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Division for Palestinian Rights
31 January 1997
D i v i s i o n f o r P a l e s t i n i a n R i g h t s
Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine
Monthly media monitoring review
In an admitted attempt to sabotage the transfer of Hebron to the Palestinian Authority, an off-duty Israeli soldier from the Ma’ale Adumim settlement, armed with army-issue M-16 automatic rifle, wounded seven Palestinians in the city vegetable market.
(AFP, Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, Reuters)
In a statement on 1996 economic activity, the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA) said that, due to Israeli closures of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, real Palestinian GDP in 1996 fell to US$1.633 billion from the 1995 figure of US$2.161 billion. Full closures that prevented Palestinian workers from reaching jobs in Israel and curtailed trade resulted in a US$1.8 billion loss over 118 days. According to the PMA, annual per capita income in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was US$652, slightly higher than the officially defined poverty line of US$650; 65 per cent of the Palestinian families were below the poverty line; and the average 1996 unemployment was estimated at 38 per cent in the West Bank and 60 per cent in the Gaza Strip. The PMA statement also said that donor countries, which had pledged US$2.4 billion after the signing of the DOP in 1993, had so far delivered a total of US$985 million.
The Palestinian Authority and Israel invited Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey to join the 30-member unarmed Norwegian contingent of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) force already stationed in Hebron.
Palestinian Airways made its maiden voyage from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, carrying some 50 Palestinian Muslims on board. According to Mustapha Sheikh Dib, Palestinian Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, the Israeli authorities had refused to allow Palestinian aircraft to take off from Gaza unless the Palestinian Authority signed a protocol giving full control of the airport to Israel.
Palestinian and Israeli negotiators renewed talks on an agreement of troop withdrawal from Hebron, as well as a fixed timetable for withdrawals from the West Bank, breaking an earlier deadlock. There was "cautious optimism" that a deal was imminent after King Hussein of Jordan had met on 12 January with both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Arafat.
(AFP, BBC, Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Arafat said he envisioned the creation in the future of a regional economic bloc which would include Palestine, Jordan and Israel, and at a later stage Lebanon, calling it the "Benelux" of the Middle East. He expressed the hope that the Palestinian economy, which would be a free market, would "imitate the success" of the Israeli economy.
In the wake of the mediation visit by King Hussein of Jordan to the Gaza Strip and Israel, Israeli and Palestinian delegations appeared to be nearing the conclusion of their negotiations on Israeli withdrawal from Hebron. President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak said the EU was considering a letter of guarantees for the Hebron agreement.
(AFP, The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, Reuters)
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Arafat agreed today on a protocol for the redeployment in Hebron. The agreement also included a “Note for the Record”, signed by the United States mediator, dealing with the staged Israeli redeployment from most of the West Bank by August 1998, and other non-Hebron issues; “Agreed Minute”, spelling out Israeli and Palestinian commitments to each other; and separate US letters of assurance to the parties. Under the agreement, Israeli forces would begin withdrawal from some 80 per cent of Hebron within the next 10 days.
(AFP, DPA, The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, Reuter)
The IDF began the redeployment from Hebron by taking down the Israeli flag, dismantling two posts and leaving a token force at their hilltop HQ building.
During a ceremony at a Jerusalem hotel, Saeb Erakat, the Palestinian negotiator, and Dan Shomron, his Israeli counterpart, formally signed the “Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron”. The signing ceremony was witnessed by the United States Consul General Edward Abington.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters)
The Hebron protocol was overwhelmingly approved by the Knesset in a 87 to 17 vote, with opposition support. The Palestinian Authority in a joint meeting with the Executive Committee of the PLO had approved the document late in the day 15 January. (
The final transfer to the control of the PA of over 80 per cent of Hebron occurred around dawn today. Shortly afterwards, Israeli and Palestinian joint units began patrolling the sensitive parts of the city.
(AFP, DPA, Reuter)
For the first time since 1965, PA President Arafat visited Hebron. In a speech before some 60,000-strong gathering he declared Hebron “a liberated city” and said the Hebron protocol represented a “springboard” to the establishment of a Palestinian State.
(Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met at Beit El, west of Ramallah, to sign a formal document transferring civilian powers.
