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>JN March 25, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 52
Sharon: Top PA Officials Smuggling Arms
Minister Ariel Sharon claims that Yasir Arafat himself is
directly involved in smuggling ammunition into the Palestinian
autonomy, taking advantage of the fact that Israel does not check
his car at the border crossings. "Other top PA figures act in a
similar fashion, and," Sharon said, "in this way the Palestinian
Authority is arming itself with anti-tank missiles, ground-to-air
missiles, and possibly even katyushas."
Rachel's Tomb Scene of Fire Fight
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israeli and Palestinian leaders are engaged in a bitter dispute
over which side is responsible for the recent suicide bombing in
Tel Aviv and weekend riots in the West Bank city of Hebron.
Violence erupted again Monday in the streets of Bethlehem and
outside Rachel's Tomb.
Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets at hundreds of
Palestinians who threw stones and gasoline bombs at soldiers
guarding the ancient site outside Bethlehem. The violence comes
during a security alert following a suicide bombing Friday in Tel
Aviv in which a Muslim militant killed three Israelis and wounded
The Israelis and Palestinians are accusing each other of inciting
violence. Israel stopped short of suspending talks with the PLO
over the bombing, but the Israeli government is demanding that
Palestinian Authority head Yasir Arafat crack down on Muslim
militants, which a Palestinian security official has rejected.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blames Arafat for
giving Islamic militants the "green light" to launch attacks
against Israeli civilians.
In an unusual briefing to the press, the head of Israel's military
intelligence, Moshe Yaalon warned that Israel will face more
terrorism in the coming days unless Arafat makes it clear to
Islamic militant groups that they no longer have his tacit
approval to carry out attacks.
"Even now after the attack there is no activity of the
Palestinian Authority's security forces against these
organizations whose activists have been released from
Palestinian prisons beginning last July. Consequently the terrorist
groups think they have a green light from the chairman of the
Palestinian Authority to commit terrorist attacks."
Israeli officials are also saying that Palestinian Authority
preventive security chief Jebril Rajoub instigated the riots that
rocked Hebron in the last few days. Rajoub calls the charges
The Palestinians reject all Israel's accusations, blaming Israel's
decision to go ahead with construction of a Jewish settlement in
disputed east Jerusalem for the upsurge in violence.
Palestinians view east Jerusalem as the capital of their future
state. Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says Netanyahu's
settlement building is encouraging militants and killing peace.
Both sides are setting conditions for continuing talks which the
other side finds unacceptable. After Friday's attack, Israel
handed the Palestinians a list of 25 Islamic militants it demanded
to have re-arrested. Palestinians regard this as shameful.
On Monday, work resumed on the new settlement on the outskirts of
Jerusalem. As long as the work goes on, Palestinians say there is
nothing to talk about.
Ashrawi: Peace Process in Jeopardy
By Douglas Roberts (VOA-Geneva)
Palestinian self-rule official, Hanan Ashrawi, lashed out at the
Israeli government Monday, in a speech to the UN Human Rights
Commission in Geneva. Ashrawi said the new Israeli settlement now
under construction in east Jerusalem has placed the peace process
in grave jeopardy.
Ashrawi depicted the new settlement as an attempt to extract
Jerusalem from "the heart of Palestine" and predetermine the final
outcome of the now moribund peace talks. She charged that what she
called the extremist policies of the Netanyahu government are
breeding extremism among the Palestinians, leaving the Middle East
peace process in one of its most difficult crises.
"And it is not just a crisis in terms of the negotiations or the
talks. The crisis is much more significant in that it deals with
reality on the ground, with changes that are taking place that
might create facts which could be irreversible and which could
render the prospects of peace entirely unattainable."
At a news conference after Monday's speech, the Palestinian
official said outside intervention is needed to rescue the peace
process. And she indicated the Palestinian leadership is expecting
a move by the United States.
She was critical of American actions since the Jerusalem settlement
plan was announced. Washington has twice vetoed UN Security
Council resolutions condemning the Israeli move.
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