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THIS WEEK - 22.07.05

Prime Minister Sharon Says No To Early Evacuation From Gaza

U.S. Secretary Of State Rice On Rescue Mission For Smooth Israeli Evacuation Required To Jump Start The Roadmap

Palestinian Human Rights Activist Bassem Eid Warns Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas Must Halt Internal Violence Or There Is No Hope For Palestinian State

Palestinian Terror

The week ended with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returned to the region trying for a smooth Israeli evacuation of the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements in August. The massive Palestinian shelling of Israeli communities both in and out of the Gaza Strip and the tense confrontation between tens of thousands of Israeli settlers and Israeli security forces near Gaza, have raised some question marks about future developments. In the aftermath, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has turned down the idea of going for an early pull-out while Egyptian trouble-shooter Omar Suleiman succeeded on his mission to curb the massive shelling by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups in Gaza. And Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid presented an eyewitness the extent of lawless in the Palestinian controlled areas. He warned if Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas does not act to halt the internal violence, there is no hope for a democratic Palestinian state.

Bassem Eid

'Since the beginning of the al al-Aqsa intifada, 373 Palestinians have been killed by fellow Palestinians.' Bassem Eid, the Director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, warns that the internecine Palestinian bloodshed will continue and possibly even worsen. And Bassem Eid, considered to be the leading Palestinian human rights activist, goes on to say: 'When Mahmoud Abbas accepts international obligations and the armed factions on the ground are violating them, it is clear there is no Palestinian leadership that can carry out a coherent Palestinian policy. The question is whether Mahmoud Abbas is strong enough to compel or convince Hamas and Islamic jihad to accept a cease-fire.'

Bassem Eid pulled no punches when he came to the Knesset to address the Forum on the Middle East that discussed 'Democratization and Reform in the Palestinian Authority'. He said: 'The Palestinian Authority is considered to be no longer capable of carrying out its internal or external obligations.' The Palestinian legal system was confused at best and wrought by corruption and cronyism at worst. Detainees may be severely tortured by official PA criminal investigators and then there is the law of the street. Not only PA investigators but vigilantes mete out 'extremely violent treatment for suspected collaborators that often results in death.'These are gruesome statistics compiled since the start of the al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000.

    Of the 373 Palestinian murdered in internal fighting, 189 were killed by gunfire. Bassem Eid concludes that weapons among Palestinians are not only 'tools of resistance' against the Israeli occupation but also harm fellow Palestinians.
    When no gun is immediately available other types of violence are committed. Twenty-five Palestinians have been stabbed to death and 3 have been beaten to death. Bassem Eid says the bloodshed is due to the inability of the central authority to control and prevent violence among people.
    Since the start of al-Aqsa intifada, 110 Palestinians have been murdered in the street on suspicion of collaborating with Israel. Six more have died in custody of PA investigators.
    Thirty-seven Palestinians have been sentenced to death; 12 have been executed.
    Twenty-eight Palestinians have been killed by the Palestinian Authority. In these cases, violence may erupt between Palestinian policemen and members of political factions. The disagreement turns into a gunfight resulting in people being killed and wounded. At times, innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire.
    Recent PA Hamas Confrontation: Bassem Eid also described the recent clashes between the security forces of Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas members. July 14th armed Hamas members attacked several sites of the Palestinian security services in northern Gaza. Three PA security personnel were wounded; a sixteen-year Palestinian youth was killed in the cross- fire.
    July 19th - 15 Palestinians were wounded in clashes between Palestinian Authority security forces and Hamas members in the Gaza Strip.

Bassem Eid concludes that no Palestinian leadership can function when its policies are obstructed by armed factions. And the human rights activist warns that the dream of independent Palestine may be replaced by a dysfunctional Bantustan or rump homeland, by penned-in impoverished cantons of misery or by a slum fiefdom run by Islamist bombers bent on unending war.However, Bassem Eid also takes issue with the Palestinian Authority which has come under repeated criticism for widespread abuses of human rights, ranging from false imprisonment to torture. He charges these violations by the Palestinian police reflect a broad pattern of governmental repression and authoritarian rule. The Palestinian monitoring group believes it is necessary to address the internal violence and urges both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government to quell it. Bassem Eid warns: 'We fear that otherwise a future Palestinian state will be born into civil war'. And his monitoring group demands a Palestinian cessation of violence because only then can peace come about; 'Only if Palestine is cleansed of lethal firepower, will peace be achieved, and only such a Palestine will be supported by Israelis'.Bassem Eid says his Palestinian field workers often risk their lives investigating the internal human right rights violations and compiling documented evidence. One day, perhaps his own fearless mission will be rewarded by a Nobel Peace Prize. He is to be lauded not only for exposing the state of lawlessness in his own society but as a Palestinian patriot who realizes that only a democratic Palestinian society will ever achieve a state living in peace alongside Israel. Bassem Eid and his associates have requested an urgent meeting with Mahmoud Abbas; so far, they have not received an invitation. His address in the Knesset this week should be required reading for U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and anyone else who seeks to hear the facts from an independent Palestinian witness.

Protestor Stopped Near Gaza

NO Early Evacuation: The recommendation by senior cabinet ministers Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert for an early withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, has gone over like a lead balloon at the Prime Minister's office. After the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between 40,000 protestors and thousands of Israeli policemen and troops near Gaza, Peres and Olmert proposed evacuating before August 17th. IsraCast reported that such a move by the government would further infuriate the settlers against Prime Minister Sharon. After this week's Knesset votes against delaying the withdrawal in light of the Palestinian rocket attacks, Sharon went out of his way to make a brief statement about how he admires and loves the settlers. It may very well be that after the dust of evacuation settles, Sharon will make every effort to mend fences with his right wing critics both in and out of the Likud, including the settlers. The Prime Minister vows time and again that he will not negotiate the Roadmap until Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas dismantles the terror organization. Yet Abbas declares he has no intention of doing so; at best he will try and persuade the terrorists to preserve the tahadiya temporary lull. Enter U.S. Secretary of State Rice who talks of immediately jump-starting the Roadmap after the disengagement. Obviously, Rice will be telling Abbas the absolute necessity of halting Palestinian attacks during the evacuation if the Roadmap is to lead anywhere. But there is still Sharon's absolute condition about disarming Hamas and the others. His Labor party partners talk more of propping up Abbas and accepting the American position about immediately entering the Roadmap process.

What does all this mean? The honeymoon between the Prime Minister and Labor could break up and Sharon could turn to the far right to form a new alliance after letting 'bygones by bygones.'

David Essing

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