Hatzofe, March 1, 2000
SHATI REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip (AP) —
Unrest in the Palestinian areas will erupt into “real explosions” if Israel does
not carry out land transfer agreements, senior Palestinian officials warned Friday.
Palestinians also said they were preparing for the possibility that
Palestinian security forces will take over disputed land by force if no peace
deal is reached with Israel.
The two sides are deadlocked over the location of an overdue Israeli
withdrawal from 6.1% of the West Bank. The Palestinians want to receive
Jerusalem suburbs, a position that Israel has refused. They also object to
Israel’s plan to fold an additional troop withdrawal into a final peace treaty,
slated for Sept. 13.
Frustration has been running high in the Palestinian areas since peace talks
broke off last month, and polls show rising Palestinian public support for
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, told a
Gaza rally Friday that if a dispute with Israel over two West Bank troop
withdrawals is not resolved, violence could erupt in the Palestinian areas.
Israeli intransigence “paves the way back toward real explosions because this
policy will lead us toward tension and destroy the credibility of the peace
process,” Abdel Rahim said. “This region will not enter an era of peace unless
our nation gets its rights back.”
Arafat blamed Israel for the breakdown in talks, saying it was responsible for
the failure of a mediation attempt by U.S. Mideast envoy Dennis Ross that ended
“There is great danger in the continuation of the current freeze in the
negotiations,” he was quoted as saying in a statement released after Friday
night’s weekly cabinet meeting.
Palestinian Parliament Speaker Ahmed Qureia said the Palestinians prefer to
receive the territory through an agreement with Israel but would take it
themselves, if necessary.
“If it will not be implemented from the both sides, we are studying how to
implement it unilaterally,” he told reporters Friday in the West Bank town of
The Palestinian Authority [PA] is preparing for the
possibility of a wide-ranging military confrontation against Israel
following the declaration of a Palestinian state, according to remarks by
Palestinian Health Minister Riyad al-Za’nun.
Al-Za’nun addressed on 24 February a gathering organized by the National
Guidance Committee on ‘Preparations by the Health Ministry Prior to Declaration of Palestinian
He noted that all the hospitals and medical centers attached to
his ministry are prepared for any emergency situation that might arise
following the declaration of a Palestinian state during the current year.
Al-Za’nun stressed that there is a joint emergency plan between his office
and other Palestinian bodies, such as civil defense and national security,
and other ministries connected to the issue, such as the Ministries of
Public Works and Education. Non-government organizations operating in the
field of health are also participating.
Al-Za’nun said the emergency plan prepared by his ministry has three stages:
the first, treatment of casualties at the site of the incidents; the
second, the evacuation of casualties to hospitals; and the third, the
medical treatment in hospitals and medical centers attached to them.
Security elements say that the PA is preparing for the possibility of a
military confrontation with Israel, similar to the September 1996 fighting,
following the establishment of a Palestinian state. Nevertheless, the
defense establishment recalled that after the September 1996 fighting the
Palestinian policemen, even those who participated in fighting against
Israel, received medical treatment in Israel as a humanitarian gesture
because the Palestinian medical system was incapable of giving them the
Lieutenant Colonel Shlomo Dror, spokesman for the coordinator of activities
in the territories, said in response “that the Palestinian health minister
should deal with improving medicine to the Palestinian public instead of
preparing for war against Israel.”