Chronology 16 May-15 August 1999

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VOL. 29


No. 1
P. 155
Chronology 16 May-15 August 1999

16 MAY
A day before Israeli elections, 2 minor candidates--Center party's Yitzhak Mordechai, Herut's Benjamin Begin--withdraw fr. the race for PM, fearing their campaigns undermine efforts to unseat incumbent PM Benjamin Netanyahu. (NYT, WP, WT 5/16; MM 5/17; al-Ahram 5/18 in WNC 5/19)
    On the 2d day of his visit aimed at improving bilateral relations and regional security, Iranian pres. Mohamed Khatami meets with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdallah. (MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/17; MEI 5/21) (see 5/15)

17 MAY
Israelis elect One Israel's Ehud Barak as PM with 56.1% of the vote, meaning no 6/1 runoff is needed. In the Knesset, 6 of the 15 parties to win seats are new, including the anti-Orthodox Shinui, formed 2 mos. ago, which won 6 seats. Control of right-wing parties shrinks, as Russians, other centrists gain, changing the balance of power. The ultra-Orthodox Shas, however, gains 7 new seats for total of 17 seats, securing its place as the 3d largest party after Labor/One Israel (27, down fr. 34 seats), Likud (19 seats, down fr. 32 seats). The 1st Israeli Arab woman, Husniyya Jabara of Meretz, is also elected to parliament. Arab, Asian, European states, the U.S., and Russia welcome Barak's victory, hope it means the peace process will resume soon. (MM 5/17; AFP, LPA 5/17 in WNC 5/18; CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/18; AFP, al-Ahram, Chungang Ilbo [Seoul], Interfax, JT, Kyodo [Tokyo], MENA, MKR, RE, RNE-1 Radio Network [Madrid], SANA, SAPA [Johannesburg], Taiwan Central News Agency, VOL, Xinhua [Beijing] 5/18 in WNC 5/19; al-Akhbar 5/18 in WNC 5/21; MENA 5/18, Athens News Agency, Interfax, ITAR-TASS, JT, LPA, RE, [Munich] 5/19 in WNC 5/20; CSM, NYT, WP, WT 5/19; CSM, NYT, WJW 5/20; CSM, MEI, MM, NYT 5/21; JP 5/28; CSM 6/17)
    In a victory speech, PM-elect Barak lists 4 "red lines" for peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA), promises to put any final status agmt. to a referendum by the Israeli public. (MM 5/18; JT 5/19 in WNC 5/20; MEI 5/21) (see Peace Monitor)
    On the 3d day of his Washington visit, King Abdallah of Jordan meets with U.S. Secy. of State Madeleine Albright, calls for lifting sanctions on Iraq. U.S. urges France, Germany, other creditors to cancel Jordan's debt; encourages Jordan to seek additional U.S. economic assistance. In the afternoon, the king discusses trade issue with U.S. Commerce Secy. William Daley, receives reps. of various American Jewish groups at Blair House. (JT 5/17 in WNC 5/18; WP, WT 5/18; al-Ra'i 5/18 in WNC 5/20; MM 5/21)
    Venezuela signs $20 m. deal to buy Israeli antiaircraft defense system. (YA 5/18 in WNC 5/19)
    In s. Lebanon, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shelling kills 2 civilians. (RL 5/17 in WNC 5/18; NYT, WP 5/18; RL 5/18 in WNC 5/19; WT 5/19)

