Israel Resource Review 26th March, 2002


Radio Damascus: Leaders Must Provide Palestinian People with "All means of Support to their Legitimate Struggle"

Thanks to IMRA for locating this source.

Radio - Commentary

Damascus, March, 26 (SANA)

Damascus Radio on Tuesday indicated that in order the Arab summit to be the actual summit of the Arab right,the potentials should be geared and the obstacles should be removed in front of a real Pan-Arab solidarity and where all must stand in favour of the Arab supreme interests.

In its Political Commentary,the radio indicated that the potentials of the Arab states are really strong and ensures the Arab right and defeats the Zionist designs which aim at displacing the Palestinian people and swallow all the occupied Arab territories including Jerusalem and Golan.

The radio called on the Arab leaders to extend all the necessary support to the front countries particularly Syria and Lebanon who are courageously resisting the Israel enemy.

The radio also called the Arab leaders to provide the Palestinian people with all means of support to their legitimate struggle against the occupation.

A. N. Idelbi

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From Riyadh to Jihad: Perspective on the Arab Summit in Beirut
David Bedein

Saudi Arabia has remained the most consistent opponent of Jewish sovereignty in the middle east, ever since King Saud of Saudi Arabia made that clear to US President Franklin Roosevelt in March, 1945, Since the Saudis would never compromise with the idea of a sovereign Jewish state in an area of the world that the Moslems viewed as a "Wakf" or exclusive to Moslem rule. For fifty seven years, that Saudi policy has remained unchanged.

As recently as January,1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin Called accused the Saudi Arabian government of providing direct finance for the Islamic Hamas terror network, whose express purpose was to overthrow the Jewish State and to replace it with an Islamic state of Palestine. Rabin also took that occasion to express his disappointment that the outgoing Bush administration had done nothing to use US influence to stop Saudi Support for the Hamas. The Clinton administration also neglected to use its Influence with the Saudis to stop Riyadh sponsorship of the Hamas and Hizbullah.

As for the Saudi plan that will be floated this week at the Arab summit in Beirut, far from calling for recognition of Israel, the now-published Saudi plan, made available to Reuters and posted at here, instead calls for Israel's dismemberment.

The Saudi plan would solves the "problem of Palestinian refugees in conformity with Resolution 194", without any mention of UN resolution 242 that followed the 1967 war and UN resolution 338 that followed the 1973 war which guaranteed the security of all States as a condition for any withdrawal from territories.

UN resolution 194, adopted after the 1948 war, guarantees the 3.6 million Arab refugees and their descendents left villages in 1948 the "inalienable" right of repatriation to the 531 Arab villages that were replaced by Israeli cities, collective farms and woodlands.

The Saudi plan calls for Israel to relinquish control of its most of Its capital city, Jerusalem, by demanding that Israel unilaterally withdrawal to the 1949-1967 cease fire lines that divided the city, and by mandating the "right of return" for Palestinian Arab refugees who have been wallowing in UN refugee camps since 1948 to exercise their right to go back to the Arab neighborhoods inside Jerusalem that were uprooted during the 1948 war.

In other words, the Saudi plan is an elegant way of advocating that that the vast majority of Israel's population would be displaced.

Since Saudi Arabia remains a prime business partner of the US, and a prime supplier of oil to the world, the voice of Saudi Arabia is hardly to be dismissed.

The question remains: Why has Israel reacted with little more than the Shrug of a diplomatic shoulder to the Saudi initiative?

Perhaps the Israeli attitude has something to do with the fact that Israel has established a "modus vivendi" business-like relationship with the vast majority of the Moslem Arab world, reflected in the fact that Israel quietly exports more than 1.5 billion dollars of goods and products to the same Moslem Arab world that maintains no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state

There is an atmosphere of optomism and wishful thinking throughout Israel which posits that Saudi Arabia is ready to conduct "normal" relations with the Jewish state. Not diplomatic relations, not a peace treaty. Business relations.

After all the philosophy of the "new middle east", posited by Israel's Foreign minister, Shimon Peres, is that good business relations will Lead to peace.

