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The Other Israel _ August-September 1994, Issue No. 62-63


Penniless in Gaza, Editorial

Closure--Hunger--Explosion: July 17 Riot at Erez,
and Gush Shalom Response

The an-Nahar Affair - Start of the Palestinian
Democracy Debate

Battleground Jerusalem: Gush Shalom Demonstrations
for Jerusalem - Peace Capital of Two States

Mayoral Hooliganism

A Symposium on the Future of Jerusalem

Ir Shalem (Whole City) Association Formed

The Hebron Predicament

Prisoners in the Spotlight

The Jordanian Ploy, by Matti Peled

Arafat Tricked, by Haim Baram

No Room for Despair, by Reuven Kaminer
The Forest and the Trees, by Uri Avnery

Hotel Palestine, by Beate Zilversmidt

ICIPP Telegram to President Arafat, July 1

**Professor Yeshayahu Leibovitz, 1903-1994
by Adam Keller

History Rewritten

Motorcycles and Dialogue, by Shmuel David

27th Occupation Anniversary

Peace News Items

A Palestinian Currency, by Dr. Esther Alexander


THE OTHER ISRAEL is the newsletter of the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, P. O. Box 2542, 58125 Holon, Israel.
Phone/Fax: (03) 5565804
Editor: Adam Keller
Assistant Editor: Beate Zilversmidt

For subscription information and a free copy of this issue, please send your name and address to AICIPP via Peacenet e-mail.

August-September 1994, Issue No. 62-63


On August 19, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, together with his Norwegian colleague, visited Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Gaza. They gathered to mark the anniversary of the secret agreement initialled at Oslo, a year earlier, and signed in September 1993 on the White House lawn.

The very fact that these three men were meeting in Gaza, a Gaza without Israeli soldiers patrolling its streets, was an indication that something has indeed changed during the past year. Yet the occasion was far from a festive one. All around lay a city sunk in deep squalor, where nearly half the population is unemployed. And at the very time that Israel's Foreign Minister was being officially received at self-governing Gaza, Israeli soldiers in Ramallah -- still under full-fledged occupation -- shot at Palestinian demonstrators, killing one and wounding six. The youths had been protesting the continuing incarceration of their fellows in Israeli prisons.

A year after Oslo, the peace process is in far from robust health -- though the main danger predicted a year ago, that of violent opposition by opponents of peace, was clearly over-estimated. True, the settlers and their allies in the Israeli religious-nationalist right did mount numerous demonstrations and clash again and again with the police -- but they dismally failed to move the great majority of Israelis. The parliamentary right-wing opposition is in disarray, torn by factional struggles and with an increasing number of its leaders calling for acceptance of the Gaza/Jericho fait accompli -- which, as public opinion polls indicate, many of their voters already did. The Israeli right has proven itself quite incapable of seriously hindering Rabin, should he desire to forge fast ahead in implementing the Oslo Agreement. Yet nothing seems further from the mind of Rabin and his close advisers (most of them serving or retired army generals, whom the Prime Minister likes much better than civilian ministers).


The worldwide TV audience of the ongoing Middle-East Peace Spectacle could not help noticing the warmth and friendly expression on Rabin's face during his public meetings with King Hussein of Jordan -- in total contrast to the expression of distaste, the air of unavoidable but unpleasant duty, which Rabin wears upon meeting Arafat. In fact, of course, Rabin and Hussein are old friends, who have met at regular intervals in the past two decades -- though only now are the conditions propitious enough to reveal this relationship openly.

But personalities apart, Israel and Jordan have few seriously conflicting interests, except for the division of water sources common to the two states. On the other hand, as long as Rabin does not become reconciled to the idea of a Palestinian state eventually coming into being a fundamental conflict of interests is hanging over all meetings between him and Arafat -- whatever the concrete issue, and whatever the "chemistry" between their characters.

Practically any issue arising out of the Oslo Agreements has a bearing on the ongoing process of creeping nation-building in the Occupied Territories -- a process which Arafat seeks to accelerate, and which Rabin is prone to stop, or at least slow down.


In his decades-long career as the leader of a dispossessed and widely dispersed people, Yasser Arafat learned to keep a delicate balance and maintain his independence towards the global powers and the various Arab regimes, each of which tried to use the Palestinians to further its own interests. He also had to deal with numerous Palestinian factions and factions within factions, scattered all over the Middle East. Suffering several disastrous set-backs, the phoenix Arafat always managed to set up a new base and design a new strategy, invariably aimed at achieving an independent Palestinian state. Yet, after returning to his homeland and setting up what could become the embryo of that state, Arafat faces difficulties unmatched in all his previous career.

The Gaza Strip, for whose condition Arafat assumed responsibility, is in fact under siege -- a siege all the more effective for being invisible. While withdrawing its soldiers from the streets of Gaza and Jericho, the state of Israel retained control over all the crossings: between the Gaza Strip and Egypt; between Jordan and Jericho; between Gaza and Jericho; between Jericho and the rest of the West Bank; and between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The ability of Palestinians to make any of these crossings

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is totally depependent on Israeli officials, who alone decide who will or will not be allowed to pass. Arafat was actually prevented from bringing across the border his own two personal helicopters, which would have enabled him and his entourage to come and go as they please.

Even more serious is the economic suffocation of Gaza; an economy geared for 27 years to total dependence upon Israel cannot be overnight remade to work seperately. Of 60,000 Gazan workers who used to have jobs in Israel, only one-third now get entry permits.* Therefore, even those permitted to enter Israel do not easily find work, especially since the government authorised the large-scale importation of workers from Roumania and Thailand, who are willing to do the dirty work without having political demands. The massive riots of July 17 -- when thousands of desperate Gazan workers attempted to storm the Erez Checkpoint, their gateway into Israel -- left two Palestinians and one Israeli dead, and flashed a dire warning to both Arafat and Rabin.

To reconstruct the Gazan economy, the Palestinians desperately need the foreign aid -- hundreds of millions of Dollars -- promised them by the Western countries. These funds were supposed to be channeled via the World Bank. So far, only the most bare of driblets were delivered; the donor countries and the World Bank demand that the Palestinians first set up "financial structures ensuring complete accountability, in order to prevent misappropriation of funds." The proposed system would, however, also make every Palestinian economic decision, down to the most minute level, dependant upon the approval of U.S.-based bankers and accountants. In effect, as Arafat stated on several occasions, the military occupation would be replaced by an economic one.

* On August 26, two Gazan Hamas activists who took a job as construction workers in Israel randomly stabbed to death two Israelis, in belated revenge for the Hebron massacre. The right wing organised riots and demanded the total exclusion of Gazan workers from Israel. The government did not accept this demand, preferring instead to intensify the already thorough police hunt for illegally entering Palestinian workers.


According to the original timetable of Oslo, the extension of Palestinian Self-Government to the entire West Bank should have been completed by July 13, 1944. But due to Rabin's delaying tactics, this date saw only the most preliminary negotiations on the issue. The technique designed by Rabin and his advisers is to progressively break down implementation of the Oslo Agreement -- itself an interim agreement -- into many smaller interim stages, each of which requires a separate, intricate set of negotiations before Rabin consents to implementation. Thus, only at the end of August was the education system throughout the West Bank transfered to Palestinian hands, and an agreement in principle signed to transfer authority in the spheres of health, social welfare, tourism and direct taxation.

The agreement gives the Palestinian Authority a foothold in the various parts of the West Bank -- but it also saddles it with enormous new financial burdens. At the same time, it leaves Israel not only with the full military authority, but also with authority over population registration, land ownership registration, the granting of building permits and the control of water sources -- in short, all the spheres needed in order to back up Israeli settlers in the territory.

The next step, according to Oslo, should be general elections throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- accompanied by the Israeli army's redeployment outside the population centers and its replacement by the Palestinian Police. Yet, the putative date for this momentous event keeps receding: first it was July 13, 1994; then October and December were mentioned; now "the spring of '95" is brought up as a likely date...

In a recent statement, Rabin estimated that "many, many months" would pass before negotiations are concluded on modalities for the elections and the redeployment -- and to judge from past experience, he will be as good as his word, on this at least.

In the meantime, the PLO -- holding a limited civil authority in West Bank towns where the Israeli army is still free to shoot and arrest Palestinians -- could find itself increasingly open to accusations of collaboration with the ongoing occupation.


Rabin's delaying tactics are not blatant enough to force themselves upon the attention of a Western public opinion daily flooded with all too vivid images of crises and horrors elsewhere around the globe. Nor do most Israelis -- even those favoring the peace process -- feel any urgent need to take action in order to force the government faster ahead. In its predicament, the Palestinian leadership can rely mainly on the Palestinian people's own resources. Yet these resources should not be underestimated.

The two million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem are still unbroken, after

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Closure -- Hunger -- Explosion

It was the culmination of a tense week; under Israeli pressure, the Palestinian Police assumed the unenviable task of turning back 'unauthorised' Palestinian workers, and a new barbed wire was erected to stop these from sneaking around the barriers and getting to work in Israel.

Very early on the morning of July 17, it all broke loose: Israeli news broadcasts were devoted almost exclusively to the news of mass rioting at Erez: huge fires and wide-spread destruction, shooting, dead and wounded...

It was clear that Israeli border guards were shooting at the workers. It was not clear whether or not the Palestinian policemen were shooting as well... or in which direction.

After telephone consultations, Gush Shalom decided to call a protest demonstration for the same day. Phone calls were made to all activists who could be reached at such short notice, on a working day. In the afternoon, several dozen people turned up on the pavement outside the Defence Ministry in Tel-Aviv, under the banners Closure = Hunger = Explosion, and No Peace without Bread!

On the pages of next day's papers, full with descriptions of and reactions to what had happened at Erez, the Gush Shalom action was the only reaction from the peace movement. Photographs were as usual focussing on Uri Avnery. In the Palestinian paper al-Quds the Gush Shalom vigil was good for a banner headline: Israeli peace movement blames government for the crisis.

+++ Two days later, Sufian Abu-Zeyda adressed a Gush Shalom public meeting in Tel-Aviv. Veteran activist of the Gaza PLO, he is fluent at Hebrew, which he picked up during his twelve years in prison. Abu-Zeyda explained to a very silent audience the background of the riots:

"Before the withdrawal, the humiliations at Erez were part of the pattern. At any place and at any time, even at your own house in the middle of night, you could expect soldiers to come and harass you.

Now, there are no Israeli soldiers in Gaza, and you can walk the streets and feel free. But when you have to go to work, an employer waiting for you, there they are again, as arrogant as ever -- and they don't let you pass!"
Contact: Gush Shalom, POB 1112, Tel-Aviv 61110.

seven years of untold suffering and deprivation during the Intifada. They are as determined as ever to get complete independence, and are well aware that Arafat's being able to come to Gaza was the direct consequence of their uprising.

At present, most of these people give their cautious support to Arafat -- with the assumption that he is indeed leading them towards independence. Even the Hamas leadership, knowing that many of its grassroots supporters give Arafat the benefit of the doubt, so far avoided offering him any direct challenge. (Arafat, for his part, did not order the Palestinian Police to disarm the Hamas militants.)

However, prolonged continuation of the present situation -- economic misery in Gaza, ongoing unbridled brutal occupation in the West bank -- would build up intolerable frustrations and tensions. Any chance incident -- such as a provocation by one of the increasingly tense and desperate settlers -- may then fan the embers of the Intifada into an enormous new fire.

Such an outburst may turn against the Palestinian leadership, as well as against the Israelis; it might, on the contrary, be tacitly encouraged by the Self-Governing Authority; or a bit of both. Nor can anybody predict how the Palestinian Police -- either as a body, or as armed indivuals -- may act under such conditions. (In the riots at the Erez Checkpoint, the Palestinian policemen first tried to stop the rampaging workers, and then joined them in their clash with the Israeli Army.)

Such a situation may force Arafat to openly repudiate Oslo. He might fall, giving place to a Hamas takeover or to a total chaos -- all of which possibilities would be quite unpleasant for the Rabin government. A military intervention may cost a considerable number of Israeli casualties, given the number of weapons in Palestinian hands at Gaza; and the political price -- both inside Israel and internationally -- would certainly be prohibitive.

