|Israel Resource Review
||13th October, 1998
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Why is the Shuafat Refugee Camp Seething?
by David Bedein
Media Research Analyst
At a time when the issue of Palestinian refugees surfaces on the agenda of
the peace process, a visit to the one Palestinian refugee camp in Jerusalem
can provide you with some understanding of the comlexity of the refugee
issue at hand.
A three minute ride from Mount Scopus, traveling north, well within the
city limits of Jerusalem, you will find the only UNRWA (United Nations
Relief and Works Agency) Arab refugee camp in Jerusalem, in Shuafat. This
is part of Jerusalem, and closures of the west bank do not affect Shuafat.
The Shuafat refugee camp gets into the news now and then when you hear
about riots in the camp or stones hurled at passing vehicles. It remains a
mystery to most people as to why there must be so much anger and tension in
I went to Shuafat to find out.
It would seem that some 5,500 Palestinian Arab refugees live in the Shuafat
camp. 3,000 are children. They are descended from Arabs who in 1948 left
what is now the Ashkelon region, and were initially settled in the hovels
of the burnt out Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, from where
they were abruptly relocated by King Hussein to Shuafat in 1966. Jordan
had Arab renovation in mind for the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem at the
time. Little did the Jordanian king realize that his "Project Removal" to
Shuafat would allow the IDF to enter an abandoned Jewish Quarter in 1967.
Ahmed, the volunteer head of the "committee for the disabled" in Shuafat,
seems to be a one man greeting committee for Shuafat.
Ahmed introduces himself as the man who was elected by the
residents of Shuafat to run programs for disabled Shuafat
residents. The term disabled defines anyone from handicapped
people to children with learning disabilities. Unlike other Arab
neighborhoods in Jerusalem where some professional services
exist in this regard, they do not exist except on a voluntary
basis in Shuafat.
Without receiving a salary for his work with the disabled, Ahmed, who
works as a school teacher at Shuafat's elementary school, says that he
devotes all of his spare time to work at the center for the disabled in
the Shuafat camp. While Ahmed describes programs and centers in other areas
of East Jerusalem that provide professional paid staff for the disabled, he
explains that, "Well, UNRWA simply does not provide such services . . . People
in the camp hate the UN and UNRWA. They strike them at work and when they
come to visit the camp".
Palestinians who were interviewed by IPCRI (Israeli/Palestinian Center For
Research and Information) described UNRWA's assistance as "meaningless",
while describing tensions between camp residents and UNRWA.
"We believe that UNRWA wants to withdraw from this camp and give it to the
Palestinian Authority", said Omar, Ahmed's colleague on the ad hoc "PR
committee for Shuafat".
The PR committee, Omar says, figures that this is why UNRWA is not
supplying services to the best of its ability.
Not that Omar is thrilled about the PA running things, either, since Omar
claims that the PA does not have funds allocated to help UNRWA camps. "As
far as the PA is concerned, Shuafat people have homes to go back to, in
the villages that they left back in 1948", says Omar.
Omar is correct. One of the first decisions of the Palestine Authority back
in 1994 was to deny aid to the UNRWA refugee camps, because this would
violate the right of return of Palestinian Arab refugees, as proscribed by
UN resolution #194.
So much for the expectations of the Oslo process that hundreds of thousands
of Palestinian Arabs living in refugee camps would be taken care of by an
autonomous Palestinian entity.
Omar comments that when he walks around the camp every day, that he sees "
a look of abandonment upon the faces of the men sitting around me. UNRWA
wants to desert them and they do not want to be under ownership of the
Palestinian Authority. Their lives lay in the hands of ruthless
politicians. As a result of this, the refugees maintain an unstable
relationship between the UNRWA representatives and the residents in the camp".
When Shuafat refugee camp opened in 1966, camp residents say, UNRWA was
eagerly providing education, medical care, food, and social services.
That was then. Now, the reality is much harsher. The refugees of Shuafat
camp wake up to the smell of urine breezing through their tiny apartments
and winter flood steams that rush through their narrow alleyways. streets.
Every year, there is talk of a new plan to pave streets and create
sidewalks. Aid for this purpose is rejected from the Jerusalem
municipality. The City of Jerusalem maintains a standard offer to help with
sewage and paving the streets. Yet UNRWA will not allow this, since Israel
is not recognized as a "host country".
Children and the elderly meanwhile try to deal with the decline in services
which were previously provided by UNRWA.
