Israel Resource Review 10th November, 1998

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Can the Arabs Ever Use Their Oil Power Weapon Again?
by Emanuel A. Winston
a Middle East Analyst & Commentator

The focus of the industrial West has, for many years, been drawn to the oil-bearing nations of the Middle East because they needed oil. As a repository of developed and yet to be developed fields, reserves of precious crude in the Middle East were an irresistible magnet.

The point men were the oil companies who represented industrial and government interests. Nations contested with each other for oil leases and oil contracts as if there were no other oil deposits on the planet. But, something has happened to change that status. There were international interests who wanted Middle East oil prices driven up so they could raise local prices to a similar level in their own countries. And weapons' manufacturers wanted prices to rise so the Arab countries could use there new wealth to buy their goods. Henry Kissinger, then Sec. of State, was particularly anxious for the Shah of Iran to be able to afford generous purchases of weapons in quantities sufficient for Iran to serve as America's guardian and policeman over the Gulf States.

Recall the embargo of 1973, when the Arab countries refused to ship oil to the West? This required assistance from the multi-national oil companies who agreed not to deliver crude oil to America, Europe, Japan. Their trick worked and the prices per barrel skyrocketed from $2.50 per barrel to $10 and then even up to $40 on the spot market as the bidding grew wild. Overnight the Arabs became super rich and the oil companies enjoyed astronomical price increases to their markets.

The profits to the oil nations were enormous which spurred them into a buying spree never before seen in these desert countries. Weapons especially were purchased in such volume that US and European arms manufacturers made fortunes, as did banks, shipping, and industrial building contractors like Bechtel. Money flowed like water via the international exchange medium of black gold. The West had its collective lips firmly affixed to the behind of the Arab nations' dictators. Oil was King and its users became its vassals. Nothing the Arabs demanded was withheld by the West.

But, something was quietly happening in parallel to this flood of this high-priced commodity.

Other countries around the globe envied the easy money that the Arabs were taking from the global economy. They began exploring in earnest their own oil-bearing resources which heretofore were not economical to develop. Sinking wells (many were dry) and running pipe over land to ports (yet to be built) was very expensive. However, with the price of oil at the levels to which the Arab nations had driven it, economics warranted going into debt and this they did.

Slowly, small and even some large fields came on stream. It started with small trickling fingers of oil which began to make it to market. At first the volume was too small to effect the market price. But, soon those small fields were expanded and new fields were discovered, drilled and piped. Those trickling streams grew and started to converge into a mighty river, pouring into a virtual global sea of crude. This resulted in a glut now and still growing.

The Middle Eastern oil potentates tried using their cartel called OPEC (with the assistance of the multi-nationals) to coordinate and pump less in order to keep their prices and profits up to support their now very expensive lifestyles. They had created such massive debts by buying and building infrastructure they mostly didn't need, they could barely keep up the payments. In fact, Saudi Arabia has reportedly just borrowed $5 billion from a neighboring oil nation as it experienced a short fall in liquidity. Other breaking reports speak of these oil nations negotiating to re-schedule their debts to weapons' manufacturers - while canceling orders not yet delivered. This has panicked the weapons' manufacturers who based much of their profits on the income The Decline of Arab Oil Power Pg. 2 expected from prior and new sales.

On the global level, all those nations who borrowed heavily to get in on the Black Gold bonanza now had to pay principal and interest to their creditors. They could not stop or slow pumping. They even had to pump more than was wise as the price per barrel fell ever downward.

Recently, at a symposium held by the prestigious think tank, AEI. American Enterprise Institute, there was a startling revelation by Paul Michael Wihbey, an expert on Mid East oil. He said that the center of gravity of oil politics had shifted. He described the dramatic shift away from the Middle East as the primary source of oil.1

Today, the South Atlantic region supplies between 45% and 48% of oil imported to America. Combined with imports from Canada, the North Sea, South America (Venezuela and Mexico), Western East Africa (Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and the Congo) total non-Persian Gulf oil represents 81.2% of oil imported by the United States. During the Gulf War (1990-91) 27.8% of American oil came from the Persian Gulf. Today, it has dropped to 18.2% and continues to decline.2

Concurrently, more new oil is coming on stream, while the Arab oil states are looking desperately at a now vigorously competitive market. The oil companies have so far successfully manipulated market prices despite the glut so their refined products like gasoline will continue getting high prices at the pump.