18 MAY
King Abdallah of Jordan meets with Pres. Bill Clinton; says that Jordan is very pleased with Barak's victory, that he sees eye-to-eye with Barak on many issues. The king also meets with World Bank pres. James Wolfensohn, U.S. Trade Rep. Charlene Barshefsky, outgoing treasury secy. Robert Rubin. (NYT, WP, WT 5/19; MM 5/21)
    Britain, Iran end 20-yr. rift, restoring ambassadorial relations. (NYT, WT 5/19; GIU 5/20)
    Jewish settlers begin digging foundations for a new housing complex in Palestinian neighborhoods of Har Homa/Jabal Abu Ghunaym, Ras al-Amud in Jerusalem. (NYT, WT 5/19; WT 5/24; JP 5/28; MEI 6/4) (see 1/12)
    To enhance his party's chance for a place in the new Israeli government, Arye Deri, who was sentenced to jail after being convicted on fraud and bribe-taking charges, gives up his Knesset seat but says that he will stay on as chmn. of Shas. (MM, NYT, WT 5/19; WT 5/20; NYT 5/21; JP 5/28) (see 4/15)
    In Tehran, Iran, Jordan open 2 days of talks on expanding bilateral judicial relations, including fighting drug trafficking, exchange expertise, conducting joint studies on crime prevention. (IRNA 5/18 in WNC 5/19; IRNA 5/19 in WNC 5/20)
    Hizballah responds to IDF attack of 5/17, firing 4 rockets into n. Israel. (MM, NYT, WP 5/18; WT 5/19; MEI 5/21)

19 MAY
In Damascus, European Union (EU) special envoy Miguel Moratinos discusses with Syrian FM Faruq al-Shara‘ resuming the Syrian-Israeli negotiating track. Afterward, Moratinos says that the Syrians "respect [Barak] a lot, and they think Labor can achieve the final peace with Syria," possibly within a yr. (MM, WT 5/20, 5/21; WJW 5/27; CSM 6/8)
    Russia, Syria sign agmt. on using atomic energy for peaceful purposes, including scientific, technical, economic cooperation. (ITAR-TASS 5/19 in WNC 5/20; al-Bayan 5/23 in WNC 6/1)
    In Washington, King Abdallah of Jordan meets with congressional leaders to urge them to approve the $300 m. in Wye supplemental aid for the kingdom. (WT 5/20; MM 5/21; NYT 5/23)
    Iranian pres. Khatami ends 5-day visit to Saudi Arabia, heads to Qatar for talks on expanding bilateral cooperation, Muslim issues. (MM 5/19; IRIB Television, IRNA, Radio Qatar 5/19 in WNC 5/20; GIU, MM 5/20; IRNA, VIRI 5/20 in WNC 5/21; IRNA 5/21 in WNC 5/25) (see 5/16)
    Israel's National Union party head Benjamin Begin, the ultranationalist son of fmr. PM Menachem Begin, resigns his Knesset seat, leaves the party (which won only 4 seats in the 5/17 elections), retires fr. politics. (NYT 5/20; WT 5/23; JP 5/28)
    In Hebron, IDF demolishes Palestinian reservoirs that local Palestinians built to collect rainwater to irrigate their crops during the ongoing drought. (WP 5/20)
    In Damascus, Armenian, Syrian officials hold talks on expanding bilateral ties, particularly in the economic sphere. (Snark [Yerevan] 5/20 in WNC 5/21)
    In ‘Ayn al-Hilwa refugee camp in Lebanon, unidentified gunmen kill Amin Kayid, an official in PA head Yasir Arafat's Fatah organization, and his wife, possibly in retaliation for the murder of Shaykh Hisham Shreidi in 1990. (RL 5/29 in WNC 5/20; NYT 5/20; MEI 6/4; al-Safir 6/30 in WNC 7/2)

20 MAY
In his 1st major statement since elections, PM-elect Barak reiterates promise to seek withdrawal of IDF fr. s. Lebanon within a yr. (MM 5/20; YA 5/20 in WNC 5/21; al-Sinnara 5/20 in WNC 5/25; NYT, WP, WT 5/21; NYT 5/23; MM 6/3)
    Turkey sentences to death top aide to Abdallah Ocalan, head of the Turkish separatist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). The aide, Semdin Sakik, was convicted of treason for masterminding 191 PKK attacks that killed 283 people. (WP 5/21; Zaman 5/26 in WNC 5/28) (see 3/11)
    In Paris, Jordanian Finance M Michel Martu meets with the Paris Club, which agrees to reschedule $1.15 b. of Jordan's debt. (RJ 5/20 in WNC 5/21; JTV 5/27 in WNC 6/1; MEI 6/18)
    Jordan, Syria sign agricultural cooperation agmt. (SANA 5/20 in WNC 5/21) In Beirut, Iranian, Lebanese officials discuss expanding bilateral relations, resuming direct flights btwn. Tehran, Beirut. (IRNA 5/21 in WNC 5/25)
    At the end of Iranian pres. Khatami's 2-day visit, Iran, Qatar sign 8 cooperation agmts. (IRNA 5/20 in WNC 5/21; IRNA 5/22 in WNC 5/28; MM 5/24)