The Israeli establishment's predicament was expressed by "a senior military source" who told Yediot Aharonot (May 27, 1994): "The whole Oslo experiment depends on having a strong PLO -- yet the stronger they become, the stronger their demand for a Palestinian state."

For all his skill at diplomatic delay, Rabin could not indefinitely prevent the holding of free elections under international supervision -- especially since this Palestinian demand is firmly grounded in the Oslo Agreements, as well as perfectly fitting in with the current world fashion, from Eastern Europe to Southern Africa. Rabin is sure, however, to exert every possible pressure in order to reduce the authority of the elected Palestinian Council, and -- more important -- the territorial extent of the areas under its control.

Thus, after the next prolonged series of negotiations (and of violent clashes), the Palestinians may expect (more or less within a year) to elect a kind of semi-parliamentary body. With the exception of those living in East Jerusalem they may at last witness the spectacle of Israeli forces departing from their towns. As in the Gaza Strip today, there would still remain many humiliating forms of Israeli domination -- one of the most gross being the continued existence of more than a hundred armed Israeli settlements, in a network covering the entire West Bank. Yet, on the issue of settlements, Arafat may derive unexpected support from a man who was never his friend -- Hafez Assad, President of Syria.


Possibly the most significant concession made by the Palestinians at Oslo was their agreement to have a five-year interim period in which all settlements

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stay put. In the Israeli-Syrian negotiations, carried out mainly via American mediation, Assad was determined not to make a similar concession. Rather, he demanded adherence to "the Egyptian Model": in return for full peace with Syria, Israel must agree to fully withdraw from the occupied Golan Heights and dismantle all Israeli settlements there -- as Israel did in Camp David with regard to Sinai.

The prospect of peace with Syria holds out many advantages: it would remove the chief remaining conventional military threat against Israel; also, since Assad is the de-facto overlord of Lebanon, he could help end Israel's futile, interminable guerilla war with the Lebanese Shiites. For a long time, however, Rabin seemed unable or unwilling to pay the Syrian price -- all the more so since many Golan settlers are members of Rabin's own Labor Party, and since Rabin had explicitly pledged, in his election campaign, not to withdraw from the Golan.

However, in the past two years Israelis have grown more and more used to the hitherto unthinkable idea of withdrawal from the Golan. The once-formidable "Ha'am Im ha-Golan" (The Golan Must Stay) campaign is losing momentum, and the Golan settlers are becoming apprehensive. Public opinion polls indicate that a peace treaty with Syria, involving withdrawal from the Golan, may well get approved at a referendum.

Such a referendum result would ring the bell, not only for the Golan settlers, but for their fellows in the Palestinian Occupied Territories as well.
.just 3 1
The editor


The an-Nahar affair -- start of the Palestinian democracy debate --

By promising to Jordan "a special status" at the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, Rabin bought the friendship of King Hussein at the expense of the Palestinians, violating a key article in the Oslo Agreements. Through his earlier signature in September 1993, Rabin had committed himself to determining the status of Jerusalem -- including the status of the holy places -- as part of the "final status" Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The Palestinians, already apprehensive at the rapprochement between their two neighbors, were furious.

Arafat, who wanted to express his anger, found a target well within his reach: on July 28, he ordered the banning of an-Nahar, a pro-Jordanian newspaper published in East Jerusalem. (Legally, Arafat's banning order applied only to the paper's distribution in the Gaza Strip and Jericho, but in the given circumstances -- of anti-Jordanian anger in the streets of East Jerusalem itself -- the publisher preferred to suspend publication altogether.)

When Arab regimes fall out with each other, they frequently take the step of banning papers supporting the other regime. Thus, for Arafat -- who spent all his life in the Arab world -- it was quite a natural step to take in the struggle against the poaching King.* On the other hand, the Palestinians living under occupation have come to regard all Palestinian newspapers -- regardless of their precise editorial line or political leanings -- as bastions of the liberation struggle; towards the Israeli censorship, Palestinian newspapers presented a united front. Thus, the an-Nahar affair precipitated, earlier than expected, the debate on the democratic character of the Palestinian state to be.

There were many protests against the banning of an-Nahar, by Palestinian journalists as well as by members of the Palestinian Self-Governing Authority itself. (Yasser Abed-Rabo, PSA Minister of Culture, participated at a large meeting of Israeli and Palestinian writers in Nablus, where he expressed strong opposition to the banning of an-Nahar.)

A public opinion poll, conducted by the Nablus-based Center for Palestine Research and Studies among a sample of 1562 Palestinians, indicated that 67.5% of those asked supported Arafat against Hussein on the substantive issue of Jerusalem -- but only 15.7% supported the banning of an-Nahar.

At the time of writing, negotiations are on hand between Arafat and An-Nahar publisher Othman Halak, which are expected to lead to the paper resuming publication.

* For its part, the Kingdom of Jordan has a long-standing policy of forbidding the distribution of all Palestinian newspapers. Ironically that also includes an-Nahar.


The Israeli right-wing -- which in the past applauded the banning of Palestinian papers by the Israeli military -- seized gleefully upon the an-Nahar affair. The Israeli peace camp found itself in a dilemma, and an intense debate on the issue was carried out, especially on the pages of the daily Davar. Following are excerpts from the Gush Shalom statement of August 9, published as part of that debate.

(...) Of course, we hope that the state of Palestine, when it arises, will be set up with a democratic regime -- a hope shared by the majority of Palestinians. Had Palestine already existed as an independent state, we would have no hesitation about demonstrating outside the Palestinian Embassy, to protest infringements of human or civil rights -- as many of us did in the past at the embassies of Chile, of China, and of other states.

But Palestine is not yet free. The West Bank's million inhabitants still live under full-fledged occupation, with all its brutality; and even Gaza and Jericho are still far from being totally free of Israeli domination (...). Government speakers -- including so-called "doves" -- still address the Palestinians in a patronising tone, the tone of a ruler towards a subservient subject.

As long as this situation remains, it seems to us that -- as peace-seeking members of the oppressor people -- we must take extreme caution in our way of criticising the actions of the new-born Palestinian Authority, whose very existence is still precarious. In the case of an-Nahar -- where numerous strong and prominent protests were heard from amongst the Palestinians themselves -- we chose not to publish a

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condemnation of our own in the Israeli press, but to express our concern in the meeting which our delegation held last week with Yasser Arafat in Gaza.


Battleground Jerusalem

Over the first week of June, Israeli and Palestinian activists were feverishly working to organise a challenge to the Rabin Government's sanctimonious position declaring "United Jerusalem" to be "The Exclusive and Eternal Capital of Israel".

Leaflets bearing the slogan Jerusalem -- Peace Capital of Two States were issued by Gush Shalom and distributed in the streets of Tel-Aviv and West Jerusalem: There is no national concensus on keeping Palestinian East Jerusalem under Israeli occupation. For -- in spite of all legalistic trappings -- that is what it is all about. We call on you to demonstrate, Israelis and Palestinians together, for the only real peace solution: Jerusalem as City of Peace, with East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine, and West Jerusalem -- of Israel, with a joint municipality and serving as the link between the two states.'

The initiative for the June 11 joint rally had been taken two weeks previously, at a meeting held in Ramallah between representatives of the Israeli Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) and the Palestinian Peoples' Party (former Communists); it was quickly endorsed by numerous other groups, such as Women in Black, Hadash, the Campus student movement and the Association of Arab Students in Israeli Universities. On the Palestinian side, the call was taken up by professional organizations, trade unions and political parties -- including both supporters and critics of the ongoing peace process, who mobilised their supporters from East Jerusalem and the surrounding Palestinian towns. The site chosen was the A-Ram Military Checkpoint -- the spot nearest to Jerusalem that most West Bank Palestinians can get since the Rabin government denied them access to the city a year and a half ago.

On the morning of June 11, Israeli participants started arriving from all over the country, in special buses as well as private cars. They found the large field near the checkpoint already quite full, with Palestinian flags and banners flying aloft.

Security forces of all kinds -- soldiers, police and "Border Guards" -- were also present in large numbers. In the beginning they seemed quite tense, and there were small-scale incidents with Palestinian youths. Soon, however, several of the soldiers showed themselves frankly curious at this new-style mixture of Palestinian and Israeli demonstrators; they seized some opportunities to start chatting. Among the crowds walked local vendors, briskly selling soft drinks and Palestinian flags (less than a year earlier, selling the latter in the presence of police would have instantly landed the seller in prison).

Half an hour after the scheduled time, the rally started. A great number of speakers got on the improvised rostrum. Among them were representatives of different Israeli peace groups and women's organizations, as well as a cross-section of the Palestinian society: from trade-unionists to businessmen, from Marxists to Christian and Muslim clergy. For all that, the political issues raised, as well as the solutions offered, were quite similar from speech to speech, Israeli and Palestinian alike: Jerusalem, the Palestinian prisoners, the closure depriving Palestinian workers of their jobs. It made for an impressive political unity... at the price of a certain amount of boredom.

Not so, however, the personal words of the last speaker, pharmacist Emile al-Tubasi: 'I am a refugee, and old enough to remember the family home in Jaffa, and the life we had there before Israel came into being. We Palestinians have come to accept, with heart-wrenching pain, that we will never get back what was lost in 1948, that I will never again live at that Jaffa home. But the territories occupied in 1967 we will not give up. That is our very bare minimum. And East Jerusalem is part of these territories -- indeed, the very heart of them'.

The dispersal was quiet and orderly, with Israeli and Palestinian demonstrators piling into their cars and buses and driving away. But the little bit of justified satisfaction evaporated already on the way home, after the radios were opened. At the very time of the rally, the army had clashed violently with stone-throwing Palestinian boys in the center of Ramallah, no more than five kilometers north of a-Ram; Siham Sweiti, a 38-year old mother of five on her way to the marketplace, was hit by a soldier's stray bullet and killed instantly.

Contact: Gush Shalom, POB 11112, Tel-Aviv 61110.
N.B.: Donations more than welcome!


Mayoral hooliganism

Last year, Likud mayoral candidate Ehud Olmart defeated the incumbent, Labor's octogenarian Teddy Kollek -- and brought a Nationalist-Ultra Orthodox coalition into control of the Jerusalem City Hall. The secular-liberal element in Jerusalem's population, many of whom did not bother to vote in the November 1993 municipal elections, soon had many reasons to rue their negligence. Mayor Olmart embarked on a long series of provocative speeches and actions, aimed at intimidating the government and forcing it to adopt a more "tough" policy towards the Jerusalem Palestinians -- and, incidentally, enhancing Olmart's own position within the Likud.

As Yasser Arafat's return from his prolonged exile drew near -- accompanied by rumors that the Palestinian leader may wish to come to Jerusalem and pray in the Muslim holy places -- Olmart and his cohorts drove their followers into a frenzy of hatred. For weeks, grandiose schemes were hatched to disrupt daily life in Jerusalem and throughout the country during Arafat's arrival. Normal municipal activities were practically suspended, as the City Hall was transformed into the headquarters of the anti-Arafat campaign; municipal staff, offices and phones were all placed at the anti-government campaigners' disposal.

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In the end, Arafat did not come to Jerusalem, but this did not deter the right-wingers: they did hold several small and medium violent demonstrations, as well as a big rally, on Saturday evening July 2, where Olmart and other supposedly respectable politicians delivered fiery speeches under a banner reading Death to Arafat!. Since Arafat was not around, several hundred of Olmart's listeners invaded the Old City of Jerusalem; police did not interfere much while they smashed any Arab property they could lay hands upon. (Mayor Olmart of course disclaimed all responsibility for the violence, blaming it on "a handful of hooligans".)

From the Old City, the nationalists retired to a "tent city", erected outside the Prime Minister's Office, where they spent the night. As ministers started arriving in the morning for the weekly cabinet meeting, the mob broke out, shouting 'Traitors!' and attempting to overturn the ministers' cars. Here, however, the police's reaction was prompt and rather brutal, and seemed to bring the nationalists' campaign to a sudden end.


