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Middle East Peace Report
Last uploaded : Monday 15th Jul 2002 at 23:11
Contributed by : Americans for Peace Now


Americans for Peace Now: Middle East Peace Report
Vol. 4, Issue 1
July 15, 2002

Clear & Present Danger: Writing in Yedioth Ahronoth, Ofer Shelah commented, “These are wonderful days in which to take cover beneath the phrase ‘security’ and justify every misdeed or act of idiocy in its name. Only a week ago the Israeli government took the name of security in vain when it approved the repugnant decision to support the Druckman bill, which discriminates between Arabs and Jews in land allocation. A week went by, and it became clear that even the skin of the government can be scratched: the public criticism caused the same ministers who had voted for the plan last week to vote this time to transfer it to the Neeman committee for a donkey’s burial. Even the Labor Party ministers, wonder of wonders, were present at the vote this time. But in order that there should not be even a moment in which some repugnant act is not being carried out in the name of security, the minister of internal security spoke at the very same meeting about closing the office of Sari Nusseibeh. ‘Whoever opposes the closure,’ said Minister Landau, responding to Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, ‘is not familiar with the information provided by the security establishment.’ Indeed, only an experienced spook would be able to follow the dangerous actions of Mr. Nusseibeh: this is a man who spoke out about giving up the right of return, and who, in the days in which his people are screaming for vengeance, initiated and published an ad calling to stop the attacks. This is a man who, in these darkest of days, continues to meet with Israelis and continues to talk about an agreement and about hope. This is a man who, in short, poses a clear and present danger to the worldview of the rejectionist front called the government of Israel. The treatment of Nusseibeh and those like him is one of the clear signs of Israeli peace-phobia. When they get more than a thousand Palestinians to sign a petition against the terror attacks, we are immediately told that this is a group of intellectuals with no real political power, an elite that is old and insignificant. In the same breath the minister instructed those under his command to go and stop the terrible threat of Arab peaceniks. Because coming to terms with their existence, and—God forbid—talking with them, could not only convince Israelis that there is hope, but also give the Palestinians the mistaken impression that there is a point to dialogue with Israel and that Jews understand a language other than force. And this is something which, in the opinion of all security sources, is inconceivable.” (Yedioth Ahronoth, 7/15/02)

Class Warfare: The increasing privatization of security services in Israel has resulted in greater inequality of risk of injury from terrorism in the past year, with the percentage of high-income earners wounded in terrorist attacks having fallen sharply. New figures show that prior to last year’s attack on the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv, the proportion of the higher educated [injured] was higher than their percentage of the total population. However, their proportion has now been halved. Since there is a strong correlation between education and income in Israel, the chances of high-income earners of being wounded in a terrorist attack has plummeted since the Dolphinarium attack. An economic and security panel at the recent Caesarea economic conference in Jerusalem noted the increasing privatization of security services, following the cabinet and IDF’s decisions on the allocation of security forces to various tasks. The decision not to build a security fence and allocate manpower to guard duty at isolated settlements led to a shortfall of manpower to protect urban centers and public transportation. This caused an increase in expenditures on private security services, exposing the sectors of the population that cannot afford this expenditure to greater risk. Professor Danny Sidon said that not only is the size of the defense budget important, so too is its allocation. He believes the government and IDF should emphasize operations to increase individual security from terrorism. He thinks the building of the Green Line separation fence will give one of the greatest possible returns to the Israeli economy. (Globes, 7/7/02)

Israeli Reservists Risk Lives For Nearly Empty Settlements…Writing in Ha’aretz, Ze’ev Schiff asked, “How many Israelis know that some of the Gaza Strip settlements have a population of two or three families? Probably not even the members of the Knesset and the majority of the army’s senior officer corps are aware of this fact. Among those who are familiar with the situation are reservists who have the bad luck to be sent to serve in such locales. The members of the family of one reservist related that he and his unit had done their service in a settlement where just two families live. Following a check with Southern Command, it turns out that on this particular settlement—Shalev, in the Gush Katif settlements of the Gaza Strip—there are in fact three families and not two. The check also turned up the fact that this was not the only settlement of this kind. There are two families in the settlement of Kfar Yam, and three in Kerem Atzmona. The settlement of Shirat has six families. In Tel Katifa, a settlement in the center of the Gaza Strip that is considered extremely isolated, there are 15 families…The defense of these places is…extremely problematic. The number of soldiers stationed to guard these settlements, where nearly all the houses are empty, exceeds the number of settlers by far. It is almost impossible to provide the remnants of settlements of this kind with the essential elements of security…The few residents do not take part in guarding their homes—which does not stop them from lodging frequent complaints that the protection they receive from the army is insufficient. The soldiers who are sent to these places—including those who espouse right-wing views—cannot fathom the security grounds for their service there.” (Ha’aretz, 7/12/02)

