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Division for Palestinian Rights
30 June 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
Osama al-Baz, adviser to and envoy of Egypt’s President Mubarak, met for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in an effort to break the peace process stalemate.
reported “some progress” during the two-and-a-half hour meeting.
Israeli soldiers, guarding the Jewish settlement of Morag, beat five Palestinian demonstrators during scuffles in the Gaza village of Khan Yunis over an Israeli attempt to fence off Palestinian-owned land. Some 100 Palestinians took part in the protest.
Israel’s ministerial committee on Jerusalem decided to add some 400 police to the force to increase control over East Jerusalem. A new Israeli police station is also to be opened in East Jerusalem.
Speaking at the OAU summit meeting in Harare, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Yasser Arafat called on the members of the organization to back his fight for the resumption of the peace process. He said: “I would like to assure you of our commitment to negotiations and peace to ensure the rights of our people. We invite you to urge Israel to commit itself to the attainment of peace and stop the expropriation of Palestine land.”
Miguel Angel Moratinos, the EU Special Envoy to the Middle East, said he anticipated progress in efforts to restore the peace process. Following his meeting with Saeb Erakat, chief Palestinian negotiator, Moratinos said: “I think there will be a breakthrough in Israeli position despite the continuation of work at Jabal Abu Ghneim. Israel has become intent on solving the political situation.” Mr. Erakat added: “Our hope is for a coordinated initiative between Europe and the Egyptians aimed at removing the causes, which led to the current crisis.”
Ehud Olmert, Jerusalem’s mayor said he would rescind Palestinians’ control over running their schools in East Jerusalem. He also stated he would form a committee to make the curriculum in the city’s Palestinian schools consistent with Palestinian schools inside Israel. The new policy is about to be tested in 10-days time when seniors in Jerusalem’s high schools take matriculation exams. Olmert said he would make sure the exams were run “without any interference from the Palestinian Authority.” The decision to introduce Israeli curriculum in East Jerusalem schools was made at a meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Jerusalem on 2 June. In previous years, PA inspectors supervised the exams.
In a speech before the Knesset, Prime Minister Netanyahu offered his outline of a final peace settlement with the Palestinian side. He said Jerusalem would remain united under Israeli sovereignty “for eternity”. Under the proposal, Israel would keep full control of “Greater Jerusalem”, including the Etzion block of settlements to its south, and the Jordan Valley. Ahmed Tibi, adviser to PA President said regarding the speech: “This is a blueprint for confrontation - not a peace plan - an attempt to dictate a solution to the Palestinians.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu presented his concept of a final settlement with the Palestinians to the inner Cabinet. The “Allon-Plus plan” was presented by Netanyahu as part of the continuing discussions in the inner Cabinet of the negotiations on the permanent status. He said Israel should retain the Greater Jerusalem area, the Jordan Valley, a security belt east of the pre-1967 armistice line, known as the Green Line, Etzion bloc of settlements to the south of Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim to the east, as well as vital roads and water sources. According to
, in his presentation, Netanyahu did not demand that all Jewish settlements remain under Israeli control, but referred to “blocks of settlements”. He also did not raise any opposition to the idea of an independent Palestinian State.
(Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service)
Palestinian analysts criticized the outline of the final settlement proposed on 4 June by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Khalil Shikaki, head of the Center for Palestine Research and Studies, said regarding the proposal: “Netanyahu knows this is nonsense and he knows this cannot be the basis for negotiations. This aims just to reduce Palestinian expectations and to reassure the right wing in his Cabinet that there will be no negotiations.” Mahdi Abdel Hadi of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, said the proposal was an end to the core of the peace process, the mutual recognition of the other’s needs and existence.
A one-day meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Group of donor countries financing development projects in the Palestinian-ruled areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip ended its work in Washington, D.C.. The meeting, held at the US State Department, was chaired by Norway. It was attended by officials from the Russian Federation, the United States, as well as Canada, Egypt, Japan, Jordan, Israel, Tunisia, the Palestinian Authority and the World Bank. The meeting was designed to assess how assistance to the Palestinians was being used. According to the State Department officials, no new donations were solicited.
Israel’s Minister of Transport Yitzhak Levy announced that Israel would invest some US$13 million to modernize border crossings out of the Gaza Strip. Levy told
that the programme, the first phase of which is scheduled for completion by mid-1998, would “more than double” the flow into Israel of trucks containing Palestinian products.
Speaking at a business conference in Montreux, Switzerland, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov urged the parties to the peace process to end the stalemate and honour agreements already reached. Primakov said: “We need to work along all the tracks of settlement without focusing only on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement. We need to advance along the Syrian track, the Libyan track, because moving ahead on just one track - with the slow movement or artificial blocking of movement on another track - might lead to counterproductive results. … Every new leadership, which comes to power in a given country is obligated to rely on those agreements, which have been reached by their predecessors on the way towards peaceful settlement of conflict.”
