Chronology 16 February-15 May 1999

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VOL. 28

1998/99

No. 4
P. 169
Chronology
Chronology 16 February-15 May 1999
ABSTRACT

16 FEBRUARY
    In Washington, the U.S.-Palestinian Bilateral Comm. opens its 2d mtg., focusing on economic issues. (al-Quds 2/16 in WNC 2/18; al-Ayyam 2/17 in WNC 2/19; PR 2/19; al-Hayat al-Jadida 2/21 in WNC 2/22; MEI 2/26) (see Peace Monitor)
    Overnight, Abdallah Ocalan, head of the Turkish separatist group Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), who had been searching for a safe haven since he left Italian custody 1/16, is seized by Turkish commandos in Kenya after the Greek emb. in Nairobi denies him refuge. Kurdish demonstrators stage protests in Turkey and anti-Greek rallies across Europe and in Scandinavia, Russia, Armenia, Australia, Canada. Israel, U.S. deny charges that they aided in the capture. (CSM, MM, WP, WT 2/16; CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 2/17; Le Soir 2/17 in WNC 2/18; MM 2/18; YA 2/18 in WNC 2/19; JP, MEI, PR 2/26)

17 FEBRUARY
    Israel's Labor party holds its primary in advance of the 5/17 elections. Party Chmn. Ehud Barak takes top position on the slate. (MM, NYT 2/17; CSM 2/18)
    Netherlands FM Van Aartsen says Turkey's handling of the Ocalan trial should be a test for Turkey's membership in the European Union (EU). Kurds continue protests in Europe (home to 850,000 Kurdish refugees), Turkey over Ocalan's 2/16 capture. In Berlin, Israeli security guards fire on 100s of protesters who storm the Israeli consulate, killing 3, wounding 16. (MM, NYT, WP, WT 2/18; De Volkskrant, al-Rayah 2/18 in WNC 2/19; Frankfurter Rundschau 2/19 in WNC 2/22; MM 2/22; WJW 2/25)
    Syria agrees to pay $500,000 to the U.S. to repair the U.S. emb. in Damascus, damaged 12/19 during protests against the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. U.S. says it considers diplomatic tensions over, will begin resuming visa services (suspended 12/22) on 2/28. (NYT, WP, WT 2/18; MM 2/25)
    UN says it will hand over $84 m. to Kuwait for reparations to victims of the 1990 Iraqi invasion. Funds will be taken fr. Iraqi oil exports, which have produced $2.7 b. in compensation to date. (NYT 2/18; MEI 2/26)
    Israel Defense Force (IDF) blocks Jewish settlers fr. occupying a building in East Jerusalem, which they claim to have bought fr. a Palestinian family. The family denies it sold the building. (JP, PR 2/26)

18 FEBRUARY
   In Rome, the UN Comm. for the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People opens 2-day conference in support of the Palestinian Authority's (PA)'s Bethlehem 2000 tourism, development plan. (Reuters [Internet] 2/18)
    Kurdish demonstrations against Ocalan's capture abate in Europe, escalate in Turkey. In the past 3 days, Turkey has sent 10,000 troops into n. Iraq to attack Kurdish rebels, has arrested 750 Kurdish activists in Turkey. To contain the scandal over their involvement in Ocalan's arrest, Greece replaces its FM, 2 cabinet mbrs.; Kenya reshuffles its cabinet. (MM 2/18; CSM, NYT, WP, WT 2/19; MM 2/23) (see 2/16)
   IDF fences off the Lebanese village of Arnun to expand its self-declared security zone; says action is meant to protect residents fr. Hizballah attacks. Lebanon accuses Israel of testing its limits under the 1996 April understandings, aiming to convince the Israel-  Lebanon Monitoring Group (ILMG) that occupation is legitimate if it prevents Hizballah fr. using civilian-populated areas as staging points for attacks, which is prohibited under the understandings. (VOL 2/18 in WNC 2/19; NYT, WP 2/19; SAPA [Johannesburg] 2/19 in WNC 2/22; WP 2/20; MM 2/25; MEI 2/26; MM 4/21)
    Hamas spiritual leader Shaykh Ahmad Yasin enters a Gaza hospital with chest pains, high fever. (WT 2/19)