While Fuad Pretends To Crackdown On Illegal Outposts: Also writing in Ha’aretz, Akiva Eldar noted that Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer made a big show in announcing that he would dismantle and evacuate eleven illegal settlement outposts just prior to the recent Labor Party convention. However, reports in the media revealed a disparity between Fuad’s announcement and reality on the ground, so the Israeli Peace Now movement sent an investigative team into the West Bank to get a closer look at the situation. The bottom line of the most recent survey conducted by the organization reads as follows: out of a total of 34 sites—most of which are populated—that appear on the list of outposts that Peace Now submitted to the Defense Minister, the only one to have been evacuated was Ya’ar Suda. In addition, two outposts that were not included on the list, Nahalei Tal and a site east of Ma’aleh Haver, had also been evacuated. At the first site, two mobile homes that were already in an advance state of ruin were destroyed; at the second, two unpopulated cargo containers were moved into the area of the Neria settlement; and at a third, an empty trailer home was evacuated. Sites known to the Peace Now team that, contrary to Fuad’s statement, have not been evacuated and remain intact are Bat Ayin West and Givat Rehavam. Sites that appear on the list of evacuated outposts and are not known by the organization, which has no information to confirm that they had been settled or evacuated at any stage, are Hahava Hahakla’it, Migdalim South, New Neveh Erez, Adam East, and Adam West. Another site known to the organization which it believes was never an outpost and could not have been evacuated is Kida. In sum, only abandoned outposts were evacuated. Not a single permanently populated site out of those marked on the Peace Now map that was submitted to Fuad three months ago was taken down. The settlers are continuing to disperse empty containers on hills throughout the occupied territories and to make a fool of the defense establishment with such “dummy outposts.” Knesset Member Yossi Sarid has concluded that, “Fuad is the settlers’ collaborator who, with them, has woven a conspiracy to whitewash wrongdoing and pull the wool over the eyes of the public.” (Ha’aretz, 7/11/02)

Jordan Urges Continued Support For UNRWA: Jordan urged the international community to maintain and support the basic services offered to Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in its fields of operation. There are 13 UNRWA refugee camps in Jordan. Jordan’s plea comes as UNRWA is being attacked on Capitol Hill for having failed to prevent terrorist activity in its refugee camps. Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, Richard Hottelet, a longtime CBS correspondent, pointed out that, “One of the indirect beneficiaries of UNRWA’s work has, in fact, been Israel. Since 1967, UNRWA has helped provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and education for a refugee population that now numbers 1.5 million living in towns and camps in the West Bank and Gaza, a burden that Israel would otherwise have borne under international law. Charges now leveled against UNRWA notably have not come from Israel. Last fall, when the UN General Assembly extended the agency’s mandate for another year, the Israeli delegate said, ‘Israel supports the humanitarian work of UNRWA on behalf of Arab refugees and we wish to formally record our appreciation…’ There is much talk about terrorist bases in camps under UNRWA control. But the agency has never been charged with ‘control’ of the people it helps. That was carried out by the Israeli military government in the 25 years after 1967, and then, after 1994, by the Palestinian Authority established in the Oslo Agreement. It looks like a campaign to reduce, if not end, Kofi Annan’s and the UN’s engagement in Middle East diplomacy. Discrediting UNRWA and its Danish commissioner-general, Peter Hansen, may be followed by an effort to kill the agency by cutting off U.S. support. Should this happen, it would remove an agency which has given millions of Palestinians hope, a certain stability, and a step toward a better life. It would aggravate the region’s deep unrest and complicate further the work of peace.” (Petra, 7/8-9/02 & Christian Science Monitor, 7/9/02)