Therefore, while the Middle East continues to pump for their necessary cash flow, most of the world's oil is now coming from all those new fields which their inflated prices made economical to develop. Many contractors and end product users of Middle East oil will not be sorry to see the stick removed from the Arab hand. During the era when the Arab nations boycotted Israel, all corporations and nations had to genuflect to Arab wishes with respect to Not doing business with Israel. While not necessarily pro-Israel, these nations and their companies chaffed under the unreasonable dictates of Arab kings, dictators and even free-wheeling terrorist nations and groups who demanded and received protection money for Not attacking the oil flow.

What then does this decline in Arab oil power mean for Israel?

First, the nations and corporations will not be so eager to attack Israel on all issue while defending Arab reasons. This will not happen quickly since there are operating institutions whose policy is to continue appeasing Arab nations while concurrently undermining Israel. Three such institutions are the US State Department, the EU (European Union), and the United Nations who often collaborate in undercutting Israel whenever possible. They've got the habit and, even when the world's paradigm reverses, they're not smart enough or eager to switch gears fast enough. Such institutions are so filled with their own hubris that they will not give up their prerogatives so easily when they have an in-bred base of anti-Semitism driving their policies. This demonstrated anti-Jewish bias fit very well with the Islamic driven hostility the Arabs demonstrated against the Jews since centuries before the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

Along with the shifting centers of energy supplies, Mr. Wihbey also demonstrated how the lucrative markets have shifted from the Arab/Muslim countries to the eastern Mediterranean countries of Israel and possibly Turkey. Now, since Israel is the major high tech market growing in the region, major corporations are placing themselves in that market to buy and sell. Because her technological base is growing at such a fast pace, Israel is often called the "second Silicon Valley". Many nations and companies have taken the opportunity to sub-contract their technological development in Israel. This growth will continue providing the Arab nations in rage and frustration over their own decline don't start a super-war with all their Western-gotten weapons.

1 "US Strategic & Economic Interests in the Region Are Changing?" Paul Michael Wihbey, Institute for Advanced Strategic & Policy Studies at Symposium: "Rethinking the Middle East" AEI: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research October 14, 1998"

2 "Washington Insight" by Harun Kazaz, Turkish Daily News

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Bombs in Machaneh Yehudah and American Assuarances
by David Bedein
Media Research Analyst

The car bomb that exploded in Jerusalem's bustling Machane Yehudah marketplace on Friday morning found me in the city of Hebron, now under the rule of the Palestine Authority, only an hour south of Jerusalem, where I was standing with a Palestinian journalist colleague, covering a military parade of the Islamic Hamas movement.

We watched masked Arabs, brandishing automatic weapons, marched though on the streets of downtown Hebron, in a demonstration that was licensed by the Palestine Authority, with weapons that were licensed by the Palestine Authority since May, 1995.

The Hamas demonstrators chanted "death to the Jews". "liberate Jerusalem", and "We shall return our lands from 1948", "down with Zionism". These are the slogans that you would expect. They also burned American and Israeli flags. All under the watchful eyes of the Palestinian police.

Yet only two weeks ago, I covered the Wye plantation talks, where the Palestine Authority committed itself to disarming the weapons of Hamas and other groups opposed to the peace process.

Unless these guns paraded by Hamas were manufactured by Mattel or Hasboro, it would seem that these weapons were supposed to have confiscated by Arafat's police.

Returning to Jerusalem, I visited the media lab of Palestine Media Watch, a professional media office that follows the official Palestinian media.

I was curious to see how the car bomb in Machaneh Yehudah was being reported on official Palestine Authority Television, especially since the US government had recently issued stinging criticism of what the American consulate in Jerusalem had described to the Palestine Report, a local Palestinian weekly, as "a network of incitement that was harming the peace process".

