The Palestine-Israel Journal is a quarterly of MIDDLE EAST PUBLICATIONS, a registered non-profit organization (No. 58-023862-4).
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Editorial Board

Adnan Abdelrazek

Danny Rubinstein

Sam'an Khoury

Daniel Bar-Tal

Walid Salem

Galia Golan

Gershon Baskin

Hind Khoury

Edy Kaufman

Ata Qaymari

Benjamin Pogrund

Nafez Nazzal

Dan Jacobson

Jumana Jaouni

Moshe Maoz

Munther Dajani

Khuloud Khayyat Dajani

Izhak Schnell

Lucy Nusseibah

Meir Margalit

Menachem Klein

Ali Abu Shahla

Ilan Baruch

Hanna Siniora

Yehudit Oppenheimer

Mossi Raz

Susie Becher

Frances Raday




Vol.6 No.4 1999 / The New Generation

Chronology of Events

July 1, 1999 to October 1, 1999

Edited by Najat Hirbawi


1.7.99 Activists from the Israeli human-rights organization B’Tselem distribute drinking water to residents of Beit Fourik near Nablus, who have been suffering from a severe water shortage in the past few months.

3.7.99 An estimated 300 Israeli motorcyclists from Tel Aviv ride through Nablus as part of a peace program sponsored by the city of Nablus to promote tourism from Israel.

4.7.99 An ultra-Orthodox Jewish family with 11 children moves into the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Affiliated with the Ateret Cohanim settler group, the family moved under heavy police protection into a house it had allegedly bought from its Palestinian owners. There are now approximately 60 Jewish families living among 27,000 Palestinians in the Muslim Quarter.

7.7.99 Newly appointed Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin states his intention to abolish the law on administrative detention (imprisonment without trial) during his term in office, adding it is difficult to speak of democracy while there are Palestinians under administrative detention.

10.7.99 In a letter to a rightist American Jewish organization, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senate hopeful for New York, expresses her full support for an “eternal and undivided” Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Mrs. Clinton’s statement came months after New York Jews criticized her for her support of a Palestinian state.

10.7.99 Tension rises in the Old City of Jerusalem as the Israeli government orders police to close a window in the Al-Khansiyyeh School. The window was opened and enlarged as part of Islamic Waqf renovations around the Muslim shrine, the Dome of the Rock. Israeli complaints against Waqf work in this sensitive area led to tension in the period under review.

12.7.99 The first summit between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak regarding the future of the peace process is held at the Erez crossing in the Gaza Strip. “We expect full implementation of existing agreements,” Arafat told the press, calling Barak a “friend and partner.” In turn, Barak said “both sides have suffered enough.”

13.7.99 In his address to the 40 heads of state gathered in Algiers for the opening of the 35th session of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), President Arafat reiterates his demand for full Israeli withdrawal to the lines of June 4, 1967, and asks for “Land for peace” in accordance with the principle established by the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991.

16.7.99 Israeli researcher Meron Benvenisti calls for Israeli understanding of the statement made by U.S. President Bill Clinton on the need to end the suffering of the Palestinians, especially in relation to Palestinian refugees. In an article in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, Benvenisti called Israeli fears of the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel merely psychological, saying that Arabs will constitute 55 percent of the population by 2020.

18.7.99 Usama Barham, the longest-serving Palestinian administrative detainee in Israeli prisons, is released after six years of confinement without trial. Barham was arrested in September 1993 on grounds that “he constituted a threat to Israel’s security.”

20.7.99 The new Israeli Interior Minister, Natan Sharansky, declares his intention to end the policy of revoking ID cards from Palestinian Jerusalemites who have lived abroad or outside the Jerusalem municipal boundaries for seven years or more, a practice begun in 1995. His statement came after the minister toured his ministry’s branch in East Jerusalem, which has been responsible for a policy of quiet transfer of Palestinian Jerusalemites.

21.7.99 Following Israeli PM Ehud Barak’s visit to the United States, U.S. President Bill Clinton pledges further financial aid to Israel. In addition to allowing Israel to buy 50 new F-16E warplanes worth $2.5 billion, the U.S. has agreed to give Israel an extra $500 million annually in military cash assistance and $1.2 billion towards Israel’s 13.1-percent withdrawal from West Bank lands.

21.7.99 Israeli judicial authorities ratify a new law allowing the occupation authorities to prosecute in military courts Palestinian minors under the age of 16 for stone-throwing. According to the new law, military courts can now try children as young as 12 years old.

