Chronology 16 February-15 May 2000

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VOL. 29

1999/2000

No. 4
P. 168
Chronology
Chronology 16 February-15 May 2000
ABSTRACT

16 FEBRUARY
   
On his way home fr. the Vatican (see 2/15), Palestinian Authority (PA) head Yasir Arafat stops in Amman to meet with King Abdallah of Jordan. (MM 2/16)
    Israeli PM Ehud Barak phones Egyptian pres. Husni Mubarak to discuss obstacles blocking the Palestinian, Syrian tracks of the peace process. (MENA 2/17 in WNC 2/18)
    Reacting to the flare-up of violence in s. Lebanon in the past 3 wks., Israel empowers a 3-man team comprising Barak, FM David Levy, Transportation M Yitzhak Mordechai to authorize immediate reprisals for attacks on Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers, reiterates intention to hit civilian targets. 2,000 Lebanese students block Hamra Street in Beirut's main shopping district to protest against Israel for its recent air strikes, the U.S. for allegedly giving Israel the "green light" to attack. (MM 2/16, 2/17; RL 2/17 in WNC 2/18; AYM 2/17 in WNC 2/22; CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 2/18; NYT 2/19; MM 2/21; MEI 2/25)
    U.S. Secy. of State Madeleine Albright tells the House International Relations Comm. that she is exploring ways to help victims of state-sponsored terrorism collect on judgements returned by U.S. courts even though Pres. Bill Clinton has blocked collection, citing foreign policy concerns and worries that other countries could use the precedent to seize U.S. properties abroad. (WP 2/17; Guardian Weekly 2/24)
    PA General Intelligence questions Palestinian journalist Khaled Amayreh for the 2d time in a wk. regarding his new weekly paper, Hebron Times, which is critical of the PA. (Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group press release 2/21) (see 2/15)
17 FEBRUARY
   
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) says it will resume full participation in the PLO Executive Comm. and Central Council, which it has boycotted since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accord. (NYT 2/18; AYM 2/21 in WNC 2/28)
    At an American Comm. on Jerusalem briefing on Capitol Hill, eminent Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi reveals findings of a 3-yr. investigation proving that the ownership of the proposed site for a U.S. emb. in Jerusalem, as mandated by Congress's 1995 Jerusalem Emb. Act, is largely private property (some of which can be claimed by U.S. citizens) and Waqf land that have been illegally confiscated by Israel. (ACJ press release 2/17)
    PA teachers go on strike to protest their low salaries. Arafat had promised pay raises as part of the civil service law, but the salary increases were not worked into the FY 2000 budget approved on 1/26. (MENL 2/18; LAW 2/22; MEI 2/25) (see Peace Monitor)
Demonstrations continue in Beirut, where 2,000 Lebanese hold a protest outside the U.S. emb.; several are injured when army, police units break them up. (MM 2/17; CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 2/18; MM 2/21)
    In s. Lebanon, an IDF soldier is killed by Hizballah shelling. In a separate incident, a roadside bomb planted by Hizballah explodes, injuring 1 South Lebanon Army (SLA) mbr. Israel does not stage major retaliatory attacks. (RL 2/17 in WNC 2/18; MM 2/21)
18 FEBRUARY
   
