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THE MID-EAST DISPATCH

DAILY NEWS FROM ISRAEL - ISSUE 102 - 16th January 1997

HEADLINES:

** 1 Benny Begin Resigns...

** 2 ...And The Buzzards Are Circling

** 3 Army on Alert for Violence in Hebron

** 4 Israel Will Redeploy Within 48 Hours

** 5 IDF Walk Out With Heads Held High

** 6 Hebron Redeployment Beginning Already

** 7 PA Legislative Committee Approves Deal

** 8 US Sends Separate Letters

** 9 Text of the US Letter of Assurance

** 10 Islamic Extremists Unhappy

 

** 1. BENNY BEGIN RESIGNS...

Science Minister (Likud) Benyamin Ze'ev Begin, has accused the Prime Minister of committing a "treacherous act" and stated that the Prime Minister sold out, "By giving away parts of Israel and receiving nothing in return."

Begin, who has clashed repeatedly with Netanyahu from when the PM met with Arafat in the summer, till yesterday, has announced he can no longer sit around the cabinet table.

Six other ministers voted against the accord who will not resign, one is Yuli Edelstein (Yisrael B'Aliyah) who said: "We had a very difficult discussion yesterday...I, for one, found there were some points I couldn't agree with and I had to vote against the agreement. At the same time I must stress there are a lot of improvements ...I do think we could continue with the peace process and I, for one, will do everything possible that after the decision has fallen will be able to give maximum security to the settlers in Hebron...and I think the responsibility of all the ministers is to do as much as possible to make sure that the present agreement will succeed."

Communications Minster (Likud) Limor Livnat was among those who voted against the protocol but reiterated her plans to vote in favor of the agreement when it is brought before the Knesset tomorrow. Livnat explained that as long as she remains a minister she must accept the democratically taken decision of her colleagues.

Transportation Minister Yitzhak Levy (NRP) said he is looking for a way out but is not ready to resign from the cabinet and his final decision will be made after the NRP holds meetings during the course of the Knesset debate today.

Begin's resignation was accepted by the Prime Minister and will take effect within 48 hours.

(MA'ARIV, YEDIOT AHARONOT, KOL ISRAEL 1/16)

 

** 2. ...AND THE BUZZARDS ARE CIRCLING

Two Likud Knesset members see themselves as candidates replacing Ze'ev Benny Begin as Science Minister.
They are Sylvan Shalom and Shaul Amor. Amor claims he had been promised the position if Begin resigned from the cabinet.

(KOL ISRAEL 1/16)

 

** 3. ARMY ON ALERT FOR VIOLENCE IN HEBRON

Large numbers of soldiers, police, and border policemen have been brought in to Hebron to ensure a smooth redeployment in the city, expected soon after the Knesset gives its approval.

IDF soldiers have been instructed to be on special alert to foil attempts by extremists from both sides to disrupt the transfer during this sensitive interim period, military sources said.

The sources said that the massive presence of IDF forces in the city aimed to deter a repeat of an attack like that of Noam Friedman, the off-duty IDF soldier who fired on Arab shoppers in the city two weeks ago.

(JP 1/16)

 

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** 4. ISRAEL WILL REDEPLOY WITHIN 48 HOURS

A senior IDF official says Israel will redeploy within 48 hours of the time the agreement is endorsed by the Knesset. Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai has approved the removal of military equipment from the town as soon as the Knesset has given approval of the Hebron deal. Mordechai has given instructions not to desecrate the Sabbath or disrupt normal life while redeploying.

The IDF forces in Hebron are making preparations in advance of receiving the order to redeploy. OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Uzi Dayan and Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ofir, commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria, met yesterday with top Palestinian commanders including Gen. Haj Ismail Jaber and Col. Jabril Rajoub to coordinate the redeployment, military sources said.

(YEDIOT AHARONOT 1/16)

 

** 5. IDF WALK OUT WITH HEADS HELD HIGH

According to officials in the Defense Ministry, Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai said the redeployment must be carried out "with heads held high and in broad daylight," contrary to the late night scurry of army forces when they left Shchem.

(MA'ARIV)

 

** 6. HEBRON REDEPLOYMENT BEGINNING ALREADY

Soldiers hauled away sentry boxes ahead of the green light from Israel's parliament to transfer Hebron to Palestinian rule.

