carried out the attack, planned in cooperation with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The IDF confirmed the attack in a statement. (DPA, www.idf.il, Reuters)

Israeli police arrested a 23-year-old West Bank settler from the “Adi Ad” outpost for supplying a half-kilogram bomb to the three Israeli members of the “Bat Ayin” group who are on trial for placing the device near a Palestinian girls’ school in East Jerusalem in April 2002, Army Radio reported. By chance, a police patrol drove past the school as they were preparing the bomb and arrested the three. The bomb was neutralized before it could cause any damage. This was the sixth arrest in the case and the man was charged with attempted murder. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF announced in a statement that its soldiers had demolished a house in Beit Rima village, north-east of Ramallah, belonging to Abdallah Jamal, an engineer and one of the former leaders of Hamas in Ramallah, accused of planning, organizing, and in some cases, manufacturing explosives for a number of terrorist attacks. (www.idf.il, The Jerusalem Post)

The Israel Broadcasting Authority reported that whereas the Palestinian Council had given Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) an additional two weeks to form a cabinet, Abdel Karim Abu Salah, Chairman of the Legal Committee in the Palestinian Council, said Mr. Abbas had already succeeded in forming his Cabinet and was set to announce it on 12 April. (IBA, The Jerusalem Post)

Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Enlarged Foreign Affairs Committee in the Storting, Norway’s parliament, said it was wrong to order sanctions against Iraq and not against Israel, and that the United Nations ought to consider imposing sanctions on Israel to force it to abide by its existing resolutions. (The Norway Post/NRK)

According to a senior Greek diplomatic source, US Secretary of State Powell had told Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, the current holder of the European Union Presidency, that "the United States [would] attach great importance to the Mideast peace process now that military operations in Iraq seem to be drawing to a close.” (AFP)

Four Palestinians had been wounded by Israeli tank fire and shells in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, with two of them reported to be in serious condition, Palestinian medical sources told AFP. Two of those wounded were hit by shrapnel after two tank shells landed near them and two others were seriously injured by heavy machine-gun fire, the sources said. (AFP)

The IDF ordered the expulsion of a Palestinian detainee and member of Islamic Jihad from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. Mahmoud Saadi, 30, held in the West Bank military detention camp "Ofer", is to be banished for two years as of next week, but can challenge the order before a military court, Mr. Saadi told AFP by phone. Mr. Saadi, from the northern city of Jenin, is the brother of a regional leader of the group, Ali Saadi, captured in April 2002 during a battle in the Jenin refugee camp. He is accused by the IDF of having helped his brother acquire weapons, although instead of trying him the IDF decided to expel him. Two other Palestinians, Kifah Adjuri and his sister Intissar, were expelled in September 2002 after being found guilty of helping their brother organize a double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed five people. A court upheld the IDF’s claim that the two constituted a serious threat to Israel and would be better contained in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)

11

Israeli troops shot and killed a British peace activist helping Palestinian children cross a street under gunfire, fellow activists and hospital officials said. The man, identified as Thomas Handel, was one of 12 members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) who had gone to the Rafah refugee camp to erect a tent on a road leading to the refugee camp, in order to block Israeli bulldozers and tanks. As they were standing on the road, Israeli soldiers stationed at a lookout post on a hill on the border with Egypt opened fire at a group of Palestinian children watching the activists from a hill on the other side of the road, on the edge of the camp, the witnesses said. The children ran away, but a girl and a boy were left behind and Mr. Handel and another activist ran to carry them away from the fire when Mr. Handel was shot. Mr. Handel was declared clinically dead upon arrival at the hospital. The IDF said it was checking the report. (DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Overnight, the IDF arrested a youth from Nablus suspected of planning to carry out a suicide attack, Israel Radio reported. Israeli troops also arrested four Palestinians in Bureij in the Gaza Strip, one of them a wanted terrorist suspect, according to the IDF. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli helicopter gunships fired four missiles at a house and nearby cemetery in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, injuring seven people, hospital officials reported. Two of the wounded were in serious condition. Palestinian security sources said the targeted house was one from where militants had been firing at a nearby settlement. The IDF said the firing of rockets did not target any individual Palestinian but was done “in open country.” Palestinian security sources said the next day that the raid had been aimed at destroying a concrete post with hidden cameras used for monitoring the movements of a local Hamas leader living nearby. The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades confirmed the information in a statement sent to AFP, but claimed some 10 cameras were hidden in the block. Other Palestinians suggested the helicopter was trying to drive civilians away from an area the IDF booby-trapped for Palestinian militants. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF issued a statement, saying: “The Palestinians in Jericho handed over a stack of weapons, including 12 empty gas canisters filled with explosives, around 50 home-made grenades and an anti-tank rocket.” Ma’ariv said the deal had been approved by several Palestinian officials, including Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas. (AFP)

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court ruled that two right-wing extremists must keep away from an unauthorized Israeli outpost near Hebron that had been the scene of violent clashes between security forces and settlers. On 10 April, several settlers had arrived at the outpost, known as “Hill 26” or “Lot 26,” to protest the eviction of a family from the site. Shortly thereafter the area was declared a closed military zone. The protesters moved to an adjacent hill, but returned to “Hill 26” within the hour. As a result, the two settlers were arrested. The Court ruled, however, that “the settlers’ claim that they merely tried to protest past events [could not] be negated,” adding that “even soldiers [had] testified that their protest [on 10 April] was not violent and security forces were not prevented from carrying out their duty.” Therefore, it was ruled that is was not vital to ban the two from Hebron and the settlement "Kiryat Arba", but they were ordered not to return to “Hill 26” for the next 30 days. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a top aide to Chairman Arafat, told reporters that British Foreign Minister Jack Straw had telephoned Mr. Arafat and discussed with him the implementation of the Road Map, saying its text would be released in the next few days. (DPA)

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom spoke with Secretary of State Powell to prepare for the upcoming talks in Washington. Mr. Shalom said Israeli comments on the Road Map were meant “to facilitate its implementation,” and would “help get the Road Map approved by the Cabinet.” (Ha’aretz)

12

A 22-year-old Palestinian died after tripping over a rock and fracturing his skull when fleeing from an IDF patrol in the village of Azmut near Nablus. Fadi Alawneh was a student at Al-Najah University in Nablus and was on his way to school when the incident occurred. Israeli security sources said the man had ignored warning shots fired by the patrol blocking a road there. (AFP)

A 22-year-old Palestinian was killed by the IDF in the town of Dahariya, south of Hebron. Ghasseb Hawarin was hit in the chest by a bullet and died very shortly after. The circumstances in which he was killed were not initially clear. Some youths had been throwing stones at an IDF patrol in the village at the time, eyewitnesses said, stressing that Mr. Hawarin was not one of them. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, on the first stop of a Middle East tour including Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, outlined five steps to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, inspired in large part by the Road Map. First, the Road Map must be published and enacted without delay, followed by a ceasefire between the two sides, which France was prepared to help enforce on the ground along with other partners. A referendum could extend that ceasefire, assuming Israelis and Palestinians “reaffirmed the choice of peace.” Palestinian public services would take more responsibility for daily operations in the third step, assisted if needed by the international community. Mr. de Villepin proposed that an international presence on the ground be considered “in accord with the parties.” The fourth step would be a conference, which France was prepared to host, to conclude a “peace of the brave.” Finally, the proclamation of a Palestinian State would constitute the last part of the peace process. All Arab countries would have to accept Israel, while Israelis would have to “accept the other, in spite of the dramas,” he said in a reference to the ongoing violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (AFP)

13

A Palestinian teenager who was seriously wounded during an Israeli missile attack on Gaza City on 8 April died of his injuries. (AFP)

An eleven-year-old Palestinian boy died after being hit by a car driven by Israeli settlers in a road accident near the Al-Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron. “An Israeli car ran over a Palestinian civilian and he died,” Israeli police spokesman Gil Kleiman said, adding that some 12 people had been killed in road accidents over the weekend. (AFP)