During the weekend of rampage, Jerusalem peace activists felt rather intimidated, unable to match the right-wing in direct street action. The best which seemed possible with limited strength was to organise large delegations to go to Gaza and greet Arafat upon his arrival; these were extensively covered in the media.

It also proved possible to attack Olmart on the judicial level: the Jerusalem Councillors of Meretz, backed by twenty well-known academics and jurists, appealed to the Supreme Court, demanding that Olmart desist from using municipal resources for controversial political campaigns. Altogether, the anti-Arafat actions had already cost the Jerusalem taxpayer a hundred thousand Shekels (near to $35.000). Several hundred signatures of Jerusalem residents on a protest petition were delivered to Olmart's bureau by Peace Now youths, carrying brooms to signify the kind of activity a good mayor should concern himself with.

At noon on July 22, at the time of the weekly town council meeting, Gush Shalom activists stood on the new plaza outside, with banners reading: Olmart! Hands off Jerusalem! and Jerusalem -- Peace Capital of Two States!. Town Councillor Anat Hoffman of Meretz, an outspoken opponent of Olmart, came out of the building and made an improvised speech to the crowd of demonstrators, bypassers and journalists. As could be expected she firmly denounced the Likud mayor's policies; more interesting, however, was her condemnation of the Labor-Meretz Government for its new bill, recently presented to the Knesset, which would outlaw Palestinian political activities in East Jerusalem. She appealed strongly to the ministers of her own party "to take more firm action to bury this pernicious piece of legislation".

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court continued its deliberations on the anti-Olmart petition. As in many other politically-sensitive cases, the verdict finally reached was a compromise. It was ruled that a municipality may provide "humanitarian help" such as water and electricity to political activists who express their views by establishing a tent camp under the open sky -- but that a mayor and his council may not use the municipality's office space and the time of paid employees for controversial political purposes, nor place in the press advertisements on such issues.

Our articles may be reprinted, provided they include the address The Other Israel, POB 2542, Holon 58125, Israel.

A Symposium on the Future of Jerusalem

+++ A Symposium on the Future of Jerusalem (June 24-25) was held by IPCRI (Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information), in Tantur on the border between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The theme -- "Jerusalem: Best Second Choices" -- was suggested by John V. Whitbeck, a Paris-based American international lawyer, who is campaigning for years for Two states -- One Holy Land. His assumption is that each of the two peoples would like best to possess all of Jerusalem, but would accept an undivided Jerusalem, under joint sovereignty -- capital for both states -- as the preferred second choice.

Various other options were considered: the concept of "scattered sovereignty" in the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, proposed by IPCRI director Gershon Baskin; the idea of suspending sovereignty for thirty years, recently offered by Prof. Ruth Lapidoth, a leading Israeli expert on international law; and the plan of the Jordanian Ambassador to the UN, Adnan Abu Odeh, for Israel to turn East Jerusalem over to the Palestinians while internationalizing the Old City.

All plans discussed assume the removal of Israeli rule over the East Jerusalem Palestinians; they differ, however, in their approach to the so-called "new neighborhoods" of Jerusalem, housing Jews exclusively. These were built in the areas occupied in June 1967, and unilaterally annexed a month later, in the euphoric atmosphere of victory then prevailing in Israel. By now, after 27 years of unrestrained governmental expansion projects, 150,000 Israelis are living in the "new neighborhoods" -- which is more than in all other Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories put together.

The symposium, while very interesting, suffered from the almost complete absence of the two establishments. The representatives of the Israeli mainstream peace movements (among them KM Yael Dayan and Naomi Chazan) -- who originally consented to participate -- did not show up, leaving the field again to representatives of the avant-garde such as Gush Shalom and the ICIPP. Palestinian leaders also absented themselves, perhaps to avoid provoking the Rabin Government. Radwan Abu-Ayash, chief of the new Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, gave an opening address, but left immediately afterwards. Prof. Galia Golan of Peace Now was there, but took no part in the discussions. (Some settlers demonstrated at the entrance, but were pushed back by Israeli "Border Guards.")

Most participants doubted that joint sovereignty is

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a practical solution, preferring a city unified only on the municipal level, with East Jerusalem serving as capital of Palestine under Palestinian sovereignty, and West Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, under the sovereignty of the state of Israel. But all agreed with Uri Avnery that the Battle of Jerusalem has started.

IPCRI, POB 51358, Jerusalem; tel/fax: 972.2.274382/3
The English-language brochure New Thinking on the Future of Jerusalem obtainable on request.

Ir Shalem (Whole City) Association Formed

+++ At the beginning of July, the Ir Shalem (Whole City) association was formed in Jerusalem, loosly connected with Peace Now. Without defining a clear political solution, its declared aim is to prepare public opinion for the fact that some kind of compromise on Jerusalem will have to be concluded eventually. Also, the group aims to oppose official actions designed to interfere with such a compromise, such as the confiscation of Arab land in East Jerusalem and the erection on it of new Jewish neighborhoods.

The first concrete action to be taken involves the lands of Abu-Ghoneim Mountain -- owned for many generations by Beit Sahour residents, but now included in the annexed "Greater Jerusalem". On them the Jerusalem municipality is preparing to construct another large-scale "new neighborhood," to be named "Har-Homa" (see T-61, p.8). The plans are supported by the government. Ir Shalem representatives met with members of the Beit-Sahour municipal council, as well as with residents of Um Tuba Village -- who also own some of the threatened lands. It was decided to lodge a joint appeal to the Supreme Court.
Contact: Ir Shalem, P.O.B. 4313, Jerusalem 91042.


The Hebron predicament

Half a year passed since the Hebron massacre, and life in this tormented town has not returned to the "normalcy" of before the bloodbath by Goldstein. Between settlers and inhabitants tensions are high, and soldiers shooting in the main streets of Hebron make a near-daily item on the Israeli news.

Meanwhile, the Governmental Commission of Inquiry concluded its activity. The report it presented did not result in any change. Despite many shocking testimonies at its hearings, the commission placed sole blame on the conveniently dead Baruch Goldstein. And despite clear evidence of prior settler violence and the negligence -- to say the least -- of police and army, the commission decided to completely absolve the military, as well as the remaining settlers, even from indirect responsibility.

Nor were the international observers from Norway, Denmark and Italy of any substantial help to the suffering Palestinians in Hebron. Many of the observers showed personal good will, but their mandate strictly forbade them to intervene in any confrontation they witnessed, and reduced them to filing reports -- which the Israeli authorities ignored. And even so, the Rabin government insisted on the observers' removal after three months.

The situation in Hebron -- no longer front-page news -- is as explosive as ever: the settler enclaves remain in the middle of town, surrounded by barbed wire, guarded by considerable military forces and inhabited by armed fanatics.

+++ On May 29, the Hebron Solidarity Committee (HSC) held a street theatre act in central Jerusalem: an actor playing Prime Minister Rabin performed a "marriage" between a soldier and a settler, while at the same time leaflets were distributed to the curious bypassers about what is going on in Hebron.

+++ On June 2, Peace Now sent out two activists with a video camera to document daily life of Hebron inhabitants in the direct vicinity of the settlers. Eyal Avni and Galit Ravad stayed in a private Palestinian home and, accompanied by local activists, participated during five consecutive days in what passes for daily life in Hebron: skulking in back alleys to avoid military checkpoints, breathing military tear gas and joining the masked youths who write graffiti at night (at the risk of being shot by military patrols). The peace activists' presence in Hebron was exposed when the army discovered them filming the violent dispersal of a Palestinian demonstration. Thereupon, Avni was beaten up by soldiers and the camera smashed. However, the footage taken in the previous days survived and is now being worked into a film. Peace Now intends to make it available to the general public, but in the first place will present it to the country's decision makers -- to show them that 'the massacre was not so much an aberration -- but the exacerbation of an existential condition.' On this and other visits to Hebron, Peace Now activists noticed settler graffiti on the walls, praising Goldstein and "announcing" new massacres. After month-long publicised appeals to the military, soldiers were sent to erase it.
Peace Now, POB 14048, Tel-Aviv; tel: 972-3-5663291.

+++ In close proximity to the Giv'at Haharsina settler enclave live five Palestinian families, cut off from the rest of Palestinian Hebron. For years, they have been the targets of settler violence, which since Oslo occasionally escalates to the throwing of molotov cocktails.

On August 27, fifty Israeli, Palestinian and foreign activists, organised by HSC, arrived at the site. After holding a short press conference, they set to work building a fence around the Palestinians' homes to protect them. In the late afternoon, dozens of armed settlers arrived and immediately attacked the fence-builders. After half an hour of stone-throwing and fist-fighting, an army unit made a belated appearance, and ordered the peace activists (!) to leave the place immediately and get out of Hebron. In the evening, the Palestinians told HSC on the phone that the violent settlers had reappeared. Three activists at once drove back to Hebron, and spent the night in the besieged house, filming the settler hooliganism with a video camera. In the early morning, soldiers broke into the house, ordered the three to leave and arrested the photographer. At the time of writing, HSC is discussing further action.
HSC, POB 31417, Jerusalem; tel: 972-2-241159.

Prisoners in the spotlight

'No peace without amnesty!'

P. 8

During the years of the Intifada, dozens of Palestinian women have been imprisoned by the Israeli authorities, for offences ranging from "subversive" political activities to stabbing Israeli soldiers with kitchen knives. Such acts are apparently motivated, not only by Palestinian national feeling and opposition to the Israeli occupation, but also by the desire to assert for themselves a more active role inside the Palestinian society, which is still far from treating them as equals. Ever since 1988 WOFPP (Women for Political Prisoners), a small group of dedicated Israeli women, has been monitoring the situation of Palestinian women in Israeli prisons.

The group is ever on the alert to hear -- either from the media or through their own private sources -- of Palestinian women being arrested, whereupon they send their lawyer to inquire about the new detainee's situation. (Usually, the lawyer is not actually permitted to see the prisoner -- which is legal under military law in the Occupied Territories; nevertheless, experience has shown that manifestations of outside concern may help ameliorate a prisoner's situation.)

Occasionally the women's actions got publicity -- especially the campaign to expose cruel and degrading methods of interrogation used by the Security Services. However, most of the WOFPP activities consist of unspectacular routine: meeting with the prisoners' families outside the prison gates, on their weekly visits; conducting long correspondence with the prison administration, to obtain slight ameliorations in the prison conditions; supplying the prisoners with canteen coupons, with which they could shop in the prison canteen and supplement the meager prison diet...

In recent months, the group was cast into the limelight, as the issue of Palestinian prisoners in general -- and of the women prisoners in particular -- became a constantly recurring theme in the Israel-PLO negotiations. For Palestinians, the full release of all their imprisoned compatriots seems a natural and indispensable part of peace and reconciliation with Israel, and the Palestinian leadership is under constant pressure from the families of not yet released prisoners. The Israeli authorities, however, consent only slowly and reluctantly to the release of those they still consider to be "terrorists" and "subversives". And though the release of women prisoners was mentioned ever since Oslo as having a high priority, in practice only a few of them were released.

+++ On June 15, the 35-year old prisoner Rabiha Shtai, a nurse from East Jerusalem, started an open-ended hunger strike, protesting the continuing delay in prisoner release. Since she suffers already from a kidney disease, her situation rapidly deteriorated. Together with the prisoners' families, WOFPP scheduled a demonstration outside Hasharon Prison for July 12 -- the day when her hunger strike entered its fourth week. Other Israeli groups, such as Gush Shalom, were also invited.

On the appointed day, 50 people turned up outside the prison gates -- a curious mixture of veteran Israeli activists in their faded T-shirts and Palestinian women wearing traditional clothes. The group started walking around the prison wall; at their head marched Rabiha Shtai's mother, carrying her daughter's photograph. On arriving opposite the Palestinian women's quarters, the demonstrators stopped and stood waving their banners and placards; the women prisoners responded with an enthusiastic waving of their own, out of the cell windows. Later that day, Palestinian leader Feisal Husseini was allowed to enter the prison and talk with the women.