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Cairo for two hours under the auspices of Egypt. The Israeli delegation was headed by chief negotiator and Israeli Cabinet Secretary Danny Naveh and included Prime Minister Netanyahu’s legal adviser Yitzhak Molkho and the Prime Minister’s political adviser Uzi Arad. The Palestinian delegation was headed by chief negotiator and Minister of Local Government Saeb Erakat and included PA President’s spokesman and political adviser Marwan Kanafani and negotiator Hassan Asfour. No joint communiqué was issued at the conclusion of the meeting.
(AFP, AP, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters, The Washington Post)
PA President Arafat confirmed in Amman that Palestinian and Israeli negotiators would meet again on 12 June in Isra
published details of an alleged Israeli government project to build 100,000 new homes for Jews in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, if the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations fail. According to the paper, the proposal calls for “creating the physical and community infrastructure necessary for the maximum expansion of the Jewish population” in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The paper said Meir Porush, Israel’s Deputy Minister of Construction and Housing, would submit the plan to the Government if attempts to revive the peace negotiations with the Palestinians fail.
, at a meeting with Likud-Gesher-Tsomet MKs, Prime Minister Netanyahu assured them building would continue on Jabal Abu Ghneim and in Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory. “No agreement or commitment has been given to in any way stop the building on Har Homa or the settlements. Building in those areas continues and will continue, “ he told his party colleagues. Mr. Netanyahu was responding to comments from European Union Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos who had said Mr. Netanyahu promised Egypt that building on the site and in the settlements would be slowed.
(Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post)
The World Bank approved two credits totalling US$8.8 million to help the PA improve its judicial system and attract Palestinian expatriates to advise the Government. The first loan, of US$5.5 million, would help the PA put in place a legal framework to increase the efficiency of the judicial process and to encourage private-sector investment. The project will involve drafting a unified set of modern business laws and improvement of court administration, as well as the training of judges, prosecutors and court personnel. The second loan of US$3.3 million would be used to attract Palestinian professionals abroad to help manage departments in Palestinian government ministries and agencies or to serve in senior technical positions. Both loans will be drawn from the Trust Fund for Gaza and West Bank, each with a 40-year maturity, including a 10-year grace period before repayment starts.
The Palestinians demanded the removal of a memorial for an Israeli soldier killed in September 1996 demonstrations, which was set up outside the Jewish settlement of Gush Katif near the town of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip. General Khaled Abu Ula, head of the Palestinian district coordination office, said the Palestinian side met with Israeli representatives on 9 June and requested that the monument be removed as it had been built in a Palestinian zone.
The Palestine Development and Investment Company (PADICO), formed by expatriate Palestinian businessmen following the signing of the 1993 Declaration of Principles, became the first foreign company listed on the Palestine Securities Exchange. Registered in Liberia and based in Amman, the company is capitalised at US$200 million, making it the largest listed company. PADICO owns a 65 per cent share in the stock market. It also owns 18 per cent of the Palestine Telecommunications Co., which has installed 88,000 phone lines in Palestinian self-rule areas.
Four Jewish settlers from the settlement of Tel Rumaida in Hebron confronted three Palestinian girls, aged between seven and 10, and their four-year-old brother and beat them, while Israeli soldiers kept nearby Palestinians from intervening. According to the children’s father, the settlers beat all four, leaving them bruised and cut.
A Palestinian man died and several were injured in clashes with Israeli troops over attempted expansion of a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. The clashes broke out when Israeli soldiers tried to prevent several hundred Palestinian demonstrators from marching onto a plot of land fenced off by Jewish settlers from the settlement of Morag of the Gush Katif block near Khan Yunis. Israeli soldiers used plastic-coated bullets and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. The Palestinians only dispersed when the Palestinian police intervened.
Following a two-day meeting of donors in Amman, Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, said the agency faced a deficit of US$30 million for 1997. A US$2.4 million dollar gift was received from Saudi Arabia, US$1.2 million were received from Sweden and US$500,000 from the Netherlands. Speaking to journalists, Hansen said: ”UNRWA still has a deficit despite these generous gifts. We still run the risk of running out of funds before the end of the year.”
Ahmed Qorei, speaker of the Palestinian Council, condemned a non-binding resolution passed by the US House of Representatives, on 10 June, recognizing Jerusalem as the “united capital” of Israel and setting aside US$100 million to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. Mr. Qorei stated in a press conference at the Council headquarters in Ramallah: “We reject, condemn and deplore this decision, which is an offence to peace and, in fact, kills the peace process, which the United States sponsors. By passing it, the US Congress has declared war on the Palestinian people, who can never accept peace without Jerusalem.” The resolution was passed by a vote of 406-17.