The Israeli authorities authorized the construction of 60 Jewish settler homes in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Efrayim in the Jordan Valley. The government spokesman said that once the homes have been completed, the Defence Ministry will approve 200 additional apartments in the settlement. Also, a decision was announced to re-start stone quarrying on public land near Tulkarm. The Israeli entrepreneurs have already started building an access road to the site. General Uzi Dayan, commander of Israel’s central region, threatened to use tanks to protect construction work at the site.
, the Government of Israel has drawn up plans to reduce from 75,000 to 30,000 the number of legal foreign workers in Israel so their jobs can be taken by Palestinians.
Refusing to go back to Libya, some 200 Palestinian refugees, stranded on the Libya-Egypt border, staged a sit-in after Libyan authorities had asked them to return to Libya. They were expelled from Libya in 1995. Egypt has refused to allow them in unless a third country was willing to accept them.
Mr. Ehud Barak, former Army Chief of Staff and Foreign Minister, considered the leader of the right-wing of Labour, said in a speech that “the peace process could conclude by the creation of a Palestinian State”.
Israeli authorities have proposed to annex a large tract of West Bank territory to Jerusalem. The plan, reportedly submitted to a ministerial committee for Jerusalem headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, would link annexed East Jerusalem to the settlement of Maale Adumim, some five kilometers (three miles) to the east of the city. According to
, the project would involve the construction of housing estates, highways, public transportation lines and other elements of infrastructure between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim. The plan was drawn up by Jerusalem city hall headed by Ehud Olmert
Representatives of some 350,000 Palestinian refugees living in 12 camps across Lebanon, complained in a statement about deteriorating health situation and sanitary conditions in the camps. The statement said UNRWA was “not doing anything to solve the problem” and was “turning a blind eye to calls for solutions” of the situation.
Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu said he had a written United States guarantee that Israel alone would define the extent of three further withdrawals in the occupied West Bank areas. Referring to assurances from the US and the European Union, as well as to the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, PA President Arafat maintained that he would be able to negotiate the scope of future Israeli withdrawals. Arafat also challenged Netanyahu’s contention that no documents barred Israel from continuing to build new settlements in occupied areas.
The Israeli army began demolishing Palestinian houses near the West Bank town of Jenin along with several buildings belonging to Palestinian farmers in the Jordan valley region east ot Nablus.
Israel’s ministerial committee on Jerusalem, decided to allocate US$ 39 million to improve infrastructure in East Jerusalem, which, it said, would improve Israeli sovereignty there. According to a Jerusalem municipality spokeswoman, the funds from the Treasury and other government offices were allocated to facilitate improvements in infrastructure, develop roads, build schools, solve problems of drainage, sewage and more. Nabil Abu Rdaineh, media adviser to the PA President, said the Israeli decisions aimed at reviving obstacles to negotiations and preempting the final status talks, which cover several issues, including the future of Jerusalem. (
British Overseas Development Minister Linda Chalker announced that the United Kingdom would give $42 million in aid to Palestinians to help renovate Hebron and improve government. The funding would include $17 million in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, which would go to improving the drainage system, health and employment generating projects, as well as training of public servants and Palestinian police. The remainder would go through United Nations agencies, the EU and the World Bank.
Russian Federation Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Posuvalyuk said Moscow would host separate talks on the Middle East with PA President in February and Prime Minister of Israel in March. The talks would cover the peace process and bilateral ties.
Israel’s governing Likud and opposition Labour parties agreed on a proposal for a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. Their position paper entitled “National Agreement Regarding the Negotiations on the Permanent Settlement with the Palestinians”, recommends a permanent settlement, involving Israeli annexation of most Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in exchange for granting broad self-rule to the rest of the Palestinian areas. It also says that the settlers living outside Israeli sovereignty will get “special arrangements”, under which “their Israeli citizenship and their ties with the State of Israel, as individuals and as a community, will be preserved”. Settlements in the Jordan Valley would be considered as a “special security zone”, which would be annexed by Israel or remain as a base for its troops. No agreement was reached on the nature of the Palestinian entity or its exact borders. Both parties agreed, however, that Jerusalem must remain Israel’s undivided capital and that the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as their future capital, must accept this. In return, they pledged to allow the Government of the future Palestinian entity to have a base within Israel’s border but outside Jerusalem’s city limit. The document was drafted and signed by Michael Eitan (Likud) and Yossi Beilin (Labour).
(AFP, Financial Times, Reuters)
In an interview published in
of London, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he had secured within Israel a national consensus for peace that would enable his Government to sign a final settlement agreement with the Palestinians within the next three years. He said such a treaty could be passed by the Knesset by the year 2000 without the need for a national referendum.
Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy was selected by Prime Minister Netanyahu to head the Israeli negotiating team in the Israeli-Palestinian track, taking over from the former Army Chief of Staff Dan Shomron, who resigned. Mr. Netanyahu also asked lawyer Yitzhak Molkho to continue his role in the talks. Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordekhai was assigned the task of conducting negotiations on security matters with Syria, if the talks resume.
Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, head of the heritage committee of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told the official Palestinian news agency
, that Israeli authorities were digging new tunnels near the southeastern corner of the compound similar to the excavations, which had led to the September 1996 confrontations.
Foreign Minister of Belgium Erik Derycke and PA Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Shaath signed an agreement in Gaza City, according to which Belgium will provide three million dollars to build hospitals in the Gaza Strip and seven million dollars to extend electricity to rural areas around the self-rule area of Nablus.
Israeli police detained 11 Palestinian men renovating Palestinian houses near Jewish enclaves in Hebron. The workers were detained after Israeli military authorities delivered an order signed by West Bank military commander Major-General Uzi Dayan prohibiting the work. Hebron Mayor Mustapha Natshe said the orders were illegal and infringed on the powers of the Hebron municipality and the Palestinian Authority. He added that the ban on the renovation of some 122 Palestinian houses was in violation of the Hebron agreement, which had given the Palestinians civilian powers in the city.
The Palestinian Council met in Hebron for the first time. The session was intended, among other things, to highlight Palestinian self-rule, following Israeli withdrawal from most of the city. The session reportedly discussed a newly-announced plan to strengthen Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem, as well as the recent Israeli army ban on renovation of Palestinian buildings in the part of Hebron still under Israeli control. The Council met in a university building next to the city hall.
The Israeli Government has put another 84 settlements, including Jewish enclaves in Hebron, on priority “A” and “B” lists to receive special government funding. According to
, the decision brought to 123 the number of settlements slated for special financial subsidies, mostly in the area of education.
The Palestinian Council, meeting in Hebron, rejected an Israeli military order prohibiting workmen from renovating Palestinian buildings near Jewish enclaves of the city. Palestinian officials said the order affected 38 apartments in 20 buildings, most of which are under repair.
The Israeli railway authority has approved plans for the first time to build a railway linking Tel Aviv with the settlement of Ariel located between Ramallah and Nablus. Ziyad Abu Ziyad, member of the Palestinian Council’s anti-settlement committee, condemned the plan.
A memorandum of understanding on the Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron was signed in Oslo by representatives of Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. Under the signed agreement, some 150 international observers and administrators will join 30 Norwegians already deployed in the city since last May. The contingents are expected to be in place within a few weeks. The force is unarmed and has no military function.
Israeli authorities have revoked the residency permits of 600 Palestinians in East Jerusalem over the last few months. According to Azmi Beshara, an Arab-Israeli member of the Knesset, the number, “the most precise ever given”, was revealed on 29 January before the Knesset by Israel’s Interior Minister Elie Swissa.
The Israeli army announced the end of the military closure of Palestinian-administered Nablus. The IDF also agreed to dismantle various checkpoints in the West Bank, set up after the September violence, that were impeding traffic between self-rule areas.
An international popular alliance for peace in the Middle East was formed in Copenhagen at the end of a conference on peace in the Middle East organized by the Foreign Ministry of Denmark under the aegis of the EU. The goal of the alliance is to “guarantee a just and durable solution for the Middle East conflict based on the principle of land for peace and Palestinian self-determination”. According to the Danish foreign ministry statement made on 30 January, the organization is aimed at “monitoring the peace process in the Middle East and working for ensuring popular support for it on a regional and international level”. The participants of the Copenhagen conference included a number of members of the Knesset, former senior government officials of Jordan, Egyptian writers and Palestinian personalities, among them some representatives of Hamas, and the DFLP. The Foreign Minister of Egypt, who welcomed the establishment of the alliance, said it provided “support for the creation of an independent Palestinian State”.
Scuffles broke out in Hebron between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians when the army tried to prevent Palestinian worshippers from attending Friday prayers at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque, where nearly 4,000 people were already attending the noon prayer sermon. According to witness reports, the Israelis beat a Palestinian youth and detained him while he was trying to force his way into the mosque. Scuffles also occurred in East Jerusalem where Palestinians attended Ramadan prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. There were no reports of injuries.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters)
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