Jordan Trying To Cope With New Palestinian Refugees: Senior Jordanian officials said that the Kingdom is doing its best to facilitate the procedures for Palestinians traveling to Jordan, but it will not allow a forced emigration of Palestinians. “We will not accept any transfer of Palestinians into Jordan,” said Interior Minister Qaftan Majali. While Jordan will spare no effort to ease border crossing procedures for Palestinians, especially those who are going for medical or educational purposes or transiting through the Kingdom, “we are keen on implementing precautionary measures to make sure that any Palestinian who visits Jordan will go back to his/her home,” he said, dismissing as baseless earlier reports that Jordan was limiting the number of Palestinians entering the country. Nonetheless, Jordan is now requiring Jordanian guarantors to deposit 2,000 Jordanian dinars at any local bank in order to ensure that Palestinian guests traveling from the West Bank into the Kingdom will return home within one month. Further, there are reportedly hundreds of families waiting in Jericho for permission to cross the bridge into Jordan, perhaps as many as 2,000 people from all over the West Bank. The long line is said to be a result of orders from the Jordanian government allowing only 150 Palestinians from the territories to cross into the country per day, except for those who already have permanent travel passes or Jordanian identity cards. Jordan has been carefully monitoring traffic of Palestinians in and out of the Kingdom since March. “Every time they talk about transfer in Israel or the army sets out on one of its operations against the Palestinians, we see the results in Amman: Thousands of Palestinians leave their country and come here,” said a university scholar at Amman University. “Where can they go? Lebanon? Egypt? New York? Obviously the only way open to those who can’t fight you or don’t want to bear the emotional and economic burden of your occupation, is to emigrate to Jordan. It’s obvious to us if that road is wide open, it will be the end of the Kingdom.” More than 60% of Jordan’s residents are Palestinians. According to the American Refugee Committee, there are 1.64 million Palestinians classified as refugees in the Kingdom. The Jordanian government believes there are also another few hundred thousand who are not refugees, but do not carry Jordanian ID cards. In June 2001, after realizing that 26,000 Palestinians had moved to Jordan since the outbreak of the Intifada, authorities clamped down on Palestinian traffic into the country, but quickly removed the limits in the face of public pressure. (Jordan Times, 7/10 & 15/02 & Ha’aretz, 7 /12/02)

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: In his first interview with an Israeli newspaper, the new Palestinian Finance Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad outlined his plan for financial reform to Globes. Dr. Fayyad said that the plan calls for the Finance Ministry to be responsible for all Palestinian Authority (PA) revenues. From now on, all PA expenditures will be required to be included in the PA annual budget law passed by the legislative council. The measure will guarantee there will not be any financial expenditures outside the budget framework. He said that the Finance Ministry notified two weeks ago all banks operating in the PA to transfer to the ministry all funds deposited with them by PA-affiliated offices, including the security apparatuses. “This is the first step of the general reform. It will unify the PA’s financial management solely under the Ministry of Finance,” Dr. Fayyad said. He added that the handling of public money must be improved, with open supervision of its uses. All the PA budgetary details will shortly be published in the press and on the Internet. Dr. Fayyad explained that, “The primary aim of the reform is transparency in the use of the PA’s money. Revenues and expenditures that are not included in the budget framework are illegal.” He is committed to passing the plan within three months, including limitations on the number of public sector appointments. Further, Dr. Fayyad said there is a serious problem of uncovered checks issued by the PA in the territories. Reports claim these checks amount to $300 million, while Dr. Fayyad said unhonored PA commitments and checks total $400 million. Dr. Fayyad said that uncovered checks will no longer be permitted, and past checks will be honored after Israel transfers to the PA the $670 million it is holding back. (Globes, 7/11/02)

Russians Join Arabs In Protesting Discriminatory Housing Bill: Before the Israeli cabinet reversed its earlier approval of discriminatory legislation that would allow Jewish-only communities and enable residents of existing ones to bar Arabs from buying homes in their midst, the bill drew the ire of both Russians and Arabs in Israel. While the initial cabinet vote provoked harsh condemnation from Israeli Arab leaders, immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union were also concerned that the new bill would hurt them since many of these immigrants are not Jews, and might therefore be forbidden to live in communities for Jews only. “Has everyone become stupid in this country?” wondered Mark Gurin, a media professional who immigrated ten years ago with his wife, who is not Jewish. “Several months after we immigrated, they already managed to humiliate us, by not letting us join a community settlement near Zichron Yaakov because of my wife.” Gurin is not alone. It appears that the housing bill aroused anger among the quarter of a million new immigrants who are not defined as Jews according to religious law. “This law could grant legitimacy to discrimination, and make people guilty just for not being Jewish,” continued Gurin. “Such a bill should not be passed for Arabs either. What would Israel say if a European city banned the entrance of Jews, as has happened in the past? We would call them Nazis and fascists.” Knesset Member Roman Bronfman agreed. “The bill brings us closer to an apartheid regime, and will cause Israel’s isolation in the Western world. But more important than that—it will undermine the delicate fabric of relationships between Jews and non-Jews in Israel, including non-Jewish immigrants,” said Bronfman. He added that communities will be afraid to accept non-Jewish immigrants, since it might encourage Arabs to petition of the High Court of Justice against their discrimination. (Ma’ariv, 7/9/02; Jerusalem Post, 7/8/02; & Ha’aretz, 7/15/02)

