Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Av 5760 - August 9, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Military Intelligence: No Palestinian Violence For Now
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

According to a report in Ha'aretz the assessment of IDF Military Intelligence is that the Palestinian Authority is not expected to initiate any violence directed at Israelis in the immediate future. A senior defense source told Ha'aretz that for the Palestinians "popular violence is a strategic option. It is not a matter of an irresistible impulse." This is in contrast to many reports prior to, and during, the Camp David talks that the Palestinians were preparing for violent confrontations with Israel if the talks collapse, as they eventually did.

IDF sources said the territories "are very quiet, apart from local land disputes." The IDF discerns a supreme effort by the PA to prevent terrorist attacks and IDF sources note that security coordination with the PA is currently very good. Local disputes between Jews and Arabs over land have led to minor fights and other incidents that have gone largely unreported in the general press.

The IDF intelligence analysts also said that in their assessment, PA Chairman Yasser Arafat is also inclining toward postponing the declaration of an independent Palestinian state from the originally planned September 13 to November 15 (the date on which the Palestinians proclaimed their independence in 1988, at the height of the Intifadah), or perhaps even to Fatah Day on January 1.

They say that Arafat understands that at Camp David, Prime Minister Ehud Barak made unprecedented concessions and Arafat is thus interested in trying to achieve a settlement peacefully. In addition, Arafat's meetings with European and Arab leaders has shown him that a unilateral declaration of independence will have negative consequences and there is little support for Palestinian-initiated violence. Arafat has visited about a dozen countries in less than two weeks and the PA's acting foreign minister, Nabil Sha'ath, is holding a similar round of meetings in Western Europe.

Responding to Cabinet criticism of the fact that the international politicking has been left to Arafat alone, Prime Minister Ehud Barak said that he is sending Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami to visit Turkey on Thursday. Ben-Ami will also be traveling to Morocco, Jordan, Spain, and Belgium at the end of the week to drum up support for Israel's position at Camp David. A government source said that this is clearly a signal of "where Ben-Ami is headed" in the government. Next week, he will be joined by Transport and Tourism Minister Amnon Lipkin-Shahak for visits to a number of European and Muslim countries. Shahak said he was too busy this week with commitments to his ministerial responsibilities.

Barak met last week with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to ask him to support Arafat in meeting the Israeli position, but the results were not encouraging. Barak has yet to finalize the date of his planned visit to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II.

In addition to the Palestinians and the Israelis, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Edward Walker is also on a swing through U.S. allies among the Arab states to try to get them behind the U.S. effort to bring about a settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, there are persistent reports of various attempts to continue the process begun at Camp David by keeping lines of communication open and possibly convening another summit.

According to a recent U.S.-Israeli proposal to resolve the differences over control of the Temple Mount, Arafat would have sovereignty over everything above the ground and could establish his headquarters inside the mosque compound there, while Israel would have sovereignty over everything below ground. This proposal was rejected by the Palestinians.

The starting point, as seen by both Israel and the Palestinians, is that both Barak and Arafat want a second summit to reach a final agreement. The Palestinians said during last week's behind-the-scenes talks that Arafat understands that despite his public statements, he has a window of opportunity that must not be missed. The White House has indicated that Clinton is ready for a second summit, of five or six days at the most, on condition that it ends with an agreement. However, the scheduling opportunities are limited, as Clinton will soon have to campaign for Vice President Al Gore in the latter's quest to take over the White House.

Barak's main problem is the coalition crisis and the collapse of his government. Barak right now has the support of only 30 Knesset members (from One Israel and the Center Party). Critics say that he does not have the Knesset behind him, and he has abandoned all the positions he took during the last election campaign just over a year ago. Thus his negotiating position is shaky.

Another result of this is the loss of the majority in the Knesset House Committee, headed by Salah Tarif (One Israel). Members of the committee are likely to convene during the Knesset summer recess to call for a special Knesset session aimed at accelerating the process of determining early elections which was begun just before the Knesset recessed for a three month break. The expectation is that if Barak is able to make a deal with the Palestinians, he would call elections that would, in effect, be a referendum on the agreement.


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