According to the public opinion survey conducted by Jerome Segal and Nader Siad for the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland, almost 70 per cent of the 870 Palestinians polled said they would consider diving Jerusalem. 94 per cent of Palestinians rejected exclusive Israeli sovereignty over the city. 70 per cent of Palestinians want Muslim religious authorities to control Haram al-Sharif. Nearly 80 per cent said Jews should not be allowed to pray on the site. The polled Palestinians said they would recognize Israeli sovereignty over the western Wall, if Israel recognized Palestinian control of Haram al-Sharif. Results of the study were presented at a conference organized by the Jerusalem Institute of Israel Studies and the Hebrew University’s Truman Institute. The poll was conducted in August and September 1996. However, Jerome Segal said its findings still hold, namely that if Palestinians were to receive sovereignty over the areas of Jerusalem most important to them, which are mostly those areas least important to the Israelis, agreement could be reached.
(Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)
In a reaction to the passing by the US House of Representatives of the resolution, the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry of France said: “In the actual crisis atmosphere, everything that can spark clashes should be avoided. Our position and that of the European Union is that the Jerusalem issue should be resolved in the context of negotiations on the final status of the Palestinian areas as called for by the Oslo accords.”
The Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN Nasser Al-Kidwa submitted a request to the SecretarGeneral to implement the provisions of General Assembly resolution ES-10/2 of 25 April 1997 and prepare a report on the situation in East Jerusalem and other occupied Palestinian territories.
The World Bank agreed to allocate US$33.5 to the PA for water, sanitation, legal development and a programme for Palestinian expatriate professionals. In addition, final approval for a US$90 million replenishment of the World bank’s US$230 million Trust Fund for Gaza and the West Bank, from which the bank’s projects in the region are funded, was also agreed.
Bethlehem swore in a new mayor, Hanna Nasser, 54. Nasser, who was previously deputy mayor replaces Elias Freij, 80, who retired in May for health reasons. Since Nasser is a Roman Catholic, a Greek Orthodox Christian George Hazbon, was appointed his deputy, following a tradition existing since 1887 that the two denominations must split the top positions in the traditionally Christian town.
Israeli soldiers shot and wounded at least 38 Palestinians, including an 11-year-old boy in the third day of clashes in Hebron. In Gaza Jewish settlers shot and wounded one Palestinian youth and fired at least three bullets at journalists during a clash with Palestinians over the land annexed by the Gush Katif settlement. Israeli soldiers also shot and wounded some 45 Palestinians on 14 June during protests in connection with the United States House of Representatives vote calling on President Clinton to recognize East Jerusalem as part of Israel’s capital.
Prominent Palestinians protested outside the US consulate general in East Jerusalem against the US House of Representatives resolution on Jerusalem.
Speaking at a conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “If the negotiations with the Palestinians be renewed, it will only be with the goal of achieving a final agreement. The talks will not be renewed in order to move step by step into the unknown. I think that peace at the end of the process is more important than the process itself.”
Fred Eckhard, the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, said that a special representative of the SG would not be going on a mission to Israel and the occupied territory to verify compliance with General Assembly resolution ES-10/2 of 25 April 1997 calling for a halt in illegal settlement construction. The SG Spokesman said that restrictions on the scope of the mission imposed by the Government of Israel were not acceptable to the UN.
In a fourth day of Israeli-Palestinian clashes in Hebron, Israeli soldiers hot and wounded 28 Palestinians. Some of the wounded, including a 12-year-old boy and an elderly man remained in critical condition at Al-Ahli Hospital after being struck in the head with rubber-coated metal bullets.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
, members of the European Union, meeting in Amsterdam for the Euro Summit, are considering adopting a declaration calling for the establishment of a “durable Palestinian State”. The declaration also calls for the freezing of settlements construction.
Some 50 Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers in Hebron for the fifth day. The Israeli soldiers shot and wounded five protesters. More than 100 Palestinians have been wounded in the Hebron clashes.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
The European Union adopted a document at its summit meeting in Amsterdam entitled the “European Call for Peace in the Middle East”. In it, the EU stated
: “Europe calls on the people of Israel to recognize the right of the Palestinians to exercise self-determination, without excluding the option of a State. The creation of a viable and peaceful sovereign Palestinian entity is the best guarantee of Israel’s security.”
Palestinian protesters continued to clash with Israeli soldiers guarding a Jewish settlement enclave in Hebron. Some 70 youths threw stones and petrol bombs at the soldiers who returned fired back with rubber-coated bullets, hurting ten protesters.