"Our children do not even have a playground," Omar said, as he walked past
a group of Shuafat children kicking around a plastic bottle.
Back in 1966, Shuafat camp was large enough to house all of its then 1,000
inhabitants. Not anymore.
In Shuafat, as in other UNRWA camps, there is not enough room in the area
to expand the housing. Therefore, UNRWA builds upward. Apartments are
stacked like blocks, one on top of each other. Families of ten are often
packed in three bedroom apartments in the Shuafat camp.
Palestinian refugees have one of the largest population growth rates in the
world, almost 5 per cent a year. In total, The 650,000 Arab refugees from
1948 have swelled to more than three million, confined by UNRWA since 1949
in fifty nine refugee camps. One million Arab refugees live in the UNRWA
camps in the west bank and in Gaza.
The figures may be somewhat inflated, said one UNRWA health official, who
asked not to be identified, "because some identity cards of deceased UNRWA
residents get used again".
"UNRWA promised us 12 sanitation workers and the exact number that work
here is five," barked an angry public relations committee member named
Hadr. The lack of sanitation employment within the camp is evident by the
piles of garbage and sewage that clog the streets of Shuafat. The small
number of UNRWA sanitation employees are unable to stop the garbage from
piling up. This is probably why Shuafat looks more like a trash dump than
Meanwhile, the refugees of Shuafat also complain about the UNRWA health
care services. Some of the camp's residents leave to find heath care
outside of the camp because they feel that it better serves their needs
"Clinics within the camps are equal if not better than hospitals
in the surrounding area," responds Ibrahim Jibril, Public Information
Assistant for UNRWA at UNRWA headquarters in Jerusalem.
Yet many UNRWA refugee camp residents receive health care insurance through
their jobs outside of the camp, through Israel National Insurance
Institute employment benefits. Yet many residents have to pay the full
price to get reasonable medical care.
"When I go the UNRWA doctor for a stomachache he gives me
parasetamol. When I go to the doctor because I have a headache he gives me
parasetamol. When I ask him why he always gives me that same medicine, he
says because UNRWA does not have money for medicine," Omar said in a
Omar took out a blue card case and proudly presented it proudly to me.
That is because camp residents with blue cards, which are equivalent to
Palestinian work permits, are able to seek medical care outside of the
camp. However, there are hundreds of Shuafat residents who do not carry a
blue card and therefore have to suffer miserably when they need real
"There are only two doctors who work in our Shuafat clinic: a general
doctor and a dentist. The dentist never comes to work. When we ask to see
him they (UNRWA) tells us to go to a private doctor or to go to Jerusalem,"
Hadr said. Hadr, who recently needed a root canal, went to see if he could
make an appointment with the dentist at the UNRWA clinic. The dentist was
not in his office, he said. Hadr ran out of patience. Because of his
extreme pain, he went to an Israeli dentist and paid a fee that he could
Anger in the UNRWA schools of Shuafat is demonstrated quite differently.
One of the UNRWA perks is free education to twelfth grade. When you walk
into a Shuafat school, it looks like any other modern school that you might
see in Jerusalem. Indeed, the plaques on the adjacent boys and girls
schools in Shuafat indicate that these schools were built from recent
contributions of Saudi Arabia, which also constructed an adjoining mosque.
The schools are much cleaner than the rest of the camp. The children seem
well fed and well dressed in their neat school uniforms.
Yet the ascetic quality of the school contrasts with the curriculum. In an
eighth grade English class, you hear the teacher proudly proclaim the
words "occupation", "land" and "return", and asks the children to loudly
repeat them. And then they sing their daily English song, a rendition of
"We Shall Overcome . . . in Palestine". When asked what the kids mean by the
song, everyone of them spoke of returning to their homes in the area that
is now Ashkelon. None spoke about living in the Palestinian entity in the
west bank or Gaza. And one child introduced his grandfather, Mohamad, who
offered to provide a personal escort to the village where they "will soon
be returning to", even though it no longer exists.
An UNRWA school official explains matter of factly that the Shuafat school
curriculum is in keeping with the UNRWA mandate and the 1949 UN resolution
#194 that is reaffirmed every two years which supports "the inalienable
right of return" of all Palestinian refugee to be repatriated to the homes that they left in 1948.
Between the garbage, the reduced health facilities, the discouragement with
UNRWA and the expectation of the right of return, it might be fair to say
that Shuafat, the one refugee camp in Jerusalem is seething in expectation.