While I waited to hear the Palestine Authority TV news, Official Palestinian TV featured an interview with Imjad Fallouji, the elected leader of Hamas in Gaza, the Palestinian minister of communications, and a member of Arafat's inner cabinet. Imjad Fallouiji was not asked about Hamas military parades or about Hamas car bombs. What the Palestine Authority TV announcer did ask Fallouji was for him to explain the implications of "970", the new area code that the Palestine Authority telephone system received this week at the International Communications conference that was recently held in Minneapolis.

When the PBC newsreel finally came on the air, the announcer mentioned the "explosions" that took place in the Machane Yehudah marketplace, mentioning that terrorists indeed had carried out the act, with no sound of regret, yet with a perfunctory condemnation of the attack, as the Palestinian Minister of Justice Freich Abu Medein simply saying that the "attack does not serve Palestinian interests", yet without any specific criticism of any particular Palestinian group.

I recalled that during the Wye summit, an Arab threw a grenade at a bus in Beersheva, resulting in the Palestine Authority radio spokesman also saying that "the attack does not serve Palestinian interests" . . . yet blaming Israeli nationalists for throwing the grenade.

In today's newscast, however, the Palestine Authority TV announcer went on to declare that the real crime was the continuing Israeli policy of adding Jewish homes in an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem, Ras Al Amud, an area that lies contiguous to one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Israel, on the hill known as the Mount of Olives.

Calling the Palestine Authority office in Ramallah, I asked the PA spokesman if there was any plan to disarm the Hamas marchers whom I had watched that morning.

The PA spokesman was surprised by my question. "They weren't firing their guns, were they?"

This reminds me of the statement made only a week ago by Arafat's aide, Saeb Erakat, who assured Palestinians in an interview with an official newspaper of the Palestine Authority that all of the Hamas leaders who had been arrested during the widely publicized round-up of Hamas after an attack on an Israeli school bus the previous day would indeed be released, if they could prove that they had no direct involvement in the attack on the bus.

At the end of my Friday work day at the press center, I received another call.

An American Israeli citizen of Jerusalem, Joyce Boim, the mother of a teenage boy, David, who was gunned down by a young Palestinian Hamas member, Amjad Hanawi, back in May, 1996, called to inform me that the Israeli government has issued an official statement that the Palestine Authority has released Amjad Hanawi, despite the fact that Hanawi was convicted of her son's murder in a Palestinian court back in February, after Joyce had lobbied members of Congress to demand that her son's killer be brought to justice.

After President Clinton made a personal call to Arafat, Amjad was indeed arrested.

I have requested a response from the American consulate press spokesman for the past two months to the rumor that Amjad Hanawi was set free by the Palestine Authority. I have received only one response from the American consulate spokesman: "To the best of our knowledge. Amjad Hanawi is in prison". To the question as to whether the American consul or a representative of the American consulate has visited the Palestine Authority jail where Amjad is supposed to be in prison, the answer that I have received is: "no". Joyce Boim has received the same answer.

At the Wye summit, an idea was mentioned that the US would judge as to whether the Palestine Authority was keeping its commitments on matters concerning the disarming of terror groups and the incarceration of terrorists.

In this regard, the US state department officially announced that, as far as the US was concerned, the Palestine Authority had fulfilled the security promises that Arafat had made to Israel and the US at the Wye River summit.

Yet the US knows full well that the PA allows the Hamas to operate openly and flaunt its weapons in Hebron and elsewhere in the Palestine Authority under its jurisdiction. The US knows full well that the PA arrests and releases convicted killers like Amjad Hanawi. And the US knows full well that the PA condemnations of killings are half-hearted, to say the least.

In less than one month, US President Clinton will arrive in Gaza, to address a gathering of the Palestine Authority, in which he is expected to attest to Palestinian compliance with Israel's security needs.

How people in Israel will respond to President Clinton's "Palestine Authority security assurances" remains unclear at this time.

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Arafat: Fears of Parkinson's
Arafat Health Scare Puts Peace Process in Jeopardy
by Andy Goldberg & Uzi Mahnaimi
Sunday Times of London
1st November, 1998

Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, is suffering from Parkinson's disease, according to a report compiled by Israeli military intelligence. He is receiving treatment for symptoms of tremor and muscular rigidity but shows no sign of becoming incapacitated, it claims.

