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Israeli Palestinian Confrontation, October 6-11, 2011

Written by Right Side News

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Events this week focus on the Egyptian-brokered agreement for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. On October 11 the Israeli government convened a special meeting where a large majority of ministers voted to exchange 1,027 Palestinian terrorists for Gilad Shalit. Some of the terrorists had been sentenced to life terms. The agreement will be implemented in two stages. (An initial update of the agreement will be issued separately as a supplement to this bulletin.)

Palestinian_Terrorists_Released_for_Gilad_ShalitThe Palestinian Authority has been conducting intensive diplomatic efforts, including a visit by Mahmoud Abbas to France and Latin American countries, to enlist support for the vote in the UN Security Council. However, the Palestinians rejected the International Quartet's call to invite Israeli and Palestinian representatives to meet in the near future, returning to their preconditions for negotiations, that is, demands for a full freeze on construction in the settlements and a recognition of the 1967 borders as the basis for the peace process.

Crowds waving Hamas flags in the Gaza Strip celebrate the expected release of Palestinian terrorists after news of the exchange deal was made public (Hamas' Palestine-info website, October 11, 2011)

Important Terrorism Events Israel's South

 This past were no rocket or mortar shell hits were identified in Israeli territory.

Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 1

Rockets_and_Mortar_Shells_Fired_into_Israeli_Territory_1

Rocket Fire -- Monthly Distribution

Rocket_Fire_--_Monthly_Distribution

Mortar Shell Fire -- Monthly Distribution

Mortar_Shell_Fire_--_Monthly_Distribution

Judea and Samaria

The Situation on the Ground

 This past week the Palestinians continued demonstrating at the traditional friction spots, particularly Bila'in and Nili'in. There were numerous incidents of stones thrown at Israeli security forces and at Israeli settlers. In some instances the security forces used riot control measures to disperse the crowds.

 Protest demonstrations were held in many locations to show solidarity with the hunger strike currently being carried out by Palestinian terrorist operatives in Israeli jails. Protest marches were held in Ramallah and other major cities in Judea and Samaria, including Jenin, Hebron, Qalqiliya and Bethlehem. Demonstrations and marches were also held in the Gaza Strip, organized by Hamas (Wafa News Agency and Safa News Agency, October 7-8, 2011).

 As part of the protests, before the agreement for the release of Gilad Shalit had been made public, high-ranking Hamas figures called for the abduction of Israeli soldiers to be used as bargaining chips for the release of terrorist prisoners:

Safa News Agency, October 10, 2011
Demonstrations in the Gaza Strip in solidarity with the Palestinian terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails
(Safa News Agency, October 10, 2011)

The Political Front

UNESCO to Vote on Accepting "Palestine" as a Full Member

 The administrative committee of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recommended that its general conference, which will be held on October 25, 2011, accept Palestine as a full member of the agency with the right of a "state." The new status in UNESCO, if the recommendation is accepted, will enable thePalestinians to request having sites put on the list of national heritage sites, including holy sites whose status is a matter of disagreement between Israel and the Palestinians (Agence France-Presse, October 4, 2011).

 In response Israel announced in a press release that the Palestinians' actions at UNESCO negated both the bilateral negotiations route and the Quartet's proposal for continuing the diplomatic process. Their actions, according to the release, are a negative response to Israel's and the international community's efforts to promote the peace process. UNESCO's responsibilities address culture, science and education. UNESCO has remained silent in the face of significant change across the Middle East yet has found time during its' current meeting to adopt six decisions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The decision to grant the Palestinians membership of UNESCO would not advance their desire for an independent state whatsoever.

 American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the UNESCO decision "confusing" because the UN had not adopted a resolution dealing with the UN membership of a Palestinian state. She added that such a decision had to be made by the UN and not one of its subordinate agencies (Agence France-Presse, October 6, 2011). On the other hand, high-ranking figures in the Palestinian Authority, however, praised the decision. Saeb Erekat, a member of the PLO's executive committee, criticized the American position, which opposed UNESCO's decision, and said that Palestine's joining the agency was "a natural right and positive plan for the the construction of the Palestinian state" (Qudsnet, October 6, 2011).

Intensive Palestinian Diplomatic Activity before the Vote in the Security Council

 Mahmoud Abbas and other high-ranking Palestinian Authority figures arrived in France this week to participate in a parliamentary meeting of the European Union in Strasbourg. The council gave the Palestinian delegation the status of "partner for democracy" and called on the member states in the Security Council (France, Britain, Germany, Russia, Portugal, and Bosnia-Herzegovina) to vote in favor the a Palestinian state (Wafa News Agency, October 5, 2011). From France Mahmoud Abbas continued on to the Dominican Republic, and from there to El Salvador and Colombia.

Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority gave a speech before the European Parliament in which he called on the European countries to support the "Palestinian spring." He said that after the negotiations with Israel stalled the Palestinians had no choice but the appeal to the international community for recognition of a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders. He also mentioned General Assembly resolution 181 (the Partition Plan). He said that the Palestinians would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state because, he claimed, it would turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious one which would threaten the status of Israeli Arabs (Wafa News Agency, October 5; PTV October 6, 2011).

Hamas' Position

 Khalil al-Hayeh, a member of Hamas' political bureau, was strongly critical of Mahmoud Abbas' application the UN and of the Palestinian Authority for preventing terrorist activity on its territory. He also denied that Hamas had removed its offices from Syria and called on the Syrian regime to make haste and carry out reforms in response to the demands of the Syrian people. His main points were the following (from a program organized by the Palestinian Journalists' Forum and called "Political Bulletin," alresalah.net website, October 6, 2011):

The International Quartet Calls for a Renewal of the Negotiations

 Following the announcement of the International Quartet calling for a renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Catherine Ashton, foreign minister of the European Union, said that the Quartet planned to invite Israeli and Palestinian representatives to a meeting in the near future to renew the negotiations (EU Observer website, October 9, 2011).

 Nabil Abu Rudeina, Palestinian spokesman, rejected the call. He said in an announcement that "we are prepared to return to negotiations on the condition that there is a full cessation of [construction] activities in the settlements and that Israel recognizes the 1967 borders as the basis for the peace process "(Wafa News Agency, October 9, 2011).

Palestinian-American Relations

 Following Palestinian disappointment with President Barack Obama's speech in the UN General Assembly and in view of the United States' stated intention to exercise its veto in the Security Council, a number of statements were made this past week about Palestinian-American relations:

High-Ranking Fatah Activist Calls for Palestinian Expansion by Development in Area C2

 Muhammed Ashtiyeh, member of Fatah's Central Committee, has called on the Palestinians to expand to Area C with various development projects, especially agricultural projects. He claimed that the Israeli control of Area C and the steps taken there by Israel make it impossible to establish an independent Palestinian state. He called on Israel to turn authority to plan Area C over to the Palestinians, to be responsive to the needs of the Palestinian villagers and to include them in the Palestinian planning program (Wafa News Agency, October 9, 2011).

Aid Convoys Reach the Gaza Strip

Miles of Smiles 6

 On October 5 the aid convoy Miles of Smiles 6 entered the Gaza Strip bringing 40 vehicles and medical equipment. The convoy's entrance was coordinated with the Egyptian authorities. The convoy left from South Africa and was joined by pro-Palestinian activists from various countries, including Britain, Kuwait, Turkey, Algeria, Jordan and Bahrain (Alresalah.net website, October 5, 2011).

 Hamas exploited the arrival of the convoy for purposes of propaganda. A festive reception was held for the convoy when it entered the Gaza Strip, attended by Yunis al-Astel, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and Ghazi Hamad, Hamas administration deputy foreign minister. At the Friday prayers at a mosque in Gaza City, Ismail Haniya praised the convoy which, he said, was bringing the residents of the Gaza Strip "the aid they need," and continuing to work to "lift the siege." He also said that "liberating Gaza from the siege" was the first step on the road to "liberating Jerusalem" (Safa News Agency and Radio Al-Aqsa, October 7, 2011).3

 Before the convoy entered the Gaza Strip, its members met in Cairo with Sheikh al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed al-Tayyib, the most important Sunni Muslim authority in Egypt and the Arab world in general. According to Issam Yussef, "the convoy coordinator" (deputy chairman of the British Interpal), Dr. Al-Tayyib was considering granting the convoy's request to visit the Gaza Strip (Hamas' Palestine-info website, October 5, 2011).

Aid Convoy from Algeria

 On October 5 the Hamas Internet forum reported that an aid convoy had left Algeria for the Gaza Strip, sent by a charitable society called Al-Irshad wal-Islah ("guidance and reform"). The society sent two previous aid convoys to the Gaza Strip. The statistics do not include the rockets and mortar shells which fell inside the Gaza Strip. As of October 11, 2011.

2 The area of the Palestinian Authority under full Israeli control.

3 For further information about the nature of the Miles of Smiles convoys, see the August 3, 2011 bulletin "Seniors in Interpal, a British fund that supports Hamas, play a major role in sending aid convoys to Gaza. South African organizations belonging to the Union of Good are also involved" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e148.pdf.

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