Israel Resource Review 20th September, 2005


Report #3, September 20:State of Gush Katif, Northern Sinai and Northern Shomron Communities
Toby Klein Greenwald

The World Bank in Gaza and vacated Gush Katif Globes journalist Gadi Golan reported that the World Bank will grant a series of financial incentives to entrepreneurs and investors who set up enterprises, businesses, and civilian infrastructures in the Gaza Strip. This was reportedly agreed to by World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz and Vice Premier Shimon Peres in New York this week, when they were guests of former President Bill Clinton at the inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global l Initiative.

In what may be a related development, the Jerusalem Post reported on Friday that the prosecutor of the Austrian government says he suspects Ariel Sharon was bribed by Cyril Kern, who may have been a front man for Martin Schlaff a major shareholder in the Jericho casino. The Post reported that the police suspect that Kern gave a 'loan' hoping the prime minister would reopen the casino, which was a big money maker for the Palestinians and for the businessmen associated with it. Israel Radio reported on Monday that there are legal experts who say that now that Israeli primaries are drawing near, it would be appropriate if the Israeli police authorities would make public the report they sent to the Austrian authorities a year ago [regarding Sharon]. Note: Dov Weisglass, the architect of the Disengagement Plan and advisor to Sharon for the last several years, is a partner in the law firm that continues to represent the Austrian firm that has a shareholding in the casino. The same Austrian firm also has the exclusive right to build casinos elsewhere in the Palestinian Authority, for example, in the areas that used to be Gush Katif.

Moshav Katif Update According to Ezra Heidu, spokesperson for Moshav Katif, the decision regarding the possibility of moving the Moshav Katif community to Eivin for three months, while a more permanent solution is found, is not expected to come through.

There are no other options at this time, he said. The community, currently using the dorm rooms of the Ulpana of Kfar Pines, very much wants to remain together, but it is getting more and more difficult for them, now that the students of the Ulpana have returned. Some Katif families have already left.

Another Katif "temporary resident" at the Ulpana said that, while they are grateful to the community that has taken them in, they have no kitchen facilities in their small rooms, and the food that they eat is the student dorm food, and since some of them prefer to eat quietly, as families, after the girls are finished, they are sometimes faced only with leftovers. He also said that it is very difficult, that he has to drive long distances to work in the south, and when he comes home late at night, he sees that someone in his family has to do dish-washing duty in the girls' dining hall, and that aside from the exhaustion, he feels uncomfortable washing dishes with teenage girls. He also noted that, even though the people of the village are very willing to help, the laundry gets mixed up, lost, or ruined when the lights and darks are mixed. When asked why they don't speak up about the food, dish-washing and laundry issues, he said, "People are embarrassed. We're not used to living like this. Our hosts are doing their best; we don't want to complain." His family spent thousands of shekels this month on new clothes and food. [Minhelet Sela spokesperson Chaim Altman, when speaking about this arrangement, called the dorm a "guest house".]

Heidu said that the operating of Minhelet Sela is "between Sdom and Chelm. Their behavior is between irresponsibility and criminal. There is a joke we tell - that Yonatan Basi [head of Minhelet Sela] was the only person who really believed that the expulsion would not take place. From the beginning they related to us like refugees, which is also why their ads said, 'There is a solution for every resident', not 'There is a solution for every community'."

Netzer Hazani Update Anita Tucker of Netzer Hazani, when asked what has happened since we spoke almost two weeks ago, says, "Absolutely zero". Half of the families are in tiny rooms in Kibbut Ein Zurim, waiting for their caravans to be ready. The other half are in Hispin, in the Golan Heights. In her case, her husband works in Dimona, so they all get together in Hispin for Shabbat, where her son's family is. Their final dwelling place is still unknown. The problem, she says, is that every time the community finds a good location to build together as a community, the government will not give them land there. They still can't get to their containers, as there is nowhere to put them, to remove necessary objects and clothing. People are forthcoming in setting up interest-free loan arrangements, she says, but "It's hard to take loans when you're used to being productive."

Reaction of Minhelet Sela: Chaim Altman, spokesperson for Minhele Sela, said that the issue of Moshav Katif in Eivin is still "under negotiation". He also said that after three months in Eivin, there is a possibility that the people of Moshav Katif, along with those of Gdid, will settle in Masuot Yitzhak, though this was not an option mentioned by the Katif people. Altman claimed that it isn't clear to them who is a "group" that wants to settle together and who isn't; that they don't always speak in one voice and that the responsibility for what went wrong is shared. He said, "We're doing our best. Your questions should be asked of the Prime Minister. I can't figure out [a solution for] each and every one." He said that there are plenty of apartments near each other in Lod and Beer Sheva. When asked how someone who works down south can be expected to travel from Lod, he said, "It's closer than Hispin [in the Golan]."

Regarding Netzer Hazani moving to Ein Zurim, he said, "It's still under negotiation."