The question remains: Does the Saudi initiative reflect a business-like Approach to upgrade Israel's status in the middle east marketplace, or is this the beginning of an international Moslem Jihad/Holy War to displace the Jewish state

Time will tell.

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The Ecological Disaster Posed by the Palestinian Authority
Guy Leshem
Senior Correspondent, Yediot Aharonot

[March 22] The state of the environment in the Palestinian Authority is perhaps the last subject that interests the Israeli public today, but there are a few things that are worth knowing about our neighbors' garbage can before it is too late: an ecological time bomb is ticking beyond the border. The bomb is located inside the Palestinian Authority and is aimed - sometimes maliciously - straight at Israel. The damage may be irreversible.

Here, for example, are a few incidents that have taken place very recently and which the roar of the canons have diverted to the sidelines: waste concentrations containing very toxic acids seep into the underground water table of the coastal plane; the sewage of Tulkarm flows into the Alexander River, a source of drinking water; mountains of waste burn continuously in PA territory, almost on the border, and waft toxic smoke at Israeli cities near the seamline; rivers that supply water to the coastal plain area are polluted with sewage; huge garbage dumps are lit daily in order to pollute the air drifting into Israel.

The danger to the Israeli environment is clear and immediate. The environmental damages spread over a radius of several kilometers and include continuous pollution of water sources vital to Israel. A detailed document presenting this chilly situation and the angers inherent in it, was submitted recently to Environment Minister Tzahi Hanegbi. The author, the coordinator for environmental affairs in the Civil Administration, exposes severe findings of dangerous neglect and of deliberate pollution in the areas under the PA's authority.

"The country is in the midst of a demanding campaign against Palestinian terror - and therefore does not do enough to thwart environmental terror taking place in the Palestinian administration," says Hanegbi. "The government must realize that the damages resulting from flowing sewage and air pollution extract a very high price from us, irreversible, long term damage. The environmental damages will affect our health years after a solution is found to the political conflict. The government must invest serious resources to build reservoirs to stop the toxic flows before they seep into our water table and pollute the water so vital to our existence. All the attempts to cooperate with the Palestinians in this have not worked, and the State of Israel must not wait one more day. We must handle this matter unilaterally."

The Garbage Can of the Country?

The environmental ruin is not just a result of a lack of communication between the sides and the state of war. Garbage flowed from there to here long before the Intifada. In the mid '90s, in the good years in relations between Israel and the PA, shrewd entrepreneurs on both sides of the Green Line turned the PA into the unofficial garbage dump of the State of Israel. What could not be dumped in Israel, was dumped in the PA, cheaply. Israeli garbage, some of which quickly flowed back into Israel, worsened the pollution in the PA, an area that the Palestinians neglected in any case.

The Intifada made matters even worse. Who has the attention for matters of sewage when the bombs are falling. There is no more cooperation, hostility deepens from moment to moment, and even environmental matters have now become a weapon in this war.

The large Palestinian cities and the villages near them are the main source for the pollution from the PA into Israel. For example, the sewage of the Jenin area, numbering close to 300,000 people, flows into the Kishon River and pollutes it long before it reaches Haifa Bay.

In normal times, Jenin's purification facility ensured that the water would be filtered of toxins and would be used for agriculture. But the facility, which cost the State of Israel around NIS 140,000 to upgrade, is now shut down because of maintenance problems, and the sewage of Jenin piles up there until it overflows and flows west, into Israel.

The situation is almost identical in the Tulkarm area, where the garbage flows to the Alexander River, some of which is a nature reserve. The same holds true for the cities of Nablus and Ramallah, the most populated of the West Bank cities.

Before the Intifada, the Palestinians asked for permits to build purification plants in their cities. Even in the cities where this was approved, the work has yet to begin. In some case, the work stopped because of Israeli bombings. In others, where the facility already worked, the amount of sewage produced by the population was too much for it to handle. The result is always the same: the waters flow out of the facility and into the riverbeds.

The report's authors noted a number of cases in which the Palestinians in fact had good intentions, but still caused heavy damage. The a-Ram municipality near Jerusalem linked up unauthorized to the el-Bireh waste purification plant, which was built by donations from foreign countries. The link caused frequent waste spills and led to shutdowns.