The Shuafat camp residents are well aware of the fact that the issue of
"refugees" is now on the agenda of the Oslo process, as the final step in a
peace process that has so far excluded them.
You can well expect the Shuafat camp residents, well educated and quite
literate, to conduct further riots if their physical situation does not
improve or if they do not have assurances that they will indeed return to Ashkelon very soon.
Meanwhile, the camp resident expectation that the Palestine Authority may
soon take over official control of the Shuafat camp will represent a new
headache to the city of Jerusalem and Israeli security services, which
already copes with a dozen institutions of the Palestine Authority in its midst.
Return to Contents
Al-Ahram: Weak Clinton, Egyptian Poll, Palestinian State, PA/Israel
Al-Ahram Weekly, 1st - 7th October, 1998
Crime and Punishment
by Fayza Hassan Pot Pourri, a regular columnist
The numerous episodes of the Clinton saga are telling proof that
Americans have not really changed in their candid, puritanical morality
since the days the Founding Fathers' rule was established on a strict and
literal observance of the Ten Commandments. It is becoming more apparent
every day that the American public would be content with a ticking-off of
their president by the Congress and a heart-felt public apology from the
culprit, provided he shows befitting contrition, of course, till the end of
his term at least. Condemnation followed by penitence are more than ever
the order of the day. It is, however, regrettable that the same American
people's moral rectitude does not extend to the more serious transgressions
of the Commandments committed by their otherwise philandering president and
by their Congress. Could it be that their media is too busy to give a
factual presentation of world events? Whatever happened to the global
village? Is Monicagate effectively covering up what goes on outside the
little study off the Oval Office? Or does the self-righteous American
people honestly believe that wreaking havoc on faraway lands and murdering
innocent, helpless populations on the other side of the globe are not sins
covered by their Holy Book under the heading You shall not kill?
Listening to the Masses
by Nevine Khalil
The results of a recent public opinion poll on political participation in
Egypt showed that although the average Egyptian is not politically active,
he (or she) is very aware of public affairs and holds strong views on
political issues. It also concluded that the most disenchanted groups in
society are the young, educated city-dwellers.
The Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS) polled
1,366 Egyptians in Cairo, Menoufiya in the north, and Qena in the south
last June and July, submitting 41 questions on political, economic and
social issues. The most surprising finding for ACPSS director Abdel-Moneim
Said was the high level of satisfaction with the economic situation. "It
was much higher than we thought," he noted, "and people had more hope for
the future than we expected, especially in light of the economic reform
In evaluating economic conditions, 59.3 per cent of those polled said
they felt secure regarding their economic future for the next three years,
compared to 31 per cent who felt insecure.
[T]he most negative replies came from Cairenes, the better educated and
the younger age groups, which indicates that political stability is heavily
dependent on positive conditions in rural areas.
. . .
While representing a minority of the population, these groups have a high
potential of influencing policy and setting the national agenda . . . .
Before the outcome was made public, Said told Al-Ahram Weekly that he
would publish the results, no matter how negative or sensitive they were.
"The public is maturing and learning how to appreciate good scientific
work," he opined, "and we're not doing this to flatter or criticise
anyone." The survey was intended to explore trends in Egyptian political
life, and was partially funded by the Ford Foundation in Cairo, which put
up LE70,000 of the estimated LE90,000 budget.
[O]nly 8.4 per cent of those polled said they were members of political
parties, and only 6.3 per cent were members of Non-Governmental
Organisations (NGOs), which shows that the average Egyptian does not take
much interest in political participation or public action, according to the
pollsters' analysis. Only 40.7 per cent of the participants voted in the
last parliamentary elections of 1995.
At the same time, while Egyptians stay away from elections, they have a
strong belief in democracy, reflected by the fact that 68.7 per cent prefer
a democratic regime in comparison to 27.9 per cent opting for a "just
41 per cent of the Muslims polled said they voted in the last elections,
compared to 38.5 per cent of the Christians. Muslims polled amounted to an
overwhelming 93.1 per cent of the sample, while Christians represented 6.7
per cent. The results showed that 77.8 per cent of those polled believed
that there was equality between Muslims and Copts "to a large extent". This
sense of "extensive" equality was highest in Qena at 81.1 per cent,
followed by 71.9 in Menoufiya and 67.8 in Cairo.
Regarding gender, the poll found that the rate of political participation
by women, who constituted nearly half of the interviewees, was a low 21.1
per cent casting votes in the 1995 parliamentary elections, while 59.7 per
cent of the men voted.
