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Middle East Peace Report
Last uploaded : Monday 23rd Sep 2002 at 16:13
Contributed by : Americans for Peace Now



Americans for Peace Now: Middle East Peace Report
Vol. 4, Issue 9
September 23, 2002

Uzi Fires Again At Palestinian Moderate: Israeli Public Security Minister Uzi Landau fired yet another shot at one of the leading Palestinian moderates, Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, once again closing down Nusseibeh’s office at Al-Quds University. This is the second time in three months that Nusseibeh, who serves as president of Al-Quds as well as the PLO’s top representative in Jerusalem, has seen his academic office closed. Landau charged that the Al-Quds facility, along with the Palestinian Youth and Sport Administration, which was also shut, were operating in Jerusalem without proper authorization. Police sources said the two offices had hosted official Palestinian Authority (PA) activities. The closures came one day after Jerusalem police denied a claim broadcast on Israel Radio that Palestinians in East Jerusalem had established a committee, headed by Nusseibeh, to deal with day-to-day issues encountered by Arab residents of East Jerusalem. In July, Landau closed the Al-Quds office on the grounds that Nusseibeh was violating the Oslo Accords, which prohibit any official PA activity in Jerusalem. Nusseibeh subsequently sent a written pledge to Landau in which he said he would henceforth refrain from conducting PA activity out of his office. In exchange, Landau agreed to reopen the facility. Nusseibeh also noted that he would continue his work for the Palestinian cause, but not from his university office. He also stressed that his work as the senior PLO official in Jerusalem, unlike his work for the PA, was not illegal, as the Oslo Accords prohibited only PA activity in East Jerusalem. (Ha’aretz, 9/20/02)

Extremist Named New National Infrastructure Minister: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has tapped Effie Eitam, head of the National Religious Party and an advocate of expelling Palestinians from the occupied territories, as the new head of the National Infrastructure Ministry, responsible for overseeing Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza. Under a plan proposed by Eitam, Palestinians who would not agree to live under Israeli occupation without a state, without a government and without an army could be forced to go to neighboring Jordan, which he believes should become the Palestinian state. Yariv Openheimer, spokesperson for the Israeli Peace Now movement, said settlement expansion is already proceeding at such a pace that it is hard to see how Sharon’s decision to give Eitam responsibility over the ministry could speed it any further. Although Sharon has pledged not to build any new settlements, dozens of small illegal outposts have sprung up on West Bank hilltops. Openheimer called on the Labor Party to leave the coalition, which he called “a racist government run on racist principles.” (AP, 9/18/02)

Israel v. Iraq: Last week’s issue of the London Foreign Report said that Meir Dagan, the designated director of the Mossad, carried out a secret visit to Washington at the request of the prime minister in order to discuss the question of Israel’s involvement in a military operation in Iraq and to share intelligence information with his American counterparts. According to the publication, the main questions discussed in the talks were how Israeli special forces can operate on the ground in Iraq and how IAF planes can fire missiles and drop bombs in order to weaken the Iraqi forces prior to the U.S.-led military operation. The weekly said that the Israelis wish to force the Americans and British to cooperate with them on the military level in the closest possible manner, including Israeli liaison officers at the U.S. and British military headquarters. The concern is that this will deter Arab leaders from supporting the U.S. attack. According to security sources in Israel, the U.S. conveyed a message to Jerusalem stating that it will respond with an unprecedented blow against Iraq if the latter attacks Israel with non-conventional weapons. Along the same line, Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the Pentagon has offered Israel another battery of Patriot missiles, the advanced Pac-2 model, to expand the Israeli anti-aircraft array. The battery is meant to allay some of the Israeli public’s concerns and to ensure that Israel will maintain a low profile in the crisis with Iraq, both in terms of public statements and actions. Israel has yet to respond to the offer, but is inclined to pass due to the additional manpower, budget, and planning concerns associated with using another Pac-2 battery. Meanwhile, an assessment document prepared for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres indicates that Israeli officials think the U.S. offensive, if ultimately ordered, would be a focused operation, with its objective being the assassination of Saddam Hussein and members of his family. The document indicates that the narrow focus would be intended to spur a change in Iraq’s regime without causing the country’s dismemberment, thus allowing Saddam’s successor to begin reconstruction. The document also states that the U.S. and British air forces are destroying Iraqi infrastructure in an effort to “bait” Iraq’s military, especially its anti-aircraft arm, into a response, in an effort to test its defenses and discover previously undetected targets. (Ma’ariv, 9/18/02; Ha’aretz, 9/18/02; & Yedioth Ahronoth, 9/19/02)