21 MAY
Syria's official radio station calls on Israeli PM-elect Barak to resume peace talks with Syria, Lebanon simultaneously. (WP 5/22; WJW 5/27)
    UN Security Council (UNSC) extends Oil-for-Food program for Iraq for another 6 mos., keeps sanctions in place. New proposals for easing/lifting sanctions are not debated. (NYT, WP, WT 5/22; WP 5/23; CSM 5/25; MEI 6/4)
    Jordan, Syria sign cooperation agmts. on oil, linking electrical grids. (al-Dustur 5/21 in WNC 5/28; Petra-JNA 5/22 in WNC 5/25; al-Dustur 5/29 in WNC 6/1)
    In ‘Ayn al-Hilwa, in Lebanon, a booby-trapped car explodes, seriously injuring Jamal Dayikh, aide to Fatah official Kayid, who was assassinated 5/19. There are still no leads on who is behind the 2 incidents. (RL, VOL 5/21, al-Ra'i 5/23 in WNC 5/25; MEI 6/4; SA 6/9 in WNC 6/10)

22 MAY
Arafat arrives in Cairo for 2 days of talks on the peace process in light of the Israeli elections, meets with Egyptian FM ‘Amr Musa. (MENA 5/22 in WNC 5/25, 5/27; MM 5/24)
    PA Preventive Security Force (PSF) detains editors Ghazi Hamad and Mahmud al-Bardawil, reporter Wisam Afifa of Hamas's weekly newspaper al-Risala for questioning regarding an article on the torture in PA custody of Ayman al-Amsi (see 5/11); holds them without charge for several hours. (PCHR 5/24; LAW 5/25; MEI 6/4) (see 4/27)

23 MAY
In Cairo, Arafat, Egyptian pres. Husni Mubarak hold talks on the peace process, call on Israel to implement Wye agmt. immediately, halt settlement activity. (MENA 5/23 in WNC 5/27; MM 5/24)
    In s. Lebanon, 2 Lebanese civilians are wounded by IDF shelling. (RL 5/23 in WNC 5/27)

24 MAY
    In Washington, King Abdallah of Jordan meets with mbrs. of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, says that he believes Syria will conclude a peace agmt. quickly with the new Israeli government. (NYT 5/25; WJW 5/27)
    Clinton administration announces plans to submit to Congress its 1st request for aid to the Iraqi opposition under the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act. The first allotment will pay for setting up opposition offices in London, New York. For 1st time, Secy. of State Albright meets with 12 opposition leaders. Egypt, Syria, Turkey condemn U.S. support of the Iraqi opposition. (MM 5/24; MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/25; MM 5/26; MEI, MM 6/4; al-Quds 6/6 in WNC 6/10; MEI 6/18) (see 4/7)
    In Burj al-Shamali in s. Lebanon, Amal, Hizballah mbrs. clash, leaving 2 Hizballah mbrs. wounded. Lebanese security forces intervene, detain several suspects. (VOL 5/24 in WNC 5/25, 5/26)

25 MAY
High-level Israeli, PA security officials discuss ways of facilitating movement of Palestinian goods and people though checkpoints, border crossings. (AYM 5/27, al-Majd 5/31 in WNC 6/1)
    Israel's Peace Now says that Jewish settlers have established 3 new settlement enclaves nr. Nablus since 5/17 elections in a race to grab occupied Palestinian land before PM-elect Barak takes office. (NYT, WT 5/26)
    Hizballah, South Lebanon Army (SLA) clash in s. Lebanon, leaving 2 Hizballah mbrs., 1 SLA mbr. dead. (AFP 5/26 in WNC 5/27)