Even more serious pollution comes out of the crowded and neglected Gaza Strip. In the Beit Hanoun industrial area there are medicine, plastic and concrete factories and cattle pens. The waste from the industrial area, along with waste from houses, flows into the Hanoun River. The purification facilities do not work and the wastes go straight into the riverbed. In the winter, these wastes reach the Shikma riverbed inside Israel and from there the Shikma reservoir, a major water source for the northern Negev. In the area of Netzarim, where the sewage of Gaza City runs, very serious pollution was found on the beach area.

A few years ago, the oxidation basins of Gaza were rebuilt but the growth of the population and neglect led to the waste flowing into the sea. Similar things happen in the cities of Rafah and Dir el-Balah. Near the town of Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip, an international effort prevented a Palestinian plan to have the sewage flow into the sea. The huge waste reservoir of Beit Lahiya is just a drop in the ocean. Pirate Dumps on the Border

The report of the Civil Administration is based on a first of its kind survey, undertaken by the environment experts in the Civil Administration over a lengthy period. To prepare it, teams were sent to photograph environmental damage, sometimes risking their lives because of the security situation. In the previous survey, taken in early 2000 in the Judea and Samaria area, more than 300 unauthorized solid waste dumps were found. These are local concentrations holding anything from construction waste to old car batteries whose acid is considered extremely toxic and which mainly affects the nearby area. The main damage to Israel is from the dumps of the big cities.

Here too, the fighting made things worse. "In the good years, every night dozens of trucks brought garbage to the dumps of the Palestinian cities, today the drivers are scared to enter the territories and simply dump the garbage in improvised dumps near the seamline on the Palestinian side. The hungry Palestinians take a few pennies for this and there is no supervision, everything is just dumped," says that director of an Israeli recycling plant, who has almost nothing to do because of the pirate dumps on the border.

Since the Intifada, the pirate dumps grow daily because of the difficulty in getting the garbage to a proper site. Today, almost next door to every village, there is a dump causing serious damage. The supervision unit of the Civil Administration does very little enforcement except for sites it can get to safely.

The lengthy closures imposed by the IDF have also made things worse. City mayors have ordered city dumps to be made near population centers. The dumps have quickly turned into enormous incinerators, whose smoke is extremely dangerous to breathe. North of Jerusalem there are a number of such pirate incinerators, whose smoke is blown by the wind to Mevasseret Tziyon and the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot. Ramot residents have long been complaining of the pollution, the smoke and the smell. Radioactive Materials in Ramallah

The interim agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority obligate the PA to take responsibility for toxic materials. Importing dangerous materials into the PA requires the approval of the Civil Administration, but the PA grants the import license. According to data in the Environment Ministry, Palestinian supervision of industrial factories with environmental risk that use toxins is very limited. Toxic waste is thrown together with regular waste or flows into the riverbeds. Medical waste, including radioactive materials, is thrown into regular dumps, in Ramallah, for example.

Waste sites have become in the last two years another way for the Palestinians to take revenge on the Zionist enemy. As part of the ecological Intifada, many waste sites are located near the Green Line and near Israeli towns.

In the Gaza Strip, with money from Holland, the Palestinians have built a waste site for dangerous materials. The site, near Kibbutz Beeri in the western Negev, suffers from poor maintenance and winter damages. The director general of the Palestinian Ministry for Environmental Affairs recently said that the plant is barely used because of the cost of bringing materials there and they prefer to dump their garbage near the industrial areas.

The agreements call for the PA to collect dangerous waste materials from Judea, Samaria and Gaza and bring them to the Israeli site in Ramat Hovav. But like other agreements, this remains on paper. The Palestinians have never brought one gram of dangerous waste into Israel, despite what the report calls "repeated requests."

