Are the Palestinian Arabs Fulfilling President Bush’s Conditions for Statehood? A Survey of Week #35: Feb. 18 – Feb. 24, 2003
News
February 24, 2003


THE BUSH PLAN:


On June 24, 2002, President Bush set forth the conditions that the Palestinian Arabs must fulfill in order to merit U.S. support for the creation of a Palestinian Arab state. Among the major obligations are that the Palestinian Arabs must “dismantle the terrorist infrastructure,” “end incitement,” “elect new leaders not compromised by terror,” and unequivocally embrace democracy and free market economics.


This report analyzes Palestinian Arab actions during the 35th week following President Bush’s speech, February 18 through February 24, 2003.



I. “Dismantle the Terrorist Infrastructure”


What They Must Do: President Bush said that the Palestinian Arabs must “engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.” Those terms were previously defined in the Oslo and Wye accords as including arresting and imprisoning terrorists; shutting down bomb factories; seizing terrorists’ weapons; extraditing terrorists to Israel; punishing factions of the PLO that engage in terrorism; and outlawing terrorist groups.


A report by the Israeli Foreign Ministry on February 20, 2003, revealed: “Documents found recently in the Gaza offices of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service (PPSS) expose not only the corruption and mismanagement of the Palestinian Authority, but also reveal the channeling of PA funds toward the financing and implementation of terrorist operation. “Among the documents found during the IDF’s Operation Guardian Fortress in Gaza were hundreds of receipts along with photocopies of cheques and other documents. These relate to the transfer of sums of money, ranging from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, to senior and lower-level operatives and other elements. These funds, originating from the budgets of the Preventive Security apparatus and its independent sources of income were used not only for preventive security (such as intelligence gathering and preventive operations) but also to finance and initiate terrorism.”


The Bush administration has also said that in rebuilding its police and security forces, the PA must reform them so they fight against terrorists instead of taking part in terrorism. The training, under the supervision of U.S., Egyptian, and Jordanian security officials, began on Sept. 19, 2002; however, Israel has protested the fact that at least 100 of the 150 PA security officers in the course “were involved in attacks on Israeli civilians.” (Middle East Newsline, Sept. 17, 2002)


What They Did During Week #34:


A. No Terrorists Arrested: There were no reports of terrorists being arrested or imprisoned.


B. No Terrorists Extradited: The PA continued to ignore Israel’s 45 requests for the extradition of terrorists.


C. No Terror Groups Outlawed: The PA did not outlaw Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, or any other terrorist groups.


D. No Terrorists’ Weapons Seized: There were no reports of the PA seizing terrorists’ weapons. By contrast, Israeli forces operating in Gaza on February 18 discovered a weapons cache containing an explosives belt for a suicide bomber; a mortar rocket; and grenades and rifles. On February 21, Israeli forces operating in Shechem (Nablus) uncovered two weapons caches—one containing pipe bombs, large amounts of explosives, and dozens of containers of chemicals, bolts, and nails; the other containing electronic devices used in planting explosive devices, written manuals on how to lay explosives, Israeli Army uniforms and masks. On February 21, Israeli forces uncovered in the village of Tamun, northeast of Shechem (Nablus), a 25 kilogram explosive device designed for a suicide bomber, as well as automatic weapons and ammunition.


E. No Closing of Bomb Factories: There were no reports of the PA shutting down any bomb factories. By contrast, Israeli forces operating in Gaza on February 18 discovered a bomb factory containing 250 kg of explosives and four weapons-producing workshops containing 32 lathes for the production of mortar rockets and Kassam missiles. On February 21, Israeli forces operating in Shechem (Nablus) uncovered an explosives lab. On February 23, Israeli forces operating in Shechem (Nablus) uncovered a crate containing grenades, rifles, handguns, parts for detonating bombs, detonators, night vision equipment, and related items.


F. No Punishing of PLO Terror Factions: There were no reports of the PLO leadership punishing PLO factions that are engaged in terrorism, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).


G. New Terrorist Attacks: During week #35, February 18-24, 2003, there were at least 42 terrorist attacks or attempted attacks, in which 1 person was murdered and 9 were wounded:


February 18: Bombs, grenades, shooting attack, and anti-tank missiles fired at Israeli soldiers in Gaza.


February 19: Five rockets were fired at the city of Sderot; three people wounded … Mortar rocket fired at the town of Alei Sinai … Shooting attack on an Israeli army outpost in Neve Dekalim … Shooting attack on the town of Atzmona … Attack on Israeli soldiers in Shechem (Nablus); one wounded … Three Arab terrorists captured near Jenin on their way to plant a bomb … Bomb discovered on the Israeli-Egyptian border … Grenade attack on Israeli soldiers near the Israeli-Egyptian border … Terrorist captured trying to enter the town of Chomesh … Terrorist intercepted trying to cross the border fence near Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak … Firebomb attack on Israeli soldiers in Shechem (Nablus).


