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>JN Oct. 25, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 183
Clashes Continue as Both Sides Dig In
By Sonja Pace (VOA Jerusalem)
Clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli security
forces are now in their fourth week and show no signs of ending.
Around 130 people have died in the violence thus far, almost all of
them Palestinians. And both sides seem to be digging in for the
Israel's chief army spokesman says the violence is "no short-lived
adventure," indicating the army is ready for a drawn out conflict.
Palestinian officials also say they expect a lengthy confrontation.
Each side continues to blame the other for having started the
violence and for doing nothing to stop it.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is accusing Palestinian leader
Yasir Arafat of having chosen the "path of conflict" to get further
concessions from Israel. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says
Barak is making life in the Palestinian areas sheer "hell."
Renewed clashes took place Tuesday in parts of the West Bank and
Gaza Strip in spite of cold weather and rainfall. Israel has also
warned of a tougher response if Palestinian gunmen from the village
of Beit Jalla continue to shoot at the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo
on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Barak Tries Forming a National Emergency Government
By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)
As Israeli soldiers and Palestinian protesters continue to clash in
the streets, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has decided to
temporarily turn away from the peace process and move toward the
formation of a national emergency government.
Barak is negotiating with right-wing opposition leader Ariel
Sharon, trying to form a ruling coalition to deal with the violence
and defeat parliamentary motions calling for new elections.
After weeks of violent bloodshed, Barak's advisers say he has no
alternative but to seek an emergency coalition with the opposition
Likud party and its leader, Ariel Sharon.
Early next week, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, reconvenes
and Barak currently does not have enough votes to defeat
no-confidence motions and legislation calling for new elections.
The prime minister and many other politicians do not want to face
a scenario where the country could be going through a
highly-charged election campaign at a time when the West Bank and
Gaza Strip are ablaze with violence.
Israeli government spokesman Nachman Shai says the bloodshed is
forcing Barak to take a time out from the peace process and try to
broaden his government.
"Currently, Ehud Barak, the prime minister of Israel, has like 35
Knesset members supporting him out of 120, which is obviously not
a majority. He needs at least 61. Now in a crisis -- and we are in
a crisis, we are in an emergency situation now -- 61 is not enough.
You need a bigger government."
Barak lost his majority in Parliament last July, after Israeli
lawmakers withdrew from the coalition just before the US sponsored
peace summit at the Camp David presidential retreat outside
Washington. Although no agreement was reached between Israel and
the Palestinians, reports that Barak offered major concessions at
the bargaining table got him into political trouble at home.
Sharon called the concessions "dangerous," but says while he
supports the peace process, he wants a slow, step-by-step approach
as relations develop with the Palestinians.
Arabs in general, and the Palestinians in particular, have detested
Sharon for decades. As a soldier, Sharon dealt harshly with Arab
guerrillas, and as a politician he led the drive to build Jewish
settlements on lands occupied by Israel after the 1967 Middle East
The latest wave of violence was sparked late last month, when
Sharon visited a sensitive site in Jerusalem's Old City that is
sacred to Muslims and Jews.
Hadassah Helps Gilo Children Cope with Trauma
The Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America has offered to
pay membership fees at the Gilo Community Center for one year for
every child in the Jerusalem neighborhood that has been directly
affected by PLO Authority shooting. PA snipers have been firing
into Israeli homes in Gilo for nine consecutive days.
"Our long experience with children at risk has shown the lingering
effects of the sort of trauma the children on Anafa Street are
suffering," Hadassah's national president Bonnie Lipton said.
The delegates received briefings from military and civilian experts
so they can return to the United States and promote a grassroots
campaign to combat anti-Israel propaganda. "I know we can win the
battle on the ground, but I need your help for the battle in the
media," Col. Gal Hirsch, commander of the Binyamin Brigade, told
He added that each of Hadassah's 300,000 members needs to talk to
10 people about what is really happening. Hirsch described the
peculiar situation where he is "talking and shooting." He said,
"we'll be in a battle with the Palestinians, and they'll call me on
my cell phone and ask if we can evacuate an injured person to
Hadassah Hospital. Then, the ambulance we send in will be stoned."
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