Prime Minister Sharon said in an interview published in Ha’aretz: “The move carried out in Iraq” created “an opportunity here to forge a different relationship between us and the Arab States, and between us and the Palestinians” which “must not be neglected,” as “ there is … a chance to reach an agreement faster than people think.” Asked about a probable United States request on settlement evacuation, Mr. Sharon said: “There are some matters regarding which we will be ready to take far-reaching steps. We will be ready to carry out very painful steps. But there is one thing that I told President Bush a number of times – I made no concessions in the past, and I will make no concessions now, or ever make concessions in the future, with regard to anything that is related to the security of Israel… We will be the ones who in the end decide what is dangerous for Israel and what is not dangerous for Israel.” When pressed on the “Netzarim” settlement, Mr. Sharon said: “I don’t want to get into a discussion of any specific place now. This is a delicate subject and there is no need to talk a lot about it. But if it turns out that we have someone to talk to, that they understand that peace is neither terrorism nor subversion against Israel, then I would definitely say that we will have to take steps that are painful for every Jew and painful for me personally… As a Jew, this agonizes me. But I have decided to make every effort to reach a settlement. I feel that the rational necessity to reach a settlement is overcoming my feelings.” On the idea of two States for two peoples, “I believe that this is what will happen. One has to view things realistically. Eventually there will be a Palestinian State… I do not think that we have to rule over another people and run their lives. I do not think that we have the strength for that. It is a very heavy burden on the public and it raises ethical problems and heavy economic problems.” Mr. Sharon also reiterated Israeli objections to the Road Map. Senior Palestinian negotiator and PA Minister Saeb Erakat said Mr. Sharon’s remarks seemed to be “public relations tactics” and that Palestinians demanded deeds, not words. “He speaks vaguely in English about painful concessions for peace while giving orders in Hebrew to intensify settlement activities,” Mr. Erekat told Reuters. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) presented a list of proposed Cabinet members to Chairman Arafat. AP reported the proposed composition of the new Cabinet:

The list does neither include incumbent ministers Hani Al-Hasan, Intissar Al-Wazir (Umm Jihad), Azzam Al-Ahmad, Zuhair Al-Sourani, Ahmad Al-Shibi and Hisham Abdelrazeq or Ahmad Abdul-Rahman, the Council of Ministers’ Secretary-General. Samir Ghoshe’s status has not yet been decided. Palestinian Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) said Mr. Abbas was still holding consultations with Chairman Arafat and other political leaders regarding the formation of the Cabinet, and was expected to complete his consultations within days and present the new Cabinet to the PLC for a vote of confidence. (AFP, AP, Palestine Media Centre, www.pna.net)

Israel Army Radio reported that the General Security Service (GSS) had objected to a plan to release hundreds of Palestinian detainees as a gesture to Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas if he took “positive” actions. The radio noted that the idea had come from prison authorities as a way to reduce the overcrowding of prisons. (IMRA)

The IDF issued a statement, saying: “In accordance with the Government decision of January 2003 in which the IDF will assume security responsibility for both sides of the seam line area, today [13 April 2003], security responsibility officially reverted to the IDF from the Border Police. The responsibilities were transferred following lengthy, joint general staff work in which new areas of responsibility were established for the IDF and Border Police in the western portion of the seam line. As part of these changes, several Border Police companies currently operating in the seam line area will now come under IDF command.” (www.idf.il)

14

An IDF statement said its forces had demolished a house in Dura, south-west of Hebron, belonging to Jamal Mahmad Maslam Rajoub, “a Tanzim activist, who perpetrated a shooting and grenade attack near the Narkis Hall in Ashdod on 10 March 2002 in which an Israeli civilian was injured,” as well as took part in “a shooting attack against IDF forces near Dura on 28 August 2001.” Fifteen relatives of Mr. Rajoub lived in the house. (AFP, www.idf.il)

The Israeli High Court of Justice has allowed the IDF to use intentionally banned flechette tank shells. Physicians for Human Rights and Palestinian Centre for Human Rights lodged a joint petition with the High Court on 22 October 2002, arguing that flechette munitions were banned under international law, since they caused “unnecessary human suffering” and were “indiscriminate” weapons, and their use was another example of Israel’s disregard for the lives and safety of Palestinian civilians. The IDF has argued that it has used the shells very selectively, while Israeli media reported the army used the shells mainly against mortar crews firing rounds at Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip. “If we bowed to your demand today, we would be asked tomorrow to ban the army from using tear gas and sound bombs,” one of the judges remarked to the petitioners. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, United States flechette shells used by Israel fire 5,000 darts in a cone-shaped pattern 300m long and about 94m wide. The petition states that flechette munitions were originally developed by the US Army during the Vietnam War, purchased from the United States by Israel in 1973, and used extensively in southern Lebanon. At the outbreak of the intifada in 2000, the Southern Command of the IDF decided that it would use the munitions in the Gaza Strip, while the Central Command decided not to use them in the West Bank. According to the petitioners, the flechette munitions have been widely used against the intifada, leading to the deaths of at least 10 Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip. (AFP, www.phr.org.il)

According to The Jerusalem Post, Jeff O’Connell, former chief of the CIA Tel Aviv station, is to return [to Israel] after the publication of the Road Map to monitor its implementation, accompanied by a high-ranking State Department official. The CIA has reportedly set up a special department to supervise and monitor the implementation, while Prime Minster Sharon had given his permission to a small US-led monitoring team for the Road Map, sources in Jerusalem said. In addition to sending over a monitoring team, the US, according to Israeli diplomatic officials, had been pressing Israel in recent days to release Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz spoke of the idea at a Cabinet meeting on 13 April, but said the possible release of Palestinian detainees had to do with relieving crowded prison conditions. He denied a prisoner release would constitute a gesture to Mr. Abbas. Diplomatic officials, however, said releasing an unspecified number of prisoners was one of the steps the United States was urging Israel to take to “help Abu Mazen succeed.” Another United States request is for Israel to speed up the release of accumulated Palestinian Authority funds held by Israel, the article said. (The Jerusalem Post)

Prime Minister Sharon’s Bureau Chief Dov Weisglass and other Israeli officials met with Secretary of State Powell, Under-Secretary of Defence Douglas Feith, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and other senior Administration officials in Washington, and presented Israel’s initial comments on the Road Map. A statement issued after the meeting by Mr. Weisglass said that “the Americans [would] consider taking into account the long-standing commitment of the US to the security of the State of Israel and the need to end terror in order to realize peace in the Middle East.” (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, IBA, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

The IDF released a statement on the military's investigation of the 16 March incident in which Rachel Corrie, an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteer, was crushed to death by an army bulldozer in Rafah while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian house. The ISM says that Corrie was deliberately run over, while the IDF says Ms. Corrie was not run over, “rather struck by a hard object, most probably a slab of concrete, which was moved or slid down while the mound of earth she was standing behind was moved.” The statement said the driver and other Israeli forces in the area had acted “according to procedures and without misconduct.” An army spokesman said that as a result, no penalties would be imposed. The statement called Ms. Corrie’s death a “tragic accident” and passed some of the blame on to the peace activists themselves, saying: “It is important to keep in mind the danger posed by the illegal, irresponsible, and dangerous behaviour of the ISM group that led to the tragic and sad results.” (Reuters)

An Israeli military court sentenced four Palestinians to life sentences and an additional 20 years each for helping a suicide bomber who on 27 March 2002 killed 29 people at a Passover dinner in Netanya’s Park Hotel, an IDF spokesman said. The court found the four defendants had provided Hamas militant Abdel-Basset Odeh from Tulkarm with a hiding place and an explosives belt. The GSS also announced that over 100 Hamas members from Nablus, Tulkarm and Qalqilya involved in the planning of the attack had since either been caught or killed by security forces. (AFP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

A public opinion poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah found that a majority of Palestinians (64 per cent) supported the creation of the position of a prime minister, while 28 per cent opposed that step. Whereas a majority of 70 per cent believes that a Government headed by Mahmoud Abbas would be able to renew negotiations with Israel and 50 per cent believe that it would improve economic conditions, only 39 per cent believe that it would be able to control the security situation and enforce a ceasefire on all Palestinian factions and 53 per cent believe that it would not. In this poll, only 27 per cent (compared to 42 per cent last November) believe that armed confrontations would not stop and the two sides would not return to negotiations. The Palestinian attitude towards the Road Map has become slightly more positive with 55 per cent supporting it and 39 per cent opposing it. Moreover, 38 per cent would support the deployment of international forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in order to force the Palestinians and the Israelis to accept and implement the Road Map. A majority of 71 per cent supports a mutual cessation of violence while 27 per cent oppose it (compared to 76 and 22 per cent respectively last November). Under conditions of mutual ceasefire, 50 per cent of all the public would support taking measures against those who would continue to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians while 45 per cent would oppose doing so. Still, three quarters acknowledge that failure to take such measures would impede the revival of the peace process. As in November, two thirds continue to believe that armed confrontations have so far helped achieve Palestinian rights in ways that negotiations could not. A majority of 65 per cent (compared to 73 per cent last November) supports reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis after a peace agreement is reached and a Palestinian State is established and recognized by the State of Israel. Chairman Arafat’s popularity, at 35 per cent, remains unchanged since last November. Marwan Barghouti is the second most popular Palestinian leader with 20 per cent support. Despite his appointment as a Prime Minister, Abu Mazen’s popularity remains unchanged at 3 per cent. A representative sample of 1315 adults was interviewed with a 3 per cent margin of error. (AFP, www.pcpsr.org)