26 MAY
Anticipating resumption of Arab-Israeli negotiations, Arafat meets with King Abdallah in Gaza to set a common agenda, discuss possible 5-way summit (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, PA, Syria). PA informs Israel that it would not reject Jordanian participation in final status talks on Jerusalem. (al-Quds 5/26 in WNC 5/27; al-Bayan 5/26, VOA 5/28 in WNC 6/1; MM, NYT 5/27; JP 6/4)
    PM Netanyahu appears in public, convenes his inner cabinet for the 1st time since the 5/17 election. The Israeli media has accused him of abandoning his office, which he holds until Barak forms a government. (NYT, WP 5/27)
    In s. Lebanon, 1 SLA mbr. is killed, 2 are wounded when a rocket fired by Hizballah hits their car. 2 Hizballah mbrs. are killed by IDF shelling. (NYT 5/27)

27 MAY
At a Likud Central Comm. mtg., PM Netanyahu resigns his Knesset seat, formally announces his resignation fr. politics. The comm. picks FM Ariel Sharon as interim head of the party. (WP, WT 5/27; MM, WJW 6/3; JP 6/25; MM 6/28)
    In Damascus, Jordan's Chief of the Royal Court ‘Abd al-Karim Kabariti briefs Syrian pres. Hafiz al-Asad on King Abdallah's recent international tour; discusses possible 5-way summit to coordinate on the peace process; relays request fr. Arafat to visit Damascus, which Syria turns down. (SANA 5/27 in WNC 5/28; MM 5/28; al-Dustur 5/28 in WNC 6/1; MM 6/3)
    In Jerusalem, Israeli police clash with Palestinians, Israeli Peace Now activists demonstrating against Ras al-Amud settlement construction. (LAW 5/27; MM 5/28; MEI 6/4) (see 5/18)
    In s. Lebanon, 1 Lebanese civilian is wounded by IDF shelling. (RL 5/27 in WNC 5/28)

28 MAY
Israeli DM Moshe Arens approves master plan extending boundaries of the Ma'ale Adumim settlement to Jerusalem. The PA calls on U.S. special envoy Dennis Ross to intervene, urges PM-elect Barak to rescind the decision and halt settlement construction when he takes office. (MM 5/28; NYT, WT 5/29; HJ 5/30 in WNC 6/1; LAW 5/31; al-Quds 5/31 in WNC 6/2; MA 6/1 in WNC 6/2; JP, MEI 6/4; JP 6/25)
    Pres. Clinton phones Syrian pres. Asad to say that he would personally oversee relaunching of Syrian-Israeli negotiations. (WT 5/29; CSM 6/8)
    Turkish PM Bulent Ecevit forms 3-party coalition (Democratic Left, Nationalist Movement, Motherland) to govern Turkey for the next 5 yrs. (MM 5/28; NYT, WP 5/29; MEI 6/4) (see 4/18)
    In Vilnius, Israeli, Lithuanian officials hold 1st ever talks on bilateral, intercultural relations. (BNS [Tallinn] 5/28 in WNC 6/1)

29 MAY
In the 1st such visit in 25 yrs., Lebanese pres. Emile Lahoud makes 1-day trip to Jordan for official talks on regional issues with King Abdallah. (RL 5/29 in WNC 6/1; WA 6/4 in WNC 6/18)
    Egyptian FM Musa goes to Damascus for brief consultation with Pres. Asad, FM Shara‘ on the peace process. (MENA 5/29 in WNC 6/1)

30 MAY
In Cairo, King Abdallah of Jordan opens 2 days of talks with Pres. Mubarak on the peace process, possible 5-way summit. (MENA 5/30, al-Bayan 5/31 in WNC 6/1; MENA 5/31 in WNC 6/1; WT 6/2)
    PA officials call on Palestinians to observe "day of rage" on 6/3 to protest, "physically confront" Israeli settlement expansion. U.S. denounces Israel's decision to annex more land to Ma'ale Adumim settlement. (NYT, WT 5/31; JP 6/4) (see 5/28)
    Clash btwn. IDF, Hizballah in s. Lebanon leaves 1 Hizballah mbr. dead. (RL 5/30 in WNC 6/1)