Palestinian officials have previously dismissed suggestions that Arafat's health is declining, saying they are the result of a disinformation campaign by Israel to destabilise the Palestinian government. However, sources familiar with the report, drawn up by Amman, Israel's military intelligence branch, describe it as "raw intelligence" from an extensive dossier on the medical and psychological profiles of prominent figures worldwide. The report emphasizes that "in spite of the symptoms, Arafat's mental and psychological functions show no signs of deterioration". It says it could be years before Parkinson's, a progressive disease of the nervous system, renders him incapable of fulfilling his duties.

According to the report, Arafat, 68, is being treated with L-dopa, a drug used in Parkinson's patients to counter weakness and tremor caused by deficiencies of a compound called dopamine that affects impulses between nerves and muscles. It also claims that Arafat is suffering from sclerosis - abnormal hardening - of the brain tissue.

The diagnosis will come as no surprise to those who have seen him at close quarters in recent months. In September he collapsed at an Arab League meeting in Cairo. He fainted at a session of the Palestinian legislative council last month and was taken to hospital. Those who have met Arafat in recent weeks say he sometimes has difficulty in speaking. His lower lip, hands and feet tremble involuntarily and his memory is said to lapse.

The intelligence report indicates that his handwriting has changed and his face has become frozen, a typical side effect of Parkinson's. His gait and posture are said to have stiffened and his eyes are sometimes fixed on a point in the distance. The report concludes that he is in constant pain.

Arafat, however, has been written off many times before. In 1967 he narrowly escaped capture when Israeli troops occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the six-day war. In 1982, Israel's attacks on Lebanon forced him to flee by ferry with a ragged band of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) fighters to Tunis.

His luckiest escape came in 1992 when his plane was forced to make a crash-landing in the Libyan desert.

Aides to Arafat claim his obvious nervous disorders are the harmless result of a blood clot that developed after the accident. They say the frustration of dealing with an Israeli government he accuses of obstructing the Middle East peace process has also taken its toll on Arafat's nerves.

Despite such pressures, he remains "as strong as an ox", according to close advisers. While he no longer maintains a regime of 16-hour working days, Palestinian officials still wait all night outside his room for a brief meeting.

Their denials that Arafat is seriously ill have failed to half speculation among Middle Eastern analysts about who might succeed him. Mahmoud Abbas, the secretary-general of the PLO, appears a likely candidate.

However, most observers agree that Arafat's death would undermine the Palestinian leadership. Without his authority, they say, overcoming Islamic militants and striking a peace deal with Israel would be much more difficult. Most dangerous of all could be a resurgence of support for Hamas, the Islamic fundamentalist group, which has mounted a series of suicide bomb attacks in Israel.

Some Israeli hawks welcome the prospect of instability that would follow the Palestinian leader's death. They believe any deterioration in his condition could provide an opportunity to ditch the Oslo peace accord he signed with Yitzhak Rabin, the former Israeli premier who was assassinated two years ago by a right-wing extremist.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, has made no significant concessions. Many believe the death of Arafat would signal the end of the Middle East peace process.

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Palestinian Reactions to the Wye River
Memorandum III: Revising the Charter and Security Issues
MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 11
4th November, 1998

Part II, Section C, Paragraph 2, of the Wye River Memorandum, requires the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Central Council to reaffirm the January 22, 1998 letter from PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat to President Clinton concerning the nullification of the Palestinian National Charter provisions that are inconsistent with the letters exchanged between the PLO and the Government of Israel on 9/10 September 1993. The Memorandum further states that there will be a meeting, addressed by President Clinton, of the PNC, as well as the members of the Central Council, the Council, and the Palestinian Heads of Ministries to reaffirm their support for the peace process and the aforementioned decisions of the Executive Committee and the Central Council.

The Wye River Memorandum also requires Israeli and Palestinian cooperation in arresting terrorists and for the Palestinians to provide the Israelis with a list of present and former Palestinian police men, so that it can be determined if the size of the Palestinian police force is within the limits prescribed by the Oslo Accords.

The following are excerpts from the Palestinian media.