In Beirut, around 5,000 Lebanese protest nr. the UN headquarters against Israel's recent air strikes on civilian targets, the U.S.'s failure to restrain Israel. At another rally outside the CNN bureau, 3,000 students are confronted police firing tear gas and water cannon. The U.S. makes its 1st comment critical of Israel's strikes, which began 2/8, saying "we do not believe that Israeli attacks against civilian infrastructure and populated areas will solve the problem." (NYT, WP 2/19; MM 2/21; MEI 2/25)
    In protest over Israel's threats to continue strikes against civilian targets in s. Lebanon (see 2/16), King Abdallah of Jordan cancels a planned visit to Israel. (WP 2/19; MEI 2/25)
    Iran holds the 1st round of parliamentary elections, with some 6,000 candidates, including 400 women, vying for 290 seats. Reform-minded supporters of Pres. Mohamed Khatami overwhelmingly defeat conservative candidates, with 80% voter turnout. The 2d round of voting will take place on 5/5. (CSM, MM 2/18; NYT, WP, WT 2/19; MM, NYT, WP 2/21; MM, NYT, WP, WT 2/22; AYM 2/22, al-Quds 2/24 in WNC 2/29; MM 2/23; JP, MEI 2/25; WJW 3/2; NYT 3/9)
    The PA arrests without charge al-Najah University professor `Abd al-Sattar Qasim, one of the 20 signatories of the 11/99 anticorruption statement. (LAW 2/20; AFP 2/21 in WNC 2/23; MEI 2/25; JP 3/3) (see Doc. B1 in JPS 115)
19 FEBRUARY
   
PA head Arafat calls for resumption of negotiations with Israel, on hold since 2/6; says teams should forgo a framework agmt. on permanent status (FAPS) and focus on completing the final status agmt. by the 9/13 target date. Israeli chief negotiator Oded Eran says a FAPS is important, can be reached by end of 3/00. (WP, WT 2/21)
Pres. Mubarak makes the 1st trip to Beirut by an Egyptian leader since 1952 to meet with Lebanese pres. Emile Lahoud to show solidarity with Lebanon in the wake of Israeli attacks. Both presidents reiterate Hizballah's right to resist Israel's occupation. (MENA, RL 2/19 in WNC 2/22; NYT, WP, WT 2/20; AFP, MENA 2/20 in WNC 2/23; MM, WT 2/21; MM 2/22; GIU 2/23; AYM 2/24, MENA 2/26, Der Spiegel 2/28 in WNC 2/29; JP, MEI 2/25)
    The PA shuts down Nawras TV in Hebron for 1 wk. on charges of incitement for covering the ongoing teachers strike. (MENL 2/20) (see 2/17)
    In s. Lebanon, 1 civilian is injured by IDF shelling. (RL 2/19 in WNC 2/22)
20 FEBRUARY
   
The UNRWA ends a 2-day workshop on the fate of the agency following a final status agmt. (Palestinian Refugee Research Net [Internet] 4/17) (see Peace Monitor)
21 FEBRUARY
   
U.S. special envoy Dennis Ross returns to the Middle East to try to revive the stalled Israeli-PA negotiations, meets with PM Barak upon his arrival. Barak proposes 5/00 as a new target date for completing a FAPS; says Israel is willing to offer the PA a confidence-building package, including a release of prisoners, payment of some taxes, minor changes to maps of the 3d stage of the 2d further redeployment (FRD). (MM, WT 2/21; AYM 2/22 in WNC 2/28; WT 2/22) (see 2/19)
    In Cairo, Pres. Mubarak receives Kuwaiti FM Shaykh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah for talks on Israeli attacks on Lebanon. Kuwait says it would attend a pan-Arab summit, even if Iraq were to participate; also says it does not oppose Arab states opening a dialogue with Iraq, though it would not do so until Baghdad apologizes for the 1990 invasion. (MENA 2/21 in WNC 2/23)
22 FEBRUARY
   
U.S. special envoy Ross meets with Arafat in Ramallah. Before the mtg. Arafat receives a written message fr. Barak that says Israel will adjust its map for the 3d stage of the 2d FRD but will not give the PA control of any of the villages it wants in the greater Jerusalem area. (MM 2/22; CSM, MM 2/23; MM 2/25)
    Kuwaiti FM Shaykh Sabah travels to Beirut, to show Kuwait's solidarity with Lebanon in light of Israel's recent air strikes. (MENA 2/22 in WNC 2/24; NYT 3/4; MEI 3/10) (see 2/19)
    Israel cuts its budget for security for Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza fr. $34.5 m. to $6.2 m., in keeping with overall reductions in the defense budget. (NYT 2/23)
    Arafat chairs the 1st mtg. of the PA Higher Council for Development (HCD). Participants begin work on consolidating PA departments for improved financial accounting, form a group to explore ways of attracting foreign investment, agree to draft a working paper on a privatization strategy by 4/25. (al-Quds 2/22 in WNC 2/29)
23 FEBRUARY
   