February 20: Shooting attack on Israeli soldiers in Tulkarm … Shooting attack on Israeli soldiers in Shechem (Nablus); one wounded … Stabbing of an Israeli soldier at the A-Ram Checkpoint; one wounded … Shooting attack on Israeli soldiers in Gaza … Mortar rockets fired at Israeli soldiers in Gaza … Attacks on Israeli motorists on the Hussan bypass road in the Gush Etzion region … Firebomb attack on an Israeli bus north of the Otniel Junction, in the southern Hebron Hills district.


February 21: Terrorist intercepted as attempted to infiltrate the town of Dugit … Grenades thrown and shots fired at Israeli soldiers at the Erez Checkpoint … Attempted stabbing of an Israeli soldier at the Avnei Chefetz Checkpoint …


February 22: Shooting attack on Israeli soldiers in Gaza … Rockets fired at the town of Sderot; one person wounded.


February 23: Shooting attack on Israeli soldiers near Neve Dekalim; one murdered … Shooting attack and grenades thrown at Israeli soldiers in Beit Hanoun; one wounded … Two Qassam missiles fired at the town of Sderot; one person wounded … Terrorists intercepted near Gadid … Attacks on Israeli motorists in the southern Hebron Hills district … Attack on Israeli soldiers in Dehaishe … Shooting attack on workers at a local security fence in Gaza … Shooting attack on Israeli soldiers near Rafiah Yam … Bomb attack on an Israeli Army vehicle near Beit Hanoun … Explosives devices discovered and dismantled in southern Gush Katif and in Beit Hanoun … Terrorist intercepted trying to infiltrate Netzarim.


February 24: Suicide bomber arrested near Shechem (Nablus) while preparing for an attack … Four attacks on Israeli motorists on the Eli-Tapuach road.



II. “End Incitement”


What They Must Do: President Bush stated that the Palestinian Arabs must “end incitement to violence in official media and publicly denounce homicide bombings.”


What They Did During Week #35:


The PA’s official newspapers, television, and radio continued to broadcast a steady stream of anti-Israel, anti-American, and pro-violence incitement, and PA officials continued to make inciting statements.


For example, on February 14, PA Television broadcast a live sermon from the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, in which Sheikh Yusuf Abu-Sneinah referred to U.S. military forces in the Middle East as “enemies,” and said that a U.S. military action against Saddam Hussein would constitute “a dual plot against our Palestinian people and steadfast Iraqi people.” He called for “a courageous Islamic Arab awakening to disappoint the aggressors,” whom he labeled “infidels.” (Translation courtesy of FBIS.)



III. “Elect New Leaders Not Compromised by Terror”


What They Must Do: President Bush stated that the Palestinian Arabs must hold “fair multiparty elections by the end of the year, with national elections to follow,” in which they “elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror.”


What They Did During Week #35:


After previously announcing that it will hold elections for chairman of the PA and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council on January 20, 2003, the PA subsequently declared that those elections will be indefinitely postponed because Israeli forces are continuing to pursue terrorists in various parts of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.


Even if those elections are eventually held, it remains to be seen if they will be free and fair, as President Bush has required, or will be marred by ballot-stuffing and intimidation of voters and potential non-PLO candidates, as were the last PA elections, in 1996.



IV. “Build Democracy Based on Tolerance and Liberty”


What They Must Do: President Bush said that the Palestinian Arabs must “build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty,” with “a new constitution” and “a truly independent judiciary. He said they must “confront corruption,” and “the Palestinian parliament should have the full authority of a legislative body.” They must implement “market economics,” and create “a vibrant economy where honest enterprise is encouraged by honest government.” In addition, there must be “an externally supervised effort to rebuild and reform the Palestinian security services” with “clear lines of authority and accountability and a unified chain of command.”


What They Did During Week #35:


Despite President Bush’s conditions, corruption continues to be the norm in the Palestinian Authority. The Jerusalem Post reported on January 2, 2003: “Palestinian Authority officials and institutions in the Gaza Strip are involved in stealing basic food supplies and medicine provided by United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency (UNRWA) and Arab countries, according to documents seized by the IDF during a recent raid on the Protective Security Service headquarters in Gaza City.


“The documents show that PA officials have been selling the food and medicine on the black market since 1996. Food distributed by UNRWA to residents of refugee camps in the Gaza Strip have made their way to private merchants, who are selling them on the black market.


“The documents also indicate that large supplies of medicine and other equipment donated by Arab countries as humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people were being sold at private pharmacies and other markets in the Gaza Strip. (…)


“[M]ost of the thefts were taking place at the Rafah border crossing and that PA Minister of Supplies Abu Ali Shahin is responsible. Shahin is one of the top leaders of Fatah in the Gaza Strip and one of Arafat’s confidants. “The Rafah crossing is controlled by the Preventive Security Service, which is cooperating with Shahin in stealing humanitarian aid, the sources said, noting that Shahin is being referred to by many Palestinians as the ‘minister of theft’.”




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