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>JN July 14, 1997, Vol. 5, #126
16 Wounded as Hebron Unrest Continues
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
In the West Bank city of Hebron, Israeli troops wounded 16
Palestinians sunday, among them five journalists, in renewed
clashes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned the
Palestinian Authority of further hardships for its people if
nothing is done to stop the daily violence.
Following two weeks of almost daily unrest in Hebron, the Israeli
army erected concrete barriers overnight along the line dividing
the Palestinian-ruled part of the city and the area still
controlled by Israel.
Israel handed more than 80 percent of Hebron to the PLO in January
under a peace agreement, but kept some troops behind to guard
Jewish settlers living in the heart of the city.
Palestinians complained that the concrete barriers isolate 20,000
Palestinian residents living in the Israeli-controlled sector, and
prevent shopkeepers from opening for business.
The barriers also failed to stop yet another round of
confrontation. Palestinians threw fire bombs at Israeli troops and
burned Israeli flags; soldiers responded with a hail of rubber
bullets. This time, not only Palestinian rioters were wounded, but
journalists as well.
Israel's Foreign Press Association accused the soldiers of
deliberately targeting the journalists. The charge was strongly
denied by the army spokesman, who said journalists ought to know
they are taking a risk by being in the area.
Speaking to a group of visiting Jewish leaders Sunday, Netanyahu
blamed Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority. "They're fomenting
many of these demonstrations, and they're not preventing them with
the abundant, I would say the over-abundant Palestinian police
forces in Hebron."
At Sunday's Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu warned the Palestinians that
there will be a heavy price to pay if the violence continues.
Hebron's Mayor Mustapha Natche accuses Israel of provoking the
Palestinians by the offensive racist posters put up recently by
right-wing extremists. And he denies the Palestinian Authority is
encouraging the violence.
"I think the Palestinian Authority didn't interfere in supporting
the violence in the city. It is a natural response from the
Palestinian youth to the frustration and the situation in the
The Israeli commander in charge of the West Bank also warned that
Israel would crack down further on city residents if the violence
The Israeli army has already stepped up its attempts to get a grip
on the deteriorating situation in Hebron, throwing up roadblocks
around the city to prevent outsiders from getting in, and making it
difficult for anyone to get out.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen
since March, when Israel began construction on a site in disputed
Jerusalem Consul-General Resigns
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been
deadlocked for four months since Israel began construction of new
Jewish housing in disputed east Jerusalem. One person who has been
closely involved with negotiations between Israel and the
Palestinians, almost since they began, is the US Consul-General
in Jerusalem, Edward Abington.
Abington is leaving his post and he looked back on his four
turbulent years as an American mediator.
The US Consulate in Jerusalem is unique among America's diplomatic
missions. Since it was established in the 1840s in the Holy Land,
the consulate has remained an independent post, not accredited to
any government. Since the historic Oslo Agreement between Israel
and the PLO, Jerusalem's Consul General has been charged by
Washington to deal with the negotiations between the Israelis and
From the signing of the Declaration of Principles between Yitzhak
Rabin and Yasir Arafat on the White House lawn in September 1993,
Abington has been intimately involved with the negotiations to
implement those principles.
The task of the facilitators, says Abington, was to try and help
the parties rebuild trust so that they could negotiate an
acceptable arrangement. Abington says a serious decline in the
Palestinians' standard of living has undermined their faith in the
Recently, American diplomatic efforts appear to be on hold. But
Abington says the lowered profile of the United States is tactical.
He says the fact that there have been no high level visits to the
region, and by no means the United States has stepped back from
its active role in the peace process. America's involvement, he
insists, is as strong as ever.
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