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
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
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
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