The Palestinian National Charter

In a speech to the Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC] plenum. Chief Negotiator Saib `Areikat, said: "the joint session of the PLO-Executive Committee, Palestinian National Council [PNC], Central Council and the Palestinian Legislative Council is merely for the purpose of listening to President Clinton's speech. There will be no voting. It is [said] clearly in the Wye memorandum, and we have an American letter on that. Anything else that is said on that matter is Netanyahu's business. We have nothing to do with it. The Palestinian side will not review the issue of the Palestinian National Charter yet again.

"We have two letters from the US that will be presented at the [right] time. One of the two deals with the National Charter; while the other deals with six points that relate in part to the implementation of the agreement, to mutual ties between the two peoples and to the bilateral committees." 'Areikat declined to elaborate on these letters.1

In an interview with a French news agency `Areikat said, "We have officially received two collateral letters from the American administration. Both are signed by Secretary of State Albright, including an American guarantee on the seven points in the agreement, which pertain to unilateral actions, security, the Palestinian National Charter, and to a timetable for implementation." Commenting on the issue of unilateral actions, `Areikat stressed that the American administration had made a commitment to halt any unilateral action that violated the status quo on the ground and might affect the final status negotiations. `Areikat said that the two letters confirmed that the Wye Security Memorandum was the basis upon which the security commitments of both sides would be established, and that the American administration was committed to its role as supervisor of the implementation by both sides.

In addition, the letters emphasized that the PNC is the body that should ratify the letter President Arafat sent to President Clinton earlier this year. In the letter to Clinton, Arafat mentioned the National Charter clauses that were amended in mid 1996. `Areikat said that the two letters from the United States stressed President Clinton's confirmation to attend a large meeting of both PNC members and members of other Palestinian organs in support of the peace process and mutual ties between the two peoples - Americans and Palestinian.2

General-Secretary of the Presidium Taib `Abd Al-Rahim said that it had been agreed [with the Israelis] that the Palestinian Central Council, which is an intermediary between the PLO Executive Committee and the Palestinian National Council [PNC], was the body authorized to ratify the letter Arafat had given to President Clinton in reference to Palestinian National Charter clauses that had already been amended in the last plenum of the PNC. `Abd Al-Rahim added that a meeting comprising PNC members, Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC] members, Cabinet Ministers and national figures would be held. "There, Clinton will address them in support of the peace process. [The meeting] will not end with a vote, but with a round of applause. This is because the meeting is meant for applauding and stating that we support the letter Arafat had sent. We will say that the PNC had already dropped from the charter all the clauses that were in violation of the [Oslo] Accords."3

Arresting Wanted Terrorists

Addressing the PLC plenum, Saib `Areikat, the Palestinian chief negotiator, said that the agreement compelled the Israeli side to take the necessary steps to prevent terrorism and crimes against the Palestinian people. He disclosed that the Palestinians have sent the Israeli government a list of Israeli terrorists, toward whom it takes a `revolving-door' policy, and demanded that they be arrested.

'Areikat said, "Netanyahu must realize that reciprocity is the foundation. There will be no foundation for security collaboration, if the Israeli Premier will continue on sparing terrorists, while ignoring the fact that seventy five percent of all Israelis support the agreement"4

Reducing Palestinian Police Force

In an interview in the daily Al-Quds, Commander of the Palestinian Police Ghazi Jebali, said that the Israeli demands to reduce the number of Palestinian Police personnel posed "no problem [for him]. This can be overcome through reorganization of personnel; so that those stationed some place could be of service somewhere else. This problem can be overcome through a policy of transfers."5

1.Al-Ayyam November 4, 1998
2.Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 4, 1998
3.Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 3, 1998
4.Al-Ayyam, November 4, 1998
5.Al-Quds, November 4, 1998

The Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization providing translations of the Arab media and original analysis and research on developments in the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available upon request.

Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI)
1815 H Street, NW   Suite 404
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 955-9070   Fax: (202) 955-9077

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Al-Ahram Weekly:
For the First Time:
Egypt Admits Sinking the Dakar

Al-Ahram Weekly, October, 1998

Giving Chase to an "Enemy" Sub
by Galal Nassar
Al-Ahram Weekly 29th October - 4th November, 1998

Heading: A high military official confirmed in the presence of President Mubarak that the Egyptian navy was responsible for the 1968 sinking of the Israeli destroyer Dakar. [IMRA: The Dakar was a submarine.]

