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Still, there is Optimism
Last uploaded : Monday 7th Oct 2002 at 19:10
Contributed by : Americans for Peace Now



Americans for Peace Now: Middle East Peace Report
Vol. 4, Issue 11
October 7, 2002

Israelis Optimistic About Arab Relations: According to the most recent Ma’ariv-Market Watch poll, 61% of Israelis believe that the crisis in relations between Jews and Arabs in the State of Israel can be overcome, compared with 33% who do not think so and 6% who don’t know. Further, 51% of respondents think that the crisis in relations between Israel and the Palestinians can be overcome, with 41% dissenting and 8% who don’t know. When asked in what way a stop can be put to the violence between Israel and the Palestinians (given a choice between a diplomatic agreement, a military solution, or unilateral separation), 33% of respondents said unilateral separation, 29% said an agreement with the Palestinians, 28% said a military solution, and 10% don’t know. Finally, 51% of respondents said they support a plan in which the Palestinian Authority is reformed and holds elections, a temporary Palestinian state is established, and a final status arrangement is negotiated into place by 2005; 37% oppose such a plan and 12% don’t know. (Ma’ariv, 10/4/02)

Nusseibeh Seeks Referendum On Peace Proposal, Part I: While some Jewish groups were busy protesting public appearances by Dr. Sari Nusseibeh in the U.S. last week, falsely accusing him of “supporting violence,” the top Palestinian representative to Jerusalem was holding a referendum on a document he drafted with former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon, the first such vote of its kind held by a PLO official. Dr. Nusseibeh has gained international recognition for his public calls for an end to Palestinian suicide bombings and the need for more moderate Palestinian negotiating positions. His joint effort with Ayalon calls on Palestinians to waive their demand for a right of return in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 border, evacuation of settlements, and Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem. Under the plan, neither side would exercise sovereignty over holy places in Jerusalem. The state of Palestine would be designated the guardian of the Temple Mount for the benefit of Muslims, while Israel would be the guardian of the Western Wall for the benefit of the Jewish people. The status quo on Christian holy sites would be maintained. Nusseibeh sent a letter by fax to dozens of Palestinian institutions, organizations, and individuals explaining the contents of the document. (Jerusalem Post & Ha’aretz, 10/2/02)

Nusseibeh Seeks Referendum On Peace Proposal, Part II: In his letter, Dr. Sari Nusseibeh lashes out at Palestinian Authority negotiators for having presented maximum demands. “I propose a revolution in the negotiating strategy,” he said. “We should boldly and bravely reveal our minimum demands and stick to them. Then we should ask the adversary to establish peace on the basis of these demands. If they accept, then let it be. If they don’t, then we will have a different say about the future of Palestinian-Jewish relations in the region.” His position is interpreted as an attack on the Palestinian Authority for having stuck to its demands for receiving the maximum at a time when it was clear that it would never get all it was asking for. He said that by endorsing the strategy of “all or nothing,” the Palestinians have suffered “various material losses.” He said one of the results of this mistaken strategy was that Israelis stopped attaching any significance to Palestinian attitudes and the Israeli street no longer believes what it hears in the media. Nusseibeh described the document as a “declaration of intentions. This document cannot be considered a draft or a final agreement. Rather, it could be considered a first step of a political process aimed at redirecting Palestinian political work in the right path.” Americans for Peace Now has issued a rebuttal specifically responding to many of the charges leveled at Dr. Nusseibeh from other Jewish groups. You can find the report on the web at: http://www.peacenow.org/nia/pr/09302002.html. (Jerusalem Post, 10/2/02 & APN Report, 9/30/02)

Poll Finds Israeli Arabs Support Non-Violent Intifada: According to a new opinion poll of Israeli Arabs living in the Triangle Region conducted by the Institute for Peace Research at Givat Haviva, over 80% of respondents support the proposal that the Intifada will be conducted with no violence on either side, while close to two-thirds are interested in the cessation of the uprising. Just 15% prefer to see the Intifada continue. Approximately two-thirds of respondents believe that the role of Arabs in Israel in the Intifada is in providing financial and moral support to their brothers in the occupied territories or in bringing political pressure within Israel towards a solution to the conflict. The survey found that over 68% of Triangle residents reject the proposal to annex their villages to a future Palestinian state, while 18% would be ready for this and to relinquish their Israeli citizenship. (Roughly 30% were ready to become part of a future Palestinian state in a similar poll conducted 18 months ago.) Over 70% of respondents recommend holding joint social, economic, and political activities between Arabs and Jews as a way to improve relations between them. About two-thirds would be willing to participate in such activities. The survey was conducted between September 10th-12th by the Yafa Research Institute, Ltd. and has a margin of error of 4%. (IMRA, 9/30/02)