The Israeli High Court of Justice rejected a petition by film director Mohammed Bakri to ban the Channel 1 screening of “The Road to Jenin,” an Israeli take on the events in the Jenin refugee camp during Operation Defensive Shield produced in response to Mr. Bakri’s film “Jenin, Jenin.” High Court Justice Ayala Procaccia wrote in her decision: “The right of expression exists in full force even when a differing viewpoint is forbidden due to a legislative arrangement.” Ms. Procaccia was referring to the earlier banning of Mr. Bakri’s film by the Censorship Board, an issue currently being reconsidered by the High Court. Ms. Procaccia also wrote that the balance of opinions and outlooks that may be formed in the wake of the screening of the Israeli version – without the Palestinian one – could have been a legitimate reason for the Broadcasting Authority to delay the screening until a decision is reached on the “Jenin, Jenin” petition. (Ha’aretz)

During the fifty-ninth session of the Commission on Human Rights at Geneva from 17 March to 25 April, the Commission, under agenda item 5, “The Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and its Application to Peoples under Colonial or Alien Domination or Foreign Occupation,” adopted a resolution on the situation in occupied Palestine. Draft resolution E/CN.4/2003/L.9 affirmed the “inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to establish their sovereign and independent Palestinian State”, and was adopted by a vote of 51-1-1, (US against, Guatemala abstained). On 15 April, under agenda item 8, “Question of the Violation of human rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine,” the Commission had before it the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. John Dugard, (E/CN.4/2003/30 and Add.1). Draft resolution E/CN.4/2003/L.12 criticized “the gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular, acts of extrajudicial killing, closures, collective punishments, the persistence in establishing settlements, arbitrary detentions, the besieging of Palestinian towns and villages, the shelling of Palestinian residential districts from warplanes, tanks and Israeli battleships, the conducting of incursions into towns and camps and the killing of men, women and children there.” It condemned the “acts of mass killing perpetrated by the Israeli occupying authorities against the Palestinian people.” It was adopted by 33 votes to 5 (Canada, Australia, Germany and Peru joining the United States). There were 15 abstentions, mainly from European nations. The Commission passed by 50-1-2 (US against, Australia and Costa Rica abstained) draft resolution E/CN.4/2003/L.18, which voiced “grave concern” at continuing Israeli settlement activities, “including the illegal installation of settlers in the occupied territories.” It criticized the restrictions on freedom of movement of Palestinians, while also condemning “indiscriminate terrorist attacks.” A final resolution (E/CN.4/2003/L.3) on the Syrian Golan Heights was adopted by a vote of 31 to 1, with 21 abstentions. (Ha’aretz, Commission on Human Rights press release at www.unhchr.ch)

15

In Nablus, 24-year-old Mazen Farrukh was killed by Israeli soldiers who attacked the house where he was at the time. An IDF officer was killed and two soldiers wounded in the firefight. Mr. Farrukh was said to be a local leader of Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, although the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades also claimed him as a member. Two other men in the building, who were identified by the IDF as members of Hamas and the Tanzim, gave themselves up. Two Palestinian civilians were wounded in fierce clashes between the IDF and Palestinian gunmen as the army was carrying out house-to-house searches, blowing out doors and rounding up residents in the area. Overnight, another Palestinian was killed by Israeli tank fire in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. In pre-dawn raids, the army also arrested two would-be suicide bombers near Tulkarm, one already equipped with an explosive belt, as they made their way towards Israel, a military spokesman said. (AFP, www.idf.il)

Three Palestinian gunmen, an Israeli officer and two Israeli civilians were killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In what Hamas called revenge for Israel’s killing of senior Hamas leader Sa’ad al-Arbeed, one of his deputies and five other Palestinians a week ago in Gaza City, a gunman hurled hand grenades and sprayed automatic weapons fire in the “Karni” terminal where goods move between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Two Israeli workers were killed and three wounded before soldiers and armed guards shot the attacker dead, the IDF said. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Secretary of State Powell told reporters that the US had received “preliminary comments” from Israel on the Road Map, but it would not be altered. “We expect that after the Road Map has been formally released we will receive additional comments from the Israeli side,” he said, “ and we also expect at that time to receive comments from the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority.” “We have a new opportunity ... that is enhanced by what has happened by the removal of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein,” said Mr. Powell, adding: “Our position with respect to settlements is quite clear: That has to come to an end.” (DPA)

The IDF announced in a statement a total closure on Palestinians over the Passover holiday, except “for humanitarian purposes with the approval of the coordinating offices.” “The Palestinians of the West Bank as well as those of the Gaza Strip will not be authorized to enter Israel, following alerts of attacks being prepared during the feast,” a military spokesman said. Border crossings from Gaza into Egypt and from the West Bank into Jordan will also be closed, and Gaza’s coast would be closed to fishermen. The army did not say how long the measures would be in place. (AFP, BBC, Reuters, www.idf.il)

The IDF announced in a statement that its forces in Hebron had demolished the house of Ala Gawadi Rabhi Natsha, a Hamas member who had attempted to infiltrate the “Kiryat Arba” settlement on 5 April. (www.idf.il)

16

The IDF announced in a statement that its forces in Nablus had arrested 26-year-old Kamil Abu Hanish, the local leader of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the PFLP’s military branch. (AFP, www.idf.il)

Israeli troops killed a Hamas member during a firefight that erupted in the early morning after soldiers surrounded a house in the village of Yatta, south of Hebron, Israel Radio reported. The man, identified as Hassan Al-Manasrah, was accused of killing an Israeli in Kfar Hess in November 2002. (AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Palestine Media Centre)

Prime Minister Sharon said in an interview with Yediot Ahronot: “After Abu Mazen forms his Government I plan to begin talks with him. I will not wait for any mediators… I plan to make a real and honest effort to try to reach a political agreement that might - and we hope, God willing, will also - bring peace.” Mr. Sharon also reiterated his position on settlements: “In my opinion, real peace, peace for generations, peace that does not give birth to suicide bombers and terrorist organizations, requires concessions. It is likely that there will be settlements that we will have to dismantle.” However, when asked about the settlement outposts, Mr. Sharon disputed that more than 100 had been set up in recent years, saying: “We have to check what is legal and what is illegal.” (AP, the Jerusalem Post)

President Bush signed a six-month waiver keeping the Palestine Liberation Organization’s United States offices open and giving it access to its United States funds. “The waiver will permit the United States to avoid damaging our current diplomatic efforts on the Israeli-Palestinian front and in the Middle East region more broadly,” said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan. The White House announced the move by releasing a memorandum from President Bush to Secretary of State Powell. (Palestine Media Centre, www.whitehouse.gov)

Assistant Secretary-General Danilo Türk briefed the UN Security Council on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.” ( UN News Service, UN Press release SC/7733)

The International Committee of the Red Cross signed in Ramallah an agreement with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education and the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to start a programme of teaching humanitarian values. According to ICRC Head of Delegation François Bellon, the programme aimed at promoting humanitarian principles and teaching values to children because “the youths of today are the adults of tomorrow” who would either become decision-makers or carry arms. The programme is being developed in different countries around the world since the ICRC had initiated it in 1998, and now it has decided to bring it to the Palestinian areas. PA Minister of Education Naim Abu al-Hummus said the Ministry would start by training teachers in 10 schools on how to teach humanitarian values and principles to their students. The programme, which will also include training members of the PRCS, will be expanded to reach at least 50 schools with the start of the new academic year in September 2003. Mr. Abu al-Hummus told DPA that the PA had already introduced the teaching of humanitarian principles and values in its new curriculum currently being taught in schools around the West Bank and Gaza, and the new programme was “a special kind of activity that will take place inside the school and with teachers to discover international humanitarian laws.” "In a country like this where violence and political turmoil exist, it is important to teach students, families and society in general about human values and rights and the rights of children", added Mr. Abu al-Hummus. PRCS President Younis Khatib said it was important for children to understand why there was violence, why they could not reach their schools and why they were being shot at and killed, and this programme would help them understand these things. The cooperation agreement signed between ICRC and PRCS on 3 April 2003 already provided, among other things, for the training of up to 400 staff and volunteers of the PRCS and other local organizations in international humanitarian law. (DPA)

The Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre released the results of a poll, saying that 75.3 per cent of the Palestinians remained “strongly or somewhat supportive” of continuing the intifada, down from more than 80 per cent throughout 2002, and a further 56.4 per cent said the intifada should continue in its current form. In a continued slight decrease, 59.9 per cent of those interviewed “somewhat or strongly supported” suicide bombing operations against Israeli civilians. The survey was conducted from 5 to 9 April 2003 with a random sampling of 1,201 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with a 3 per cent margin of error. (DPA, www.jmcc.org)

17

Yusuf Yahya was shot several times and killed by IDF soldiers on a Tulkarm street. AFP and AP reported Mr. Yahya’s age as 16, while other sources said he was 21. Palestinians said Mr. Yahya had no connection with Palestinian militants. The Israeli troops reportedly moved into the town’s refugee camp shortly before the incident occurred. An IDF spokesman said Mr. Yahya was shot after throwing two petrol bombs at patrolling troops and as he was preparing to light up a third, while news agencies said he was part of a group of Palestinian youths throwing stones at soldiers. IDF sources said troops and armoured vehicles also surrounded a Tulkarm hospital after receiving intelligence that a militant suspected of organizing suicide bombings against Israelis was hiding inside. Palestinian witnesses said troops were preventing anyone from going in or out of the hospital, which was denied by an army spokesman, who said the hospital’s work was not being obstructed. Military sources said later five wanted Palestinians had been arrested in Tulkarm, after which the curfew was lifted and troops withdrew to the city’s outskirts. (AFP, AP, DPA, Reuters)

Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered the neighbourhood of Berka near Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip and surrounded several houses. Demonstrators threw stones at the soldiers, who fired back. Three Palestinians were injured. (AP)

Two Palestinians throwing stones at an IDF patrol in the Jenin refugee camp, one of them a 12-year-old boy, were moderately injured by Israeli gunfire. At around the same time, two Israeli soldiers were lightly injured by Palestinian gunfire in Jenin, an army spokesman said. Later in the day, another 12-year-old Palestinian boy was seriously wounded in the stomach after troops opened fire on stone-throwers in the camp. (AFP)

The European Union issued a statement on Iraq, which also reaffirmed as “part of the process of regional security and stability… its commitment to bring the Israeli/Palestinian peace process to a successful conclusion through the implementation of the steps foreseen in the Quartet’s Road Map, keeping within the established time lines.” (AFP, www.eu2003.gr)

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, speaking about the situation in Iraq to a European Union meeting in Athens, urged leaders to move forward on the Middle East peace process. “We now have a Road Map that can take us to that destination,” Mr. Annan said, referring to the aim of Israeli and Palestinian States existing side by side. “We must urgently persuade both parties to summon the political will to follow it.” “The Road Map should be released as soon as the Palestinian Prime Minister forms his Government,” Mr. Annan also said after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in Athens the previous day, adding: “Of course this settlement has a very positive impact on developments in the region.” (AFP, Palestine Media Centre)

A United States congressional delegation met Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas. “We had a very good meeting with Arafat, and he is fully committed to the peace process,” said US Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California. “There is a Road Map that has been worked out ... and we should now pursue peace.” Rep. Issa was joined by Rep. Nick Rahall, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Maurice Hinchey, a New York Democrat. (AP)

Two French journalists, Arnaud Muller and cameraman Harold Bellanger, making a segment for the Canal Plus current affairs programme Le Vrai Journal, a programme about foreign peace activists working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, were detained at Ben Gurion International airport. Mr. Muller told AFP by phone that on arrival they were arrested and told they would spend the night in a detention cell before being deported back to France. “We wanted to do a piece investigating what happened with the peace activists but they wouldn’t let us in. I have come to Israel many times before and this has never happened to me,” Mr. Muller said. (AFP)

Palestinian Authority Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Sha’ath said that in the negotiations on the new Cabinet, “progress has been made and we expect to conclude discussions by Saturday… Abu Mazen will present his Government to the Palestinian Legislative Council by Sunday.” (AP)

Following a meeting with Chairman Arafat at his Ramallah headquarters, EU Middle East envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos reiterated the EU’s “full support” for the peace process, and said he hoped the Palestinians would “finish the reforms and approve a new cabinet as soon as possible in order to publish the Road Map without any changes.” (AFP)

18

Four Israeli border guard policemen were arrested by the Israeli Police Investigations Unit (PIU) in the Justice Ministry on suspicion of having beaten to death a Palestinian teenager in Hebron in December 2002 and abusing two other Palestinian youths. The arrests came after one of the policemen turned himself in to the PIU and reportedly told investigators about the patrol on 30 December 2002, when the officers made 17-year-old Amram Abu Hamadiyeh get in their jeep, beat him and then threw him out of the speeding vehicle near a petrol station. The PIU detained four other border policemen on 20 April on suspicion of abusing Palestinians and vandalizing their property – slashing tires and smashing windows of their cars, throwing tear gas and stun grenades into shops and stealing money and valuables from Palestinians they stopped for questioning, in what police investigators said they feared was “a large-scale phenomenon.” All the eight men belonged to the Border Police’s 25th Platoon operating in Hebron, the Israeli Public Radiosaid, without saying whether those detained on 20 April were also implicated in the murder of Mr. Abu Hamadiyeh. The fact that such “severe incidents” had taken place indicated an operational failure on the part of the border police command in the area, the investigators said, describing members of the unit as “having got out of control.” The suspects also had gone out of their way to “disrupt the investigation” and had “attempted to cover up” their acts, the radio quoted the investigators as saying. (AFP, Comtex Global News, Reuters; see also 31 December 2002)

19

An IDF unit moved into the centre of Nablus and clashed with Palestinian students. Israeli soldiers fired at journalists covering the raid, killing Nazeh Darwazi, a cameraman for Palestine TV,who on this occasion was freelancing for AP, and injuring two other journalists. Mr. Darwazi was hit in the face by a live round that killed him instantly. Photojournalist Nasser Shtayyeh denied reports there was exchange of gunfire between Palestinian militants and the soldiers and insisted that the only shooting was by the IDF. IDF spokeswoman Maj. Sharon Feingold said that the incident took place towards the end of the operation, in which three Palestinians – a young woman suspected of preparing to be a suicide bomber, her brother and another man – were arrested in the "Casbah" area. Maj. Feingold said “an armoured vehicle was blocked close to the "Casbah" … when a crowd of Palestinians attacked them with automatic weapons, explosive devices, stones and fire-bombs.” TV footage of the incident showed Mr. Darwazi – wearing a bright yellow, sleeveless jacket marked “Press” – filming a group of youths throwing stones at the Israeli vehicle. The Palestinian Authority said in a statement that Israel had “committed a war crime” by “opening fire on journalists and other civilians.” Hours after the incident, IDF troops entered the town in about 20 armoured vehicles, fired warning shots using rubber bullets and ordered residents to respect a curfew. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian gunman in a firefight as he tried to infiltrate the industrial zone of an Israeli settlement in the northern West Bank near Jenin. Two Israeli soldiers were slightly wounded and a civilian who appeared to be a guard was seriously injured. An anonymous caller later told AFPthat Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for that attack. (AFP, Reuters)

More than 40 Israeli tanks and APCs supported by helicopter gunships raided the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza Strip after nightfall. Five Palestinians, including a teenager, and an Israeli soldier filming for the IDF Spokesperson’s Office were killed. Twenty-seven Palestinians were wounded, six of them critically, including a woman, while Israeli casualties included three wounded soldiers. The Palestinian Authority condemned the incursion, saying it was “aimed at sabotaging efforts at publishing the Road Map.” According to an IDF statement, its forces “searched the area, during which they uncovered two weapons smuggling tunnels, one at a depth of 30 metres, and destroyed them in a controlled explosion.” (AFP, www.idf.il, Reuters)