+++ On the folowing day, a U.S. TV network broadcast a joint interview with Leah Rabin and Suha Arafat, wives respectively of the Israeli and the Palestinian leaders, during which Leah Rabin promised to prevail upon her husband to release the women prisoners. Two days later, Rabiha Shtai was released. At the same time two women Knesset Members, Naomi Hazan and Anat Ma'or of Meretz, visited the Hasharon Prison; together with their colleagues, Ya'el Dayan of the Labour Party and Tamar Gozanski of the Hadash Communists, they called for release of all women prisoners.

+++ On August 1, the issue came up officially on the agenda of the Israeli-PLO negotiations, and the Israeli negotiators announced Rabin's decision to release ten more women. The actual release was held up, however, since Israeli President Ezer Weitzman proved reluctant to sign the prisoners' pardon. (Having enjoyed a liberal-dovish reputation previous to his election, Weitzman has since made great efforts to make himself acceptable to the right-wing.) Only on August 10, simultaneously with the Rabin-Arafat summit, were the women (eight only) released.

+++ In 1988, a 16-year old Palestinian refugee girl, Kifah Afifi, was captured by the Israeli army in South Lebanon; a short article in an Israeli newspaper claimed that she had been part of a Palestinian squad on its way to carry out a raid on northern Israel. Thereupon, the girl was placed in the notorious al-Khiam Prison in South Lebanon, where no visits or letters are allowed; for the next six years, her family knew nothing of her fate. The Israeli authorities disclaimed all responsibility, on the argument that al-Khiam is run by the "South Lebanon Army".

Yasmin Afify, Kifah's mother -- an inhabitant of Shatila Refugee Camp in Beirut -- succeeded in sending, via a third country, an affidavit to WOFPP in Israel. This enabled Adv. Leah Tzemel to appeal to the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, for information on Kifah Afify's fate. The appeal argued that the Israeli Government cannot disclaim responsibily for prisoners held by the "South Lebanon Army", which is armed and financed by Israel, and which has Israeli "military advisers" deeply involved in its decision-making process on all levels.

The appeal might have opened to judicial scrutiny,

P. 9
for the first time, the whole issue of Israeli rule in the South Lebanese "Security Zone" -- whose legality is doubtful under both international and Israeli law. The appeal was due to be heard on August 4; but on the previous day, the SLA announced the release of Kifah Afifi, as well as of four other women prisoners who had been held at al-Khiam.
.hl 0
WOFPP, POB 31811, Tel-Aviv 61318; tel/fax: 03-5286050.
.hl 1

+++ At the second half of June, a growing agitation among thousands of Palestinian prisoners led to a series of hunger strikes in the prisons. For the first time this issue got the attention of the Israeli media, and at least part of the Israeli public started to realise its supreme importance to the Palestinians.

On June 24, about a hundred Israeli activists gathered in front of the Defence Ministry (Kaplan St., Tel-Aviv), holding placards No Peace Without Prisoner Release; the activists of Gush Shalom, which initiated the demonstration, were reinforced by members of Women in Black and Yesh Gvul.

There developed a debate with bypassers, particularly soldiers from the many military camps around. The demonstrators were, in particular, challenged for their opinion about the possible release of extreme-right Israelis, imprisoned for murdering Palestinians; though a common position on this issue was not agreed beforehand, most of the peace demonstrators tended to take the position that a true reconciliation means turning a new page and releasing all prisoners on both sides -- however heinous the deeds they had perpetrated in the course of the conflict.

.line 0 $H 287 1

Following is the text of the Gush Shalom statement, distributed before and during the June 24 demonstration.
.hl 0

'We are involved in the process of peace and reconciliation. In order to succesfully complete this process and put an end to the conflict, once and for all, the State of Israel must release the Palestinians imprisoned during this prolonged conflict. Our government is making enormous worldwide efforts to locate and return the Israeli prisoners of war and M.I.A.'s. It is time we realise that the Palestinian prisoners, too, have families who long to see them coming home. The continuing imprisonment of six thousand Palestinians, who have tens of thousands of relatives throughout the Occupied Territories, is poisoning the atmosphere and may block any further advance in the peace process.'
.hl -1
Gush Shalom, POB 11112, Tel-Aviv 61110 -- ph: 972.3.5244553

+++ On August 2, the 20-year old Fauzi Mejahed was brought before the Hebron Military Court, after seven weeks of incarceration. According to the prosecution, six years previously he had been member of a Hamas "youth squad" and participated in such activities as stone-throwing and writing graffiti on walls. The proceedings ended with a very unusual departure from the military courts' routine: a Palestinian prisoner released on bail.

Mejahed testified that he had been placed in a cell full of collaborators, who threatened to rape and murder him -- unless he would promise to become an informer for the Israeli Security Services. The prosecution did admit that "efforts had been made to convince the accused to cooperate with the authorities, but could give no details on the means used.

Adv. AndrÇ Rozenthal, Mejahed's lawyer, pointed out that the evidence did not link his client to any illegal activities after the age of sixteen. The prosecutor admitted this but insisted that Mejahed be remanded in custody, as his release would constitute "a grave public danger." Thereupon, the presiding judge, lieutenant-colonel Michal Rapport-Rahav, ordered the prisoner's release on bail, reprimanding the prosecutor and reminding him of the recently-enacted "Basic Law on Human Liberty and Dignity".

This was, in fact, the very last case heard by Rapport, before ending her career as a military judge, a circumstance which may have made a difference for the outcome, but probably it is not the whole story.

Prior to his arrest Mejahed, studying to become an engineer, fulfilled a part-time job as cleaner in the premises of the Jerusalem Hebrew weekly Kol Ha'ir. In the first weeks of his detention the paper was forbidden by the military censor to write about Mejahed's arrest. Language editor Rama Yakobi -- who knew the boy from several conversations -- initiated a support campaign. Thus, Mejahed was provided with proper legal assistence, and a sum of money -- of more than 1000 NIS -- was collected and given to his family. Yakobi told TOI that most of the staff contributed generously. But probably the most significant support the Kol Ha'ir workers gave Mejahed was the fact of their paying attention to what happened to him. In this way they bestowed on him Human Dignity...
s On July 27 a protest by parents of some 200 Palestinian minors, still imprisoned by Israel, took place in Jerusalem at the doorstep of the Red Cross Offices -- and was joined by members of the Israeli Committee for Minor Prisoners. Very few minors have been released after Oslo. After the Hebron massacre they were removed from Hasharon Prison -- to make place for the leaders of the racist Israeli Kach group -- but only to be separated and divided over several other -- already overcrowded -- prisons. In the notoriously moist cellars of the Jerusalem "Russian Compound", several youngsters started developing skin diseases. Their high hopes after Oslo led them only to bitter disillusion.
Contact: ICMP, 28058, Tel-Aviv 61280.

+++ On August 26, with 37 Palestinian women still imprisoned, the families decided upon another demonstration in front of Hasharon Prison -- with WOFPP support. As before, the prisoners reacted to the singing and shouting by swaying whole sheets from the narrow windows of their cells. KM Hashem Mahameed (Communists) was among the demonstrators shown on the Friday evening TV news.

The Jahalin Bedouins living near the West Bank settlement Ma'aleh Adumim got eviction orders on August 21. (The settlers want to build a school on the site.) A protest rally by Israelis and Palestinians is scheduled for September 3, near the threatened Bedouin homes (see also TOI-59, p. 9; TOI-60, p. 10).

Jahalin Action Committee, POB 28058, Tel-Aviv 61280.

P. 10
The Jordanian Ploy
by Matti Peled
August 6, 1994.

After their joint visit to Washington, a cartoon in one of Israel's dailies has shown Rabin and Hussein as a newly-wedded couple, with bridegroom Hussein all smiles, brandishing an envelope containing a check for a billion Dollars, and Clinton happily looking down on them from above. As far as Rabin was concerned this was a brilliant political move, buying the termination of the state of war with Jordan for a billion Dollars paid by the American treasury. But this was for him only a first step of a process which is expected to pave the way to what is referred to in Israeli jargon as The Jordanian Option. The gist of this concept is that Jordan should assume the political responsibility for those parts of the Palestinian Occupied Territories (POT) over which Israel would relinquish control - now defined as the Palestinian autonomous areas -- and consent to the practical annexation by Israel of the rest of those territories.

In order to achieve that goal Jordan would have to join in some manner the second phase of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations which is due to begin not later than the end of the second year after the so-called Cairo Agreement. The first step towards such modification of the Oslo Declaration of Principles (DOP), which does not envisage the participation of Jordan, has been taken by recognizing Jordan as the guardian of the holy Muslim shrines in Jerusalem. Now, since Jerusalem is one of the subjects to be discussed in the second phase of the talks under the DOP, the Washington Declaration signed by Israel and Jordan concerning Jerusalem, has provided the excuse for inviting Jordan to participate in the talks.

The ploy is all too obvious, which explains the angry reaction of the Palestinians to that declaration. They can legally oppose the participation of Jordan in the talks when they become due, and towards such an eventuality it would be up to Israel to twist Yassir Arafat's arm and force him to yield to the inevitable. And this is exactly what the Rabin government is doing. By pursuing a policy of strangulating the Palestinian Self-Governing Authority (PSA) it is aiming to bring Arafat to his knees as to let him consent to the inclusion of Jordan as a partner, and a senior one, in the remaining talks under the DOP.

As is well known, the immediate need of the PSA is funds to enable it to function. The DOP has emphatically stressed the economic aspect of the process of assuming the responsibilities by the PLO over the autonomous areas. But it seems that the Israeli leaders are just waiting for opportunities to point out "how impotent and inefficient" the Palestinians are in establishing a viable economy in the areas under their jurisdiction. After more than twenty years of systematically destroying what economic infrastructure there was in the POT prior to 1967, and exploiting to the maximum the cheap labor provided by the Palestinians to the benefit of the Israeli economy, the Israeli government is now posing as having done its share in instituting the PSA and is just waiting to see how well the Palestinians can manage their affairs. But the Israeli side is not only watching; it is also obstructing in every possible way the reconstruction of the Palestinian economy. While in the "good old days" some 150.000 workers flooded daily the Israeli labor market, supporting some million and a half souls, Israel is now curtailing the number of Palestinian workers to about one half and is importing from abroad foreign laborers to replace them, exploiting these as virtual slaves, just in order to obstruct the recuperation of the Palestinian economy. The formal argument is that these measures were dictated by security reasons -- the good old argument that serves as a cover for every kind of villainy committed by Israeli officials.

On top of that, the Israeli government refuses to pay back to the Palestinians the money collected from them over the years as taxes and for social benefits. This money was taken "at the source", without the workers having a say in the matter. Needless to say none of them benefited from the services provided ordinarily by the state in return for such taxation and the amount collected in this manner is estimated to be in the order of several billions of Israeli Shekels. Israel is therefore morally bound to provide today the PSA with at least one year of financing completely all its running expenses, as reparations which would hardly make up for the brutal exploitation of the Palestinian workers over 27 years. But such benevolence would not serve the aim of forcing the Palestinians to give up the statehood they are aspiring to.

Thus at the end of the first year after Oslo, we see the Israeli government still contemplating the denial of the Palestinians' right to self-determination. A question which however shall remain open for the time being is how far would King Hussein be ready to play the crucial role in the "Jordanian option" scenario, cut out for him by Israeli decision makers for implementing the Jordanian-Palestinian solution. The shrudest survivalist of the region may yet have some surprises up his sleeves for Rabin.

Arafat tricked

by Haim Baram

Despite the optimism of the doves, the truth is that the Israeli establishement is not willing to pay the price for peace.

Rabin and his ministers raised a great furor over a statement of PLO hawk Farouk Kadoumi; Kadoumi had defined Israel as "an illegitimate state which should disappear." Certainly, Kadoumi's statement -- which, by the way, he was forced to retract within 48 hours -- is extremely annoying. Yet, the hypocrites who abound in our media should be reminded that the majority of ministers in our supposedly peace-minded cabinet are outspoken against the existence of an independent Palestinian state. In effect, Kadoumi -- together with all other members of the Palestinian National Council -- is required to recognise a state of Israel which never

P. 11
defined its own borders; at the same time, the absolute majority in the Knesset continues to reject out of hand the idea of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- which comprise altogether a mere 18% of Mandatory Palestine. Again and again, the oppressors pose as victims, and demand that the impoverished and isotated ruler of Gaza solve for them the problem of terrorism -- a problem which Israel, a mighty military power, totally failed to overcome.