Jordan Fears Iraqi Refugees: The pan-Arab daily al-Hayat quoted a high-ranking Jordanian official as saying that, “the Kingdom is worried about the threat emerging from the likely response of thousands of Iraqis who live in the Jordanian capital, should their country be exposed to a U.S. military strike.” The official added that Amman, “fears that these Iraqis may participate in mobilizing the street and may exploit popular sentiments in support of Iraq, by carrying out angry protests that could threaten Jordan’s security and stability. There are concerns that extremist elements could infiltrate into the Iraqi mass currently present in the Kingdom, and carry out revenge attacks against U.S., Western, and Israeli targets in Jordan” with the start of military operations against Iraq. He also revealed that, “Jordan is studying the legal status of the more than 400,000 Iraqis currently in the Kingdom, most of whom are in violation of the conditions governing their residency.” The official went on to say that the authorities will, “take into consideration the humanitarian and political conditions of some Iraqis who have been driven by their country’s circumstances into exile; it will also carefully examine the situation of many who have violated the conditions of their residency without trying to rectify their situation.” The official, however, refused to talk of any plans to deport groups of these Iraqis, confining himself to the remark that, “Jordan will look after its interests and its internal situation at the end of the day, and will not permit any abuse of its open society in order to carry out acts of sabotage that would harm its security.” Two weeks ago, Iraqis living in Amman said that the Jordanian authorities have recently “turned back hundreds of Iraqis” from the border area in the eastern part of the Kingdom. They also indicated that they had received calls from relatives in Baghdad confirming that they had been denied entry into Jordan, and that more than half of those wishing to come in are unlikely to be allowed to cross the borders between the two countries. (Mideast Mirror, 9/18/02)

Palestinian Security Aide Faults Violent Uprising: In an interview with the Boston Globe, Palestinian West Bank security chief General Zuhair Manasra said the Palestinian Authority made a mistake in allowing militants to drag it into a war with Israel. Although he pointed out that Israel fed the violence with building Jewish settlements over the years, invading West Bank towns, and imposing crippling restrictions on Palestinians, he stressed that nothing could justify suicide attacks on civilians. Palestinians should instead focus on civil resistance to Israeli military rule, he said. “I think the violent confrontation of the last two years has not been the proper approach by our side,” Manasra said. “I think it was negative. We have to draw conclusions, and my conclusion is that it was wrong. We should not have allowed it to happen. With all due respect to political pluralism, we should not have allowed one party to dictate our agenda, just because they had the guns and the dogma to dictate. And that’s exactly what happened. [Hamas and other militant factions] did things that neither our moral values nor our political aims can justify. What can possibly justify bombing a university or a caf?? Nothing.” Manasra, who took over Preventive Security from Jibril Rajoub in July, said that the bombings, far from serving Palestinian interests, gave Israel’s hard-line prime minister, Ariel Sharon, an excuse to reoccupy the West Bank and stonewall peace initiatives. (Boston Globe, 9/18/02)

Final Draft Of Palestinian Constitution Nearly Done: The final draft of the new Palestinian Authority constitution is near completion. The document has been in the works and gone through four drafts since 1999. Article 146 of the constitution talks about the establishment of a cabinet headed by a prime minister nominated by the head of state. The cabinet would be presented to the Palestinian Legislative Council for a vote of confidence. The part dealing with the legislative body envisages a parliament with 150 members representing Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and the diaspora. It would be elected every five years and be located in Jerusalem. The constitution would guarantee the civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights of all citizens living in the state. (Jerusalem Post, 9/19/02)