Political participation was markedly less in urban areas compared to
rural areas. While 25.8 per cent of Cairenes voted in the elections, the
figure was 44.6 per cent for those in the governorate of Qena, and for
Menoufiya 43.7 per cent. The same trend could be found in membership of
political parties. In Cairo and Menoufiya it was 6.7 per cent each, while
in Qena it was 11.3 per cent.
Political participation is also lower among the younger generations, with
only 26.5 per cent of those in the 18-25 age bracket casting votes in the
last elections [IMRA: How many in the sample were below voting age in the
last election?], and 4.1 per cent being members of political parties. In
the 46-55 age bracket, 49.2 per cent voted and 11.3 per cent are members of
political parties. According to the pollsters' analysis, this indicates
that the political sphere is relatively confined to the older generations
who politically alienate the youths, and this possibly contributes to the
rising rate of violence among the younger generation.
The poll indicates that the better educated sample has a greater interest
in political participation, in comparison to those with little or no
education. While 32.7 per cent of the illiterate or those with basic
writing and reading abilities voted in the last elections, the figure was
51.4 per cent for university graduates. The disparity is even greater when
it comes to membership of political parties, with 17.7 per cent of
university graduates joining political parties, nearly seven times the
figure of 2.6 per cent for the illiterate or those with basic writing and
reading abilities. According to the researchers, this runs contrary to the
general assumption that political apathy is rampant among the better
Moving on to the people's conceptions of political institutions and their
performance, the poll found that while 55.9 per cent felt that press
freedom was "extensive", only 29.2 per cent felt that political parties
enjoy the same amount of freedom, a figure close to the 30.3 per cent
recorded for trades union freedoms.
Although there was majority agreement on equality between Muslims and
Copts, the same sentiment was not reflected regarding equality between the
rich and poor. Half of those polled believed that there was little or no
equality between the two groups. This sense of inequality was strongly felt
among Cairenes with 49.2 per cent agreeing that there was no equality,
which is almost double Qena's 27.8 and Menoufiya's 22.5 per cent.
Results also indicate that the overwhelming majority of Egyptians have
great faith in their country's ability to deal with foreign economic or
military threats. Only 6.1 per cent felt that Egypt would not be able to
deal with foreign economic threats, such as the suspension of US aid. At
the same time, 81.4 per cent believe that Egypt is "very capable" of
confronting a foreign military threat, a figure which climbs to 86.5 per
cent in the case of an Israeli military aggression.
Said hopes that ACPSS will initiate a tradition of opinion polling in
order to gauge "the pulse" of average Egyptians on various issues. Said
added that it was necessary to conduct polls on political opinions,
"because people will make the most outrageous statements and claim that's
what the masses want". He believes that "it's about time to know what the
people really think, not what we imagine they think".
Letter to the Editor
Sir-I often receive your weekly newspaper from a friend, thereby providing
me with information from home. However, in the past few months, to my
amazement, I have noticed the enormous space you devote to news and views
of Palestine. To an outsider, it appears as if your paper is controlled by
As a Canadian of Egyptian extraction, I know that we have our own myriad
concerns and problems, whether they are in the sphere of health, economics,
terrorism, education (or the lack of it), under-employment, democratic
freedoms, or the population explosion -- these are just some of the burning
problems consistently facing our nation. Shouldn't we concentrate on our
own brothers and sisters, rather than devoting our efforts to the
Palestinians? Let us not forget our thousands of compatriots who gave their
lives away in past wars supporting the Palestinian cause, and the many
millions wasted that caused our economic setback. As an Egyptian who lost
three close relatives in those battles, I ask you not to let the
Palestinians dominate your fine paper.
Soapbox: Why the Process Has Not Died
by Salah Bassiouni
Five years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, there is a very serious
stalemate in the negotiations between the Palestinian National Authority
and the Israeli government. The reasons for this unfortunate situation are
known: the PNA has accepted the US suggestion of Israeli withdrawal from 13
per cent of the Occupied Territories, while the Israelis have tried to
empty this initiative of its substance in the hope that the Palestinians
will ultimately accept a compromise void of any tangible gains. [IMRA: Not
so. There is agreement re land but the hold-up is PNA's resistance to
meeting its OSLO obligations.]