It has become the new Israeli bon ton to be seen with Nabil Sha'ath, the pleasant, soft-spoken Palestinian Chief Negotiator. (Three years ago, my interviewing him for Kol Ha'ir was still a case of law-breaking.) Sha'ath is, however, sadly deluding himself in believing that his extensive contacts with the dovish-Zionist high society can bring about the liberation of the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. This kind of delusion is shared by other prominent Palestinians who all hope for so much from their friends in the Labor Party, Meretz and Peace Now, now that these are close to the seats of power.

To say the truth, this reminds me of tribespeople who gave up their land because of the bright beads in the hands of the white man. In the present case, the "tribespeople" are well-educated, Western-oriented intellectuals who want with all their heart to live in peace with us. Nevertheless, they too are attracted to bright but worthless "beads" -- the naive belief that, in return for their being nice and well-behaved, Israel will relinquish what is left of their homeland. The disillusionment to come will be bitter and traumatic. I doubt whether even the late Issam Sartawi -- the Palestinian pioneer of dialogue, whom I had the privilege of meeting several times -- would have supported the present "peace" process, the way it has developed.

One conversation with Sartawi in Paris, in the year 1981, gives what I believe to be the key for understanding the present situation. Sartawi said to me: 'I can't understand the stupidity of Israeli leaders. In return for a mini-state which can't possibly threaten you, we can open for you the whole Arab and Muslim world. It will also strengthen your position in Europe. Why can't your government grasp this?' But twelve years later, the Rabin government did grasp this possibility. The PLO opened for Rabin the gates of the Arab world -- and in return, Rabin shut up the PLO leadership in Gaza. Isn't it a good bargain?

Ten years ago -- even after the agony he and his people underwent in Beirut and Tripoli -- Arafat enjoyed an enormous international standing. A superpower (the Soviet Union, in case you forgot) gave him diplomatic backing; the Gulf states gave him tens of millions of dollars a month; his diplomatic emissaries spanned twice as many states as did Israel's.

Now, all this is gone, and Arafat has painted himself into a corner. Sure, he is a capable man, a first-rate political juggler, operating under conditions incomparably more difficult than Nelson Mandela. (The often made comparisons with South Africa make me laugh. All the Western powers -- even the White House -- supported Mandela and boycotted the white racist government. How can anybody compare this to the conditions Arafat must contend with?!)

Nevertheless, a national leader must acknowledge and take responsibility for his mistakes, especially those which bore serious consequences. One may well accuse the Israeli government of deception, and list -- as Uri Avnery does in great detail -- Rabin's numerous infractions of the spirit and the letter of the Oslo and Cairo Agreements. One may cite the 8,000 Palestinian prisoners still incarcerated, or Rabin's recruitment of the Jordanians in his anti-Palestinian campaign. But here again, there is no avoiding the fact that it was Arafat who paved the way for King Hussein and drove him into the arms of Rabin, providing the Jordanian monarch with the legitimacy he had been waiting for all along. Arafat has been had -- not in a private deal affecting himself alone but in the conduct of negotiations concerning an entire people. He has nothing left, on his present course, but pathetic attempts to arouse pity. This is not the way to gain sovereignty over East Jerusalem, or to rid himself of the cancer of settlements.

Arafat's failure is not only an issue for Palestinians, since it will lead to a total collapse of all Israeli and Arab achievements in the peace process. For a peace to be stable, it must contain some measure of justice. And justice demands that the Palestinians have the right to create their own state -- without being forced to tolerate thousands of Goldsteins on their soil. The use of occupation in order to achieve an expansion of civilian habitat is a breach of international law and of the 1949 Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.

Arafat may have given in on all these points -- but his people didn't. Sooner or later, perhaps already this year, a new Intifada will break out, more horrible than its predecessor.

Arafat's Palestinian opponents accuse him of treason, comparing him with MarÇchal PÇtain. They are, of course, wrong. Arafat wants, with all his heart, the good of his people -- but he can achieve nothing with his present policy. Certainly, he can't get anywhere out of the Gaza cocoon. The best he can hope for, as the de-facto mayor of an impoverished town, is a few handouts from the rich and powerful. This is not the way to achieve national liberation -- and Arafat, who devoted his life since 1964 to the liberation struggle, knows this better than me.

Arafat must admit his failure. He should fire the incompetent sycophants who serve as his advisers, return to Tunis and start the whole negotiation process all over again. Even if this course must include the early designation of his successor, Arafat has no other choice. He cannot hope to get a Palestinian state on a silver platter from Rabin. "Blood, tears, sweat and toil" -- that is what Winston Churchill promised his people at their most difficult hour. No people in the world achieved its historical goals at a lesser price.
(Adapted from Kol Ha'ir, 19.8.'94)


P. 12

No Room for Despair

number of Israelis, headed by Rabin himself. A perfect example of that mentality was unintentionally given by one of its practitioners, Environment Minister Yossi Sarid: We must twist the arms of Arafat without breaking them.

A year after Oslo, many of the stipulations of the Oslo Declaration of Principles (DOP) and its unprepossessing offspring, the Cairo Agreement, have not been implemented by the Israeli side.

Inter alia:

+++ Rabin's famous pronouncement that "no date is sacred" was a blanket violation. In an agreement, dates are indeed an integral part of any obligation. Imagine a businessman saying: No date on a promissory note is sacred. I intend to pay ten years later.

+++ "Not later than nine months" after the entry into force of the DOP, general elections for the Palestinian Self-Government Council were to take place (DOP III). A year after Oslo, negotiations for the modalities of the elections -- which are subject to Israeli veto -- have not even started.

+++ "The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit" (DOP IV). Israel has done everything to prevent it. A year after Oslo, the agreed "safe passage" between Gaza and Jericho has not been opened. The possiblity of Gazans and West Bankers to visit each other continues to depend on the whim of Israeli military bureaucrats.

+++ "As soon as possible, but not later than the beginning of the third year," permanent status negotiations "including Jerusalem" were to commence between Israel and the PLO (DOP V). This implies negotiations in "good faith." Yet, Rabin is constantly stressing that, as far as Jerusalem is concerned, there is nothing to negotiate about and that the present status of total annexation is final. Worse, the government is daily changing the situation on the ground by rapid "Judaisation" of the city. And by granting a foreign state (Jordan) a right of "priority" over the holy Islamic sites in the city, it is preempting a major part of the negotiations.

+++ "Not later than the eve of the elections," the Israeli forces were to be "redeployed outside populated areas" throughout the West Bank (DOP XIII). By preventing elections on time (No date is sacred), this has been avoided.

+++ "Immediately after (...) the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho area" authority in the West Bank was to be transferred in five spheres (education and culture, health, social welfare, direct taxation and tourism), prior to the general transfer of authority after the elections (DOP VI). A year after Oslo, only in one sphere (education) was the transfer of authority actually implemented. Since elections are not even in sight and the Israeli army has no intention of withdrawing soon from the Palestinian towns, the Palestinian authority there will be seen by many as its collaborator and servant.

+++ The Palestinian wings at border crossings, which were negotiated interminably in Cairo, have not yet been set up; Israeli soldiers continue to bully the passing Palestinians; on several occasions key Arafat aides were denied entry to the Gaza Strip.

+++ Two points of disagreement were left for further negotiations after the signing of the Cairo Accords -- the extension of the Jericho area and the stationing of a Palestinian policeman on the Jordan bridge. So far, this continuation of the talks did not yet start.

+++ "The modalities of admission of persons displaced from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967" were to be decided upon by a committee consisting of Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and Egypt (DOP XII). This committee has not even been set up.

+++ In Cairo (Art. XX) it was agreed that "5000 Palestinian detainees and prisoners" were to be released "upon the signing of this agreement", and that afterwards negotiations for "additional" prisoners would continue. A year after Oslo, three and a half months after Cairo, the number of those released has not yet come close to 5000. Palestinian negotiators insist that the release of all 12,000 prisoners was promised to them orally in Oslo, Washington and Cairo.

+++ In Cairo, a "temporary international presence" of 400 personnel was agreed upon (Art. XXI). Not implemented.

+++ In Cairo, Israel agreed to turn over to the Palestinian Authority all records and data required for the transfer of authority (Annex II, Art. II). Not implemented.

It must be remembered that the DOP, and even more so the Cairo Agreement, are already heavily loaded in favor of Israel, and do not even pretend to even-handedness. The violation of so many of their provisions by the Rabin government is, therefore, even more serious than it seems.

In the economic sphere, only a minuscule part of the money promised to the Palestinians by the international community has indeed been handed over. The Rabin government, which made a conspicuous and hightly-visible effort effort to get the U.S. Congress to remiss Jordan's multi-million dollar debt, has exerted no similar pressure on behalf of the Palestinians. Indeed, it is not unreasonable to assume -- as many Palestinians do -- that Rabin is actually working behind the scenes to tighten the screws.

One may well ask oneself: What is the sense of this policy? From the Israeli point of view, the agreement is based on the assumption that there is no alternative to an Israeli-Palestinian peace, that the only viable partner is the PLO under Yasser Arafat and that in case of failure, armed Islamic fundamentalism will take over. Why, then, do everything to undermine Arafat and turn the Palestinian population against the agreements in frustration and bitterness?

Many Palestinians believe now that the whole thing was a trap, that Israel only wanted to get rid of the ungovernable Gaza Strip and never intended to move any further. Or, alternatively, that the real intention was to get a token agreement with the PLO in order to enable King Hussein, President Assad and other Arab regimes to come to terms with Israel and put an end to the Arab boycott. Others are convinced that

P. 13
number of Israelis, headed by Rabin himself. A perfect example of that mentality was unintentionally given by one of its practitioners, Environment Minister Yossi Sarid: We must twist the arms of Arafat without breaking them.

A year after Oslo, many of the stipulations of the Oslo Declaration of Principles (DOP) and its unprepossessing offspring, the Cairo Agreement, have not been implemented by the Israeli side. Inter alia:

+++ Rabin's famous pronouncement that "no date is sacred" was a blanket violation. In an agreement, dates are indeed an integral part of any obligation. Imagine a businessman saying: No date on a promissory note is sacred. I intend to pay ten years later.

+++ "Not later than nine months" after the entry into force of the DOP, general elections for the Palestinian Self-Government Council were to take place (DOP III). A year after Oslo, negotiations for the modalities of the elections -- which are subject to Israeli veto -- have not even started.

+++ "The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit" (DOP IV). Israel has done everything to prevent it. A year after Oslo, the agreed "safe passage" between Gaza and Jericho has not been opened. The possiblity of Gazans and West Bankers to visit each other continues to depend on the whim of Israeli military bureaucrats.

+++ "As soon as possible, but not later than the beginning of the third year," permanent status negotiations "including Jerusalem" were to commence between
Israel and the PLO (DOP V). This implies negotiations in "good faith." Yet, Rabin is constantly stressing that, as far as Jerusalem is concerned, there is nothing to negotiate about and that the present status of total annexation is final. Worse, the government is daily changing the situation on the ground by rapid "Judaisation" of the city. And by granting a foreign state (Jordan) a right of "priority" over the holy Islamic sites in the city, it is preempting a major part of the negotiations.

+++ "Not later than the eve of the elections," the Israeli forces were to be "redeployed outside populated areas" throughout the West Bank (DOP XIII). By preventing elections on time (No date is sacred), this has been avoided.

+++ "Immediately after (...) the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho area" authority in the West Bank was to be transferred in five spheres (education and culture, health, social welfare, direct taxation and tourism), prior to the general transfer of authority after the elections (DOP VI). A year after Oslo, only in one sphere (education) was the transfer of authority actually implemented. Since elections are not even in sight and the Israeli army has no intention of withdrawing soon from the Palestinian towns, the Palestinian authority there will be seen by many as its collaborator and servant.