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released its annual report, saying “war crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces in 2002 cost the lives of 1,019 people, all Palestinians except for three foreigners ... including 178 children.” The Centre said that “although Israel and its American ally” were mainly to blame for the rights violations, “the Palestinian Authority is not exempt from responsibility for an important part of these violations.” It called on the PA to eliminate state security tribunals, abolish the death penalty, place prisons and detention centres under judicial control and guarantee that no one is held in violation of the law. The rights group also denounced what it called a “plot of silence hatched by the international community, at the government level”, in the face of crimes committed by Israeli forces. (AFP)

20

Abdelrahman Abeb, 16, was shot in the chest and killed by Israeli soldiers near the village of Azzum, between Nablus and Qalqilya in the northern West Bank. The soldiers reportedly fired at youths throwing stones and fire bombs at them and cars of Israeli settlers. (AFP, DPA)

21

Israeli troops entered the Balata refugee camp in Nablus and arrested Fayruz Marhel, 19, who they said was preparing to carry out a suicide bombing. Four other Palestinians were arrested with her, an army spokesman said. She was the fifth Palestinian woman arrested there in recent days. (AFP)

The IDF removed roadblocks that effectively had cut the Gaza Strip into four sections for the past six days, residents said, adding that free movement was only permitted for three hours a day. (AFP)

In an overnight operation, Israeli Border Police arrested 780 Palestinians living without permit in Israeli towns near the Green Line, in Jerusalem, and other cities. The Palestinians were questioned and returned back to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Nineteen Israelis suspected of providing the Palestinians assistance and passage into Israel had been arrested and would be brought to trial, Israel Radio reported. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli troops and police prevented a demonstration in Hebron by Peace Now and a “Friends of Peace Now” delegation of activists from France, Belgium and Britain. Two busloads of protesters were stopped by the security forces at the “Gush Etzion” junction halfway between Jerusalem and Hebron, and five demonstrators who tried to skirt around the police barricade were arrested. “The army told us Hebron was a closed military zone, to avoid any clashes with the settlers,” a Peace Now spokesman said, adding: “It’s even more outrageous given that today there are thousands of settlers taking part in the traditional Passover festival march in Hebron under the protection of the army.” (AFP, the Jerusalem Post)

A deal between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and British Gas to drill for natural gas off the Gaza Strip could be finalized within a month, said Benny Rom, a spokesman for Israel’s National Infrastructures Ministry. According to Mr. Rom, a letter that PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad sent to the Israeli National Infrastructures Minister Yosef Paritzky and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying Palestinian revenues would be placed in an account under Mr. Fayad’s personal control, would “give a push” to an agreement, and the Israeli Government was optimistic the deal could be closed soon. John Field, the general manager of British Gas in Israel, said once an agreement was in place, it would take two to three years to bring natural gas to the Israeli consumer, as the Palestinian market alone would be too small to justify the cost of exploration. The deal will also enable a Palestinian gas-powered electricity plant to begin operating. Palestinians currently receive electricity from Israel. A tender on the Israeli gas pipeline is still open to other companies for another two months, Mr. Rom said, although negotiations were being held with British Gas, reported to be “very interested.” (AP)

“[Palestinian Prime Minister-designate] Mahmoud Abbas has no chance of presenting a Government due to the large gaps and the deep crisis between him and Chairman Arafat," Itim quoted Palestinian Authority Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Sha’ath as saying, due to the rejection by Mr. Abbas of a compromise deal in a dispute over the Cabinet’s composition. The proposal would have seen 24 ministers serving under Mr. Abbas, 14 of whom were members of the previous Cabinet, with Mohammed Dahlan, the subject of the disagreement, becoming a minister without portfolio. (Ha’aretz)

“The formation of a strong, empowered Palestinian Cabinet headed by Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) and committed to serious efforts on reform and security is deeply in the interests of the Palestinian people,” US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at a daily briefing, as it was “essential that the Palestinians complete this process of establishing a government urgently” since they could not “afford to miss this opportunity.” Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the situation with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, Mr. Boucher said. (AFP, Reuters)

Knesset members from the National Union Party met in the “Beit El” settlement in the West Bank and called on settlers to prepare to fight against the Road Map, saying the talk of dismantling settlements was “insufferable.” (The Jerusalem Post)

22

An IDF statement said its forces had demolished two houses in Beit Furik, south-east of Nablus: one belonging to Islamic Jihad member Mustafa Hanani, who had attempted a suicide bombing at an IDF checkpoint west of Nablus on 7 January 2002, and another belonging to the family of Zeid Hanni, a 16-year-old DFLP member killed on 6 March 2003 after opening fire on soldiers guarding the “Hamra” settlement in the Jordan Valley. Neighbours said that five people had lived in the first house and 11 in the second. An IDF spokesman also said 12 Palestinians had been arrested in the West Bank, including one Hamas member, one Islamic Jihad member and two Fatah members. Four youths suspected of throwing stones and petrol bombs at Israelis were arrested in Bethlehem. (AFP, www.idf.il)

The IDF imposed a curfew on the Palestinian neighbourhoods adjacent to the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi) in the Israeli-controlled sector of Hebron (Area H-2), in expectation that tens of thousand of Jews would visit the city in the last days of the Passover holiday. (IBA)

At an afternoon news conference, seven members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), who said they speak on behalf of many others, made a final appeal to both Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister-designate Abbas to agree on the formation of a new Cabinet, saying they had “to shoulder their responsibilities towards their country and people” and put aside their differences. The PLC members said Mr. Abbas would not be able to have his Government ratified by the Council if it was presented prior to the midnight deadline without Mr. Arafat’s agreement. They also believed the current structure of Mr. Abbas’ Cabinet and his political programme would not be supported by the PLC as not meeting “the PLC criteria for reforms.” (DPA)

Mahmoud Abbas said that talks between him and Chairman Arafat had “broken down” and that he would not go back to discussions on a new Cabinet. Mr. Abbas reportedly wrote a resignation letter but did not hand it to Mr. Arafat in order to give time for further local and international mediation. The Fatah Central Committee reconvened to try and resolve the crisis. A senior Palestinian official said after the meeting that “the differences have been narrowed down. The situation is better than before and we hope that the Cabinet will be presented in the coming 24 hours.” (Deutsche Welle, Reuters)

Prime Minister Blair “exchanged views on the continuing process of the appointment of a cabinet for the Palestinian Authority” with Chairman Arafat in a 10-minute conversation at midday, Mr. Blair's spokesman said. There were no further details. (DPA)

“It's important to move forward, and part of moving forward is the confirmation of the Cabinet,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters, adding that President Bush had “high hopes that an agreement on the new Cabinet will be reached.” (Reuters)

The Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin visited the “Shiloh” settlement, halfway between Ramallah and Nablus, to take part in the inauguration of its new extension, and laid the first stone in the project. Adi Mintz of the Yesha Council said Prime Minster Sharon’s words regarding the possible evacuation of settlements had reinforced the need for settlers to expand their communities. “This project has been planned for a long time. Shiloh is now full. There is a lot of demand [for housing]. [Prime Minister] Sharon’s words have bolstered the need to build,” he told AFP . Mr. Rivlin also visited the “Beit El” settlement, saying he traditionally spent the Passover festival in settlements. (AFP)

Spain would like to host Israel and its Arab neighbours at a second Middle East peace conference in 12 years, Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said in an interview on Antena 3 TV. Spain had expressed interest in hosting such an event on the 10th anniversary of the Madrid conference and at other times when it appeared Israel and the Palestinians were close to a breakthrough. Speaking later at a joint press conference in Madrid with her Tunisian counterpart Habib Ben Yahia, Ms. Palacio said it was not yet clear whether Spain would host a Middle East peace conference as it had done in 1991. (DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

United States Secretary of State Powell said in a CBS interview with Charlie Rose that with Iraq commanding less of his time, President Bush was prepared to apply pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to implement the Road Map: “He knows with more certainty than he did before that this is where we have to turn our attention to.” (AP)

