Arafat Faction Calls for Escalated Uprising : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Arafat Faction Calls for Escalated Uprising

(12/30/00 3:19:42 PM PT)

Associated Press

JERUSALEM As Israel and the Palestinians hardened their negotiating positions on an American peace plan, Yasser Arafat's political faction called Saturday for a two-week intensification of the Palestinian uprising against Israel. 'Let the intefadeh continue, and let the resistance escalate,' Arafat's Fatah faction said in a statement that also spoke of Palestinians' 'total rejection' of a U.S. peace plan. The 3-month-old outbreak of unrest has killed nearly 350 people, almost all of them Palestinians.

Along Israel's tense northern frontier, Israeli troops shot a Lebanese man the army said was trying to get across the border fence. Lebanese security officials said the man, part of a crowd of stone-throwing demonstrators, died from his wounds.

Elsewhere, Israel closed the border between the southern Gaza Strip and Egypt, the army said. That step came a day after Israeli authorities sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip, forbidding Palestinians to enter Israel, as part of a security crackdown after a deadly bomb attack.

Raising the specter of a regional outbreak of fighting, Iran threatened to hit hard at Israel if it strikes at Syria or Lebanon. Iran's defense minister, Rear Adm. Ali Shamkhani, was quoted by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan as promising 'astounding' retaliation in the event of an Israeli attack.

Israel, for its part, has threatened action against Syria if the violence along its northern frontier continues. Syria is the main power broker in Lebanon, where it has some 30,000 troops stationed, and Iran is the principal backer of Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank town of Nablus, about 2,000 Palestinians turned out for a rally organized by the militant Islamic group Hamas to pay tribute to a suicide bomber who blew himself up in an Israeli cafe last week. More than a dozen organizers, their faces wrapped in black masks, called the rally a celebration of martyrdom, and handed out sweets to symbolize joy.

The 24-year-old bomber, Hisham Najar, killed only himself in the Dec. 22 bombing of a roadside cafe in the remote northern tip of the West Bank. Three Israeli soldiers were injured.

The rally came hours after both sides late Friday signaled unwillingness to compromise on crucial provisions of a U.S.-authored peace plan.

Palestinians insisted after a Cabinet meeting in the Gaza Strip that they would never give up the 'right of return' the demand that millions of displaced Palestinians be allowed to return to their former homes in what is now Israel while Israel balked at ceding sovereignty of a disputed holy site to the Palestinians.

'I don't plan on signing a document that would transfer sovereignty of the Temple Mount the anchor of our identity to the Palestinians,' Prime Minister Ehud Barak said on Israeli television, referring to the hilltop revered by Jews as the site of their biblical temples and known to Muslims as the Haram as-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary.

However, Barak has not explicitly ruled out international sovereignty over the site. Currently, the Palestinians have day-to-day control over the compound.

Even so, both sides left open the door to restarting negotiations. Earlier this week, Barak's government said it was willing to renew talks with the Palestinians based on the U.S. peace proposals. The Palestinian Cabinet expressed willingness to take part in 'serious final negotiations during a short period.'

President Clinton's proposals call for a Palestinian state in 95% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip. They also envision Palestinian control over Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and the disputed shrine.

In exchange, Palestinians would have to scale back dramatically their demands regarding refugees.

In Gaza, thousands of people attended a funeral Saturday for Mahmoud Nasser, a 20-year-old Palestinian policeman slain a day earlier. A Palestinian police source said he was killed when Israeli soldiers fired a tank shell after their position came under repeated fire.

-- Martin Thompson (, December 30, 2000


Israel's foes armed for long war

By Alan Philps in Jerusalem

Palestinian extremists have begun using sophisticated bombing techniques which suggest they are ready for a long, Lebanon-style guerilla war against Israeli security forces.

Israeli security experts have concluded that two bomb attacks on Thursday showed that Islamic groups are using bomb technology to rival the Hizbollah guerrillas who forced the Israeli army out of Lebanon in May.

The Palestinians have copied the Hizbollah technique of planting multiple, remote-controlled bombs to kill and maim Israeli bomb disposal teams, and seem to have mastered the ability to use mobile phones to set off explosive devices in buses.

Two Israeli soldiers died on Thursday in a bomb explosion claimed by the Iranian-based Islamic Jihad. Its Damascus-based leader, Ramadan Shallah, said the group laid three dummy bombs to attract an Israeli army squad and then exploded a 53kg charge by remote control when they came near.

In a second incident, two bombs went off separately on a bus in Tel Aviv. These may have been set off by mobile telephone.

In the past, Islamic extremist groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, have used suicide bombers to attack Israeli buses. The technique made for good propaganda, but showed the bombers had no reliable means of remote detonation.

"The Palestinians have for a year spoken of the need to copy Hizbollah's tactics and strategy," said Ely Karmon of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism.

"Now it is clear they intend to copy their technique of guerilla warfare. For the first time, the conditions are right for this, as they have a secure base in the form of the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority."

The two bomb attacks were likely to further erode the popularity of Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

An opinion poll on Friday showed he was losing public support by trying to sew up a peace agreement with the Palestinians before elections on February 6. The figures suggest Mr Barak is falling further behind his right wing challenger, Ariel Sharon.

According to the poll, 45 per cent of Israelis would vote for Mr Sharon, while only 24pc preferred Mr Barak, with the rest undecided.

Asked about a peace deal based on Washington's latest proposals, 56pc said they would vote against it.

The Daily Telegraph, London

-- Martin Thompson (, December 30, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