Hundreds Of Israeli 12th Graders Refuse To Serve As Occupation Soldiers: Two hundred and ten Israeli 12th grade students from across the country sent Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a letter in which they declared, “We refuse to be soldiers of the occupation.” The letter was sent to mark the anniversary of the public storm that was sparked by a similar letter from 12th grade students last year. This time, the number of signatories was three times as many. “Approximately one year ago we sent you, 62 Israelis boys and girls who grew up and were educated in Israel, a letter in which we declared that we would not take part in the continued oppression of the Palestinian people. Today…we say it again: we refuse to be soldiers of the occupation. The State of Israel is committing war crimes and is trampling human rights while sowing destruction in Palestinian communities, expropriating land, engaging in arrests and extra-judiciary executions, mass demolition of houses, businesses and public buildings, looting, closure, curfew, torture, the prevention of medical attention and the construction and expansion of the settlements…This reality leads to suffering, fear and despair, which give birth to terror attacks. Therefore, not only is the occupation immoral, it also undermines the security of the citizens and residents of Israel…As teens who are about to be called into military service we undertake to do everything we perceive as appropriate not to serve in the occupation. There are some among us who will refuse to be drafted. Others will refuse to serve beyond the Green Line or will avoid service in other ways. All of those ways are legitimate and even essential in our opinion, and we call on the members of our age group and the soldiers in the standing army and in reserves to emulate us.” (Yedioth Ahronoth, 9/18/02)

Israeli Hit Squad Reactivated: Newly appointed Mossad chief Meir Dagan is planning to reactivate a special operations unit, code named Caesarea, to target the commanders, controllers, and financiers of terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, according to the London Sunday Times. Quoting sources close the Mossad, the paper said Islamic extremists abroad will become as vulnerable as those in the occupied territories. “Gone are the days of the black-tie parties around the globe and fat expense accounts,” said one source who is supposed to be familiar with Dagan’s plans. “Whatever we can’t shoot will be closed down.” The source said Dagan’s regime will “trim years of useless fat and rebuild the famous Mossad muscles. We have a war to win and there’s no reason why the Abdullahs and Muhammads in Damascus, Tehran, and Beirut should sleep better than their brothers in Gaza.” The paper said that Dagan is particularly determined to resurrect the reputation of the Caesarea Squad, which suffered a major setback following the abortive attempt to kill Hamas official Khaled Mashaal in Amman five years ago. (Jerusalem Post, 9/17/02)

The Business Of Business: British Prime Minister Tony Blair may be onboard with President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy, but apparently some parts of the British business community are not. An organized group of British companies plans to take part in the annual Baghdad International Trade Fair for the first time since the Gulf War in 1991. A number of “medium to large” British firms are expected to attend, according to Saad Hadi, one of the event organizers. “At the moment we have about a dozen and there may be more if the political situation improves,” he said, while refusing to identify them. Over the past ten years individual companies have attended. Mr. Hadi continued, “Unfortunately politics controls economics in that part of the world at the moment but we want to show there are British companies willing to do business under [the] food-for-oil deal.” Travel plans would be reviewed depending on how the situation in Iraq develops before November 1st, when the fair opens. The British Department of Trade and Industry used to back the trips before 1991 when about 100 companies participated, but not any more. “The best support we could get from the British government would be to leave us alone,” Mr. Hadi said. The companies would be looking for contracts in the oil, medical, water treatment and engineering sectors, which are largely exempt from UN sanctions imposed in 1990. (BBC, 9/17/02)

No Peace, No Security, No Economy: Globes reports that a group of high-ranking Israeli businessmen is organizing a political party to run in the next elections. The group, which began organizing five months ago, includes businessmen reported to have received offers to lead a political party or who supported such a party. The group has not yet decided who will lead the party. Several months ago, the group contacted a leading Israeli advertising firm to launch its advertising campaign, scheduled to take place soon. The group’s first promotional campaign began last week with 400 billboards around Israel and outdoor television screens located at key intersections. The signs are teasers, without either the name of the group or its political message, which attack both former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The signs say, “Even Bibi (Netanyahu) is better than Sharon—no peace, no security, no economy.” The signs are designed to pique the public’s curiosity and create tension between Netanyahu and Sharon. The first billboards have already angered the Likud and raised demands to reveal who is behind them. The initial billboard campaign cost $130,000. (Globes, 9/18/02)