Only a handful of Palestinians watched in stinging rain as one soldier pulled down a blue-and-white Star of David flag from an army checkpoint at the entrance to the city.

Army commanders said the full-scale redeployment agreed on Wednesday between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat had not yet begun.

The deal, which allows Israel to stay in one fifth of Hebron, is expected to easily pass in the Knesset with the support of the Labor opposition that signed the first self-rule deal with Arafat in 1993.

Paratroopers in red berets fanned out through Hebron to cover those removing equipment and prevent protests against the agreement. Other soldiers and police set up makeshift roadblocks.

"The removal of the equipment does not change any decision," Major-General Gabi Ofir told army radio. "We are remaining in our usual deployment and on the contrary, have even reinforced our presence.

"But at the same time we are removing some of the equipment and if it is indeed decided we should redeploy, we will keep any timetable necessary."

Palestinian officials said 400 civilian and paramilitary police were poised to take over.

"As soon as the redeployment begins, our forces are ready to enter the city," Hebron commander Brigadier-General Abdel-Fattah al-Jaidi told Reuters.

(REUTERS 1/16)

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** 7. PALESTINIAN LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE APPROVES DEAL

The Palestinian Legislative Committee has also approved the Hebron deal by an overwhelming majority. Members of the Palestinian steering committee briefed the members on the accord prior to the voting.

(KOL ISRAEL 1/16)

 

** 8. US SENDS SEPARATE LETTERS

Outgoing Secretary of State Warren Christopher sent separate letters of assurance to Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians have thus far refused to make the contents of their letter public.

Contrary to previous reports from US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk who confirmed yesterday that Israel will have the right to determine the extent of the further redeployments, a review of the letter shows that the US did not give Israel the exclusive right to decide on the parameters of the redeployments.

In the letter Christopher states he has advised Arafat of US views on Israel's process of redeployment and designated specific military locations.

(KOL ISRAEL 1/16)

 

** 9. TEXT OF THE US LETTER OF ASSURANCE

The following is the complete text of the letter of assurance from the USA to Israel:

"To be provided by US Secretary of State Christopher to Benjamin Netanyahu at the time of signing of the Hebron Protocol:

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I wanted personally to congratulate you on the successful conclusion of the "Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron."

It represents an important step forward in the Oslo peace process and reaffirms my conviction that a just and lasting peace will be established between Israelis and Palestinians in the very near future.

In this connection, I can assure you that it remains the policy of the United States to support and promote full implementation of the Interim Agreement in all of its parts. We intend to continue our efforts to help ensure that all outstanding commitments are carried out by both parties in a cooperative spirit and on the basis of reciprocity.

As part of this process, I have impressed upon Chairman Arafat the imperative need for the Palestinian Authority to make every effort to ensure public order and internal security within the West Bank and Gaza Strip. I have stressed to him that effectively carrying out this major responsibility will be a critical foundation for completing implementation of the Interim Agreement, as well as the peace process as a whole.

I wanted you to know that, in this context, I have advised Chairman Arafat of US views on Israel's process of redeploying its forces, designating specified military locations and transferring additional powers and responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority. In this regard, I have conveyed our belief that the first phase of further redeployments should take place as soon as possible, and that all three phases of the further redeployments should be completed within twelve months from the implementation of the first phase of the future redeployments but not later than mid-1998.

Mr. Prime Minister, you can be assured that the United States' commitment to Israel's security is ironclad and constitutes the fundamental cornerstone of our special relationship. The key elements in our approach to peace, including the negotiation and implementation of agreements between Israel and its Arab partners, has always been a recognition of Israel's security requirements.

Moreover, a hallmark of US policy remains our commitment to work cooperatively to seek to meet the security needs that Israel identifies.

Finally, I would like to reiterate our position that Israel is entitled to secure and defensible borders, which should be directly negotiated and agreed with its neighbors.

Sincerely,

[Warren Christopher, Secretary of State]

(IMRA 1/15)

 

** 10. ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS UNHAPPY

Mohammad Dahlan, head of Palestinian security in the Gaza Strip says he will take severe measures against anyone who tries to sabotage the peace process.

Hamas groups in Beirut and Amman have issued statements against the Hebron agreement, they warn the Palestinian Authority against launching an arrest campaign against Hamas activist.

(KOL ISRAEL 1/16)

****

(c) The MidEast Dispatch, 1996. The MidEast Dispatch is an independent news service, and is not affiliated with any political party or government agency.

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