[IMRA COMMENT: This story does not relate how the Dakar was sunk. Was it struck by Egyptian fire or did it break up when diving in an unsafe area when under Egyptian pursuit? More importantly, why did Egypt delay over 30 years before taking credit for being "responsible for the sinking", especially since Egypt has cooperated in searching for the Dakar?]


In a show of military might, 74 naval pieces teamed . . . to stage a naval exercise off the coast of Alexandria. The high point of the exercise, which was watched by President Hosni Mubarak as part of the celebrations marking the silver jubilee of the October 1973 War, was the chase and capture of an "enemy" submarine that was approaching the Alexandria coastline.

In the course of the exercise . . . Vice Admiral Mohamed El-Wleili, commander of naval training, became the first official to confirm that the Egyptian navy was responsible for the sinking of the Israeli destroyer Dakar [IMRA: the Dakar was a submarine] on 25th January 1968. Several retired officers had said so in the past, but this was the first time it was officially confirmed by an active commander. The disappearance of the Dakar, which was sailing from Britain to Israel [IMRA: on the delivery trip and probably not combat conditioned] off the coast of Alexandria has always been a mystery.

In what could be a message to certain regional powers that seek to acquire modern offensive submarines, the naval exercise featured a search operation for a submarine that sought to approach and attack the Alexandria naval base. American-made Perry and Knox-class frigates, sub-chasers and SH-2G helicopters gave chase to the submarine. The helicopters, which had not been displayed in public before, are equipped with sonar detectors and are armed with anti-submarine missiles.

On the Seventh Day
by Khaled Amayreh
Al-Ahram Weekly 29th October - 4th November, 1998

Quote from Text: "The agreement symbolizes the final downfall of the Zionist ideology which views the West Bank as part of Biblical Israel."


Many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip reacted to last Friday's Wye Plantation agreement with ambivalence and scepticism, preferring to wait and see how, and if, the agreement would be implemented on the ground.

On the one hand, Palestinians welcomed the promised redeployment of the Israeli army from 10 per cent of West Bank territory in addition to the partial and largely disingenuous redeployment from an additional three per cent, slated to become a "nature reserve".

On the other hand, the bulk of Palestinians have been disheartened by the stringent conditions attached to the agreement, particularly with regards to security, and also by the uncertainty hanging over a third redeployment.

Supporters of the deal argued that the Palestinians succeeded for the first time ever in regaining Palestinian land from a Likud-led government that embraces the ideology of "Eretz Yisrael".

"The agreement symbolises the final downfall of the Zionist ideology which views the West Bank as part of historical, Biblical Israel," said Al-Tayeb Abdel-Rehim, an aide of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. [IMRA: But even non-Zionists know that the West Bank was "part of historical biblical Israel".]

"We did not get all we wanted," he said, but added in a self-reassuring tone that "this is an interim agreement . . .".

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a former Minister of Higher Education, warned against infringing on civil liberties, especially freedom of the press and expression in the name of fulfilling commitments.

Another Palestinian councillor, Hosam Khader . . . a long-time critic of Arafat's administration, voiced anxiety over the role given to the American Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] in overseeing Palestinian security compliance.

"I'm afraid our entire security apparatus will become an extra-territorial department of the CIA," said Khader. As expected, Hamas castigated the agreement, saying it amounted to total surrender. Sheikh Nayef Rajoub, Hamas spokesman in the Hebron area, described the accord as a "security pact between Israel and the Palestinian Authority," saying the "Israelis, Americans and the PA are all after Hamas."

Netanyahu said a special cabinet session, previously scheduled for today, would not be held pending Palestinian compliance. "As far as we are concerned, and for all practical purposes, we will not be able to begin implementing our part of the agreement until the Palestinians implement their part," he said.

Netanyahu also criticised statements attributed to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Ereikat in which he was quoted as saying the agreement stipulated a meeting of the PLO Central Council, rather than the Palestinian National Council [PNC], to strike off anti-Israel provisions from the PLO's charter.

"We will not settle for anything less than a meeting of the PNC," Netanyahu said.