In The Absence Of A Serious Sharon Peace Plan: Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Masri, head of the Political Security Department at the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, said the long-awaited crackdown on Hamas promised by former PA Interior Minister Abdel Razek Yahya will likely never happen. “We have enough men and arms, but no political horizon and no incentive to enter into bloody conflict with other Palestinians,” he told the Jerusalem Post. The PA security establishment sees no compelling reason to confront either Hamas, whose popularity is soaring, or the other Palestinian rejectionist groups. For this reason, Masri does not anticipate the ending of terrorist attacks in Israel in the near future. Taking on Hamas at this juncture, with January’s Palestinian elections looming, would be political suicide, added the general. “The Palestinian street shows great support for Hamas and other groups opposing the PA, so we prefer to use other, more democratic methods,” he said. “Capabilities and principle are two different things. Besides ending the occupation, our major goal is not to be labeled collaborators. Why should we be responsible for security in Tel Aviv when we have enough trouble protecting our own people against Israel?” (Jerusalem Post, 10/1/02)

More Jews Moving Into Arab Musrara: Israeli police are preparing for another takeover by a Jewish family of a property in Arab Musrara in Jerusalem, between Damascus Gate and Hanevi’im Street, after a court ruled an Arab family claiming ownership does not have the rights to the property that was owned by Jews before Israel was founded. The court order to expropriate the house from Arabs claiming ownership was issued at the request of the heirs of the Jewish people who owned the property until the declaration of the state and a purchaser of the property. They are backed by one of several non-profit organizations run by MK Benny Elon (National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu), with the purpose of gaining Jewish footholds in and around the Old City, as Elon says, to prevent the division of Jerusalem. Arab Musrara already has two Jewish families, and the house in contention is expected to accommodate four more families. A few months ago, court orders resulted in the expulsion of twelve Arab families in the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood, where Jews lived in the past. Elon and his organizations say their plan is to populate the area between Sheikh Jarrah and Musrara with Jews. Elsewhere, in Hebron, settlers took over another Palestinian home in the city center. IDF soldiers did not prevent the settlers from entering the home of Sheikh Mohammed Azmi Dandis, who lived there until recently. The settlers began repairs and moving furniture into the house, under the protective cover of IDF troops. Dandis had moved to another part of the city for his own safety, but he occasionally came to the house to ensure that settlers did not take it over. Most Arab residents there fled two weeks ago, after settlers rioted in the area. (Ha’aretz, 10/4/02)

Survey Sees Collapse Of Palestinian Industry: Palestinian industry is expected to totally collapse in the coming months if Israel does not lift closure and trade restrictions imposed on the occupied territories over the last two years, according to a survey conducted by the Palestinian Federation of Industry, the Palestine Trade Center, and USAID’s Market Access Program to access the impact of the Israeli measures on the Palestinian industrial sector. Nearly 30% of the 600 surveyed industrial outlets have been physically damaged, including losses of buildings, machinery, office equipment, and inventory, and 90% of the surveyed outlets reported trading losses such as the loss of sales, decreased productivity, and increased costs of transportation. As a result, 50% of Palestinian manufacturers are in default or arrears to lenders. “The industrial sector, like all productive sectors in the West Bank and Gaza, is under considerable stress due to the current circumstances,” said John Wetter, senior country economist, World Bank Resident Mission, Palestinian Territories. “Decreased demand, as more and more Palestinians are without income; increased production and distribution costs; and loss of domestic and international markets due to internal and external closure have all conspired to reduce a vibrant, dynamic Palestinian private sector to a shadow of its former self.” Over 65% of the existing manufacturing outlets in the West Bank were established following the signing of the peace accords in 1993. After the eruption of the current Intifada in September 2000, no new businesses were established and 17% of existing businesses closed down operations. (Arab News, 10/2/02)