19 FEBRUARY
    U.S. admits it worked for mos. to help Turkey arrest Ocalan, whom the U.S. considers a terrorist; says U.S. used diplomatic pressure, intelligence gathering to force nations to refuse him sanctuary, tracked him in Nairobi but did not have "direct involvement" in his capture. Turkish PM Bulent Ecevit says Turkey received the final tip from another country that he would not identify. Israel's Mossad issues public letter denying involvement. Kurdish protests continue in Europe, Canada, the Middle East. (MM 2/19; AFP, RL 2/19, al-Dustur 2/20, IRNA 2/21 in WNC 2/22; MIL 2/19 in WNC 2/24; NYT, WP, WT 2/20; NYT, WP 2/21; MM 2/22; MED TV 2/25 in WNC 2/26; PR 2/26)
    With a private audience with Pope John Paul II on sidelines of UN conference in Rome (see 2/18), PA head Yasir Arafat begins international tour to confer with international leaders on the post-Oslo peace process, whether to unilaterally declare a state when the Oslo interim period ends on 5/4. (WT 2/20; MENA 2/20 in WNC 2/22)
    Israel's Jerusalem Post reports that 22 new parties have been formed since early elections were declared 12/21, bringing total number of parties to 56. (JP 2/19)
    Lebanese Chamber of Deputies speaker Nabih Birri meets with Hizballah secy. gen. Hassan Nasrallah to discuss coordination against Israel in light of Arnun occupation. (RL 2/19 in WNC 2/22) (see 2/18)

20 FEBRUARY
    Arafat meets with Egyptian pres. Husni Mubarak in Cairo. (MENA 2/20 in WNC 2/22)
    PA High Court orders the PA General Intelligence Service (GIS) to release Wael Farraj, jailed without charge since 4/25/96. GIS refuses to release him. (PR 2/26; PCHR 3/1; MEI 4/23)
    In Amman, King Abdallah meets with Chmn. of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Henry Shelton on cementing security ties, boosting bilateral aid. (WP 2/21; MEI 2/26)
    Jewish settlers seize 100 dunams of Palestinian land nr. Nablus for settlement expansion. (al-Hayat al-Jadida 2/21 in WNC 2/22)
    Arab League condemns Turkey's latest incursion into n. Iraq, calls for immediate withdrawal. (RE 2/20 in WNC 2/22) (see 2/18)

21 FEBRUARY
    Jordan's King Abdallah forces into retirement 4 key generals who are reportedly loyal to fmr. Crown Prince Hassan. (MM, WP 2/22)
    Turkey ends incursion into n. Iraq begun 2/15. (WP 2/22)

22 FEBRUARY
    U.S. Asst. Secy. of State Martin Indyk denies Israeli charges that the PA recently released terrorists, murderers fr. custody in violation of the Wye accord. (WT 2/24; WJW 2/25; NYT 2/26; JP 3/5; al-Istiqlal 3/5 in WNC 3/12; MEI 3/12)
   Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu names Likud whip Meir Shitreet as finance minister, relinquishing the position which he has held since 12/16. (MM, WP 2/23)
   The EU Council of Ministers approves (14-1) 2/11 recommendation to allow Israel to participate in the Fifth Framework research and development program. (WT 2/23; Le Soir 3/4 in WNC 3/5; JP 3/5) (see Peace Monitor)

23 FEBRUARY
    In Morocco for a 3-day conference on the future of Jerusalem, Arafat backs away fr. vows to declare a Palestinian state on 5/4, saying that the PA is working on a "formula" for statehood. Orient House head Faisal Husseini says PA has accepted "in principle" U.S., EU calls to delay declaration. (AP [Internet] 2/23)
    Turkey charges Ocalan with treason, rejects EU request to send observers to the trial. (AFP 2/23 in WNC 2/24; NYT, WP, WT 2/24)
   Some 1,200 Palestinian doctors, nurses, health administrators in the West Bank strike to protest PA's failure to implement civil service law passed in 5/98, which would increase their salaries. (AP [Internet] 2/23)
    Overnight, Hizballah mbrs. intercept elite IDF commando squad operating n. of Israel's self-declared security zone, killing 3, wounding 5. (MM 2/23; VOL 2/23 in WNC 2/24; MM, NYT, WT 2/24; AFP 2/25 in WNC 2/26; MEI, MM 2/26; MEI 3/12; WT 4/14)