Regarding media reports that there were 100 "kavavilot" standing empty in Nitzan, Altman said the real number is 65, and that those are either 60 square meters or 90 square meters, that there are none left that are 130 square meters. (Most of the families have at least five children.)

He said that more than 200 families from Neve Dekalim currently want to join Nitzan, the regular not caravan - community, and that there will eventually be 442 homes ready there. (There are 600 families from Neve Dekalim.)

Regarding the future of the religious families left from Homesh, who have not settled in the secular, communist Moshav Yad Hanna, Altman confirmed that "I don't know anything about them."

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Official PA Me3ia: EU Monitoring Role Negotiated for Rafah
Palestine Media Center - PMC

[On December 1, 2003, Israel Resource News Agency covered the "Geneva Initiative", [See:!geneva3] where "the head of the European Parliamentarian Delegation to the Geneva Initiative, Mr. Graham Watson, described the planned armed international force [which he described as a European Strike Force - db]that the US, Canada, the EU, the Scandinavian countries, Japan and Australia plan to dispatch to patrol the future borders which will run through the middle of Jerusalem and alongside Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Watson confirmed that Geneva Initiative mandates the creation of an international force which would actively prevent the Israeli army from pursuit of terrorists who escape into "Palestinian territory" since that international force is, according to the Geneva Initiative, designed to protect the "integrity of Palestinian territory". - db]

September 20th, 2005

The Gaza Strip-Egypt border will reopen only as part of an international agreement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday, following media reports that Israel has agreed in principle to a European Union role in policing Gaza's border crossing of Rafah.

"The (border) terminal will be open when there is an international agreement," Abbas said.

Palestinian security forces sealed off Gaza's southern border with Egypt early Sunday. The Palestinian commander for southern Gaza, Jamal Kaed, said he expected the border to be reopened within 48 hours but declined to elaborate.

Abbas said on Sunday the border was under control after the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) sealed all gaps in the 10-mile border and 2,000 security personnel deployed, effectively closing it. The border was quiet on Monday.

On the Egyptian side of the border, hundreds of troops with automatic rifles and armored vehicles took up positions. Under an agreement with Israel, Egypt was deploying 750 border guards to prevent the illegal crossing of goods and people.

"We want to do the right job at the right time because we want to act as a state, as a responsible authority," Abbas said. "Therefore, we are following up on the subject seriously with our brothers in Egypt. Until we reach agreement, we should be patient."

The PNA and Egypt have set up a joint security committee on control of the borderline, President Abbas' security adviser Jebril Rajoub told reporters on Thursday.

Meanwhile senior Israeli officials told Reuters that a deal in principle had been reached with the EU for its personnel to work with Palestinian security forces and Egyptian police.

"This would be an EU security role, to prevent terrorists or their weaponry entering Gaza as part of the EU's role in the global war on terror," one Israeli official said.

Israel has long been reluctant to allow outside involvement in its conflict with the Palestinians, perceiving Europe, and indeed the world except its strategic US ally, as pro-Palestinian, Reuters noted.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told Reuters the PNA had agreed in principle to an EU presence on the Gaza-Egypt border "but the modalities and the definition of their role will have to be discussed and agreed."

A spokesman for the Foreign Office in Britain, which holds the EU rotating presidency, said it was up to the Palestinians, Israelis and Egyptians to reach agreement.

"When they come up with some sort of plan, we are prepared to consider any proposal," the spokesman said.

The PNA and Egypt were pushing Israel to agree to third party monitoring of border traffic as a way of re-opening a legal crossing on the Gaza frontier.

Senior Israeli "Defense" Ministry official Gen. Amos Gilad is expected to hold talks with Egypt's chief of intelligence, Omar Sulaiman, and Egyptian military commanders in charge of the border with Gaza and Israel.

Palestinians Reject Planned Israeli 'Security Zone'

Separately the Israeli "Defense" Minister Shaul Mofaz has ordered a security zone to run 150m deep into the Palestinian side of the northern Gaza Strip to create a no-man's land to which access is forbidden for Palestinians.

Erakat said the establishment of the security zone would mean that the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip would continue.

"This shows that Israel is still an occupying power in Gaza and still motivated by the occupation mentality," Erakat had said.

The armed wing of Hamas, Izzaddin al-Kassam, said in a statement that its members would resume attacks on Israeli targets if Israel insisted on setting up the security zone.

"The Zionist enemy's step will compel us to continue our resistance and attacks on its soldiers by all means," the statement said. "We will turn the area into another Shaba Farms and our snipers will target the Zionist soldiers there.

Thousands of Hamas fighters paraded with weapons through the streets of Gaza City on Sunday in the group's largest show of force in years.

Similarly Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh said his group rejected the security zone and threatened to resume attacks on Israel.

"Creating a security zone north of the Gaza Strip means Israeli control over the area," he said. "We call on the international community to reject this project."

For the first time since the Israeli pullout from Gaza, Israeli and Palestinian security officials met at the new Israeli district coordinating office at Beit Hanoon (Erez) on Sunday night, and discussed future coordination on civilian and security issues.

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