Attorney-General Investigating Rabbis’ Call Not To Employ Arabs: Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein informed Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior that he had asked his staff for their opinion on the legality of an ad published by 15 rabbis calling on Jews not to employ Arabs. The ad was published in the religious newsletter Lehava and called on “all our brothers, the House of Israel living in the Holy Land, to try as much as possible not to employ Arab workers, not to negotiate with Arabs, and to give preferential treatment in business to those who do not employ Arabs and do not sell Arab produce.” Melchior had asked Rubinstein to investigate the ad because, “As a deputy minister in the Israeli government, as a rabbi, as a public figure, and especially as an observant Jew, my heart is torn by the appearance of this racist notice.” He noted that some of those whose names appeared on it are civil servants, while others are among the country’s leading rabbis. If they did indeed sign this appeal, it constitutes desecration of God’s name, he said. In response, Rubinstein wrote to Melchior that, “on the face of it, the appeal seems to refer to every Arab. I have said more than once that we, who suffered as a minority in the Diaspora, are bound to treat the minority in our midst ethically and with equality. Were we to switch the word ‘Arab,’ in this appeal, with the word ‘Jewish,’ in an ad that would appear here and in the Diaspora, even with all the differences and the differences are many we would sense something of the harsh feelings emanating from the call and would we would consider it racism.” (Jerusalem Post, 7/3 & 10/02)

Sharpening & Dulling The Axis: The Financial Times reports that Iraq is exploiting its growing links with Ukraine in an effort to obtain weapons technologies. Arms control experts say the Ukrainian government has been taking an active role in organizing direct ties between Ukrainian companies and Iraq. “For some years there was an intensive defense-technology relationship between Ukraine and Iraq. This appears to be re-emerging and we don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past,” said Timothy McCarthy, a former UN weapons inspector. In recordings of what appears to be a conversation between Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Yuri Alexeyev, director of Ukraine’s largest rocket maker, the men mention Iraq, Iran, and rockets. The recordings were supplied by Mykola Melnychenko, one of Kuchma’s former bodyguards. Kuchma and Alexeyev denied having supplied missile technology to Iraq. Nonetheless, an Iraqi delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Hikmat el-Azzawi visited Ukraine last month, and local media cited Ukrainian government sources as saying that Iraq offered to buy aircraft, ships, and steel pipes. New bilateral agreements were also reportedly signed. In another effort to expand Iraq’s ties, Iraqi newspapers report that Baghdad will rehabilitate a Lebanese oil refinery. Lebanon has two such facilities, both of which stopped functioning during its civil war. Lebanon was at one point a transport hub for Gulf oil, and a defunct pipeline runs from Kirkuk in northern Iraq to Tripoli in Lebanon. On the other hand, a significant attempt is being made by Iraq’s opposition groups to agree on a model for a post-Saddam state that would guarantee the Kurds their own federal region and the rights of the country’s ethnic and religious groups. One of the two main Kurdish groups controlling the self-rule area in northern Iraq (the Kurdistan Democratic Party) has drawn up a draft constitution that has gained wide currency among the four main Iraqi opposition groups and is being treated seriously in Washington. The plan would divide Iraq into two federal regions, an Arab region covering the center and south of Iraq, and an Iraqi Kurdish region in the north. Each region would have its own assembly and president, but Baghdad would maintain control of internal security and a federal army. (Financial Times, 7/8/02; Reuters, 7/11/02; & Guardian, 7/10/02)
JewishComment is grateful to
Lewis Roth, Assistant Executive Director
Americans for Peace Now
for this report.



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