24 FEBRUARY
    Limiting constitutional rights of illegal immigrants, the U.S. Supreme Court rules (6-3) that the government can deport a group of 8 Palestinians, 1 Kenyan simply because of their controversial political views in support of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. (WP, WT 2/25; MM 2/26; PR 3/5)
    Israeli Trade Min. announces that it has allocated new lands to build moderate-, small-scale factories in several West Bank, Gaza settlements, including Keddumim, Efraim, Erez. (PR 3/5)
    U.S. planes fire on 2 Iraqi missile sites s. of Baghdad, killing, injuring a number of civilians according to the Iraqi government. There have been nearly daily attacks on Iraq since the U.S. adopted (see 1/25) its policy of sustaining low-level strikes against security targets in effort to contain Saddam Hussein. (NYT, WP, WT 2/25) (see 2/11)

25 FEBRUARY
    The PA rejects Israel's offer to partially implement the expired Wye agmt. by opening the s. safe passage route, releasing more criminal prisoners; says that any proposal for partial implementation must include transfer of land. (NYT, WP 2/26)
    In a 1-hr. trial, PA military court finds Palestinian Col. Ahmad Abu Mustafa guilty of kidnapping, raping a 6-yr.-old boy; sentences him to death for "inciting the public against the Palestinian Authority." 2,000 Palestinians stage demonstration in Gaza to demand Abu Mustafa's punishment. (NYT 2/26; NYT, WT, WP 2/27; PR 3/5; MEI 3/12)
    Bashar al-Asad, son of Syrian pres. Hafiz al-Asad, goes to Amman to offer condolences to King Abdallah on the passing of King Hussein. (MM 2/26)
    Israeli High Court rules (3-2) that American Samuel Sheinbein, charged with committing murder in the U.S. in 9/97, is a citizen of Israel, cannot be extradited, will be tried in Israel. The decision reverses a lower court judgement that Sheinbein did not qualify for automatic citizenship through his father, who was born in Mandated Palestine. (MM, NYT, WP, WT 2/26; WJW 3/4; JP 3/5) (see 9/5/98)
    Saudi businessman Salih Idris, whose pharmaceutical plant in Sudan was bombed by the U.S. in 8/98 for allegedly housing chemical weapons for Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden, files suit against the U.S. Treasury Dept. for freezing his London assets without formally declaring him linked to a designated terrorist, as the law demands. The U.S. has never given proof of Idris's ties to Bin Laden. (WP 2/26; WT 2/27; see also WP, WT 2/4)
    Turkish officials allow 2 lawyers for Ocalan to see the jailed PKK leader for the 1st time. The mtg. lasts 20 minutes; jailers confine the discussion to Ocalan's health, forbid discussion of his case. Afterward, 1 lawyer is arrested for maintaining ties to the PKK. The other, Ahmet Zeki Okcuoglu, quits, saying his life is in danger. (NYT, WT 2/27)
    Rockets are fired fr. s. Lebanon into n. Israel, damaging a house but causing no injuries. Israel blames Hizballah, which denies responsibility. (AFP 2/28 in WNC 3/1; MM 3/1)

26 FEBRUARY
    PM Netanyahu angers Jordan by giving a speech warning Israelis that Jordan could form an alliance with Iraq if Baghdad attacked Israel. (WT 2/28; PR 3/5; MEI 3/12)
    PA executes Preventive Security Forces (PSF) officer condemned to death 2/25. (NYT, WP, WT 2/27; JP, PR 3/5; MEI 3/12)
    Iran holds 1st local elections since 1979. More than 280,000 candidates run for 200,000 seats nationwide. So many people turn out to vote that some polling stations run out of ballots, hrs. for voting are extended. (NYT, WP 2/26; NYT, WP 2/27; WP 2/28; CSM, MM 3/1; MM 3/2)
   To protest Israel's "annexation" of Arnun on 2/18, 2,000 Lebanese students, residents of nearby villages break through an IDF military cordon, cut through barbed wire, cross suspected minefield, enter the village. IDF fires warning shots fr. outside Arnun, but does not try to expel protesters. Students leave at nightfall; IDF does not attempt to reenter the village. (NYT, WT 2/27; RMC 2/28 in WNC 3/1; MEI 3/12)