Israeli soldiers firing rubber-coated metal bullets wounded at least 24 Palestinians during the seventh day of street clashes in Hebron. One 18-year-old Palestinian, Adwan Abu Miali, was shot and seriously wounded in the head. He was delivered to Al-Ahli Hospital were he remained in critical condition. Clashes also erupted when Israeli soldiers entered the village of Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)
The PA protested to Romania after its foreign minister made use of Jerusalem airport on 14 June. (AFP)
The PA issued a statement calling on the General Assembly to “impose sanctions against Israel, which violates international law, hinders the peace process and carries on settlement expansion in the Palestinian territories.”
At the conclusion of their summit meeting in Denver, Colorado, leaders of the G-8 pledged to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States said in a final statement: “The peace process faces a crisis and we are determined to re-inject momentum into it … We shall do our utmost to reinvigorate implementation of the Oslo Accords and to uphold the principles of Madrid, including the exchange of land for peace.”
In a news conference in Muscat, British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Derek Fatchett commented on his Government’s position on the question of Jerusalem: “The status of Jerusalem will be determined in the final stages of negotiations, it cannot be pre-empted, it cannot be pre-determined … We will hold to that position.”
A deaf Palestinian boy was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier as he was walking outside the fence of Jewish settlement of Morag in the Gaza Strip. The boy, identified as Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Singer, 14, was hospitalized in serious condition.
Faisal Husseini, a PA official in charge of Jerusalem affairs, told journalists that the PA signed a deal with the Islamic Development Bank to finance individual housing in East Jerusalem and build 600 housing units at a cost of US$19 million. He said the money came from the US$30 million given by Saudi Arabia to the bank over the past three years for use in East Jerusalem construction.
A group of Jewish settlers from the settlement of Morag in the southern Gaza Strip attacked a tent camp set up by the Palestinian protesters. In the scuffle, the settlers opened fire with live ammunition, injuring Hazem Abu Jazar, 16, and Ahmed Abu Kosh, 15.
Some 3,500 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel held a one-day hunger strike to protest poor prison conditions and maltreatment. Hisham Abdel Razek, a PA official in charge of prisoner affairs, said that the strike was a warning and that the prisoners would hold a permanent hunger strike if no improvement in their conditions were made.
The Knesset voted to consider legislation calling for the annexation to Israel of all Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories. In a session attended by just 25 of 120 members, 21 right-wing deputies voted to send a draft resolution, submitted by a member of the Moledet party, to extend Israel’s sovereignty over settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to committee for further action. Three MKs form the opposition voted against the proposal and one abstained.
In spite of the easing of the closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian economy continues to suffer. According to Samir Ghosheh, PA Minister of Labour: “The problem is not just one of Palestinians entering Israel to work, it goes beyond that to the damage done to the local economy.” He added that the unemployment in the Palestinian territory stood at 30 per cent and could rise as high as 60 per cent. Ghosheh said the PA and the Government of Sweden were organizing an international conference on job creation in the Palestinian territory, which is scheduled for November.
The Vatican released the texts of the letters from Pope John Paul II to the PA President Arafat and Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu. In the letters, dated 16 June, the Pope urged both leaders to restart the Middle East peace process, telling them he was very worried by the deadlock in their dialogue.
European Union Foreign Ministers re-appointed Miguel Angel Moratinos as the EU’s Middle East envoy. His term was extended for one year. Moratinos was given a mandate to observe the peace process, establish relations with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and to report on possible EU action.
Israeli soldiers shot and wounded at least seven Palestinians during resumed clashes in Hebron. Some 50 Palestinian youths took part in the protest.
The OIC issued a statement at its headquarters in Jeddah “to call on all member States to support its position rejecting the annexation and all other Israeli measures in the Holy City.” It condemned ‘the building of settlements, restraints on freedom of worship, the isolation of the Holy City and the withdrawal of citizenship” from Palestinian residents.
Violent protests erupted in Hebron after Palestinians accused Jewish settlers of plastering their shops with pictures insulting to Muslims. In response to the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim posters and spray-painted slogans in the city, some 30 Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli soldiers who responded with volleys of rubber-coated bullets. At least two Palestinians were shot and wounded.
Israel criticized a report by the UN Secretary-General on Israeli settlement activity at Jabal Abu Ghneim, prepared in pursuance of General Assembly resolution ES-10/2 of 25 April 1997. The statement of Israeli Foreign Ministry urged the world to reject the report and to instead call on the Palestinians to restore direct negotiations with Israel. According to
, A Foreign Ministry spokesman expressed “amazement” that the report had leaked out before its formal submission.
Arab and Muslim officials condemned Israeli policies on Jerusalem at a “Day of Unity with Jerusalem”. The event, held at Cairo, was organized by the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to commemorate Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem.
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