21.7.99 Israeli Minister of Public Security, Shlomo Ben-Ami, and PLO Executive Committee Member, Faisal Husseini, agree that no unlicensed political activities would take place at Orient House. Orient House has been criticized and threatened by the former Israeli government for its diplomatic activities. The Barak government would like to diffuse these artificially raised tensions.

22.7.99 Hamas issues a statement which was faxed to various news agencies, threatening to renew its armed operations against Israel. Hamas admitted that its activities had been curtailed by Israeli and Palestinian security services and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

23.7.99 King Hassan II of Morocco dies. On 25.7.99 during the King’s funeral, the Israeli delegation was pleased with a historic handshake between Israeli PM Ehud Barak and Algerian President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika.

26.7.99 Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker, Ahmad Qurei (Abu Ala), visits the Israeli Knesset upon the invitation of Israeli Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg. Qurei rejected all attempts to interpret his visit as a recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, reiterating in a press conference that Jerusalem is part of Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 and that it must be the capital of two states. Burg is expected to visit the Palestinian Legislative Council in the near future.

27.7.99 A second meeting between Israeli PM Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat at the Erez crossing in Gaza ends with an agreement to set up a panel to discuss the implementation of the Wye River Memorandum. Israeli attorney Gilad Sher and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will jointly head the panel.

27.7.99 The Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education and the European Union sign an accord aimed at reducing the present financial crisis of Palestinian universities. The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) received the sum of $5 million to plug the deficit in the budget for the universities, and another $5 million to be held in reserve.

28.7.99 Israeli PM Ehud Barak orders soldiers to remove five mobile homes installed by settlers to expand a hilltop encampment near the settlement of Shvut Rahel near Ramallah. A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office called the move “illegal” and said the government would oppose any unilateral steps by the settlers.

30.7.99 Israeli Minister of Industry and Trade, Ran Cohen, meets his Palestinian counterparts Minister of Economy and Trade, Maher Masri, and Minister of Industry, Saadi Krunz, to discuss outstanding trade issues and ways to solve them.

2.8.99 Palestinian Minister of Economy and Trade, Maher Masri, along with Khaled Slam, economic advisor to President Yasser Arafat, meet with Israeli Minister of Finance, Avraham Shohat, to discuss the implementation of the economic part of the Wye agreement, in addition to other unimplemented issues from previous agreements, and the Paris Economic Protocol.

5.8.99 PNA police detain for four hours of questioning the head of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, Iyad Elsarraj, and then ban him from traveling abroad. The interrogation allegedly related to a recent article written by Elsarraj in People’s Rights magazine about the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in PNA jails.

7.8.99 The PNA arrests three top Hamas leaders in Gaza following the movement’s claimed responsibility for the shooting of two settlers in Hebron on August 3. According to Ghazi Jabali, the chief of the Palestinian police, Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi and Ahmad Nimr were arrested on August 7, and Ismail Abu Shanab was arrested for questioning on August 6 and released on August 8.

9.8.99 A Palestinian from Bethlehem is shot and killed after driving into a group of Israelis at a busstop between Ramleh and Beit Shemesh, injuring 12. According to Palestinian security officials, the man, Akram Alqam, was a known car thief and a drug addict.

12.8.99 The Palestinian Legislative Council passes the 1999 PNA budget by 38 votes to 18. The budget plan was passed with a deficit of NIS 188 million ($47 million).

16.8.99 Israeli settler and security officer, Nahum Korman, is acquitted in the case of the death of 11-year-old Hilmi Shusha from Hussan in 1996. According to the prosecution, Korman accused the boy of throwing stones at Israeli cars; he kicked him and hit him with the butt of his pistol. The Israeli human-rights organization B’Tselem criticized the verdict, saying it was part of a trend of negligence in enforcing justice in cases involving Israeli citizens who injure Palestinians.

18.8.99 The Israeli Peace Now movement calls on the Israeli government to recognize “in principle” the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The movement explained that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would never be solved unless a solution is found for the refugee problem.

19.8.99 The PNA and Israel sign an agreement for an exchange of postal services between the two parties. The agreement allows Palestinians to send and receive mail directly to and from Egypt and Jordan without routing it through Israel.

22.8.99 Palestinian security sources confirm they apprehended a Hamas military group that had intended to abduct Israeli soldiers. The five-member group was arrested on August 20 and detained in a PNA prison.

23.8.99 President Yasser Arafat and the Chairman of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Nayef Hawatmeh, meet in Cairo. The talks are the first since the Oslo Accords were signed in September 1993, and strongly opposed by the DFLP.