But it would be wrong to see this as the end of the peace process. This
is a tough political struggle, in which each party tries to obtain the
maximum, and neither will benefit from resorting to violence. The PNA is
well rooted on Palestinian land, and can continue its struggle by all
available means. Netanyahu cannot risk the failure of the peace process, if
only for domestic reasons: he knows that 50 per cent of the electorate
backs it. Given Clinton's difficult situation, the US would not want to
endanger its strategy for a new order in the Middle East, based primarily
on achieving peace. Europe, though it concedes the upper hand to the US,
will not accept to sit on the fence while the threat of failure looms;
finally, Egypt remains steadfast despite the present difficulties.
This is a political game, where consistency and time play a substantial
role. The PNA has proved it can manage and sustain its struggle to achieve
its legitimate national rights.
The writer is Secretary General of the Cairo Peace Society
A Real State Means Real Work
by Edward Said
"Palestinian citizens of Israel . . . would . . . be excluded [from a
[T]he Arabic press has been reporting that, during his numerous visits to
both Arab and non-Arab countries, Arafat has been seeking foreign support
for his project. By now, then, the notion that a Palestinian state will be
declared on 4 May, 1999 by Arafat has acquired a momentum, if not exactly a
life, of its own.
. . .
One likely Israel reaction might be to say that the Palestinian entity has
to be in Gaza, which is already cut off from the West Bank, and more or
less force Arafat to confine himself and, alas, Palestinian national
aspirations, to Gaza. This would be a severe blow, no matter how much
international support the declared state would have at the time.
. . .
Supporters of Arafat's idea of declaring a state in spite of the
concrete demographic and territorial problems say that the project itself
would have the positive effect of stirring the Palestinian population into
some sort of energy, thereby compensating for the dismal failure of the
Oslo Accords on which Arafat and his increasingly small circle of
supporters, advisers, and hangers-on have staked so much.
. . .
It is true that the Palestinian Authority [IMRA: The PA governs 98% of
Palestinians in the Territories.] has many functions of a state government
-- post office, birth certificates, security, municipal affairs, education
and health -- but it still far too dependent on Israel to do as states
should be able to do. Thus, for instance, water is still under Israeli
control, as is the use of land, and entrances and exits to the Territories.
. . .
The disadvantages of declaring a state seem to me far to outweigh the
advantages. Most important, a state declared on the autonomous territories
would definitively divide the Palestinian population and its cause more or
less forever. Residents of Jerusalem, now annexed by Israel, can play no
part, nor be, in the state. . . . Palestinian citizens of Israel . . . would
also be excluded, as would Palestinians in the Diaspora, whose theoretical
right of return would practically be annulled.
. . .
. . . Arafat is using the declaration of a state as a way of covering
himself with what looks like a gain even as he is about to accept the
treacherous Israeli "offer" of nine per cent plus three per cent as a
nature reserve under Israeli control. Arafat is a prisoner of both the
Israelis and the US . . . .
. . .
Another disadvantage . . . is that the Israeli idea of getting rid of
Palestinians by separation will be achieved not by Israel but by the
Palestinian leadership. This would be the final triumph of the desire for
the Palestinian people's disappearance by dispossession for which a century
of Zionist planning and belligerence has always plotted: the elimination of
the Palestinian presence as a national group on the territory of historical
Palestine. The Zionists consider it to be the Land of Israel, reserved
exclusively for Jews. On the other hand, we should remember that every idea
of Palestinian self-determination since the ascendancy of the present PLO
has envisaged and embodied an idea of non-discriminatory equality and
sharing in Palestine. [IMRA: Not so. This is a genteel restatement of the
Palestinian Covenant.] This was the notion of a secular democratic state
and, later, the idea of two states living side by side in neighbourly
harmony. These ideas were never accepted by the Israeli ruling majority,
and Oslo, in my view, was a clever way for the Labour Party to create a
series of Bantustans in which the Palestinians would be confined and
dominated by Israel, at the same time hinting that a quasi-state for
Palestinians would come into being.
. . .
[T]hose who would argue that, for Palestinians, such a declared state
would be the first step towards a real state, with true self-determination,
are actually deluding themselves by thinking illogically.
. . .
[T]his hullabaloo about 4 May, 1999 is part of Arafat's tried and true
method for distracting us from the true difficulties we face as a people.
He used to do the same thing before every National Council meeting,
floating rumours about an upcoming date, then postponing, then announcing a
new date three or four times . . . .
. . .
If the last few years have proved one thing, it is the bankruptcy of the
vision proclaimed by Oslo, and of the leadership that engineered the whole
wretched thing. It left huge numbers of Palestinians unrepresented,
impoverished and forgotten; it allowed Israel to expropriate more land in
addition to consolidating its hold on Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the
West Bank and Gaza settlements; it validated the notion of what can only be
called petty Palestinian nationalism . . . .