In a speech to the Knesset, Israeli FM Levy, using particularly violent language, threatens Lebanon that if n. Israel is attacked, the IDF will retaliate "blood for blood, soul for soul, child for child." Israeli Arab and leftist MKs, Arab leaders denounce his statements. (MM, NYT 2/24; MENA 2/24 in WNC 2/28; WP 2/26; AYM 2/26 in WNC 2/29; JP, MM 3/3; JP, MEI 3/10) (see 2/16)
    Israeli security officials say that in recent wks., Israel and the PA have arrested several Hamas mbrs. on charges of plotting to blow up a building in Jerusalem. Some of those arrested are also charged with planning the failed attacks in Natanya (11/7), Hadera (1/17). (MM 2/23; NYT 2/24)
24 FEBRUARY
   
U.S. special envoy Ross makes 1-day trip to Cairo to consult with Egyptian FM `Amr Musa. (MENA 2/24 in WNC 2/28)
    PM Barak defends FM Levy's speech to the Knesset on 2/23, saying he is a voice of moderation, "his words illustrate the weighty responsibility we feel for Israel's security in the face of dangers that lie in wait for us when we enter the decisive stage of the peace process." (MM, NYT 2/25; WP 2/26; AYM 2/26 in WNC 2/29; MEI 3/10)
    The Arab League announces that its next regular FMs mtg. will be held 3/11-12 in Beirut, instead of Cairo, as a gesture of solidarity in support for Lebanon's "steadfastness in the face of ongoing Israeli aggression." (MM 2/24; al-Musawwar 3/3, MENA 3/5 in WNC 3/6; MM 3/8)
    Pope John Paul II arrives in Egypt for 3-day visit, meets with Pres. Mubarak, calls for unity and tolerance among all religious groups. Meanwhile in Israel, a group of senior rabbis asks the pope to cancel plans to hold a daytime Saturday mass when he visits Nazareth on 3/25, saying it would cause "massive desecration" of the Jewish sabbath. Far-right Jewish groups put up posters in Jerusalem calling the pope "the wicked one," saying prayer service would be an act of "mass idolatry in the heart of Jerusalem." (ANSA [Rome], MENA 2/24, MENA 2/25 in WNC 2/28; MM, NYT, WP, WT 2/25; MENA 2/26 in WNC 2/29; WT 2/27, 2/29; JP 3/3)
    After a mtg. with Barak in Jerusalem, French PM Lionel Jospin says that "France condemns Hizballah's [recent attacks on the IDF in s. Lebanon], and all types of terrorist attacks which may be carried out against soldiers or possibly Israel's civilian population." French pres. Jacques Chirac reprimands Jospin. (MM 2/25; WT 2/27; WP 2/28; Le Monde 2/28 in WNC 2/29; AYM 2/28 in WNC 3/1; al-Quds 2/29 in WNC 3/3; WJW 3/9; JP, MEI 3/10)
25 FEBRUARY
   
After a lull of about a wk., the IDF, Hizballah exchange fire in s. Lebanon. A mortar lands in a field in n. Israel but causes no damage or injuries. (ITAR-TASS 2/25 in WNC 2/28; NYT 2/26)
26 FEBRUARY
   
French PM Jospin, in Ramallah to meet with Arafat, is chased into his limousine by a rock-throwing crowd of Birzeit University students, angered by Jospin's characterization (2/24) of Hizballah attacks on the IDF in s. Lebanon as "terrorist attacks." PA police arrest 12 students, shut Birzeit until 2/29. (MENA 2/26, Le Monde 2/28 in WNC 2/29; NYT, WP, WT 2/27; CSM, LAW, MM, NYT, WP, WT 2/28; al-Quds 2/29 in WNC 3/3; JP 3/3; MEI 3/10)
27 FEBRUARY
   