His statement drew an angry reaction from Palestinian negotiator Hassan Asfour. "It seems that once again Netanyahu is going to succumb to political blackmail by the settlers and extremists. It shows that Netanyahu has unwillingly signed the agreement under pressure from the American president."

The opposite interpretations of key parts of the agreement -- security and the Palestinian charter -- indicate that implementation is bound to face major hurdles.

Meanwhile, Palestinian police arrested a Palestinian on suspicion of killing a Jewish settler on Monday. Police sources in Hebron said the Palestinian, Jamil Khalifeh, confessed to having killed the settler.

Khalifeh was apparently angered by the agreement and acted on his own initiative. His arrest demonstrates PA resolve to combat violence and deny Israel any pretexts for not honouring its commitments. [IMRA comment: Better, it demonstrates the writers ingenuity in finding reasons for the killing of Jews.]

Prudish Reception
by Nevine Khalil
Al-Ahram Weekly 29th October - 4th November, 1998

Heading: Cairo received the Middle East breakthrough cautiously, subscribing to a wait-and-see approach and putting the emphasis on honest implementation.


Egypt cautioned that the Wye Memorandum . . . will only prove successful if it is adhered to "honestly" by both parties, especially the Israelis. [IMRA: Not equally the Palestinians?] During separate telephone conversations with President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after the signing ceremony, President Hosni Mubarak stressed the necessity of "commitment to the new agreement" in order for regional peace to make progress.

Egyptian officials were briefed by the Palestinian negotiators on a daily basis, according to Mubarak. "We gave them advice and helped them overcome the obstacles," . . . He asserted that Egypt's role in the peace process was to "propel, not obstruct, negotiations".

Mubarak said that Cairo "has no objection" to the Wye Memorandum "because the Palestinians have accepted the agreement out of conviction," adding that Egypt will "follow the implementation phase closely".

Mubarak believed that the Israeli leadership is satisfied with the agreement, but expressed hope that Netanyahu's government will "closely adhere to the articles of the agreement."

Mubarak stressed that "good will" was necessary for the peace process to "regain its energy", and said that the agreement "will assist in rebuilding the required confidence between the parties on all tracks."

"If there is good will, then implementation will be simple," Mubarak told a gathering of army officers in Suez . . . "And excuses should not be made on the pretext of security concerns." The president said that Netanyahu had failed to live up to past peace deals. Of the six points in the 1997 Hebron Accord, Mubarak said, "only two were implemented while the remaining four were ignored." [IMRA: The Palestinians kept none of their obligations.]

Marble at a Price
by Sherine Nasr
Al-Ahram Weekly 15th - 22nd October, 1998

Heading: . . . curious goings-on in a cave near Beni Suef

Quote from Text: "these accidents are not reported to the police and no legal or police action is taken"

"Sometimes the dynamite explodes before the worker has taken shelter and then we have a tragedy . . ."


One worker was killed and another seriously injured last month while using dynamite to blast marble at the Snour cave, 60 kilometres from the town of Beni Suef in central Egypt. The death of Rabie Tohami Abdel-Tawwab may yet not be the last in the cave. "Since 1990, 15 workers have been killed and 73 others crippled as a result of the use of explosives," said Emad Abu Zeid, a member of the local (municipal) council of Beni Suef.

Judging by Awad's account, working conditions at the cave are primitive indeed. "A worker descends into the cave to a depth of 50 or 60 metres. He fixes the dynamite in various locations, lights the fuse and then makes a dash for it, hiding behind the farthest and largest boulder he can find," said Awad. "Sometimes the dynamite explodes before the worker has taken shelter and then we have a tragedy on our hands."

Moreover, rocks which may have become dislodged as a result of successive explosions sometimes fall on workers without warning, causing even more harm.

According to Karam Saber of the Land Centre for Human Rights, these accidents are not reported to the police and no legal or police action is taken. "The workers are recruited from nearby villages and each is paid LE10 a day. Certainly, they are not insured medically and when something goes wrong, they are not compensated," Saber said.

The use of explosives is not only dangerous to workers but to nature as well. The Snour cave is classified as a nature reserve and a 1983 law penalises any action that affects such a reserve.

Translations by Dr. Joseph Lerner,
Co-Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645

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