New Apartment Sales In Settlements Plummet: The Intifada has harmed sales of new apartments in the occupied territories. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, only 171 privately built, new residential apartments were sold in 2002, compared with 463 in the corresponding period in 2001, a 63% decline. An even sharper 68% drop was noted for the period in the supply of apartments in the advanced stages of construction in the occupied territories. The figures show that the supply of residential apartments remaining for sale in the West Bank and Gaza was only 126 units, compared with 397 units in July 2001. (Globes, 10/6/02)

IDF Military Intelligence Chief Says Fatah Helping To Fight Terror: The head of IDF Military Intelligence, Major General Aharon Farkash, in an interview with Channel Two television, contradicted claims by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other Israeli officials who say that Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority are doing nothing to stop Palestinian attacks into Israeli towns and cities. He said Arafat’s Fatah movement and its affiliated Tanzim militia were not carrying out attacks beyond the West Bank and Gaza, and were pressuring other Palestinian militant groups to follow their example. “Not only are Fatah and the Tanzim not doing this,” Farkash said, “Senior people in the Palestinian Authority are starting to take up the issue with Hamas and Islamic Jihad to stop their operations.” (Ha’aretz, 10/6/02)

Fears Grow Over Possible Temple Mount Collapse: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was asked to decide in a secret meeting last week about the matter of the southern part of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif wall, due to fear that the Temple Mount will collapse when hundreds of thousands of worshippers gather for Ramadan prayers. Participants in the meeting dealt with the question of the bulge in the southern wall, which has reached a meter beyond the wall. According to experts’ assessments, there is a danger of the wall collapsing if it is not taken care of immediately. If the wall collapses, the entire Temple Mount could go with it. The urgency of the meeting was due to the fact that the month of Ramadan, which will take place in another month, will bring hundreds of thousands of worshippers to the site. During Friday prayers on Ramadan, when worshippers from the occupied territories are allowed in, about 400,000 worshippers come to the Mount. When there is a closure on the territories, the number of worshippers reaches 200,000. Interior Ministry and police officials are aware of the awful scenario of a collapse of the Mount, with hundreds of thousands of worshippers. A senior security establishment official called it, the “Third World War.” “If a decision is made that Israel renovate the wall, without the Wakf’s consent,” said an Israeli official, “this will lead to bloody riots in Israel and the territories. And if the Temple Mount area collapses with all the worshippers, the results will be ten times worse. We will be faulted in either case.” The discussion also explored possibly limiting the number of worshippers during Ramadan, while declaring the Temple Mount a dangerous site. Another problem could develop this coming winter, if the accumulation of rain and snow causes the wall to fall. The European Federation for Non-Destructive Testing, which specializes in examining buildings, has been asked to examine the condition of the Temple Mount. The Wakf also issued a warning that the site is in danger of imminent collapse. Architect Tuvia Sagiv, who has long studied the architecture of the Mount, said an analysis of architectural drawings of the mosque shows that the mosque’s foundations are not connected to the original Al Aqsa columns in the lower level of the plaza. A central column in the original Al Aqsa is already in a state of collapse. (Ma’ariv, 9/30/02 & Ha’aretz, 10/2/02)

Pressure At The Pump: Israel has already completed its plans for a military strike on the site where the Lebanese are pumping water from the Hatzbani River, but the U.S. recently put heavy pressure on Israel not to carry it out. Although the Lebanese continue to work energetically at the site, Israel has been asked to refrain from acting. On one hand, Israel is being asked not to appear as an obstacle in America’s way in its preparations against Iraq. On the other hand, it has been made clear in all internal discussions that this is an emergency situation and that every day that goes by only makes the solution more complicated. “It will be a lot harder to destroy a water system that is already working and providing water for the nearby villages. This will bring great international criticism toward Israel,” said a senior official. But the U.S. is adamant in its demand. “Any military strike of yours will ignite the entire north,” Washington made clear last week to senior Israeli officials. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened a secret meeting last week on the matter, during which it was decided to continue to wait. Lebanon is reported to have agreed today to a two-day delay of a dedication of its new water project, giving the U.S. time to work to avoid a confrontation. Washington is pressing Lebanon to restrict its pumping levels to the supply of drinking water for nearby villages and not for agricultural irrigation as planned. Last night, a senior diplomatic source said that, “As things look now, we will have no alternative but to deal with the matter militarily…Even if we have to wait until the American operation in Iraq is over, we will not let the matter pass.” Sharon told yesterday’s cabinet meeting that Lebanon has also begun diverting another source of water that flows into the Kinneret, the Nuheila aquifer located north of the Dan River. He said that the diversion of water from this source could seriously diminish the flow of water into the Kinneret. (Ma’ariv, 10/4 & 7/02; Yedioth Ahronoth, 10/7/02; & Ha’aretz, 10/7/02)