23

Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) agreed on the make-up of a new Cabinet. “Arafat and brother Abu Mazen have sorted out their differences,” said Tayeb Abdul-Rahim, a senior aide to Mr. Arafat, after last-minute mediation efforts by Omar Suleiman, Head of Egyptian Intelligence. Mr. Abdul-Rahim said that under the deal, Prime Minister-designate Abbas would serve as Interior Minister and Mohammed Dahlan as Minister of State for Security. (AFP, AP, BBC, Reuters)

A Hamas leader, speaking to AFP, warned Mahmud Abbas not to “make war” on Palestinian militants: “The Zionist occupation is terrorism. If this Cabinet resists and makes war against the occupation, we will welcome it, but if this Cabinet makes war against the mujaheddin, we will not welcome it.” (AFP)

IDF troops shot and seriously wounded senior Islamic Jihad member Anas Sharitah in Nablus after he fired at them when they arrived at his home to arrest him, Israel Radio reported. It was further reported that IDF troops had also arrested the PFLP leader in Qalqilya, Nur Titan, along with seven other Palestinians, and two Islamic Jihad members, Aisar Atrash and Isak Joabra, at a Jenin hospital, where one of the men was receiving treatment for gunshot wounds. (Ha’aretz)

In Hebron, Israeli police detained five Israeli youths for questioning after they tried to establish an outpost on Worshippers’ Lane, which links the “Kiryat Arba” settlement to the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi), and is now a closed military zone. (Ha’aretz)

An international conference, entitled “Britain and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people” and organized by the Palestinian Return Centre, took place in London. Speakers included the Rt. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. (Reuters, www.prc.org.uk)

Jamil Majdalawi, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said the new Cabinet was the result of American pressure on the Palestinian leadership, The Jerusalem Post reported. “The resistance didn’t begin with permission from the previous Cabinet or the entire Palestinian leadership,” he added. “The resistance was launched as a result of the existence of the occupation of the Palestinian territories and after the Oslo accords reached a deadlock. I don’t believe that the new Cabinet or any other cabinet can change this reality.” (The Jerusalem Post)

At their meeting in London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar praised Palestinian leaders for agreeing on a new Cabinet and said it should lead to rapid publication of the Road Map. (Reuters)

The IDF arrested 13 Palestinian militants in the West Bank. Eight Palestinians, among them seven Hamas members, were arrested in Bethlehem, and five others were arrested in the Askar refugee camp in Nablus. (www.idf.il)

24

Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) finalized the formation of his cabinet after additional consultations. The new Cabinet will be presented to the Palestinian National Council for approval early next week. News agencies quoted Palestinian newspapers as publishing the following official list:

Israeli soldiers killed a 17-year-old student and a 22-year-old labourer and wounded two other students during a stone-throwing protest in a village near Ramallah. (Reuters)

A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at a train station in the central Israeli town of Kfar Saba close to the Green Line. The explosion occurred during morning rush hour, killing a security guard who stopped the bomber and injuring at least 13 people. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the PFLP, claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it a “strike against the enemies of God and humanity” and threatening further attacks. Israeli security sources identified the bomber as Ahmed al-Khatib, 18, from the Balata refugee camp near Nablus. Senior Palestinian negotiator and PA Minister Saeb Erakat said: “We condemn any attack on civilians, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli.” (Reuters)

Russia urged the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to show restraint after the suicide bombing in Kfar Saba. “We urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority not to succumb to emotions and allow this sort of crime to negate emerging opportunities for stability,” the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a statement. (DPA)

A group of youths from the “Mitzpeh Yericho” settlement, south-west of Jericho, took over a hill overlooking Wadi Qelt and announced their intention to stay there to prevent Bedouin shepherds from taking over the site. The settlers claimed the new outpost, labelled “Givat Haherut” (Liberty Hill), was 500 m away from “Mitzpeh Yericho” and therefore within the settlement’s limits. Police demanded without success that the youths evacuate. The same day, some 100 Israelis went to the “Beit Hogla” outpost, also in the Jericho area, calling on the Israeli authorities to permit Jews to enter Jericho. The event was organized by “Matziv Gvul Almana” group (“Establish the Widow’s Frontier” ) including, among others, former Kach members. In the past two weeks, the group had repeatedly tried to recapture outposts evacuated by the IDF, including “Hill 26” near Hebron, and “Ma’ahaz Giborim,” between Hebron and “Kiryat Arba.” (Ha’aretz)

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Bureau has released the following statement: “The State of Israel has in no way made any commitment whatsoever regarding Yasser Arafat’s freedom of movement, his conditions of office, or his political future.” (www.pmo.gov.il)

Ra’anan Gissin, senior aide to Prime Minister Sharon, said that if the Palestinian legislature approved the new Cabinet, the Prime Minister would “invite the Palestinian Prime Minister to a discussion on ways to reach a ceasefire and restart the peace process.” (AP)

A Palestinian study conducted by the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme warned about the effects of violence on Palestinian children, including nightmares, bed-wetting and shaking on hearing sounds like the buzz of a helicopter. Its results were based on interviews with 944 children aged 10 to 18 across the Gaza Strip. The study said that the scenes of shelling of buildings by Israeli helicopters and warplanes, the destruction of houses, the killing of Palestinians and their funerals were the main reasons for such symptoms. Children living in refugee camps suffered worse symptoms than those in Gaza City and towns. (DPA)

A statement issued after a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah, presided over by Chairman Arafat, called on Palestinians with an Israeli residence permit in East Jerusalem to boycott the municipal elections in the city scheduled for early July, in protest at Israel’s continued occupation of the city. “A boycott of these elections is a national duty,” said the statement, calling for the international community to intervene to “bring an end to the terrorist and racist policies of Israel” towards the Palestinian people, and once again condemned “actions directed at Palestinian and Israeli civilians.” (AFP)

PFLP Political Office member Marwan Abu Sami criticized the new Palestinian Cabinet, saying: “This cabinet definitely does not represent us, Hamas, [Islamic] Jihad or the DFLP. It barely represents a limited group within Fatah… Such a government is open to giving concessions far bigger than what Mr. Arafat would give,” and could open up “an inter-Palestinian rift” by seeking to foil the intifada. (Reuters)

In an interview with Al-Arabiya, a Dubai-based TV station, US Secretary of State Colin Powell reportedly said: “I don’t want to spend a great deal of time arguing about the details of the Road Map. I want to see both sides, in a spirit of cooperation, in a spirit of peace, with the earnest desire to move forward, to start performing.” “Let’s be very open and candid,” Mr. Powell also told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, “Unless terrorism and violence stops, then it’s almost impossible to get going on any process toward peace.” (Ha’aretz)

25

Five IDF armoured vehicles backed by two helicopter gunships moved into Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp at dawn, triggering firefights in which one Israeli soldier was wounded. A dozen Palestinians were arrested in house-to-house searches. The IDF announced that six more Palestinians had been detained in similar raids in other West Bank towns and villages. (AFP)

Israel would not conduct any retaliatory attacks in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in response to the latest suicide bombing, Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said after meeting with IDF commanders. According to Israel Army Radio, the Israeli Government decided on military restraint as a gesture to the Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas. (DPA)

Palestinian homeowners Samih and Fawzi Dana said IDF soldiers had ordered them to leave their two houses in Hebron, about 4m from the fence around the “Kiryat Arba” settlement, so that the houses could be demolished. The IDF said Palestinian militants were using the houses to gather information for attacks on the settlement, but the family denied the allegation. The order was issued on 20 April and demolition was scheduled to begin on 26 April, but the Palestinians’ Israeli lawyer, Shlomo Lecker, temporarily blocked it with an appeal to the local military commander. (AP)

The Office of the Palestinian Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) told AFP that Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Mahmud Abbas would submit his Cabinet line-up to the Council session on 29 April. The Council session was initially expected to begin on 27 April. (AFP)

Chairman Arafat told the Spanish ABC newspaper: “The immediate publication and execution of the Road Map is indispensable,” as it had been delayed for too long already. (Ha’aretz)

European Commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin, responding to a query about a campaign in the US Congress against giving the EU a “meaningful role” in the Road Map, said: “We intend to play our role to the full.” The day before, Ms. Udwin had also said: “I would like to remind you all that although I hear and read quite frequently that this is America’s Road Map, it is not America’s Road Map. It is the Road Map of the Quartet, which is the US, the UN, Russia and – let me modestly put us last – the EU… The Road Map remains what the international community sees as the best option for peace in the foreseeable future.” The Commission also insisted that EU Governments would continue to maintain contact with Chairman Arafat despite suggestions by senior American officials that they should cut off ties with him. “Who we see is our business,” said Commission spokesman Reijo Kemppinen. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