31 MAY
Without any security guarantees from Lebanon, SLA forces begin unilateral pullout fr. Jazzin, an area n. of Israel's self-declared "security zone" that the SLA has occupied on behalf of the IDF since 1985. This is the 1st major Israeli retreat in 14 yrs. 1 SLA mbr. is killed when a roadside bomb goes off soon after the pullout begins. (VOL 5/30 in WNC 6/1; RL 5/31 in WNC 6/2; MM, NYT, WP, WT 6/1; MEI 6/4; JP 6/11)
    Turkey opens treason trial against PKK leader Ocalan, who asks court to spare his life, says he is willing to work for peace with the government. PKK supporters are divided over whether to support Ocalan's statement or view it as a betrayal of the Kurdish cause. (CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 6/1; NYT 6/2; AFP 6/2 in WNC 6/3; MM 6/3; MEI 6/4; MM 6/8; WP 6/16; MEI 6/18)
    In s. Lebanon, an Irish UN peacekeeper is killed, 2 are wounded when a shell fired by the SLA lands inside a UN compound. (LPA, RL 5/31 in WNC 6/1; NYT 6/1; Irish Times 6/1 in WNC 6/2; Interfax, RL 6/3 in WNC 6/8)

In Cairo, Egyptian FM Musa holds talks on the peace process with EU special envoy Moratinos, who says that the EU expects Israeli PM-elect Barak to restore confidence btwn. the parties to the peace process by freezing settlement activity, urges him to restart talks with Syria. (MENA 6/1 in WNC 6/2; al-Quds 6/2 in WNC 6/8; MEI 6/18)
    In Tunisia, King Abdallah of Jordan holds talks with Pres. Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali on the peace process, bilateral relations. (Tunis-7 Television 6/1 in WNC 6/2; Tunisian Republic Radio Network 6/2 in WNC 6/3)
    For 2d day, Hizballah strikes SLA mbrs. evacuating Jazzin, killing 2, wounding 1. In response, the IDF shells Hizballah targets. Hizballah returns mortar fire, injuring 2 more SLA mbrs. In separate raids, IDF injures 1 Lebanese army soldier, 3 civilians. (MM 6/1; RL 6/1 in WNC 6/2; CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 6/2; RL 6/2 in WNC 6/3; ‘Ukaz 6/2 in WNC 6/8; WT 6/3; JP 6/11) (see 5/31)

PLO Executive Committee (PLOEC) meets in Ramallah to discuss resumption of the 4/27-29 PLO Central Council (PCC) mtg. to continue discussion on possible declaration of a Palestinian state. (al-Ra'i 6/2 in WNC 6/3; al-Quds 6/4 in WNC 6/11)
    In Paris, King Abdallah of Jordan holds talks on the peace process, debt forgiveness with Pres. Jacques Chirac. (AFP, RJ 6/2 in WNC 6/3)
    In talks with Syrian pres. Asad in Damascus, Crown Prince Abdallah of Saudi Arabia offers to mediate btwn. Asad, Arafat if it would help coordinate a unified Arab stand on the peace process. (al-Nahar 6/2 in WNC 6/3; MM 6/3, 6/4)
    IDF suspends export licenses of the Israeli company Orlil based on reports that Orlil stole U.S. night-vision equipment purchased for the IDF, sold it to "Far Eastern" countries. (Globes [Internet] 6/2 in WNC 6/3)

AFP (Agence France-Presse, Paris)
ATL (Anatolia, Ankara)
AYM (al-Ayyam, Ramallah)
CSM (Christian Science Monitor, Boston)
GIU (Global Intelligence Update, Austin)
HA (Ha'Aretz, Tel Aviv)
HJ (al-Hayat al-Jadida, Gaza)
HUR (Hurriyet, Istanbul)
IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency, Tehran) JP (Jerusalem Post International Edition, Jerusalem)
JT (Jordan Times, Amman)
JTV (Jordan Television Network, Amman)
JUM (al-Jumhuriyya, Cairo)
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)
MKR (Moroccan Kingdom Radio Network, Rabat)
MM (Mideast Mirror, London)
NYT (New York Times, New York)
PCHR (Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza)
QA (al-Quds al-Arabi, London)
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)
TT (Tehran Times, Tehran)
VIRI (Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran)
VOA (Voice of the Arabs, Cairo)
VOL (Voice of Lebanon, Beirut)
WA (al-Watan al-Arabi, Paris)
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