27 FEBRUARY
    Israel seals its borders with the occupied territories, citing warnings of attacks by Hamas during the Jewish holiday of Purim. (WT 2/28; JP 3/5) Netanyahu retracts 2/26 statement that Jordan might ally itself with Iraq if Baghdad attacked Israel. (WT 2/28)
    Iran begins 9-day naval maneuvers in the Gulf, nr. the islands of Abu Musa, Greater and Lesser Tunbs, which are claimed by both Iran, the UAE. (WT 3/3; MM 3/4, 3/5)

28 FEBRUARY
    PM Netanyahu, FM Ariel Sharon go to Amman to hold 1st mtg. with King Abdallah. (WT 2/28; RJ 2/28 in WNC 3/1; MA 2/28, JT, MA 3/1 in WNC 3/2; NYT, WP 3/1; JP, PR 3/5; MEI 3/12) (see Peace Monitor)
    Hizballah detonates 2 roadside bombs in s. Lebanon, killing 4 IDF soldiers, including a brig. gen., the highest-ranking Israeli soldier to be killed in Lebanon since the 1982 Israeli invasion. IDF retaliates by striking 4 Hizballah bases n. of the self-declared security zone, including Hizballah headquarters in the center of Baalbeck. Israeli DM Moshe Arens warns that Israel may disavow the 1996 April understanding to avoid civilian targets if Hizballah continues attacks. (AFP, IDF Radio, RL 2/28 in WNC 3/1; MM, NYT, WP, WT 3/1; Interfax, IRNA, JT, Kyodo, RE, SAPA [Johannesburg], SATN 3/1 in WNC 3/2; al-Quds al-Arabi 3/1, al-Akhbar 3/2 in WNC 3/4; WJW 3/4; JP, PR 3/5; MEI 3/12; WT 4/14; MM 4/21) (see 2/23)
    100s of Lebanese students use government bulldozers to reopen road to Arnun, remove IDF earthworks around the village. Lebanese government says it will pave the road to symbolically link Arnun to areas n. of the Israeli-occupied zone. (WT 2/28; al-Ittihad, RMC 2/28 in WNC 3/1; Tehran Times 3/1 in WNC 3/8; MEI 3/12) (see 2/26) U.S. attack on an Iraqi communications station nr. Mosul disrupts oil flow fr. Iraq to Turkey. UN warns that U.S. strikes could frustrate international efforts to supply food, medicine, other necessities to the Iraqi people under the UN Oil-for-Food program. (NYT, WT 3/3; AFP 3/4 in WNC 3/5; MIL 3/6 in WNC 3/16; MEI 3/12)

1 MARCH
    Protest by Palestinian political prisoners against their detention in Israel's Megiddo jail turns into riot, injuring 3 Israeli policemen. Meanwhile, 44 Palestinians held in PA jails without charge end mo.-long hunger strike (see 2/12), claiming that they have reached an agmt. with the PA to resolve their case. (AFP [Internet] 3/1; PR 3/5)
    A Palestinian is shot, wounded by IDF when he tries to avoid a roadblock nr. Ramallah. (PR 3/5)
    Jordanian, Israeli water officials meet in Amman to prepare funding proposals to the EU for joint water projects in the Jordan Valley. (JT 3/2 in WNC 3/4; al-Ayyam 3/3 in WNC 3/5)
    Jordanian FM Abdallah Khatib makes 1st high-level Jordanian visit to Kuwait since the 1990-91 Gulf conflict. Kuwait says that bilateral relations have returned to normal. (Petra-JNA, Radio Kuwait 3/2, JT 3/3 in WNC 3/4; MM, WP 3/3; Xinhua 3/3 in WNC 3/5)
    Pentagon confirms that the U.S., Britain, Turkey have signed their 1st agmt. on technical rules of engagement for air operations in n. Iraq, broadening rules of engagement for pilots for 2d time since 1/25. (MM, NYT, WP, WT 3/2)
    Israel's atty. gen. files formal request for a larger group of High Court justices to reconsider the 2/25 decision not to extradite Sheinbein. (WP 3/2; WJW 3/4, 3/11)
    Results of Iran's 2/26 local elections show that reform candidates allied with moderate Pres. Mohamed Khatami won a sweeping victory, taking all seats in Tehran, most seats nationwide. (WP, WT 3/2; NYT, WP, WT 3/3; MM, NYT, WP 3/8)
    Lebanese brace for escalation in Israeli attacks following 2/28 incident. Israel's security cabinet threatens future strikes, but under strong international pressure, the IDF stages no attacks. (RL 3/1 in WNC 3/2; CSM, NYT, WP, WT 3/2; ITAR-TASS, MA 3/2 in WNC 3/4)