26

Khaled Mohammad Jarbua, 22, died of bullet wounds in the chest and abdomen he sustained during the 19 April IDF incursion into Rafah, bringing its toll to six Palestinians and one Israeli soldier. (AFP)

Four Palestinians were wounded, one critically, when gunmen and stone-throwers clashed with the IDF in Nablus, as two Israeli tanks moved close to the Balata refugee camp and opened fire. (AFP)

Some 20 Israeli army jeeps entered Qalqilya at night in an apparent search for militants. The IDF confirmed an operation was under way in the town, which was under curfew, but said it was of limited character. (AFP)

Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas handed his list of Cabinet members to Chairman Arafat late in the day. The cabinet should be presented to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) on 30 April. The list, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, is as follows:


27

Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR-Israel) against the IDF’s use of internationally unlawful flechette munitions. In its ruling, the court accepted the State’s position that the weapon was a necessary one. (DPA; see also 14 April )

Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Zeev Boim told Israel Army Radio that the Ministry and the Chief of Staff were against a swift IDF withdrawal from reoccupied West Bank cities as a goodwill gesture to the new Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas. “We have to act prudently and for the moment there is no reason to change our policy, since we are still a long way from having a Palestinian government able to reduce the violence. In the past our efforts have been let down, which is why we should not hurry and act with a stopwatch in our hand under such and such a pressure,” Mr. Boim said. (AFP)

Israel would dismantle two settlement outposts near Hebron when Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas presents his Cabinet this week, Israeli Public Radio said, adding that the two sites were not inhabited. Defence Minister Mofaz said at the Cabinet meeting that all outposts, considered “illegal” by the Israeli Government, would be removed by the IDF. Mr. Mofaz said that this was “a very complex issue,” and the Defence Ministry had established a special team to deal with the matter, he said, and its work would be completed in about two weeks. The intent is to gather the names of all the established outposts, their exact location and the number of people living there. Mr. Mofaz was to begin consultations on dismantling more of the roughly 70 such outposts. The first, near the “Adurayim” military base south of Hebron, was removed the same day, with a Defence Ministry spokesman telling AFP: “The army removed a caravan placed there by settlers and did so with their agreement.” The second, near the “Pnei Hever” settlement east of Hebron, was to be removed the next day, but its evacuation was delayed due to a petition to the High Court by a father of the security guard who had been killed at the outpost, along with another Israeli, when IDF troops mistook them for terrorists. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom decided in their morning meeting that despite the Israeli policy of isolating Chairman Arafat, Israel would not boycott foreign dignitaries who visit him, as such a policy would only damage Israel’s own interests. Messrs. Sharon and Shalom did, however, say that foreign officials had no reason to meet Arafat, in as much as Israel did not consider him an interlocutor. (AFP, DPA)

Some 20 young Israelis arrived in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem at around midnight, accompanied by a lawyer, and holding an eviction order for two inhabited houses. A scuffle erupted between the people living in the house and the Israelis, in which several people were injured. Police separated the fighters and ordered the Israelis to leave the area. The police said they would examine the validity of the eviction warrant the following day. (Ha’aretz)

Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Abbas said: “I will not travel anywhere before Israel lifts a siege on President Arafat so that we can get a guarantee he will be able to go abroad and come back freely without Israeli objection.” Mr. Abbas also demanded an end to Israeli restrictions on the movement of Palestinians inside their territories. Referring to a recent invitation by President Bush to visit Washington, Mr. Abbas said: “Travelling abroad is not a goal by itself but is dictated by national interest, the serious pursuit of peace, the lifting of the blockade on the Palestinian people and the achievement of its desire for freedom, independence and the creation of an independent State whose capital would be Jerusalem.” (AFP, Reuters)

“We call on the Palestinian Legislative Council to reject this government imposed by US blackmail, pressure and intervention in our internal affairs,” said a PFLP statement issued in Gaza, further complaining that the Cabinet only dealt with security issues and included too few new faces. (AFP)

Knesset members from Likud and other groups visited Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, Ha’aretz reported. The visit was organized by MK Uri Ariel (Likud), who said its purpose was to make it clear to the Prime Minister and to the Government that talk of painful concessions in the settlements of “Shiloh,” “Beit El,” and in Bethlehem were not being made in the name of the country’s elected representatives, who would not agree to “abandoning the matriarch Rachel.” Ha’aretz also reported that 18 of the 40 currently serving Likud MKs, Minister of Public Security Tzachi Hanegbi among them, and four Shas MKs, had joined a settlers’ lobby founded by MK Yehiel Hazan and aiming “to ensure the preservation and strengthening of the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, and to prevent any move that could endanger the settler movement.” (Ha’aretz)

An IDF statement said its forces in Qalqilya had demolished the house of Rafik Ali Rahaman Hamad, a Hamas member who had carried out the 10 October 2002 suicide attack in Tel Aviv, killing an Israeli woman. (DPA, www.idf.il)

28

An armed 17-year-old Palestinian was killed during an Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp. Four members of Islamic Jihad, including its military wing’s Jenin leader Abu Ali Rashad al-Qaisi, surrendered after their hideout was surrounded and IDF soldiers threatened to bulldoze it. The teenager was reportedly killed by IDF troops while making his way to the scene of the arrest. Residents, quoted by AP, said he was killed outside the door of his house while holding a rifle. Israeli security forces also arrested a Palestinian who had killed an Israeli Border Policeman in Joseph’s Tomb. (AP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Intense exchanges of gunfire broke out in Nablus as Israeli tanks entered the city in an operation aiming to arrest wanted Palestinians. Two IDF soldiers were injured. The troops arrested Amir Zokan, 27, the local head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and Alam Kaabi, 27, head of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the PFLP armed wing. Several Palestinians were arrested in other locations in the West Bank. (AFP, DPA)

The Fatah Central Committee met in Ramallah, after approving the final Cabinet list the night before, to instruct its PLC members to vote in favour of the list. The Fatah Central Committee is to convey its decision to Fatah PLC members on 29 May, prospective Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath told Voice of Palestine radio. (BBC, DPA)

Israel said it would allow nine PLC members who in the past it had described as “involved in terror” to take part in the PLC session this week, without giving reasons for the change in policy. The nine said they would not take part in the session by video conference, which would prevent the necessary quorum to confirm the Government. (Ha’aretz)

“If the Prime Minister needs support in parliament to form a peace coalition, we will be ready to talk as soon as his Government backs the Road Map,” Labour party leader Amram Mitzna told Israel Public Radio, adding: “I congratulated Mr. Sharon for his peaceful declarations, but what counts is to effectively move in the direction of peace, and for that Israel must be prepared to separate from the occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as from the settlements.” (AFP)

Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar, in response to a call by Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas, told a press conference in Madrid that his country “wished and desired that the Israeli Government quickly make a gesture of goodwill” and let Chairman Arafat freely travel abroad, and said that the gesture should also extend to prominent figures within the PLO. “Mahmoud Abbas should have all authority bestowed on him by the position he holds to exercise all responsibility and face all necessary negotiations,” he said. (AFP)

Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Abbas has reportedly told European Union diplomats he would use his inaugural speech to declare an end to the use of arms to achieve Palestinian national aspirations. Mr. Abbas also said all future inputs of money to the PA, whether from donors, EU, or Arab countries, would go to the PA treasury and would be overseen by Finance Minister Salam Fayyad. (Ha’aretz)

The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, issued a statement saying: “We warn against any step by any Palestinian Government to combat Palestinian fighters, hunt them down and arrest them, or collect their weapons … anyone who has his power from our enemy will be rejected by our people.” The statement pledged to continue its armed attacks on Israel and called on all armed groups “to confront the coming challenge and what will follow as a result of the Road Map, which wants to destroy our resistance.” (AFP)

Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erakat said the Quartet had assembled a mechanism to monitor implementation of the Road Map, saying there would be four different oversight committees. Two of those panels would be chaired by the US – the one dealing with security and a second one monitoring a future Israeli settlement freeze. A monitoring committee on humanitarian issues would be chaired by the EU, while a group on reform of Palestinian institutions would be chaired by the European Union and major foreign donors. (AP)