26.8.99 The Burger King corporation announces that, due to a breach of contract and misrepresentation, it would cancel its contract with an Israeli franchise to operate a Burger King branch in the Jewish settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim in the West Bank, since its contract applied only to Israel proper.

26.8.99 The Palestinian state security court issues a death sentence by firing squad against Ayman Abu Sa’ada, 27, from Rafah, on charges of murdering Colonel Hani Abu Zeina on August 24. The death sentence is still pending ratification by President Arafat.

27.8.99 Israeli PM Ehud Barak approves arrangements allowing approximately 10,000 more Palestinian workers into Israel. The movement of goods between the two sides will also be increased.

27.8.99 A military spokesperson announces the discovering by the Israeli army of a tunnel between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, containing cables, fire extinguishers and explosives. The spokesperson expressed Israel’s regret over the lack of coordination with the PNA on this issue.

29.8.99 Construction begins on the Jewish settlement of Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa) in East Jerusalem. According to the Israeli magazine The Jerusalem Report, six luxury apartments have already been sold for $249,000 each.

29.8.99 Palestinian Minister of Agriculture, Hikmat Zeid, meets with his Israeli counterpart, Haim Oron, to discuss problems facing the Palestinian agricultural sector. They agreed to establish a joint committee to follow up on problems facing the export and import of agricultural produce and the behavior of Israeli soldiers at crossing points.

30.8.99 The Jordanian authorities close four Hamas offices in Amman and arrest 12 Hamas members.

30.8.99 The prosecutor of the State Security Tribunal in Jordan issues an arrest warrant in absentia against four Hamas leaders residing in Jordan but are currently on a visit to Iran. The leaders are the official spokesperson of Hamas, Ibrahim Ghosheh; the head of the organization’s political bureau, Mousa Abu Marzuq; and Khaled Nazal and Khaled Mesh’al, both members of its political bureau.

4.9.99 The Israeli Supreme Court rules in favor of the Al-Abbasi family from the East Jerusalem village of Silwan in their dispute with the Ir David settler association that claims ownership rights to the family residence. The court also ruled for the annulment of the settlers’ claims.

6.9.99 The Israeli Supreme Court bans the use of torture in Israeli prisons. The decision of the nine-judge panel read, “The Shin Bet [security service] has no right to shake prisoners, force them into uncomfortable positions or deprive them of sleep.” Israeli public opinion welcomed the decision but a debate on its implications started at once. PM Ehud Barak responded that “a way must be found to allow for interrogation in cases of ‘ticking bombs’ in order to save lives.” Some Knesset members later proposed legislation in this spirit.

13.9.99 A ceremony marking the beginning of final-status talks takes place at the Erez crossing in Gaza. The two delegations were headed by Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee Secretary Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister, David Levy. Their respective speeches reflected the wide gaps that still separate both sides.

15.9.99 Abdel Rahman Al-Ziben, from Nablus, is sentenced by an Israeli military court in Beit El to 26 life sentences plus 25 years on charges of assisting the perpetrators of the 1997 Mahane Yehuda and Ben-Yehuda bombings in West Jerusalem.

15.9.99 Palestinian journalist Maher Disouqi is arrested by the Palestinian Preventive Security Apparatus on grounds of possession of inciteful material against the PNA, although the security’s legal office later denied that such material had been found.

21.9.99 Israeli PM Ehud Barak urges Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad to sign a “Peace of the brave” treaty with Israel. Israeli Foreign Minister, David Levy, accused Syria of toughening its position as the resumption of talks between it and Israel now seems imminent.

22.9.99 Jordan arrests three Hamas leaders as they returned to Amman from Iran in an open challenge to the Jordanian government following the latter’s crackdown against their organization. Top Hamas officials Khaled Mesh’al and Ibrahim Ghosheh were taken into custody on their arrival at Amman Airport and charged with engaging in illegal political activities. Mousa Abu Marzuq was detained and immediately deported.

29.9.99 The Israeli Housing Ministry issues tenders for the construction of 2,600 new housing units in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including 1,000 located in Arab East Jerusalem. According to the Israeli Peace Now movement, the rate at which tenders are being issued is faster than that under the previous government.

30.9.99 Through September 1999, 150 Palestinian Jerusalemites have had their identity cards confiscated by Israel. According to Israeli sources, this figure represents the highest yearly rate of Palestinian ID confiscation.
In this period, in the occupied territories one Palestinian was killed by the Israeli security forces, and one Palestinian was killed by the Israeli forces within the Green Line.

Above figures from B’Tselem.








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