+++ The Palestinian wings at border crossings, which were negotiated interminably in Cairo, have not yet been set up; Israeli soldiers continue to bully the passing Palestinians; on several occasions key Arafat aides were denied entry to the Gaza Strip.

+++ Two points of disagreement were left for further negotiations after the signing of the Cairo Accords -- the extension of the Jericho area and the stationing of a Palestinian policeman on the Jordan bridge. So far, this continuation of the talks did not yet start.

+++ "The modalities of admission of persons displaced from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967" were to be decided upon by a committee consisting of Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and Egypt (DOP XII). This committee has not even been set up.

+++ In Cairo (Art. XX) it was agreed that "5000 Palestinian detainees and prisoners" were to be released "upon the signing of this agreement", and that afterwards negotiations for "additional" prisoners would continue. A year after Oslo, three and a half months after Cairo, the number of those released has not yet come close to 5000. Palestinian negotiators insist that the release of all 12,000 prisoners was promised to them orally in Oslo, Washington and Cairo.

+++ In Cairo, a "temporary international presence" of 400 personnel was agreed upon (Art. XXI). Not implemented.

+++ In Cairo, Israel agreed to turn over to the Palestinian Authority all records and data required for the transfer of authority (Annex II, Art. II). Not implemented.

It must be remembered that the DOP, and even more so the Cairo Agreement, are already heavily loaded in favor of Israel, and do not even pretend to even-handedness. The violation of so many of their provisions by the Rabin government is, therefore, even more serious than it seems.

In the economic sphere, only a minuscule part of the money promised to the Palestinians by the international community has indeed been handed over. The Rabin government, which made a conspicuous and hightly-visible effort effort to get the U.S. Congress to remiss Jordan's multi-million dollar debt, has exerted no similar pressure on behalf of the Palestinians. Indeed, it is not unreasonable to assume -- as many Palestinians do -- that Rabin is actually working behind the scenes to tighten the screws.

One may well ask oneself: What is the sense of this policy? From the Israeli point of view, the agreement is based on the assumption that there is no alternative to an Israeli-Palestinian peace, that the only viable partner is the PLO under Yasser Arafat and that in case of failure, armed Islamic fundamentalism will take over. Why, then, do everything to undermine Arafat and turn the Palestinian population against the agreements in frustration and bitterness?

Many Palestinians believe now that the whole thing was a trap, that Israel only wanted to get rid of the ungovernable Gaza Strip and never intended to move any further. Or, alternatively, that the real intention was to get a token agreement with the PLO in order to enable King Hussein, President Assad and other Arab regimes to come to terms with Israel and put an end to the Arab boycott. Others are convinced that

P. 14
Rabin, by making it virtually impossible for the Palestinians to succeed, is out to prove that they are unable to govern themselves, as a pretext to reimpose the occupation.

A more plausible explanation seems to me that Rabin, encouraged by arm-twister Sarid, still hopes to compell Arafat into giving up the aim of an independent Palestinian state, and resign himself in the end to the setting up of some unconnected Palestinian self-governing "islands" or "cantons", surrounded by Israeli settlements and military bases.

In many cases, the true explanation turns out to be the most simple one. Rabin is probably just held up by his own deep-seated anti-Palestinianism, by suspicions and prejudices which he has to overcome one by one in order to be able to follow through on his own decision to make a deal with the PLO. If this is so, there is still hope that, after many halts, frustrations and crises, in the end everything will work out.

The most promising aspect is that, wathever land-mines are laid on the path, the path does lead in the right direction. Every inch of progress is irreversible, one inch less to traverse to the final goal. Palestinian statehood is slowly taking shape. Like the Zionist "state on the way" in the years before 1948, a Palestinian embryo-state is right now in existence. A visitor to Gaza, and indeed to Ramallah and even East Jerusalem, perceives the immense psychological and political change that has already taken place -- though not yet matched in the economic sphere.

The basic factors, which brought about this process in the first place, will continue to shape events. The Great March towards Israeli-Palestinian peace, based on the co-existence of the states of Israel and Palestine, both with their capital in Jerusalem, will go on.


Hotel Palestine
by Beate Zilversmidt

More than half a year had passed after the revelation of the Oslo talks, signed and celebrated at the White House lawn. Among those who had welcomed the agreement, the initial hope and happiness had already made place for a more sceptical attitude, and some of those who had been too euphoric had now fallen prey to unprecedented depths of depression. Some veteran Israeli peace-activists were on their way of becoming prophets of doom; also among Palestinians, despair and bitterness were on the rise.

At the end of June Arafat announced at last his coming, as if he was challenged by the beginning rumours that he was afraid to come, afraid of his own people, of those who were opposed to the deal he had made, especially the Hamas.

By his decision -- seemingly taken in the last minute -- to go first not to the tiny enclave of Jericho but to the heart of all problems, Gaza, he made a bold gamble, which so far succeeded and had the direct result of kicking many, who were much in need of a push, out of lethargy.

Arafat's passing the border at Rafah, on the first of July, was a dramatic event on the ground; unlike the earlier televised gestures by leaders in faraway countries it broke a taboo by something more than a symbolic act. The right-wing -- which had not succeeded in preventing this day -- concentrated now on preventing Arafat from entering Jerusalem. In their endeavor, they actually contributed to the strong resonance which Arafat's being in Gaza brought about inside Israel, thus strengthening the political weight of his presence.

The Israeli public followed on both television channels all events of Arafat's entry. During the days of the weekend there was a direct connection from the morning until late at night with Hotel Palestine at Gaza. With short interruptions, during which the cameras showed right-wing VIPs preparing for their "Death to Arafat Event" (sic!) in Jerusalem, the Israelis were watching Arafat being cheered at the Jabaliya Refugee Camp, Arafat's meeting with the international press, Arafat joking with excited old friends. Many of these Palestinians as well as some Israelis, some of whom had spent prison terms because of their previous contacts. A special warm embrace took place with Uri Avnery (ICIPP) who as a senior journalist was among the first who got access. (in 1982 Avnery made a widely-publicized interview with Arafat inside the Beirut air-raid shelter.)

On Sunday, a bus with Communist Arabs from Nazareth, invited to meet Arafat, turned out to be willing to pick up some Tel-Avivians on the way to Gaza, at Erez checkpoint. The TOI-staff -- tired of sitting passively in front of the TV -- took the opportunity. At seven in the evening we joined the Nazarenes, among them also the mayor, KM Taufiq Zayad, as well as the KMs Hashem Mahameed and Tamar Gozanski.

What was new, upon entering the "autonomous" part of the Gaza Strip, was the expereince of Palestinian Police taking their time for a security check. In the past, this had been the exclusive privilege of the Israeli Army. Now the road block was decorated with a Palestinian flag. The new policemen made the impression of being nervous. Maybe they were not yet used to the job, or perhaps they were especially apprehensive after Arafat's arrival -- understandable with many prominent Israelis calling openly for Arafat's death. Was it perhaps a mistake to come in an Israeli bus to Gaza in these first exciting days? On the way, we saw distrust also on the faces of the people at the road sides, but as soon as they saw us spreading our fingers in the V-sign they waved back cheerfully.

At the gate of the Palestine Hotel again a security check. In the middle of the hall we entered was put up a long table which offered place to the most prominent participants in our bus ride, but all around were rows of chairs, altogether some two hundred. With us entered Gazan families, among them several mothers followed by long throngs of small children. Also here security guards. They were even more nervous than those we had met on the way, and

P. 15
seemed especially unhappy at the appearance of the children, whom they -- with their mothers -- pushed to the back benches, near to where we sat.

When everybody was seated the waiting began, for the moment that Arafat would enter the hall and take his place at the head of the long table. Meanwhile the security guards brought in more chairs, barring all entrances. It was rather silent, everybody left alone with his own thoughts. One could not but wonder from where Arafat would enter; the only possibility seemed to be that he would be flown in through one of the open windows, overlooking the sea.

And then a sudden tumult, the guards running to one corner, everybody stood up, some stood on their chairs in order to catch a glimpse of the black and white kefiya which would be a sign that Arafat was there. It was him, indeed. Apparently, Arafat did not want to go straight to his chair, but he started in one corner, the corner of the children, to embrace everybody one by one. He conveyed an immense enthusiasm while doing it, as if he had not already been meeting people all the time during the past 72 hours. It was as if he wanted to say: the children make me really feel that I have come home; I don't know them but I already start loving them at first sight. And then a little boy cried; he had just not been in the right place when it should have been his turn to embrace Arafat. In spite of the bodyguards who sought to enclose him and lead him quickly to his chair, Arafat took the effort to go back, in the direction of the crying child. (Arafat himself grew up in a slum, as member of a big family. It seemed that he immediately understood the importance of the seemingly trivial little child's grief.)

From time to time Arafat recognized somebody with whom he had met before, in Tunis, in Geneva or wherever. Those received an especially warm and intense embrace. Only when it was our turn, I realised how small this man is whose entrance into this hall full of people was causing such a thrill.

To the evident relief of the guards, Arafat consented to take his chair after embracing only about half of his visitors. It is difficult to describe what followed. There were made some speeches, mostly in Arabic. All speeches were very different from other occasions. One Nazareth resident, of respectable age and appearance, started in the middle of his own short address to sing an old song. All the time Arafat and the speakers interrupted each other, in the informal way of old friends who meet again. There was much cheering and clapping. Even without understanding the words, one felt compelled to join. It was not difficult to more or less understand that everybody was in fact repeating in different words the same essence. How unbelievable it was. How wonderful that it was possible, after it had seemed for so long that things would never change. That after all the hopes came true, with the state of Palestine on its way. The next generation would live a better life.


For Taufiq Zayad it was definitely not the first meeting with Yasser Arafat. He was the speaker most cheered by everybody, and most succesful in exchanging jokes with Arafat. Three days later, Taufiq Zayad died in a car accident, after a second reception by Arafat -- this time in Jericho.

For those who were present in Gaza, it is impossible not to believe that he died as an indirect result of his ecstasy, wanting to see Arafat on Palestinian soil, again and again; not to let this euphoria end so soon, to be thrown back into reality.

It was clear that the two men, Zayad and Arafat, shared more than the happiness of that moment; that they understood each other on a deeper level. Both -- shrewed leaders while at the same time remaining close to the people. Both -- with a combination of abilities, more common among artists than politicians. Both -- the kind of people who in a less dramatic period would never have chosen for politics.

Taufiq Zayad, a lifelong Communist leader famous for his temperamental exchanges with the extreme right in the Knesset, managed to retain the overwhelming support of the people of Nazareth, and be reelected as mayor, despite the big blow which his party received after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Taufiq Zayad was also a poet read throughout the Arab World.

His dramatic death is a loss for all who worked with him so many years in order to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For his family and all the people who loved him it is an additional pain to lose him now -- in days which were so happy, and filled with hope.


To the President of Palestine,
Mr. Yasser Arafat

Upon Arafat's arrival in Gaza, a large number of congratulation telegrams already awaited him in the local PLO headquarters, sent by various groups and individuals -- not only from Palestinians, but also from many Israelis. Following is the text of the ICIPP telegram sent to Yasser Arafat, on July 1.

Nearly twenty years ago, in December 1975, our Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace was formed. We have proclaimed and persistently advocated an idea which was then regarded by some as utopian, and by many others -- among both peoples -- as treasonable: a peace treaty between the State of Israel, in its pre-1967 borders, and a Palestinian state to be formed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; the equitable sharing of Jerusalem between the two states and the two peoples, with neither side claiming the whole of the city.

A long time has passed since, interspersed with many tragic events; this, our vision of peace and yours, has not yet fully come to pass; but we believe that we have already come more than halfway to its complete implementation, and that your return to Palestinian Gaza is a further big step on this road to peace and reconciliation. We look forward to greeting you, in the near future, upon your coming to Jerusalem -- the City of Peace.

General (ret.) Matti Peled
President of the ICIPP (Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace)


P. 16
Professor Yeshayahu Leibovitz

On August 18, Prof. Yeshayahu Leibovitz -- grand old man of the Israeli peace movement -- died in his Jerusalem home.