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The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) approved a list of Cabinet members submitted by Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas, by a vote of 51-18, with three abstentions, at a special session in Ramallah. Before the vote, Mr. Abbas had told the legislators that there would be no military solution to the Palestinian conflict with Israel. He also rejected terrorism and pledged to control militant groups and confiscate illegal weapons, saying: “We denounce terrorism by any party and in all its forms ... because we are convinced that such methods do not lend support to a just cause like ours, but rather destroy it.” He also rejected Israel’s requests for changes to the Road Map and said that Israel would eventually have to withdraw from all the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Foreign Minister Shalom said in a statement: “Abu Mazen’s comments in his speech today on the importance of dealing with terrorism and incitement are in the realm of a good start… Abu Mazen and his Government will be judged by their actions … if Abu Mazen implements a policy of fighting terrorism on the ground, he will find in Israel a true partner for peace.” (AP, DPA, Reuters)

An Israeli helicopter gunship fired four missiles at a car driving in a residential neighbourhood south of Khan Yunis, killing Nidal Salameh, 36, a central Gaza PFLP commander, and critically wounding a passerby. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

In the West Bank village of Al-Khadr, west of Bethlehem, the IDF surrounded the house of Mahmoud Salah, a senior Bethlehem-area commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Shots were fired at the soldiers from inside the house, and Israeli soldiers then fired at the structure with what witnesses said were tank shells. Salah and a second militant were killed. The army denied that it had fired tank shells and said the militants were killed by light weapons fire. The army said it had been carrying out searches for militants in the area when troops came under fire and that it had closed off the area around the house. The army also said that it had arrested 11 other Palestinians in sweeps throughout the West Bank and discovered and detonated a 20 kg explosive device in the village of Nazlat Zeid in the Jenin area. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon said before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee that the IDF had a contingency plan for redeployment in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and that the redeployment would be immediate if Prime Minister Abbas fought terror organizations efficiently and the Israeli political echelon ordered such a move. However, Mr. Ya’alon said that the IDF would not make any early goodwill gestures for Mr. Abbas’s new Government. (Ha’aretz)

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi met Chairman Arafat, Prime Minister Abbas, and Cabinet Minister Nabil Sha’ath in Ramallah. After the meeting, Ms. Kawaguchi released a statement announcing Japan’s new assistance package of US$22.2 million and the launching of a confidence-building initiative. She further said in the statement that her Government would host a conference entitled “Toward Stable Coexistence of Mutually Interdependent States of Israel and Palestine” on 19 and 20 May 2003, with the participation of government officials, businessmen and academics, including those from Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Ms. Kawaguchi had met the day before with Foreign Minister Shalom and other Israeli political leaders. (AFP, DPA, www.mofa.go.jp)

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A Palestinian blew himself up in an Israeli nightclub near the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv, killing three Israelis and injuring 55 others. The military wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying it had worked together with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to avenge Israel’s killing of a senior Hamas member in March 2003. In a separate telephone call to Palestinian journalists, a man who described himself as a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said that the bomber had come from Tulkarm. (Reuters)

Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian on the outskirts of Rafah. According to the IDF, a man approached an outpost on the border with Egypt, and soldiers stationed there shot and killed him in a brief exchange of fire. Rafah residents said they had heard intensive gunfire but they did not know whether it had come only from the soldiers or also from the Palestinian. In another incident, Israeli troops stationed at a crossroads near the “Netzarim” settlement, south of Gaza City, shot dead a 65-year-old shepherdess. Medical officials said the woman had been hit in the head, chest and shoulders. (DPA)

Israeli settlers shot dead two Palestinian gunmen who had attacked their settlement near Nablus. (DPA)

Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned in the strongest possible terms the suicide attack in Tel Aviv and urged Israelis and Palestinians not to let what he called “this morally reprehensible act” derail the resumption of the peace process. “The Secretary-General calls on all concerned to exercise maximum restraint and begin the implementation of the Road Map that will be presented shortly,” a spokesman for the Secretary-General said in a statement released at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Mr. Annan also reiterated his appeal to the Palestinians to pursue non-violent policies and urged the Palestinian Authority to make every effort to stop terrorist acts against Israelis. “The Secretary-General remains convinced that there is no alternative to a political solution of the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the statement said. (UN News Service)

The United States condemned the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv as a “cowardly act.” “These homicide bombers are not only attempting to murder innocent civilians, but they are also attempting to kill the aspirations of the Palestinian people for their own free, democratic, prosperous State,” said White House National Security Council Spokesman Sean McCormack. (Ha’aretz)

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Yakovenko made a statement condemning the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. He urged Israel not to yield to emotions and to show restraint, and called on the PA to take all the measures to track down and punish those responsible. (Reuters, www.mid.ru)

The Quartet presented its Road Map to the parties. Within hours of the swearing in of the new Palestinian Government, the document was handed over in Ramallah to Prime Minister Abbas by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Rød-Larsen, the acting United States Consul General in East Jerusalem Jeff Feldman, the Russian Federation’s Middle East envoy Andrei Vdovin and the European Union’s Middle East Envoy Miguel Moratinos. Also attending the meeting with the Quartet were Palestinian Ministers Nabil Sha’ath (External Affairs), Yasser Abed Rabbo (Cabinet Affairs), and Saeb Erakat (Negotiations Affairs). At about the same time, the United States Ambassador to Israel, Dan Kurtzer, delivered the Road Map to Prime Minister Sharon. (AFP, DPA, Reuters, UN News Service)

Pledging United Nations support to the Israelis and Palestinians in implementing the Road Map, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed to both sides to “stay the course” on what might be a difficult path to peace. (UN News Service)

President Bush released a statement on the presentation of the Road Map urging the parties to work with each other to immediately end the violence and return to a path of peace based on the principles and objectives outlined in his statement of 24 June 2002. (www.whitehouse.gov)

Greece, holding the current EU Presidency, released a statement on the presentation of the Road Map, calling on the parties “to refrain from words and deeds that can feed extremist propaganda and to spare no effort in order to marginalize the elements of extremism and terror in their societies.” (www.eu2003.gr)

Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in Moscow, said that the confirmation of Mahmoud Abbas as head of the new Palestinian Government was positive. Mr. Solana told Ekho Moskvy radio that the borders of a future Palestinian State should be sketched by the start of 2004. “An official map of the State of Palestine, living in peace and harmony with its neighbour Israel, should be in existence by 2005,” he added. (DPA)

Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin rejected the Road Map in an interview with Reuters and vowed no respite in attacks on Israel, saying: “The Road Map aims to assure security for Israel at the expense of the security of our people. It is a plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause. It is rejected by us … Our resistance is continuing and it will continue, and no one will stop it. We should not drop our weapons before we get our rights … We will pursue resistance and self-defence until the removal of the occupation and settlements from our land, and until our people return.” Asked if Hamas would give Prime Minister Abbas a chance to make negotiations work, he said: “Why didn’t [Israel] give our people a chance? Why have they not withdrawn and given us a chance to live [normally] on our land?” He also praised the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, and said: “This is a good and successful operation. When Fatah and Hamas men unite on the battlefield it means our people stick to the choice of resistance and oppose forced disarmament.” (Reuters)

The European Commission said that it was changing its long-standing aid programme for the Palestinian Authority from the current system of monthly budgetary aid to “more targeted” schemes to boost Palestinian reform. Commission Spokesperson Emma Udwin said that the switch in strategy was possible because Israel had resumed the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority. Under the current system, the Commission gives the Palestinian Authority monthly aid worth €10 million (about US$11 million) to pay the salaries of Palestinian public sector workers. Ms. Udwin said that the current system would be replaced by an 80 million finance facility targeted on the payment of arrears to small enterprises and social services as well as €10 million for technical assistance to promote public finance reforms. (DPA, Reuters)

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a new partnership programme aimed at improving the public health of European, Palestinian and Israeli cities through information exchange, study tours, training initiatives and workshops, leading eventually to direct Israeli-Palestinian cooperation. “The partnership will make an invaluable contribution to addressing the concrete health needs of the municipalities of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” said Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the WHO, adding: “In particular, it will focus on improving the health and social conditions of vulnerable groups that result from armed conflict on all sides.” In the initial phase, European municipalities, including local health and social service professionals, as well as representatives of civil society, will invite Palestinian and Israeli health officials to participate in study tours and workshops. At a later stage, direct exchanges between Israeli and Palestinian municipalities will be arranged. (www.who.int)


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