The PA's strategic infrastructure sites are also centered in Gaza. The Dahaniya airport and the Gaza port are defined as official international ports and are designated to handle all the naval and air traffic into the PA. The Dahaniya airport was built after tests were conducted by the PA and presented to Israel, on the effect it would have on the environment. The plan called for the airport to be built in stages, with each stage conforming to environmental concerns. In practice, the airport was built without any means to examine air pollution, noise, or to prevent fuel or other dangerous materials from leaking into the underground water table. A few months ago, the airport was bombed by IDF forces and as of today, the airport is shut down.

The Gaza port, according to the Palestinian plan, was to change from a small port into a large port by international standards. Until construction was frozen by Israel, the Palestinians managed to build a breakwater that stops the sand from reaching the Gaza Strip beaches and Ashkelon beach and are causing the beach area to shrink in those places. After the breakwater was built, the PA was to have brought sand in artificially, as common in all sand ports throughout the world, but so far, that has not happened even once.

Drinking Water in Exchange for Waste

Many environmental projects, which Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to in various agreements throughout the years, were never undertaken or at best, were begun and neglected. Even when there was money earmarked for them and the professional consultants presented the plans, the projects were not done. That is what happened, for example, with the money that was received for building a number of purification plants in Nablus, Salfit, Hebron, Tulkarm and Ramallah. In none of these cities was construction even begun. In the town of Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip the money was used for other things, while the waste still flows to the sea.

Over the years, the Environment Ministry and the Ministry for Regional Cooperation have invested millions in joint environmental projects with the Palestinian Authority. The Civil Administration built and funded oxidation pools for the city of Hebron as part of the plan for Israeli settlement in the Yatir area south of Hebron. In a period of ten years, over NIS 2 million was invested in the project, but the system worked for only a few weeks. An argument over the use of the treated waste and non-cooperation between Israel and the PA turned the project into a sad monument to all plans for regional cooperation.

Another NIS 25 million from Israel and the PA were invested in another project for a regional sewage system for settlements and Palestinian villages in the area of Nahal Kana in Samaria. To this day, despite progress in the project, the Palestinians have not submitted even an initial plan detailing which villages in the area would be linked to the sewage system.

In Gaza, the Palestinian side posed conditions for building a joint project to purify the wastes of the northern Gaza Strip. The Palestinians demanded to receive drinking water from Israeli sources in exchange for having Palestinian waste handled in the purification plant. After hearing this demand, Israel stopped all discussion of the project. Israel does not have drinking water to spare, even if this means large amounts of pollution.

Dialogue between Israel and the PA over environmental matters is conducted today only on the local level. Civil Administration inspectors speak to town mayors, to councils, villages and local mukhtars. The interim agreements called for joint committees on water and environmental matters, but in the last two years this has stopped almost completely.

The report's authors note that in mutual relations between the sides over time, local issues such as garage removal and waste in fact enjoy relatively good cooperation on the local level, compared to the national level. There are around 20 examples appended to the report of letters that Israel sent to the PA regarding various environment issues warning of dangers and even proposals to fund treatment. Most of them were completely ignored.

This was the case, for example, regarding the need to close the waste plant near the town of Azoun, or the matter of sewage from Jenin or exterminating mosquitoes and West Nile fever or even a proposal for Israel to fund a plan to collect toxic wastes from olive presses in Judea and Samaria.

Nonetheless, there is a ray of light at the end of the tunnel: a meeting was held last month between Israel and PA representatives and the UN's Agency for Environmental Protection which led to a plan for a study of the environmental situation in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, with joint funding. After the meeting, which was held in the framework of an international conference in Columbia, the Palestinian minister for the environment, Yousef Abu Safia said: "The accumulation of dangerous wastes and the joint pollution of the water resources threatens the population on both sides of the divide. It is clear that in the future we will have to share the same small piece of land and we should therefore find a common way to protect it."

The Israeli representative at the conference, the deputy director general of the Environment Ministry Valeri Brachiya, was optimistic afterwards. "The job of protecting the environment is seven times harder in times when the tension between the sides is at a peak and there is almost no good will," she said. "We definitely hope that the joint study will lead to a renewal of professional cooperation between the sides."

Five weeks have gone by since the conference, but as of today, not even a timetable has been set for beginning the study.

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