Yeshayahu Leibovitz was born in 1903 at Czarist-ruled Riga and got his education in Weimar Germany. Following the rise of Nazism, he arrived in Mandatory Palestine, and soon reached a prominent position in academic and public life.

Leibovitz, who held Ph.Ds in such fields as philosophy, medicine and organic chemistry, gave lectures in all of them - attracting enormous flocks of students. He was best known as an original Jewish religious thinker. Living a strictly Orthodox life, he preached a pure and rarified Monotheism: the worship of God is a supreme aim in itself, and any hope for reward constitutes idolatry. A follower of Maimonides, he had a life-long polemic with Christianity - though some clergymen became his personal friends. Leibovitz felt more appreciation for the strict and sober teachings of Islam.

Leibovitz was also a fierce campaigner for separation of religion and state, since a rabbi who receives his salary from the state loses his independence. Ironically, he found a lot of common ground with radical secularists, who had their own objections to the oppressive bureaucracy of the Chief Rabbinate.

In 1967, while the country was celebrating the Six-Day-War victory, Leibovitz was a solitary prophet of doom, calling for unilateral withdrawal to prevent the moral corruption which rule over another people inevitably entails. He also castigated as idolators those Orthodox Jews who converged upon the holy sites made accessible by the army.

Having always delighted in public debate and controversy, Leibovitz after 1967 came into his own as Israel's enfant terrible - the formost critic of all governments, Labor and Likud. Repeatedly he denounced the horrors of occupation and used quite unparliamentary expressions for whoever happened to be Prime Minister (Golda Meir was, for Leibovitz, "that evil woman"). The media - with delighted horror - picked up each and every one of the angry old man's scandalous utterances, which were broadcast all over the country.

In the last decade of his life, Leibovitz concentrated on a single theme, repeated on each of his innumerable public appearances: a call upon Israeli soldiers to refuse military service in the Occupied Territories. This call was manifestly illegal (as Leibovitz himself cheerfully acknowledged). However, the public prosecutor decided to deprive Leibovitz of an immortal speech from the dock...

His last major clash with the establishment occurred in February 1993. Prime Minister Rabin refused to grant Leibovitz the prestigious Israel Prize, for which he was nominated. At a public meeting of the ICIPP, the professor had equated the killing of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers with the killing of Israelis by Hamas (TOI-56, p. 12).

A few months later, Rabin signed the Oslo Agreement. Leibovitz acknowledged his agreeable surprise: "So, it is Rabin who is becoming Israel's de Gaulle and takes the necessary unpopular measures." He amended the foreword to his latest book.

Still, Leibovitz did not blindly embrace the Rabin government. In his last public dialogue/debate with Foreign Minister Peres, Leibovitz made the accusation that the government did not follow through on Oslo, and that there was no real will to put a complete end to the occupation. (Peres, in his reply, humbly cited the contingencies of maintaining a coalition majority and preserving the government's public base.)

Up to his last day, Yeshayahu Leibovitz continued a multitude of activities: giving academic, religious and political lectures to the most varied audiences, participating in television debates, meeting with the young...

Living the life of a fighter, he lasted just long enough to see the beginnings of victory in what may well have been his major struggle.

Adam Keller

History rewritten

Following the Lebanon War, and increasingly so with the Intifada, Israelis began to question values hitherto considered inviolate -- and the process also affected the Israeli universities' history departments.

A new generation of researchers, less prone to self-censorship, started to dig into politically sensitive issues of recent history. A particular hot item is the circumstances which led in 1948 to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians becoming refugees. This kind of research is facilitated by the gradual opening to historians of official civil and military archives, containing millions of hitherto classified documents.

For years, a debate has been going on quietly in the universities, between the old historians and the new. This debate was suddenly thrust into the attention of the wider public through an extensive article published in the weekend supplement of Ha'aretz on June 10, 1994, by the conservative nationalist writer Aharon Megged. Entitled One-way trip to self-destruction, the article all but branded as traitors the entire young generation of Israeli historians.

On the following week, nearly half the supplement was taken up with angry rebuttals by several "new historians" (who actually differ considerably among themselves). Thus, the historico-political debate raged for weeks, touching upon all significant events in Israeli and Zionist history, as well as upon the perennial question: Is there an objective history?

The issue also got the attention of popular TV talk-shows; and a public debate held on the issue at Tel-Aviv University filled to overflowing the biggest hall available on campus.

Meanwhile, Dr. Eyal Naveh published a new history textbook for highschools, intended to give pupils "a more open-minded and less xenophobic view of 20th Century history." The new book, not yet officially approved, was already ordered by the principals of several Tel-Aviv schools.

P. 17

Motorcycles and dialogue

by Shmuel David

The motorcycle caravan held on May 27, from Erez Checkpoint at the Gaza Strip entrance to the outskirts of Jericho, got a conspicious media coverage. TV cameras loved the more than forty youths tearing through the road on fast motorcycles, with colourful flags fluttering from the handlebars. The rather aggressive impression given by the black motorcycle coats was softened by the long hair peeking from under many of the helmets. Four jeeps, bearing giant multi-languague signs 'Riding into Peace', completed the fast-moving pageant, arousing the passing Israeli drivers to honk and visibly express either support or protest. Organisers -- of the Israeli Meretz Youth and the Palestinian Istiklal ('Independence') Student Association -- seemed satisfied.

This first joint public action was the culmination of a long series of dialogue meetings. The first meeting had been held more than half a year earlier, following the Oslo Agreements. At that time, two large groups of youths -- most of them without a previous experience of such meetings -- approached each other in apprehension of hearing militant demands and extremist statements. (Several of the Israelis had wondered, only half in jest, if the Arabs would come carrying knives.) At first, the atmosphere was rather tense, with speakers on both sides expressing themselves with excessive care, in stiff political formulas. But gradually the atmosphere loosened up, and the conversation became more friendly. The Israelis tried to convince the skeptical Palestinians that Rabin did intend to carry out the withdrawal from Gaza -- which, at that time, seemed quite doubtful. For their part, the Palestinians surprised the Israelis by announcing their willingness to regard the settlers as equal citizens of the future Palestinian state.

At the conclusion of the meeting, working groups were set up to discuss concrete ideas for joint action. At the meeting, in a West Jerusalem restaurant, the atmosphere was warm and friendly already from the start. (There was a lot of good-natured joking on traditional Arab dishes adopted as part of the regular Israeli cuisine and the ability of Israeli cooks to handle them.) Many ideas were discussed: an educational symposium at a Palestinian university on the West Bank; a joint excursion into unspoiled nature; a meeting between handicapped Israeli soldiers and their Palestinian counterparts, hurt during the Intifada; an Israeli-Palestinian football match. (Some participants were rather apprehensive of the last idea, since a football match must end with one side victorious over the other.)

The idea which eventually got priority was that of a joint caravan linking Gaza and Jericho. The Israeli motorcycle enthusiasts who proposed it were surprised and shocked to find that they had no Palestinian colleagues; a long-standing policy of the military government forbids Palestinians from owning or using motorcycles, since these could be used for terrorist actions. Reluctantly, it was decided that the caravan would include various modes of transport and that the motorcycle contingent would perforce consist of Israelis only.

Preparations for the caravan proved far from easy. Originally it was scheduled to take place in early March, concluding with a rally in the main square of Jericho -- at the time still ruled by the Israeli Army. The mayor had promised to attend, and local supporters of the peace process looked forward to it. But following the Hebron Massacre on February 25, with the entire West Bank in the grip of widespread rioting, plans for the caravan -- as well as for other kinds of joint public activities -- had to be put off for more than two months.

The new date agreed upon was May 27. One week earlier, the IDF had pulled out of Gaza and Jericho; but as the organisers found out, the military bureacracy retained enough power to seriously interfere with their plans. Permit was granted for the caravan to pass through the still-occupied parts of the West Bank -- but only on condition that it would stop at the entrance to Jericho without getting in. On this point the military authorities were adamant, and efforts to change their mind, which lasted till the last moment, proved fruitless. Also, many of the Palestinians who intended to participate were denied permits to enter the territory of Israel so as to arrive at the Gaza Strip starting point.

In spite of all difficulties, the Peace Caravan proved a success. There was a jubilant mood at the conclusion, as the sweating Israeli and Palestinian youths alighted from the assortment of motorcycles, cars, jeeps and buses which had brought them from Gaza. In the noon heat of the Jordan Valley, the rally took place at the roadblock, marking the boundary between the area under Israeli military rule and that newly given over to the Palestinian Police. Participants cheered organiser Rami Avnimelech when he stated: 'A few years ago, I was a soldier stationed on this very spot, with the task of controlling the Palestinian population. I never could have imagined that one day I would come back, to demonstrate for peace together with the Palestinians.'
Contact: Meretz Youth, 21 Tshernihovski St., Tel-Aviv

+++ In the middle of August, Kibbutz Giv'at Haviva for the first time succeeded in bringing together Israeli Jewish and Arab youngsters with Palestinian youths -- coming from the Occupied Territories. The Israel-PLO agreements helped convince the Palestinians to spend a week at an Israeli Kibbutz -- but not all of them got entry permits from the Israeli authorities.

At the inauguration of the camp, there were speeeches by the Israeli Education Minister Amnon Rubinstein and his counterpart from the Palestinian Self-Governing Authority Azmi Shu'eybi. In the afternoon of that first day, all 120 participants went to visit Jericho. On the way back, a minor crisis broke out: the Palestinians became aware that two Israeli adults accompanying the group were carrying guns inside their bags. Several of the young Palestinians wanted to get off the bus and go home at once, and

P. 18
were only half calmed down by the explanation that Israeli Education Ministry regulations make armed escorts mandatory on any outdoor outing of Israeli youths.

In the many workshops, the Israelis were often shocked not just by the Palestinians' experience with Israeli soldiers -- but also by their bitterness. The Palestinians, for their part, were astonished to find that all the Israelis present considered themselves Zionists, a word the Palestinians hitherto associated with settlers.
Kibbutz Giv'at Haviva, Doar Na Menashe, Israel.

+++ On May 29, hundreds of Palestinian trade unionists marched through the center of Jenin, on the West Bank, protesting the closure which bars Palestinian workers from their workplaces in Israel -- without unemployment benefits! -- and also demanding the release of the Palestinian prisoners.

In Jenin's main street, Israeli military forces ordered the marchers to disperse, which they refused. A violent clash was just averted by the intervention of an Israeli trade-unionist. Binyamin Gonen, heading a delegation of the Jewish-Arab Joint List, reproved the commanding officer: "Are you aware that this is a violation of the Oslo Agreement?" The officer got confused, then decided to confer with his superiors. After some radio consultations he moved his force aside, allowing the march to resume.

+++ It happened that on the same day, May 29, reserve soldiers who just finished a tour of duty in Jenin were interviewed on the radio. They had sent a complaint with 180 signatures -- a whole company -- to the Defence Ministry: 'We demand an equal sharing of the burden. Why are some 15% of the IDF reserve soldiers called up again and again, while others hardly receive any call-up orders? The public is told about the wonderful peace process. Nobody seems to know that the Intifada is going on, and that our duty is hard and very unpleasant.'

+++ Thirty reservists of the Israeli military police presented themselves to a military psychiatrist, asking to be exempted from doing reserve service as guards over Palestinian prisoners in West Bank prisons. They said that continuously performing this kind of military service is 'driving them to the edge of mental collapse.'

+++ For many years, Jewish Boy Scouts of Tel-Aviv maintained no contact whatsoever with their Arab counterparts in nearby Jaffa. Only following the Oslo Agreements was the initiative taken for common action: volunteer work during the summer school holidays, to paint and renovate neglected schools and other public buildings. 'When the announcement in Hebrew and Arabic appeared on our billboard, I felt apprehensive. I had an image of Arabs as very violent people. But now that I met them I see this was nonsense,' said Keren Netach, (Zu Haderech, 1.6.'94).