2 MARCH
    Labor Chmn. Ehud Barak pledges to withdraw fr. Lebanon, resume negotiations with Syria within a yr. if he wins 5/17 elections. Center party candidate Yitzhak Mordechai vows to be out of Lebanon even sooner if he wins. (MM 3/2; WP 3/3; MM, WJW 3/4; MA 3/4 in WNC 3/5; MM 3/5; NYT 3/6; MM 3/8; JP 3/12)
    Washington Post reports that during the U.S.'s 3 yrs. of intelligence work inside the UN Special Comm. (UNSCOM) weapons inspection team in Iraq (admitted 1/6), the U.S. rigged UNSCOM equipment to intercept Iraqi communications, sent burst transmissions fr. the UNSCOM headquarters to U.S. military without the knowledge of or sharing the information with the UN. UN Secy. Gen. Kofi Annan says U.S. actions could undermine other disarmament programs. (WP 3/2; WP 3/3; MM 3/5; MEI 3/12)
    Turkey's Dep. Chief of Staff Hilmi Ozkok leaves Egypt after 3 days of talks on expanding bilateral military cooperation, heads to Jordan to discuss joint military exercises planned for 5/99. (ATL 3/4 in WNC 3/5)
    Turkey allows 15-mbr. EU torture prevention group to visit PKK leader Ocalan to inspect the conditions under which he is being jailed. (NYT 3/3) (see 2/25)

CHRONOLOGY SOURCE ABBREVIATIONS
 

AFP     (Agence France Presse, Paris)
ATL     (Anatolia, Ankara)
CSM    (Christian Science Monitor, Boston)
GIU     (Global Intelligence Update, Austin)
HA      (Ha'Aretz, Tel Aviv)
HUR    (Hurriyet, Istanbul)
IGPO   (Israeli Government Press Office, Jerusalem)
INA     (Iraq News Agency, Baghdad)
IRNA   (Islamic Republic News Agency, Tehran)
ITV     (Israel Television Network, Jerusalem)
JP       (Jerusalem Post International Edition, Jerusalem)
JT       (Jordan Times, Amman)
JTV     (Jordan Television Network, Amman)
LAW    (Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, Jerusalem)
LPA     (London Press Association, London)
MA      (Ma'ariv, Tel Aviv)
MBC    (Middle East Broadcasting Centre, London)
MEI     (Middle East International, London)
MENA (Middle East News Agency, Cairo)
MIL     (Milliyet, Ankara)
MM     (Mideast Mirror, London)
NYT    (New York Times, New York)
PCHR   (Palestine Center for Human Rights, Gaza)
PR      (Palestine Report, Jerusalem)
QY      (Qol Yisra'el Radio, Tel Aviv)
RE      (Republic of Egypt Radio, Cairo)
RJ       (Radio Jordan, Amman)
RL       (Radio Lebanon, Beirut)
RMC    (Radio Monte Carlo, Paris)
SA      (al-Sharq al-Awsat, London)
SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency, Damascus)
SATN (Syrian Arab Television Network, Damascus)
TJT     (The Jerusalem Times, East Jerusalem)
VOA    (Voice of the Arabs, Cairo)
VIRI    (Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran)
VOL    (Voice of Lebanon, Beirut)
WJW   (Washington Jewish Week, Rockville, MD)
WNC   (World News Connection [Internet], Washington, DC)
WP     (Washington Post, Washington, DC)
WT     (Washington Times, Washington, DC)
YA      (Yedi'ot Aharonot, Tel Aviv)


Chronology compiled by Michele L. Kjorlien