. . .
The only political vision worth holding on to is a secular bi-national
one that transcends the ludicrous limitations of a little Palestinian state
. . . without much land or credibility, as well as the limitations that have
been so essential to the Zionist form of apartheid imposed on us
. . .
It is this that united us all as a people, whether in Lebanon, Jerusalem,
Nazareth, Amman, Damascus, or Chicago. The present Palestinian leadership
has neither comprehended our dilemma nor, obviously enough, furnished an
answer to it. This is why we shouldn't be too excited by Arafat's rather
juvenile enthusiasm for the prospects of what might or might not take place
on 4 May, 1999.
The real task, I think, is to be planning a real alternative to the
nonsense at present being put about, that by declaring a state -- somehow
-- we will actually get one -- somehow. Typically, this silly slogan
conceals the real difficulties in actually establishing a state,
difficulties that can only be overcome by real work, real thought, the real
unity and, above all, real representation of all (as opposed to a part) of
the Palestinian people. Not unilateral, empty, repetitious slogans. It is
an insult to the integrity of our people to keep on making up such
make-believe "realities" and trying to pass them off as political
substance. Arafat and his advisers should be ashamed of themselves for such
banal tricks. They should stand aside so that a more serious and credible
political process can replace their disastrous fumbling once and for all.
A Breakthrough, If Not Historic
by Mahgoub Omar
[Heading:] Since Oslo . . . the Palestinians have fought tooth and nail to
consolidate every gain. A state is the next step.
"The Palestinians . . . have developed a military power . . . capable of
inflicting losses on the Israeli army that the Israeli leadership would be
unwilling to sustain."
To say that the Oslo Accords entailed "mutual recognition" . . . is
technically incorrect. The recognition entailed in the accords was strictly
one-sided. It involved Israel's recognition of the PLO as the legitimate
representative of the Palestinian people, a recognition it had withheld for
so long. Israel's refusal to recognise the PLO had obstructed all progress
in Madrid for nearly two years, while the PLO, in contrast, had recognised
Israel through its compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and
338, as well as all pertinent UN resolutions, since 1974. [IMRA: Simply not
. . . Palestinians were the winners in the Oslo Accords as far as
recognition was concerned. Israel, on the other hand, obtained the deferral
of fundamental issues, foremost among them the fate of the refugees of
1948, the status of Jerusalem and the Israeli settlements in the West Bank
and Gaza, not to mention acceptance as a partner in economic regional and
. . .
The difference between the view of the Labour Party (Rabin and Peres) and
that of Likud (Shamir and Netanyahu) with regard to the future of the
Occupied Territories has been one of the major operative factors in the
peace process. Whereas Labour allowed Israel to participate in negotiations
in Madrid and then in Oslo, Netanyahu mainly attempted to empty Oslo of
substance. Netanyahu has not succeeded in these attempts, yet he has
managed to postpone implementing the bulk of the commitments Peres had
Perhaps this factor has driven the Palestinian leadership to advocate a
more "comprehensive view". They realise that Netanyahu may be prepared to
offer partial concessions, but nothing that could lead to the formation of
a Palestinian state. They hope to arrive, through negotiations, at a
partial autonomy that could later develop into independent Palestinian
. . .
The transitional period will come to an end next May. Netanyahu has few
options, the most dangerous of which would be to attempt to regain the
territories from which the Israeli army has withdrawn. This would be
suicidal. The Palestinians now residing in these territories have been able
to develop their organisational capabilities. They have developed a
military power that would make the next Intifada more formidable than its
predecessor, and capable of inflicting losses on the Israeli army that the
Israeli leadership would be unwilling to sustain. Any confrontation inside
occupied Palestine in the near future will not pass unnoticed, particularly
now that the Palestinian position has generated so much Arab and
The Palestinian people have waited a long time for their nation's
reappearance on the map. Although a Palestinian state has not yet
officially been declared, major steps have been taken toward that end. This
is Netanyahu's greatest fear. If, next May, Yasser Arafat declares an
independent Palestinian state, the land which the Palestinian leadership
demands will no longer be considered "under dispute" but, rather, the
occupied territory of a sovereign state. Hence the importance at this stage
of acquiring recognition for the declaration of a Palestinian state from
Arab, Islamic and European countries.
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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