The action, in which hundreds of youths took part, was considered a great success. Contacts in the mixed Jewish-Arab teams developed very well while carrying out paint work together on dozens of neglected sites throughout Jaffa and South Tel-Aviv. At the end was held a peace procession, starting from the Jewish-Arab Jaffa Community Center, which was enthusiastically received by the neighborhood.

A few weeks later it turned out that there were also hearts not softened by the youthful enthusiasm. A letter arrived at the Scouts' headquarters from a lawyer representing the directorate of the Keshet Old People's Home:

'(...) Apart from painting white the outer wall of my client's premises, the group organised by you wrote over the fence the word "Peace" in Hebrew, Arabic and English, in big characters conspicuous to all by-passers. My client did not, and absolutely would not consent to this addition, which is totally contrary to the policy of not taking sides on any politically controversial issue. I therefore demand that you remove this disfigurement forthwith, on pain of being prosecuted.'

27th occupation anniversary

+++ On June 3, the six-year old weekly anti-occupation vigil in Tel-Aviv of Women in Black, and Yesh Gvul was extended with a contingent of Gush Shalom activists. In Jerusalem, some thirty Women in Black came back after a year to the place where they once also used to hold weekly vigils.

+++ On June 3 and 4, Peace Now activists could be found on 43 junctions, some of them already since Oslo the site of weekly vigils by the Meretz Youth. The slogan was: Want peace? Make peace!

In Netanya, the demonstrators were harassed by right wing ruffians, and a complaint was filed with the police. In general, the atmosphere was not unfavorable -- with many drivers noisily expressing support.

+++ On June 5, about a hundred students of Tel-Aviv University answered the call of Campus, joined by Meretz and Peace Now student groups. Their signs read: The closure continues! Shabak tortures continue! The occupation continues! and: From Gaza-Jericho to an independent Palestine! A small group of right-wingers started a counter-demonstration and a shouting match soon developed. When security guards forbade the peace-activists to raise a pole bearing both the Israeli and Palestinian flag, the organisers lodged a protest with the Dean of Students: "After the police and public prosecutor gave up the ban on raising the Palestinian flag, the campus of Tel-Aviv University is the only place where such a prohibition is still in force."
Campus, c/o Hillel Barak, 5 Warburg St., Tel-Aviv.

+++ On June 5, Hadash (Communist) members from Tel-Aviv stood at the busy Dizengoff Circle. They were holding signs reading: Racist settlers, out of Hebron! and The Golan and South Lebanon are also under occupation!.
Contact: Hadash, 5 Hess St., Tel-Aviv.


Peace News Items

+++ Between July 13-18, about 150 members of Peace Now Youth cycled along a 320 Km. route as part of a bike trip for peace. Over the six days of the trip, the young people held "peace events" at the various communities they passed through. In Jerusalem, they met with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who hosted

P. 19
them in his office. The ride ended, as planned, at the town of Arad, where the yearly Rock Festival -- immensely popular among Israeli youth -- opened on the 19th. Though tired from their six-day hike, the young activists enthusiastically distributed peace stickers among thousands of fans.

+++ In early June, an association of dissident settlers send a delegation to meet with the visiting American Friends of Peace Now. They asked them to lobby Congress on behalf of settlers wishing to leave the Territories, suggesting part of the Loan Guarantees be diverted for compensations to evacuating settlers. The group represents about a thousand families from Dugit in the Gaza Strip and from three West Bank settlements, including Kiryat Arba.

+++ After a year of deliberations, the Israeli Broadcasting Authority consented to the June 14 screening of a documentary on torture methods, used by Israeli Security during the interrogation of Palestinian prisoners. Ram Levi's production brought home to a broad Israeli public what only few had taken the trouble of reading in the numerous reports of human rights organizations.

In the ensuing public debate, Foreign Minister Peres commented: "This is an old problem, which will disappear of itself as the Oslo Agreement is implemented." Meanwhile, however, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal of Adv. AndrÇ Rosenthal, the lawyer of prisoner Ahmed a-Tun, to stop the sleep deprivation of his client.

A 300-page report on the interrogation of Palestinians in Israel is available
from Human Rights Watch
485 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10017-6104, U.S.A.

+++ For years, Israeli and Palestinian theatre directors played with the idea of a joint production featuring Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet with a Palestinian Romeo and an Israeli Juliet. Only after Oslo were the Khan Theatre (West Jerusalem) and the Al-Kasba Theatre (East Jerusalem) able to embark on the enterprise -- working feverishly until the July 1 premiäre. The production encountered many difficulties; when a Palestinian player's Jerusalem entry permit was revoked by the army, Israeli and Palestinian players alike went on strike until it was restored (through the intervention of Culture Minister Shulamit Aloni).

Shakespeare's original text was retained entirely, with the alternating languages -- Hebrew of the Capulets and Arabic of the Montagues -- giving an ample hint of the present. Only one crucial change was made -- the original final scene of tearful reconciliation was omitted. 'We will put that back in after the final peace,' said George Ibrahim, the Palestinian co-director.

+++ At the beginning of July, some 1200 youths participated in a seminar for young group leaders, held by the General Federation of Young Workers and Students at Kfar Hahoresh Woods in the Galilee. On July 9 the youths, together with thousands of visiting family members, participated at a rally in support of the peace process, with speakers exhorting their young audience to play an active role in confronting the right-wing opponents of peace.
GFYWS, attn. Ephra, 120 Kibbutz Galuyot St., Tel-Aviv.

+++ The Project for Peace and Social Justice organises regular meetings between Oriental Jewish slum dwellers from Holon -- mostly with a right-wing background -- and Arab Israelis from Ramleh. At first intended for social contacts based on common cultural elements, the meetings gradually assumed a more political character.

On July 21, a group of 75 Jews and 15 Arabs held a rally in Jerusalem to celebrate the upcoming agreement with Jordan, waving Israeli and Jordan flags; and on August 18, the same people traveled together to Jericho, to meet with Palestinian ministers.
Contact: PPSJ, c/o International Center for Peace, POB 29335, Tel-Aviv 61292.

+++ On July 24, singer Shahar Genosar presented his new song An addition to the Vision of Peace, with the refrain Don't despair, go on! Beat swords into ploughshares!" He told Israeli radio: "For years I found my living as a construction worker. I worked together with workers from Gaza, from the refugee camps. I dedicate this song to them."

+++ As Yitzchak Rabin and King Hussein shook hands far away in Washington on July 24, a flotilla of 40 Israeli boats, flying Israeli and Jordanian flags, set out from the southern port of Eilat. At the sea border, they were met by several Jordanian boats from neighboring Aqaba, with sirens honking and sailors waving excitedly at the Israelis.

Further north, along the Jordanian border, hundreds of Israeli children wrote letters to their Jordanian peers and tied them to balloons, which were released to float eastwards with the wind.

P. 20

A Palestinian currency -- the key to economic success --
by Dr. Esther Alexander

Nobody wants to find himself shooting at hungry unemployed workers, rioting for lack of the basic necessities of life. Yet Israeli soldiers found themselves doing just that, at the Erez checkpoint seperating the Gaza Strip from Israel. Such scenes could repeat themselves -- and on a larger scale, too -- unless a thorough analysis is made of the problem and a serious solution is offered.

All too often, the arrival of Palestinian workers in Israel is analysed as a security issue, with the main consideration being the danger of terrorist attacks by a very small fraction of the workers. This kind of thinking can never lead to a solution of what is essentially an economic problem, which cannot be solved by military or political means. Twenty-seven years of Israeli rule left the Gaza Strip an economiocally backward area, plagued by unemployment and the lack of investment; hence, Gazans must work in Israel and when denied this possibility, most of them languish in unemployment. Unfortunately, the Israel-PLO economic agreement, worked out during five months' negotiations in Paris, does not give the new Palestinian Self-Governing Authority the means of actually governing its own economy.

The main fault of the Paris Economic Protocol is that it does not give the Palestinians the right to issue their own currency. Israeli negotiators turned down all Palestinian demands for a currency; this refusal was mainly rooted, not in economic considerations but in political ones -- namely, the desire to deny the Palestinians anything which could be considered "a symbol of national independence". Foreign Minister Peres had stated: "We do not deal with symbols but with the real economy, and a Palestinian currency is economically superfluous". Yet our esteemed Foreign Minister is old enough to recall life in British-ruled Palestine, and to remember that -- like India and many other colonies -- it had its own currency, instituted by the British not as "a symbol" but for sound economic reasons. (Without a local currency, British Palestine could never have played the key role which it did in the British war effort of the Second World War!)

After long negotiations, the Palestinians gave in to the Israeli demand that there will be, for the present, no independent Palestinian currency. Instead, the Israeli Shekel and the Jordanian Dinar were declared co-equal legal tender in the Palestinian territories. Thus, the Palestinian economy was made totally dependant on Israel and Jordan, with disastrous consequences for the possibilities of employment and economic development.

In the Gaza Strip there is a large unused reservoir of manpower (including a considerable number of skilled workers, either unemployed or driven to simple manual labor for lack of anything better). The infrastructure is in a state of collapse, and there is an obvious necessity of starting a great number of public projects -- for some of which detailed plans already exist.

The obvious solution would be to employ the people who need work in the projects which need to be done. A governing authority disposing of a central bank and a local currency would be able to pay workers in that currency, which would serve as an accepted local medium for exchange of labor and goods inside the Palestinian economy. Many other expenses entailed by the development projects could also be paid in the same way, while the scarce hard currency would be reserved for what must be imported.

However, the Palestinian Authority does not have that option. Instead, it must obtain either Shekels or Dinars for each and every one of its expenses, including the payment of salaries to its policemen, clerks, teachers and doctors. But Shekels or Dinars can only be obtained by exporting goods or labor, to Israel or to Jordan respectively. Yet Israel places severe restrictions on the export of Palestinian labor to its territory; moreover, Israel and Jordan are both not exactly enthusiastic about receiving such goods as the Palestinian are able to export.

The Palestinian Authority's need to pay salaries in Shekels or Dinars also means that any hard currency which the Palestinians manage to obtain will have to be exchanged for these currencies; in effect, all international aid which reaches the Palestinians will eventually go to swell the foreign currency reserves of either Israel or Jordan.

Israeli officials, aware of the Palestinian Authority's severe financial difficulties, urge the Palestinians to start collecting taxes. Yet how much can be levied from an impoverished population, of which about half are unemployed? Even in Israel itself, taxes cover no more than 50% of the government budget. For economic development, our leaders can only refer the Palestinians to the promised international aid -- which so far proved very tardy in arrival. But when the Palestinians do finally get some of these precious Dollars, why should they be forced to use them to finance such projects as renewal of the Gaza sewers -- which can be carried out with Gazan labor and locally-produced materials, requiring practically no imports?

The economic "solutions" offered to the Palestinians by the Israeli authorities impose extremely high demands upon the Palestinian national economy. In return, the Palestinians would be able to raise only amounts falling far short of their most basic needs. The only way for the Palestinians out of their terrible misery is to have sources of income, enabling them to use the abundant labor to start production and develop services and infrastucture. Only a national 
currency, whose issuing will be controlled by the Palestinian Authority according to Palestinian economic interests, would provide such a source.

In a patronising way, Israeli finance ministry officials have taken to talking about "saving the Palestinians from themselves" and arguing that "a Palestinian currency would lead to spiralling inflation". Interestingly, in the first years of Israel our decision-makers had a rather different view of national currency and its role.

Upon its creation in 1948, the State of Israel disposed of no more resources than the Palestinians do today. Yet immediately upon the withdrawal of the last British troops, the Anglo-Palestine Bank in Tel-Aviv was renamed "Israel National Bank" and authorised by Ben-Gurion to issue banknotes. In the first four years of Israel, the population doubled itself by immigration waves; the economy was kept moving mainly through this new currency, which financed more than half of the government budget; yet the inflation rate was lower than in today's Israel. The economic history of early Israel could prove a fruitful field of study for the Palestinians -- and for that matter, also for our present-day economic leadership.
(Adapted from Davar, 27.7.'94.)
E. Alexander, 105 Nof Harim, Mevasseret Zion 02733; tel/fax: 972.2.343559.