In an Israeli cabinet mtg., PM Barak admits that 4 past PMs (Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu) had affectively guaranteed to withdraw fr. the Golan Heights to the 6/4/67 border with Syria; says he will not "erase the past." (MM, NYT, WP 2/28; CSM, MM 2/29; XIN 2/29 in WNC 3/1; WJW 3/2; AYM 3/5 in WNC 3/9; JP, MEI 3/10) (see Peace Monitor)
    In Ramallah, Palestinians march to PA headquarters to protest the arrest of a total of 69 Birzeit students since the 2/26 attack on French PM Jospin. 3,000 Palestinian students in Hebron, Lebanese in Sidon hold anti-Jospin demonstrations. (LAW, NYT, WP, WT 2/28; al-Quds 2/29 in WNC 3/3; MEI 3/10)
28 FEBRUARY
   
After a wk. of mtgs., U.S. special envoy Ross returns to Washington having failed to revive PA-Israeli talks. (CSM, NYT, WP 2/29; AYM 2/29 in WNC 3/1; XIN 2/29 in WNC 3/2; al-Quds 2/29, DUS, al-Quds 3/1 in WNC 3/3; WT 3/1; AYM 3/1 in WNC 3/6) (see Peace Monitor)
    The Political Comm. of the Palestinian Council (PC) condemns French PM Jospin's 2/24 statement on Hizballah, the attack on Jospin by Birzeit University students, the PA's arrest of students and closure of the university. The comm. calls on the PA to reopen Birzeit, to turn over students to the university's disciplinary comm. (al-Quds 2/29 in WNC 3/3)
    With the number of popular and labor protests in the West Bank and Gaza growing, the PA declares that all demonstrations, public mtgs. must receive prior authorization of the PA police. (LAW 2/29; NYT, WT 3/1; LAW 3/2; MEI 3/10; al-Quds 3/28 in WNC 3/29)
    In Ramallah, PA officials discuss the ongoing teachers strike, promise to seek funds for pay raises. In addition to not receiving salary increases, some teachers have not been paid in mos., have been fired, or have been transferred. (MENL 2/29) (see 2/17)
    In s. Lebanon, Hizballah attacks IDF posts, injuring 2 IDF soldiers, 1 civilian. The IDF responds with air strikes against Hizballah targets. (WP 2/29)
29 FEBRUARY
   
In Israel, Egyptian presidential adviser Osama Baz holds discussions with PM Barak, other senior Israeli officials on the peace process. (MENA 2/29, 3/1 in WNC 3/2; al-Quds 3/1 in WNC 3/3)
    Crown Prince Abdallah of Saudi Arabia arrives in Cairo on a 2-day visit to discuss the peace process, inter-Arab coordination with Pres. Mubarak. (MM 2/29; MENA 2/29 in WNC 3/1; MM 3/1; MENA 3/1 in WNC 3/2)
Chronology Source Abbreviations
AAFP (Agence France-Presse, Paris)
ATL (Anatolia, Ankara)
AYM (al-Ayyam, Ramallah)
BDL (BADIL Resource Center, Bethlehem)
CSM (Christian Science Monitor, Boston)
DUS (al-Dustur, Amman)
GIU (Global Intelligence Update, Austin)
HA (Ha'Aretz, Tel Aviv)
IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency, Tehran)
JP (Jerusalem Post International Edition, Jerusalem)
JT (Jordan Times, Amman)
LAW (Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, Jerusalem)
MA (Ma'ariv, Tel Aviv)
MEI (Middle East International, London)
MENA (Middle East News Agency, Cairo)
MENL (Middle East Newsline, Internet)
MM (Mideast Mirror, London)
NP (News from Palestine, Gaza)
NYT (New York Times, New York)
PCHR (Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza)
PR (Palestine Report, Jerusalem)
RL (Radio 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)
XIN (Xinhua-New China News Agency, Beijing)


Chronology compiled by Michele L. Kjorlien