The Son Also Rises: Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) last week ended a rare three-day conference that has consolidated the quiet rise of Gamal Mubarak, son of President Hosni Mubarak. Gamal Mubarak, now third most senior party official, was appointed to the newly created post of secretary for policy. This puts him in charge of developing and formulating party thinking on a range of issues. The president and his son have repeatedly denied that the younger Mubarak is being groomed for the presidency. However, Gamal Mubarak’s high-profile activities in the NDP are bound to fuel speculation about his political future. He has been highly visible at the NDP conference as a champion of reform and initiator of changes that would democratize party structures. His aim, according to his supporters, is to modernize and breathe life into the party which is seen by most Egyptians as nothing more than a docile body in the hands of a powerful executive. “It is time to enhance democratic practices,” said Gamal Mubarak. “We realize that can’t be done in one day, but it is crucial it should be done.” He calls for democratic reforms and for politicians to be more responsive in meeting community demands, especially those of Egyptian youth. He led a high-powered committee to set a plan for party reform, starting with the introduction of local party elections. Many are skeptical that changes will be far reaching enough. “Real change would require the party to face up to some fundamental questions like the integration of the Islamists into the political process, like holding free elections and facing up to the consequences of economic liberalization such as unemployment and recession,” said Dr. Mostafa Kamel El Sayyed, a political scientist. “But I think the political leadership does not want to do that.” Fresh speculation about Gamal Mubarak’s career started in the run-up to the congress as a series of corruption scandals broke, leading to the arrest of close associates of three long-serving ministers who run the NDP. The three ministers are seen as pillars of the establishment, and many saw the move against their associates as an attempt to undermine the old guard to make way for Gamal Mubarak. (Financial Times & AP, 9/17/02)

New Israeli Ambassador To Mauritania: Ariel Kereiem, the new Israeli Ambassador to Mauritania, started his diplomatic activities under heavy security precautions due to fears that he could be subject to hostile actions. The Mauritanian authorities laid on strong security measures for the ambassador and his embassy team, with one unit of special security stationed in front of the ambassador’s residence and another posted in front of the Israeli diplomatic representation office. All roads leading to the Israeli embassy were blocked. Ambassador Kereiem said that he will work to promote Israeli-Mauritanian relations and bilateral cooperation, exactly like what happened with Jordan and Egypt, a difficult goal in a totally hostile environment. (Arabicnews.com, 9/17/02)

Footbridge To Boost New Israel-Jordan Free Trade Park: The joint Israel-Jordan industrial park known as the “Jordan Gate” is expected to advance significantly in the next few months with the completion of a pedestrian bridge that will link the two sides of the project. The bridge is part of a large one for vehicles, and it recently gained the approval of the Bet She’an local planning council, ending four years of statutory planning stages. The Jordan Gate private venture is located near the Sheikh Hussein Bridge and will be a free trade area. The Jordanian side of the project has already been built, and the U.S. has granted it a “Qualified Industrial Zone” special status, which allows it to trade with the U.S. exempt from customs or import quotas. According to Gili Dekel, one of the entrepreneurs behind Jordan Gate, “You can already travel on the Jordanian side, but only after crossing the Hussein Bridge. As soon as this [new] bridge is open, then you can get to the project simply with the aid of an entry pass, with no need to show a passport. Today, without the bridge, it is simply an industrial park that operates on Jordanian territory, but within a short time, everyone will see the advantages of doing business within the project.” (Ha’aretz, 9/17/02)

Egyptian Human Rights Activist Appeals Conviction: Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American human rights activist, has appealed his conviction and seven year jail sentence in a case condemned by international human rights organizations as politically motivated, his lawyer said. Ibrahim was convicted by a State Security Court in July on charges of embezzlement, receiving foreign funds without authorization and spreading “false statements and biased rumors” about the government. The activist is an outspoken campaigner for human rights and democracy. His attorney said that the most recent conviction was “much weaker” than an earlier verdict. (AP, 9/18/02)

JewishComment is grateful to Lewis Roth for this summary.
Lewis Roth, Assistant Executive Director
Americans for Peace Now:



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