Hezbollah May Have Received SA-18 Missiles: An item in the UAE daily al-Bayan said, “the Lebanese resistance (i.e., Hezbollah) has received the first installment of the modern Russian shoulder-carried anti-aircraft SA-18 missiles.” Although it had been decided that the Palestinian Intifada’s second anniversary would be an appropriate occasion for revealing the delivery of these missiles, the date for this and the details regarding the number of missiles received—more shipments of which are expected by Hezbollah—were finally postponed, said the paper. No explanations have been given for this postponement so far, except for the suggestion that the matter requires more consultations with “allies in the same trench of resistance against imperialism and Zionism.” This seems to refer to Syria, according to the paper, which has recently been very wary about disclosing the receipt of large numbers of these missiles, apparently in response to a request from the Russian government. According to some sources, high-ranking officials in Moscow want to avoid a situation in which the Middle East would be driven into a new arms race, especially in the current conditions. According to Hezbollah sources, the SA-18 can hit planes flying at an altitude of 5.3 kilometers, with a range of five kilometers, while other information says it can reach up to eight kilometers. The missile’s infra-red guidance system homes in on the heat generated by the engine of the targeted aircraft, and is able to avoid various countermeasures against this type of missile that have been developed in recent years. Ironically, this report came the same week that Russian President Vladimir Putin assured Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that his country had no intention of providing Syria with surface-to-air missiles. (Mideast Mirror & Ha’aretz, 9/30/02)

Turkey Confirms Israeli Upgrade Of Its Tanks: The Turkish government announced that an Israeli consortium, headed by Israel Military Industries (IMI), Elbit, and Urdan Industries, will upgrade 170 M-60 Patton tanks for $668 million. The consortium’s competitors tried to torpedo the deal in recent weeks by publishing reports about disputes between the Turkish Army and the Israeli companies over the upgrade, but to no avail. The Turkish project is the largest-ever overseas venture by Israel’s defense industry. Turkey originally wanted to buy new tanks, but IMI suggested upgrading hundreds of Turkey’s more than 900 obsolete Patton tanks instead. Most of the tank upgrade will be carried out in Turkey. The defense establishment estimates that following the upgrade of the first 170 tanks at $1.5 million per tank, the Turkish Army will upgrade most of its other M-60 tanks. That will increase the value of the deal to several billion dollars. (Globes, 10/1/02)

Middle East Tension Fuels Hacker Fury: The computer security firm, mi2g, issued a statement indicating that Unix Security Guards (USG), a pro-Islamic macro hacker group, has increased its activity ten-fold in September 2002 to highlight the Palestinian Intifada and to show solidarity with the Arab world as tensions rise over U.S.-Iraq and Israeli-Palestinian issues. USG consists of five member sub-groups: rD, Inkubus, Egyptian|Fighter, hein, and ShellCode, who are from the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In an anonymous interview with mi2g, USG stated that their ultimate aim was “to show the world how our brothers are suffering in Iraq, Palestine, etc. and how Israel turned into some cold blooded killing machine[s].” The recent messages left by USG focus on criticism of U.S. and U.K. involvement in Iraq, condemnation of the Israeli occupation, and Indian involvement in Kashmir. USG made 20 attacks in June, followed by 27 in July and 21 in August. With rising tension in the Middle East, USG have made 207 attacks throughout September, bringing their total to 355 attacks since their inception in May 2002. Although their main public activity was in modifying data of online systems, they said they were also involved in denial of service attacks, thereby inflicting economic damage. USG also claimed to spend much of their time in protective hacking, penetrating Arab and Islamic sites without doing any damage but sending emails to the web sites’ administrators with details of how they were able to breach the systems’ security and instructions for making the systems less vulnerable. (mi2g Statement, 10/1/02)

Lewis Roth, Assistant Executive Director
Americans for Peace Now



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